October 2011 archive

Oct 31

A Halloween Story

So it was the 4th Annual Masquerade Ball (at least that’s what the commemorative sport bottle says) and I was a young politician on the make, sucking up to locals in the entourage of the second best attorney I know (his only flaw is he thinks he’s perfect) along with 2 other people who preceded me as capo di tutti.

I had dressed with my usual imaginative style in the battle tux I’d inherited from a dead former Master of my Lodge (you do know I’m a member of the Illuminati, don’t you?).

With me it’s all about the shtick and on this occasion I’d prepared several copies of a Gothic Black “Contract” with Lorem Ipsum as the body and my Montblanc knockoff was filled with red ink.  I’d chat with people and when they mentioned my lack of costume I’d object that I was entirely in the spirit of the event and not at all in my normal regalia.

But you know, that’s not really why I’m here tonight.

I’m here for you.

And then I’d pull out the contract and try and get their autograph.  I have no idea why this freaked them out but I didn’t collect a single one.

Now in my club we’ve been known to unwind every once in a while as many hotels will attest and although my boss, capo di tutti at the time, drank very little and I contented myself with my commemorative sport bottle of champagne (with intermittent refills) our two companions were slightly more… enthusiastic.

With one it was only to be expected.  He’s the only person I’ve ever had the misfortune to be thrown out of an airport bar with while the flight was still delayed.  I’ve never quite forgiven him for that.

The other one usually stuck to a few Bud Lights, but he had a credit card and was flirting with the bar tender who made a mean Sea Breeze.

As all good things do it came to an end and my Sea Breeze friend was trying to extricate his father’s Cadillac from an up hill lie onto the Cart Path we had parked off of, but was constantly thwarted by the inexplicable trailer hitch on the back which dug into the asphalt because of the angle.

“Turn your wheels this way”, said my airport companion in tones that led me and my boss to seek a strategic distance from the scene of hilarity in shadows of plausible deniability.

“I got this”, replied the driver as with a great scrape we later learned jammed 2 feet of Macadam up the hitch mounting he bounced onto the road (facing the wrong direction of course) and flipped the car around so it pointed at the exit.

My boss said, “I’m driving with you”, to which my reply was, “So how much of a head start do we give them?”

Oct 31

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Oct 31

Amoral Economics 101

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

More Thoughts On Weaponized Keynesianism

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

October 29, 2011, 2:20 pm

Economics, as I say often, is not a morality play. As far as creating aggregate demand is concerned, spending is spending – public spending is as good as but also no better than private spending, spending on bombs is as good as spending on public parks. As I pointed out not long ago, a perceived threat of alien invasion, by getting us to spend on anti-invasion measures, would quickly restore full employment, even though the spending would be on totally useless object.

It’s also worth noting that one of the main sources of evidence that fiscal expansion really does stimulate the economy comes from tracking the effects of changes in defense spending. That’s true of Depression-era studies like Almunia et al, and also of several of the studies described in the Romer and Romer lecture on fiscal policy. Why the focus on defense? Two reasons, actually. One is that in practice defense spending is what moves: the fact is that large-scale stimulus programs consisting of domestic spending basically don’t happen, while wars and arms races do.



And the evidence clearly shows that weaponized Keynesianism works – which means that Keynesianism in general works.



(T)here’s the general fear on the part of conservatives that if you admit that the government can do anything useful other than fighting wars, you open the door to do-gooding in general; that explains why conservatives have always seen Keynesianism as a dangerous leftist doctrine even though that makes no sense in terms of the theory’s actual content. On top of that there’s the Kalecki point that admitting that the government can create jobs undermines demands that policies be framed to cater to all-important business confidence.

That said, there’s also the Keynes/coalmines point: there’s a strong tendency to take any spending that looks like a business proposition – building bridges or tunnels, supporting solar energy or mass transit – and demanding that it appear to be a sound investment in terms of its financial return. This makes most such spending look bad, since almost by definition a depressed economy is one in which businesses aren’t seeing good reasons to invest. Defense gets exempted because nobody expects bombs to be a good business proposition.

The moral here should be that spending to promote employment in a depressed economy should not be viewed as something that has to generate a good financial return; in effect, most of the resources being used are in reality free.

