Monday, September 5, 2011

A Fleeting Thought

My brain has stopped working. The point of some meditation exercises is to be able to let thoughts pass without, well, thinking about them. Perhaps a busy life is required for this to be a desired and useful skill. As for me, I chase down thoughts dog and bone.

My synapstatition has torn down his calibration station and built a liquor store. Firing aimlessly out to space, or perhaps, my gut and arteries. Which, if true, really interferes with the only thing left when thought leaves, instinct. Luckily, my instincts are good. A product of a Catholic upbringing and many run-ins with hot pans, electrical outlets, and sadistic cats as a youngster. So I can fairly safely say I can survive this life. The main problem with chronic fleeting thought is the lack fun. (A quick qualifying of fun; somewhere between amusement and joy) While amusement requires no real thought, joy can be felt by upholding your responsibilities by pure intuition. Fun requires thought in my case. My fun is in contemplation. Does God exist? I don't really care. However, it's fun to contemplate the possibilities. My ideal God would drink Guinness and play a mean shortstop. He'd hate James Cameron movies and love romantic comedies. See, there it is, and now it's gone.

To fast do thinks that fill a brain
distill to drinks to kill the pain
aboard a ship that never sails
therefore my lips forever fail.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Here Comes the Sun. Da da da...da?

For shit's sake!

When, during the recovery process, do we begin to create wealth again? the fed is giving states a bunch of money to subsidize home appliances continuing the greenerizing of the country. Of course this will not happen for months down the line. So now everybody is going to know about it in weeks and if they were thinking of buying new appliances will hold off until this plan takes affect. Merry Christmas home appliance dealers!

My personal favorite snippet...

"The states are required to estimate how many jobs their programs will create. California, which will receive $35 million, preliminarily estimated that it will create 350 jobs. This was based on the assumption that for every $92,000 expended, one job would be created."

I hear they reported the 350 jobs straight into the one's teleprompter. Tragically, it was transmitted at dinner time in the middle of the blessing. Michelle reportedly did not even notice.

In related, predictable, and unavoidable news... The EPA has rendered it's endangerment finding regarding carbon dioxide (among other pollutants) allowing them to regulate at will. The interesting part of the AP story is that they don't say the EPA does not need congressional approval. The only way congress could rein them in is to cut funding, but that would mean the one would have to sign off on it.

Oh fuck it why stop now... Did you know..."The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in almost 100 years."

“The sun has been at an extended minimum for the past two years,’’ said Leon Golub, senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics and a leading sun scientist. “But only about 10 percent of climate variation is due to the sun. That means 90 percent isn’t.’’

Wait Wait Wait, What the fuck did you say?! I need help with this one. It would just make far too much sense to think the thing that affects the weather more than anything is the Sun. So when they say...

"If the solar lull lasts, history suggests it could conceivably stall global warming by years or even decades. During the so-called Maunder Minimum - an 80-year stretch of low sunspot activity in the 1600s and 1700s - Europe and North America suffered brutal winters and truncated summers in what came to be known as the Little Ice Age."

they are telling me the Little Ice Age was caused by a ten percent variation of our climate due to the Sun? That would beg a question about what the fuck, presumably on earth, could account for the other ninety percent?

Ugh....quick, I need a kitten.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ideas That Can Only Come From Academia Division: Abolishing Prisons

Theodore Dalyrmple, pen name of Anthony Daniels, is one of the most brilliant writers on cultural issues of our time. His reserves his special indignation for such things as nihilism, multiculturalism, and moral relativism. This month Dalyrmple has focused his attention on an argument made by a French professor of philosophy for the abolishment of prisons. I really don't have any comments, just awe. Enjoy.


"Whenever I am in France, I read the French newspapers (the French read fewer newspapers than any other nation in the western world, by the way). There is always plenty in them to infuriate me, and so they are well worth the reading; for it must be confessed that indignation is one of the most rewarding of all emotions, as well as one that automatically gives meaning to life. When one is indignant, one does not wonder what life is for or about, the immensity of the universe does not trouble one, and the profound and unanswerable questions of the metaphysics of morals are held temporarily in abeyance."

