What’s in a Name?

Nemo.  The name doesn’t exactly strike fear, but it has its share of loathing.  Who picked that dumb name?  Why would you name a winter storm after a fish?  Isn’t it just a publicity stunt by the Weather Channel?

I have to confess that I was as skeptical as anyone – until I found out whose idea it was.  It came from Bryan Norcross, and the intention wasn’t just to hype his employer.  “The fact is that Twitter needs a hashtag,” he told the NY Times, and that isn’t all there is to it.  By naming a storm they develop a shorthand that makes it easier to issue warnings and get people to take them seriously.  And that’s where Norcross’ reputation comes into play and why I’m willing to give it a chance.

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Another Pledge Drive!

It’s Pledge Drive time at Minnesota Public Radio!   That means one thing to me – I better get my own Pledge Drive in while I can.  It’s been two years since I tried an in-blog pledge drive, and the results were mixed. But I have to try again.

Welcome to another Barataria in-blog Pledge Drive!  There’s a survey at the end where you can tell me just what you think anonymously and easily, whether you give or not.

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A Cold Humility

(The Sage) knows he makes no fine display,
and wears rough clothes, not finery.
It is not in his expectancy of men
that they should understand his ways,
for he carries his jade within his heart.
– Tao Te Ching 70 (Rosenthal)

The short, hunched figure marched with purpose.  The weather bent us both down, compelled our gaze towards cautious feet and the treacherous lack of grip underneath them.  It was only a casual glance that saw the short red coat and hood approaching as I wondered who else might be out making their own time down the sidewalk.  A child? A friend?  Anyone I knew?

When the figure was close I could see it was an older woman.  It wasn’t until she was close that I could make out anything at all about her even as we both concentrated on our chilling task, the path from here to there.  I smiled a quick “Hello!” and she said as much back as we passed, still a stranger if also a comrade in purpose. But we were both anonymous in our shields against the cold that might catch up if we had stopped for any more than a word.   The weather itself had rendered us equal, distant, and humble.

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Gets Warmer From Here

The Superbowl is behind us, as are the depths of Winter.  In many ways the year really starts now that January is behind us and the plans for the year are set.  As we have come to expect since the real depth of the latest downturn, January 2010, there is good news always tempered with not so great news.

Jobs are growing, yes, but the shock was the downturn in GDP growth in 4Q12 – a 0.1% annualized loss.  Most analysts who didn’t see this coming (your humble writer included) expect this was due to uncertainty in Washington, a result that sounds like a cheap excuse.  But it’s all we have given that there really is no reason to expect that things are continuing to slowly, ever so slowly, improve.

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Money is a Tool

What is money?  Your answer may depend a lot on how much of it you have.  Ultimately, the main purpose of money is convenience.  A system of barter works pretty well when two people have things each other need – someone with chickens meets up with someone else who recently slaughtered their pig and both have bacon and eggs.  But if you can also exchange those eggs for money you can save it up to buy something different or bigger.

As we’ve concluded before, Adam Smith was right – money is a matter of belief.  Whether it’s gold, Euros, or Canadian Tire Money it’s worth whatever you believe it is worth.  Our own US Dollar is backed by the “Full faith and credit of the US Government”, which is scary if you think about it.

But money is more than convenience and faith – it’s what it takes to make things happen.  And that’s worth thinking about some more.

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