Monthly Archives: December 2011

wHaTeVeR YoU cAlL tHiS.

Key Technical Matters of emailing at work.

1. Ask yourself if you would CC yourself. Easy with the CC.

2. BCC says more about you than the person you’re BCC’ing.

3. BC: One of the all-time great comic strips.

4. Not only should you assume that every e-mail you send will get forwarded to someone else, you should assume that every e-mail you send will someday be read aloud in a court of law. Discretion.

5. If your message is less than seven words, put it in the subject line.

6. An e-mail signature should not involve words of wisdom. Not Aristotle. Not Gandhi. Not Hayley Williams of the chart-topping rock band Paramore.

7. Unless someone’s in grave danger, no exclamation points.

8. Related: Grave danger is best addressed via a medium other than e-mail.

9. ALL CAPS. No.

10. small caps. No.

11. wHaTeVeR YoU cAlL tHiS. Absolutely not.

12. When in need of a font that’s a little bit fun, a little bit earnest: look to Helvetica.

13. Verdana? Please.


Also in video form.

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor, Miscellaneous

North Korea mourns Kim Jong Il

A sad set of photos. There has been discussion on whether or not the tears were genuine. Either they were genuine (proof of brainwashing) or they were compulsory (proof of a slavery-like existence). Either way, quite sad.

1 Comment

Filed under Asia, Photography

10 things you didn’t know

  • Birds binge drink.
  • Incan brides had to peel a potato to prove they would be a good wife.
  • Sharks go to the cleaners.
  • There are only two beret factories left in France.
  • The US only got its first roundabout in 1990, in Nevada.
  • Apple has more cash than the US government.
  • The average Briton suffers 726 hangovers in a lifetime.
  • Yawning cools down the brain.
  • Alice Cooper runs a Bible class.
  • Hairy limbs keep bed bugs at bay.

And 90 more at the link.

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellaneous

Rogoff on the sustainability of capitalism.

I’m catching up on some readings this morning, to include recent posts by Greg Mankiw at his blog. If you are unfamiliar, and are interested in economics explained in English, not jargon, his is an excellent site.

A recent post highlighted an article by Ken Rogoff, a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and former chief economist at the IMF, discussing the sustainability of capitalism.

In principle, none of capitalism’s problems is insurmountable, and economists have offered a variety of market-based solutions. A high global price for carbon would induce firms and individuals to internalize the cost of their polluting activities. Tax systems can be designed to provide a greater measure of redistribution of income without necessarily involving crippling distortions, by minimizing non-transparent tax expenditures and keeping marginal rates low.  Effective pricing of health care, including the pricing of waiting times, could encourage a better balance between equality and efficiency. Financial systems could be better regulated, with stricter attention to excessive accumulations of debt.

Will capitalism be a victim of its own success in producing massive wealth? For now, as fashionable as the topic of capitalism’s demise might be, the possibility seems remote. Nevertheless, as pollution, financial instability, health problems, and inequality continue to grow, and as political systems remain paralyzed, capitalism’s future might not seem so secure in a few decades as it seems now.


Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Philosophy

How to the 1% earn their livings?

  • 18 percent are financial professionals.
  • 42 percent are executives, managers, or supervisors in nonfinancial businesses. More than half of those are in closely-held (presumably often small) businesses.
  • 7 percent are lawyers.
  • 6 percent are in medicine.
  • 3 percent are in arts, media, or sports.
  • Less than 1 percent are professors or scientists.

From Greg Mankiw.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Economy

Unions cave to economic realities.

Manufacturers are hiring again in America, softening a long slide in factory employment. But for a new generation of blue-collar workers, even those protected by unions, the price of employment is likely to be lower wages stretching to retirement.

A price is determined by supply and demand. Wages, the price of labor, are determined based on the supply and demand for that labor. In a recession, there is excess supply (unemployment) and often, as is now, decreased demand. All of this means lower wages. This is clear to any student of elementary economics. I’m not sure that is news to anyone but a journalist. What is news is the phrase, “even those protected by unions.”

The NYT reports:

The wages for the new hires, however, are $10 to $15 an hour less than the pay scale for hourly employees already on staff — with the additional concession that the newcomers will not catch up for the foreseeable future. Such union-endorsed contracts are also showing up in the auto industry, at steel and tire companies, and at manufacturers of farm implements and other heavy equipment, according to Gordon Pavy, president of the Labor and Employment Relations Association and, until recently, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of collective bargaining.

“Some companies want to keep work here, or bring it back from Asia,” Mr. Pavy said, “but in order to do that they have to be competitive in the final prices of their products, and one way to be competitive is to lower the compensation of their American workers.”

The shrunken pay scale for newcomers — $12 to $19 an hour versus $21 to $32 an hour for longtime workers — threatens to undo the middle-class status of even the best-paid blue-collar jobs still left in manufacturing. A similar contract limits the wages of new hires at a nearby Ford Motor Company stamping plant, but neither G.E.’s 2,000 hourly workers nor Ford’s 2,900, nor their unions nor the mayor, Greg Fischer, have objected.

Quite the contrary, all argue that job creation must take precedence over holding the line on wages, given that the unemployment rate in this Ohio River city is above 9 percent and several thousand people apply for every unfilled, $13-an-hour factory job. “The trade-off is absolutely worth it,” Mayor Fischer said, arguing that while the city is actively subsidizing G.E.’s expansion here, mainly through tax rebates, that is not enough. “You must have a globally competitive wage to create jobs,” the mayor insisted.

Unions have long favored increased benefits for their members at the cost of higher unemployment within their respective sectors. This is true across time and place. Often growth can hide the effects as demand for labor increases, but there is no free lunch. Wages must come down, and will stay down until the imbalance between supply and demand is corrected – read, “globally competitive.” Then American manufacturers will demand more of it; employment and wages will rise.

It is kind of us to wish that those working in manufacturing made more. I don’t even pretend that my job is physically taxing, and can’t imagine swinging a nine-pound hammer as a career. But such wishes are arrested by economic realities.

Free market economists have long argued that inflated wages via union contracts push jobs overseas. It’s nice to see the unions finally acknowledge this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics

A year-in-review quiz for 2011.

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never-ending news is spooling off a never-ending reel . . . Now a quiz is set to test you and your memory of the memes… like the stories that you find, in the pages of The Times.


Answers are posted here.


1 Comment

Filed under Miscellaneous