"...they should always remember that, in prison, small things become large; and therefore, if they have promised something to a prisoner, they must always fulfil their promise. For otherwise the prisoner will be eaten up by a sense of grievance, and there is nothing like grievance to prevent a man from examining his own responsibility for his situation."

"The desire to blur limits and boundaries, in order to overturn society, has long marked out a certain kind of leftist. Because in social phenomena there are always borderline cases, they wish to undermine the very idea of categories. They are like people who would deny that anyone is tall because there is a fine gradation between tallest and shortest. Thus, because some things were considered crimes that are so considered no longer, and some things that were once legal that are now deemed criminal, they deny that the crime is anything other that an arbitrary social construction. A criminal is someone who merely has difficulty in his relations with society as some men have difficulties in their relations with their wives (and vice versa). What more natural, therefore, than that they should all attend the same day care centre, where they will be cured of their difficulties by psychological means?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recession over, or Depression looming?

There is no shortage of opinion on the economic debate of the recession. Everyone feels the squeeze and certainty, in any form, is in short supply.

"The great recession in over" declares the National Association for Business Economics, after releasing a survey of 44 professional economic forecasters. However, Lucia Mutikani of Reuters quickly dispels any real joy of the news. "While the economy is believed to have rebounded in the third quarter, analysts believe that ordinary Americans will probably not see much difference as unemployment will remain high well into 2010, restraining consumption."

The bottom line according to the NABE is that the recession is over but the recovery is going to be much slower than after a normal recession.

The NABE also went on to say, "We don't necessarily expect the U.S. economy to fall into a double-dip recession. This time round, consumers will be reluctant to join the party."

Thomas Pally over at the Financial Times thinks, "The future is fundamentally uncertain, which always makes prediction a rash enterprise. That said there is a good chance the new consensus is wrong. Instead, there are solid grounds for believing the US economy will experience a second dip followed by extended stagnation that will qualify as the second Great Depression."

The solid ground...

"Unemployment insurance is not up to the scale of the problem and is expiring for many workers. That promises to further reduce spending and aggravate the foreclosure problem."

"States are bound by balanced budget requirements and they are cutting spending and jobs. Consequently, the public sector is joining the private sector in contraction."

"...both the household and business sector face extensive bankruptcies that amplify the downward multiplier shock and also limit future economic activity by destroying credit histories and access to credit."

"Lastly, the US continues to bleed through the triple hemorrhage of the trade deficit that drains spending via imports, off-shoring of jobs, and off-shoring of new investment."
(Cash for Clunkers)

So, What is the conclusion? I am always skeptical of economic forecasters who look to past data to draw conclusions about current data. I still think things are going to get worse before they get better. How much worse is anybody's guess. The smart play is to save and rebuild your credit if possible. Yes, if everyone saves their money the economy will struggle to grow. But I'm afraid the prospects of growing will have to include vast changes in current monetary policy. The safe bet is to expect a good result for the next five to ten years will be to maintain our current wealth with eye towards improving our financial infrastructure (credit, savings) to build on in the future.

UPDATE (Loghueriat): The comment option has disappeared for some reason and I'm too tired/lazy/me to figure it out at the moment. Anyhow, I predicted on BPB a year ago that it would take two years for the Dow to get back over 10k consistently. That still sounds about right, especially with what you're saying about a "slow recovery." I have to say that we're on the same page lacking faith in the powers of deduction in economic forecasting, but that doesn't mean there aren't principles at work. Economics is a science, not a scepter. The devalued dollar will be the story of the next decade.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Done (As In Doing) er (About To Do)

The shock following Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize should not come as such to anyone paying attention. The prize is to be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Overlooking the Nobel committees decision to redefine Done to include... political rhetoric (?), it makes all too much sense. The Nobel club just wants 'fraternity between nations'. They do not care which nations. No matter the rampant human rights abuses. (see appeasement of Iran) Nor do they care much for upholding democratic values. (See Iran and Honduras) They are just pleased to see the president talking. The committee has never pretended to have any illusions as to what it actually takes to guarantee peace. To these types war is always bad and the thought of a sizable standing army as a deterrent to violence and war has surely never crossed their "sizable" minds. They are progressives. They always have and always will promote progressive people and institutions. The only stick they carry is this award which, in essence, is almost sort of a bribe.(?) It's their way to nudge the president in the direction they see fit. So let them pat each other on the back and direct the outrage towards the Nobel frat boys.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Obscure Americanism

Chris Matthews answered some questions from a CNS News correspondent at the white house correspondent's dinner over the weekend. The gentleman asked Matthews if he still gets a thrill up his leg from Obama, to which came the response,

"I'm an American. Perhaps you find that obscure."

