Search This Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Post on Paul Ryan

A friend thought I was over the top in my latest Paul Ryan post.

I detest the philosophy of Ayn Rand so intensely, and have observed its baleful influence in such places as Hillsdale College in Michigan, where a Rand devotee, George Roche III, Republican power broker, created his own morality and had a 15 year affair with his own daughter-in-law...  so much do I detest her ideas that I think my attack on any of her devotees is far too restrained.

Paul Ryan: Devil in the Details

 Paul  R.                                           Joe G.

Mr. Ryan accused Mr. Obama of making cuts to Medicare... which cuts are also in Mr. Ryan's proposed budget.
He distorted the story about who was responsible for the Standard and Poor's downgrade...
I have written about that downgrade in my "Post" about those times, and I have written about the Republican responsibility for it.

These are the morals of a Ayn Rand Hero who makes his own morality! The Big Lie as the Truth!

He reminds me of Joseph Goebbels.

Return from the Edge

Haliburton, Ontario Fairgrounds

I have been ill.

My doctor looked at me and asked me to which pharmacy to send the prescriptions. I shook my head and said that I had no pharmacy of choice; I do not take medications. I take aspirins, but I do not take meds. I felt strange and alone, this strange state of being without a pharmacy, without a congery of white-coated professionals hovering behind pharmacy counters.

A couple weeks before, I had gotten a staph infection in a highly visible place. Since I had never, ever had such a thing before, I thought it was something that would disappear in a week or so. It did not. We had made plans to go the Haliburton, Ontario with my wife's sister, my own doctor was on vacation back then, so I went to a CVS minute clinic, and I got a scrip for a minor antibiotic before we left.

During the week, my scrip seemed to keeps things status quo, but when it was done, I became apprehensive. I went to a walk-in clinic in Haliburton, and I received a stronger antibiotic, but my dosage stayed at two tabs a day.
I had only been to the CVS clinic before, so my experience with clinics was not extensive beyond getting a flu shot. Just to be on the safe side, I brought along my lap-top with pretty much my entire medical history for the past 30 years, just in case the clinic doctor wanted to go into some detail.
Of course, since I had never been ill, I had not visited doctors all that much, and 30 years of history is not nearly as much as you might think at first.
Nothing was getting better, however. Maybe not worse, but not better.

I had managed to get a sun burn, which caused scabbing over the area, which combined with the swelling from infection, was a sight from a horror film. I thought of that scene in Ben-Hur where Charlton Heston locates his sister and mother in the leper colony...

Getting in to see my own doctor at last, she prescribed a stronger anti-b at a much higher dose, intending to show the microbes we meant business.

During all this time, however, there was something else. About 10 days before we left for Ontario, a woman who lived about 30 miles away died from necrotizing fasciitis, or a flesh-eating bacteria infection.
I was a bit stunned, because I thought that that microbe stayed in (1) the South in dirty rivers, or (2) Hospitals.
I frequent neither.
The woman in question had been to a clinic to have a boil lanced. I considered that she had walked into forcing-garden hot house of infection... hospital, indeed! What is one to do anymore?

So, we return from Haliburton, I go to my doctor, she prescribes Bactrim, and lots of it, along with a topical. They send the scrip to Wal-Mart, and I make many calls back and forth trying to co-ordinate pharmacy and doctor's office: the topical was no longer available, and the pharmacy was to have called the doctor's office the next morning to tell them that, and to please pull a new choice out of a hat. I call after lunch and discover that the pharmacy had done no such thing - although they cover by saying the doctor's office had not responded. So the calls begin.
The first call to the doctor uncovers the fact they had never heard from the pharmacy.
I do not criticize Wal-Mart pharmacy; that's the way things are today: follow-through is your baby.

