The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Every week, Josh and Chuck read tons of material. Here they share with you the best of the bunch. Enjoy it in good health.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Each week, Josh and Chuck read tons of material and a lot of it is really good. Here's the best of the bunch.

French Tourism Board: "Sourire pour les porcs de touristes!"

Translation above -- "Smile for the tourist swine!" Or, as babelfish says it, "To smile for the pigs of tourists!" I like that one better, actually. What we're talking about here is a directive, or maybe that's too harsh. A plea rather, to French citizens to extend a more welcoming hand for the sake of the board of tourism.

I drove my hobbled Volvo into work today and along Moreland Ave. in East Atlanta I noticed something that caught my attention. The ornate 50s-era stone building tucked between a Long John Silver's and a Bank of America (and where, on weekends, one can find some really good barbecue for sale in the parking lot) that formerly bore an AIG sign now bears a new one. "Huh," I thought to myself. "I know the Fed and the Treasury have rendered it statistically impossible for AIG to go belly up. And I know that I definitely would have heard the pitter-patter of riots in the streets if the nearly $200 billion in taxpayer money had simply disappeared upon the company's failing. What gives?" Turns out the business inside was still AIG, they'd just changed the name. So AIG -- those three little letters that have become emblematic of the concept of rewarding bad behavior, black holes and vacuums that don't lose suction...

Marijuana Tax to Save the Economy!

Some number crunchers out in California (natch) have come up with some compelling financial arguments for legalizing, and in turn taxing the crud out of the little plant the U.S. government loves to hate. An owner of two medical marijuana shops in San Francisco pays the state of California $80,000 a year in sales tax revenue.

Lucy the Australopithecus, Just Another Victim of Market Fluctuations

Back in the day, about 3.2 million years ago, an upright hominid of the Australopithecus afarensis variety, wandered around Ethiopia. Who knows what she did -- pick berries and wrestle gazelles and the like is probably a pretty good bet. She was just trying to make her way in the big, wide, comparatively empty world...

I came an interesting little tidbit yesterday on A cafe owner in Kettering, Ohio has a new pricing policy -- pay what you feel like the meal is worth. It sounds crazy, but his business is actually thriving with the new policy and he's in a position where he may even have to hire more employees to help meet demand. His Bulgarian wife gave him the idea based on similar practices in some European cafes. If you think that folks might take advantage and pay a penny for a $10 meal, you'll be pleased to learn that it's not going down that way. Turns out customers have a hard time looking the owner in the eye and telling him his food isn't worth much. So far he figured he's breaking even with some people paying a little more and some a little less than he'd normally charge.

Yesterday on "60 Minutes" Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke went out on a limb and predicted that the economy here in America will edge out of the current recession by the end of 2009 and begin to rebuild itself over the course of 2010. This was a pretty monumental statement because reserve chairmen rarely give interviews at all. So much rides on every word they say, it's usually not a good idea to have a back-and-forth with a savvy interviewer. Bernanke was wisely measured in his words and didn't make any guarantees, but feels the plan is in place to right the ship and with the support of lawmakers and the American people, things will begin to shift toward a more "normal" state by the end of '09. He also offered a rare peak inside the headquarters of the Federal Reserve, an institution that's still largely a mystery to most people.

Thanks to our friends at The Obscure Store for pointing the way to a story in the Naples Daily News. Down in Ft. Myers, Fla., this past weekend 17 kids (10 of which were underage) were busted at a house party. It happens, sure, but the problem was -- on top of the whole underage drinking thing -- is that the house party was thrown at house owned by Wells Fargo Bank. It seems one upside of the housing bust is the ample foreclosed homes on the market that provide great places to throw ragers for bored teens. The house had been foreclosed on and had been empty for some time. Apparently berserk on booze and hormones, the teens trashed the place: spraying graffiti on the walls, kicking in windows, and punching holes in the drywall. All told, the kids did around $75,000 worth of damage to the house.

The 2008 US financial crisis has been blamed on the excessive use of mortgage-backed securities. But what exactly is a mortgage-backed security? Learn more about these securities and how they contributed to the crisis in this HowStuffWorks podcast.