The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Fireworks and prosperity, in one!

Monday 26 January 2009 at 12:37 am

Happy Australia Day! And, happy Chinese New Year!

Unrelatedly, I saw a car ad on TV this evening saying “we’ll let you return it if you lose your job”. My how the mighty American economy has fallen …

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President Obama!

Wednesday 21 January 2009 at 12:57 am

Crowds watch Obama give his inaugural address

The presidential inauguration was pretty cool! I thought it particularly amusing that every time George Bush appeared on the big screens, the crowd booed! They booed a little less at Laura Bush (and at George Bush senior, before they realised who it was). When Hilary Clinton appeared, they cheered! Then when Bill Clinton appeared, there was raucous applause! And when the Obama family showed up, the crowd went wild!

(And, about half an hour after the ceremony, that same crowd jeered at the Marine helicopter flying over the National Mall to carry George Bush out of DC …)

Crowds by the Washington Monument

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For Sergey: a Eurozone trialled by fire?

Thursday 15 January 2009 at 11:12 pm

I wonder if the pace of EU expansion, and the integration of new members, will be slowed by the present recession/crisis/oh-no-the-world-is-ending state of economic ungoodness? Consider, for instance, Romania.

Just like, well, everyone, Romania’s government this week announced a stimulus package of tax breaks for small businesses (even though they’re still growing at a respectable 3%). But progress towards proper integration, like adopting the Euro or joining the Schengen visa-free travel agreement, seem to be slowing — in the latter case, the schedule that insists 2011 is the date seems increasingly tenuous.

Not long ago, the strengthening and expansion of the EU was one of the best (indeed, one of the only) hopes for the region’s economies to get back on track to growth — but if that’s slowing down, I wonder whether the first real test of the Eurozone will just end up exposing its weaknesses.


Someone’s happy he’s leaving office

Monday 12 January 2009 at 11:49 pm

Poster featuring George Bush, saying DONE

At the bottom of a freeway overpass in San Francisco.

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Playing catch-up, again

Monday 12 January 2009 at 10:29 pm
  • Let’s start with the American car industry bailout, since I neglected to comment on the give-the-plebs-some-cash stimulus packages that happened in both the US (where a second is coming!) and Australia. I was not a fan of the $13.4 billion move, and public opinion was clearly against it, although that was mixed with perceptions that spread blame for the industry’s woes far and wide. And so Ford, for example, felt it necessary to go to the lengths of a flashy PR campaign to tell people “no, honestly, we’re not all bad, we deserve the money”!
  • I find it hilarious, and also more than a bit terrifying, that the state government of California is so heavily screwed by its inability to get a budget together that the governor is talking about reducing the school year, and the state’s biggest paper is suggesting a Commonwealth-style rule to force an election after blocking supply. (Ha!)
  • The big news story of the week in the Bay Area is that a seemingly innocent dude (who, by the way, was black) got shot by railway police after New Years celebrations, which has been enough to stoke a few protests (particularly among San Franciscans who see themselves as above such things) and earn blanket coverage on commercial TV.
  • The new president’s inauguration hasn’t even happened yet (though on that note, I’ll be there and will post photos on this blog!), but on Facebook I already see folks gearing up for the next round of elections! Thus both San Francisco’s mayor and a Valley billionaire and sitting member are already gaining support for upcoming runs on the California governor’s office. And Facebook’s ad system is even deigning to show me ads for specialised software for managing election campaigns!