22 February 2009

Excellent gesticulators

talking hands!

This isn't quite new news. They've been doing a few studies here and there on gesticulation for things like presentations and verbal communication skills, but these are usually external studies on communication not relating to internal processing. It doesn't surprise me that it might help cognition. I do all sorts of little hand motions and gestures when I am thinking (if I can't pace, I write in my head as I walk). Some children do these sorts of things all the time and good educators have sort of learned to tell the difference between kids' learning habits and annoying kid habits. This sort of thing would help more I imagine.

At the very least it gives me some excuse for using various finger tapping motions that appear outwardly diabolical. I can just say I'm calculating...which is perhaps true anyway...

20 February 2009

ghetto capitalism

losers die

Good advice. I think Geithner was sort of getting there with his conception of a super zombie bank. We'll see how it pans out. It looks like Citi and AIG are first in line for the guillotine.

19 February 2009

A complaint

Why is rice such a tremendous pain to reheat in the microwave?

Also, why is it that when I order Kung Pao something or other, it's always mostly vegetables. This is what I want when I order it: peanuts, whatever meat I ordered prepared in a spicy sauce, dried chili peppers (with seeds that I can pour over the rest of it), and rice. I didn't order it so I could get my vegetable servings for the week. This would be like ordering a sandwich for the lettuce and tomato instead of the bread and meat.

17 February 2009

You simply won't die

the company of cats

GM simply won't die. It's very inconvenient. I'm not sure how it was decided that giving them money earlier would resolve or even significantly postpone their troubles. Best option was and still is a government organized bankruptcy. They'd have even been better off giving the workers the money directly. The people who would lose their jobs from GM shuttering plants and suppliers all over the country would at least be able to move on and have some cash in their pockets to tide them over while they did it.

I hate to break it to Detroit, but they're not that important anymore that we have to do what they say or our economy will collapse. GM (and Detroit itself) has been going downhill for the better part of two, maybe three, decades. The economy as a whole wasn't sliding backwards that entire time.

This large economics textbook case for fiscal and monetary policy also should produce a few choice words on the favouring of poorly organized and run companies with billions of dollars as opposed to directly pumping money into companies that need only access to capital (in the absence of it from the bankers) to grow or to maintain against short term losses. Pumping money into bad companies is a correlated problem to what helped cause the problem in the first place: pumping money into bad loans.

16 February 2009

Le D'oh

IR status

Duh. Or should I say D'oh for not being active enough in opposing such things with the sort of vigor that is needed to find our public and our government culpable in a series of atrocities. Are we so blind to fear and manipulation of our fears that we are willing to crush the feet we need later on to walk through the world? Apparently some people thought we were.

I'm not sure this has changed enough yet, but there are at least encouraging signs.

12 February 2009

cure for insomnia

the bill of many pages

They should have the conference bill up before it gets voted on. There's question on whether it will be up for the public online instead of just Congress, but I suspect we'll get a copy somewhere along the line before the vote anyway.

Personally, I'm more interested in what happens with the rest of TARP, and the PR campaign made FOR this bill than the bill itself. They (the administration) should be reporting on things like this http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090212/ap_on_bi_go_ec_fi/retail_sales

the perversion of language

"supplemental nutrition assistance" - Can anyone tell me what they think this means?

It's supposed to be the new title of "food stamps". But it sounds so vague that it might as well be vitamins or some such.

11 February 2009

more is better?

PETA commercial

I recall this was banned. But really what was interesting were the claims, not the models. (and based on what I've read, most of them were not actually vegetarians anyway).

I suspect the problem is sort of like higher social economic school districts and measuring gains by students. The type of person likely to become a vegetarian is very likely to have other health related concerns that might affect their sexual habits and appetites. Among which might be included seeking out education on different techniques. And certainly a desire for a healthy (and by extension sexually appealing) body. Consider instead the type of meat eater who is likely to have a concern for health. Such a person exercises, eats a balanced diet, etc, also. So is it the vegan diet or lifestyle that matters more to sexual quality and quantity? Compared to the average lazy American who does not exercise, does not consume a balanced or healthy diet (either vegetarian or omnivorous), it is almost a virtual certainty that the type of person who is a vegetarian, or consumes very little meat relative to the rest of the population at the very least possesses a higher degree of sexual desirability to the average population and by extension some level of higher sexual quality or quantity (because they would, presumably, have their choice of sexual partners). I'm not sure what sort of claim this makes valid, but it doesn't seem like it has much to do with dietary habits themselves. It looks more like it is the people involved who produce those habits and choices they make with deliberate or subsequently relevant consequences.

Second major problem: there's really no empirical way to demonstrate sexual quality on any sort of scaling system that I know of. The only real data we have that can be analyzed is the amount of sexual activity versus dietary habits (or exercise habits, or a combination of the two). While Americans have a quantity fixation on many things, I'm more of a quality thinker. But in any case, the data doesn't point to any meaningful quantity gaps. Since the average American is likely to think in these terms (that more sex is better sex), what's the difference?

09 February 2009

yet another fight

Somewhat humorously, there's a lesbian couple getting a divorce in Massachusetts (the divorce part isn't funny, the reaction of people who opposed the movement to allow such marriages in the first place is).

I note this primarily because the next logical argument to make by homophobes would be that divorce is intended between a man and a woman.

