Friday, December 17, 2010

the bailout backlash.

so marcus shrock sent along this little gem and i just had to respond. this is my facebook comment gone wild...

that was a poorly structured string of paranoid delusional claims that was about as rhetorically effective as a stoner in a dorm room ranting about how the CIA invented AIDS. there is nothing in reality that matches a literal interpretation of that article, so rather than sort through that pile of garbage, i'll just restate in english what this guy apparently thinks he is ranting about...

cash is an unproductive asset, so it behooves a business to hold as little as possible. sometimes a business has too little to meet operating expenses (like payroll or raw materials), so they need to borrow short term funds. for healthy businesses that are a going concern (like caterpillar, mcdonald’s, toyota, and verizon,) this should be no problem and they just sell IOUs called commercial paper.

when the financial crisis hit, the commercial paper markets froze up. all the usual lenders (buyers of commercial paper) thought it was a very real possibility that otherwise perfectly healthy institutions (like ge, caterpillar, mcdonald’s, toyota, and verizon) could fail. because financial panic is a self-fulfilling prophecy, they were right. could you imagine the panic upon panic that would spread if a bunch of fortune 500 companies like ge, mcdonald’s, and verizon had to shut their doors because they couldn't pay their workers or buy raw materials? the world was on the edge of a financial apocalypse.



rather than let that happen, the fed stepped in as lender of last resort and started buying up billions worth of commercial paper. companies like ge, caterpillar, mcdonald’s, toyota, and verizon all borrowed from the fed and joe the plumber went about his merry way buying supplies at home depot, eating at mcdonald's, and stopping by his bank without a clue as to how close the world had just come to another great depression.



despite the alleged conspiracy, none of this was a secret. it is all very clearly explained on the board of governors and new york fed's website, so i'm assuming the news what inspired this guy's rant is the fed's release naming exactly who borrowed (to comply with dodd-frank.) now let's get specific and tear this thing up... i will just quote the thing and give short responses.

"What if the greatest scam ever perpetrated was blatantly exposed, and the US media didn’t cover it?"

it wasn't a scam, and the media did cover it. it was headline news.

"Does that mean the scam could keep going? That’s what we are about to find out."

no. the commercial paper funding facility closed february 1, 2010.

"We were finally granted the honor and privilege of finding out the specifics, a limited one-time Federal Reserve view, of a secret taxpayer funded “backdoor bailout” by a small group of unelected bankers. This data release reveals “emergency lending programs” that doled out $12.3 TRILLION in taxpayer money – $3.3 trillion in liquidity, $9 trillion in “other financial arrangements.”"

actually it was never a secret and congress was aware, though the borrowers names were not disclosed until now to avoid causing further panic.

also, the fed does not dole out taxpayer money. that's a drastic oversimplification. the fed creates money (a liability) that is backed by u.s. treasuries (an asset), thus the money created is indirectly backed by the wealth of the u.s. to include the taxpayer, which is quite a bit different. any profits earned by the fed on it's holdings are returned to the u.s. treasury, and thus returned to the taxpayer.

"Wait, what? Did you say $12.3 TRILLION tax dollars were thrown around in secrecy by unelected bankers… and Congress didn’t know any of the details?"

no.

"The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves. The original copy of the Constitution spontaneously burst into flames. The ghost of Tom Paine went running, stark raving mad screaming through the halls of Congress. Talk about the ransacking and burning of Rome! Sayonara American middle class... If you still had any question as to whether or not the United States is now the world’s preeminent banana republic, the final verdict was just delivered and the decision was unanimous. The ayes have it. Any fairytale notions that we are living in a nation built on the rule of law and of the global economy being based on free market principles has now been exposed as just that, a fairytale. This moment is equivalent to everyone in Vatican City being told, by the Pope, that God is dead."

really? all this because the fed acted as an emergency lender of last resort?

"Based on many conversations I’ve had with people, it seems that the average person doesn’t comprehend how much a trillion dollars is, let alone 12.3 trillion. You might as well just say 12.3 gazillion, because people don’t grasp a number that large, nor do they understand what would be possible if that money was used in other ways. Can you imagine what we could do to restructure society with $12.3 trillion? Think about that..."

the money was not spent outright, it was lent for profit. the fed returns all profits after operating expenses to the treasury, so that money actually now goes back to the taxpayer along with a little extra, who is free to spend that on whatever brilliant societal restructuring plan this rant is all about.

hopefully by now you've gathered the ridiculousness of this guy's rant. here is more for your entertainment...

"People also can’t grasp the colossal crime committed because they keep hearing the word “loans.” People think of the loans they get. You borrow money, you pay it back with interest, no big deal. That’s not what happened here. This was a hostile world takeover orchestrated through economic attacks by a very small group of unelected global bankers. They paralyzed the system, then were given the power to recreate it according to their own desires. No free market, no democracy of any kind. All done in secrecy. In the process, they gave themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses and impoverished tens of millions of people – they have put into motion a system that will inevitably collapse again and utterly destroy the very existence of what is left of an economic middle class. That is not hyperbole. That is what happened. We are talking about trillions of dollars secretly pumped into global banks, handpicked by a small select group of bankers themselves. All for the benefit of those bankers, and at the expense of everyone else. People can’t even comprehend what that means and the severe consequences that it entails, which we have only just begun to experience. Let me sum it up for you: The American Dream is O-V-E-R. Welcome to the neo-feudal-fascist state."

wow... as for the guy who wrote this, i'm pretty sure there's a tea party rally out there missing one of its retards.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

on truth and lies.

just the greatest quote courtesy of the greatest betchi...

