Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
David I. Levine a professor of economics at University of California-Berkeley, says the current plan being discussed has the wrong structure. ``The structure is designed for the Treasury to be the first line of defense,'' said Levine, who studies organizations and incentives. ``A whole lot of people made money supposedly by putting their capital at risk, and those are supposed to be the first line of defense, that's how capitalism works.'' Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University professor and self- described libertarian, objects to what he says is `` a stunningly broad, aggressive government intervention without appropriate precedents.'' He advocates allowing the normal process of business failure and bankruptcy to run its course. ``It's just nothing like the calamity the administration is making it out to be,'' he said.
The problem is that it is something new within the past 20 years or so. Derivatives, which have bedeviled banks and pension funds since the 1990's, may flow unchecked through the system like a cancer. Theory has not kept up with Reality. It lags behind. Reality is hustlers; Theory is academics.
How many of the economists have a working grasp of the complex system we call today's Markets? Not bloody many. I mean, I told my daughter in August, 2007 that the Dow would decline to 10,500. That was over a year ago. I think I certainly had a better grasp than 75% of the economists who signed the Letter to America that Senator Shelby was waving around on TV last night.
The economist cited above does not have any understanding of what is involved. He has a rudimentary and jejune scenario of free markets in his head when he talks about letting it run its course. The classical mental simulation is based on individual entities in a free markets, some succeeding, some falling by the wayside. This does not incorporate within itself any notion of the cancerous spread of a pandemic of derivative disease from one entity to all others.
Unfortunately, like so many other things today, the Financial Sector problems resemble HIV/AIDS. Wall Street resembles the East Village in the 1980's where a number of prominent members of the community are ill, many other fear they too are ill, and the medical knowledge to treat the illness does not exist. The logic of the morttality of HIV/AIDS differs from the mortality logic of Predator & Prey in a stable population, yet economists like Prof. Levine seem to think not. There is a half-baked notion of zero-sum economics floating around our heads. This model does not even begin to address the complexity of a game where even those people who choose not to play may loose everything, including their lives. What is clear is: whatever the treatment, it will roughly cost the same...or more...and there is no sugar daddy, Warren Buffet excepted, who is going to pay for it.
John McCain knows nothing about economics. He cannot learn enough in 1 or 2 weeks to come up with a working knowledge, nor a hazy intuition. I do not know about Obama, but I do not see him sticking his toxic two cents in like McCain "I think of the country first" does.
What do I think? I thought the proposal the people on the Hill worked out seemed plausible. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not.
However, this brings us to a time of choice, a time when you can no longer let an issue be a political issue, subject to endless debate. We must choose, and then live with the consequences of our choice. This is not Climate Change Game Scenario where we may prattle on forever.
Wait and see.
My biggest concern about current events is the fact that the Wall Street people involved knew very well the type of activities they were involved in, and they knew what the outcome would be. This does not reassure you when the educated people are quite willing to destroy the country and everyone else in order to secure their own profit.
Honor and Integrity are not traits that we can resolve to henceforth act upon, such as thrift and economy. Honor and Integrity take years to create. Did it not occur to us when we were about to embark upon a manifestly illegal war that we were not acting honorably? Did it not occur to us when the highest leaders in the land sat around at the White House and openly discussed torture - in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and all that we have held to be true - that we were not acting honorably?
Our ability to express horror and grief, such as when we watched the suffering on 9/11, does not mark us as good and honorable folk, for even the vile may grieve. The greater our sorrow, the greater the difficulty to act as people of integrity, remembering our morals and ethics, keeping sight of the standards which separate us from dumb brutes.
It would be well to keep what happened in mind: the more powerful the nation, the more powerful will be the retribution for its dishonorable acts. I believe we are lucky that this all happened now, rather than later. Can you imagine the chickens coming to roost if we had handily won the war in Iraq, thus emboldened to further outrages against international and moral law?
