Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Anyway, the Top 5 Reasons to Vote Against Wall Street's $700, they all seem like good reasons to me;
The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning
Friday, 26 September 2008
All of this is deeply related, in multiple ways, to what is without a doubt absolutely the first most astonishing fact of American politics. And that is that conservatism (I prefer to call them ‘regressives’) isn’t the most repudiated ideology this side of cannibalism. And that regressive practitioners of this hateful disease masquerading as a political philosophy haven’t been tarred-and-feathered, hung, drawn and quartered, then run out of town on an electrified rail. And that any red-blooded American wouldn’t infinitely prefer in this day and age to be called a pedophile, a terrorist or a European – heck, or all of the above combined – rather than a conservative.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
"The point is this is one of the most important irrevokable economic decisions we will ever make. Let's make it in a state of panic."
— Stephen Colbert
"I'm not going to fire you; you can still be called Congress. But you don't have any power."
— Jon Macey, Yale Law School professor and deputy dean, providing an allegory for Secretary Paulson's proposal
"If you think the Bailout of All Bailouts...won't saddle American taxpayers with billions, if not trillions, of risky obligations, you don't know politics... Never before in the history of American capitalism has so much been asked of so many for...so few."
— Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor
RHINEBECK, N.Y., Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A financial crisis will likely send the U.S. dollar into a free fall of as much as 90 percent and gold soaring to $2,000 an ounce, a trends researcher said.
"We are going to see economic times the likes of which no living person has seen," Trends Research Institute Director Gerald Celente said, forecasting a "Panic of 2008."
"The bigger they are, the harder they'll fall," he said in an interview with New York's Hudson Valley Business Journal.
Celente -- who forecast the subprime mortgage financial crisis and the dollar's decline a year ago and gold's current rise in May -- told the newspaper the subprime mortgage meltdown was just the first "small, high-risk segment of the market" to collapse.
Derivative dealers, hedge funds, buyout firms and other market players will also unravel, he said.
He said he would not "be surprised if giants tumble to their deaths," Celente said.
The Panic of 2008 will lead to a lower U.S. standard of living, he said.
A result will be a drop in holiday spending a year from now, followed by a permanent end of the "retail holiday frenzy" that has driven the U.S. economy since the 1940s, he said.
This would make those two wars of choice _really_ expensive...
There has been lots of coverage of the proposed bailout by the US government, an interesting clause in this plan would, in effect, make the US Treasury Secretary one of the most powerful dictators in the world;
"Section 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." In other words, no lawsuits allowed by aggrieved investors or American taxpayers. No complaints later from ignorant pols who didn't know what they voted for. Take it or leave it, suckers.
Friday, 19 September 2008
Thursday, 18 September 2008
1. The inhabitants of the Roman town were all killed by the eruption of 79. Wrong. Just over 1000 bodies have been discovered – out of a population of perhaps 12,000. Most of them made it to safety.
2. The city lay undisturbed from the day Vesuvius erupted until its rediscovery in the eighteenth century. Wrong again, I’m afraid. Almost straightway the locals came back to salvage their stuff, digging through the volcanic rubble, and if they were lucky, heaving out some of the most valuable stuff. If they were unlucky, their tunnels collapsed and they got smothered in the process.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
- White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
- White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
- White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Liberals have been so cowed by the pummeling they’ve taken from the right that they’ve tried to shed their own identity, calling themselves everything but liberal and hoping to pass conservative muster by presenting themselves as hyper-religious and lifelong lovers of rifles, handguns, whatever.
And if lack of scientific support isn’t enough to omit something from a science lesson then what would be enough?
But, more importantly, encapsulated in these comments is, I think, much of what is wrong with today’s society. To think that the sincerity or even the fervor with which someone holds a belief confers any value on that belief is the defining mistake of our time. This denigration of truth in favor of sincerity is progressively permeating more and more of our society. The problem is that sincerity is very malleable. Indeed, it wouldn’t be going too far to say that when sincerity and desire hook up, desire is invariably going to insist on being on top
Friday, 12 September 2008
RUSSIA flew two strategic bombers to Venezuela yesterday in the first such long-range flight since the Cold War.
