Unrelated topics? Not so

Some things that came up during today’s travels on the net (sort of a reading list, if you like):

“Bank of England investigating risk of ‘carbon bubble’”
theguardian.com/environment/ … bon-bubble

“It’s divorce day…”
theguardian.com/commentisfre … iage-myths


“There Is An Alternative”
monbiot.com/2014/12/08/there … ternative/

“Latest Word on the Trail? I Take It Back” (this article is from 2012, but the problem still exists)
nytimes.com/2012/07/16/us/po … -back.html

“Journalists, Accountability, Freedom”
nytimes.com/2015/01/06/us/ja … urces.html

Is there a connection between these diverse and seemingly unrelated topics? I think there are many connections, but from previous discussions i know that it depends on what people consider “a connection”. One of these connections is the issue of power and control…

they’re all internet articles, so there’s a strong start at a connection for you.

:laughing: :smiley:

Arthur Chu (Chinese-American - a term he uses himself), fully versed in contemporary American entertainment culture that I only know a few shadows off, and some of his essays. Lots of connections in these essays to some of the recent discussions (and harsher) on Forumosa.

thedailybeast.com/articles/2 … nerds.html

thedailybeast.com/articles/2 … -suck.html

thedailybeast.com/articles/2 … erson.html

thedailybeast.com/articles/2 … arlie.html

Related to several threads on Forumosa:

“$100-a-barrel oil ‘never’ again”
usatoday.com/story/money/col … /21484911/

“$100-a-barrel oil ‘never’ again”
usatoday.com/story/money/col … /21484911/[/quote]

Never again until next time.

[quote=“Charlie Phillips”][quote=“yuli”]
“$100-a-barrel oil ‘never’ again”
usatoday.com/story/money/col … /21484911/[/quote]

Never again until next time.[/quote]
Of course, prices will go up again eventually - for more than one reason.

Prince Al Waleed may have some general business influence and can help us understand what is going on, but he is not in a position to make decisions about oil production…

Something about AI and such:
linkedin.com/pulse/20140410 … -manifesto

Something funny (including a fair bit of political satire):
selfish.me/story/07b0f7e12e4150 … 37fcc15000
(use the “next moment” link to get each successive installment)

Entertaining and insightful. Very much enjoyed[super]**)[/super] reading this series of blogs posts about “WASMET” expats in Taiwan[super]*)[/super]:
gordsellar.com/2008/07/15/th … ompleynte/

*) You might say that this series of blog articles is not about “WASMET” expats in Taiwan. Wouldn’t disagree with you, just assume you talk about the surface.
The surface is, however, not all there is to it. Taiwan is there if you look for it.
Oh, and before anybody complains or brings up anecdotal evidence to the contrary: “WASMET” is, of course, just a generalisation: there are, of course,
some non-white, some non-Anglo Saxon, some non-male, and perhaps even a few non-English teacher members in the thusly labeled group,
but the majority is exactly that. There as here. And as in Japan, where, however, the percentage of females appears to be higher than in Korea and Taiwan - probably thanks to the JET program (a government sponsored program aimed at reducing Japan’s trade deficit with the US and americanising Japanese society that has wasted money for over 30 years but has little to show - not judging whether the latter point might be good or bad).

**) This does not mean i agree with every single point made in said articles or share all expressed attitudes and judgements…

:smiley: :popcorn: :bow:

Being US centric here for a moment:

Libertarian? Green? Socialist? Nationalist?
Family? Constitution? Equality? Justice? Food choice?
Pick your position or topic and there is a party. You’d never know, however, from reading US mainstream news, where you only hear about two parties.

What I am interested in are not predictable blurbs from the fatcats but ideas and information that is defiant. Here are a few places where I look for that:

Mother Jones

Utne Reader

Real News

The Onion

Expose facts

The Christian Science Monitor

Orion Magazine

Opposition News

Wilson Quarterly

In These Times

Whiteout Press

High Country News

New Internationalist

You may notice one thing the above mentioned publications have in common: they don’t show Taboola ads on their pages.