Finally, I take new meds. 
The infection had shown signs of spreading, and within a day that plan had been dashed, and the tide began to turn in my favor.
I did not eat for 3 days, however.
I withdrew from human contact, like some great animal headed for the legendary burial grounds, alone on his last fateful pilgrimage.
I was quite sure that my use of triclosan anti-biotic soap had engendered a mutant, anti-biotic-resistant strain of staph, and parts of my face would be cut off in a futile attempt to stem the infection. I had reflections on going around wearing a bag over my head, sort of like Erik in The Phantom of the Opera, only I would not have any operatic expertise to soothe my soul. (During all this time, my wife had taken off to visit our daughter, so everyone thought I was on my own and partying every night. Woo-hoo!)
I had devised a short scenario where skin from my buttocks would be grafted onto my face to make me presentable. There would be skin of a sort, no lips or anything, but there would be skin. I guess I could live with it.
I finally broke this fast with IKEA meatballs in putanesca sauce.

After 7 days, my doctor said that I did not have to come in to see her if the infection had gone away.
Perfectly sensible, except for the fact that everything was covered by a scab, and I was not sufficiently expert to make such a judgement under those conditions. If the skin had been clear and pink and free of any sign of ... well, anything... no problem. But there was the problem that I could not actually see anything of the skin.
It took me 6 1/2 hours back and forth with the doctor office to get the message across:
"I myself am not a doctor and cannot make a judgement. Therefore, either let me come in immediately or extend the prescription for another 7 days."
They decided to go with the extra 7 days, which I thought was just as good, since if I had gone into the office, that's what they would have done anyway; they can't see through scabs any better than I can.
(I seem to remember that back, long ago, doctors and medical professionals used to clean wounds, but no one had the slightest interest in such a procedure anymore.)

Then I got better.
I wash my hands very often nowadays, and am careful about touching various objects in public places.
The fulness of the harvest from what we have done in the past is sort of overwhelming: things like anti-biotic-resistant bacteria and a Sargasso Sea of plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and Mega-Droughts due to climate change.
I have learned a couple of things:
(1) getting sick is not the end of the world,
(2) cleanliness is next to godliness in any list of things to do,
(3) do not starve yourself... until it is the proper time to do so.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Republican Convention

Paul Ryan speaks today.

Perhaps I will watch. It will be unique to view a man who lauds an atheist philosopher who denies objective moral standards, i.e., Ayn Rand, and to see him applauded by a US Senator named after her, Rand Paul.

It is the abomination in a holy place, and no good will come of this...
Even the elements conspired to preserve us, but we ignored the signs.

A New Way Of Seeing Things

"You relentlessly mock, but it's not for self-aggrandizement; it's because ideas are bigger than feelings"

Doctor Taube speaking to Doctor Gregory House, episode "Gut Check", Spring, 2012

What does that mean?
I have written that sometimes it takes me a long time to understand films: there is so much to see and understand! It can be the same way with television shows that are well done. So what were the writers trying to state here?

Ideas are bigger than feelings is intended to de-emphasize not just feeling, but the source of feelings: the emotional intelligence. In its essence, Dr. Taube is saying that Ideas are bigger than the emotional generators of ideas: humankind.

Humankind tends to identify with its ideas and not let go of them; they wrap themselves in them and hold them close to give their lives meaning and identity. But ideas go beyond their embryonic human birth and seek to stand on their own two feet. One thing most of us have not learned how to do is to cut the apron strings of even the most sublime of our Ideas!
Look at our notions of God! How trivial we make religion! We laud children who write books about visiting heaven during their illness, and we invest value and meaning in the fact that a child sees a God who is exactly like those described in childrens' stories.
Or we inflate the idea of divinity with our own prejudices and judgements...
Or we force God into our newly discovered cleverness of Intelligent Designer....! That's a step forward, isn't it?!

The idea is greater than ourselves.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reality is walking on the beach, feeling the sand between your toes.

Narrative is looking at the beach from a car window as you drive away.

Language is feeling the hot sand and the cool water.
Narrative is the memory of Language interacting with Reality.


Toxic Liberty

In Libya, the hard-line Salafists, inspired by the unspeakable Saudi Wahhabi clerics, have attacked and destroyed mosques and shrines of Sufi Islam.  In Timbuctoo recently, similar hard-liners destroyed mosques and libraries.

