27 February 2009

Without Comment

(thanks to Andrew Sullivan).

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21 February 2009

Salam Pax is back

Salam was the first of the Iraqi bloggers. All during the war he blogged in excellent English while keeping his real identity secret. He became famous, and then quit blogging for a try at journalism (IIRC). Now he is back, with a rather upbeat view of life in modern Iraq, in a new Salam Pax blog. It is worth checking out. Here's a small taste of one of his longer posts:

After an illness you don’t recover just like that.. your health comes back in stages and Iraq has been very ill for a long time. We are seeing the first signs of recovery with the improved security situation and I believe all Iraqis can be a little bit patient as long as the positive signs continue.

We’ll keep paying the power generator guy his monthly fees for a bit longer.. I just hope the government doesn’t take too long to get things back up and running.. summer with it’s 50 degrees heat is just a couple of months away.

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20 February 2009

Your tax money at work

Here's a little info from TalkingPointsMemo.com:
We do know this: Between October 1, when the Senate passed the first bailout, and the year's end, the top 20 TARP recipients have spent $7.86 million on lobbying. This is the same top 20 group that actually cut back on lending during the first part of this year. (Thanks to TPM intern Chris for his help with data collection.)

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Understanding the Financial Crisis

As an economist I make a pretty good historian. I simply listen to what people say about the financial crisis, don't understand it, and look at the past to see who was wrong, who was right, who was clueless, in the past, and make my assessments.

Doesn't always work.

But today I found this neat little video on Andrew Sullivan that explains the whole fiasco with cute little pictures and elementary school words.

At last I understand.

I think.

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19 February 2009

Russian Icon

No, this is not a joke apparently.

"An icon depicting Soviet leader Joseph Stalin has appeared in a church of Leningrad district's city of Strelnya, Novaya Gazeta reported Wednesday."

could lead to a revival of iconoclasm. One can hope.

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New use for Google Earth.

Carmen loves Google Earth and all the Google map stuff. Here is a picture from Pakistan in 2006, for example.

And what are those little things parked on the runway? The ones that look like, oh... Predator attack drones?

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15 February 2009

Rush is losing it

Obama so far has been successful in one major thing: he has driven R. Limbaugh completely crazy. Rush is now ranting that because of all of Obama's lies, and the awfulness of the stimulus, he wants it all to fail.

There is a big difference btw between saying that in your best judgment you think it will fail, against all good wishes. It is another thing to say you want it to fail (and damn the consequences to all you little people out there who will lose your jobs, homes, businessess, etc).

The face of the modern Republican party.

and more power to him!

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I have always thought of money as freedom. If you could stockpile your money instead of spending it, especially spending it on "things," then you had money to buy yourself freedom. Freedom to travel, to give money to friends and kin when needed, above all freedom from fear of penury.

Most of the younger generation thinks I am nuts and should spend a lot of money on high tech gadgets like a new HD TV or whatnot. "Things," in other words.

And then I wake up this morning to read this in a report extracted on Andrew Sullivan's site.

so I'm taking Carmen out to dinner.

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14 February 2009

Cities and progress

Here is an odd little map that shows which cities in the US are hyperactive when it comes to patents on new products and which are sub par. If you roll your cursor over the color coded blobs the city is identified.

Just do so for North Carolina. Charlotte and Winston both underperform, but look at Durham.

Very interesting. But, in the words of Jack Skellington, "what does it mean?"

also check out the unnamed port city to our south.


Is it the economy, or are you just happy to see me

The economic solution. Just watch it.

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10 February 2009

Without Comment

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08 February 2009

The wonderful wizards of Wall Street

I just watched the You Tube clip of "The Wizard of Oz" where Toto pulls the curtain back to reveal the pathetic little humbug who has been terrorizing the good folks of Oz into worshiping him like a god.

Reminded me of this article I read this morning in the New York Times about the merger between Merrill Lynch and Bank of America: both led by men formerly hailed as financial wizards.

Which reminded me of my favorite quote about history: a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.

