Fanax: the Mycenaean term for "king"; pronounced "wanax". The funny initial letter, "F", is called digamma and shows up in Archaic Greek epigraphy (papyrus and tablet writings). The sound, if not the letter form, and its linguistic equivalent initially show up in the heiroglyphic writings (Linear B) of Bronze Age Greece both at Pylos, in the far west of Greece (Peloponnese), and at Knossos in north central Crete, the funny "F". Specifically, digamma shows up in the Greek of Homer's Iliad with the word "F"anax, but there it's a "rough breathing" in the form "(h)anax", where the term is linked to an important individual at Pylos. In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, the F continues in this aspirant, or "h" sound, form at the beginning of many Greek words.

Entries for month: January 2010

logical fallacies and the economic brain

January 19, 2010 ·

So many great quotes in this little overview of our human foibles (specifically our economic blindnesses).
 
"or as it's known in the field of economics, "money that's not fucking yours anymore.""
 
"However, you've always been a Mac user and recently dropped $600 on a wireless Apple keyboard (yeah, you went with the cheap one)."
 
"The competitive instinct is not just a phrase football commentators invented to give words to the tingly feeling they get watching Brett Favre play football."
 
"Your brain will keep pushing your head further and further up your ass"
 
Sorry, I just couldn't stop with the quotes ...

Tags: politics

What could go wrong?

January 17, 2010 ·

Seen on a blog this evening:

Let me get this straight.

The new health care plan will be written by a committee whose Chairman says he doesn't understand it;

Passed by a Congress which hasn't read it;

Signed by a President who smokes;

Funded by a Treasury Chief who did not pay his taxes;

Overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese;

And financed by a country that is nearly broke.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tags: politics

Pie-eyed idiots

January 11, 2010 ·

Denninger is a nuts-and-bolts kind of guy.  His take on what is predictive of economic trends, since the market is "no better at forecasting than a coin toss":

  1. Sales tax receipts.  This is virtually the only economic "count" that is not subject to being gamed when it comes to the current picture for consumer spending.  Since personal consumption accounts for 70% of the US economy, this is the most-accurate indicator we have.  It is both timely reported (monthly) and reliable, as no business will report and remit taxes that were not collected on actual sales.  At the same time under-reporting (that is, refusing to pay taxes that are actually due) is punitive enough and caught quickly enough that most businesses will not attempt to cheat.  Non-discretionary items (food and medicine) in most jurisdictions are not taxed, so this indicator has reasonable accuracy when it comes to what matters in the economy - discretionary spending.  Finally, the tax is proportional, not regressive or progressive, so changes are proportional to actual discretionary spending.
  2. Consumer credit.  When it is expanding it is additive to GDP beyond actual output (wages, bonuses and other earnings.)  When it is contracting it is subtractive to same.  Note that as this number is not normed to population growth (that is, it is not "per-capita") it should expand at a roughly 1% rate per year simply to accommodate growth in the number of people in the United States.  Therefore, a "zero" rate is actually negative by about 1%.
  3. Civilian Employment Ratio.  This is simply the percentage of all working-age people (16 to 65) that have a job and is derived from the household survey.  This is arguably the most-important indicator of all in the intermediate (one to five years) term, as it provides the best view of the government's revenue capacity on a forward basis (that is, the tax base upon which the government can levy to obtain revenue.)

Read the whole thing to get his thoughts on what those 3 things are actually telling us ...

Update:  Just ran across this gem, after Denninger shows that we run a 7% credit expansion on a 3% wage growth rate:  "The problem with trying to grow the economy with credit expansion at double or more the rate of income growth should be obvious."

Tags: politics

The Right to Offend

January 07, 2010 ·

What a great turn of phrase from Roger Kimball:

"Freedom of expression can only thrive in a free society in which the right to offend is cherished."

Tags: politics

100 quotes for geeks

January 07, 2010 ·

100 geeky quotes ... mostly the classics of geekdom, including many that I am not familiar with.  This one was new to me and struck my fancy.

"Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
-- Harry Lime, The Third Man

 

Tags: software development

yeah, what he said

January 02, 2010 ·

People, even as 'consumers', have to got to be given more credit.  Using the old "consumers are sheep" rhetoric is just a ploy to justify taking control of individual and corporate freedoms.

Tags: politics

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