Like a lump of finely tuned spaghetti bolognaise heaved over the dinner table of a dysfunctional family unit, the economic crisis lurches in a chaotic arc over the world, and how it will impact on it, as well as who will be left to clean up the mess, is anyone’s guess at the moment.

What have I learned so far?

The whole thing was set up to collapse. By defaulting on debt, the speculators could make money. It’s like opening your house up for theft so you can collect on the insurance, but you also control the payout from the insurance company…. This explains it much better than I can.

There are no investment banks left on Wall Street.

The history of Wall Street and Washington is long, and very cozy.

The people that are responsible for this mess are (mostly – scroll down to read about what the boss of AIG is doing) trying to extract as much of their contracted salaries and bonuses while they still can. These are going to cost billions of dollars. For example, the former chief of Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld, earned US$17,000 an HOUR to run the firm into the ground. I could do that for half the price – and I look good in a suit. (Any takers?)

The US government is weighing up the bailing out of foreign banks that own US debt. That is, sending US taxpayers’ money offshore to pay for the gambling debts of some very rich people.

In their desperation for cash, the US financial system is turning into a fire sale, with banks from other countries such as Japan swooping in to pick up (gamble with?) companies being hawked at rock bottom prices.

It turns out, that without the first huge injection of capital, the markets were as close as 500 trades away from total collapse on Monday.

The US$700 billion requested by Bush could just be delaying the inevitable collapse of the system – at taxpayer expense.

The thing is, what these traders were doing wasn’t actually illegal. (It isn’t stopping the FBI investigating what happened though) It was does within the regulations of the industry – just pushed to its limits. Now, ask if what they were doing was unethical – you’d get a different answer…

The world is waiting, not necessarily because of the debt problem. Countries like Australia are reasonably well insulated from the defaults, and others such as India have nothing to do with them at all. The problem will come if there’s a general economic slowdown as American consumers and businesses tighten their belts, unemployment takes hold and markets dry up. The article makes another good point that the tax system favours those who speculate (they don’t just get free money from the government to cover their debts) over those who produce things. In the end, that’s what really counts, right? The last time I looked, the ‘P’ in ‘GNP’ meant ‘Product’… Why not tax those who speculate more? Oh, sorry, I forgot…

This article sums up a lot of things, from Obama’s sensible ideas (bail out those who can’t pay their mortgages, not those who rorted the system), to some juicy quotes from those in the know, the reactions of government representatives and some nice hysterical arm-waving from those who are responsible.

The more I read about Dr. Martin Luther King, the more I like him. He really could cut to the heart of an issue. This article has a great quote from him at its heart. It also gets me thinking as to why would anyone want to live in a country where the rich earn so much and the poor so little…

I love David Letterman

Now for the rest of it.

By the way, Burma’s still under military rule. At least some of those who have escaped aren’t going to let us forget.

If you like to gaze upon a ruined wilderness and possibly contract a horrible disease, then Alberta’s for you! (What a shame…)

The more I read about McCain and Palin, the less I like the idea of them winning. Obama isn’t much better, but at least his ideas are better, (here too) but not by much. I’m a very long way from becoming an Obama-ite. And it looks like Americans agree with me to some extent at the moment.

While the US economic troubles are unsettling things in Japan, one of the other big problems at the moment is food security. Japan imports a large amount of its food from other countries, mostly China, and with ongoing problems with the food supply there, people in Japan are understandably worried. The thing that gets me is that every day I drive past rice fields that are left fallow. The farmers are paid NOT to grow rice, and they can’t grow anything else as a condition of that payment, so why not relax the regulations and let them grow veggies instead? I guess someone high up is making money off the importation of foreign food, eh?

If you wanted an idea of how things are run in Japan, you could do worse than look at what’s happening with the switch over to digital broadcasting. Two words: former bureaucrats.

This article looks at the issue of parents who are over-educating their children in Japan. As one who educates children, I am capitalizing on this drive, but there are limits to human endurance. Getting your children to memorize kanji at the age of TWO is a bit much. Nova’s program for two year olds was a bit of a joke at best; it was a miracle if any of the kids said anything in English. My current employer starts enrolling children at the age of three, but in our defence, the program is about having fun in English. Our kids don’t have to memorize anything and one of my three years olds spends most of his time running around the room laughing and screaming. At least he’s having fun and is getting over any potential irrational fears of very large foreign man-monsters, so that will be an important life skill, I’m sure….

Housing crisis solved: shipping container homes!

I think being able to book your holidays over the internet is a great idea, but just be sure you check and double-check before clicking to buy! Just ask this woman who wanted to go to Sydney, Australia, and ended up in Sydney, Canada.

Matt, this one’s for you.

The man who started the Free Hugs movement (I’ve seen them in Sannomiya) is giving away one of his kidneys. Bonus Simpsons quote.

Scientists have discovered an ancient coral reef in the outback of South Australia (Sheree, you could drive there in three days, I reckon!) which they hope will provide clues as to how climate change impacts the environment.

Hammer Films is back in business! For fans of B-grade schlock horror, such as myself, this brings instant salivation – and not just because of the Playboy twins… (work safe)

Those Sex Pistols royalties much be getting low. John Lydon’s advertising butter?!?

After my champagne in London, I’ll head over to Paris for dinner.

Today’s waste of time (life?) is brought to you by a guy who’s built an aircraft carrier out of Lego.

Want a real life Pikachu? Yours for only $925 million!? Aaaah, Japan…

Enough already!