Arab spring?

Welcome to the Age of Toxic Liberty.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan

The Romney-Ryan Medicare plan depends greatly upon "unleashing competition" in the health care industry, which competition will radically drive costs down.

The only problem is that study after study has shown that the Health Care industry does not experience any cost reductions due to competition. There is no reason to expect it will in the future.


Affordable Drugs

Big Pharma and its lackeys in Washington, D.C. are always trying to stem the flow of safe but less expensive drugs into the USA from mail-order pharmacies beyond our borders. Since there is money to be made, it is an unceasing fight.

From West Quoddy Head, Maine, to Anchor Point, Alaska, an Iron Curtain is descending around the continent.

Behind this Iron Curtain, Big Pharma and the FDA and Congress seek to create a new world order of monopoly on drugs.

Fight them:

and click on  "TAKE ACTION"

The Genesis of Narrative

People often speak of the difference between Narrative and Reality; mostly, other peoples' political beliefs are a "narrative", whereas our own politics are reality-based.

Certainly most religious dogmatic belief systems are narrative, which is to say there is no method to test them as a reality. If there were such a testing, there is always the possibility a religious belief may be found to be false, and that is quite impossible to people who invest heavily in "belief systems".
That is pretty much the meaning of "supernatural"; i.e., not subject to the laws of Nature.

Narratives are based on the Dream process. The Dream is the paradigm of taking seemingly random inputs and weaving a whole. Any entity which dreams will tell stories: histories, annals, fibs, lies, prevarications, fishermen stories, and tall tales...

An election year is usually a good time to observe the conflict of Narratives.

Popular Science Gets the Facts

Theer is a very good article on the Rep. Todd Akin Theory of conception following rape, and it is in Popular Science:

Rape Results in More Pregnancies than Consensual Sex, not Fewer


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Would Anyone Let These People Govern Again?

From a story on Mr. Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush:

The president had promised to cut taxes, and he did. Within six months of taking office, he pushed a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts through Congress.
But O'Neill thought it should have been the end. After 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, the budget deficit was growing. So at a meeting with the vice president after the mid-term elections in 2002, Suskind writes that O'Neill argued against a second round of tax cuts.

"Cheney, at this moment, shows his hand," says Suskind. "He says, 'You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.' … O'Neill is speechless."

"It was not just about not wanting the tax cut. It was about how to use the nation's resources to improve the condition of our society," says O'Neill. "And I thought the weight of working on Social Security and fundamental tax reform was a lot more important than a tax reduction."

Did he think it was irresponsible? "Well, it's for sure not what I would have done," says O'Neill.

The former treasury secretary accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of not being an honest broker, but, with a handful of others, part of "a praetorian guard that encircled the president" to block out contrary views. "This is the way Dick likes it," says O'Neill.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


David Frum's post on Niall Ferguson is so odd that I am glad I stopped reading his blog, which he shut down to somewhere else. It was all about China and its future status. Why doesn't Frum point an accusing finger at Wal-Mart if he is afraid of the coming Chinese hegemony?

No one fears a New Hegemony like an Old Hegemon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Akin is too Legit to Quit

Troy Akin, the Tea Party Republican that is running for the Senate in Missouri:
Akin, who is known for his staunch pro-life beliefs, stated that pregnancy is rare from "legitimate rape" because the woman's body has ways to "shut the whole thing down." Not surprisingly those remarks went viral
 What does Mr. Akin mean by "legitimate"?
Surely he does not mean that such a rape is endorsed by the law.

