jobs. and laughter. and economics. π.

Defying everyone's wishful thinking, the credit crisis has now spread into traditional mortgages, even for qualified borrowers. While it's nice to imagine the unwinding is done, banks have only written down something like $300-500 billion in losses...but there's at least $2.5 trillion remaining in AAA and Alt-A bonds and derivatives. Also, the system (the banks and the credit rating agencies like Moody's) have been putting off the inevitable painful process of taking all the instruments where they lied about the credit rating and re-rating them from "institutional investment grade" to "lower than junk". I'm expecting to see some banks fail, because I think any taxpayer bailout the bank lobbyists can get will top out at maybe $400 billion, probably less. Not even a lame-duck Bush administration can get away with doubling the national debt and bankrupting the country in one move.

I hope. At any rate, this is why commodities like oil and gold are so high.

Oh yeah, Happy Pi Day.

I have a job interview next week, for a position doing Perl for a company in San Mateo that measures ad effectiveness in a wacky way: they recruit people by giving them a free cell phone which, every 30 seconds, records 10 seconds of ambient sound and sends it back to the server. The servers analyze the audio to determine what ads or programs or songs were on in the background. It's actually kind of cool, since the "panelists" are fully informed. It sounds like their code is a mess, so in part it would be a rehabilitation job, but not all-consuming or anything. Inasfar as I want a job that I don't hate, for at least the next 18 months (which is how long it would take me to organize either grad school or a multi-month Zen experience), there's a good chance this would be fine. It's in San Mateo, so I get to keep the geographically-colocated lifestyle it turns out I treasure. (I get to leave at 5ish, cook dinner, go to aikido, etc.)

I had a different phone screen yesterday, with a large social network in downtown Palo Alto, for a job doing some unusual work with large (hundreds of terabytes) data sets, which I've wanted to get into for years. It'd be a bit of a mercenary gig, since the CEO is psychotic and the company is vaguely evil, but jobs using this technology are few and far between outside of Google and Yahoo (and not that common inside Yahoo, either--Google invented the technology and are still the largest users by far).

I have mixed feelings about any job interview right now: if they make me an offer, then I might accept it, and then I'd have a job, and then I'd have to go to work. And probably accomplish things. I have gone to work in 7 weeks, and I haven't accomplished anything at a job since October. Ultimately I miss the social and intellectual engagement of good work, but I largely enjoy not-working, too.