Friday, October 31, 2008

Keynesian economics and shock absorbers

My good friend Bill Bocquet took the time to write such a good series of thoughts about the current economic crisis (reproduced in the comment section following this posting) that I fell compelled to respond in today’s blog. Well, I certainly agree with him that the Fed should have let some of the banks and institutions fail, but the pain would have been enormous on the pampered, American people. Who wants to have dental work performed on them without anesthesia these days or who wants a drive a car without air conditioning in Florida or heated seats in Minnesota? I don’t like Phil Gramm, think he’s a fascist, but have to agree with him when he says that "We have sort of become a nation of whiners…” In fact, riding our economy can be likened to riding a vehicle. In such an economic parable, Europeans love soft and forgiving shock absorbers. Their economies are never great and never bad. They’re always “morose.” By contrast, we American love feedback, like to be in close contact with the roadway, we appreciate a smooth ride on long stretches of spanking new asphalt, but when road conditions deteriorate, boy, we certainly feel that pothole. This harsh feedback however, has for effect to make us take instant corrective action. We don’t want our cool “mag” rims to be ruined or the dozen eggs that was lying on the back of our pickup truck to shatter into a premature omelet. Instead, Europeans will be more likely to blame the Chinese wheel manufacturer or the chicken that laid the egg. So the bottom line is that our threshold for pain has been significantly lowered over the years, that we’re now addicted to pain-free living, and this in the long run could mean death by denial.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Managing memories

This past summer served to stir-up my memories as I built up a website for my high school class and had to dig deep into the maze of my shrinking brain. I actually found a lot of pleasure in doing that; perhaps because, as my friend Bill Bocquet told me in one of his recent email messages, “we don't have that many friends that we tend to re-attach to old ones.” At any rate, as I went along I dug and dug deeper and re-discovered so many things that I had totally forgotten. This brings me to another new theory of mine, which goes something like this: The more the life we experience is tumultuous, the greater the demand that’s placed on our memory to store the wild variety of events that come our way, and too many “gems” end up falling by the wayside, because there’s simply not the available room to fit them all into the “immediately retrievable” storage bin. That means that if some of us had chosen a more mundane life, all of our past might still be available at our fingertips. When we pick lives that are more screwed up, all gets crowded and some memories are stored so way back in our mental warehouse that odds are good that we’ll die and never get to revisit them… This is a downer! Today, I spoke with Bernard Gradel, another buddy of mine from the same high school, who reminisced about our common skiing experiences. Among other, he told me that together, we attended a ski-instructor training program in Chamrousse, France, back in December of 1969. He even reminded me that I had sustained frostbites during one of the last days’ exam. He was right; while I sure remembered my injured fingers, I had totally forgotten he was there, with me. The bottom line is that we should treat our memories much better; maybe we should write a journal, a blog or something, to make sure that nothing fall through the cracks, because, at the end of the day, they’re the only valuable asset we’ve got.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You don’t want to fall

Yesterday, as we were mountain biking and descending on a single track, amidst a “sea” of sagebrush, I wasn’t fully paying attention, messed-up a turn and went down into the brush. It’s not that this vegetation is particularly hard, but it really is abrasive; so here I was bleeding and hurting on my bare right forearm and lower leg. Had I fallen onto something harder, like rock, this would have been a drastically different story with wide open wounds, more blood and perhaps a few broken bones. So, if there's something that should never happen on a mountain bike, it’s falling. I now need to con-cen-tra-te!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CDS : Scarier than “subprime”

