December 31, 2008
something to put the new year into perspective.
Another report notes, “Yellowstone has blown every 600,000 years or so over the past 2 million years. The last big eruption? About 640,000 years ago when the park spit out about 240 cubic miles worth of rock, dirt, magma and other stuff.”
yes, there is a swarm of earthquakes in yellowstone. if the supervolcano blows then that could be the end . . . of everything.
December 28, 2008
i snapped this a few weeks ago at a train station on merseyside. would it make you feel safer?
December 22, 2008
In Roman times success as a general often turned out to be far more dangerous than failure. There are countless examples of generals returning in triumph only to be murdered by the emperor, generally because they now represented a threat as a viable alternative to the incumbant that discontented factions could rally around. I was reminded of this today when reading that General Patton may have been assassinated by the US secret services.
Mr Wilcox told The Sunday Telegraph: “Patton was going to resign from the Army. He wanted to go to war with the Russians. The administration thought he was nuts.
“He also knew secrets of the war which would have ruined careers.
I don’t think Dwight Eisenhower would ever have been elected president if Patton had lived to say the things he wanted to say.”
This may have happened in Britain, too, in 1935. T E Lawrence (of Arabia) died in a motor cycle accident. He was apparently on the verge of joining Moseley’s blackshirts and may have been intending to meet Hitler. MI5 had his house under surveillence and a witness claimed to have seen a black car at the scene of the accident.
It would be interesting to read what a future Gibbon, say in “The decline and fall of western civilisation”, might write.
December 16, 2008
another depression catch-up:
the UK’s awful stimulus package creates some weird effects. Gordo’s 2 pence in the pound cut in VAT, spooned out with a large dollop of promised tax rises, made everone feel they were going to be worse off. So they were put off spending, right? Wrong, maybe Gordo has the leap on the British consumer who, defying all rationality, believes that they will become poorer and, therefore, should spend what they can now, preferably in one day with 20% off whatever-it-is. Yes, christmas grosses are up. hard to credit it.
meanwhile the germans take a swipe at any kind of fiscal stimulus, bashing Gordo several times in the last few days in what looks like a concerted campaign. nobel laureate Paul Krugman (the man who said Gordo saved the world) hits back at the germans.
meanwhile egg on faces of (european - go figure) banks for investing in the world’s largest (discovered so far - just wait a while) ponzi scheme. interestingly, Madoff is supposed to have lost $50Bn of client funds, yet in January he filed that he had just $17Bn under management. we should remember that this is the first fraudulent scheme to be discovered. I will eat my (worthless) share options if it’s the last we’ll see this side of a recovery. Indeed, the question that any sane person has been asking for the last few years, namely just what do all the hedge funds actually do?, is going to get answered real soon.
December 9, 2008
Anthony Burgess famously competed with Gore Vidal over who had written more books (Burgess’ Wikipedia page runs far short of the number listed in “also by this author” in any book). It’s quite astonishing, given that he also spoke a ridiculous number of languages, wrote music, librettos and much more.
I’ve read maybe a dozen Burgess books and I just finished “A Dead Man in Deptford“, an exploration of Marlowe’s last years. The scholarship is astounding, it’s written in Elizabethan prose and it’s hard to fault. Anyone with pretensions at writing can only read and weep. It’s also charming and very funny.
December 3, 2008
comment from tonight over drinks:
this is the end of the nice decade