I think

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Without Comment: Mumbai edition , 2nd try

FYI - without comment

06 February 2009

Bankers: Just in case you didn't despise them enough

Bank of America, feeding at the public trough while still compensating their executives and managers as if they were little Sun Kings, has a plan for making ends meet. I mean, beyond pleading for another massive bail out from the Feds.

Trick the relatives of deceased credit card holders into thinking they have to pay of the balance of their dead loved one's card.

Here are the details.

kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling that they are doing all they can to remain solvent, doesn't it?


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04 February 2009


Remember that peanut butter plant in Georgia, the one that was shipping tainted peanut butter all over the country, even though its own tests showed the presence of salmonella.

It was much worse than we imagined.

So where was the FDA?

oh. right. government is the problem not the solution.

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That was then, this is ... oh %$30!!

Drollest news story of the day:
Daschle's demise came as he was becoming a late-night talk show gag line and a YouTube star. A recently posted video reprised a 1986 congressional reelection campaign ad in which Daschle (who just bought a 2008 BMW convertible) is shown driving his 1971 Pontiac while a narrator intones:

"Among Washington's BMWs and limos is this: Since 1971, the old Pontiac has served its owner well. Sure, it's rusted, and it burns a little oil, but after 15 years and 238,000 miles, Tom Daschle still drives his old car to work every day. Maybe he's sentimental. Or just cheap. Whatever the case, isn't it too bad the rest of Washington doesn't understand that a penny saved is a penny earned?"

Daschle and his transformation should be the emblematic cautionary tale of American elite culture in the last twenty years.

no body's reputation survived the Bush Years.

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01 February 2009

Time for the Demos now

Well, I must say it has been fun making fun of the Repubs these last few months. Now most of them are gone except for the ones still in Congress who seem to be infuriating the ones in the various governors' mansions around the country. But it is the Demos now who are in power and unfortunately are now caught doing what they do best: playing politics while the house burns down.

To get things rolling in a properly bipartisan spirit I am linking to the latest screed from Glenn Greenwald, formerly known as "Bushbane" (to coin a Norse -like neologism), this one about how disgusting Tom Daschle is:
But there's no need to withhold judgment on Daschle himself. He embodies everything that is sleazy, sickly, and soul-less about Washington. It's probably impossible for Obama to fill his cabinet with individuals entirely free of Beltway filth -- it's extremely rare to get anywhere near that system without being infected by it -- but Daschle oozes Beltway slime from every pore.

And that is the politest thing Glennwald and the Rolling Stone reporter he quotes have to say about the man, by a long shot. Read it yourself. Poor Clemens just doesn't use words like that, in print anyway.

As I said months ago regarding the way the former VP and current Prince of #%$ Darkness was allowed to schedule his meeting with the police after shooting a man in the face, there are two systems of justice and judgment in this country. One for THEM, the wealthy and the powerful, and one for us, everyone else.

in the former paying your taxes is optional unless you want public office.


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The lasting impact of slavery

I am an historian and contemplate the lasting effects of virtually everything on an almost daily basis. This happened and that led to this happening which... But even so I was a bit surprised by this report suggesting that the fears of the old slaving times is not forgotten, it is not even past. [from Andrew Sullivan]:

Part of an abstract from a paper by Nathan Nunn and Leonard Wantchekon:

We investigate the historical origins of mistrust within Africa. Combining contemporary household survey data with historic data on slave shipments by ethnic group, we show that individuals whose ancestors were heavily threatened by the slave trade today exhibit less trust in neighbors, family co-ethnics, and their local government.

Full paper here (pdf). I used to dismiss this kind of long-term historical damage. But the evidence increasingly suggests that history really does matter; that the collective psyche can be traumatized from generation to generation. In some ways, a Burkean should not in any way be surprised.

Carmen and I have an exceptionally good friend whose parents survived that Holocaust and I have seen studies suggesting that the effects of that horror were passed on to succeeding generations. The evil men do outlives them.

history really does matter ... a new motto for myself.

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