Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Not the "Privacy", It's the Hassle

Looks like I will be avoiding flights connecting in Amsterdam: Dutch to use full body scanners for US flights

Since I have the body of a Roman god, I really don't mind if some Dutch hottie (or dude) scans me. The problem is this is an individual system. Imagine the time, the lines, the hassle, the idiots in front of you who take extra time because they are clueless (like the baggage line), and the extra hours needed at the the airport to go through this system.

I wouldn't mind extra screening procedures if they had a reasonable chance to catch terrorists, but the fact of the matter is they don't - and they won't start catching terrorists until they start profiling.

Until then it will just be more and more hassles for travelers, raising the bar even higher for scheduling a business trip. Maybe the "Total Recall" scanner where you just walk through without slowing down will be invented, but that is a ways off. Until then I will be trying to travel less.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inflation Estimate Off By Over Factor of Two

Wall St falls on inflation fears. Here's the key quote:


The Labor Department said the producer price index rose 1.8 percent in November, much more than the forecast for an 0.8 percent rise.

Whoops.

Bernanke and other economists in his camp believe inflation is not possible due to current utilization rates and unemployment. In their mind until factories are humming like mad and companies are fighting for workers inflation is "not possible". This theory ignores places like Zimbabwe, Weimar Germany, South America a few decades ago, and scores of other places where inflation took place despite the lack of production and massive unemployment. It was a simple debasement of the currency.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Walking Away From Debt

I have known people who have had a bankruptcy, have friends contemplating short-sales. In all these cases it involved a failed business or lost job, not stupidity, or walking away from a debt they could pay, or lying on a loan application. Bankruptcy has it's place - taking risk is a part of life and unforeseen circumstances change things - but I think people who are stupid or spend more than they can really afford should be thrown into debtor's prison.

So this article about deadbeats hits home. The woman who walked away from not one, but three mortgages, then goes out and buys expensive furniture is human scum in my book.

People from the Depression who couldn't pay off debts lived thriftily and modestly, the moral obligation of what happened to them hanging over them for years.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

One Area That Needs Work Here

The "service" industry here just sucks. Or, rather, "service" seems to be a foreign concept. You can wait at a counter for several minutes and be totally ignored by the person behind it , who doesn't seem to be doing anything else. If several employees are talking between themselves, they will happily ignore you until their conversation is over. When they do finally help you, they act like they are doing you a favor.

You might think I have become spoiled from my experience in Japan, which is the best place for service in the world, but actually I think Israel is well below the U.S., which is saying a lot.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

In Start-Up Nation

If you are wondering why I come to Israel periodically, you may want to read Start Up Nation, which covers some interesting facts about Israel, like:

  • Israel has the highest density of tech start-ups in the world, including the U.S. It is second only to the U.S. in attracting venture capital dollars.
  • Israel has more companies on NASDAQ (a benchmark for tech) than all of Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined
  • It has one of the highest percentage of college graduates in the world (and not in BS majors like "communications")
My own feel is that there is a drive here that exists when a country is continuously on the brink. But EVERY country is continuously on the brink, which is something the vast majority of Americans have forgotten.