Oooh! A kitten *and* a ducky!

Heh, I promise, the Latte Economy later today or at worst tomorrow morning.

In Closing: Tony Horton says Soldiers need yoga; mystery trader buys all Europe’s cocoa(!); 10 ways to conserve water; Wall Street Journal whores itself to lets Sharron Angle lie; a follow up, is Dipak Desai competent to stand trial?; Virgin Galactic one step closer to passengers, takes a flight with a crew!; Wacky Arizona (thanks to Brian); FDL notices that banks only follow laws they want to follow; “Link to this“; ghost in the machine at Facebook; geta; and a few words on Social Security.

Short But Sweet

No, that’s not a description of myself. Eat your heart out!

I hate most audio and video posts on the web.

Ok, no, I liked the cute video of the baby playing with the collie. And I don’t mind when political sites like Crooks and Liars link to interviews and even political ads that are of interest. Sometimes there’s nuance you don’t get in the transcript — which by the way is often included (it’s my favorite part of their posts). I like funny songs and game reviews, and I like some of the serial dramas out there too. There are even some very useful “how-to” videos for a lot of activities.

But seriously, at least half of the audio and video on the web is stuff that wastes my time. It’s stuff that takes 5 or 10 minutes to watch, that if you were to just put it in print, I could tell what I need to know in less than 90 seconds. I am sick and tired of feeling like I’ve been hoodwinked into sitting through somebody’s “important” presentation just to find out that they want $37 to tell me the real secret to success, or to tell me something I already knew, or even to give me one almost important thing in a sea of meaningless or redundant blah blah.

Now several people lately have been telling me that video posts are the freaking future. They claim that I can crank out a video post in half the time it takes me to type, grammar check, spell check, edit, and make sure I actually make sense in writing. I think that’s just got to be a lie! Even in a video post, if you want to get that “actually make sense” thing going on, you’ll need some sort of script or outline. And even if that’s 4 lines scribbled on a sticky note stuck to your notebook computer next to the camera, it takes time. Do you honestly think this happened with no rehearsal and no script?

For that matter, there’s a “looking presentable” thing. It’s going to take time to make sure you look decent, and that there’s nothing behind you that you don’t mind being seen across the interwebs. Am I in my pajamas? For the record, no, but you’ve got no way of knowing! Some video bloggers get around this actually having to get out of their pajamas by creating little PowerPoint-like slides that reinforce their point. Again, you’re losing the time savings and boosting the tech requirements to get rolling. And really, does anybody like PowerPoint?

Finally, putting stuff in writing makes it easier to quote you. It’s just “copy” and “paste”. Nobody has to listen 4 times to make sure the wording is right, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to find the quote in text rather than by trying to remember whether that good bit was at minute 16 or minute 27.

Look, if you can’t at least tell me what you’re going to say in a few sentences (I’m not even asking for a transcript), you’ve got nothing to say to me. It’s called a summary. You learned about them in second grade. If you insist on audio and video posts — and that includes podcasts! — you’d better have one or I’m closing the tab.

In Closing: Keeping you up to date on Sharron Angle (sorry, I’m from Las Vegas now); I’m with Digby on strategic default among the wealthy; on consumer credit and American exports; on immigrants and the work they do (truth is that some employers prefer easily exploited workers who are worried more about deportation than OSHA regs or minimum wage laws); does this look like something you would want to eat??; how to make real coin; and Marines fight bad guys but save cuddly animals.

Economy Jigsaw Puzzle

Normally, you start a jigsaw puzzle with the edge pieces. However, that’s really hard on this one because the fallout of the dysfunctional banking system that resulted in many of our economic issues is in the process of bringing down a foreign nation: Greece.

Mr. Buffett is really good at these puzzles, so let’s let him have a go first. Oh look, he’s put together a housing recovery in 2011 (I think that’s assuming we actually get through all the foreclosures) and a slow recovery. He thinks that something has got to be done to punish the financial whiz kids who got us into this mess, and that our current system of paying for health care is a colossal drain on our economy. This is one of the two richest guys in the world and as nearly as I can tell he didn’t need to defraud anybody to get there, so just maybe we ought to listen to him.

Of course there are other parts of the puzzle that bring into question whether there is really a recovery, even a slow one. We’ve got millions of people who are unemployed, millions more who are “underemployed”, stagnant wages, and just enough inflation to mean the savings rate is going down. Those low interest rates — which were supposed to make businesses borrow money from banks who won’t lend it and renters buy houses they can’t afford (but that are actually tempting people with higher mortgage rates and underwater homes to walk away and buy something nicer and cheaper at a lower rate) — mean that there’s not much point in saving money. That hooks in with lousy consumer sentiment, the continuing (and at least partly bank-caused) bubble and subsequent crash of housing prices, and a trillion with a T dollars in lost economic growth. That’s a million million dollars. $1,000,000,000,000.

