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Archive for November, 2008

All you need is cash!

Thus reads the cover of this week’s issue of The Economist.

november-046

The gist of the article is that in the wake of the current financial trouble, businesses are beginning to hoard cash, slowing the economy more and more in what John Maynard Keynes called the “paradox of thrift”. The Economist’s writers claim that “this will only reinforce the need for expansionary monetary and fiscal policy to boost demand; and also for more direct support in credit markets, such as the Federal Reserve’s prop for the commercial-paper market.”

Sigh. It seems everyone is jumping on the big government/new money bandwagon in a effort to prop up big business and “rescue” the economy. This may be what big business wants, but it is highly unfortunate for you and me.

Many people do not realize that expansionary (translation: inflationary) monetary policy is a tax. It is the worst kind of tax too: one that most adversely affects folks bringing home middle and lower range incomes. This is how it works. The government turns up the presses and prints more money. It then infuses this money into the economy, usually through loans to large corporations (also known as “props”, see above). This makes every paper dollar that already exists worth a little less, but the system does not immediately recognize this. The businesses who receive the new money infusion are able to spend it in the current market, paying today’s prices for goods. As the new money slowly makes its way through the various markets, prices begin to rise based on the system’s recognition of the greater money supply and the lower value of each individual dollar. By the time the money makes it to those who need it the most (the poor and middle class) the market has fully adjusted to the new money, and prices are permanently higher. If the poor and middle class folks are still making the same wage they were before the government intervened, their static paychecks will now buy less than before this intervention that was “designed to help them”. The only ones who benefit from this government meddling are the businesses who get their paws on the cash early. For everyone else it is a subtle way for the government to reduce the value of their earnings without expressly “taxing” them.

So think about this the next time you see an “expert economist” on the news insisting that we need more expansionary government bailouts to save the economy. Think about it the next time a politician (I’m not naming any names) promises not to raise taxes on the middle class. Think about it when you hear the phrase “help Wall Street to save Main Street”. What they really mean is “help Wall Street because Main Street doesn’t know any better”.

Now you know.

Cross-posted to Facebook.

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Numbers for the week:

Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 4 miles ruined by much turkey
Friday: off
Saturday: off
Sunday: 12 miles
Total miles: 23

Next weekend is the St. Jude Half-marathon in Memphis. Pray that I do not die.

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We went to one of the snack stands yesterday at Sea World to get some nachos for lunch and saw this notice prominently posted in front of the cash register:

Thinking this was some kind of Sea World-specific problem, we put the nachos on hold and questioned the cashier. She looked sort of confused, said that the same sign was posted in almost every restaurant in California, and handed us a small printed information sheet. We then read the following:

Occurrence of Certain California Proposition 65 Listed Chemicals in Cooked Foods

Supplemental Information

A number of chemicals can be generated in foods during cooking. They result from changes caused by high temperatures. The chemicals in question vary as to both identity and quantity and on both the nature of the food and the cooking methods employed. Some examples follow:

  • Cooked potatoes that have been browned, such as potato crisps and/or potato chips have been shown to contain acrylamide. Other cooked foods that have been roasted or browned, such as coffee, cereals, crackers, cookies, and nuts, may also contain acrylamide. Acrylamide is not added to these foods but might be created when these and certain other starchy foods are browned. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not advised people to stop eating these foods or any specific food due to the formation of acrylamide as a result of cooking. For more information, see http://www.fda.gov.
  • Grilled, fried, broiled and blackened meats, vegetables and grains exposed to direct heat may contain nitrosamines and/or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which include benz[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, benzo[a]pyrene, indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene.
  • Hard boiled eggs have been shown to contain benzene, even though not present in the raw egg nor in the cooking water. This is apparently a heat induced transformation of albumen protein, retained in the egg cooked in the shell.

These chemicals are by-products of cooking the food. The chemicals are not added. If these chemicals are of concern to you, you may want to consider buying foods prepared using cooking methods that reduce the incidence of the chemicals in question.

