Sunday, February 22, 2009

News N Economics: When will the economic storm calm?

News N Economics: When will the economic storm calm?
population growth and household formation will eventually force a recovery in durable goods sales (autos) and home contruction. But furthermore, small level changes can add a lot to GDP growth.

Think about it. New home construction in January was an anemic 466k (which is an annual rate), down a whopping 17% in just one month or 56.2% since one year ago. Impressively, residential construction was just 3.1% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2008 (Q4 2008), but still snatched 0.85% from overall economic growth (the contribution to growth table here). Since residential construction is nearing zero, small level increases of new construction means big percentage changes and large contributions to GDP growth. Same for autos.

So as soon as homebuilders and automakers get going again, then GDP (domestic production) has a chance at stabilization. But when will that happen? When will the pain stop?

Georgia court tells gay dad he cannnot “expose” kids to homosexuals - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News

Good old Georgia... Georgia court tells gay dad he cannnot “expose” kids to homosexuals

Thats sad... hopefully it will be corrected by a higher court...

I see the homophobia in this area all the time. Its pretty rabid at times speaking to a lot of below the surface fear, intolerance, and flat out rage from people.

Think Progress » Louisiana Lt. Gov. Landrieu: Jindal Wrong To Reject Recovery Funds For Unemployment Insurance

This is pretty harsh... appear the Louisiana Gov. has rejected Recovery Funds for Unemployment Insurance leaving 25,000 unemployed workers wouldn't be able to get benifits.

Think Progress » Louisiana Lt. Gov. Landrieu: Jindal Wrong To Reject Recovery Funds For Unemployment Insurance

I think this was a great comment from the Govenator:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) responded to new of Jindal’s decision by quipping, “You just tell them that anyone that doesn’t want to take the money: I’m ready to take their money and rebuild California.”

The Disney Trip...

We just got back from Disney World. It was good to be on a break from the day to day world and I've come back refreshed. Its strange but I always come home from long breaks wanting to be a better person. I come with revamped ideas on how to accomplish goals, a fresh look at old ideas, and new energy for old ambitions.

I had many fruitful meme's that have developed in the past week and hope to expand on many of them in the next few weeks.

But one of my goals is to become more disciplined in my blogging. Try to add more substance. I posted on this before, but I truly want to keep from being simply a link a thon.

But I'm hesitant to cut back on the broad range of blogs and feed's I already read. So the quandary now becomes how do I keep up with all of the great, interesting, or pertinent stuff online? And I think the only answer is to one, stop seeing blogs as something you must read right this second. I always feel as if a blog post that is two weeks old is dead and useless (in some ways this is true... in some ways this is not true). I'm going to stop feeling like I have to stay on top of things so that I reframe my blogging as something I do rather than something I have to keep up with. Rather than a burden it can be an opportunity to further develop my own intellectual endeavors, keep track of interesting thoughts and events from my own life and across the globe, and help track my own personal narrative.

Free will! Can I have one? | Psychology Today Blogs

Free will! Can I have one? | Psychology Today Blogs

The Free Will debate is something that I have pondered from a very early age. I truly believe that the Free Will question answers a lot of confusions on the part of people regarding political questions.

The more we learn about what really causes us to tick, the better we can structure our society, laws, and political systems--with the goal being to allow individuals to freely flourish.

I personally believe free-will is an illusion, which survived as a useful mechanism for our ancestors to flourish, those having such a processing tool were better able to reproduce and multiply over those who lacked it.

I think that more effort to look into why this illusions and/or brain processing function was useful to our ancestors will help us better understand our biological system.

I think free-will is popular because it allows us to justify our own actions and condemn those whom we disagree with. Even saying free will is popular will send your mind in two different directions 1) if we lack free will to say it is popular would be a mistake 2)does someone stop justifying their own actions and condemning others whom they disagree with when they "say" they don't have free will anymore?

My thoughts on 1...
This is a great example of the crux of most philosophical problems i.e. confusions of language. I can count 5 problems that are created by carelessness and/or double meanings of some of the words in
if we lack free will to say it is popular would be a mistake
So one big problem is simply that we run so haphazardly with words.
To the questions of 2...
No... justification and condemnation don't stop. Or at least the things that what we perceive those words to mean do not. But to quickly argue that this disproves those who argue against free will would be sloppy, and miss the point completely. The question at hand is what exists and why. We have to differentiate between the words we use to describe things and the things in themselves.

