March 25, 2011

Owning Your Home: Investment or Forced Savings?

Yves Smith contends that from a policy standpoint, it’s the latter. The graph below, showing real vs. nominal growth providing evidence for her claim. Via Naked Capitalism. Originally at VisualizingEconomics where the focus is on investment value of home ownership rather than social/economic policy:

A $10,000 house in 1890 would be worth almost the same in real dollars in 2010 but more than $350,000 in nominal dollars in 2010. Which matters to the home seller, real or nominal prices? If a seller is holding a mortgage then the question is: Can I sell for more or less than I owe? Since that loan amount is not adjusted for inflation then the nominal value is more important both the seller and the mortgage holder. It is when nominal prices fall that banks have trouble with high rates of mortgage defaults. But if you are looking at the long-term value of real estate as an investment (compared to stocks or bonds) then you need to take into account the real growth.

March 23, 2011

Life, Art, Tech, Fame: Gaga@Google

Lady Gaga bares, if not all, then much of her life in front of a room full of Googlers. Candid, engaging, appreciative of her fans…and clearly too hip for the room including the interviewer, Google’s Marissa Mayer who can’t quite be herself in the presence of our current incarnation of fame. But Stefani (she and Gaga are one, we learn) clearly loves her fans who adore her – no matter that her “life as art” riffs land outside the algorithms of Google’s culture. If art anticipates the future, what does the phenomenon of the Lady Gaga foretell?

February 19, 2011

Coming Soon: The Return of the Zeit Guy Chronicles

The itch to comment is arising again. Soon it will be scratched.

March 1, 2009

Farewell to the Zeit Guy Chronicles

This is my last post in the Zeit Guy Chronicles blog. I’ve been focusing on the work at “born of silence” and will continue that. The current content of this site will be archived at This domain,, will be the new site for the born of silence  content. To confound things even more, that site will be renamed to “Drifting Awake.”

So starting later this evening, the gods of technology willing, these three URLS will take you to the same site —

I post much different material there, and I don’t want to send you unasked for email. So if you want to be notified of the new work, I invite you to register anew. You can do that starting tomorrow morning.

The content here at the ZGuy Chronicles will be archived at

Thanks for reading and may we all be well in these ever more interesting times.


January 12, 2009

Poise and Grace in Motion

Breathtaking. Two short (under 2 minutes) videos of the same performance from different views. I suggest watching the top one first. Thanks to Fred Mitouer for recommending it.

December 22, 2008

Arianna, Tina and the Bag Lady Papers

Arianna Huffington’s success with her Huffington Post blog evidently has inspired Tina Brown to create a blog of her own, The Daily Beast. Brown’s site is also an aggregator, but one that comes from the sensibility she displayed when she was editor of the New Yorker. I find that her bloggers are more interesting than the legions of folks who write for the Huffington Post. Arianna gets points for comprehensiveness, but the style points go to Tina.

Two examples: Stanley Crouch on The Hip-Hop Inauguration, refreshingly politically incorrect commentary on hip-hop culture. The other is by Alexandra Penney who lost her life’s savings and income stream to the last (I hope) great icon of the Age of Greed, Bernie Madoff. She is now writing The Bag Lady Papers – a confessional grounded in the next great boomer fear: Oh my God, I’m going to outlive my money. Good stuff, the writing that is.

December 12, 2008

Curtailing the Tyranny of the Senate Minority

The title of this post is a bit on the dramatic side, but not inappropriately so, me thinks, given these all too interesting times. Good article by William Greider in The Nation on the Senate’s cloture rule, arguing for the necessity of changing it. Excerpts below. Emphasis added. Click here for the whole article.

If the Democratic Party intends to get serious about governing, it can start by disabling the Republican filibuster that gives the minority party in the Senate a virtual veto over anything it wants to kill. The chatter in Washington assumes that since Democrats failed to gain a sixty-seat majority, there’s nothing they can do. But that’s not true. Democrats can change the rules and remove a malignant obstacle from the path of our new president. Given the emergency conditions facing the nation, why should Mitch McConnell and his right-wing colleagues get to decide what the Senate may vote on? …

The last time the Senate changed the cloture vote threshold to overcome a filibuster was in 1975, when the Democrats reduced it from sixty-seven to sixty votes. This time, the level can reasonably be reduced to fifty-five votes to break the GOP’s stranglehold on major legislation. The argument for reform seems far more compelling now than it did in 1975. The filibuster ostensibly protects minority interests with the right to unlimited debate, but it has been used notoriously to accomplish the opposite. Continue reading

October 30, 2008

He Never Dreamed it Would Turn Out This Way

None of us is spared the specificity of a fate. Alan Greenspan’s fate is the loss, not of his head, but of his reputation. And as old as he is, virtually impossible to recover. Unfortunate and sad to be seen a fool near the end of life.

October 28, 2008

Damn, the Casino Exploded…Again

With the 30% loss (thus far) in wealth in the U.S., it’s worthwhile to step back and take an historical look at how this came to pass. Perhaps we can keep us from making the mistakes of the past again. Yes, again.

I highly recommend the 12 minute video below as preparation for the upcoming battle over the best way to re-regulate the financial markets. There won’t be any serious battle over whether to re-regulate. The Age of Friedman has ended. The best that the Friedmanites and one-note Supply Siders can hope for is that the Age of Krugman has not begun. But it may well have…

If you’d rather read the transcript than watch the video, click here.

October 25, 2008

The Technology Behind “It’s All Over but the Counting”

The new political social networking and campaign tools are not fundamentally concerned with information, but with action. Obama’s “ground game” is not good, it’s not great, it’s revolutionary. For now, that is. Each new two year election cycle will see newer and more powerful tools for reaching and mobilizing voters.

The five minute video below is instructive on the state of the art today. In it Joshua-Michele Ross of O’Reilly Radar interviews Jascha Franklin-Hodge, CTO and co-founder of Blue State Digital about “how technology is affecting politics and democracy in the U.S.” Click here for Ross’s full post at O’Reilly Radar.

In a manner of speaking, nerds rule.

Postscript: Technology + Charisma = (virtually infinite) Cash. The utility of this formula for political advertising is illustrated below.

                        Obama Purchases Ad Space On Side Of McCain’s Bus

From The Onion via