December 14, 2009

Weekly Blather Dec. 14, 1930

No Journal was published Sunday, Dec. 14, 1930. Since I'm now doing the snarky commentary day by day, I'm going to try some more free format commentary. First, my personal favorite item of the week, from Dec. 11:

Death of Rep. Stedman, last Civil War veteran in Congress, has started speculation on how long the last veteran of the World War would survive. Last soldier in the Revolutionary War died 86 years after its end; last one in the War of 1812 died 91 years later. Based on this pattern, last soldier in the Civil War would die between 1951 - 1956, and last soldier in the World War would die between 2004 - 2009.

This was a pretty good guess - as I mentioned, there are currently just three verified surviving WWI veterans, aged 108-109, all from the Allied side.

A couple of other things that struck me as interesting this week:

The constant talk about the “big interests” as a protective force for the markets - strangely unfamiliar, and I'd really like to know if it was based on anything solid - there seem to be so many mentions of their actions that the whole thing couldn't have been totally imaginary - or could it?

Bank of US failure - as I said before, I think the bank exposure to markets at this point might be a factor in the crash becoming really extreme, so it's interesting to see the market action this past week. Also, the reassuring commentary, as is familiar from last year when subprime began to collapse.

Educational dept: a great website for those interested in investing, particularly value investing - contains lots of hard to find material from Benjamin Graham (godfather of value investing, at this point in 1930 was coming close to losing his shirt), Buffett, Schloss, Klarman, etc.

A couple of quotes I thought of for some reason this week - these are, of course, completely off-topic and unrelated to current or 1930 events. From Ben Hecht:

“That is a fine thing about the Press - in a showdown, news and not authority is its idol. It will hurl its headlines spears at High Priests and Oracles and set up a clamor for their scalps. And 'truth must be served' becomes its battle cry. But it is an easily winded champion of truth. All High Priests and Oracles in distress know this. They have only to keep their alibis and denials clacking away until the derogatory noises subside. And then their alibis and denials will become news again, the preferred news, the news from the highest sources - authority's spokesmen. After which the editorial writers will take over and work their magic of turning black to white again and rodent-gray to royal purple.”

And from Joseph Heller:

“This administration has decided to fight inflation by raising prices to lower demand to reduce prices to increase demand and bring back the inflationary high prices we want to lower by reducing demand to increase demand and raise prices. Isn't that pretty much all your present economic policy amounts to?”

And finally, a completely off-topic plea for sanity in gadget-land: If there are any hardware designers reading this, please consider this request. I looked at a couple of E-book readers and did find them easier on the eyes. However, I really don't want to carry another big device and most of what I read is on my computer anyway. How about making a laptop or netbook computer with an E-paper screen on the top surface (readable when the laptop lid is closed). I mean, that couldn't cost more than $100 to add, and I think you could charge a pretty good premium for it.

1 comment:

  1. "Big interests"--don't have anything on this specifically. I do remember from the 1950's discussion of "big business", "big labor", "big government" and subordinate categories: "big oil", the 'big three (carmakers)" etc. Such terms were more common than today. And 20 years before 1930 there was lots of talk about the various trusts--the sugar trust, the match trust, etc.