So what does he mean? Does he mean "real" rape, differentiating it from "imaginary rape"?  I do not think pregnancies stem from :imaginary rapes", either.
So if pregnancy does not result from "real" rape, nor from "imaginary rape", we do not really have a problem.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Paradox of Medicare

Ryan’s Medicare plan has been through many iterations, but in all of them the single-payer system in which Medicare exists today would be replaced with a voucher system that would gradually shift medical costs onto senior citizens. A “public option” incorporated into one version of Ryancare would likely outperform private-sector rivals on cost control (government-provided health care always does), but there’s a real question whether Congress would allow a mechanism by which that public option could pass those savings on to consumers. (When a public option was up for debate in Obamacare, Congress worked mightily to cripple its inherent market advantage.)
If it is manifestly true to the Congress that a public option has a market advantage, then it is logical to use that advantage. However, the Congress decided to not use the advantage. Then that becomes a disadvantage.
To whom?
Well, certainly not to the members of Congress.

Say What?

Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are attacking the $700 + billion being cut from Medicare under the ACA. Both of these gentlemen are in favor of restoring much of the money... or are they?

Are they actually attacking Mr. Obama because he tried a bipartisan effort to make cuts in the budget?
I believe we are entitled to here something extremely clear and definitive from the Republican candidates. I have had enough hogwash.

The High Moral Ground of Government Today

Julian Assange has sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He has been accused of sexual molestation and there is a rape charge that keeps flip-flopping in Sweden as to whether it be rape or not.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was also trapped in a sexual situation, the outcome of which was an end to his career at the International Monetary Fund. It also pushed his political career in France off the rails.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn was once a member of the Union of Communist Students. Strauss-Kahn and Francois Hollande, the President of France, are both socialists, but Mr. Hollande was not a Communist - as far as I can tell from the data.

Then there was the weapons inspector, Scott Ritter,  an ex-Marine, who was vociferous in his belief that there were absolutely no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq... until he was accused of improper conduct with under-age girls.

Why are people who do not see things the way the US Empire wants so morally confused? Something is confused. I do not think it is our Government; they know exactly what they are doing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sacrifice Today: The Month of Xocotlhuezin

Aztec Sun God Whose Tongue is a Dagger of Sacrifice

There were three more human sacrifices at Texas A and M campus today. There were four injured, so the human sacrifice count may go up yet. We are feeling absolutely Aztec today!
Add in the Sikhs and the Batman audience and the month of Xocotlhuezin is poppin'!

Shooting as Sacrifice

There is a lot left to chance in history; why the Greeks made the human sacrifice a criminal delirium was a chance of intuition or introspection of at lest one great Greek mind and the persuasion of others.
Other societies may not experience that.

I have decided to view victims of shootings as our sacrifices to some dark god in order to avert the punishment due our various genocides. Also, the deaths and discords in the cities are necessary sacrifices to avert punishment for slavery and oppression.

It does not matter to dark gods who it is that dies; the victim may be either the oppressor or the oppressed, for it is only the spilling of blood that matters; it is all that ever mattered in human sacrifice.


The Limits of Individualism 2

I spoke of Paul Ryan and his love of Ayn Rand's philosophy in the post linked above. Some people thought I was attacking Mr. Ryan personally.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth. I find no fault with Mr. Ryan personally. I may disagree with some ideas and politics, but he is, no doubt, a good man.

Mr. Ryan does not, however, understand this Randian philosophy he talks about. He has looked at Ayn Rand, and he has chosen one facet of her philosophy, and he has assumed that is all there is to it: he can take the wheat and leave the tares behind.

That's not the way it works.
First, if you wish to cherry-pick your philosophies, you will have a mish-mosh of unrelated notions. Now it is probably a fact that most politicians do indeed treat their philosophical ideas like cole slaw (excepting Mr. Jack Kemp, for one), but this is a dangerous procedure.
If any one or mixture of your mish-mosh of ideas comes together and forms a critical mass of mischief and evil for a mass of people who are uneducated and unthoughtful - not to mention the fact that they may well indeed have a nasty streak that has been looking for a Philosophy and an Art (as, for example, white supremacist rock provides the Art for various hate groups ) - the results will not be pretty.

Second, if you wish to embrace a philosophy in its entirety, you had better be clear on the implications of what you are doing. For example, back in 1949, you could not embrace, say, Marxism without also accepting Stalinism.