I was struggling to figure out what he meant by this when he went on to say,

" I have a feeling about my country. When he talked about it, I was inspired...I know other people don't report that...But I had that feeling and I will report it."

Matthews is then asked if it is okay to report his feelings.

"Oh, I like to report the truth. And if you have a feeling, that's part of your reporting."

Sadly it appears the new standard over at MSNBC is that reporting the truth is reporting the truth about how you feel. Matthews goes on to say the press doesn't need to be harder on Obama, but "I think we have to question the numbers though."

" We're going to have a debt by the end of the first term that is equal to our entire's scary."

At some point the gentleman asserts that it was the content of Obama's speeches that thrilled him. At which point he is cut off by Matthews, "No, what he said. The way he said it."

So lets get this straight so we can watch hardball with some clarity from now on. Matthews will report the truth of how he feels. Which is not determined by the content of what the president says, but how he says it. Not to mention the president's actions and policy decisions, which apparently are not really connected to Obama since he will not be tough oh him, just the numbers. No doubt due to the fact, or should I say feeling, that the former president is still the culprit. Perhaps your right Mr. Matthews. You are an Obscure American.

The Last Waltz

DUBLIN (AP) -- When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.
His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.

The sociology major's obituary-friendly quote -- which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer's death March 28 -- flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India. They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia twice caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it.

A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets they'd swallowed his baloney whole.

"I was really shocked at the results from the experiment," Fitzgerald, 22, said Monday in an interview a week after one newspaper at fault, The Guardian of Britain, became the first to admit its obituarist lifted material straight from Wikipedia.

"I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn't come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up," he said. "It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact."

So far, The Guardian is the only publication to make a public mea culpa, while others have eliminated or amended their online obituaries without any reference to the original version -- or in a few cases, still are citing Fitzgerald's florid prose weeks after he pointed out its true origin.

"One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack," Fitzgerald's fake Jarre quote read. "Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear."

Fitzgerald said one of his University College Dublin classes was exploring how quickly information was transmitted around the globe. His private concern was that, under pressure to produce news instantly, media outlets were increasingly relying on Internet sources -- none more ubiquitous than the publicly edited Wikipedia.

When he saw British 24-hour news channels reporting the death of the triple Oscar-winning composer, Fitzgerald sensed what he called "a golden opportunity" for an experiment on media use of Wikipedia.

He said it took him less than 15 minutes to fabricate and place a quote calculated to appeal to obituary writers without distorting Jarre's actual life experiences. He noted that the Wikipedia listing on Jarre did not have any other strong quotes.

If anything, Fitzgerald said, he expected newspapers to avoid his quote because it had no link to a source -- and even might trigger alarms as "too good to be true." But many blogs and several newspapers used the quotes at the start or finish of their obituaries.

He said the Guardian was the only publication to respond to him in detail and with remorse at its own editorial failing. Others, he said, treated him as a vandal who was solely to blame for their cut-and-paste content.

"The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn't use information they find there if it can't be traced back to a reliable primary source," said the readers' editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.

"It's worrying that the misinformation only came to light because the perpetrator of the deception emailed publishers to let them know what he'd done, and it's regrettable that he took nearly a month to do so," she wrote.

Fitzgerald said he had waited in part to test whether news organizations or the public would smoke out the quote's lack of provenance. He said he was troubled that none did.
And he warned that a truly malicious hoaxer could have evaded Wikipedia's own informal policing by getting a newspaper to pick up a false piece of information -- as happened when his quote made its first of three appearances -- and then use those newspaper reports as a credible footnote for the bogus quote.

"I didn't want to be devious," he said. "I just wanted to show how the 24-hour, minute-by-minute media were now taking material straight from Wikipedia because of the deadline pressure they're under."

Guardian article on controversy,
Soundtrack Geek blog on Jarre,
Wikipedia site criticizing itself,