Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

You are not in control.

If Matt Taibbi and Eric J. Weiner agree that US infrastructure and land have gone on the auction block, who am I to argue otherwise? I have retreated to farmland, sold my stocks and whittled my dependence on the health and savings institutions that this schizophrenic nation sets up in congress one year and tears down on Murdoctored News the next. And when the authors agree that the buyers are sovereign funds pumped full of cash by our own insatiable consumption and banker-crafted and corporation-friendly trade policies, why would any of us be hoping that a less rapacious model of globalization will alleviate or prevent economic suffering of the marginalized majority of people either in the states or abroad?

Its a fun exercise to just run through the entire listing of current titles in economics at B&N or other outlets. They fall mostly in to a few categories:
  • the business-will-make-you-rich kind seem to run on either of two theories...the author knows a secret the rest of the market does not and you can learn the trick, or "You Just Need a Bigger Ego to be a winner". It is refreshing to see Dan Ariely on the same book shelves.
  • the Intrigue-of-Big-Money and power. The long list of titles of this genre go into every boardroom and stateroom looking for bad guys...and what a surprise! They found some. That category includes both the invisible hand of the collective or divine as Adam Smith imagined it and the invisible hand of some cabal of bankers or secretive super rich. No matter: all such musings focus not on the cause but on the carnage, the irresistible and morbidly appealing accident scene that fearful and neurotic humans bring forth from a rich planet, a sorry miscarriage of cleverness in the absence of wisdom or simple kindness. Just as romance novels are over-sized love stories for dull love-starved readers, I suspect this Financial Intrigue genre is only read seriously by the empty pocketed non-players hoping for a glimpse into that other world that has trodden so heavily on their own.
  • The institutions-just-need-a-tune-up. Stiglitz and Charlton [linked above] are in this category. They propose tuning an engine that runs on blood if you ask me.

It were better to look not in to the crooks, witting or unwitting, nor into their institutional tools but into our own spendthrift hearts. I find a fourth category of books on economics, one that is probably dismissed by the wealthy who actually benefit from the current order and from the common, globalizing sense that sane priorities must place profit or at least subsistence ahead of sustainability. The nature of the beast is that we will always put our subsistence ahead of the sustainability of anyone else's future. The prescriptions of these authors who say that you can mend the world by taking charge of your own habits are reported by their publishers to be "new ideas" and to bring a ray of hope to the dismal prospects offered by the dismal science. Don't I wish. Its not wrong to ask that we think more of the world of trees than the world of money...its just not human nature. And it saddens me to observe this because I do agree that empowerment begins in the micro-economic realm where we, the plankton of the economic food chain, really could just say NO if we were at all in the habit of conscious, informed choices and a modicum of deferred gratification.

Jeffrey Sachs is one writer who sees clearly enough how we got here and then gets a bit dreamy about how we can turn to new institutions and schemes of socially and environmentally equitable negotiation in order to salvage human history:
So there is yet another respected source saying the mighty US is losing control of the financial destiny of its citizens...but I must repeat myself here: why would we expect any such detour from the unvarying selfishness that permeates all that has been done to date by nations and sects and individuals? We would need people raised in a different world if these new institutions would be embraced. I would hate to have the kind Mr. Soros hear this but from where I stand, it appears that the works of the generous wash away like sand castles built at low tide. Watch what happens this Tuesday.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Its kind of like a cemetary...

Wherever you try to bury a fear, a stone of anger marks the spot.

Friday, August 20, 2010

the relation between lucky and plucky

You will never get a chance if you won't take a chance.