I get the sense Mr. Ryan's endorsement of Ayn Rand is a mistake of the first type: he has cherry-picked an idea associated with a celebrity name, and he has decided to run it up the flag pole.
We all do things like that.
There is a danger, however, that in the sleep of reason and relaxation of vigilance, the rest of the philosophy creeps in and infiltrates our minds.
Ayn Rand was the foremost spokesperson for an American form of a caricature of Nietzche's "Ubermensch" or "Superman". She presents the idea in its uniquely American way, differentiating it from the European form. The Randian Superman or Genius sets his own Rules.
Which is another way of saying that the Superman has no need of God and God's law.

If you insist, we shall have to try it out.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ade Ileke 48: Aurora (Dawn)

Eu ouço o canto do galo;
como eu sobrevivi à noite?
Eu ouço a música da aurora;
O, Orfeu, você joga uma vez mais!
I hear the rooster crow;
how have I survived the night?
I hear the music of dawn;
O, Orpheus, you play once more!

the story goes that Orpheus' music is what makes the sun rise at dawn; the child with the guitar above has taken the place of Orpheus gone to ensure that dawn and life goes on. It is from the film Black Orpheus, Orfeu Negre.

Russia and Syria

I do not necessarily have any great love of Bashar Al Assad of Syria, even though I thought his father could be quite interesting and charming when I briefly met him. I merely speak of personal impressions during a brief encounter, and not about politics and government.

At present, I do support Russia's stance on Syria. I do so for a number of reasons, and I suppose that if my Arabic teacher were to read this, she would put the mother of all curses upon my head.

I firmly believe that the USA betrayed Mikhail Gorbatchev in his attempts at reform of the USSR; the USA believed that the Cold War could only end with the complete destruction of one of the two antagonists... how very much in the same way that it approached the beginnings of the Cold War, exhibiting no tolerance for multi-lateral approaches to atomic energy as supported by Niels Bohr, James Conant, and Robert Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer fully predicted and described the coming of the Cold War, and the USA establishment said "Bring it on!" However, do not forget how close we came to nuclear catastrophe. And we are not yet out of the woods.

After the USSR disappeared, the aid and support for Russia was laughable, even though such a commitment would have helped establish a friend and ally for the future.

The USA believes that there is only one way, even when it is egregiously wrong, as it showed us in the Iraq debacle.

There is a total Media tilt against Russia which sickens me. Now we are treated to the spectacle of a rock band being cruelly treated, and Madonna speaks out in support of Pussy Riot. More nonsense from the mindless.

I consider Russia and the Russian people to be friends, and important friends to whom we should listen.

Hurricane Karma

The unusual weather system called Hurricane Karma (which has a circulation termed "what goes around, comes around.") has been blamed for the drought in the USA this year. It has also been linked to disturbances in the finances of San Bernadino, California, and the increase in volatility in the world's stock markets.

Most recently, Hurricane Karma hit the mainland of King Capital and wiped out $440 million in poor stock buys within 30 minutes. Clean-up operations are still ongoing.

Hurricane Karma has been demonstrated to simultaneously caused moral synaethesia as well as moral blindess.
Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, plural synesthesiae or synaesthesiae)—from the Ancient Greek σύν (syn), "together," and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), "sensation" — is a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway...
Thus, when we see the weather pattern known as "what goes around, comes around.", we tend to experience a sudden moral shame at our blindness, or we double down our inability to see the forest for the trees.

Terrible TV Tunes

Mighty Joe Young and Friends

She-who-must-be-obeyed is watching a real estate show on HGTV, and there is a singer named Michael Feinstein who wishes to list his house. Mr. Feinstein is in a recording studio, singing Beautiful Dreamer, when the real estate agent provacateur comes to visit and discuss house listing.

I did not want want to say anything, for I have never heard nor heard of  Michael Feinstein, but I did not think I had ever heard a weaker interpretation of Stephen Foster's Beautiful Dreamer. I did not think the 19th century produced such mush.