CDS stands for “credit default swaps” and last Sunday, CBS 60 Minutes aired a great piece on the subject. Basically, these derivative products are a form of legalized gambling that allows to wager on financial outcomes without ever having to actually buy the stocks and bonds or mortgages. The problems started showing up with the collapse of the U.S. housing market and have been magnified worldwide by what Warren Buffet has called "financial weapons of mass destruction." This was just legal gambling with absolutely no regulatory controls. CDS were totally unregulated and big banks and investment houses that sold them didn't have to set aside any money to cover their potential losses and pay off their bets. As a practical example, if those debt instruments defaulted and were worth 8 cents on the dollar, you'd make 92 cents on each dollar of the mortgages - the same money you'd collect if you were an actual holder of the debt who'd bought the swap as insurance. Some folks and hedge fund managers were able to amass billions of dollars that way! As the market began to seize up and as the underlying obligations began to perform poorly, everybody wanted to get paid on those credit default swaps but there was no money set aside behind the commitments. And that's to a large extent what happened to Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and AIG. This ability to buy insurance on things that you had no insurable interest in, transformed this market into a huge casino. These CDS would have been illegal during most of the 20th century, but eight years ago, a newly republican dominated congress gave Wall Street that exemption and it has turned out to be a very bad idea. The Commodities Future Modernization Act of 1999 was sponsored by Gramm (now vice chairman of UBS,) Leach and Blibey; it passed the very last day of that 106th lame duck congress, as lawmakers couldn't wait to go home for the Holidays, prohibiting any regulations of derivatives and gutting the Glass-Stegal Act of 1933 that had set up guidelines protecting banks until the most recent collapse. The Act, blessed by Greenspan was signed into law by Clinton. Since that time, the CDS market has been growing like crazy. It’s currently over $62 Trillion (more than the planet’s GDP,) up from under $1 Trillion a decade ago. So if you fully appreciate the extent of that mess, you’ll have to agree that some stringent regulations are sorely needed; furthermore, I certainly won’t vote for my two senators that approved the 1999 Act…

Monday, October 27, 2008

An almost perfect course

Over the years and especially during the ones we’ve been running as a couple in Park City, our daily running route has not changed drastically, but has been evolved as we’ve moved around from house to house and as we’ve become bored with the original itinerary. Today, our morning run has a lot to offer; it starts with a flat one-mile section that warms us up, then there’s a grueling climb for another good mile, about the same distance is all downhill and then comes the best part of our daily routine, the path that follows McLeod Creek in a mild ascent, one of the very few creeks that flow through Park City. There’s lots of greenery, wildlife, and only a handful of people walking, running or cycling along this path. When it comes to running, this last stretch of effort truly is the icing on the cake!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An eye turned on the 22nd Century

Yesterday afternoon, we were fortunate to watch our grandson Finn. While we were on a stroll with him I couldn’t help but think that this little guy stands a pretty good chance to witness the next century. He’s almost 8 month today and will be 93 in 2101! Then my mind wandered further and I kept on thinking what will his experience be and what will he see on the way to that other milestone? What will have happened to humanity in its relation with planet earth and will we have become a tiny bit more human and a great deal less foolish? Small little guy, yet enormous questions that current worries seem to obliterate because the pain of the moment seem so important and mobilizes so much of our attention that we forget what hides on the other side of the hill. We’re so driven by the short-term, that we’re blind to the future, and fortunately, grand-children exist to remind us about its screaming reality…

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Towards a better system

To many, capitalism has shown that it was on its last legs. To some, like Malcom Forbes, it still remains a valid economic option. To others, it needs to be assorted with some stringent, mandatory regulations instead of “voluntary” ones. As for me, I believe that whatever economic system takes us through this 21st century will have to seriously take into consideration our overpopulation, our strained planet and its dwindling resources. Yet, I feel it’s essential that we pick a system that will handsomely rewards “quality” obtained slowly and with long-term objectives in mind versus “fast” and shoddy growth that has been the hallmark of both the 19th and 20th centuries. Under that new model, growth fueled by increasing the population and its consumption will have to stop and be replaced by a enhanced quality of life supported by ecological solutions, population welfare and long-lasting institutions and infrastructures. With sufficient incentive for those who will develop that sustainable world and reasonable users’ fees, that model might just be workable and not so utopist…

Friday, October 24, 2008

Running routes and technology

If you’re a runner, there are two modern innovations that can make a world of difference: Google maps and the GPS. For almost 30 years, I’ve always enjoyed running in each place I would visit. Unfortunately, since I never knew the place well enough, I ended up running near the place I was staying and had to dodge heavy traffic, dog bites and other unforeseen situations. It’s only for the past couple of years that I know combine two elements that always afford me a great running experience, wherever I find myself. I first go to the Google map, explore my immediate surroundings and try to spot a nice park or a scenic course. If it happens to be a bit far from my hotel, I take the car, dial up the GPS to that address and gets there without much stress, ready to enjoy a wonderful run. Never before was I ever able to accomplish that so easily…

