Monday, November 24, 2008

Time for a depression?

Several years ago, I suggested a long run of high gas prices might be helpful, primarily because it would encourage car buyers to ask for vehicles more efficient than the ones on the market. That's happened, obviously, and although gas prices are on the downward slide now, I think enough car makers are committed to the new production lines that it won't be easy to switch back to huge fleets of gas guzzlers.

Besides, who's going to trust the cost of fuel to stay low?

Now, of course, there are much more interesting bits of economic news to chew on. Bank bailouts, automaker bailouts, home foreclosures, car loan delinquencies (nearly $23 billion at risk!), etcetera.

I've tried to be circumspect about all this, but why don't we at least entertain the idea that a good long recession, perhaps amounting to a depression, might actually be a good thing?

In the short run, obviously, the answer would be: No, that would be a Very Bad Thing for most people. But maybe in the long run, a depression would be the harbinger of a time of great opportunity, innovation, wealth and positive social change.

Would that be too much to hope for? I'd like to hear the well-reasoned, dispassionate argument to the contrary...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New scarves

I've finally gotten some bamboo scarves woven, about two years after I planned (hey, biz was good without it, so I guess that's good). Here are a few of the new ones:
The bamboo is pretty, for sure, but where it really shines is in how it feels - super soft and slinky like silk - and drapes. Wow!

For fun at the end of the warp, I tried (in the righthand scarf) a fairly straightforward overshot pattern (that's just weaverese for cloth that has a simple fundamental structure overlaid with fancy patterns):
I say "fairly straightforward" because even though I'm good at this, I erred once, as you can probably see. Maybe the error in the pattern is actually a design plus. I'm sure it is for people who believe symmetry must be disrupted to avoid the appearance of evil spirits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where's my slice

Colleges want a piece of next stimulus bill.

That's the lead story at The Chronicle of Higher Education today. I can't say I blame colleges for wanting a piece of the pie, but am I alone in thinking that something is severely weird here?

The federal government's big ATM with the "Easy credit? Apply below!" billboard isn't new, of course, but the blatancy of today's handouts is out of whack with my sense of business as usual.

Maybe this is actually better, that people/companies/entities feel comfortable begging a handout from good ol' U.S. taxpayer. At least this way, it is easy to spot who owes you results.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Signs, signs

Some signs are easier to puzzle out than others.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Give the kid the ball!

You know, when you go to the ballpark, you'll occasionally see some bully snatch a foul ball from a kid, or more often just shove the kid out of the way to make the catch himself.

When that happens, you almost always get the chance to hear 45,000 people (or 1,200 if you were at a Tampa Bay Rays game any year before this one) yelling, "Give the kid the ball!"

Now I see Sarah Palin's having to go through her wardrobe to figure out what's hers and what belongs the Republican National Committee. I say: Give the kid the clothes.

I'm not saying Sarah Palin is my secret lover or even just a pal, but I'm pretty sure she earned every damn donated-by-Republicans cent of that wardrobe being raked over the coals the past few weeks. And, pray tell, what the fuck is the RNC going to do with her clothes? Sell them as memorabilia to raise money for the next campaign? That could be effective, even if it would also be creepy. Sarah Palin's camisole for Norm Coleman's war chest!

On a side note, I see she wore a pentagram for her official portrait as governor of Alaska. Maybe she's actually Wiccan or Bahá'í? Or worships Venus? Yeah, that's the one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Our front page today

This was a tough balance, between reporting History and also hitting what local people are most interested in (this is not a blue county), especially at a p.m. paper. We've just hit the street in the past couple of hours. It is hard to believe, but this morning we got several calls from people who wanted to know who won.

Anyway, I think this page does the trick. It wasn't easy to come up with an original headline, so I swiped one from the Butterfly Lady.

In a way, all the hard work was Tuesday night. You can see the fruits of our labor here.

A great effort by the staff, in my humble opinion. What a night!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

We only work when we need the money

Every month, payroll passes out a little sheet for managers so they can see who has taken how much vacation, and how much each person needs to take by the end of the year. The latter is on account of our company's policy that half your earned time off is "use or lose," presumably to prevent workaholics from cashing out six months of pay after taking no time off in their time at the paper.

The way I figure it, you need a couple of weeks off, minimum, if you're going to go anywhere of consequence. But time off is accrued starting Jan. 1, so people who plan to take longer vacations almost always need to wait until late spring or early summer to hit the road.

You will be astonished, I am sure, to hear that every year, lots of people go on vacation later in the year rather than earlier. And every year, around Jan. 2, managers say, "OK, make sure you sign up for vacation early so we don't wind up with everyone wanting to take time off at the same time at the end of the year."

Is it possible that a competing system might result in a different pattern? I can think of two that don't involve cracking down on when people take time off:
  • Reorganize the year so that summer and fall's good traveling weather is not followed by holidays everyone wants to go home for.
  • Change the accrual calendar to July 1-June 30.
My bet is the first of those two options is more likely to happen than the second.