So I watched the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics last night. I can't believe they didn't have Wayne Gretzky slap a flaming hockey puck into the cauldron to light it. What actually happened is that one of the four pillars ascending from the floor to form the cauldron pedestal malfunctioned, and Gretzky and the other 3 torchbearers stood there looking confused for a few minutes before the program proceeded with just the three pillars - and no flaming hockey pucks. Mohammed Ali, it was not (6:00 mark in the video - awesome).
I have never been to Canada, but it seems pretty awesome. I'm not just saying that because my blog is absolutely huge in Canada - it's because they have so many cities which just seem to rock: Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver. I guess I'll have to go there someday. Watching the Olympics over the next few weeks, I don't think I'll be able to get the immortal South Park song "Blame Canada," out of my head at all, even if they don't do anything wrong:
One more Winter Olympics question? WTF is the deal with biathalon? Cross country skiing and guns? That's the best they could come up with? If you're going to combine a winter sport with rifelry, I think either Alpine Downhill Skeet Shooting or Nordic Ski Jump Riflery would be much more interesting than watching guys cross country ski around a big loop while periodically stopping to shoot targets. Who came up with this idea? Blame Canada, I guess.
Ok - one more question - did you know that Jaromir Jagr is still playing hockey in Europe? He's captaining the Czech Republic team! Olympic hockey is absolutely awesome - fast paced and wide open - and I"m looking forward to watching as many of those games as I can.
Last question - I promise: Which country has won more Winter Olympics medals: Denmark or Kazakhstan? I can't be the only one surprised to find out that Denmark has only won 1 Winter medal all time, while Kazakhstan has 5...
Some links for the weekend:
David Merkel @ Aleph Blog: "Ignore Anyone Who Tells You Debt Levels Don't Matter"
"Debt levels in an economy matter. They matter a lot. An economy that is financed primarily by debt can be like a chain of dominoes. If one fixed claim fails, and it is large enough, many other fixed claims that rely on the first claim could fail as well, triggering a chain of failures. This is a reason why a fiat-money credit-based economy must limit leverage particularly in financial institutions."
Via NakedCapitalism: Prof. L. Randall Wray: "The Federal Budget is Not Like a Household Budget"
"I realize that distinguishing between a sovereign government and a household does not put to rest all deficit fears. But since this analogy is invoked so often, I hope that the next time you hear it used you will challenge the speaker to explain exactly why a government’s budget is like a household’s budget. If the speaker claims that government budget deficits are unsustainable, that government must eventually pay back all that debt, ask him or her why we have managed to avoid retiring debt since 1837-is 173 years long enough to establish a “sustainable” pattern?"
Barry Ritholtz: Mathematical Proof That Companies Manage Earnings
"The WSJ reports today on a study that confirms what everyone has known for years: That many firms manage their earnings, pulling all manner of shenanigans to beat the street.
The way this form of fraud was detected was rather ingenious: The lower than mathematically expected incidences of the digit “4″ in corporate earnings releases. (“X.4″ to be precise) This simple statistical insight was due to an analysis of normal random distribution. “When the authors ran the earnings-per-share numbers down to a 10th of a cent, they found that the number “4″ appeared less often in the 10ths place than any other digit, and significantly less often than would be expected by chance.”
By finagling the 0.4 to a 0.5, accountants then get to round up to the next higher number. Hence, 12.4 cents is “managed” to 12.5, which then becomes rounded to 13 cents per share."