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exploring a huge aircraft carrier…

Ever since I was in the French air force, I’ve always loved airplanes, so it was hard for me to resist visiting the Midway aircraft carrier that now is anchored on the San Diego waterfront. That ship was decommissioned in 1992 after the Gulf War which and since that time turned into a floating museum. We had seen the Intrepid, another museum carrier in New York harbor, but this one is the closest example there is to see to the modern atomic-powered ships like the Nimitz. Almost 1,000 feet long and more than 250 feet wide, it was home to 4,500 sailor and 75 aircraft. Evelyne loved the various living quarters, control posts and grinned while I was shaking into a F-18 flight simulator. A lot of walking and stair climbing for an unforgettable visit…

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What brought you to Utah?

This is a classic question that many Utahns will unmistakably ask a visitor or anyone who speaks with some kind of an accent. Since I have one too, I’ve heard it hundreds of times and, on each occasion had to dream up a story that would make some sense to the curious listener. Generally, that story was very simple as it was the unadulterated truth and in fact, that’s always what I have reluctantly offered until this week. In the flight to California, the lady behind us listening to us speak French, first asked where we where from, after telling her we were from Utah she was almost indignant when she exclaimed why don’t you speak English like everyone else! Needless to say that it ticked me off enough to prepare a good follow up answer when she asked me the seemingly unavoidable “what brought you to Utah?” I almost didn’t blink and anwered: “Religion.” The old woman then followed-up by saying “the main one?” and I went: “You’ve got that one right!” I was satisfied!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hard to be a tourist!

Today we’ve been working like crazy. After a 5 mile morning run along side San Diego Bay, we took a guided tour of the city and spent the entire afternoon visiting the city’s famous zoo, shaking hands with gorillas, counting the humps of camels and marveling at the roughly-stitched mantels of hippos. Around mid afternoon, we were on our knees and were ready for a medical evacuation via rickshaw, pickup truck, ambulance or helicopter. A few ice-cream and drinks later we were ready to go, and completed the visit. When we drove back to the hotel, we were begging for a hot bath and for some well-deserved rest. After working close to 40 years in the leisure industry, I’m realizing for the first time that being a tourist is truly a lot of work!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Surfer in another life?

This week we’re spending a few days around San Diego, in Southern California, and yesterday as we were driving along the coast we stopped and see a bunch of surfers off the beach at Cardiff-by-the-Sea. These guys and girls get out whenever they can and show the rest of the world that drive by how good they can be on their boards… I wish I could do it as well as they do it, but I’ve now come to the conclusion that I’m a bit too old for that and that it will have to wait till my next life to show how good I can be surfing the waves of the Pacific Ocean…

Mountain biking forever!

The more you do something with regularity and passion, the more skilled you generally become and the more you enjoy it, but there’s no place like mountain biking to experience that rule. Even though, just like skiing, the sport takes a concerted effort (you need to get especially dressed for it, check out the equipment and put up with all the technical “miseries” that come with that recreation,) once you’re riding, it’s just pure joy. This isn’t a feeling that most will experience on their first days or even months on the bike though. It comes very slowly and through continued practice, but when the technique starts “gelling” and when the apprehension subsides, the pleasure experienced is almost like no other. Perhaps, part of it is the climate we live in, where all is dry, mud is rare and our high-desert vegetation combines with our mountain scenery to making the experience so special and so out-of our day-to-day world. Our playground begins at about one mile from our doorstep and when we reach that single trail, we enter into another world and start disconnecting from the all the pesky little things that happen to worry or bother us…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Calculate your carbon footprint

I wanted to do it for a long time and it’s only yesterday that I took a few moments to figure out my "carbon footprint". I went to the “Carbon Foot Print” website and followed the instructions to get to a figure amounting to 11,600 tons of CO2 per person (thank god, for sharing the same home with my spouse!) What's impressive is the impact that airline travel has on these figures; one round trip between Salt Lake City and Europe is a staggering 2,500 ton! While my per-capita footprint compares favorably to the huge 20.4 ton for each American, the average footprint of my French countrymen is only 6.2 ton against a worldwide figure of about 4 ton. Take the time to do the exercise and if you dare, send me the size of your own footprint! Now, if that can make you feel better, if we were serious about combating climate change, the worldwide average would need to be brought down to 2 ton per individual; we’ve got our work cut out for us…

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Can we trust Karzai ?

