Saturday, October 25, 2008


Smashkan Officially Endorses Obama
October 25, 2008

RICHMOND — Local semi-drunkard and occasional blogger Christopher Ashkan Adell, better known by those that mildly dislike him as "Smashkan," was found earlier this morning lying in a refuse pile mumbling the lyrics to Atlanta hip-hop artist Young Jeezy's "My President Is Black."

After being prodded for a few minutes by a homeless passerby, Adell first shielded his eyes from the sun and asked, "Can I have some lemonade?" He then began to sob uncontrollably and shifted to another refuse pile while mumbling a few barely discernable sentences including, "I once ran over my own cat, so now I'm a cyborg. So what if I can't feel my arms? You don't have arms, do you? And castles, they get on just fine without arms, always keeping the peasants out of prison and safe in the bath tub where the robots can't find them. Plus the robots think they can grow hair, but I'm the real deal. I mean, how much does Rogaine cost, anyway?" Mr. Adell then fell back asleep.

During this time, investigators found that Adell's internet history revealed repeat visits to Blaaahg's October 12th blog entry and as well as a strange Yahoo! Answers entry and several distasteful "dragon porn" websites.

Artist Young Jeezy along with Nas, who has often walked a fine line between being socially conscious and rebellious, salutes Mr. Obama on his song, "My President Is Black," a cut off of his new "Recession" album. On this particular track, Young Jeezy talks of his struggles with trusting mainstream society, but concludes: "This a hands on policy, y'all touchin me right nigga’."

Similar songs by artists such as Nas and Jay-Z manage to mention Mr. Obama in a positive light without bashing his opponents.

After several more hours of sleeping in refuse, Adell agreed to sit down for an interview. Mr. Adell insisted on conducting the interview while lying down on his kitchen floor and occasionally ignored the interviewer while squinting and passionately singing an impromptu mash-up of Haddaway's "What Is Love" and Trillville's "Neva Eva."

During a rare transient moment of alertness, Mr. Adell surprised reporters when he coherently opined on the topic of the interview.

"Obama has some pretty amazing qualities that don’t necessarily have anything to do with his presidential competency. Just because of who he is, his presidency would bring renewed credibility to America’s image in the world. And as much as I don’t think America should be making decisions solely for love and attention, a kid being brainwashed in some Waziristan madrasa is going to want an explanation from his bushy bearded mullahs when a minority first generation immigrant who went to school in Indonesia with a name like Barrack Hussein Obama becomes president in a country supposedly controlled by a Jewish and Christian-Zionist alliance – AIPAC’s seriously unfortunate grip on the U.S. government aside.

I disagree with him on a lot of the things, the most important of these being his protectionism and his Iraq policy. During the primaries, Obama said he wanted to have all combat troops out within 16 months, which I believe to be a risky political maneuver. Luckily he has moderated that stance and said he would take into account ‘conditions on the ground’ and the advice of top commanders. As for the protectionism, I just find it hard to believe someone so educated and so eloquent can seriously rail against free trade. But on this position as well, Obama has moderated his stance and come out saying that he ‘supports free trade,’ but would like to make sure it’s ‘conducted fairly.’

I’m a libertarian, so obviously I won’t agree with him on everything. But who he is – his ability to change America’s image, his ability to inspire and call people to action, his ability to seek the advice of great minds like Warren Buffet and Paul Krugman, his unique insight on the experience of the marginalized American that only someone with a financially unstable and generally troubled youth can understand, and his foreign policy perspective that only someone who grew up abroad with a foreign parent can understand – those outweigh our disagreements."

Adell then began eating a nearby paper towel and laughing, presumably at his inability to control his own sobbing.

Reporters gave up attempting to wrest any additional coherent thoughts from Mr. Adell when he began a mediocre freestyle rap about his anger with the recent violence at local dance parties and the malaise of being unloved and unemployed, mediocre at freestyle rapping, and hopelessly obsessed with the idea of "coming on Sarah Palin's glasses." The freestyle also contained several strange homoerotic references to Mr. Adell's cousin, Andre Weldy, who, according to the freestyle rap, "bitches will always like better." As reporters left, Mr. Adell invited them to that evening's planned party where he assured reporters that "all seven of my friends are definitely coming."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


so a friend sent me this article... and i responded...

the rising tide of capitalism occasionally sinks a few boats.