Can you think what it would be like if we took the torture of prisoners to be a sign of maturity and manliness; to be a burden for the new leaders of the 21st century to be carried with pride? What would the world be like if the time lines of the future went the way of further cementing the grasp of the simple minds and simple evils of the Bush Administration, further subverting the Constitution in their maniacal appeal to our fears, rather than what is best in us?
Can you in your wildest dreams imagine what it now would be like if Bush, thrust forward by his successes, had accomplished the Republican dream of privatizing Social Security, so that now those accounts could be in shambles, too? Where would we be if the corruption on Wall Street, buoyed by the above turn of events, reinforced by the outstanding success of depravity, went on to further heights after further heights, forgetting...forgetting... ...that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Perhaps it is time to listen to what Jeremiah Wright was saying, and to understand why he said it, rather than the usual idiotic response we have to any and all criticism. Truly, then, history would have come to an end for us, just like the Neocons said.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It has been brought to my attention that I seriously erred in paralleling John McCain to Nero, demented as they both may be, for truly John McCain most closely approximates Claudius, the successor of Caligula and the predecessor of Nero. If you remember the PBS special "I, Claudius", I think you will agree that Derek Jacobi rather nails the McCain personality in his bumbling and stumbling. And, if that is not enough, there is either Sarah Palin or Cindy as Agrippina, more properly Julia Agrippina Minor. She was the daughter of Agrippina the Elder and Germanicus and eventually wife of Claudius. If Cindy plays Agrippina, then Sarah may play a governor of a far-away province. Pontius Pilate comes to mind. (I believe in the original "I,Claudius", Patrick Stewart played Pontius.) Agrippina is rumored to have poisoned Claudius. Accounts vary widely. In time...in time......all in good time...
Once the government took over the entire institutions, the shareholders lose everything. Once shareholders see shareholders loosing everything, they do not invest. So after that time, no one in their right minds would invest a penny in Lehman Brothers, nor any other financial stock which may possibly get into trouble and need the kind attention of the government. Since no one would invest, stocks went begging for buyers. Thus stocks declined quickly. The short sellers took advantage of this and facilitated it, but did not cause it. They offered to buy stock from panicky shareholders who would rather loose 50% by a short sale than 100% to the government. Who else would buy Lehman Brothers, other than a gambler? No one.
The ban on short sales actually will assist in the bail out, since we have forbidden the only potential buyer of distressed stocks to purchase anymore for a while. Thus, there is no exit until the bail out is made law. The bail out now proposed will put an end to this process. It does not look to assign blame, but that can wait. It should wait since (1) we already know who built the playground: Republicans and Phil Gramm, and (2) it will take a bit of time to scour all the spider-holes in the Hamptons for the miscreants.
However, no matter how it turns out, America has changed forever. I think for the better. Why? Because of the incredibly complex scenario of heroism we see before us. It was not enough to have idiotic Republicans going into an election against Hilary Clinton, who would then sweep to the White House. No. We have a contender who was a relative unknown until 2 years ago. No only is he new to the national focus, but he is a black man. So now America must deal with its racism. It wasn't enough to deal with war-mongering and lieing and torturing and those ethical issues and well as bread and butter ones; now we must deal with our own racism!
We actually have to go into this election and confront ourselves. We actually have to choose whether we shall continue to give overt or covert support to the diseases which bedevil this country. That does not happen too often. We shall see what happens. Shall we be heroes and overcome our baser selves? Or shall we not. And what is the future for failed heroes? Philoctetes. He is the future of failed heroes. Philoctetes sits on his island in his nauseating misery.
Monday, September 22, 2008
There are things in the world we experience. There are states-of-things in the world we experience.
As conscious beings, we create structures of consciousness by which we perceive, understand, communicate, and store the states-of-things in the world. These structures of consciousness are themselves objects of our consciousness.
Hence, they are perceived, understood, communicated, and stored, becoming thereby states-of-affairs which may be experienced by us in the future. Now we have a consciousness structure of many levels and vast complexity. Within this structure, there are lacuna, hiatuses, and empty blanks. These are areas of ignorance.
Conscious entities, by definition, cannot have gaps in consciousness.