As the eighth year with Karzai as the head of Afghanistan is coming to a close this December, we are entitled to wonder if he’s really an effective leader and if our presence in this country, which is likely to significantly increase in the near future, shouldn’t be drastically reconsidered in relation to his leadership. According to most reports, the majority of the Afghan population sees him as an American puppet and outside of Kabul, his authority is extremely limited. It appears to me that Hamid Karzai plays both sides of the field and it’s quite notorious that the head of state has had associations with the Taliban in the past and was trying to negotiate with them. He also attempted to negotiate with former Prime Minister of Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, but the offer was rejected by Hizb spokesman, Haroon Zarghoon. The latter claims that until there is a, "clear date for pullout of foreign troops" there can be no deal with the Afghanistan government.
Hamid Karzai has also been criticized for protecting Pashtun drug lords and poppy farmers in southern Afghanistan, where his political base lies as well as for blocking poppy crop aerial eradication efforts. His younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai is said to be one of the country’s largest drug dealer. According to a December 6, 2001 article of the French newspaper Le Monde, Karzai has also provided consulting services to the infamous Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) a now defunct company. Spokesmen for both Unocal and Karzai have denied any such relationship, although Unocal could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium. So the big question remain, can we trust a man with such a checkered past in view of our growing involvement with that country and, most importantly, are we working on a plan “B”?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Joe the plumber’s income

During the last presidential debate, all ears went for Joe McCain’s “plumber story” in which Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a Toledo plumber criticized Obama’s tax proposals. On October 12, as Barack Obama was canvassing his neighborhood, he said was about to buy a business that earns as much as $280,000 a year and asked the candidate: ``Do you believe in the American dream?'' citing the Democrat's proposed tax rate increase for Americans earning more than $250,000. ``I'm being taxed more and more for fulfilling the American dream.'' No only is Mr. Wurzelbacher not even licensed to practice plumbing, but he hasn't paid the taxes he already owes and has a tax lien against him for $1,182.98 and a second judgment against him was filed by a hospital for $1,261. Besides, the company McCain said the plumber wants to buy has annual sales of $510,000, according to Dun & Bradstreet. That makes it unlikely that Wurzelbacher's purchase would give him a taxable income of more than $200,000 -- leaving him unaffected by Obama's proposal to roll back tax breaks for those earning more than $250,000. The problem for McCain, is that the premise that Wurzelbacher would face higher taxes under Obama is neither true nor typical of how the vast majority of small businesses would fare.
Even if “Joe the plumber” earned an adjusted gross income of $280,000 he he would only pay $773 more in taxes under Obama's plan than McCain's. Earning that much would make our “plumber” very unusual among small businesses, as almost 95 percent of 21.5 million of them filing as sole proprietors had receipts under $100,000 in 2007.
Clearly, that all story is making McCain look like someone “who doesn’t get it” and frankly, I think more than 95% of all Americans believes that one quarter of a million dollars a year is a fat income that amply justifies paying a bit more taxes. This stupid Republican rhetoric of “spreading the wealth” is getting very tired indeed…

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why I’m voting Obama

After watching the last debate between the two candidates last evening and also an excellent show on Frontline the night before, I am totally comforted in voting for Obama at this upcoming election. Beyond anything that has been written and said about him, here are the reasons for my choice:
Obama is both a smart man and a born leader. He also displays an amazing amount of cool and self control as well as an ability to focus. What’s amazing about him is that he thinks before opening his mouth instead of blurting a bunch of meaningless slogans. Although he can’t help it, he has the right age for the job, loaded with the energy, the ideas and the desire to achieve that comes with youth. These obviously are traits, but if we look at his achievements so far, the most convincing one is that he’s run an incredibly well organized campaign and was able to keep his team energized and going through two years of grueling work. He’s also been able to beat Hillary Clinton during the primaries and that alone, was a formidable feat. Cutting through the Clinton political machine and pushing out the “heir apparent” was an incredible achievement. By comparison, going after McCain was much easier. I won’t say much about the latter since I feel that he was already weak, tired and uneven during the primaries; this presidential race aged him for good and filled him with more bitterness and negativity, making Obama stand out. With this said and beyond partisan ideology, I feel confident that to get us out of the mess Bush and his buddies have put us in, Barack Obama is by far the best choice available.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tackling overpopulation (cont’d.)