I am sure that the rendition in the original Mighty Joe Young was ever so much superior to this.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Most of the stuff in this blog that the reader can read once and understand easily is probably plagiarized. The other stuff that makes one scratch their head, and then go back and re-read and get an entirely different reading is probably mine.

Rule of Thumb:
If it goes down easy, someone else wrote it.
If it is totally obscure, I wrote it on the fly.

I Do Not Understand...

... why a man who has wanted to be President of the USA for most of his adult life, and who was already very wealthy, has done his taxes over the past 10 years or so in such a way as they would prove an embarrassment to his long-time goal?

The Limits of Individualism... Rugged or Otherwise

Mr. Romney has chosen Mr. Paul Ryan as his running-mate in the US presidential election. Mr. Ryan has noted his intellectual and philosophical debt to Ayn Rand, a person about whom I have written my opinions in posts about her influence on Hillsdale College.  (

I quote an article from The New Republic in 2010 - and I do not necessarily agree nor disagree with the remarks about Mr. Ryan's policy, but I do agree with the condemnation of Ayn Rand, and that is why I chose this article. I do not intend to criticize Mr. Ryan.

Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand
by Jonathan Chait
December 28, 2010

" Another part of Christopher Beam's piece on libertarianism that caught my interest was this bit about Paul Ryan and his deep affinity for Ayn Rand:
Representative Paul Ryan, also of Wisconsin, requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, describes Obama’s economic policies as “something right out of an Ayn Rand novel,” and calls Rand “the reason I got involved in public service.” 
Earlier this year I wrote about Ryan and his deep devotion to the philosophy of Rand, particularly her inverted Marxist economic-political worldview:
Ryan would retain some bare-bones subsidies for the poorest, but the overwhelming thrust in every way is to liberate the lucky and successful to enjoy their good fortune without burdening them with any responsibility for the welfare of their fellow citizens. This is the core of Ryan's moral philosophy:
"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead." ...
At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand's writings when he told his audience that, "Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill ... is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict--individualism versus collectivism."
The core of the Randian worldview, as absorbed by the modern GOP, is a belief that the natural market distribution of income is inherently moral, and the central struggle of politics is to free the successful from having the fruits of their superiority redistributed by looters and moochers... "
Ayn Rand believes in a radical individualism which has no higher Morality than the Randian Individual, who alone sets standards and answers to only him/herself for any shortcomings. This incredible philosophy was given a run-through at Hillsdale College, and the result was a tragedy worthy of the Greek tragedians.
The philosophy of Ayn Rand is the culmination of Secularization, which takes the Moral from the hands of any divinity and delivers it into the hand of the human Randian Genius! Such a genius as Howard Roark in Rand's novel The Fountainhead. (Roark can set his own morality because Rand controls the events in the novel.)

I have no doubt Mr. Ryan is a fine and engaging person, and so are many people who consider themselves Randians.

However, their philosophy contains within itself its own destruction, for there is no single nor group of human beings who can be their own Morality independent of the Holy. Every person or group that has tried this has come to a very bad end.

There is a conservative cult of Individualism; like all beliefs, it is not perfect and does not achieve perfect validity everywhere at everytime. There are limits to all human belief. Radical Randian Individualism has aimed for and will - in the hands of lesser men than Mr. Ryan - aim for the deification of a Man, or Woman, or a group as equal to the Holy in the matter of Morality: the Randian Genius will accept nothing less.
(Do we see this already in the ever increasingly defined "Weathy 1%" group versus the rest of society? Does not certain conservative dogma believe that the group of the wealthy are in some important senses "better" than those not wealthy?)

There is no way to modify the philosophy of Ayn Rand without destroying it, for modification would destroy it, since it is a radical critique of anything short of complete moral solipsism.

The philosophy of Ayn Rand is a clear danger not only to us, but to the world.
We believe too fervently in the Individual, and do not make allowances for weakness, and that oversight will be the destroyer.

No one Individual is perfect, although the twentieth century taught us how to propagandize individual men as being so. When the Individual who is the source of all Morality fails, who or what is there to help? How could the Randian Genius accept help from anything less than a God? Could a Randian Individual Genius accept help from a spouse, a family, a church?
Not in Ayn Rand's philosophy, although her life was another matter.