Officials said the bombers carried no live weapons -- nuclear or otherwise -- and would return to Russia early next week.
The bombers arrived in South America ahead of planned joint military manoeuvres between Russia and Venezuela, which some analysts believe is a tit-for-tat response to the Americans sending warships with aid to Georgia following last month's five-day war.
It was the first time strategic bombers have landed in the Western Hemisphere since the end of the Cold War. The foray, and the coming military exercises with an avowed US enemy, are likely to strain the already tense relationship between Moscow and Washington.
Russian air force major general Pavel Androsov said the Tu-160 bombers were carrying only test missiles.
He said the jets would conduct several test flights over neutral waters and return to Russia on Monday. That suggest the jets will not participate in military exercises Venezuela and Russia plan to hold in the Caribbean Sea later this year.
The deployment -- which will include a naval squadron and long-range patrol planes -- is expected to be the largest Russian naval manoeuvres in the Caribbean in nearly two decades.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
the Human Rights Council has become the epicenter of a movement by certain Islamic states to curtail freedom of religious expression, under the guise of combating “defamation of religion” and “Islamaphobia.” The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom.
[snip]The reasoning, such as it is, goes like this: how dare you, Dr. X (put here any name of any scientist who dares to write for the public), claim that so many people are wrong and you and a small number of other egg-headed intellectuals are right? Who are you to declare the truth of evolution and the falsity of intelligent design? What makes you the arbiter in deciding what is science and what is bunk?
The answer is simple: I am an expert. You shouldn't trust me on car mechanics, or on civil engineering, or on market analysis. But what I have to say about science counts more than what most people have to say about it because I am a scientist and they are not.
More damning, you are engaging in the ultimate act of arrogance: to declare something true or untrue not because you have reason or evidence, but only because it makes you feel better. May I suggest that you need a good dose of humility, and that one way to get it is to admit that the universe is not about you, and that some people out there really know more than you do, as unpleasant a thought as this may be?
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Here is the cycle: The government invents something virtuous; the private market takes it over and loses hundreds of billions; the government then bails it out. This is best understood as socialized risk, privatized gain. Yes, the shareholders of Fannie Mae will deservedly lose a bundle -- it's always the shareholders who take a hit -- but the insiders who thought up subprime and the executives of Fannie Mae during the roaring '90s already made their pile.link
Listening to the radio this morning the presenters where practically gasping over the 9 Billion Euro bill. I reckon that's roughly 2 aircraft carriers or about a third of a Fannie and Freddie bailout. The correct reaction should be "how wonderful to spend money on knowledge and science instead of war and greed".
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
The first goal of any society is to provide enough food and labour to sustain itself, under no circumstances should this be "outsourced", handed over to a third party or bartered away.
Neoliberal economists claim rich countries got that way by removing their barriers to trade. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Ha-Joon Chang shows in his book Kicking Away the Ladder, Britain discovered its enthusiasm for free trade only after it had achieved economic dominance. The industrial revolution was built on protectionism: in 1699, for example, we banned the import of Irish woollens; in 1700 we banned cotton cloth from India. To protect our infant industries, we imposed ferocious tariffs (trade taxes) on almost all manufactured goods.
By 1816 the US had imposed a 35% tax on most imported manufactures, which rose to 50% in 1832. Between 1864 and 1913 it was the most heavily protected nation on earth, and the fastest-growing. It wasn't until after the second world war, when it had already become top dog, that it dropped most of its tariffs. The same strategy was followed by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and almost every other country that is rich today. Within the ACP nations, the great success story of the past 30 years is the country whose protectionism has been fiercest: during the 1980s and 1990s, Mauritius imposed import tariffs of up to 80%. Protectionism, which can be easily exploited by corrupt elites, does not always deliver wealth; but development is much harder without it.