It’s pretty obvious that we must first stop the population growth on this planet, and if possible reduce it drastically over time if humanity it is to survive with a certain modicum of comfort. Some have suggested that there’s an urgent need to start implementing a China-like one-child policy globally as this would help control and reduce population gradually and successfully, as evidenced by China’s success in reducing poverty in recent years. Others propose that governments around the world stop spending on child-vaccination because our off-springs should survive naturally by principle of "survival of the fittest", as humans have survived before the introduction of modern vaccination. These folks also suggest that the funds saved from immunization should instead be better spent on education. Finally, some conspiracy-theorists think that countries might one day develop a contagious, but non-lethal infertility-virus that spreads infertility amongst humans, thereby reducing future human-population. What’s your take on these ideas?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tackling overpopulation

This topic follows yesterday’s discussion about the search for a new economic model. Overpopulation is closely entwined with any economic or social models that has to work for society and at this point, too many folks consider it a given and are accepting that from 6.6 billion today we’re likely to break the 10 billion mark before 2050. So, one way to approach that topic is to try to understand how overpopulated the earth really is. According to both David Pimentel, from Cornell University, and Mario Giampietro senior researcher at the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition (INRAN), the world population would have to be reduced by two-thirds, that is get down to 2.2 billion. This is correlated by the 2006 World Wildlife Fund’s "Living Planet" report stating that if the entire world were to live with a high degree of luxury (say like Western Europe,) we’d be spending three times more resources than what the planet can supply. Other reports mention that we already consume five times more than that the planet can supply. Finally, Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, has said, that "humans are 10,000 times more common than they should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom; without farming, the world population would probably have reached only half a million today… So based on these statements, and although there’s no real consensus, it’s fair to say that we’re currently three times too many on the planet. Next time, we’ll explore what could be done about that…

Monday, October 13, 2008

New economic order?

Has capitalism as we know it been tested so much that it might never be the same? This is quite possible. There certainly is room for a “middle way” between abject misery and unsustainable opulence that often seem to come with capitalism. This said, I don’t favor collectivism or socialism and don’t feel too good about anti-globalization either. Again, there must be an alternative way that’s more comprehensive in the way it measures the growth required to bring developing nations to a certain threshold of comfort and measures the effort needed to maintain that same level in already “developed economies.” It also needs to include a comprehensive understanding about what a reasonable population mass can be afforded against available resources and ecological requirements. The goal should be global sustainability and there’s perhaps room for prosperity within these boundaries, but it will likely be drastically different for what we thought wealth should be and might take some very creative and inventive ideas to get there. My point is that the economy can’t no longer be seen as totally separated from its impact upon social issues and global environment. This is an approach that deserves a zero-base approach and demands that we erase all the paradigms that have arisen since the renaissance. Hence the concept of “second renaissance…”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I missed the 42nd

Early October, I could have flown to France for yet another high-school reunion. This one would have marked the forty-second anniversary. Since this was hard to justify for just a day of festivity and that I didn’t want to get there without my spouse, I simply decided not to go. Not that I didn’t care and didn’t value the scarcer numbers of future opportunities that are left to see all these guys again in one single setting. They were quite graceful however to let me talk at their dinner via a video that I pieced together at the last minute and that, from what I heard, was well received. Yesterday, I saw the first pictures taken on the occasion and, to my dismay, I only could recognize a little over half of my former school mates. The last time I had seen many of them was in 2003, at the previous reunion. Just like me, most of them have changed a lot and we’re all now “sixty-something…” A bit depressed, I made a promise to myself that by hook or by crook I won’t miss the 45th birthday. To make it more palatable, we’ll have it at a nice, sunny resort somewhere in the world, or perhaps, as some of my old buddies offered, right here in Utah!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Understanding in order to explain

Like any creation, this blog will evolve as time goes on. What I want it to become, is a place where I can clarify issues and situations in ways that can be easily understood and without cheating. In order to succeed, I will need to grasp and fully understand all the elements that make a subject up. If that’s not possible, I just won’t tackle it. The demands are quite simple; I will need to research more and be able to take it apart and put it back together; like a car mechanic, a computer techie or a watchmaker would do. I’m just asking you to carefully observe what happens and remind me if I ever stray from that commitment. Beyond being just an interesting exercise this might also be a great learning opportunity!