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Future Flash Crash #3

These are most of the posts on the coming Flash Crash. Of course, if you have been reading the paper (not ogling TV) you know that it keeps on keeping on. In the New York Times Dealbook on August 3, 2012:

When computerized stock trading runs amok, as it did this week on Wall Street, the firm responsible typically can jump in and hit a kill switch.
But as a torrent of faulty trades spewed Wednesday morning from a Knight Capital Group trading program, no one at the firm managed to stop it for more than a half-hour.
Some Knight employees and New York Stock Exchange officials noticed the blizzard of erratic orders in the minutes after trading started and sent alarmed messages to Knight managers, according to the exchange and Knight employees who declined to be identified discussing the matter.

As Knight struggled to survive on Friday, employees at the company, market overseers and other electronic trading firms were asking the same basic question: Where was the off switch?
Several market insiders said that they were bewildered, because in a market where trading losses can pile up in seconds, executives typically have a simple command that can immediately halt trading.

“Even just a minute or two would have been surprising to me. On these time scales, that is an eternity,” said David Lauer, a trader at a high-speed firm until a year ago. “To have something going on for 30 minutes is shocking.”
Regulators are planning to look into why there was such a lag...

On Friday, Knight, which in the last decade grew into a leading broker for American stocks, climbed off the mat, securing emergency financing that allowed it to continue operating for the day. It also enticed some of its customers to resume sending client stock trades, two days after it disclosed a possibly fatal $440 million loss from the software problem. But it faced a desperate weekend of maneuvering to find a more permanent solution for its woes. Knight’s short-term financing was meant to keep it alive until Monday, when its executives and advisers hope to have deals completed to remove any doubt about the firm’s future.
Our financial system is continually veering out of control, and it seems that no one is willing to face the reality that events happen much too quickly for human beings to keep up with them. There will always be problems, but there is no time left to cope with them and render them harmless.

It is another big wealth-destruction nail driven into the coffins of the middle-class.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Jobs Report

From Bloomberg, April 12, 2012:

Five Years After Crisis, No Normal Recovery 

...After systemic financial crises, however, economies of the postwar era have needed an average of four and half years just to reach the same per capita gross domestic product they had when the crisis started. We find that, on average, unemployment rates take a similar time frame to hit bottom and housing prices take even longer. With the Great Depression of the 1930s, economies on average needed more than a full decade to regain the initial per capita GDP.
After the Fall,” a 2010 paper written by one of the authors of this article and Vincent Reinhart, a former Fed official who is now chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, added evidence that in 10 of 15 severe post-WWII financial crises, unemployment didn’t return to pre-crisis levels even after a decade. It also showed that in seven of the 15 crises there were “double dips” in output.
What’s the best way to accurately calibrate recession and recovery after a deep financial crisis? It isn’t enough simply to establish when per capita GDP growth resumes, as economists have traditionally done to mark the end of a conventional recession. As we emphasized in our book, “This Time Is Different,” it is essential to measure where an economy stands compared with pre-crisis levels of important variables such as output, unemployment and housing prices.
There also is the interesting question of whether, after a deep financial crisis, an economy will ever fully reach its earlier trajectory for trend GDP, or whether some output capacity is lost forever. Researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the most likely scenario involves some permanent loss, though extrapolations over long time periods -- a decade or more -- are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty.
 There is a lot of interesting material in this article. There was a good-sized recession, and there was a severe financial crisis. Personally, after the first ten years of the 21st century, I would never trust a politican of any sort again.

If we continue to act like under-educated fools, we will barter our futures for nonsensical political beliefs.

Phonics Lesson

My mother was watching TV news roulette yesterday, so I took my tea and wandered about the yard for a while. Then I went back into the kitchen, and she came in wondering where I had been. I said that I don't like listening to Cable News. She nodded as if she had actually heard me, went to the sink to start preparing my father's lunch, and launched into an analysis of the Chick-Fil-A affair.
I had read about it last week. I was not terribly interested.