There are ages in which the rational man and the intuitive man stand side by side, the one in fear of intuition, the other with scorn for abstraction. The latter is just as irrational as the former is inartistic. They both desire to rule over life: the former, by knowing how to meet his principle needs by means of foresight, prudence, and regularity; the latter, by disregarding these needs and, as an "overjoyed hero," counting as real only that life which has been disguised as illusion and beauty. Whenever, as was perhaps the case in ancient Greece, the intuitive man handles his weapons more authoritatively and victoriously than his opponent, then, under favorable circumstances, a culture can take shape and art's mastery over life can be established. All the manifestations of such a life will be accompanied by this dissimulation, this disavowal of indigence, this glitter of metaphorical intuitions, and, in general, this immediacy of deception: neither the house, nor the gait, nor the clothes, nor the clay jugs give evidence of having been invented because of a pressing need. It seems as if they were all intended to express an exalted happiness, an OIympian cloudlessness, and, as it were, a playing with seriousness. The man who is guided by concepts and abstractions only succeeds by such means in warding off misfortune, without ever gaining any happiness for himself from these abstractions. And while he aims for the greatest possible freedom from pain, the intuitive man, standing in the midst of a culture, already reaps from his intuition a harvest of continually inflowing illumination, cheer, and redemption-in addition to obtaining a defense against misfortune. To be sure, he suffers more intensely, when he suffers; he even suffers more frequently, since he does not understand how to learn from experience and keeps falling over and over again into the same ditch. He is then just as irrational in sorrow as he is in happiness: he cries aloud and will not be consoled. How differently the stoical man who learns from experience and governs himself by concepts is affected by the same misfortunes! This man, who at other times seeks nothing but sincerity, truth, freedom from deception, and protection against ensnaring surprise attacks, now executes a masterpiece of deception: he executes his masterpiece of deception in misfortune, as the other type of man executes his in times of happiness. He wears no quivering and changeable human face, but, as it were, a mask with dignified, symmetrical features. He does not cry; he does not even alter his voice. When a real storm cloud thunders above him, he wraps himself in his cloak, and with slow steps he walks from beneath it.

-nietzsche, on truth and lies in a nonmoral sense

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

city of god.



i'm seriously thinking about revisiting one of the coolest cities i've ever seen in my life to check out both the slum that is the subject of my favorite movie of all time and the olympics.

i'm also seriously trying to invest in brazil. stories like this are how you know this isn't just some emerging market bubble that could easily overheat and burst like china. this is serious institutional change that absorbs a huge market of underground capital, hernando de soto style.

it's exciting.

Monday, October 11, 2010

tide with citrus febreze continued.

i got my response...

Dear Christopher,

Thanks for writing. I'm sorry, but Tide with Febreze Freshness Citrus and Light has been discontinued and it’s no longer available. Generally, decisions to start or stop making products are based on consumer demand, so feedback like yours is extremely valuable. Please be assured I'm sharing your disappointment with the rest of our team.

Since I don’t have a recommendation for you at this time, you may want to check our brand websites for information about our current products. You might find a new favorite!

All detergents have a 1 year shelve life.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Mary
Tide Team

well at least they responded. thanks tide!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

tide with citrus febreze.

so i just wrote this letter to tide:

Dear Tide,

So basically, I love Tide with Citrus Febreze. I think it got cut from the product line, but here's the thing: I really really love(d) Tide with Citrus Febreze. Is there any way I can get some?

I mean if you're not making it anymore but have some hiding in a plant somewhere, I'll buy a lifetime supply type amount in bulk. Will it keep for that long? Anyway, as I was saying, I will do almost anything to get some. I sometimes feel like the world is caving in on itself when I'm in the detergent aisle of the grocery store, and Tide with Citrus Febreze isn't there. It's like there's a hole in my heart where the laundry detergent should go in but none of the other brands fit.

I'm not normally weirdly obsessed with a brand. I think I'm actually a pretty smart dude. Not that smart people can't be obsessed with brands, but every once in awhile a product just hits that special little niche. In this case, my special little niche. Anyway, I'm smart. I just graduated with my MBA and I was thinking maybe I could get a job there managing that product line so that I could start making it again. Do you know who manages that department? I could talk to them and just let them know how I feel. I'd love to analyze the financial statements before and after. I could even draw up some pro formas that show we should reinstate the brand. Unless of course the analysis shows we shouldn't, in which case I'd need some extra time to Enron the numbers.

I could also dance for you. I'm smart, but I'm also a good dancer. Not that those things are necessarily mutually exclusive or anything, but you know... I'll dance for you. Or not you, but the person who manages that brand. I could dance for you too if you put me in touch, but then I might be too tired to dance once I get there.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Chris

i'll be posting the response.

automation station.

ahhh hurry up with this! i'm tryin to get me and my friends robot scooped to da club within my lifetime!



(lifetime: television for women.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

home.



this interview gave me a new appreciation for lcd soundsystem. just before 17 minutes he talks about home... not sure the video really connects, but i love it anyway. kinda should've ended at 7:13... but maybe that's just me. humurous tidbit... terry gross sounds like she's a total lcd soundsystem fan.

just a couple dudes chillin.



the breast thing i found on the blaaahg just now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

displacement.

i want global reach and walls in agreeable colors.
i want to irrigate the sahara and i want floor-to-ceiling windows.
i want regime change in iran and to always have fresh milk.

fresh milk is important.

i want to go back in time and miss the present.
i'd short enron and worldcom and buy up credit default swaps.
i'd buy in 2004 and sell short in 2007.

but most of all i would watch lenin climb onto the car seat.

he loved to do that.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the greatest zing of all.

the new york times and more detailed new yorker op-eds on the tea party got me started on some ideological introspection today. both referenced the john stewart video i posted earlier. a couple caveats: while john stewart and i are ideologically dissimilar, as long as he has his sense of humor, he'll keep pointing out the easy target... the ridiculous contradictions of ideological ambiguity, which are far more dangerous than any of our disagreements. and the other caveat: this post might strike some of you as incredibly biased, but i kinda don't care. this is mostly about my own personal perspective in a very abstract sense, so yes, it's biased.