no seriously though, greenspan was a good fed chairman. its easy to look back once things go wrong. greenspans love for the market probably made him an overall better fed chairman than he would have been otherwise (all other things equal). thats impossible to say conclusively (as is the reverse) because wed have to know the hypothetical of what the world would look like if greenspan were instead someone with a different ideological framework... and we cant know that.

ill admit he had it wrong on some of the derivatives, but so did a lot of people. its important to remember that although he obviously does have significant influence by virtue of his stature, regulating derivatives is ultimately not part of the fed charimans job description. in fact i might even be willing to admit that were i to learn about some of these crazy derivatives during the bull market, i probably wouldve been impressed by the various financial innovators' "skills of an artist." (-strongbad. "look it up, dummy." (-max stone, rebel extreme trillionaire.)) and although the derivatives are a huge part of the current crisis, that doesnt mean they shouldnt exist. the preponderance of evidence suggests they need regulation and oversight. and im ok with that. as ive said in the past, theres a vas deferens between centralized government control or planning and the intelligent delineation of property rights. the former is tyrrany, while the latter includes civil and common law and administrative regulation, which doesnt necessarily involve the government siezing or controlling any property.

heres a good illustration of this... take the difference between a carbon tax and a cap and trade system. while a carbon tax is essentially the moral equivalent to the government demanding payment for the use of air (a de facto claim of ownership), a cap and trade system is simply a delineation of property rights that says this air (the amount below the cap) is henceforth considered property that the market is free to trade or consume or save or whatever. (this is kind of a weak argument but itll work for now.)

that doesnt mean regulation cant sometimes be a trojan horse for government control, but it can also be an intelligent reassessment of property rights. for example, at what points will we recognize debt as property? how many times can it be securitized? can it be repackaged 100 times? how about 10? how about 2 or 3? can i obtain a credit default swap without a specific credit issuance disclosed, or will the law choose to regard credit default swaps as by definition having an identifiable counterparty? or will the law choose to disregard credit default swaps altogether and refuse to enforce them, rendering them a de facto unrecognized type of property? (or more accurately, and unrecognized property relation, right, or contract.)

ok you get it. intelligent regulation is a ok. (for example, a contract for slavery will not be recognized but a contract for labor will.) but blaming greenspan? eh. sure he was part of it, but theres blame to go around. from irresponsible borrowers to disinterested mortgage brokers to banks who bundled the mortgages to investment banks in the secondary mortgage markets that bought the bundles to insurers (or credit swappers) who didnt know what they were insuring because credit rating agencies didnt know what they were rating to people like our parents who thought real estate was an indestructible bubble to courts who recognized crazy derivatives with unknown counterparties to lawmakers and policymakers who ignored it all in the bull markets and turned to populist fingerpointing (blame wall st!) when the bull market turned bear. (bare?)

i once wrote this about patrick bond's looting africa: the economics of exploitation...

I disagree with Bond's characterization of the international power relations regarding Africa. Though a certain degree of cynicism is warranted by Africa's unfortunate position, I believe Bond makes a mistake that I myself am often tempted to make. No one wants to believe that the outcome of so many international institutions' well intentioned efforts could be so disappointing, and no one wants to believe that our good will alone is simply not enough to repair Africa. That would entail accepting some degree of responsibility for Africa's current condition and thus some degree of blame. It's much easier to blame some identifiable (or often unidentifiable) malicious entity as the culprit in "looting" Africa, perhaps understandably so. I don't mean to imply that Africa has never suffered at the hands of another's agency, the scars of slavery and colonialism are all too apparent, but Bond's characterization of a continued and deliberate exploitation of Africa by (well intentioned) actors is neither true nor helpful.

its always easier and simpler to blame someone than to accept that (given the perspective of compounding mistakes and misperceptions,) sometimes the outcome of many benign actors' efforts can be disasterously disappointing. its important to remember that now more than ever.

et la réponse...

greenspan def. has to take a lot of the blame, obviously, something so complex cannot be the fault of just one person or even just one institution but alan is at the root of the problem.

for one thing, greenspan cut rates to 1% and left them there for far too long, as the fed has done in the past (slow to react) that was a key part of this whole disaster. next obviously is the bundling and then re-bundling of mortgages that removed risk at every step of the way. finally it was fierce competition in lending, fueled by a mad desire to run up profits, that gave us no doc, no money down, neg amortization, arm loans that eventually burst the r/e bubble.