THIS INFORMATION WAS COMPILED FROM A NUMBER OF SOURCES. BASED ON OUR REVIEW WE BELIEVE THIS INFORMATION FAIRLY REFLECTS THE CURRENT KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THIS TOPIC, BUT WE CAN NOT AND DO NOT WARRANT THE STRICT ACCURACY OF THIS INFORMATION.

For further information please contact swc-guestrelations@seaworld.com

All I have to say is, thank goodness for the California State public safety laws. I can now go back to Arkansas armed with the information that I should avoid:

Cooked potatoes
Browned potato crisps
Browned potato chips
All cooked or browned foods, but especially
Coffee
Cereals
Crackers
Cookies
Nuts
Grilled meats, vegetables, or grains
Fried meats, vegetables, or grains
Blackened meats, vegetables, or grains
and
Hard boiled eggs

I guess they want me to survive on raw carrot sticks and distilled water. No wonder everyone is so thin in California.

By the way, we ate the nachos.

Cross-posted to Facebook.

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Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 12 miles
Sunday: off
Total miles: 19

I skipped a day this week. Bad. I think I feel burnout setting in.

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I got my first taste of America’s new and unimproved airline “service” yesterday on our out-leg trip to San Diego.

First of all, tickets from Little Rock to San Diego for a family of 5 (with 2 kids 2 and under) on US Airways came to a little over $1200. That’s quite a bit more than any other domestic flight we have ever taken. When we got to the airport, our suspicions were confirmed that we would be charged extra for our luggage. Not extra luggage, mind you, just our regular one bag per passenger. The total “luggage fee” for our two small suitcases and one infant car seat came to $45. That’s about the cheapest you can get if you check one bag; after the first bag (per person) the fees go up to $45 to $100 per bag that you check. That’s right. There goes your souvenir money.

The first leg of our trip went to Charlotte, North Carolina, in the exact opposite direction (of course) that we intended to go. On this fun little 1.5 hour journey we found out that beverages and food items on US Airways flights were no longer complementary. They are now charging $1 for coffee; $2 for water, juice, and soft drinks; and $7 for beer, cocktails, and wine. A snack tray will cost you $5, and a breakfast tray (we were on a 6 am flight) will run you $7. Oh, and it's cash only. Oh, and they don’t have change for a $20. On this first short trip, we turned up our noses and said incredulously, “$2 for a bottle of water? Are you insane? No thank you.” Boy did we think we were clever.

The flight from Charlotte to San Diego was 5 and a half hours long. A trip that long in a metal tube with a 6 year old, a 2 year old, and a 9 month old is simply impossible without nutritional supplementation. So we ended up forking out $6 for a can of Coke, a can of cranberry juice, and a 12 oz. bottle of spring water. We somehow smuggled some string cheese and apple slices through security and ate them on the sly. Of course, outside liquids and beverages are prohibited. I angrily said, “What is this, Searcy Cinema 8?” I don’t think they got the reference.

Besides these annoyances, there is no longer an in-flight movie, TV, or music service. They pestered us at least 3 times on the overhead speaker system about signing up for the US Airways preferred Mastercard, then bothered us again by “distributing” applications for said Mastercard throughout the cabin. They didn’t even throw any freakin’ peanuts at us. What has happened to the world?

I guess you could say the overall trip was a success. We arrived in San Diego a bit dehydrated, malnourished, and cranky, but all in one piece. It seems to me that an airline who, in order to make a profit, must reduce it’s passengers to muttering glumly, “Well, that flight sucked, but at least I didn’t end up a bloody smear somewhere on the Great Plains,” should rethink its business model. I will be flying Southwest from now on; I think they still give out pretzels.

Cross-posted to Facebook.

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Insanity

Vocabulary for the day:

Insanity [in-san-i-tee]
-noun
1. the condition of being insane; a derangement of the mind.
2. doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
3. running 12 miles on a treadmill.

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Oh, Happy Day

Yesterday was a day I have long anticipated. My firstborn child was spotted reading a novel at the table instead of eating.

I look forward to many years of yelling, “Put down that book and eat your supper!”

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