the op-eds got me thinking, again, about the strange dynamic of the right in america's two party system. the competition to pitch the largest party tent has always forced some element of doublethink into american politics, but to me, the right has always seemed to be a particularly strange union between two disparate groups. there is a small but powerful elite: politicians, businessmen, and intellectuals like george bush, rupert murdoch, and william kristol. and then there is the other much larger group, the populist and religious self-proclaimed masses, who the powerful elite either pretend to identify with and co-opt or avoid and hide from altogether.

the peculiarity of it all is that the populist masses profess to loathe politics, elitism, and intellectualism; the defining traits of the powerful elite. their contempt of intellectualism is matched with an almost idiocratic love for idiots like sarah palin, a "rogue wildcard" whose foreign policy ignorance was probably more of a selling point than a liability. their jingoism is matched with an almost xenophobic fear of foreigners and immigrants and a tendency towards modern-day mccarthyism. these are the kind of people who take to nonsensical terms like islamofascism, protest mosques, and simply don't know enough to see the hilarity of glenn beck's conspiracy theories.

the powerful elite of the right is fully aware of the ridiculous hypocrisies that the masses subscribe to. the ground zero mosque zinger is a perfect example, wherein fox news reported that the ground zero mosque was being funded by a saudi that funds radical madrasas. what fox failed to mention is that this radical saudi, a 7% owner of fox news and business partner of rupert murdoch, is being enriched by the mass hysteria peddled by fox news. conservative jingoism and xenophobia is being used to enrich its foreign target, but this game is nothing new... it's the same game john mccain played when he held up joe the plumber as an actual plumber and not the owner of a multi-million dollar plumbing business, and it's the same game karl rove played when he gave george bush his folksy "i talk to god" makeover, wherein conservative anti-elitism and religious superstition was used to deliver voters into the hands of the political elite.

this deceptive populist image is precisely why it always looks so funny when george bush and rupert murdoch are caught hanging out, hugging, or holding hands with their middle eastern family friends, men who's portraits could easily adorn the center of one of those in-the-crosshairs bumper stickers you might find on the back of a pickup truck.

(kumbaya, my lord our competing lords... kumbayaaa.)

does anyone in the powerful elite really believe that george bush talks to god? of course not. but does some bible thumper in the midwest who will vote against their own interests? yes, and that's the whole point. and does upper management at fox news really believe that one of their owners is a terrorist? of course not. and he's not, but if you flash enough pictures of a saudi with an ak-47 to the typical fox news viewer, you will illicit the desired response, and the elite is fully aware of how they stand to benefit if they can steer these captive and suggestible fox news viewers.

(this guy is funding the terror mosque?! burn it down! oh wait- he owns my favorite news channel? uhm... i... ahem...)

to be sure, american leftists like michael moore and generally retarded conspiracy films like zeitgeist use the same style. fahrenheit 9/11 used those same pictures of bush and the saudis and both moore and zeitgeist used the same ridiculously stretched connect-the-investment-dots to connect bush and bin laden through the carlyle group, which of course means bush did 9/11. (duh.) but here's the thing... the left doesn't peddle their crap half as well, unless there is some poll out there showing about 27% of americans have bought their bullshit.

this has all given birth(er) to a new kind of voter... a republican who in a sense, doesn't really care about the veracity of what their party claims or implies, so much as what they claim to stand against and whether or not the straw man fits with their delusional but self-exalting worldview. it's an emotionally driven loyalty that has been carefully cultivated, not in any conspiratorial sense, but by the sum of the actions and styles of various commentators from rush limbaugh to glenn beck to the guy who yelled "you lie!" during obama's state of the union speech...

(look! the communist trifecta!)

by the time run-of-the-mill republicans realize they've been leashed and turned into attack dogs for an elite that despises them, they've been shown so many pictures of arabs with guns and a black president followed by the words foreigner, muslim, and socialist that they're frothing at the mouth and ready to take orders anyway. they're just too god damned angry to notice the powerful elite laughing behind them as they take them off the leash. (laughing all the way to the bank.)

so how is it that this dynamic persists? to put it simply: the conservative elite has demonized their opposition with emotionally-driven drivel so thoroughly that there really isn't any need to reveal, defend, or explain themselves. as a former koch adviser said, "they’re smart. this right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. they see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves." they disingenuously co-opt the populism, racism, jingoism, xenophobia, anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism, and generalized fear and paranoia that many have and some refuse to admit, and enough idiots eat it up to make the whole thing worth it. just point your finger and yell a buzz-word, and the money and votes will come pouring in.

while john stewart zinged fox news when he called them out on the terror mosque, the best zing still belongs to fox news and the conservative elite, whose political strategies have ensnared their captive and gullible flock of sheep so thoroughly that they have finagled for themselves the ultimate gift that keeps on giving... and that, ye wayward few, is the greatest zing of all.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a former home.

I have four daughters. The eldest is twelve years old and the youngest is one year old. I am married to Muhammad Fahmi A-Rimawi, who was arrested on suspicion of aiding the cell that killed Minister Ze'evi.

In the early hours of Wednesday [24 October 2001], I was awakened by the sound of gunfire and helicopters. I looked out my window and was surprised to see many soldiers on the road that is about ten meters from our house. I heard knocking at the door. It was Shadi, one of our neighbors. He said that the soldiers wanted me to come outside. My daughters woke up and started crying because of the loud noise. I went outside to the soldiers - I was barefoot and in pajamas. The soldiers heard the sound of my daughters crying and asked me to get everyone out of the house quickly. Shadi went to get my parents and my brother's wife from the top floor.

At the same time, my brother 'Abd al-Muhsan and my sister's son Iham stood outside facing the wall, their hands tied. I quickly took my daughters outside. The rest of our family who lives in the building with us also exited. The younger children cried, and we all stood around barefoot and in our pajamas because the army told us that we had to leave within five minutes, and threatened to blow up the house. I embraced my children, because it was early in the morning and very cold. The army took my sister's son and my brother away in a jeep, and the rest of us remained outside. The soldiers surrounded us and aimed their guns at us but did not fire.

