a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Gary Farber - A Good Copy Editing job, And A Big Favor To Me
A very important to me friend of mine -- not me -- with solid copy editing experience is looking for immediate freelance or permanent or temporary copy editing or proofreading work of any sort, either by mail/shipping, or locally in the Bay Area. CV upon request.
Benedict Carey (NYT) - Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight
She's also available at present for any sort of office work in the Bay Area. . .
(via Gary Farber
“So many people have begged me to come forward, and I just thought — well, I have to do this. I owe it to them. I cannot die a coward,” said Marsha M. Linehan, a psychologist at the University of Washington. . .
Arthur Silber - And For Their Next Number...
. . .“My whole experience of these episodes was that someone else was doing it; it was like ‘I know this is coming, I’m out of control, somebody help me; where are you, God?’ ” she said. “I felt totally empty, like the Tin Man; I had no way to communicate what was going on, no way to understand it.” . . .
. . .Radical Acceptance
She sensed the power of another principle while praying in a small chapel in Chicago.
It was 1967, several years after she left the institute as a desperate 20-year-old whom doctors gave little chance of surviving outside the hospital. Survive she did, barely: there was at least one suicide attempt in Tulsa, when she first arrived home; and another episode after she moved to a Y.M.C.A. in Chicago to start over.
She was hospitalized again and emerged confused, lonely and more committed than ever to her Catholic faith. She moved into another Y, found a job as a clerk in an insurance company, started taking night classes at Loyola University — and prayed, often, at a chapel in the Cenacle Retreat Center.
“One night I was kneeling in there, looking up at the cross, and the whole place became gold — and suddenly I felt something coming toward me,” she said. “It was this shimmering experience, and I just ran back to my room and said, ‘I love myself.’ It was the first time I remember talking to myself in the first person. I felt transformed.”
The high lasted about a year, before the feelings of devastation returned in the wake of a romance that ended. But something was different. She could now weather her emotional storms without cutting or harming herself.
What had changed?. . .
Here's a treat for you: the Ride of the Valkyries, arranged for eight pianos. The pianists are Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Claude Frank, Mikhail Pletnev, Staffan Scheja and James Levine, performing at the Verbier Festival & Academy 10th Anniversary Piano Extravaganza. I was hooked and had to watch it because of a comment made on my opera email list: "I have never before seen so many world-class musicians counting furiously to themselves. . .
Jeffrey Goldberg - Thomas S. Vander Woude
Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Haunting of Rick Perry
Paul Krugman - Discussion of Sterling's "Holy Fire" (1997)
. . .the opera list occasionally offers rare gems of commentary, as mentioned in the second of those pieces -- and here as well, in an article about John McGlinn.
The McGlinn article excerpts a wonderful post from Albert Innaurato to the opera list. I'd forgotten most of the details from that piece, but I think my concluding words there are the best way to conclude this entry:
The world may barely note John McGlinn's passing, and it may place far too little value on the extraordinary work he did and what he accomplished against tremendous odds.
We should not be so unmindful, or so uncaring. We should do our utmost to follow McGlinn's own advice, and to be among those people who are "willing to dream" of a better world, just as he did. And in his life and work, McGlinn made that better world real.
That should be, that must be, our aspiration and our dedication, too.
. . .We have come to take it for granted that in advanced nations almost everyone can at least afford the essentials of life. Ordinary people may not dine in three-star restaurants, but they have enough to eat; they may not wear Bruno Maglis, but they do not go barefoot; they may not live in Malibu, but they have a roof over their head. . .
Economist's View - Paul Krugman: Capitalism's Mysterious Triumph
. . .the collapse of Communism and the triumph of capitalism need more of an explanation than the stories we usually hear. It is not enough to explain all the reasons why a market economy is more efficient than a centrally planned one. Those explanations are basically right - but the question is why a system that functioned well enough to compete with capitalism in the 1940s and 50s fell apart in the 1980s. . .
. . .The market does not require people to believe in it; but the centrally planned economies that live inside a market economy, known as corporations, do. Everybody knows that financial incentives alone are not enough to make a company succeed; it must also build morale, a sense of mission, which makes people work at least somewhat for the good of the company rather than think only of what is good for them. Luckily, under capitalism an individual company can fail without taking the whole society down with it - or it can be reformed without a bloody revolution. . .
. . .In the end, then, capitalism triumphed because it is a system that is robust to cynicism . . .
Being robust to cynicism is an important virtue, but I think there is a still a limit to how much cynicism any system can take.
Paul Krugman - Is Capitalism Too Productive? (1996)
The rise of the current doctrine of global glut can be tied to three main developments. First, mass unemployment has reemerged in Western Europe, though not in the United States. . .
Noahpinion - The Architect of Modern Macroeconomics speaks!
. . .Most readers of Foreign Affairs surely know people who have annual incomes of $300,000 or more. Indeed, a fair number of readers probably meet that description themselves. In reality, how hard is it to find ways to spend that money? A really nice home, a second home or nice vacations, private colleges for the children, two good cars ... Yet even if median family income in the United States grows at 2 percent per year, it will take a century before that median family has an income equivalent to $300,000 in today's prices. . .