You may discuss more productive uses of government investment below, though you should be prepared for the argument that other activities which reduce the surplus population (plagues, famines, eating babies, etc.) also produce beneficial economic results.

Oct 31

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 45

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

OccupyWallStreet

The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza ­čśë

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

Occupy Oakland Calls For City-Wide General Strike, Nov 2

Below is the proposal passed by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on Wednesday October 26, 2011 in reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza. 1607 people voted. 1484 voted in favor of the resolution, 77 abstained and 46 voted against it, passing the proposal at 96.9%. The General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.

Proposal

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

Oct 31

Cartnoon

The Duxorcist

Oct 31

On this Day in History October 31

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 31 is the 304th day of the year (305th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 61 days remaining until the end of the year.

This day is internationally known as Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Reformation Day, and Day of the Dead for the Philippines

On this day in 1926, Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital.

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi. At a young age, he immigrated with his family to Appleton, Wisconsin, and soon demonstrated a natural acrobatic ability and an extraordinary skill at picking locks.

He went on his first international tour in 1900 and performed all over Europe to great acclaim. In executing his escapes, he relied on strength, dexterity, and concentration-not trickery-and was a great showman.

In 1908, Houdini began performing more dangerous and dramatic escapes. In a favorite act, he was bound and then locked in an ironbound chest that was dropped into a water tank or thrown off a boat. In another, he was heavily bound and then suspended upside down in a glass-walled water tank. Other acts featured Houdini being hung from a skyscraper in a straitjacket, or bound and buried-without a coffin-under six feet of dirt.

In his later years, Houdini campaigned against mediums, mind readers, fakirs, and others who claimed supernatural talents but depended on tricks. At the same time, he was deeply interested in spiritualism and made a pact with his wife and friends that the first to die was to try and communicate with the world of reality from the spirit world.

Eyewitnesses to an incident in Montreal gave rise to speculation that Houdini’s death was caused by a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who delivered multiple blows to Houdini’s abdomen to test Houdini’s claim that he was able to take any blow to the body above the waist without injury.

The eyewitnesses, students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley), proferred accounts of the incident that generally corroborated one another. The following is Price’s description of events:

   Houdini was reclining on his couch after his performance, having an art student sketch him. When Whitehead came in and asked if it was true that Houdini could take any blow to the stomach, Houdini replied groggily in the affirmative. In this instance, he was hit three times before Houdini could tighten up his stomach muscles to avoid serious injury. Whitehead reportedly continued hitting Houdini several more times and Houdini acted as though he were in some pain.

Houdini reportedly stated that if he had time to prepare himself properly he would have been in a better position to take the blows. He had apparently been suffering from appendicitis for several days prior and yet refused medical treatment. His appendix would likely have burst on its own without the trauma. Although in serious pain, Houdini continued to travel without seeking medical attention.

When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104 F (40 C). Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit’s Grace Hospital.

Houdini died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31, aged 52.

After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini’s insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity.

Houdini’s funeral was held on November 4, 1926 in New York, with more than 2,000 mourners in attendance. He was interred in the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York, with the crest of the Society of American Magicians inscribed on his gravesite. To this day the Society holds a broken wand ceremony at the grave site in November. Houdini’s widow, Bess, died on February 11, 1943, aged 67, in Needles, California. She had expressed a wish to be buried next to him but instead was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester, New York, as her Catholic family refused to allow her to be buried in a Jewish cemetery out of concern for her soul.

Oct 31

Progressive Realists

A Third Way Manifesto for the 1%

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Centrists

by Jay Ackroyd, Eschaton

at 19:48 Friday, October 28, 2011

The president, and the Democrat’s Senate leadership, reject movement liberalism. The ideology they follow is grounded in the impact of globalization on world capital and labor markets. They believe the US has to reduce labor costs to be competitive as capital flows freely around an interconnected world-that it is unrealistic, “neo-populist” to think the middle class can be preserved. But they also recognize that the middle class is not gonna be happy with these necessary, painful policies:

THE NEW RULES ECONOMY: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century (pdf)

The Third Way Middle Class Project

A Third Way Report by Anne Kim, Adam Solomon, Bernard L. Schwartz, Jim Kessler, and Stephen Rose

February 2007

We urge a different approach, which we call “progressive realism.” Realism means recognizing and understanding the economy’s new rules while accepting the limits of government’s power to stop the forces of change. But as progressives, we also believe that government policies-if modernized and adapted to the rules of the 21st century-can create the optimal conditions for increasing economic growth, expanding middle-class prosperity and protecting those who fall behind.
As progressive realists, we do not doubt that change is disruptive and, for many people, painful. Globalization has made many jobs obsolete, and both companies and individuals have been hurt by its impact. As the neopopulists note, all is not well with the middle class. But we also see the current era of change as one of tremendous opportunity and potential for the middle class.