The soldiers sent a dog into the building and tens of soldiers followed it in. Meanwhile, we sat outside and heard the heavy firing and saw helicopters circling above. Once in a while, armored vehicles passed by on the street. The children continued to cry and wet their pants, because the soldiers would not let them to go into the house to use the bathroom. Only at 6:30 A.M. did the army leave the building. I took my daughters inside, helped them shower, and made something to eat. Outside, the firing stopped and the soldiers left.

At 9:00 A.M., the soldiers came back, bringing my sister's son Iham with them. They took my sister, Ifham, out of the house and questioned her for an hour. Her son, Hamdi Quran, is one of the men suspected of assassinating Minister Ze'evi. They asked her about the mobile phone that she had, and she said that she had sold it. They called me and asked about the mobile phone, and about the whereabouts of Hamdi. They threatened that if we did not give them the information, they would demolish the house. I said that I did not know where he was. The interrogation lasted half an hour. Then the soldiers ordered Ifham and me to go back into the house. We were very frightened and decided to leave the house and stay with neighbors. Only my father remained in his apartment.

At 6:20 P.M. on the same day, a large force of soldiers came and took my father out of the house. We were still at the neighbor's house. The soldiers circled the house for fifteen minutes. I do not know exactly what they were doing. They left the area, and two minutes later I heard the sound of an explosion. The house went up in flames.

All four apartments in the building were completely demolished. The soldiers would not let us take anything from the building. Before moving in with the neighbors I had managed to grab only a few pieces of the children's clothing. Now I am living with my four daughters in my uncle's house nearby, and I hope that they will help me rebuild my house.

Zahara Ahmad Yusef a-Rimawi is 33 years old, married and a mother of four. The testimony was taken by Raslan Mahagna on 29 October 2001.

...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

zing.



oh wow that was a good zing. kinda made up for how anticlimactic it was reading the cia red cell leak. boooriiing. (note: wikileaks is pretty unstable nowadays.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

healthcare infowars.

i had some fun with healthcare infographics this morning when charlie posted this gop absurdity...



its so obviously just intentionally complicated. any idiot can tell it doesnt even pretend to try explain the healthcare system.

so i poked around and found this humorous response...



ah infographics. and heres a couple two three more if youre having fun.

federal spending.

thanks to andrew for posting this...



so heres the thing, (and this should be especially illuminating for you tea partiers out there,) every major federal budget increase since reagan has been under gop leadership. in fact, it looks like every federal budget increase since reagan has occurred under gop leadership, aside from one incredibly minor increase after obamas first year.

i wonder... is that minor increase what makes obama a socialist?

lets just take a moment to think about that.

ok i have to poop. bye.

ps... where all that money goes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

a little dab'll do ya.

omg i cant believe i finally found it... some hilarious oversight let this little gem of a pamphlet slip into one of my high school's anti-drug events back in the day and "a little dab'll do ya" has been a well-versed inside joke ever since.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

r.i.p. ltte continued.

sri lanka has been in the international headlines since government supporters shut down the un offices in colombo to protest a un war crimes inquiry. the un estimates about 7,000 civilians were killed when the government finally defeated the ltte last may, and common sense tells me its actually pretty hard to kill 7,000 civilians without committing a war crime or three.

the subtle discrimination of ignorance is pretty hard to miss here, since it seems like people just dont want to know what happened to those 7,000 civilians. i for one do want to know, and i think if the sri lankan government and president rajapaksa want a chance to show that discrimination died with the war, they should start acting like they care what happened to thousands of their tamil citizens.

if youre interested in some unbiased insight, i really appreciated this...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

radiolab favs.

as any radiolab listener knows, the cognitive brain can only juggle about 7 discrete things at once, so making a list of favorites from about 40 episodes is bound to get a few wrong here or there.

that said, i think ive done it. if you dont listen to radiolab, start. and start with these...

emergence.

beyond time.

placebo.

sleep.

memory and forgetting.

mortality.

choice.

the mcchrystal method.

youve probably heard about the rolling stone article that got mcchrystal fired. now heres a guess as to what the hell mcchrystal was thinking...



mcchrystal is convinced afghanistan is screwed without more troops and is trying to avoid the blame.

he asked for 60,000 troops, but obama only sent 30,000. he said anything less than 40,000 would run the risk of failure, and now that afghanistan is failing, he wants to make sure hes not going to become the administration's scapegoat.

mcchrystal wants the blame to fall on obama's afghan policy, which is where it should be. obama's afghan policy was doomed from the beginning, and if i were him, i might wanna get out of the way of that shitstorm too.



(full speech.)

that said, its definitely ridiculous for a commanding officer to play politics with his position. he should be above the blame game, and definitely shouldnt be doing his job with politicking in mind.

then again, he might not have cared about the politics and was legitimately just so frustrated that he couldnt see the disastrous magazine article a few days in front him.

so much for brilliant strategist.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

guard corps defectors.

this is pretty fascinating.

it reminded me of those hopeful days last june when apparently, according to a defected revolutionary guard, both the protesters and the regime thought the regime could fall. the relative calm of today kinda bums me out, but hopefully hope is enough to keep the movement going.

Monday, June 14, 2010

project natal.

this is so nuts...





i can almost guarantee this is not going to be as cool as the videos make it seem, as in milo was probably just scripted for a lot of that, but even if natal is not as accurate or responsive as the videos make it look, the motion recognition and object scanning will definitely open up a whole new world for designers.