Friday, October 10, 2008

What’s an investor to do?

So far, this week has been brutal for investors. In the financial forum that I follow closely and is made up of highly knowledgeable fellows, no one knows what to do or say except to reminisce about the crash of 1929 in which the stock market went into free fall and, within about a year, following a 50% bounce, went back down again. Yesterday coincided with the Dow Jones all-time record’s one year anniversary. Will we go back to 14,000 any time soon? Don’t count on it in the foreseeable future as the Nikkei never was able to bounce back to it former glory after almost twenty year. This said, for those who are in cash at the moment, re-entry time is far from certain as we might see more deterioration in the next few days. “Total capitulation” might take a few more sessions yet… For those who’re invested, unless they are below 50 years of age and don’t need their capital right away, selling remains a tempting option, even at these current levels that still could go down…

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Was the surge needed?

I’m talking about the Iraq “surge” of course; the magic answer to all war-ills brandished by John McCain during his campaign. I’m not trying to say that now things are quiet and boring in and around Baghdad; there’s still plenty of violence to go around and probably will be for quite sometime. I don’t believe the 20,000 extra troops deployed in 2007 actually calmed things down in Iraq; instead, I think that it was a combination of good timing and changing circumstances. One was the cease-fire by Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahi militia, another was the alliance from Sunni fighters with the US forces in an effort to quick some thugs out and finally a US assassination campaign against extremist leaders also played a significant role in the drop of violence. The largest contributor to that trend however was probably the systematic ethnic cleansing of Iraqi neighborhoods. At the time the surge came on the scene, there was almost no one left to be killed, hence the relative improvement. To add another contrarian view to the surge, some analysts like Steven Simon on the Council on Foreign Relations argue that the methods used in it were unsustainable and might have actually decreased the prospect for a stable Iraq in the long term.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Second presidential debate

John McCain was supposed to win last night, as all pundits said that “town-hall meetings” are where he shines; it didn't happen. Granted McCain is old, but he appeared even older, rambled through his explanations, brought up old political clichés and made a striking demonstration that he’s more turned towards the past than the future. The only role he performed well was that of the typical politician.
Obama, on the other hand, was able to think on his feet, answer questions more specifically and was at the same time aggressive, nimble, filled with energy while remaining positive and turned toward a better future. He showed leadership and strength. My “friends,” as McCain likes to say, the debate is over…

The definition of maverick

According to the dictionary, “maverick” means an independent person or independent thinker who refuses to conform to accepted views on a subject. That’s what McCain says he is. Perhaps, this is what explains the fact that he’s in denial about the economic reality of the country, the absurdity of the war in Iraq or the idiotic pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate. At the present juncture, we need mavericks like these just like extra holes in the head or more red ink on our brokerage statements. Another way to view this is to probably assume that there are good and bad “mavericks” and so far, I’ve only seen the erratic side of John McCain as his most outstanding trait. It’s to be noted that the other definition of the word is that of an unbranded animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother and herd; it can by convention become the property of whoever finds it and brands it (this usage is traced after Samuel Augustus Maverick, 1803-1870, a Texas cattle-owner…)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Towards a Second Renaissance

The current financial crisis has showed us that we all live in a closely interconnected economic world and yet that governments, bent on ignoring that undeniable truth, do all their little tinkering unilaterally. Whether we like it or not, we’re now all working together on that blue planet and narrow nationalism as well as a lack of an effective supranational governing body is creating a dangerous gap in what’s needed to harmonize this unprecedented interaction between nations. Our egomaniac political leaders will soon have to recognize that their governments alone aren’t able to control something that’s much bigger than them and that requires unfettered coordination and oversight far above their own abilities and mandates. That’s what will be known as humanity’s Second Renaissance…

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blame it on Clinton!

