.. for the little bit of creative writing. We’ll get back to the ranting and links for a bit.

A lot happens in a week, especially when the world is teetering on the brink of a global financial mess that we haven’t seen the likes of in my or my parents’ lifetime. Some things are clear though. There is a fantastic amount of debt involved here: trillions of dollars. US$700 billion is a lot of money, but it isn’t going to settle that debt by a long way. The phrase “shuffling the deckchairs on The Titanic” comes to mind. The US economy has been weak for a long time. The growth of the past few years was leveraged on a speculative growth in the value of real estate which could only end. (It all sounds familiar, eh Japan? and things aren’t getting any better.) Ireland declared it was in recession, followed by some Eastern European countries. Britain’s troubles are getting worse. Iceland’s economy is on the brink. The European Community started bailing out and shoring up its banks. The crisis has spread – and it’s nothing like others we’ve had to deal with before.

Australia’s strength has also diminished. Relying on the strength of the commodities market is putting a lot of eggs into one basket, and who says that market is immune from the weaknesses in other parts of the economy? As the Reserve Bank looks to lower interest rates, Australia’s attractiveness to foreign investors will dip. Then again, with the Aussie dollar weakening, it may be time to send some money home… if I had some.

What is it going to take to sort out this crisis? For a start, it’s going to require a lot of government intervention and oversight; the kinds of projects that haven’t been seen in the US since the last Great Depression. I can’t see John McCain doing that. People need jobs, something that hasn’t been happening in the US for quite a while now. A massive public works program would go a long way to solving that problem. It would also shore up US infrastructure; something that the country needs urgently – before another bridge collapses. The government should help those who are struggling to pay their mortgages, not help the bankers who got us into this mess. No, really. Help those who are actually struggling. Maybe foreign governments should just refuse to help the US and let the government lapse into bankruptcy. At least the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would creak to a halt. Of course that would lead to a lot of bad, as well as perhaps some long term good.

One thing that I’m sure of, is that we are all going to suffer – especially women. Things will get worse before they get better.

The Pope blames the pursuit of wealth for the crisis. Hey, Benedict! Then you should sell off all the assets of the Catholic Church (how many billion would that get?) Just melting down and selling off the gold in that staff he’s holding would bail out a few mortgages, I’m sure. Yeeesh.

This has to be the best anti Sarah Palin rant I’ve read so far. It contains gems from start to finish, including, “she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV”, “rifle-toting, serially pregnant moose killer who thinks God lobbies for oil pipelines”, “(i)t was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag”, and “(s)he’s a puffed-up dimwit with primitive religious beliefs”. But perhaps, even better, is a blog, “Things Sarah Palin Can Name”. You could always try and interview Sarah Palin yourself, if you dare…. But one thing is certain, John McCain (as well as the rest of us) has a lot to fear from Palin’s naked ambition. A Palin presidency would make George W. Bush’s reign of ignorance seem like the good old days.

Apparently static electricity caused 1500 votes to mysteriously appear on a voting machine in a recent US election. No word on which party they supported, but you can guess.

Oops.

In Africa, China is succeeding where Britain, Germany, Belgium and Italy could not; creating a colonial system that works, and enslaving the native population. It is an amazing and scary read. I thoroughly recommend it.

Sssssh! The Arctic permafrost has been melting and releasing millions of tons of methane into the atmosphere!

A British school has stopped giving its students lists of words to learn to spell because it “distresses” them. Boo Flippin’ Hoo. I hope those same kids will be able to sue the school after they are rejected from jobs because they can’t spell on their application letters.

I’d like to go to Okunoshima in Hiroshima Prefecture – a beautiful island with a dark past.

10 people from your past who will haunt you on Facebook. It really more truth than humour…

What happens when you put a McDonald’s burger from 12 years ago next to one from yesterday? It’s hard to tell the difference between them….

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