I did learn that it is pronounced like "Chick Filet" or "Chick  Feel  Ay"!

All this time.... about 5 days, I have been pronouncing it "Chick Fill Uh" with an equal stress on each syllable. Of course, I only pronounced it when I was reading and sounding out the words; it sounded rather like a Neanderthal picnic.
And I have been thinking that that was the stupidest name for a restaurant I ever heard of: chick-fill-uh.... could not quite wrap my mouth around it. I mean, it was as if someone who wanted to name a chicken restaurant had been following me with a notebook, and listening to how I order food in eateries:  "Uh, chicken, uh, like enough ta fill me up, uh..." and so on.
"Let's go get some lunch at the Chick Fill Uh..."
It just did not sound all that inviting.

Chick Feel Ayyy  (pronounce  "ayy" like The Fonz would) makes all the difference.

The Binman Cometh

Geoffrey Hughes passed last week; he had played Eddie Yeats, the binman, on the incomparable Coronation Street in the 70's and the 80's of some long ago previous century.

Apparently - if all the encomia are to be believed - he was also the voice of Paul in the Beatles' film The Yellow Submarine.

The news quite bowled me over. For a bit I thought it was Geoffrey Palmer (of As Time Goes By) that had passed... not that it would have changed matters, but I could not get poor Judi Dench out of my mind for a bit, and I'd much rather she would not take up residence there.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

How To Create New Theological Concepts

Rule 1:   refuse to see what is before your eyes;
Rule 2:   insert the word "real", or "true", or "essential";
Rule 3:  push the philosophy or theology button.

St. Paul
Phillipians Chapter 3  Verses 2-3
Beware of dogs, of evildoers, of the concision. For it is we who are the circumcision,

Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Beware of the concision - Referring, doubtless, also to the Jewish teachers. The word rendered "concision" - κατατομή katatomē - means properly a cutting off, a mutilation. It is used here contemptuously for the Jewish circumcision in contrast with the true circumcision.

I cannot agree with Barnes. There is an obvious parallel between "concision" and "cirucmcision" in the Latin and in the Greek. "Concision" is a mutilation, and not just any mutilation,  but it is as specific as the word "circumcision" (a cutting around the perimeter) is, and probably deals with the rituals of Cybele and the extremes of self-mutilation among the male devotees.

Barnes merely subscribes to the new conceptual scheme of "true/false circumcision" by way of misinterpreting the passage. One can not only bowdlerize the letter of Paul, one can establish a whole new branch of theological investigation.

Mr. Justice Scalia's Constitution

The US Constitution became law of the land when New Hampshire became the 9th State to approve in 1788 by a legislature vote of 57 to 46. Rhode Island made it unanimous in 1790 with a vote of 34 to 32.

The was a large minority of people who yet retained the idea that it was the right of the States to withdraw from this compact when necessary. The first State to set about doing so was Kentucky in 1798, followed by Tennessee, both passing resolutions of potential nullification of the agreement to join into the Union under the law of the Constitution.
Their grievance was the inactivity of the Federal government in securing free and open navigation of the Mississippi all the way through New Orleans. Since the government did soon accomplish this objective, these efforts came to naught.

In 1814, the New England States met at the Hartford Convention in Hartford, Connecticut, due to their own perceived grievances, and soon passed a resolution of nullification:

 Daniel Webster was the hero of Hartford, and this assembly was seemingly the birthplace of the spirit of sectionalism in the country.
Hodgson, in his "The Cradle of the Confederacy" writes:

We shall go no further, but must observe that there are currents flowing from the era of the Founding Fathers - a minority, true, but still a vital part of a democracy - that had a very different view of the Union and the Constitution of that Union.

I ask Mr. Justice Scalia whether we attempt to understand the minds of a few Founding Fathers, or do we add in the minorities, whose debates and discussions were as equally formative of the Constitution as the debates of the select few who have been canonized by our history books?