the fed does and can regulate banks and other lenders and force upon them stricter lending standards like verifying income or requiring a d/p etc, which many lenders are now self-imposing for obvious reason. greenspan could have and should have increased rates sooner and sharper, further weeding out those who shouldnt be buying houses to begin with. none of this happened and it is b.c so many of the richest and most powerful players in this game believe govt and regulation are bad b.c the stifle and slow growth and that the less of each the better.

the only problem is that the market is irrational, and individuals and corporations are inherently greedy and driven by their greed they will ALWAYS, make decisions to satisfy their greedy inclinations (read increase profits, drive revenues, grow the balance sheet, or whatever other fancy jargon they are peddling these days) and this b.s about the invisible hand is something rich people made up to prevent agents of social justice from reigning in their money printing machines and from clamping down on them and their ability to enrich themselves.

and this is not me looking back and playing monday morning quarter back, i was saying this exact same stuff when i was working at wachovia 2-3 years ago, it was glaringly obvious to me that this was a house of cards built on a myth about as real as the tooth fairy... it was very easy to see this coming, the problem is that all the "smart" people who should have known better were too busy reveling in the glory of their free market solves all problems ideology was finally paying off and no one wanted to rain on the parade.

Monday, October 13, 2008


so my parents called me yesterday and were like "hey we might be doing some work in dubai for a friend in australia, so find some plane tickets for when youre off to go to dubai and australia."

i mean... what?! so it looks like winter break i might be going to dubai and australia... wtf!

dude i am so the poster child for digital nomadism. pretty soon im probably going to need one of these...

"crossing the rio grande was such a huge step. now here i am hopping between continents... but i feel like the more i see, the more i learn, the lonelier i feel." -immigrant garment worker, made in l.a.

the economy.

"One other thing I've done, is I've called on private sector mortgage banks and banks to be more aggressive about lending money to first-time home buyers. And the response has been really good. There's a lot of people in this - our communities around the country that deeply care about the issue of homeownership, and they've been responsive." -George W. Bush, March 26, 2004.

ive always wondered where all these bush supporters are because i sure as hell dont meet them very often. according to the statistics, 1 in 4 people should approve of the job hes doing. i dont get it. i mean i do... theyre mostly rural voters beyond the reach of modern civilization but still... wtf.

im sure theyre the type of people that pride themselves on having only one or not even one news source and disdain urban/intellectual elitism, but dreday raises a good point. hypocrisy. i mean... im just sayin.

the economist on the financial crisis... (also via big cousin.)

i ♥ warren buffet.

oh and i also ♥ paul krugman. he likes beach weak too! congrats and a half on the nobel prize big guy.

oh and last thing... so recently ive been seeing probably some of the strangest ads in the world. heres one from a ny cab...

oh and remember my drunkspress train post? well i took this then.

and heres some in dc near adams morgan that creeped me out...

and by far the weirdest of all...

those are from the metro center stop on the dc metro... i seriously felt like id entered an alternate universe of counter counter culture and it pretty much totally blew my mind.

im sad that the last picture came out a little bit fuzzy cuz it was actually pretty interesting... so i went to the the advertisers website at to get the fuzzy part. here it is...

Correct Answer: 17%
When the minimum wage was created in the late 1930s, most families had only one wage earner and almost by definition low-wage employees lived in low-income families. Over time the labor force has changed and low-wage employees are often second and even third earners. Only a minority of low-wage employees are supporting a family, and only 17 percent are living in poor families. As a result, the average family income of minimum wage employees is over $43,000 a year.

heres paul krugman on the minimum/living wage... if a price floor on labor does indeed create surplus labor (or inversely stated, a shortage of jobs,) i wonder to what extent (if at all) minimum/living wage laws arbitrarily favor those who are actually financially pretty secure at the expense of the 17% of low wage earners who are in fact the primary breadwinner. food (or lack thereof) for thought. maybe a research idea.

ok bye. ♥

awesome articles.

good food? (the economist on organic and fair trade.)

voting with your trolley. (more from the economist.)

stuck in the mud. (more from the economist.)

desalination. (the economist on delsalination.)

the israel lobby. (the israeli lobby. look for when they mention quandt, he was my advisor at uva and an awesome dude.)