Monday, May 31, 2010

major lazer and la roux.



ive got a couple serious favorites on this mixtape right now.

blockades and blocked aid.

for all those gazans stuck between israel and hamas, im at a loss.



ive been pondering the israeli seizure of gaza-bound aid ships, aka the blockade and the blocked aid all day and i want to say i know what needs to be done, but the truth is... right now i have no idea.

i still remember the miserable day hamas won the elections in january 2006 and then the gruesome coup when hamas took control of gaza in june 2007.

of course i was seething at all the stupid policies i thought led to the situation in the first place, but all anger and blame aside, the question was and still is how to liberate gaza. i want to see hamas gone as much as anyone, but there is no way around it: gaza is firmly in the hands of islamists and simultaneously besieged by zionists. now what?

well that all depends on the the answer to this question: is the blockade working? i wish i knew the answer, but right now it looks like an epic fail.

oh how memorial day makes me yearn for the moral clarity of hindsight, but alas... gaza is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and as far as i can tell, there are no easy answers for gaza's 1.5 million people.

happy memorial day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

spill, baby, spill.

i just got back from a beyond awesome beach wedding and the best beach week probably ever. if you havent noticed with the post about dudus in jamaica, hanging around beaches and reggae for a week has definitely influenced my posts.

as i was chilling with multitudes of awesome people and basking in the beauty of rodanthe's beaches, i couldnt help but wonder about the bp oil spill. after combing the internet to learn more about it, i came across a few gems i thought id share.

as usual, some of the best info was in infographics. my favorite was at visual economics, but crude awakening (by zmgraphics for inforgraphicworld) was pretty awesome too. i also got some pretty good perspective from vizworld's biggest oil spills graphic. for a little more perspective, one of the most infamous oil spills, the exxon valdez, was about 40,000 tonnes, which ranks below 50th in the world's biggest spills.

so why is it so infamous? well the economist nails it as usual in spill, baby, spill, explaining that since oil is biodegradable, what matters most is where the spill is, because that determines its effects before the oil biodegrades.

also awesome, we both came up with the same witty titles for our material independently. true story.

edit: oh hey, one more little tidbit! theres a bit of a buzz surrounding the oil pollution act of 1990, but lemme clear a couple two three things up for you with bit about oil spills, tort law and libertarianism. quick summary... the law only limits a specific kind of "strict" liability at the federal level to $75 million, so the true liability for bp is theoretically unlimited, as it should be.

ill try get this up as a video as soon as its posted. oh zing, here it is...



edit again: this is awesome.

mia in the nyt.

this is awesome.

the paragraph on the born free video eloquently said exactly what ive been saying since i first saw it.

Unlike, say, her performance at the Grammys, which was a perfect fusion of spectacle (a nine-months-pregnant woman rapping in a see-through dress) with content (Maya’s fervor was linked to the music), the video for “Born Free” feels exploitative and hollow. Seemingly designed to be banned on YouTube, which it was instantly, the video is set in Los Angeles where a vague but apparently American militia forcibly search out red-headed men and one particularly beautiful red-headed child. The gingers, as Maya called them, using British slang, are taken to the desert, where they are beaten and killed. The first to die is the child, who is shot in the head. While “Born Free” is heard in the background throughout, the song is lost in the carnage. As a meditation on prejudice and senseless persecution, the video is, at best, politically na├»ve.



it just doesnt make any sense. some people thought it was about palestine, some about immigration, some about iraq. but knowing what i know, i immediately recognized it for what it was... it was about nothing. there is no conflict in the world that resembles that video, but still, the video was a perfect metaphor for m.i.a.

the video was, at best, a video about violent political conflict, and m.i.a. is, as an artist, an ambiguous banner for violent political conflict. conflict is something people otherwise tend to ignore or shut out, so i like that. but whenever she tries to go further, to dissect a conflict and/or choose sides, she shows how naive she really is. she is a musician, and now, an awesome pop icon. she is not politically sophisticated enough to actually be a rebel or conflict partisan, thats just her iconography.

but thats ok, because her music and her image are, after all, pretty great. ive been listening to xxxo and getting excited about the new album, which should be out around july. yum.

dudus.

christopher coke aka dudus, leader of the jamaican labour party aligned shower posse, has probably slipped away after some fierce gun battles in the tivoli gardens slum of kingston, jamaica. the invasion of the shower posse controlled garrison in western downtown kingston was sparked when jamaica's labour party prime minister bruce golding, a political beneficiary and benefactor of dudus, caved to u.s. demands for dudus's extradition. the indictment is pretty fascinating stuff.

kingston, jamaica is home to more than a few internationally connected criminal gangs, or posses, and while the shower posse is aligned with the jamaican labour party, armed gangs and their warlords span the political spectrum. political parties have actively contributed to the creation of garrisons, or gang-run slums, to create pockets of political support. the nexus of gangs and government makes for an all too easy-to-imagine slip into civil war, but despite eruptions of violence in the past, jamaica seems to bounce back. of course i still get nervous when jamaica tests the tipping point.

i just added born fi' dead, a book about the jamaican underworld, to my too-long-to-read reading list.

Monday, May 24, 2010

empathy.

in clever calculus i drew the future
because i had a story about the past

but who would listen? i was the village idiot
crusading against an imaginary fraud as an imaginary fraud's first friend

i deserved no air time: i was a profanity
i deserved no empathy.

at my worst i was blood with no pulse
staining our collective clothes
at my best i was a wound with no blood
displaying our insides to children

at my worst i was the village villain
purveying disgust and dementia
at my best i was simply hurt
by my own delusion or disposition

at my best i was a drunkard
reciting a black comedy
blackest in its depictions
but funniest in its fictions

i was the village idiot, fraud or fallacy
fame or family, they would not listen

we had mistaken a wolf for our dog
and dogs don't need sheep's clothing; they are already family

we tamed the intellect but not the surveyor
and we were sized up like a happy meal

and still i stand apart: a melting freudian split
an idiot disappearing over the horizon

safely out of audible range
muzzled for your comfort while wool adorns the podium

never mind the speaker's bloodstained teeth
never mind the speakers' increasingly audible hiss

the children are instructed to laugh:
never mind the pain.
this is how wolves play games.
you do like to play games, don't you?

don't you?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

skewed views from the national review.

just a little something on andrew maccarthy's national review article, aka last post's pleasant surprise... i thought his commentary on the israeli-palestinian conflict was so laughably oversimplified and infantile that i couldnt resist ridiculing it.