(Wondering what Taboola ads are? I am sure you’ve see them at the bottom of mainstream publications: Warren Buffet predicting collapse of the economy, somebody worrying about how or why you can’t recognise the child celebrities of yesterday, and a look at the boobs of a young woman doing pushups. I have blocked those ads out via the “host” file, where i also block Google ads and other junk.)

As had been predicted in recent days, the ECB has announced some QE.
I am not the only one who considers that a kind of robbery, but since it is all legal, who cares.
A few related articles

“Andrew Huszar: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer” (November 2013)
wsj.com/articles/SB100014240 … 0751473884

“Oil crash: is this the end of a long period of inflated prices?” (January 2015)
theconversation.com/oil-crash-i … ices-36088

“Former Fed Officials on Quantitative Easing: ‘A Feast for Wall Street’, ‘Legalized Bank Robbery’ and ‘High Grade Monetary Heroin’” (November 2013)
globalresearch.ca/former-fed … in/5358206

“What is quantitative easing?” (January 2015)

The last item is particuarly poignant, because the thought that needs to be thought stops just at the right point:

[quote]The central bank buys assets, usually government bonds, with money it has “printed” - or created electronically these days.

It then uses this money to buy bonds from investors such as banks or pension funds using this “new” money, which increases the amount of cash in the financial system, encouraging financial institutions to lend more to businesses and individuals. This in turn should allow them to invest and spend more, hopefully increasing growth.[/quote]

So… the average citizen is going to borrow more money (go more into debt) in order to buy more things s/he cannot really afford, and this will make the economy grow. HOPEFULLY. :roflmao:

Glad to see how it all works out! HOPEFULLY.
BTW, Japan is back into recession after recent QE, but we HOPEFULLY will get over that soon…

Economists: the purveyors of modern voodoo

One of the QoL indicators: paid vacation
bostonglobe.com/business/201 … story.html

Maybe in some quarters paid vacation is like universal healthcare or science education - a communist plot to turn real men into sissy blobs. :wink:
(Yeah, “female/feminine” is synonymous with “inferior” in some languages - don’t blame me, i am just the messenger.)

hmmm … it might be a QoL indicator - in that societies which offer it tend to be more progressive - but I’m not convinced paid vacation is the proximate cause of enhanced QoL.

Technically there is no such thing as “paid” vacation. The employer is giving you $X for N days a year, where N is something less than 260 (assuming 5 days a week). If you were working the whole 260, it might be $X+y. The bottom line is that he’s paying you for the value you add to his business, on the average.

The only real distinguishing feature of a company that offers “paid” vacation is that it makes allowances for employees not being there: in other words, they’re better managed. That, I suggest, is the underlying reason for higher job satisfaction. After all, an employee whose vacation is “unpaid” is theoretically at liberty to take his two weeks, and forego two weeks pay … except he isn’t, because in reality the employer simply hasn’t made contingency plans for a vacation of that length, and will give him a guilt-trip about letting the side down:

Personally I dislike the idea of slaving away 9-5 like a machine until you’re released for a few days to enjoy yourself. It’s really only a slight improvement over indentured servitude.

Not really. Apparently, voodoo works :smiley:

That is so - there ain’t no free lunch, really.

But paid vacation, especially in Europe, where people have a certain degree of freedom as to when to take their vacation (unlike here in Japan, where most of it has to be taken exactly when everybody else has to take it), appears to be high on the list of wants - and i suspect that it has to do with a certain peace of mind and a certain degree of freedom it offers.

And that is probably where people find indicators of increased quality of life (after all, much of that is subjective).

[quote]After all, an employee whose vacation is “unpaid” is theoretically at liberty to take his two weeks, and forego two weeks pay … except he isn’t, because in reality the employer simply hasn’t made contingency plans for a vacation of that length, and will give him a guilt-trip about letting the side down:

This attitude is an outcome of the structures of production that have come into existence with the industrial revolution. Not likely to survive.

But that was the great progress: making people a part of the machine of production and consumption (although i have the distinct feeling that in hindsight - theoretical hindsight: we may not be there to look at anything - the industrial revolution may turn out to be a fatal error in social evolution).

