01 October 2013

U.S. Govt Shutdown and Finnish Saunas

Two serious reads with seriously interesting article. First, non-serious stuff.
  • Why Finland loves saunas. (BBC) Interesting.

The only Finnish word to make it into everyday English is "sauna". But what it is, and how much it means to Finns, is often misunderstood - and it's definitely not about flirtation or sex.

In a dimly lit wood panelled room, naked men sit in silence, sweating. One beats himself repeatedly with birch branches. Another stands, takes a ladle of water and carefully pours it over the heated stones of the stove in the corner.

  • Absurdistan, D.C.: How Republicans are threatening to turn Washington into a failed state. (FP
  •  Why hitting the debt ceiling is so much worse than a government shutdown. (Slate

A government shutdown is problematic but decidedly noncatastrophic. Not because the government isn’t important, but because the prevailing interpretation of the law is specifically designed to avoid catastrophe. The debt ceiling is another matter. Nobody really knows what will happen if we breach the debt ceiling because it’s never happened before. And everyone worries that it will be awful because nobody’s created any legal provision for not making it awful. A breach is sometimes characterized as a default on the national debt. But it’s actually weirder than that. (End of excerpt)

A graphic from the Economist on the U.S. government finances.

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