So the question of free will is split into two:
1. What biological processes exist (either we do or don't... or somewhere in between)
2. What words/descriptions are best used to resolve question 1

Finally I think most of the "debates" I end up having with people aren't about 1... and I hardly ever get people to dealing with the gravity of question 2; most of the debate which ends up happening is on questions of ethics. People sound terrified by the idea that they lack the "freedom" to choose of their own volition and want to dig into ethical questions to prove how outlandish it would be to lack free-will. Ethics are are different issue from whether free will exists, though ethics is the core of what drives me to want to apply our findings on the question of free will to politics.
Another asymmetry is that determinism excludes the possibility of free will, whereas free will does not fully negate determinism. There is supposed to be a privileged domain in which the will is free. But how did this precious free zone open up? How did it emerge from an otherwise deterministic universe? And what are its boundaries? The self-congratulatory answer is that free will is uniquely human. Upon reflection, however, we are "determined" to realize that the boundaries are fuzzy. The behaviors of infants, senile or autistic humans show clear evidence of will, but that will does not appear to be free in the folk psychological sense. There is little reasoning, deliberation, or rationality.

I think that Baumeister's approach to the boundary problem lies in the role he accords perceptions of responsibility. This is his argument number three. The proposition is that if people have free will, then they are personally responsible for their actions. I do not argue with this proposition, but with its inverse. The fact that people hold humans (mostly others) to be responsible does not mean that there is free will; it does not even mean that they think there is free will. In fact, people hold others responsible even if they agree that the behaviors in question (e.g., heinous crimes) are determined by causes outside the person (Nichols & Knobe, 2007). If the allocation of rewards and punishments is an indication of perceived responsibility, people treat many animals as if they think these animals have free will. A similar argument can be made for power. Finding that many people pursue "the right to make decisions that may affect others" (Baumeister, p. 16) says nothing about the presumed freedom of those decisions. Many non-human animals are concerned about power, rank, and status, and they struggle to get it. Yet, they are widely regarded as automatons.

Here is the post from Garden of Forking Paths that sent me to this piece. Go read the comments thread. That dialogue is exactly one thing that blogs and the Internet are great for... I love fruitful debate. And this thread digs a lot more in-depth into the free-will debate, hitting far more than my own post does...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Am i'm missing something...

Maybe its the influence of and my proclivity for post feminism, but this doesn't bother me at all.

Appears that M.I.A. (???) was at the Grammy's in quite an outfit, because she's pregnant it caused a stir, I guess. Aside from the god-awful polka dots I don't see what the big deal is. But over at XX Factor there were words of disapproval:
I'm not a fashion connoisseur or a hip-hop etiquette expert, or even a mother, but I don't think this disqualifies me from being able to ask the following question: What the heck was the very-pregnant rap artist M.I.A thinking when she went on stage during the Grammy Awards show on Sunday wearing this utterly ridiculous outfit?

The imagery of a scantily-clad, or should I say scandalously-clad, pregnant young women dancing on stage with a bunch of male rappers whose rhymes sometimes debase women, was just too much for me. And don't even get me started on what this cringe-worthy antic might say to impressionable teenage girl fans.
First there is some weird subconscious fear of sex that seems to be popping up, whenever a cultural conservative is around.

Plus regarding the question of debasing lyrics towards women in rap songs isn't this exactly what we want to point out to young men? Yo, kids, its not all fun and games... you create babies this way!

Sex in our culture is all flipped topsy turvy... but this doesn't seem big to me.

photography is political

"God forbid that photographers heave overboard the vacuous clichés about capturing 'human dignity' and actually engage with people and the politics they engage in on their own terms!" --Jim Johnson

Wittgenstein on youtube... errr youtube on Wittgenstein actually

I especially like the idea that one should look to how a word is used to find out its meaning... very useful in politics as well as political language games are in many cases--if not all--pure propagandha

Epictetus --Recognize Appearances

I could learn from Obama...

