Saturday, February 27, 2010

Desperation

Desperation is form of stupidity.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mitigation

Mitigation is not always worth the cost.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cultural Diseases

Cultural diseases have subjective severity.

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Pages

Blogger has added a page feature which can be accessed from the menu at the top of the page.  For the benefit of feed readers:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Down is Up

Constant repetition is a means to ensure down is up.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Re: The Baffler Vol. 2 #1

The Baffler is back with Volume 2 No. 1.  I've been a fan of The Baffler, "the journal that blunts the cutting edge," since I first discovered issue #6.  (I even sent them a hard copy of Neither the Government Nor the Population - 6th Draft as I felt that they did not understand propaganda as well as they might.) It was never published with any regularity, but was printed even more sporadically their Chicago office was destroyed in a fire in 2001.  It was co-founded by Thomas Frank, who now writes for the Wall Street Journal and Harper's.  His writings in The Baffler have always been far more cynical than later efforts aimed at a mass audience, but what the hell.  He needs to make a living, and a PhD in history isn't worth much when you've spent a great deal of effort pissing off the academy.  Although he edits this issue, this may be why there are no essays by Frank.  He wants to keep his paying gigs.  (It makes me glad I'm an Engineer by trade.  I don't have to care about what others think.)

The style of The Baffler is heavily influenced by the early Populists and Mencken.

Anyway, the re-birth of The Baffler was worth the wait, and would be worth the $12 cover price if I wasn't a subscriber (which means it would cost about $5 if you should so choose).  I have only one complaint: P. 149 and P. 150 were switched in a printing SNFU.

Samples from the Issue:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Unexpressed

Unexpressed is out of mind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Talent Redirected

Talent redirected is squandered by mediocre means.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dead Thoughts

"I prefer the living thoughts of the dead as opposed to the dead thoughts of the living."

-Patricie Holečková

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Determined to be Wrong

Are Mathematical Models the Cause for Financial Crisis in the Global Economy? It's funny how a deterministic model creates a deterministic outcome.  Randomness is not always random.  It can be constrained, and thus determined to be wrong.  In the short term, the scam works fine and makes everyone involved rich.  In the long run, it makes everyone else a little poorer.  The whole covers sucker bets.  Yet, individuals are manipulated and cast aside by powerful business entities that no longer have any interest.  Leaving ruins, these machines then move on to greener pastures.  Yet economic devastation does bring a certain freedom.  Some liberties can kill.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Next Crisis

TARP Panel: Small Banks Are Facing Loan Woe:
Nearly 3,000 small U.S. banks could be forced to dramatically curtail their lending because of losses on commercial real-estate loans, a congressional inquiry concluded.


The findings, set to be released Thursday by the Congressional Oversight Panel as part of its scrutiny of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, point to yet another obstacle for the slow-moving economic recovery. The small banks being threatened by loans they made for shopping centers, offices, hotels and apartments represent a major cog in the U.S. credit system, especially to entrepreneurs.

"The banks that are on the front lines of small-business lending are about to get hit by a tidal wave of commercial-loan failures," said Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard University who heads the TARP oversight panel.
Someone might want to live in a house, but who needs an empty strip mall?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Art Dies

Art dies when there is no longer any reason for it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Maximum Advantage: Exploiting Shame

The world is full of Chumps ripe for the picking...

I recently happened upon an Arizona Legal Studies discussion paper called Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis.  These emotional states are clearly being exploited to Maximum Advantage.   The Technical Morality manages crisis through reinforcement.  Being technical, its tools are inherently limited.  Efficiency is never total.  There is always some loss.

For managing crisis, simple themes are propagated.  Examples include:
  • Things aren't really all that bad.  There are a lot worse places to live.  (Hence, we fall farther.)
  • The economy has been bad before, but it will get better again.  It always does.  House prices will rise again.  Just stick it out.  You won't lose money if you don't sell.  (Even though you may not be able to maintain it.)
  • We (whomever) are in control.  Everything is normal.  Do not panic.
  • If you don't pay you bills your friends and neighbors won't be able to get a loan.
  • Interest rates will go up if you don't pay your bills.*
  • Capitalism is wonderful.**
Instilled notions may promote systemic stability, for a time, but repeated use blunts the effect.  Eventually even the dimmest will stop buying it.  Jobless and living on the street trumps the virtual world any day.  What will be the final crisis?

* Yes, I wrote this after paying my bills.
** Only communism is worse.  It was a feat, but they managed...

Monday, February 08, 2010

On Singularities #6

Political convergence is a singularity.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Last Ten Years

1. Sometimes the "correct" decision is the decision to do nothing.  Keep your mouth shut else distortion reign.

2. Politicians must always do something.  They like the sound of their own voices.  They cannot keep their mouths shut.  Constant motion is exhausting.  It dulls the brain.

3. Only the brainless or inept (take your pick) remain.

4. Something becomes nothing.  Nothing becomes something.   The soundbite is everything.  Deliberation is absent.

5. Politicians will always say something which is nothing but do nothing when something is the wrong "correct" action.  It may be nonsense but it means something to someone somewhere.

6. Affirmation says nothing.  Who cares?  It's just talk.  Politicians will always do the wrong thing.  Bets are thus won.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dignity is a hunger.