Battle Lines

Had an interesting conversation with 宇宙人 about how 民主党 (DPJ) could possibly expect to enact radical change in Japan when all the decisions were informed by the bureaucracy:

Cabinet meeting agendas would no longer be set by unelected administrative vice-ministers, while the practice of amakudari, or descent from heaven, where elite bureaucrats are parachuted into jobs at government agencies or private companies, will be banned.

“When all this is done, we will have realised a new politics for all: no longer a politics of the bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats and for the bureaucrats, but of the people, by the people and for the people,” said Yukio Hatoyama, DPJ president.

Japan’s DPJ pledges radical reform –

Being a couple of gin fueled, slightly paranoid (with good reason, i tells you!) outsiders, we are still questioning whether the Japanese people will have the nuts to vote for such radical upheaval. A manifesto of this kind (along with the promised tax cuts, benefit increases, etc) is shamelessly popularist, and exactly the kind of thing that motivates the young to come out and vote… but will they embrace the chance to kick 自民党 (LDP) while they are down?

Even if only some of the reforms are actually enacted, it will probably cause massive changes in Japanese politics, just because someone will be forced to stand up and defend the systems of open corruption…

Attack of the Jumbo Flying Squid!

This is a great read, really entertaining:

Humboldts—mostly five-footers—swarmed around him. As Cassell tells it, one attacked his camera, which smashed into his face, while another wrapped itself around his head and yanked hard on his right arm, dislocating his shoulder. A third bit into his chest, and as he tried to protect himself he was gang-dragged so quickly from 30 to 70 feet that he didn’t have time to equalize properly, and his right eardrum ruptured. “I was in the water five minutes and I already had my first injury,” Cassell recalls, shaking his head. “It was like being in a barroom brawl.” Somehow he managed to push the squid-pile off and make his way to the surface, battered and exhilarated. “I was in love with the animal,” he says.

It’s hard out here for a shrimp

But check out the photography…

looks like someone shooting underwater with film. Crazy. The photographer, Paolo Marchesi, has some really cool work. The fishermen projects are really good. (stupid flash site, so no link…)

Keeping Busy Killing The Dollar

Over on Denninger:

That’s two hundred thirty-five billion dollars over the next week!

I guess you should get while the getting is good, but this is going totally parabolic.  That money has to come out ofsomewhere, by the way, in order for the sale to succeed, which is going to get rather interesting at some point – but exactly where it matters is impossible to know.

I expected that when we crossed the $100 billion threshold in a week the market would throw up all over it, but it didn’t.  Now we’ve got the government trying to sell a quarter of a trillion dollars in debt over the next week, the announcement is out there, and while the bond market is selling off to a material degree equities could care less!

He seems to think that something is going to give… i’m not convinced. All of those treasuries are on the short end. It seems likely that foreign buyers are rotating out of the long end, and recycling the cash into the short-end. If this wasn’t the case we’d be seeing massive falls in overseas holdings.

My guess (and all this is guess work) is that China is just putting the US on a shorter and shorter lead / leash.

Another part of this is that Americans are now saving. Consequently the banks are sitting on deposits, which they obviously aren’t lending out (too risky with the unemployment rising and the economy going to shit..) so it’s either parked with the Fed, or short term Treasuries.

If the theory is that money has to move out of the stock market to support these sales, i have to say i’m not convinced… the rules have changed. We know this because if they hadn’t the markets would reflect the reality of the economy. Which is fucked six ways to sunday.


Getting very close to the point where things become uncomfortable…

More thought / speculation in the comments at ZH. (mostly read this)

Not only is the yen “benefitting”, but both the pound and euro are moving in the same direction. The implication here is that people are bailing out of the dollar. Anything is considered safer. The fed / treasury must be pretty happy – they are debasing the currency, and things are still holding together. We’d better hope they don’t push this too far.

If you’ve been following the financial blogs (and not the mainstream media…) you’ll know that the mood of relentless optimism over the last couple of months has become increasingly strained. Official statements about ‘green shoots’ are openly ridiculed. YoY comparisons are starting to look good – simply because of the low base, so that’s what’s being churned out. Regardless, a single figure YoY increase, when the measure is down 50%+ from it’s high is not much to get excited about… and often well within the margin of error.

My feeling is still that while the immediate threat of collapse (of the financial system) is now behind us, this is going to grind on and on for years. How seriously you need to take that depends on how prepared you are for a zero growth economy…

The unwinding of the debt mountain is only just getting started.

July Diving

There are worlds in these eyes...

Ah, what a beautiful day to go diving…

It seems rainy season is done for the year and now we can get on with roasting our plums. It was 32ºC down in Izu, but it felt gorgeous with a nice sea breeze.

The water is also hotting up – 21ºC at the surface, but the last couple of days of winds mixed things up a little down below, where there were patches of 15ºC. Truth be told, it was actually refreshing more than cold – a good layer of warm water in the wetsuit and you’re good to go!

It wouldn’t be a diving trip without a little madness, this month provided by a stray アカグツ (“red shoes”…) that had wandered up from the deep (~500m?) to see what was what. People were getting out of the water giving updates on the location of the thing, as we dashed into the water, and down to ~30m… it moved. We went one way, it went the other. Near miss, but a miss.

Seeing as one hasn’t been seen for a few years it was a big miss. Ah well, just another reason to keep diving.

Things You Don’t Want To Do

So, you have to compile mysql to make sure that a crash has been fixed, otherwise you’re going to end up filing a bug… and we all know how much hassle that can be! Unfortunately you need a 64bit build (x86_64) on OS X… and you’ve never built mysql before.

This is what you need:

CFLAGS='-O3 -fno-common -arch x86_64' \
LDFLAGS='-O3 -arch x86_64' \
CXXFLAGS='-O3 -fno-common -arch x86_64' \
./configure -with-plugins=innobase
$ make
$ sudo make install
After that it’s all nice and easy. Up until then… not so much.

Hugh Hendry


Very nice series of three videos up on the FT right now. I had to watch them several times to get anything out of them… mostly because Hugh Hendry’s voice is so lulling and dream-like. When he mentioned that he had investors, i had visions of sending him money just to carry on listening to him. Perhaps this is the secret of his success?

He says sane things. Much food for thought. His opinion on China, and Asia in general, is insightful.

Right, i’m off to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms.

FP-100C Negatives

It turns out that you can actually pull the colours out of a Fujifilm FP-100C negative:

This had been left around on the window sill over night, and dried a little unevenly. All it took in Gimp was inverting the colours, and a tweak of the levels, pull the centre slider into the middle of largest peak. White balance, contrast adjustment, and sharpening were done in Lightroom.

Still need to solve the issue of keeping them in one piece whilst outside… a little lunch box filled with tea (honestly, that’s what someone uses!) seems a little unwieldy…