"Petraeus is echoing the narrative peddled incessantly by leftists in the government he serves and by Islamists in the countries where he works. According to that narrative, Israel’s plight is not a struggle for survival against immovable foes spurred by an Islamist ideology that must be discredited and defeated."

did he just say islamists peddle the narrative that israel is not struggling for survival against them? oh well that's just awesome. has this guy heard of hamas? cuz i'm pretty sure thats their whole raison d'etre. im going to go ahead and assume that was just poor writing and he didn't actually mean to say that.

ok so let me just state that quote inversely to get at what hes saying... according to this guy, the correct narrative would be: israels plight is a struggle for survival against immovable foes spurred by an islamist ideology.

hm... if by "immovable foes" he means the 4+ million refugees under de facto israeli government control, ok i'll give it to him. short of genocide or mass expulsion, they are indeed immovable. (by the way, googling mass expulsion is entertainingly relevant.)

but he lost me on the islamist ideology part. sure, there are islamists like the misguided supporters of hamas, but if we could wave a wand and make all the islamists simply disappear tomorrow, israel's plight would remain, so obviously it can't be that simple.

there would still be millions of people, arabs, muslims, christians, and secularists alike that would be an anathema to a "jewish and democratic" state of israel. and how does his argument account for all the people that advocate a single secular democratic state in all the land controlled by israel? maybe he doesn't know islamists actually aren't israel's only detractors.

"To the contrary, this view holds, it is the result of a mere political conflict."

ok, inversely: israel's plight is not the result of a mere political conflict.

universal suffrage for everyone under israeli control would make israel's basic law, which states that israel is a "jewish and democratic state," a contradiction... jews would be outnumbered. israel's basic law theoretically necessitates unequal democratic rights... sure sounds like a political problem to me.

ok no more quotes. i can and actually did go on for a few more, but you get the picture.

i mean... simple hypotheticals (like the elimination of islamism) make it obvious andrew mccarthy's idea of israel's plight is absurd, so why is the national review going with this crap? it always seems weird to me how conservatives have the same recurring problem of reducing complex issues into binary.

the idea that islamism is the crux of israel's plight is wishful thinking. but it's so disconnected from reality that if you're going to pretend complete and utter defeat of islamism (which would be nice) will solve the israeli-palestinian conflict and bring peace in the middle east, you might as well also pretend santa claus is bringing peace in the middle east in a bag next christmas. or perhaps more fitting for the national review, that jesus is bringing peace as soon as israel conquers enough land.

painting the israeli-palestinian conflict as a simple good vs evil battle where either israel or the terrorists win makes it easier for an idiot to understand, so i guess i can see why an idiot would want to understand it in just that way... unfortunately for this guy and the national review, reality is sometimes just a tad more complex.

petraeus on israel.



i probably shouldve assumed such an intelligent person with such an intimate understanding of the middle east would share my view's on america's israel problem.

i've always agreed with and supported petraeus on iraq, but i guess the thought of petraeus on israel had never even crossed my mind, so this was a pretty pleasant surprise.

if petraeus ever gets near politics, this pretty much guarantees that hes going to have my full support, because guess what... he's right.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

stubborn post-drunkards.

oh wow...

"Binge-drinking rats continued to show neurotoxicity in the hippocampus long after (in rat years) becoming sober. ... The binges activate an inflammatory response in rat brains rather than a pure regrowth of normal neuronal cells. Even after longstanding sobriety this inflammatory response translates into a tendency to stay the course, a diminished capacity for relearning and maladaptive decision-making."

hey didnt bush used to be an alcoholic?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

all your data are belong to us.

this is so awesome.

and by this i mean all the world bank development data that used to be available only with a subscription is now freely available on a saucy new website.

im lovin it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

north korean os.

under orders from dear leader kim jong-il, the north koreans have created an operating system called red star, specifically geared towards monitoring the activities of its users and providing access to north koreas own homegrown "internet."

youll have to translate it into english, but here is the blog post from a mikhail, a student at the russian embassy in north korea. 1 part interesting, 2 parts hilarious.

hopefully dear leader will like the attention... i would hate for mikhail to get tortured over this.

scion capital.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

amazing.

edit: oh hey, i just found this op-ed he wrote on greenspan.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

a clean bill of health continued.

i started this bit with a simple question... "but seriously folks, what the hell is in the health care bill anyway?"

dreday posted this little gem yesterday, and so here is a nice clean summary of the health care act, and here is a nice clean summary of the health care bill that was signed into law (which includes the financial aid overhaul as well).

now heres another bit... my analysis in pros and cons.

pros...

im pretty sure this bills biggest plus is that it largely resolves adverse selection, aka people who wait until the day before expensive medical diagnoses/treatments to sign up for insurance coverage, or people who only sign up for coverage because they know they are at high-risk for illness. since theyre getting coverage from a plan they never paid into, this drives up premiums for all the other poor saps that have been paying while healthy.

but seriously folks, signing up as late as possible or only when feeling generally unhealthy was the skewed incentive prior to this bill, and the solution was to try boot people who had pre-existing conditions. the problem was: theres no way to tell between those who honestly didnt know they had a condition and those who were consciously gaming the system, so they both got booted.

another one of the pluses for this bill is solving this... before the reform, paying health care recipients eventually ended up paying for people who couldnt afford emergency care (which includes shitbags like this) either through higher insurance premiums or higher emergency care costs (if you dont have insurance).

