Thursday, December 4, 2008

And You May Ask Yourself...

...well, how did I get here?

The Telegraph published this photo of Teddies in Spaaaaaaccce! Cute, huh?
Turns out, there's a whole lot of interesting going on here. The "mission" was lofted on a weather balloon, with the purpose of making meterological observations at 100,000 feet altitude. A team of school students in the 12-13 age range designed and created the space suits to keep the bears from "freezing solid." Temperatures were monitored both inside and outside the space suits. According to the article this photo was snapped by an onboard computer; it's not clear to me how the data was received. The bears, I'm sure you'll be glad to learn, parachuted safely back to the ground, and were recovered 50 miles from the lauch site. So the data may have come back with the computer (though it's not clear whether the computer accompanied the bears back to Terra Firma), or it might have been radioed back to the ground.

No word on which one was in command, nor when the next mission is planned.

Followup: The Daily Mail has another article with quite few more pictures, and a clearer explanation of the whole procedure.

Monday, December 1, 2008

OMG! Flying Sharks!

As you've probably heard, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) declared that we are officiously in a recession, and have been since last December. Now I think that in terms of plain ol' economics, a recession is defined as six months or more of a shrinking GDP. But in reality, someone has to make the call. That would be NBER. So last winter, many people on various media were saying a variety of things ranging from "obviously we're in a recession, but everyone else is too dumb to see it," to "this clearly isn't a recession, because it hasn't been defined as a recession." It was very irritating to see highly paid pundits, reporters and writers, whom I'd like to believe know more about this stuff than I do, miss the basic point that until we've "been in a recession" for 6 months... it's not a freaking recession! And officially, even then, it's not a recession until NBER calls it. I would have been so happy to see someone say something along the lines of "All the numbers look recessionary in nature, and we may in fact be headed into one, but because of the way we define it, of course.... blah, blah, blah." You get the idea... just a little reassurance that the damned talking suits on CNN had at least taken a one semester econ course 30 or 40 years ago in high school.

But of course it has been pretty obvious, at least since late summer/early fall, that this would be called- identified- as a recession. At least I thought so. But the brilliant minds on Waaaaah Street apparently didn't. Because their reaction to the announcement was a drop on the DJI of nearly 700 points- nearly 500 of those points came in the last hour of trading.

So in a magnanimous gesture of goodwill, I herewith offer a real reason to panic mindlessly:(Thanx to Manx at A Salute to Some Stuff for this great picture)

Got that?

Done screaming yet? No?


It's getting quieter...

Feel better now? Good!

Because it's all an illusion.

Perception is reality, and has very real consequences. But you'd think the traders would have figured that out...