Yesterday was “Milton Freidman day”, and I didn’t get any cards out…. again:-) He was a giant in economics, his ideas have had far reaching consequences. One of his more provocative claims was that it was the federal reserve bank (the fed) that had caused the great depression. At the time, this was really controversial, it isn’t any more. His idea that “Inflation everywhere is a monetary phenomena” is now widely followed. In fact, whenever rampant inflation rears its head, a quick look at the money supply is all it takes to check this. Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the board of governors of the fed (he replaced Alan Greenspan) had this to say on Milton’s 90th birthday:
“On Milton Friedman’s Ninetieth Birthday, Nov. 8, 2002 he stated: “Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Rose: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”…”
Any man that can prevent future great depressions by using his insight alone is worthy of praise. We’ll miss you Milton…
The guy over at Coyote Blog ran some numbers on his social security statement (see it here), and the results are not good. It seems that he is getting a -.8% return on his payments into the ss program. Not only are we not getting any interest on the money being taken out of our paychecks for our “retirement”, we’re being charged for it. People yell and scream that we can’t privatize social security because people will make bad decisions and they will lose their money… If you put the money into just about ANY mutual fund, you will get SOMETHING back on the investment. Or to put it another way, we’re already losing money, you might as well let us decide what to do. Gah….
One of my favorite lunch dishes literally translated is “small lamb”. It’s slices of lamb with pieces of onion, potato, and peppers. They fry it up with some “spice” (that’s all they say) and it’s rather tasty. I get fresh flatbread with it, you use it as your utensil, just scoop it up and eat… There are no stoves in the kitchen, they use what look like huge bunsen burners with a rack to hold the pan. The amazing thing is how far they have the gas cranked up. At “idle”, the flame is probably 7-8 inches high, when they start cooking, look out! They crank the gas up to the point that the flame is over 2 feet high without a pan getting in the way! The bottom 8 inches or so is blue, and then it cools to a nice orange color for the rest. When they put the pan down, the gas jet slams into the pan and wraps all the way around it. It sounds like they’re smelting iron, you can tell what restaurants serve “lamb” by the sound. It is a distinctive whoooshing from the gas jets.
Everyone cooks with gas here, both the restaurants and homes, but there is no gas utility. You use tanks, just like our grills back home except larger. Gas merchants walk up and down the streets with their wheelbarrows full of tanks all day (at least in the old city). They announce their presence by clanging on the cans with the wrench they use to change the tanks. CLANG CLANG CLANG is a very familiar sound, it’s as ubiquitous as people pounding on (metal) doors and children doing… whatever.
Ok, I had bought the season pass of Battlestar Gallactica from the itunes store while I was in Malta. There’s a new episode available and I’m downloading it right now! Of course it’ll take about 15 hours to download it… I might have it downloaded before the next episode shows up…
Tried to buy some credit on Skype. It will let me call anywhere in the world to any phone for a very reasonable fee, it’s actually free computer to computer. Well, whenever they forward me to the paypal site, they ask me if it’s really me doing this. This annoys me to no end. First of all, even if I was hijacking the account, would I tell them that, no, someone has gained unauthorized use of my account? The big thing is that it kills whatever Skype sent them, so it stops the transaction. Looks like I
ll have to bring a credit card with me next time as Paypal looks like it’s being a real pain in the ass.
Anyway, once I get the Skype thing settled, I hope to be able to call you people! I might even have a number with a voicemail so you can leave me messages. Those of you with broadband, I could call you for free if you have a skype account hint hint hint
One of the new housemates is from Britain and I’m wondering why he came. He seems to be allergic to everything under the sun, including being gluten intolerant. He went yesterday looking for hypo-allergenic laundry detergent. Dude, what the HELL are you doing in Yemen? I’m a little fond of the place, but I consider myself on the hardy side as far as getting sick goes. He got what I think what we all had, but he got it much worse and had to go to the hospital. There was some worry that he had gotten Malaria when he visited a place down on the Gulf, but it turns out to be just some virus. I spent the night paying attention to my stomach, ooh, was that a gurgle, am I sick? It’s amazing how you can think yourself into an illness sometimes. Anyway, I’m fine, which makes me think I’ve already had whatever he has… We’ll see how long he wants to stay here, he was originally scheduled to stay 6 months. I give him 3 at the most….
Spent a lot of today’s class going “Huh?” I also spent a lot of time last night on my homework just looking up what the words in the questions meant. I lost more than I thought… I would think that with a little refresher, they would come back, that’s my theory at least. I’ve got a new batch of flash cards all made up with both old, now forgotten, words and new vocab. I’ll cycle through them, dropping the ones I memorize quickly (fingers crossed) and keep up with the more difficult ones. It’s weird, sometimes learning the language seems really easy, but other times it’s a lot of work.
Had some trouble sleeping last night, but I eventually drifted off and slept well. Unfortunately, I screwed up setting my alarm, so I woke up at noon, right when my class is supposed to start. Damn. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow I suppose…
Anne has given me an approximate date for coming over here. Yes, I’m calling all of you wusses for being afraid of coming over. She’s going to go to Oman and then swing around to see Yemen, by herself thank you very much… It’ll be good to see you!
Here’s more thoughts about Venezuela and Chavez, you can read it
…and it wasn’t bad. I was a little rusty, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I hadn’t done any Arabic for a month so I was pleasantly surprised. As a matter of fact, I think the vacation has helped me. For some reason I’m more comfortable speaking it now and certain words are “in” my head much more solidly than before. Of course others have left, I can’t recall many verbs for some reason but that’s what studying is for, right?
Chavez will become an official dictator later this week. He will be allowed to “pass laws” bypassing their congress. He has declared that Venezuela will become a socialist state by nationalizing the various companies in the country. I don’t think that he’s stupid enough to think that this time will not end up like the soviet union, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, etc. He knows exactly what will happen to his country and the people living in it. They will be plunged into unbelievable poverty all the while they will be told what a worker’s paradise they live in. Chavez is doing what is best for Chavez, nothing else. He will live well, just like Castro, Kim IL, etc. As has been shown time and time again, this is the logical end game for any socialist government. Socialism leads to totalitarianism, it won’t be too long before we start hearing about his “purges”…