Monday, 8 September 2008
So what then was the purpose of the Georgian invasion of Ossetia if not to serve the electoral campaign of John McCain, a man who might be the next US president and be thus very obligated to the Georgian president? Saakashvili could have wanted to overthrow the Ossetian government to incorporate it back into Georgia, at the same time hopefully advancing the cause of Georgia's petition to become a member of NATO, which looks askance upon new members with territories in dispute or with military facilities belonging to a nonmember state such as Russia. But the nature of the Georgian invasion does not fit this thesis. The Georgians did none of the things that those staging a coup have traditionally found indispensable. They did not take over a TV or radio station, or the airport, or important government buildings, or military or police installations. They didn't take into custody key members of the government. All the US/Israeli-armed and trained Georgia military did was bomb and kill, civilians and Russian peacekeeper soldiers, the latter legally there for 16 years under an international agreement. For what purpose all this if not to incite a Russian intervention?
Friday, 5 September 2008
I started reading this series a few months back after borrowing the first three from a friend at work and last night I finally finished the last book. I really enjoyed the series but obviously thought some where better than others. Two of the best where "A Murder on the Appian Way" and "Catalina's Riddle" which kept me gripped and guessing right to the very end.
Two honourable mentions are "Venus Throw" which delivered a cracking surprise and "A Mist of Prophesis" which delved into the character of Gordianius him much more than any of the preceeding novels.
One of the great strengths of these books is the characterisation he lends to the supporting cast of famous (and not so famous) historical figures. I have read about Cicero many times but I think forever more it will be Saylors' Cicero I imagine, likewise his Catalina and Clodius. You know the author is doing a good job where you hope a doomed character won't be doomed after all. More so in a historical novel.
Many of the final novels deal with events surround Julius Caesar but I got the distinct impression that both the Character and Author where getting a little tired of late Roman Republic shenanigans. That's not to say I didn't enjoy them (I really did) but it might be time to start wrapping it up.
Lost Horizons: The Big Bang:and
To coincide with the switch-on of the LHC, the world's largest particle accelerator complex, Professor Jim Al Khalili delves into over 50 years of the BBC science archive to tell the story behind the emergence of one of the greatest theories of modern science, the Big Bang.
The remarkable idea that our universe simply began from nothing has not always been accepted with the conviction it is today and, from fiercely disputed leftfield beginnings, took the best part of the 20th century to emerge as the triumphant explanation of how the universe began. Using curious horn-shaped antennas, U-2 spy planes, satellites and particle accelerators, scientists have slowly pieced together the cosmological jigsaw, and this documentary charts the overwhelming evidence for a universe created by a Big Bang.
The Big Bang MachineNobody does it better than the BBC. Jim Al Khalili is fast becoming the Attenborough of the quantum world while the incredibly personable Cox jumps off the screen with his enthusiasm and excitement. Great stuff!
Professor Brian Cox visits Geneva to take a look around Cern's Large Hadron Collider before this vast, 27km long machine is sealed-off and the experiment to create the simulation of a black hole begins.
When it's up and running, it will be capable of creating the conditions that existed just a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Brian joins the scientists who hope that the LHC will change our understanding of the early universe and solve some of its mysteries.
here's someone else's thoughts.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Slight Irish interest here, new Irish soccer couch Giovanni Trapattoni makes a brief appearance.
link from boing boing
The real surprise for me has been the vitriol of the British (both political and media) in condemning Russia - lots of talk suggesting "we" should not stand for it etc etc. I'm used to rank hypocrisy from the western media but this time it really took the biscuit especially when Russia recognised South Ossetia. It really didn't take long for the Kosovan cat to create mayhem.
Well to be fair I was in Italy for most of July (I really must post about it) and I've been incredibly busy at work since my return. Still, I must return to bitching about the world.