The cost of emergency care required by EMTALA is not directly covered by the federal government. Because of this, [...] increasing financial pressures on hospitals in the period since EMTALA's passage have caused consolidations and closures, so the number of emergency rooms is decreasing despite increasing demand for emergency care. There is also debate about the extent to which EMTALA has led to cost-shifting and higher rates for insured or paying hospital patients, thereby contributing to the high overall rate of medical inflation in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 55% of U.S. emergency care now goes uncompensated. When medical bills go unpaid, health care providers must either shift the costs onto those who can pay or go uncompensated. In the first decade of EMTALA, such cost-shifting amounted to a hidden tax levied by providers. For example, it has been estimated that this cost shifting amounted to $455 per individual or $1,186 per family in California each year.

Financial pressures on hospitals in the 20 years since EMTALA's passage have caused them to consolidate and close facilities, contributing to emergency room overcrowding. According to the Institute of Medicine, between 1993 and 2003, emergency room visits in the U.S. grew by 26 percent, while in the same period, the number of emergency departments declined by 425. Ambulances are frequently diverted from overcrowded emergency departments to other hospitals that may be farther away. In 2003, ambulances were diverted over a half a million times.

i always have to correct people who are up in arms about reform because they dont want to pay for other peoples healthcare and explain to them that prior to reform, they did in fact already pay for others care, either explicitly through medicare or medicaid, or implicitly through the aforementioned emergency care cost-shifting. in some ways, this reform is simply making some of the implicit costs explicit by expanding medicaid to cover the would-be unpaying emergency room visitors.

another pro is health exchanges, which is essentially a competitive insurance market with consistent minimum benefits, allowing for more coherent comparisons of different plans with standardized options.

and finally if youre into equity, it takes huge steps to provide access to healthcare by fully subsidizing (through medicaid) those with incomes up to 133% of the poverty level ($14,404 individual / $29,327 family of four) and partially subsidizing (through subsidies and tax credits) those with incomes from 133% to 400% of the poverty level ($29,327 to $88,200 for a family of four).

cons...

now heres the catch, if the bill is going to be deficit-neutral (which it definitely should be), the money for these subsidies will of course have to come from taxes in some form or another to the tune of about $700 billion (including the possibilities of higher taxes or budget cuts elsewhere, hopefully the latter). while it appears those with incomes up to $43,420 (individual) or $88,200 (family of four) are getting a subsidy, at some break-even point approaching but below these higher income levels, people are essentially only getting back as health care subsidies and tax credits what theyve already paid in as taxes.

(some stats...)
$700 billion / 140 million taxpayers = about $5,000 per taxpayer (coincidentally about the same as the bailout)

below 133% the poverty level, it is indeed free healthcare financed by medicaid (note: "in some states medicaid beneficiaries are required to pay a small fee [co-payment] for medical services.") from 133% the poverty level to the break-even point, its increasingly forcing people and employers to buy health insurance with their own money. above the break-even point its forcing people and employers to buy their own health insurance as well as healthcare for others and fining them if they dont comply.

dont get it twisted to mean im railing against the bill, all taxes "force" spending in some form or another... im just saying that wherever that break-even point lies is where the equity/efficiency trade-off begins, producing access for those below it at the expense of coercion for those above.

another downside: the bill also increases moral hazard. since insurers cant deny or charge more based on health status, americans can be as fat and unhealthy as they like and expect everyone to share their health care bill (no pun intended). since america is one of the only countries (the only country?) where the poor are actually fatter than the rich, poor unhealthy fatties are the most likely to be subsidized.

(some more stats...)
less than $25,000: 32.5% obese
$25,000-$40,000: 31.3% obese
$40,000-$60,000: 30.3% obese
more than $60,000: 26.8% obese

pro or co(r)n...

which leads me to my final point, everything here is an estimate or projection, including the benefits of health exchanges and the $700 billion cbo price tag. if anything, my bit about moral hazard is really an argument that the price tag may be overly optimistic, as the government is still essentially spending to fatten people up with corn feed (through agricultural subsidies) and then spending to try keep these obese people healthy (through health care subsidies). and its doing it all with borrowed money.

so thats my caveat... we should always be open to the possibility of unintended consequences.

sanitas boner, bitches! (ahem, sanitas bona.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

a clean bill of health.

but seriously folks, what the hell is in the health care bill anyway?

edit: dreday posted this little gem yesterday... here is a nice clean summary of the health care act, and here is a nice clean summary of the health care bill that was signed into law (which includes the financial aid overhaul as well).

those preclude the need to read the either partys biased summaries, but if youre looking to compare and contrast... here is a nice clean summary with plenty of room for bias, and here is less clean section-by-section summary with less room for bias.

im willing to bet a beverage that most of the people protesting have never read a single summary. im sure theyre content to fit the bill into their worldview as containing one word: socialism.

all in favor of socialism say aye. (aye!) socialism passes. (gavel.)

not that everyone in the opposition is delusional. the gop counter-proposal is actually pretty reasonable. here is an obviously biased summary, and here is a less biased section-by-section summary.

if you can ignore the creepy picture in the header, nancy pelosi's website has a nice collection of health care related links.

ps... im willing to bet a second beverage that some of the people protesting have never even read a book. just sayin...

happy nowruz!



et la reponse...

edit... omfg watch this with the transcribe audio captions on...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

rip smashkan's sauce bucket.

smashkan's sauce bucket is reborn as smashkanistan... wise fwom your gwave!

also, this is the last post thatll be imported as a facebook note. im gonna be using twitterfeed from now on. learn to love it.

welcome to smashkanistan, population: me.

ayad allawi.

yallah allawi!

update: omfg, hes ahead! after a week of polls showing maliki would win, hes a-fucking-head! only by the thinnest of margins, but get this...

"results from refugee voters outside iraq, and special pre-election voting by iraqi security forces have still to be announced, and they could dramatically affect the outcome of the parliamentary poll."

and by that i mean... those votes are likely to heavily favor allawi. quick- everyone take off your pants! (how weird would it be if somewhere in the world that worked?)

ps... this is exciting.