David Pacini a Philosopher over at Emory has always pushed me to look long term and be more stoic, in fact he turned me on to the Stoics when we first met. Epictitus' The Art of Living is one of the most influential works I have ever read.

Pacini has pointed to how smart Obama is at navigating politics, and I have to agree, bumps in the road not withstanding the guy is shrewed, elegant, and restrained. I guess you'd call him a leader?

Thought Bob Herbert had some good points this morning in the Times:
While Lindsey Graham was behaving like a 6-year-old on the Senate floor and Pete Sessions was studying passages in his Taliban handbook, Mr. Obama and his aides were assessing what's achievable in terms of stimulus legislation and how best to get there.

I'd personally like to see a more robust stimulus package, with increased infrastructure spending and fewer tax cuts. But the reality is that Mr. Obama needs at least a handful of Republican votes in the Senate to get anything at all done, and he can't afford to lose this first crucial legislative fight of his presidency.

The Democrats may succeed in bolstering their package somewhat in conference, but I think Mr. Obama would have been satisfied all along to start his presidency off with an $800 billion-plus stimulus program.
The leadership is refreshing because I think it leads to good government, which will help end some of the apathy and frustration of nonvoters... which is vital to have in a healthy democracy--which for better or worse is something to desire.

I've been off radar...

After a good back and forth on twitter with Jason Pye I bailed on blogging for a bit,while always enjoyable and often fruitful in clarifying my own positons as well as understanding others, it can be draining. Plus Deana's work has been hectic so we've been trying to veg out at home. Got some cleaning done round the house yesterday, as well as some henrydems stuff.

Other than that same old same...

I'm thinking of revamping the blog, and/or dropping it for a while. My blogging as those of you may know tends to ebb and flow. I end blogs, and start new my life changes so does my blog, and the theme that goes with it.

I also may go anonymous for a bit, gives me more creative options, ala Kierkegaard who would have two different pseudonyms attack each other in public debates in the newspapers.

Been reading Lyotards Postmodern Condition which has me intrigued with modern communication in postindustrial capitalism. I never knew he taught at Emory.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Aljazeera English reports on the anxiety in the Arab world about Iran's increased power..

Juan Cole points out that "It is striking that Western anxieties about Iran often depict the regime as "medieval," but what they are really afraid of appears on the contrary to be Iranian modernity."

question to Free Market(sic) ideologs

Is $500,000 a Year Enough?
A common response from the Right to President Obama's capping of CEO salaries and bonuses at $500,000 a year in companies that take big USG bailout money has been to warn that it will be difficult to attract the best management talent to run those firms.

Uh, wasn't it those geniuses, the 'top management talent' making $20 million a year who ran those companies into the ground in the first place?

Tell you what, just promote a good middle manager who had been making $100,000 a year, and she or he will be very grateful for the job. And before you let them take over, you just give them a three-part test:

1. Fill in the blank:

Buy cheap and sell _________.

2. True or false:

A loan should not be offered to a prospective buyer if the monthly mortgage payments will come to more than 28 percent of the buyer's monthly income.

3. True or false:

A mortgage loan should not be given to a prospective home buyer unless the buyer can put down at least 10% and preferably 20%.

If the incoming CEO can get those three right, the person will be heads and shoulders above the $20-million-a-year screw-ups who destroyed the American economy.

On attention spans and Jim's hard determinism

So I was a test subject (think mouse running on that wheel thing) in a research study looking at cognitive skill deficiencies (or something to that effect) in those with bipolar disorder.

It was fun.

One of the questions she asked me was about my attention span problems. I replied bio-chemical. To which she looked at me funny, paused, looked down and then tried to follow up. I replied that since I have been tested to have adhd, and that my Psychiatrist hoped that the antidepressant I started taking would reduce anxiety levels reducing problems with attention span (and it has), that it must be neurotransmitters. She wrote it down and moved on.

Something tells me most people don't blame things on their neurotransmitters. Go figure.


You’ll Never Get This 21 Minutes Of Your Life Back
Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

From the: "So much for Free Trade" department

It appears that controls on capital flow, like we had during the Bretton Woods era is allowing for growth in economic times that have open economies falling off the cliff. Go figure?
The Upside to Resisting Globalization
Kenneth S. Rogoff, the Harvard economist, noted at the International Monetary Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week that India, which has “comparatively stringent restrictions on international capital flows,” also seemed to have the most optimists and seemed to be in line for economic growth in a year when few countries are.

