Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Love Guest Editors!

If you have not read the recent issue of Newsweek in which Stephen Colbert selflessly serves as Guest Editor, acquiring nothing except more fame, a crapload of laughs, and probably some cash, then you should see it. The FFM kindly liberated a copy from the blerdletters' and brought it to me, as he is so often wont to do.

Imagine the thrill I received this morning when I woke to an e-mail from my Old Debate Coach ("old" meaning "back-in-the-day") and Older Pal ("older" meaning that our friendship has survived the test of time, whereas the Plymouth State College Debate Team, sadly, was axed, sort of like the Geological Museum was axed here at University of Wyoming, except that I trust the Academic Powers That Be are embroiled in a far larger outcry at the loss of the dinos than that of the passing of the Debate Team.)

Anyway, Diz gave me permission to place a lengthy Just-for-Fun he has compiled here on my blog, so what the hell? Why not? Yesterday I shamelessly copied and pasted a funny I got from Kathy first thing. Now, since I haven't figured out how to use that cool "Read more..." feature in which I can hide text and you can click the little "Read more..." and get the rest, and since this is at least as long as anything I've written recently, I will let Mr. Edison Rathbane be our Guest Editor for a few days. Thanks, Diz.

Today, an Introduction and the Numbers Thing. Tomorrow: Big Box Mentality
Here we go:

The world today seems absolutely crackers, with nuclear bombs to blow us all sky-high. There's fools and idiots sitting on the triggers. It's depressing, and it's senseless, and that's why...

I didn't write that... It's from old Monty Python stuff. I believe the album was called "Contractual Obligation". It's always good to start from a basis of political incorrectness.

For those who know me, I'm sorry. For those who don't know me, you'll figure me out soon, but I'll still try to charm you with my personal allure. I have been known to use my personality as a contraceptive. I am many things by trade, but a Lawyer/Economist by training. I know that sounds terrible, but some still sing vespers for my soul. "We're the darlings of angels, demons, and saints, and the whole broken hearted host..." I didn't write that either...Leonard Cohen did... but I digress.....

The current economic nightmare is a quandary. On one hand, folks are taking pay-cuts and lay-offs, the other gives us screaming inflation. The worst inflation is on products that carry high multipliers like fossil fuel. If I had to design an economy totally predestined for self destruction I'd have a nearly perfect model. Welcome to America... I didn't write that one either. I still read, research, and do forecasting. I watch the trends. I scratch my head a lot. It seems that the average consumer is just plain outgunned by the big box stores, and nearly all the venders out there. "The price of gold is rising out of sight, and the dollar is in sorry shape tonight." umm.. that's not me again... it's Tom Paxton... OK... so that's the Arlo Guthrie version (he does an extra verse about slime that makes my day)... so sue me... I could use the money from the countersuit... or call me anything, but late for dinner. So what did we see at the bottom of the rabbit hole on our trip there and back again? Some intellectual pain, to be certain, but also some amusements were found within the process. Read on, ye of simple mirth. Ye Sons (and chicks too) of Anacreon Arise!

Edison Rathbane
Relationship of Numbers
I tend to teach Law and Economics on a temporary basis. "Temporary" meaning I just don't have the stomach for dealing with academic administrators (please note lower case here... and that Arlo Guthrie verse...since the first amphibians crawled out of the slime). I tend to do pretty well until some department chair, dean, or president presses enough buttons to convince me that they really want to know my opinion... ohh well... C'est la vie de madamme et messeures. During these Black Robe periods I have a little fun along the way. My generation is the last to have learned Higher Math without the aid of calculators and personal computers. Yes, I am also enough of a geek to still carry a slide rule in my briefcase. I still prefer pencils (Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Please!) over pens and those silly expensive hand held electronic thing-a-ma-bobz. I still prefer to play music on wooden instruments to television and the other electronic distracters. I had learned to use (and still do use) the electronic tools of the trade, but they did something terrible to my brain. By the early 1990's I was losing my relationship with numbers. Instead of carrying the weight of a clipboard, legal pad, and pencil... I was toting around this Honeywell-Bull thing with a 24 pound battery and was endlessly searching for electrical outlets and modular telephone ports. What a frikkin boat anchor. Sure, I reckon it impressed some folks, and frightened some of the Cuba Libre's, but it seemed to make me more tired by the end of the day, and dumber. I couldn't sling numbers around my head anymore. So.. I took some action.

I had remembered my high school math teacher Mr. Moulton. He made us do some crazy math things in our heads… sort of like a speed drill. One was.. fast... what's 3x 27? He taught us how to think stuff like that through in our heads. He also taught us to play the game of adding things up in your head as you put them in a shopping cart... so I went back to that... just to see if I could get the number relationship back. It didn't take long to come back. Numbers may not be passionate exotic lovers, but they are faithful. Since that time I have gone back to the paper, pencil, thinking thing, and I remembered my relationship with numbers again. Still when I go shopping, I add up the whole cart in my head as I go shopping.. it’s a skill nearly anyone can do with practice. Dick Moulton was one sharp cookie.

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