June 21st, 2010

(no subject)

It is adolescent or worse to be so preoccupied with how someone looks, and her supposed reputation among the self-appointed conformists, than with the substance of her actions and values. This holds true whether that someone is a high school student or a monetary policy committee. That has not stopped such preoccupations and nasty name calling from spreading of late regarding central banks. In imagery typical of the preening machismo of financial markets participants and those who report on them, a number of people of late have spoken about the ECB losing its ‘political virginity’ or purity last month.

One is tempted to ignore or dismiss such idle chatter, but let us take it at its vulgar face value to show just how empty these characterizations are. Cultures which make a public fixation of virginal purity, of a stylized maiden’s reputation, tend to be backward superstitious cultures that impede people exercising autonomy and making responsible choices. For society, and arguably for the young persons themselves, what matters is not a young person’s ‘virtue,’ let alone any reputation for such. What matters for society and for the young person is whether they are promiscuous, engaging in unsafe behavior, or getting pregnant casually, that is whether they behave responsibly.

So it is, too, for the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and all other central banks. What matters for our independence is our ability to say no and to mean it, and to be responsible about when we choose to say yes.
--Adam S. Posen, Monetary Policy Committee, Bank of England, 14 June 2010, via a post in Paul Krugman's blog

(no subject)

Half Man Half Noodle, an expat bar in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, uses YouTube for music requests. You shout or write down your request to the barman and he starts searching for the track. Within minutes your song is playing from the speakers.

I'm sure this infringes copyright, but if copyright holders expect Vietnamese courts to find in their favor, they'll be bitterly disappointed.

Okay, no flying cars, but the personal jet pack is here.

From Business Week:
It's been a long time coming. While Arthur C. Clarke's satellites have taken to space, and James Bond's futuristic mobile technology has become common place, still the dream of sustained personal flight has eluded us. But the future is here! Finally we can all take flight as Martin Aircraft in New Zealand releases the first commercially-available jet pack!

The Jetpack achieves with 30 minutes of flight time and is fueled by regular premium gasoline, though you will undoubtedly earn some disbelieving stares at the petrol station. Since it has been built according to ultralight regulations no FAA recognized pilot's license is required to fly one in the U.S., though this will depend on a country's specific requirements. However, despite being significantly less complex than a helicopter to fly as pitch and roll are controlled by one hand, thrust and yaw by the other, Martin Aircraft won't let anyone take receipt of their jetpack before completing their specially-developed Martin Aircraft Company approved training program. The pilot must also weigh between 140-240 lbs.

After nine prototypes Martin Aircraft have an accurate expectation for how much a jetpack will cost, and suggest that at $86,000 it is pitched at the level of a high-end car. As sales and production volume increase they expect this to drop to the price of a mid-range car. A 10% deposit buys you a production slot for 12 months hence; progress payments are made during manufacture with final payment due on delivery. Details and a deposit contract are available from their Martin Aircraft's website. (sic)
The site includes photos and videos.

I have no connection with Martin Aircraft.