See? These puzzles are a lot easier when people work together!

Over by the bankers, brokers, and other financial whiz kids there’s these rumors of “reform” and “consumer financial protections.” Careful, though. If you don’t put that together just right, it’s worse than nothing.

Oh yeah, and in this corner over by underemployment, we unfortunately have government budget deficits. It doesn’t take a financial whiz kid to know that when income is stagnant, unemployment is up, underemployment is high, and not enough jobs are being created, that means tax revenues aren’t what they should be either. That in turn means bigger deficits, even without any sort of spending on economic stimulus. Senator McCain wants to cut that deficit just exactly the way Reagan did, which I suppose means he proposes higher deficits.

The nice people at Forbes think all those government workers need a pay cut. Now riddle me this, Batman: while I understand their sentiment, exactly how is cutting the pay of the guy who delivers my mail or the lady who processes my passport application going to help? That’s just going to exacerbate the “stagnant wages” problem. I feel certain that they can’t really mean cutting pay for high wage workers like our Congressmen and key people in the Executive branch; such a proposal would never make it out of committee. Besides, until campaigns become solely publicly funded, I think you can argue that all those people are underpaid. After all, every one of them spent more to get elected than they will ever make at the job itself!

Of course, state governments don’t have the option of deficit spending. That’s why Nevada is moving most employees to a 4 day workweek. The only way this works, of course, is to make all those offices like the DMV open only 4 days a week. Right, because nobody needs to get a drivers license or car registration on a Saturday, right? That way they aren’t spending money to light, heat, air condition, and clean those buildings all weekend. And I suppose it’s probably good for the environment that all those state workers will be sitting at home instead of getting on the freeway. Maybe they will spend some money on their extended weekends — assuming they aren’t deathly afraid of job cuts.

There’s still pieces missing. I’ll check the box and under the sofa. In the meantime, it’s a pretty ugly picture.

In Closing: How much scientific research is thwarted by harassment that borders on textbook definition terrorism?; the Chile quake actually tilted the Earth on its axis, such that the day is 1.26 milliseconds longer (funny how Pat Robertson isn’t dredging up some made up reason why Chile has a pact! with! Satan! that explains why they had an even bigger quake than Haiti); no **** ***** cuss free week at this **** **** blog!; man accused of selling outdated videogame systems to help a terrorist group; origin of the peace symbol; ok, ok, something on health insurance reform; happy daddies; and your overdue dose of Japanfilter, Cat Costumes. Oddly enough the cat doesn’t look unhappy, and the human has no obvious wounds.

Shorties of Riddick

Let’s start off with the Health Insurance Reform bits: Many thanks to Florinda for noticing this item, the story of the mom who was the only person in the whole Emergency Department with health insurance. However, don’t think that mandatory health insurance would have changed that. And here’s a moving piece on health care — particularly mental health care, as it fits into our nation’s Christian traditions.

Continuing the Bush Economic Tradition: Huzzah, they are now proudly telling us that GDP went up 5.9% in Q4 of 2009. Isn’t that great? The Great Recession is officially over! Of course, that’s only if you ignore the reality of fewer jobs, higher unemployment particularly among people under 25 (many of whom don’t show up in the official statistics), collapsing consumer confidence, and stuff like that. In fact, the Christian Science Monitor has gone as far as to say that the recovery is a scam. Oh well, some jobs cost more to create than others. Real worry that the Senate decided it was more important to go home than to make sure that people on unemployment would be able to pay the rent next month.

Going to the Vitamin Store?: Not sure what to make of this chart of what science really knows about the various supplements you could buy there.

Huh, Maybe Blackwater is Out Of Control: Duh, Senate.

From the Department of WTF: The military thought it important to take time away from 2 overseas wars to spy on… Planned Parenthood? And white supremacists? Why, recruiting?

New USDA Rules on Organic Food: summary here.

“You never know who it used to be”: A local Buddhist temple is in trouble with the city. Why? Too many cats hang out there and the temple is kind enough to see to it they have food and clean water.

Sad but true: The bullet is still mightier than the restraining order. My heart goes out to everybody involved, including the students of the slain teacher. There is still a lot we don’t know about this situation yet. But ladies, one thing I do know is that you don’t owe anybody a “mercy date” or an explanation about why you want nothing to do with them. Stay away from guys that scare you! Stop answering the phone, stop talking to them, stop seeing them, cut them off cold turkey! Telling them more than once that you don’t want to talk to them is still talking to them!