Help me understand the credit crisis

With some business reporting background, I really should have a better, more fuller grasp on the complexities of what caused today’s growing financial meltdown. But lots of smart people are having trouble understanding.

For the Philadelphia Business Journal in April, I put together an interesting Q&A on the mortgage crisis with E. Robert Levy, the executive director of the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey.

If only we knew then that that was just the beginning. Now those failing mortgages have collapsed other parts of the global economy, and everywhere – perhaps outside of North Dakota – is feeling the pinch.

A friend forwarded me a good video from American Public Media discussing collaterized debt obligations – the financial products that brought last spring’s mortgage foreclosure surge to the world.

It helps, seriously. See it below.

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My Services: Freelancing for money in a variety of ways

While I do have a few outstanding applications out for gigs in Philadelphia, I am halting my aggressive hawking of myself: this professional writer is going from “unemployed journalist” to “freelance journalist.”

The only difference is an occasional paycheck and less sympathy from family and friends.

Though I like the idea of the stability and requisite health insurance that comes with permanent work, I am resigning myself to trying to find regular work on my own in a region currently unfriendly to young media aspirants, amid tonight’s announcement that more layoffs are coming at the city’s two largest daily newspapers, part of this country’s continued newspaper bubble burst.

To prove I am taking this seriously, I went and added a fresh new page on ChristopherWink.com, Web self-promotion.

Here’s to introducing Chris Wink’s Services.

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The boy in the train station coffee shop

By Christopher Wink | Oct. 8, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com

Worlds – yes, disparate worlds – come to some form of a cross-section in red-eyed, late nights in train stations.

Early Tuesday morning, we were doing that, surfing the intersection of the young and the acutely itinerant – being reminded of the sociological difference between situational and generational poverty.

We, three, were in a 24-hour coffee shop just before 1 A.M., waiting on a 6 A.M. train. A security guard recommended the spot, a few modern chairs off to the side where people buy cups of foam and cream. A young man, a year or two my junior, sat beside me, tapping his foot and twitching in his chair, regularly, if subtly. The kind of movements you might expect at 1 A.M. in a late-night train station coffee shop.

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What can you do?: have a mental resume

You need to know what is special about you. Now.

You need to know what is special about you. Now.

You have a resume, clips, maybe even a standard cover letter you dust off for applications or to forward to new contacts. But do you have any idea what it is that actually makes you special – if you think you’re special at all?

Get on board and get yourself a checklist of the qualities or experiences you have that make you special, that you can share in an interview or even in a casual conversation with a potential network. You need a mental resume.

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Youtube: my one-year anniversary emits thoughts as a device

christopher-wink-youtube

I was fairly late in joining Youtube – one year ago today, the day after I launched this Web site.

My roommate first told me about the video sharing and hosting site in November 2005, a year after it launched and a year before Google purchased it. However, I didn’t even think to join it until last December, when I put this site up and realized it was decidedly 1999-like without any multimedia.

Video was a first go. One year later, I have some thoughts on Youtube’s use as a social networking tool, how it moves forward and what it will mean in the future.

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Welcomed by the children

By Christopher Wink | Oct 26, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com

He liked the movement of the mouse cursor on my computer screen. So I pried his hands from the keys and opened up Microsoft Paint. With a few interruptions to change color and tool, a four-year-old who stumbled upon me in a park in Budapest, Hungary drew me a computer-generated painting.

Children don’t likely understand the concept of language. I certainly don’t remember when I learned of the six billion people in the world, most don’t speak like me. The little boy with the dirty sweatsuit, dirt on his brown-olive skin, and sand in his bushy, black hair spoke on to me, in a language I couldn’t understand.

He shrieked, too. First when – hoping to get him to stop smacking my laptop – I took his underarms and lifted him into the hanging leaves of a nearby tree.

He was positively gleeful.

He got on toy horse near the swings and – with a strong-armed point and another high-pitched shout – demanded I get on one nearby. For a few good moments, he and I raced fast and long toward a Soviet-era apartment complex across the street.

Then he got off and wanted to be lifted more. Offering demand I still couldn’t understand, but smiling in a way I could.

I don’t know where he went. Someone called what I thought was a name – a woman in the distance. He asked me to lift him once more – into the branches and leaves. He spoke more to me, grabbed some leaves and tossed them at me – sand included – and was gone.

Running off with a green soccer ball. A young boy I’ll never know. Who shrieked in my ears, threw sand at my face and gave me a pleasant picture to keep.

Originally written for the travel blog WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com.

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Look at the comments, stupid

Man, who doesn’t have a blog.

Any newspaper that can even be tossed in the conversation has someone adding to it. There is no end to the number of jerks like me doing much of the same, with less experience and knowledge but increasingly more interest than the more professional.

The question, of course, is if any of it is working. One of the simpler answers, I’d say, is, well, look at the comments. If they’re improving, you’re improving.

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