Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stop panicking -- please

It was bad enough financial engineering got us into this mess, but this continued panic from people who clearly knew not what they did, and continue to know not what they do, is making the problem far worse than it needs to be.
A little more calm and a lot more sense would be a really good thing, right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The return of industrial policy

I asked this question on the Business in Japan's group discussion list, in the hopes of eliciting some interesting/useful feedback. But, it is worth repeating here:

As someone with a masters degree in policy making in Japan, gained at the height of the fears of Japan "taking over the world" (right before Japan's big bubble bust), I am amused and bemused to see so many now revisiting the subject of industrial policy making, newly looking for solutions to the collapse of confidence in the laissez faire system. As my own studies were prompted by a number of encounters with Japanese policymakers stunned they were being credited with Japan's overwhelming success (again pre bubble bursting) I myself am bemused. Japan's post war growth and economic success is remarkable, even without the extremes of the bubble years. America's success and growth is also to be admired (despite the extremes of its bubble years). Surely, the issue that really needs to be examined more closely is humankind's continued susceptibility to bubbles? I would be interested in input on this subject from others immersed in the "Japan experience".

Something to amuse

If you need a laugh...

Monday, October 27, 2008


Of course, one of the biggest issues of the moment is confidence; confidence in the markets, in the economy, in the government, in the value of the dollar, in the banks, in anything. And, of course, confidence is vital and needs to be preserved.
But, I have to wonder, with so many people out there willing to play on other people's willingness to believe, when there are so many people who are willing to lie for their own gain, how can anyone wonder that confidence is so low.
Perhaps one of the reasons why so little confidence has returned, despite such unprecedented sums of money being thrown around, is because so many of the market players are all too well aware of the lengths they themselves are willing to go to, well, lie for profit and gain.
And, it may be, they are projecting that same willingness on to those around them, fairly or unfairly, and concluding that confidence should be in short supply.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pasta Fork

From the "you've gotta luv Japan" department: a pasta fork that is designed to mimic a hand (with a thumb too).

You can see more pictures here (text is in Japanese).

Monday, October 20, 2008

html tagging "print" pages online

It's a small thing, but it would save me quite a bit of time each week, so here goes.

When I print out a page from the internet that I am likely to use as a reference document I also need to make sure I have a copy of the URL where the original document was found, as well as a record of the time the copy was taken.

The best way (usually) is to do this from the 'print' page version of the document. The print page version of the document, however, has a different URL.

Fortunately, some sites are aware of this and have started formatting the 'print' page version with the URL of the original document.

A heartfelt thanks to all these sites! And a request that others follow. Please?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Smear to victory in US

Sadly, it seems more and more likely that the last month of the US presidential election campaign will showcase the dominant ethics of the national psyche, win at all costs, at its lowest form. That the victory is most likely to go to the candidate and his followers who most successfully smears his opponent is bad enough. But, that so many Americans not only accept, but promote, this state of affairs with a 'might is right' mentality is nauseating.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A sigh of relief

Of course, there is terrible news out there for people who have lost so much, especially older people who are facing much harder times in particular. For me, though, there is also a feeling of deep relief. A tight clamp has lifted from my chest.
The cause? I have had very little respect or tolerance for the values that have been given top billing over the last decade or so. I have never believed the new ways of running finance, even of doing business, were on a solid footing. Yet, in a world that believes you cannot argue with success, my instinctual distrust of ever grander financial engineering and ever more ridiculous efforts to turn humans into robotic productivity engineers had little standing.
Now, of course, my instincts are vindicated. Am I happy about it? Of course not. Too many people are suffering. Am I relieved that I will no longer have to put up with so many sheep blindly following the bling? Of course.
And while there is real danger, naturally, that societies can react badly in this kind of environment, I also have an immense feeling of hope. Instinctively, I feel we are on the verge of something truly great.
Can I explain why? To a degree, yes. But, can I offer statistics or over flowing bank accounts as evidence of this hope. No. And isn't that great!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

'80s shoulders return

I was beginning to wonder if no one else had noticed big shoulders creeping back in on the runways in this season's fashion shows, but fortunately, I am not alone (the NY Times has run an interactive on some of the trends, here.
With so much of the '80s now back on track for a iridescent revival, it seemed unimaginable that shoulder pads could slip past the revival bandwagon.
Now, to watch all those fashion stylist mavens manage the combined u-turn of assuring us all that high waisted trousers don't make bums look big (contrary to the mantras sung just a few short years ago) or that large shoulder pads can be tweaked to avoid that football linebacker look. (Yeah, right).
I only every did it once, one winter, but I vividly recall trying to pass off 3 layers of shoulder pads as 'acceptable'; one pair in the shirt, another pair in the jacket, and another pair in the coat. It was absurd.
Let's see how far those mavens try to take it this time; and how many will fall for it.