“Thank heavens for the strong regulatory framework we have in our financial system,” he quoted one Indian corporate executive as saying.

In contrast, the countries that opened the most to the international capital markets, and that sought to bring in business with relatively lax regulations, now are suffering the most. Iceland was the wonder economy of the world; now it is broke.

The metaphor that comes to mind is that of a large ship. A single-hull ship will cost less to build and operate than a similar ship with a double hull. It will therefore earn more money on every trip, but it is more likely to be sunk if it encounters a severe storm or large iceberg.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Phil Ochs -- I ain't marchin anymore...

Phil Ochs --Joe Hill

new banking policy?

US explores converting stakes in banks

US officials are examining ways gradually to convert government stakes in banks into ordinary shares as banks accumulate losses, according to people close to the discussions.

The point would be to provide a drip-feed of additional common equity as needed to cover losses – without the government owning a larger stake in the banks than is necessary.

catching up...

I've been swamped. Much to post on and will hopefully get some time today.

Been having fruitful debate with @JaseLP who blogs over at If you twitter, join the debate!

Had a great meeting with the new national feild organizer for They are talking big things which would be great for people on the ground here in Henry who would be empowered with the tools to advocate for their concerns and interests.

Homeless guy ganked my soda the other day... more on this to follow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

step in the right direction for equality..

Georgia Equality Commends Clarkston City Council
for Supporting Non Discrimination

February 4, 2009 (Atlanta) - Georgia Equality applauds the Clarkston City Council for voting unanimously to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s nondiscrimination policy. Clarkston joins a growing number of municipalities in Georgia to extend such protections to current and prospective city employees.

“I’m proud of my hometown for taking a stand to support equality,” said openly gay State Representative Karla Drenner, who worked with city leaders on passing the ordinance. Drenner, who represents Clarkston in the Georgia General Assembly, added, “Clearly the leadership of Clarkston understands the importance of respecting diversity. This truly is the small city with a big heart. Hopefully this action will serve as an example for other municipalities around the state.”

Georgia Equality executive director, Jeff Graham also commended city leaders. “While we may have a way to go before employment nondiscrimination is protected by federal or state statute, actions such as that taken by the City of Clarkston prove that these protections have become a standard part of operating any municipality or business. Discrimination in any form is simply unacceptable in the workplace.” Graham went on to add, “Although the vote was unanimous and all council members should be recognized for their leadership and vision, we’re especially pleased with Councilwoman Rosemarie Nelson for introducing the ordinance and Councilman Warren Hadlock for ensuring that gender identity was included in the final ordinance.”

Noting that employment protections against discrimination based on gender identity are still relatively rare among Georgia’s municipalities, Graham went on to say, “I am especially proud of city leaders for choosing to create a policy that is as inclusive of transgender individuals. Study after study has shown that this group is especially vulnerable to employment discrimination. Standing up for full-equality is clearly the right thing to do.”

Georgia Equality is a statewide organization whose mission is to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for Georgia’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.

Great Depression and workforce...

Understanding the Great Depression Blogging: Labor Input and Its Trend
The immediate answer to questions about Lee and Ohanian is that all the institutions they blame for high structural unemployment during the Great Depression were still there after World War II--yet no high structural unemployment then at all.

The hasty answer to Lee and Ohanian is that they are playing two jokers:

(1) They define "before Roosevelt" as the average of 1930-32 rather than as 1932.

(2) They assume that all of the declines in hours of work per week is due to deficient demand rather than to a much-desired increase in the bargaining power of workers who then choose to bargain for more leisure.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

are you addicted?

Internet Addiction Update

housing bubble in action...

Here’s yet another angle on why Home prices haven’t bottomed yet: Falling Rents.

8 years of bad policy...

Where Did All the Republicans Go?
Yesterday Gallup released a report on its survey of political party affiliation by voters at the state level. The results, depicted in the map above, show that only five states have a statistically significant majority of voters who identify themselves as Republicans. The data come from interviews last year with “more than 350,000 U.S. adults as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking.”