Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Galbraith Centenary

One hundred years ago a wise and witty economist, JK Galbraith, was born on the shores of Lake Ontario.

There's a good appreciation of Galbraith by a Black Country Bloke.

In the Affluent Society, Galbraith wrote:
People are the common denominator of progress. So... no improvement is possible with unimproved people, and advance is certain when people are liberated and educated. It would be wrong to dismiss the importance of roads, railroads, power plants, mills, and the other familiar furniture of economic development.... But we are coming to realize... that there is a certain sterility in economic monuments that stand alone in a sea of illiteracy. Conquest of illiteracy comes first".
Read more. Read widely. Read wisely.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Backstage with Obama

Obama prepping to go into the gladiatorial debating chamber!

Propaganda or Political Commercials

Party political broadcasts in the UK have always seemed dull.

Here's a chance to see some really dull political broadcasts from the USA. But some of them have a historical resonance.

Political broadcasting all the way from 1952 to 2008.

Here's one from 1968.

It's an analysis, of sorts, of why Spiro Agnew for Vice-President appeared as unlikely as Sarah Palin.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Banning Books Is a Bad Thing

This blog holds it to be a self-evident truth that banning books is a bad thing.

If Sarah Palin has her way it could be the hottest thing in town (as hot as Fahrenheit 451).

Inevitability and Reasons Not To Be Cheerful

Somethings seem so inevitable that they just cannot not happen. Like Wolverhampton Wanderers getting promoted to the Premier League; like Labour winning the election in 1992; like Obama becoming the next President of the United States of America.

Okay, the first two examples are not particularly good ones. Just suppose McCain wins. That'll take one hell of a lot of explaining. The map of the USA will have to be redrawn: red states, blue states and totally racist states. I could see how, if you're a right-wing diehard Republican, you could vote McCain and Palin. If you're not a rabid Republican pitbull then why would you do that? McCain stands for the same old Republican voodoo-economics. Palin stands for a belief in the victory of old certainties and old prejudices. But some of the media coverage, like that coming from Pox News, has been racist, appealing to the worst characteristics of the worst, unprogressive sector of the electorate. For Obama to lose with poll ratings like this would be a death blow to the poll industry.

Anyway, Slate magazine has "A McCain Victory Survival Kit", subtitled "A just-in-case guide for reporters just in case Obama collapses." By Jack Shafer

I'm just waiting for the fat lady to sing.

[Via PooterGeek]


One of Rullsenberg's favourite children's books is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (1961).

In the Family supplement to this Saturday's Grundie was a review, by Lucy Mangan, of The Phantom Tollbooth. If you haven't read it, it recounts a tale of a country, the Kingdom of Wisdom, two capital cities Dictionopolis and Digitopolis
The cities are governed by two warring brothers who banished the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason from the land, after they were asked to adjudicate between the merits of words and numbers and refused to accord one more importance than the other. Since then, the kingdom has descended into chaos.
The story seeks to resolve this conflict by a newcomer to the kingdom.

Anyway, the book was ilustrated by Jules Feiffer.

And, then, what do I read, but a review of cartoons by Jules Feiffer, from 1956 to 1966.

It's not some plan. It's just the sheer connectedness of everything that makes this world interesting, and, like, totally random.

Drawing Against National Socialism and Terror

Will draws my attention to a good exhibition of the work of Arthur Szyk at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.

Here's a Szyk image, Freedom From Fear (1942).

Arthur Szyk - Freedom From Fear - drawing

Here's Anti-Christ (1942)

Arthur Syzk - Anti-Christ (1942) shows Hitler as the Anti-Christ

And here's a review of the Szyk exhibition from the New York Times.

And here's the Syzk online exhibition.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Marx and Money

You can get a money box that looks like an old leather bound copy of Das Kapital.

Somewhere for bankers to put their stolen bonuses.

A house is a place to live

It's not an investment. It's a place to hang your hat. It's a place to keep your books. It's a place to keep your clothes. It's a place to eat. It's a place to sleep. It's a place to make love. It's a place to have fun. It's a place to be happy. It's a place to be sad. It is not an investment. Or as Charlie Brooker puts it:
For years, money was just appearing from nowhere, or so we were told. People bought houses and bragged about how the value kept zooming up, and up, and up. In fact they didn't seem to be houses at all, but magic coin-shitting machines. It was all a dream, a dream in which you bought a box and lived in it, and all the time it generated money like a cow generates farts. Great big stinking clouds of money. And none of it was real. And now it's gone.
All that was never real melts into a big cloud of nothingness.


Governments all the world over fly to the rescue of banks. Are bankers grateful? You betcha (to borrow a phrase from Ned Flanders). More money for them to pilfer from the till.
Financial workers at Wall Street's top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year - despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash,
Thieving bastards.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Curry and Economics

It turns out that the great bank rescue plan was powered by curry.

Anticipating the long and tense night ahead for him and his team, Darling had taken matters in hand at 8.30pm, personally ringing one of his favourite restaurants, Gandhi's in Kennington, south London, to order £245 worth of rice, karahi lamb, tandoori chicken, vegetable curry and aloo gobi.
From the article it's difficult to work out how many people were there. Eleven named and one unnamed, and probably note takers and support staff. Was £245 enough curry?

Would the government have got a better result if they had ordered some naan?