Sunday, January 27, 2008

This and that

Hawaii on $100 a day with the frugal travelers - NYT.

The Venice Carnival - BBC.

Oops, old media - new technology.

Highlights of new technology at the Las Vegas CES.

New devices that listen to you.

Rethinking the health and environmental impacts of a meat diet. Janette has decided to go Vegan. What! No cheese! I even had a coupon for cheese enchiladas and would have taken her out to Taco Cabana.

In trying to explain how the government lies with statistics the other day to Pat I used the more recent changes to the cost of living and consumer price indices which use substitution and chaining. If you used to have steak once a week but the price shot up and you decided you couldn't afford it and switched to pork chops the economists will note your switch and not use steak in the index any more. As there are more things you can't afford the government economists happily note that inflation is diminishing. You used to spend $6 on steaks and now you spend $4 on hot dogs because you can't afford the $15 for steak. The inflation figures now factor in that decrease and say food prices are declining due to substitution.

I also talked about that there should be a separate CPI index for Social Security recipients to calculate the COLA they receive each year. Seniors have a different pattern of spending of which health care is a much larger component. Health care costs have been increasing for years much more rapidly than other items. Instead, Republicans and other politicians proposed they receive the CPI minus 0.5% or 1.0% because, you know, inflation isn't really as high as it is being measured. They aren't using enough chaining and substitution measurements these Republican economists claim. They point to the better quality of today's electronics at lower prices compared to older stuff. They ignore the other basic commodities that are increasing in price.

Government economists have switched to measuring rent increases instead of housing costs despite the fact that most people own homes. The reason is that for decades rents have been rising slower and that would factor into a lower inflation rate. They wanted to reduce government expenditures and lowering Social Security payments really mount up.

Then I talked about banks and the Federal Reserve and what is money (M1 M2 M3 M4 anyone?) and how gold is a good investment when your government is lying to you and doesn't know how to manage money.

If you can't tell, Pat had called me up at 3 AM and asked me to talk about something that would put her back to sleep.

Demographic changes - the new single young men.

What I learned in science class about gummy bears.

Sub-prime mortgages killing Shaker Heights in Cleveland.
Is the economy to blame for the recent gang violence?
Cleveland area's foreclosure crisis.
Cleveland - preparing for recession.

Dwight asks "Are you a tech addict?"

To Boldly Go Shakespearean.

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