Friday, September 19, 2008

Rolling out a red carpet of moral hazard for every financial institution to fail itself to success

Now everyone can make big bucks in the financial industry and walk away rich and happy. The brilliant minds that got us into this mess to begin with have given us the ultimate lesson in how unregulated, free-market economics plays itself out on Wall Street. Left to its own devices, the financial marketplace eventually begins to ever more closely appromiate a giant Ponzi Scheme, and like a Ponzi Scheme, its collapse is only a matter of time (all the more reason to get, and get as much as you can, while the getting is good). That's when they privatize the profits and socialize the risk. Unfortunately, the Ponzi Scheme threatened to take down our entire banking system with it, so the bailout was probably necessary. But what about the rest of us? And who's going to pay for it?

I have my own modest proposal: The conservative, free-market and/or libertarian think tanks grew fat and happy providing the ideological underpinnings for our fancy new, deregulated financial system. They systematically helped erase damn near every lesson we learned from the 1929 Crash and the Great Depression. How about if they chip in some of their sizable endowments to help out? I mean, we're all in this together, right?

As for the rest of us: Now that the Feds have socialized the risk for Wall Street firms, how about applying some of the same policies to the lives of ordinary Americans? For example, the feds are taking over bad mortgages. So why not apply the same principle of socializing the risk to take over the medical bills of the 46 million Americans who are uninsured? We even have a name for it: single-payer health insurance.

I'm not too confident that either of my modest proposals will be adopted, although Matt Yglesias does suggest Democrats should fight to put at least some money for social needs into the bailout package as it moves through Congress. Will this happen? Nah, says Atrios, who explains why he is far from optimistic. Neither am I.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cycropia's insect fantasy creatures return to Madison's east side next week

Green Creature
When I posted about Cycropia's performance at the Orton Park Festival a few weeks ago, I set this photo aside because I thought it was blurry and confusing. Now I think the confusion is interesting and the blur just adds to the image. Go figure. But I also know more about it now. Thanks to Nataraj Hauser, one of the performers who commented on my Flickr stream, I now know it's a praying mantis.

Hauser, "the midge with the blinking butt," also notes that the creatures will be back again next week at the grand opening of the new Goodman Community Center, formerly the Atwood Community Center.
It's a praying mantis (insider info!) There will be a reprise of some of these transitional characters from the Orton show at the Goodman (Atwood) community center grand opening next weekend (9/27 I think). Alas, the midge with the blinking butt (me) will be gone to a wedding and not able to participate.
The Goodman Community Center is at 149 Waubesa Ave., and the opening is from 12:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

They ruined my Sitemeter, and I've tossed it onto the trash heap of Web history

I've Tossed My Sitemeter Onto the Trash Heap of Web History
Sitemeter has put me in a bad mood. Until this weekend, it had been a simple to use and easy to read tool for checking traffic on my website. No big deal -- I don't get so much traffic that I really need to know much about it. As for many small bloggers, checking it was really a harmless diversion and mild addiction. When I was bored, I'd click on the Sitemeter tab for a quick update.

Not anymore. I've tossed Sitemeter onto the trash heap of Web history. The rollout of their redesigned software this weekend eliminated a nifty, elegant and speedy software solution and replaced it with slow-to-load bloatware that produces a confusing maze of charts I didn't ask for and which obscure the information I was looking for. I'm not alone in hating it. The redesign seems to have been created in complete ignorance of what users liked about Sitemeter. To find equivalent inward-looking hubris, you have to go back to the disastrous rollout of New Coke.

To access the new Sitemeter, you had to install new code in your blog template, which I did. But when I clicked on the statistics on the new Sitemeter, all I got was a blank page. The reason seems to be that the data is delivered in the form of Flash applets that require the latest version of Flash, which my otherwise perfectly usable iMac running OS 10.2 can't run. (Which Sitemeter lacked the Web etiquette to tell me.) The data did come up on the other, newer computer in the house, but was terribly slow to load. Bye-bye, Sitemeter. If you're going to make it that hard, I'd rather switch to another app.

Update: As some commenters note, Sitemeter did acknowledge their mistake and restore the old version -- so I reinstalled it. But I don't really trust them. I've half-adapted to Statcounter already, and if they pull anything like this again, I'm outta here -- permanently.