05 February 2009

Homework assignment


If anyone has time, read all four. If not, read at least Fama and DeLong. Krugman is an abrasive bastard (being dismissive without addressing the conclusions of his opponent, just the flawed reasoning), and Cochrane's arguments aren't well framed (ie, he presents a nice conclusion without appropriate reasoning to reach it).

I'm skeptical of calling this a "stimulus" package. Particularly since the public doesn't seem to agree it's a stimulus at all. That's the key issue that is only just touched on: consumer confidence and spending (as well as private investment) must be boosted by anything worthy of the name "stimulus". Either the government and its supporting economists need to get on with the public relations work to explain what this would do (which nobody really knows because there are few useful empirical studies on fiscal policy). Or they need to frame the package itself only in ways which are potentially economically beneficial and confidence inspiring, rather than politically based junk (which is most likely impossible).

nipplegate won't die

raising arizona?

The sort of strange part of this story, besides someone hacking in "Fight Club" style with a splice of pornography, is the $10 refunds that Comcast is sending out to customers in that area. There's several weird points.
1) Who came up with $10?
2) How do they know who was watching the game for sure at that point?
3) How do they know who would care? An actual Cardinals fan (if such a thing exists in the wild) might be more annoyed than an average adult certainly.
4) What about parents with small kids watching the game..who I'd presume might be more angry than anyone else.. Certainly more than $10 worth.

03 February 2009


Rebounding is important

This sort of thinking isn't applied to most legislation. Think for a moment about safety regulations or safety improvements in automobiles. While there are some drivers who purchase cars for the protection of say, small children passengers, many purchase an SUV or other large vehicle with the presumption that it's safety features will protect them better. They might...except that these are the sorts of people who already drive aggressively and for whom the extra margin of safety becomes an excuse to drive more recklessly (and hence, get into just as many accidents with injuries and fatalities as before). That's the sort of thinking I mean. There's a rational adjustment that takes place. Gasoline is cheaper (and cleaner) for me to use so I can drive more often. Well yes...until everyone else does this thinking as well and clogs up the highways. Then you're not driving, you're wasting fuel and producing pollutants for no gain. Good job.

I'd have to agree with the post: I don't oppose having better environmental and fuel efficiency standards. It's even a potential boon for people who advocate for "state's rights" and forgot they lost the war. No, the actual problem is that taken in isolation, it's not very effective. It needs more to address the overall problem of energy inefficient use in this country. I personally would rather see much higher gasoline taxes and the use of things like smart lights and congestion toll prices on all highways around urban areas. These would all do more to address the actual problem of energy use and also achieve the same public (market) level of support for fuel efficient cars (notice what happened when gasoline was $4/gal, now imagine if the tax was even half that much and/or the subsidies on energy production were removed as well).

items of the history of others

I managed to see two movies recently which had some effect in restoring the general faith in human beings. I imagine this was necessary...given that I have plenty of evidence to the contrary amassing from years of experience.

People tend to be self-centered and neglectful of their essential natures. Including of course, myself. But in my case, it's rather easier to get away with being nothing. I tend to make no presumptions that I'm supposed to be anything more than that shadowy nothing behind the curtains and allow others to make such categorical errors in my place on my behalf as they are often wont to do. I cannot assume that even my pitiful standing as a human being is a given, so I must toil along on the most basic levels. So that in most respects, it is an easier path to walk where my mind can wander aimlessly over the valleys of human thought, pondering the mystical, or imagining the vicissitudes as what a life would actually feel like.

That doesn't seem like the general appetite. I am bombarded, almost physically, by people whose efforts are to impress upon me some natural appeals of their persona. They fail miserably of course. I think it is the fact they try so hard that offends me most. Or perhaps that they are so obviously trying, but have not the wit to exercise themselves in a manner which would actually appeal to anyone but themselves. It's the effortless ones that I actually watch. Where life is easier, almost like mine. But with something in it.

A glass without any water in it. What purpose does it serve? Is it still a glass? This isn't quite the chicken or the egg. Or the tree falling in the forest. The same sort of question always circling. Like a ghastly crow or raven swooping and pecking away at my sand castle. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be this way. Where decay and disuse are opposed by the scattered and chaotic flashes of a few burning embers. Perhaps all dreams are best that way. Smothered by the darkness of night. Where no bright sun cannot bear to go and only a gray illusion spreads over the pale spring of our morning faces when we wake from them. I suppose if most people had the same sorts of dreams they might think the same thing. But obviously this is not so.

I often wonder why people who are so obviously faking their presence on this earth are apparently untroubled by their nightmares. But apparently they have no glass in which to pour them out into and drown in, as I have. It's easy to blend in where there isn't anything to speak out of. It's like having your jaw broken open and being silenced, unable to scream for the agony of it all. Watching empty shells paraded around before the fireplace as shadow puppets of the people who actually were there once. When all you appear as is a shadow, it's easy to blend in there. It's not so easy to remain there when you remember you were not always so. When you were once called "friend" and not "acquaintance" by the only one you really noticed had noticed the difference in the two. That's the real nightmare, that flickering candle of hope dancing in the night's cool and soothing winds before it casts its last shadows on the wall.

So in a way. Being an old man with a lifetime of wasted memories isn't so bad. I haven't enough small children to glare at where they traverse the lawn. I haven't any prized possessions, being a spartan in my manners, to squabble over. And I haven't saved anything for anyone. I suppose these would be meaningful events. Something worth filling a glass for a toast.