The Parallax Brief


Unrepentant Subjectivity on Economics, Politics, Defence, Foreign Policy, and Russia

More Wordplay Baloney

After the last post – which I would like to add is a shameless plagiarism of the punchline to a cartoon I saw on Paul Krugman’s nostril-flaringly good blog – I’ve got some more wordplay shenanigans for you.

Obviously, my life in the fast moving world of Russian finance is thrilling. So interesting, in fact, that the highlight of the morning was overhearing a colleague try to explain the following sentence to the lady he sits next to:

“When you write ‘fish and chips’, should there be a hyphen between fish and and and and and chips?”

The answer, as you will all know, is no, but it did remind me of the sentence below, which I first read about year ago and is the kind of thing one stumbles upon when one has a niggling obsession with the English language:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

According to Wikipedia, this is a perfectly grammatical sentence, because Buffalo is a city (NY), an animal, and a (surely archane, the Parallax Brief assumes) verb meaning ‘to bully’. Work it out yourself.

The Parallax Brief can just about get its head around that, but Wikipedia totally lost us when it took us from the Buffalo etc page to this:

James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

Suggestions in the comments box please.

Yes, my morning was that exciting.

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You’re Welcome, America

Now the Tiger Woods guy is president, what’s Wubya gonna do? Drink Bud, watch ball games in his underwear, rip Dallas a new party-hole, and a one man show on Broadway called, ‘You’re Welcome America’, that’s what.

Well, Will Ferrell’s Bush will, anyway.

Lovers of Ferrell’s Saturday Live George Wubya skits will be extatic to hear that Ferrell is reprising the role for a one man show on Broadway. The New York Times broke the news a little while ago, and being the laggard I am I just noticed, but I was so excited by the prospect that I simply had to share.

Those unfamiliar with the character may watch below Ferrell’s Bush discussing the important issue of ‘the global warmings’. Be warned: strong bladder control is needed.

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Putin’s Better Side

Vladimir Putin’s alpha male diplomatic image is misguided and often counter-productive, which is a shame, because he does sometimes speak sense.

From the Moscow Times:

“[Putin] called for amendments that would simplify the rules for “conscientious” investors to make Russia more attractive for foreign money when the global economy bounces back.

“A rather intense rivalry for investment resources will unfold in the period of a post-crisis development and recovery,” he said. “And our task is to work actively on creating the most favorable conditions for bringing this investment into our economy.”

The work must be quick, open to the public and done in close contact with the business community, Putin said.”

Unfortunately, it is the Alpha male version which garners publicity and tarnishes Russia’s international image. But when you go around telling the heads of multi-national companies with money to invest, “”We don’t need help. We are not invalids. We don’t have limited mental capacity,” you have nobody to blame but yourself.

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Managed Ruble Devaluation Officially Over

Two days after the Parallax Brief predicted that the devaluation of the ruble was approaching its endgame, the Central Bank of Russia has distributed a statement to reporters that the process is ‘finished’.

From Bloomberg:

“‘Bank Rossii has finished with the major gradual correction of the borders of the technical corridor that determines the permissible fluctuations of the value of the dual-currency basket,”.

The weakest level the ruble will be allowed to fall to against the dollar is 36 per dollar and the bank won’t change the size of the trading corridor in the coming months, Chairman Sergey Ignatiev said in a separate statement.”

The ruble is managed against a bi-currency basket of 55% dollars and 45% euros. The lower boundary for the ruble against the basket will be set at 41, according to the statement.

According to Bloomberg, by 1:03 pm Moscow time today (January 22) the ruble had reached 32.7852 per dollar, 42.7814 per euro, and 37.3102 against the basket.

Filed under: Economics, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Defending Bush Administration’s Record an Impossible Task

It was not a surprise to see self-described “extremely right wing” historian Andrew Roberts (right) penning a piece in the Telegraph to defend the Bush Administration

And he certainly does a better job than Bush Administration counselor, Ed Gillespie, who mustered a set of monumentally pathetic arguments, reliant wholly on weasel words, to debunk the ‘myths’ of the Bush Administration.

Even Roberts, though, adept as he is at crafting a compelling argument, has to rely on some pretty tenuous reasoning to defend what is ultimately indefensible.

Says Roberts:

History will show that, in common with the rest of his administration, the British Government, Saddam’s own generals, the French, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies, and of course SIS and the CIA, everyone assumed that a murderous dictator does not voluntarily destroy the WMD arsenal he has used against his own people. And if he does, he does not then expel the UN weapons inspectorate looking for proof of it, as he did in 1998 and again in 2001.

Mr Bush assumed that the Coalition forces would find mass graves, torture chambers, evidence for the gross abuse of the UN’s food-for-oil programme, but also WMDs. He was right about each but the last, and history will place him in the mainstream of Western, Eastern and Arab thinking on the matter.

For a moment, let’s ignore evidence that suggests the CIA and SIS, as well as UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, did not believe Hussein had the ability to use weapons of mass destruction. What Roberts claims here, in effect, is that being wrong about WMDs was acceptable because plenty of other people were wrong, too.

Roberts is arguing that his and the Administration’s logic was so valid that even though he, Bush and the rest of the Right were proved wrong – disastrously, murderously wrong – it doesn’t mean that they were actually wrong. Oh no, not for a moment wrong: it was simply a case of that pesky evidence getting in the way of an otherwise sound argument. Again.

You know something is very seriously lacking with the George W Bush presidency when his die hard supporters have to resort to arguments as feeble as that to defend his Administration.

Wisely, Roberts avoids domestic policy.

Filed under: Defence, Economics, Foreign policy, Politics, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Can You Bail Out the US Economy?

Well, do ya think ya can, punk?

This additctive bundle of flash code from the Economist’s Free Exchange blog is something on which you could quite happily waste several hours of otherwise productive time.

Filed under: Economics, Uncategorized, , ,

About The Parallax Brief

I will make no effort to disguise my motivation for writing this blog. First, it is my conceited hope that there might be somebody out there sufficiently inspired or infuriated by what I write to actually respond. Second, in the likely event that nobody does reply, I reckon that crafting some navel gazing posts on the issues, news and ideas that interest me will be at least cathartic.

What does interest me? The Parallax Brief will contain unashamedly subjective posts on economics, politics, foreign policy and defence. As an Englishman working in an investment bank in Moscow, Russia, I will also attempt to offer some balanced views on Russia (which both the Western and the Russian press seem pathologically unable to provide at the moment), the current economic crisis, as well as the joys of living as a stranger in a strange land.

I have no qualifications to write on these matters other than strong opinions; make no promises to be impartial, maintain objectivity or stick rigidly to the abovementioned topics; and would love to incite some bare-knuckled debating. 

All the best,


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