Not really. Apparently, voodoo works :smiley:[/quote]
As long as you believe in it. :wink:

A most entertaining topic: currency speculation.

“If You’re So Smart: The Currency Trading Record of John Maynard Keynes”
valuewalk.com/2015/01/youre- … rd-keynes/
A noteworthy quote illuminating the legal robbery: “the 1930s are remembered for the successive waves of speculative attacks, which eventually brought down the gold standard system”

“The returns to currency speculation: Evidence from Keynes the trader”
voxeu.org/article/returns-cu … nes-trader

“American Enterprise Institute”
aei.org/publication/leverag … eculation/

An entertaining description of a serious problem:
freedomandpower.ws/index.php … peculation
(Worth reading for its wealth of useful pointers, even though i strongly disagree with the writer’ view regarding currency speculators.)

And an entertaining and very good primer on money (in cases anybody cares to know: i am not a disciple of the Austrian School)
“Real money for a real economy”
freedomandpower.ws/index.php … omy-part-1

“Fake money for a fake economy”
freedomandpower.ws/index.php … omy-part-1

More on legal robbery: everybody’s heroes (Facebook, Google, Apple, etc.) are doing it.

newsweek.com/2014/12/26/how- … 91571.html

newsweek.com/little-room-man … nts-288824

Paul Krugman says, “Nobody Understands Debt”
nytimes.com/2015/02/09/opini … -debt.html

Who is Paul Krugman?

He is an economist of note: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Krugman

So, in order to reduce the national debt…
… we are paying more tax and seeing prices going up, but our income is not going up.
Consequently, we all end up spending less, which hurts our neighbours whose income depends on us buying their services.
And all the way our politicians got it all wrong, and this pain was and is unnecessary (isn’t that what you say, Paul?)
But our governments have advisors who are economists like you, Paul.

And all along the banks are doing fine (if they cheat and end up suffering because of that, they get bailed out, so no problem, really), the rich get richer, and the rest of us (that is most of us) see a decline of quality of life.

That’s apparently the way things are supposed to be (say some economists who are not named Paul Krugman).

What do the other economists say? Or do?

Main thing: nobody agrees, but we are getting poorer by the minute, and foreclosures, homelessness, and suicides are up.
The “first world” - the first to go down the drain?

We sure live in interesting times…

IMVHO, I don’t think Paul Krugman understands debt either.

Money is not precisely the same thing as debt. Debt is created to be used as money, but the words are not synonymous. It’s possible to envisage various monetary systems which are not based on the modern implementation of debt.

Debt - as Krugman does actually point out - is stuff that we owe to ourselves. When we borrow, we are pulling wealth forward from the future to be used today; we’re taking a bit of tomorrow’s productivity and squashing it into today. That means, inevitably, that our future self will be poorer by whatever amount we lift from his (our) future pockets. Some people apparently find this surprising. Debt is about as close as we can get to time travel, and like time travel, it can have unintended consequences.

Where he gets it completely wrong, I think, is here:

He is looking at a snapshot, a moment frozen in time. He is failing to consider the dynamics of time travel. At a particular instant, the world appears to owe money to itself; that’s what the balance sheet shows, because a balance sheet doesn’t contain any time information (or, if it does, it maps it into monetary terms, such as depreciation or interest). But money is a means to an end; although fiat currency might itself be a mirage, it drives real productivity and consumption. Ultimately, debt-currency represents a ploughed field, an ingot of iron, a day in a blue cubicle, or a vat of whisky. Therefore, a family that owes money has promised that their future selves will pay (with a little slice of their working lives) for goods that were bought today. The world has promised that another world - the one that exists 10, 20, 50 years from now - will pay for today’s excesses. Common sense suggests that you can’t keep doing that forever. At best, you’re going to get periods in history where people can’t spend so freely because today’s wealth was already spent by the ghosts of Christmas past.

And while some talk about debt problems, others (especially “housewives”) have problems hiding their riches:


theguardian.com/news/2015/fe … -irs-taxes