I find that relationship, including the failure to act on its advice, distinguishes leaders from followers in many spheres: political, academic and financial; conservative and liberal.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the many commons

There are many "commons" but our blindness to our personal share of the burden of restoration or at least the self restraint to use them sparingly spreads across them all rather evenly. Monies gathered by governments to fund works nominally for the public good seem to me a rather visible commons. The republicans, the common tax cheats, those who hide proceeds from illegal activities and the poor f__ked up libertarians who think they somehow live disconnected from the needs and obligations of humanity...all these look upon the pile of public money and think "Take if you want but give nothing." That is one tragedy of the commons we can keep up long after our environment can no longer feed, cool, warm or shelter us. Health insurance is is another but one played where the money is piled on a table in a very crooked gambling house.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

When you stop blaming others

All the anger you have ever had came from somewhere else. Don't let it in and you won't have to get it out. And when you can apply this principle to others, you won't need so badly to blame others for your awful behavior. Just get over it.

but above all, keep talking

If you do not know what you are talking about, fasten on to the reality of some world alternative where you DO know what you are talking about.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


The only faith one actually acquires at the point of a sword is the belief that it is better to be alive than to be dead, regardless what tribal identity or name that faith stamps on its adherents.

All "faiths" so acquired are tainted.

The only faith one actually acquires on pain of social ostracism or exclusion from from the economy is the belief that it is better to be rich than to be poor, regardless of the name of the faith or the principles it lays claim to.

All "faiths" so acquired are tainted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ignorance is not innocence

I'd bet anyone reading this could write his or her own post to fit the title, in spite of how fond we are of that way out of responsibility. We do have eyes. We do have ears. We do have minds.

Monday, March 29, 2010

this is exciting

a bit over my head but in line with my intuition and the little physics I do possess:

Gravity Emerges from Quantum Information, Say Physicists

I think that gets physics past a huge and longstanding log jam...but what does it do to big bang theory?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

There is a Storm Coming

I parted company with a number of persons and institutions in the last six months. And I did so in such haste that many are still owed a proper fare well.

Snow will fall in 16 hours, around noon tomorrow after which it will be too late for the tricky work of demolishing outbuildings. This solar heated place I have lived in with wife and kids for 30 years has been sold. The terms of sale require the junk and the decrepit shed to be gone. I must work in haste yet and through the night perhaps.

Arthritis rages in my joints, making me take my 60 years seriously, as a number to compare with the unknown number of years I may yet be active. What was I put here to do? Survive? That is a tautology and the most meager form of Darwin' imperative. But I will take it in the very un-Republican sense: do what I can, even at high personal cost, to see that my kids, my kin, my clan, my kind will live to find better answers than "survive".

My sons are PhD candidates with full scholarships. My daughter is a field biologist rescuing ecosystems for non profits that preserve California wilderness. My ex wife lives the settled urban professional life she always recognized as her proper milieu. My work as a defense contractor's software drone has so sickened soul I could not write a line of code...I retired early. Who needs me?

The users and the takers have multiplied and grown fat. Exxon's money is now thrown behind poisoning of water that gets in the way of their investment in Marcellus shale natural gas. So I bought farm land in Cayuga and Cortland counties, and moved to Tompkins county. Not ground zero of American gas holes and the dumb desperation of a market of the lazy fossil burners, but close enough. In these places divided by greed, poverty and heedless ignorance I will try to innovate for sustainable and localized energy and food production. I will have much good company and that cemented my choice of battle ground. It is probably a lost cause. All the money held by the apartment dwelling New York Times readers has been invited to invade upstate NY farms the better to provide nice yields and a bit of natural gas...What will a handful of nearly broke farmers be able to do?

Motley Fool had an article urging investors to assume crash positions...and hinted the hot tub of money called the stock market seems to have reached a healthy level because an elephant called the FED is in the tank buying. I am going to all cash in my 401K and buying land with my loose change...and timber and copper and...

Move0n members voted to tackle health care and let the environment and energy issues take a back seat...I part with them on this and chose to eschew health insurance lest any doubt my sincerity in pronouncing most health care expenses and programs to be a waste of money wrought by a nation as fat as Micheal Moore and neurotically attached to mortality. Better outcomes for less money are waiting for those who get rid of their cars.

I moved to a little commune, off the grid. Or rather I will move if I get the old shed torn down before the snow flies

[Just leave comments if you are interested in links or elaboration. I am wicked busy right now.]