Friday, March 12, 2010

rip apcs.

my apc jeans handed down by mike green have finally met their tragic end in a bike accident earlier today. (ouch.)



this is actually really cool in 2038.

note to friends: beyond belvidere, the sidewalks on franklin might as well be stairs. (also, just cuz its spring break, dont mean you can ride on the sidewalks... oops.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

paul krugman.

"there was this kind of platonic beauty to the whole thing. i remember going through the two-by-two-by-two model—two goods, two countries, two factors of production. the way all these pieces fitted together into a swiss-watch-like mechanism was beautiful. i loved it." -paul krugman

the new taliban.

oh what?

awesome.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

iraq the vote.

its that time again... time for our favorite american experiment in nation-building to get out that purple ink and vote! so get caught up and pick your poison. so far im extremely optimistic, because either everyone in iraq has been reading my blog, or the damage done by sectarian politics is gruesomely self-evident. (probably the former.)



this election is a huge shift away from iraqs retardedly sectarian politics to a not-so-retarded revolutionary kind of politics where the sanity and competency of both parties and individual politicians (thanks to the open list system) actually matters. i think there might even be the faint flowery smell of secular liberalism in the air. oh no, wait- sorry, thats my tide with citrus febreze. god that smells good.

and praise allah, cuz its about time iraqis woke up and smelled the awakening council. you know, because god is obviously responsible for the political maneuverings of increasingly secular cross-sectarian politicians, right?

and hey, speaking of god controlling everything- hats off to sistani for so many reasons, not least of which is providing the most authoritative refutation of the islamic republics legitimacy aside from montazeri (rip). but more relevant to iraq, after making the mistake of supporting the mostly islamist and shi'i sectarian united iraqi alliance in the last elections, i think even sistani realized the futility of sectarian politics and he has refused to support any political party or parliamentary list this time around.

and another, bigger hats off to nouri al-maliki. ever since the iraqi armys assault on the militias in 2008, maliki has been growing on me. a man after my own heart, maliki took one of iraqs biggest steps towards national reconciliation and political prosperity when he and his dawa party ditched the united iraqi list and finally reached across the aisle- er, religion... or... ethnicity... no- sect... or whatever... to form the new state of law coalition.

for the first time, it looks like "the headdresses of tribal leaders significantly outnumber the turbans of clerics, a significant shift, given the religious and sectarian roots of mr. maliki’s own party, dawa." although it wouldve been more attractive if it had the firm support of the awakening councils, the state of law coalition is better than anything i wouldve expected from either maliki or iraqi politics.

but maliki is no saint... its completely absurd and hypocritical that jamal jafaar mohammed sits as a legislator for maliki's dawa party while mutlaq is barred from running. if maliki really wants to lead a cross-sectarian political renaissance, he has to drop his support for the blacklist, which includes dozens of candidates from the coss-sectarian iraqiya and iraqi unity lists. those lists are set to do well anyway, which i think is good news for iraq.

speaking of what i think is good for iraq, heres a few tidbits on my loyalties...

1. if i were voting, i would be voting for the iraqiya list. ive always supported allawis iraqi national accord party, and this is essentially their list. national accord has always stood out as iraqs most viable consistently secular liberal political party in post-saddam iraq. i would have no reason to divide my loyalties any further if they couldve claimed the support of the awakening councils, but for whatever reason the talks failed. which brings me to the next list...

2. the iraqi unity list. although malikis state of law coalition did manage to woo the anbar salvation front, the real heft the awakening movement lies with its founders brother, ahmad abu risha, and his awakening council of iraq. the awakening movement is the antithesis of sunni islamism, and you can always count on me to support the man who "threatened to turn anbar into 'a graveyard for the iraqi islamic party and its agents.'"

3. then comes the projected winner, maliki's state of law coalition. i think ive pretty much already covered this one... maliki is getting smarter and seemingly more secular, but i still dont think i trust him completely. dawa is still officially islamist, and therefore still officially not cool.

4. finally, theres the kurds. theyre awesome. enough said. ok well ill say one more thing... back in the day, i couldnt imagine putting the kurds last on my list, but voting along ethnic lines is so 2005.

everyone else is either ideologically repulsive, like the islamist iraqi national alliance, or too small to matter.

my far flung hope is that iraqiya and unity get enough votes to form a coalition government on their own, but thats pretty wildly far-fetched since polls show them getting about 27% of the vote. that said, iraqiyas 22% wouldve been unthinkable in 2005, especially considering that iraqiya and unitys 27% is just a mullahs whisker away from the next best alternative, the state of law coalition with a plurality of about 30%. realistically my hope is that state of law will form a coalition with either or both iraqiya and unity, who in turn will ensure maliki maintains a cross-sectarian secular government. that would effectively marginalize the islamists and is definitely not that far-fetched.

an easy majority for iraqs post-sectarian and secular lists certainly points to a new generation in iraqi politics, and with any luck, the political renaissance is just beginning.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

vampire tennis.

im pretty sure this song is about all the snow melting so i can play some fucking tennis.



via the blaaahg.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

red planet.

the 1994 cartoon miniseries that inspired me to read my first novel, robert heinlein's red planet. finally, after all these years...



willis is just as cute as i remember him. sigh... my heart is 14.33% mushier and my universe is now 2.17% closer to complete. praise jah! (and whoever uploaded this video.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

r.i.p. ltte continued.



in august i wrote...

"Should Sri Lanka choose to continue to persecute its Tamil minority, the Sri Lankan government will carve a favorable epithet for the LTTE that will inspire continued unconventional warfare. Should Sri Lanka instead choose to come to terms with its own mistakes and delegitimize the grassroots support for the often brutal LTTE by ensuring equal treatment for the Tamil minority, the end of the Tamil Tigers could be the beginning of an enduring and welcome peace in Sri Lanka."

this probably wont help.