All such gaps must be filled in. [If there is a gap in consciousness, we have a fugue-like state, a coma, a failure of memory. A gap is a symptom of a problem.] If we choose to remedy ignorance, we actively set out to learn. Once the learning process is finished - we no longer actively wish to augment our knowledge, we are satisfied- we have reached a point where we consider our desire for knowledge to be satiated.
At this point, there are no gaps.
The gaps have been filled in by experience of things or derived structures of consciousness: something an authority has told us, something our parents said, something our teachers taught, etc. There are no gaps. If there is a gap, consciousness will fill it in with anything that comes to hand. Mankind will desire knowledge. Once it no longer desires knowledge, any remaining gaps will be filled in by myth, story, scenario, humming, activities, pictures....you name it.
This is how we see our gods: we do a certain amount of work, reach a point where we are satisfied, then fill in all the gaps and blanks with derivative knowledge of various provenances. The path to God never ends. If you are satisfied with your knowledge of the Divine, you are living in a play pen, theologically speaking. (If this resembles the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, I demure at any comparison. My actual favorite Philosopher is Katerina Wittgenstein.)
with the picture on it, along with the inscription:
I am not sure whether we shall add an optional smiley face.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Even though I have been predicting gloom and doom for years, I draw no pleasure in it. Quite the contrary, the events of the last week have put me out of sorts.
I refused to listen to radio of TV news for 2 days.
Secondly, there is a 50/50 chance things will work out as the government anticipates; maybe a better chance than that.
Thirdly, the net result for us, assuming that it works out, will be the Death of a Thousand Cuts during nights of long knives.
The very possibly substantial inflationary effects will impoverish us. We shall cry to the government for assistance and health care, but they will deny us. The flight of jobs will very possibly quicken, leaving the USA a broken hulk.
The service we rendered in saving the rich on Wall Street will go unrewarded. The rich will have learned their lessons, and next time be more careful in their destruction of the democracy of the great unwashed middle class. They will try to kill us slowly, with the thousand cuts. Our parents will be transformed into Wal-Mart zombie greeters, while our children will work the shelves, trying to get an hour off to see their doctors at the industrial clinic.
If you see Phil Gramm resurrected, know that the End is near.
ps: do not for a minute think I'm kidding!
Check your answers at : http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/09/industrials-big.html#more
The Eights Week race is an open timed race, first across the finish line wins.
The Hilary Week race in Spring is a bumps race. In a bumps race, the boats line up single-file, take off at the start, and attempt to "bump" each other from the behind. This type of shenanigans explains a good deal of the pollution in the older part of Uqbar harbor.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
We have not ruled.
We have had our common inheritance as free Americans stolen from us by Theft disguised as Economy, Stagnation and Poverty disguised as Freedom.
We have let the worst among us rule, men and women who share a uniform culture of promiscuous and casual corruption. The past is being destroyed by the inept monsters that rule today; we hall rule tomorrow.
We have not loved until today; love formed in the obsessive and mindlessly selfish and hurtful myths of the past is no love at all.
We have not had companionship until today.
We have condemned entire races and orated against entire religions when other peoples dared to be different from us.
We propagate a myth of economics and politics and religion which, in its shameful core, is as intolerant and as warlike and as hate-filled as the most fundamentalist creed extant upon the face of the earth.
We have not eaten until today. The bread of discord and the wines of violence they have given us for our daily slave rations, the cigarettes and alcohols which destroy, the malformed food and drinks which rot our bodies, have all rendered us unfit temples.
We have not seen until today. We have lived our entire lives in the Mythic embrace of the stories of World War I and World II, embracing the sagas and eddas of past, living the lives spun as historical Homeric epics which enriched and liberated their creators, but enslaved and entombed their successors...who needed to create their own histories of Troy, not huddle about the cramped midden fires of the present, warming themselves at the glory of the past.
We have not seen God until today. God has been encapsulated within crabbed and tortured philosophies which sought, like the alchemistic idolators of old, to snare the divine presence within the bell jars of desire, the divine spark muted and entoxined with formaldehyde of lust and power.