This belief that New Deal liberalism is obsolete is combined with a belief that good policy-making is inconsistent with democratic institutions-that you need to rely on policy experts operating in good faith in the best interests of the country, without elbows being joggled by cranky neo-populists or nutty movement conservtives. And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works. These leaders need to be brought into partnership with the US government, and hard-headed, realistic policy crafted, so that the US can continue to be the dominant world power.

Note that a central theme here is that it is above partisanship-that the experts, left alone, will best do their work. When you use that frame, then the health care negotiation makes sense. These negotiations took place not with politicians, but with the large service providers, because those stakeholders are the real experts and will keep us out of distracting, distorting partisanship. It makes sense that we turn to the money center banks as the mechanism for minimizing the contraction-they’re the pros who have risen, through merit and diligence, to their positions.

It’s not about Obama per se. It’s about a political philosophy, an ideology that rejects core Democratic values about the government’s role in protecting the citizenry from powerful private interests. It’s not twelve dimensional chess. It’s not cowardice or “caving” or bad messaging, or that the Democrats don’t know how to negotiate.

Oct 31

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights.

Many of the traditions practiced in the US have come from Ireland, Scotland and Whales. The carving of gourds and pumpkins used as lanterns, the wearing of costumes and masks, dancing, poetry and songs, as well as some traditional foods and games can be traced back to medieval times and pre-Christian times.

Two Roman festivals became incorporated with Samhain – ‘Feralia’, when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and ‘Pomona’, when the Roman goddess of fruit and trees was honoured. The Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is thought to derive from the ancient links with the Roman fruit goddess, Pomona, and a Druidical rite associated with water.

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’.

The Catholic church attempted to replace the Pagan festival with All Saints’ or All Hallows’ day, followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd. The eve became known as: All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en. All Saints’ Day is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth. In early Christian tradition souls were released from purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve for 48 hours.

We decorate our homes with candles, gourds and dried leaves. Meals are traditionally lots of veggies, fruit, nuts and breads served with wine, cider and hearty beer. We make a hearty stew that is served with a whole grained bread and deserts made with apples, carrots and pumpkin. One of the sweet breads that is traditionally served is barmbrack, an old Irish tradition. The bread is baked with various objects and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, “to beat one’s wife with”, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Today, the bread usually contains a ring and a coin.

What ever you believe or not, Samhain has meaning for us all since the Wheel turns for all of us. So light a fire or a candle and dance with us as the Veil Thins.

The Veil Is Getting

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a wisper wispering.

I heard a wisper wispering,

Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a laugh a’laughing.

I heard a laugh a’laughing,

Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,

I heard this laugh and then I knew.

The time is getting near my friends,

The time that I hold dear my friends,

The veil is getting thin my friends,

And strange things will pass through.

Blessed be.

Oct 31

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.

–Joseph Campbell



Intricasy

Oct 31

Late Night Karaoke

Oct 31

One Stop “Occupy” Shop

Check it: http://piratepartyofnewyork.org/

Now you can blog about it….in real time!!!!!

Oct 31

Pique the Geek 20111030: Heat and Temperature

This might sound like a foolish title, but actually the concepts of heat and temperature are quite different.  Obviously things that feel “hotter” must have more heat in them, right?  Actually, that is not always, and is often NOT, the case.  The two concepts are quite different, but are related.

In a bit we shall go into specific definitions of what heat and temperature actually are, but it is more interesting to look at the historical thoughts about them.  Back before quantitative physics, the higher the temperature that an object had, the more heat that it was thought to have.  That is correct for a specific object, as the temperature increases, the amount of heat in it also increases.

But it is easy to show that for dissimilar objects, the amount of heat is quite unrelated to the temperature.  I shall show you that ice might contain more heat than red hot steel!  Ready to look more deeply?  Then let us go to it!

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