. . .t is hard to imagine what a much more productive world economy will look like. The important thing to recognize is that the deficiency is in our imaginations, not in the real economy, which will have no trouble at all using that capacity. . .
. . .Suppose that you had approached an economist in, say, 1840 - a time when most Americans were farmers, and textiles dominated the still-small manufacturing sector - and informed him that 150 years later some 2 percent of the labor force could grow all of the food, and less than 1 percent produce all the cloth. And suppose you had demanded that he explain what everyone else would do for a living. He could not have given a very good answer; but he could with justice have argued that on general principles the economy would find something useful for them to do. . .
. . .None of the preceding should be taken as a declaration that all is right with the world economy. There are severe real problems: inequality in the United States. . .unemployment in Europe. . .a Japanese economy struggling to overcome the consequences of a burst financial bubble, a number of newly industrializing countries facing potential crises due to financial excesses and lax banking regulation, and so on. On the whole, the condition of humanity - as measured by such raw, crude, but crucial indicators as life expectancy and child malnutrition - is far better now than it was 20 years ago, largely because of economic growth in the Third World; but there are many shadows in the picture. One problem capitalism does not suffer from, however, is being too productive for its own good.
Imagining problems that do not really exist has real costs. To speak to European advocates of the global glut theory is to be struck by their fatalism: they really seem to have given up on the idea of actually making the European economy grow. . .
. . .It is a bit funny, but also quite sad: Those who preach the doctrine of global glut are tilting at windmills, when there are some real monsters out there that need slaying.
. . .just because a statement is grumpy and conservative doesn't necessarily mean it bears even the slightest resemblance to actual observable reality. . .
Orange Crate Art - Richard Feynman on honors
Geek Heads -The Education System
Lindsay Beyerstein - The Twisted Logic of the John Edwards Prosecution
While reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman, I came across a chapter on his experiences in Brazil education system. While you read this, you would realize that this is the ditto situation we have in India. He has presented it very well.
. . .After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn’t know what anything meant. When they heard “light that is reflected from a medium with an index,” they didn’t know that it meant a material such as water. They didn’t know that the “direction of the light” is the direction in which you see something when you’re looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet nothing had been translated into meaningful words. So if I asked, “What is Brewster’s Angle?” I’m going into the computer with the right keywords. But if I say, “Look at the water,” nothing happens – they don’t have anything under “Look at the water”! . . .
. . .I taught a course at the engineering school on mathematical methods in physics, in which I tried to show how to solve problems by trial and error. It’s something that people don’t usually learn, so I began with some simple examples of arithmetic to illustrate the method. I was surprised that only about eight out of the eighty or so students turned in the first assignment. So I gave a strong lecture about having to actually try it, not just sit back and watch me do it.
After the lecture some students came up to me in a little delegation, and told me that I didn’t understand the backgrounds that they have, that they can study without doing the problems, that they have already learned arithmetic, and that this stuff was beneath them.
So I kept going with the class, and no matter how complicated or obviously advanced the work was becoming, they were never handing a damn thing in. Of course I realized what it was: They couldn’t do it!
One other thing I could never get them to do was to ask questions. Finally, a student explained it to me: “If I ask you a question during the lecture, afterwards everybody will be telling me, ‘What are you wasting our time for in the class? We’re trying to learn something. And you’re stopping him by asking a question’.” It was a kind of one-upmanship, where nobody knows what’s going on, and they’d put the other one down as if they did know. They all fake that they know, and if one student admits for a moment that something is confusing by asking a question, the others take a high-handed attitude, acting as if it’s not confusing at all, telling him that he’s wasting their time.
I explained how useful it was to work together, to discuss the questions, to talk it over, but they wouldn’t do that either, because they would be losing face if they had to ask someone else. It was pitiful! All the work they did, intelligent people, but they got themselves into this funny state of mind, this strange kind of self-propagating “education” which is meaningless, utterly meaningless!. . .
. . .He is not accused of spending campaign funds on her. Nor is he accused of accepting any money himself. According to the government, Edwards broke campaign finance laws because the payments to his mistress were really excess campaign contributions that were not reported to the FEC. If these payments were not campaign contributions, the government’s case falls apart. The government’s definition of campaign contributions is ridiculously broad, much broader than the FEC’s own definition. . .
Princess Bride - Mawwiage (1987)
. . .This decision to define campaign expenses relatively narrowly makes sense, given the FEC’s desire to prevent candidates from converting campaign funds for private use. . .
. . .If any spending intended to enhance or preserve a candidate’s image counted as campaign spending, virtually any personal expense could be construed as a campaign expense, and campaign coffers would degenerate into slush funds.
. . .The bizarre implication is that candidates cannot support their own families while they run for office. Either they’re breaking the law by spending out-of-pocket and not allowing the campaign to reimburse them, or they’re breaking the law by converting campaign funds for personal use. . .