We shall not endure this infamous regime any longer! Neither the men, neither the women, neither their ideas!
Dedicated to Francis Fukuyama, who famously said that History had ended- it was all USA now, and no other peoples nor states mattered.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Levine once asked me if God talked to me. He had read one of my posts, and he said it sounded as if I thought I had a cozy relationship with His Nibs. So I laughed. But I also said that God does not talk. God inspires. One either is in touch with the inspiration, and thus -in a sense- on the same wave length, or one is not.
Words and logic, expectations and ambitions, hungers and passions are all physical-symbolic structures ( some are "mythic" in my sense ) which interfere with the intuition of inspiration.
The Experience Of the Divine is a basic and essential human function, such as language and music. It is not reducible to some other human experience. God is not joy nor suffering, not words, not singing, not dreaming... We may talk about basketball, but that does not make the experience of basketball somehow reducible to talking and language. Similarly, the Divine is not reducible to words and logic, or songs, or smiles, or frowns, or anything else.
I have seen and heard that our concept or acquaintance of God came from our experience of awe or fear or wonder at (pick one): the world, the universe, the starry night...etc. Pure hogwash. The emotion of awe is what it is. It is not God.
God is one and alone. Our experience of God is a primitive function of humanity which is not reducible to any other human function: it stands alone.
When one is inspired, one does not fall into a dreamy reverie; that is a comatose or fugue state. One does not smile obsessively and gush platitudes; that is enthusiasm. One does not speak in tongues; that is narcotic-like orgy of the language areas of the brain.
If one is inspired, one is attune to all that is, although one need not be aware of all that is; Good heavens, that is an LSD phenomenon. I do not fault LSD visions, nor do I recommend them. They are not God. Timothy Leary to the contrary. They are just exactly what they are.
Every time we experience something new and forceful, bingo: it's God, sure enough!
No it isn't. If you ever read Killing the Buddha, you know the story is that a young monk in training ran across the Lord Buddha walking down the road. He ran back to his teacher with this incredible story. The teacher handed him a sword, saying "Kill the Buddha." The point of this being that if you happen to come across the Lord Buddha walking down the road, it is NOT the Lord Buddha.
Or if you think Jesus Christ plops down next to you in Church, you may safely bet it is not the Lord Jesus.
God is not that which you conceive. God is not that which you cannot conceive. Rather God stands outside of any conceptual system: beyond any thesis and antithesis; God stands outside any non-conceptual system. If you think God to be a wonderful, bearded, old softy who loves children, He sends a hurricane. If you think God is a nasty old bugger, He sends you a mitzvah. Go figure.
A Plugged Nickel
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
The city of Jasper on Saturday morning. In the center top one may see the golden arches braving the tempest.
Wake up and smell the roses of another Monday morning in the Bush of ghosts!
(Lest anyone forget, I predicted that there was a 50-50 chance things would get so bad that Bush would resign.)
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Prince Charles Speaks for the People and for Many Scientists Too
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Prince Charles embarrassed the government and the scientific establishment with his Reith lecture broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (17 May 2000). In his wide ranging talk, which drew on the work of theologians, philosophers, scientists and economists, he said much that surely expressed the views of the majority in this country. Is it possible that the prince is more in touch with the common people than our elected Government? The idea that there is a sacred trust under which human beings accept stewardship for the earth is common to most spiritual traditions, including those that do not acknowledge a Creator. The Prince urged us to recapture this sense of the sacred, in which we accept that there are bounds of balance, order and harmony in the natural world and that development is progress only if it is sustainable. He singled out gene biotechnology (genetic modification) for attack as an unacceptable transgression of Nature's limits, treating our entire world as a “laboratory of life” with potentially disastrous consequences.
Not the usual thing we Americans are used to from the royals, eh?
(It is about this time that any conscientious blogger would make a pitch for you to read some tedious dribble about whatever it is that interests the blogger and not you. I do not think I have ever said you should read such and such, nor go to see this and that. I would say I am not doing much of anything if I actually have to command you to read something you found interesting in these pages.)