Dummies guide to what went wrong in Europe and the USA

Posted on November 23, 2011 by

Received from a friend via email

Helga is the proprietor of a bar.

She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar.

To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

Helga keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers’ loans).

Word gets around about Helga’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Helga’s bar.

Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in town.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Helga gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages.

Consequently, Helga’s gross sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Helga’s borrowing limit.

He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral!!!

At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINK BONDS.

These “securities” then are bundled and traded on international securities markets.

Naive investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as “AA” “Secured Bonds” really are debts of unemployed alcoholics.

Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb!!!, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices still are climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Helga’s bar. He so informs Helga.

Helga then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts.

Since Helga cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Helga’s 11 employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINK BOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Helga’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the BOND securities.

They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds.

Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the government.

The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who’ve never been in Helga’s bar.

Now, hopefully you understand!

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Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996)

Posted on November 9, 2011 by

If he were still alive, today would be Carl Sagan’s 77th birthday. Unfortunately, Carl Sagan died of pneumonia at 62 as a result of complications from myelodysplasia in 1996.

Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society

(Image from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/be/Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society.JPG/225px-Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society.JPG)

Carl Sagan was a voice for science and rationalism. He made science “cool” (much more so than the actors on the “Big Bang Theory” ever will), he knew how to bring science to people who might not otherwise understand such daunting concepts, and he entertained while he educated.

I remember watching “Cosmos” and being fascinated by all the interesting facts and information about the galaxy. His show, along with David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” were two of my favourite shows on television when I was growing up and learning about the world and the universe around us. Both men opened my eyes to new wonders every week.

I read Carl Sagan’s book “Contact” when it was published in the late 1980s and later watched the movie about the book “Contact”, starring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey in 1997. “Contact” (the movie and the book) once again allowed Carl Sagan to teach and  entertain.

As a staunch “non-believer” in religion of any kind (and particularly staunchly against religion’s influence on society), one of Carl Sagan’s quotes rings true to me. It explains quite nicely the fallacy of religions and allows me smile inside whenever someone “preaches” to me that I should/must believe in a god:

The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying… it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.

Unfortunately, in a world that every day seems to have more need of a calm, clear voice for science and rationalism, we can only wonder what else Carl Sagan may have accomplished if he were still alive and promoting science and rationalism over mythology and fear.

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Is your house as ‘hooked’ on the Internet as mine?

Posted on October 28, 2011 by

At any one time, I have the potential for the following devices connected to the internet:

1 x iMac,
1 x MacBookPro using WiFi,
2 x Dell work laptops using WiFi (it’s drudgery using these… ;-),
2 x iPod Touches using WiFi,
1 x Netbook using WiFi,
1 x BluRay DVR with WiFi, BD-Live and Netflix,
1 x Wii with WiFi and Netflix,
1 x iPhone using WiFi, and
1 x BlackBerry using WiFi

To be truthful, we are not a house full of techie nuts. Well, OK, I am… But the reason we have so many differing devices is due to a ‘Brady Bunch’ situation – my girlfriend and I each have 2 of our own children, and we have semi-adopted one of her daughter’s friends, so we likely have more devices than most families should.

It is really hard to believe until you start listing the sheer number of devices that utilize the Internet…

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Trying to lure me to ‘liking’ or sign up by offering swag is social media #fail

Posted on October 27, 2011 by

Trying to lure me to ‘liking’ or sign up by offering swag is a huge social media #fail. If your product is worthy, I’ll return/join/like. That is the essence of social media.

In response to my initial rant on this, a friend quite rightly pointed out to me on Facebook

“Keep in mind if it is worthy and swag is involved, then it’s just a plus ;)”

Indeed he is correct, but give me the swag and let me decide if you are worthy of coming back to like/register/join.

Example – In this particular case, what has me miffed was (yet another) ‘free’ eBook on a potentially interesting topic, which, may I point out that by requiring me to ‘like’ a page or register for a newsletter, is not truly free… Now, because I will not be bribed into liking or joining, I won’t read their eBook, so I won’t find out if they know what they are talking about and are worth more of my precious time.

The whole swag for likes/registering gimmick It is a failed tactic used by old-school marketers who really don’t “get” social media.

Rather than using social media the way it is meant – as a conversation with potential clients and others in their industry – they wrongly see it as just another pipeline to shout out their advertising.

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KV CHallenge Marathon Relay Race

Posted on October 16, 2011 by

Although I wanted to run a half marathon this year, a Spring season injury prevented that from happening. A nice 5 miler in Hampton was all I could manage to get ready for with the shortened training schedule. So when some co-workers asked if I wanted to be part of a 4 person relay for the KV Challenge Marathon, I gladly accepted, particularly after we named the team “Three turkeys and a young chick”!.

Then, more bad luck. I ended up with a flu bug that has been sweeping the population, filling my lungs with icky green stuff and making life quite unbearable for the last week. Despite the setback, I had agreed to be part of the team, so I didn’t want to let them down, and today, we ran the race.

I ran the second leg, from Hampton to Hammond River, NB. It was a bit more than 10 km (6.5 miles), and although my time was atrocious ( 1:06:39 / min/mile ), I was happy to be able to run it at all, considering how bad I felt Friday.

Hammond River Run Map

Hammond River Run Map, as captured by Runkeeper.com

Turns out our team came 9th out of 23 relay teams, not so bad! 🙂

Anyway, a hearty congratulations to all who competed!

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Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

Posted on October 5, 2011 by

Sad day for his family first and the rest of the world next.

Steve Jobs saw things differently. I will remember Steve Jobs as a visionary and modern-day da Vinci, a man who could predict (or coerce) what the public wanted, a man who pioneered the concept of combining practicality and performance with elegance and style. He made products I use daily which make me want to be more productive and more creative. He pushed the competition to be better.

I had just watched the video of Steve Jobs presenting the WWDC 2011 Keynote the other day. He looked frail, and I had commented on that fact to a friend at the time. I guess it was a bit prophetic…

Grabbed this screenshot from www.apple.com

Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 9.10.47 PM.png

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Internet tethering workout session?

Posted on October 2, 2011 by

When connected to Facebook with my MacBookPro in Saint John, New Brunswick via iPhone tethering (through Telus), my active session identifies as originating in Calgary, Alberta… That’s funny!

I can just imagine all those electrons screaming across the fibre over NB, Quebec, Ontario, and the prairies into Alberta, only to come screaming back across Alberta, the prairies, Ontario, Quebec and NB to display my Facebook pages… They must get awfully tired! 🙂

Screen shot 2011-10-02 at 3.17.33 PM.png

(Picture screen captured from Google Maps)

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