Now that McCain is starting to lose traction, some of my republican “friends” are blaming the Clinton years for the financial mess we’re in today. They probably are too old and too stupid to remember that we went through and are still suffering from in eight year of George W. Bush “nightmare.” Do I even need to mention the fact that, following his Contract with America and his control over Congress in 1994, Newt Gingrich pretty much tied Clinton’s hands and force him to switch to a GOP-approach to his government style. So let’s call a spade a spade and George W. Bush and his legislative supporters a bunch of incompetent folks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to deal with our political class?

Following the $700 billion financial sector and the other $110 billion worth of pork to make the deal passable, I have decided that congress should be fired; that’s just what each member deserves for failing us, we the people, and bringing this country to its financial ruin. So over this election and the new few ones, I’ll make a point to vote against my incumbent congressman and my two senators. Now, how will I deal with our next president? I’ll vote for Obama because he’s a smart individual who knows how to manage effectively (his campaign stands as a resounding example in the category), he’s also positive, conveys hope and exults youth’s energy and creative power; to top it all, he voted against the war in Iraq. What about McCain? His attributes run just in the opposite direction: He comes across as a stubborn man who acts impulsively and over the past months, the “maverick” has turned into a negative, retrograde mouthpiece. Finally he’s just too old for what the job demands; he’s also pro-war, a kind of activity we can’t afford anymore. Senator Biden is lucky to be on Obama’s side and Governor Palin belongs with the moose, the bears and the seals in Alaska.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

“Jean-Louis”: Très bon!

Last night we finally tried “Jean-Louis” Park City’s only French restaurant. Even though it opened its doors back in 2006, we’ve always been a bit skeptical of “ethnic” eateries setting foot in town, perhaps because we’ve seen too many that were just so-so or downright bad over the many years we’ve lived here. More so than Palin’s debate the previous evening, “Jean-Louis” easily beat our expectations. We had a rack of lamb that was succulent and the desserts were up to par with the entrée. The service was good and pleasant and our waitress who had been a Club Med GO for years spoke perfect French. Bottom line: Bravo, Monsieur Jean-Louis Montecot!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Biden vs. Palin

To add my two-cent to last night’s vice-presidential debate, I will use a ski analogy. Joe and Sarah were engaged in a downhill race. One of them was supposed to win; most spectators feared or hoped that Sarah would crash and that her team would be finished. Since she managed to cross the finish line without crashing, the media and this country’s idiots thought she did okay if not great. Unfortunately, this was a race and Joe won it by a crushing margin. If you should doubt that, some 38,000 readers of the conservative Wall Street Journal gave 58.5% for Biden vs. only 40.9% for Sarah "snake-eye" Palin...
Now, the main issue of the debate was who of the two candidates was more presidential should something happen to their running mates; no contest there, Joe Biden won!To her credit, Sarah was excellent at deflecting questions and regurgitating her prose learned in preparing for the event. Sure, Ifil’s follow up was quite poor as she should have called her every time she failed to answer what was asked of her… Sarah will also have to learn what an “Achilles heel” is and to pronounce “nuclear;” no, Mrs. Palin, it’s not nu-ku-lar!
I’m now reassured that with tonight’s performance she’ll safely remain in Alaska, with the moose, the bears and ninety percent of the world’s proven oil reserves which she inferred Alaska possessed during her recitation…

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Insane packaging…

A few days ago, my wife received a present through the mail; it was a big box (over one cubic foot in volume) that contained a 3.4 fl.oz. personal care bottle. I was stunned at the disproportion between the product and its shipping container. Could have it been smaller? Absolutely; the packing was 72 times larger than the content! This says a lot about how wasteful and senseless this country has become. Perhaps a really good financial crisis is in order…

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brake & gas pedal

The last day of February, I discussed experience vs. change in the democratic primary context. Today, I’d like to use the analogy of brake (experience) vs. (gas pedal) as it relates to McCain and Obama. Experience is nice to have, but there’s nothing like innovation and transformation to making everything move forward, yet alone helping us catch up with what we should have done yesterday. In spite of its “maverick” brand, John McCain is the perfect illustration of retrograde thinking with a philosophy stuck in the past. Further he is soooo old! I think with all the mess left by Bush and its republican cronies, we’re ready for some acceleration in order to leave that forgettable past in the dust!