Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm in it for the shoes, still

I'm in it for the shoes : a meditation on life, aging, and Sex in the City I know you're thinking that Amanda, the one that was Annie for a brief while and married the movie star, Samantha, and Miranda are old news these days, but so am I. Sex and the city captured a moment - a moment I hated with every fiber in my stretch boot-cut hipster jeans. Except the shoes. And the purses. As I sit here, now that the dream is over, I can see the outlines somewhat more clearly. Our four over-privileged friends represented life before the crash, when everything was a go, when the threat of global warming just made your moisturizer choice slightly more difficult. Each sister was buffed to a high gloss and decked out like she was owned by the most anal-retentive barbie owner ever. They were not real, our fine feckled quadruple, but that irreality just increased their charm. They somehow lived with all possible benefits -- lush Manhhttan apartments free from bedbugs and roommates that ate your yogurt, wore your clothes, and made those wierd noises when watching Jersey Shore. But now a wild antidote has appeared.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jesus for the Jubilee

In the dead sea scrolls, the book of Melchezidek to be exact, the remittances of sins is directly tied to the jubilee year, when all debts were forgiven.
And concerning what Scripture says, "In this year of Jubilee you shall return, everyone f you, to your property" (Lev. 25;13) And what is also written; "And this is the manner of the remission; every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it of a neighbor who is a member of the community, because God's remission has been proclaimed" (Deut.15;2) the interpretation is that it applies to the Last Days and concerns the captives, just as Isaiah said: "To proclaim the Jubilee to the captives" (Isa. 61;1) (...) just as (...) and from the inheritance of Melchizedek, for (... Melchizedek) , who will return them to what is rightfully theirs. He will proclaim to them  the Jubilee, thereby releasing them from the debt of all their sins. He shall proclaim this decree in the first week of the jubilee period that follows nine jubilee periods
.
Then the "Day of Atonement" shall  follow after the tenth jubilee period, when he shall atone for all the Sons of Light, and the people who are predestined to Melchizedek. (...) upon them (...) For this is the time decreed for the   "Year of Melchizedek`s favor", and by his might he will judge God's holy ones and so establish a righteous kingdom, as it is written about him in the Songs of David ; "A godlike being has taken his place in  the council of God; in the midst of divine beings he holds judgement"
These verses are from The Book of Melchezidek and Canberra found here. I never understood the concept of the atonement,growing up. How could someone be punished for someone else's sins? If Tommy next door screwed up, should I get spanked? How can guilt, sin, remorse be transferred like a "solve for x" algebra problem? Moreover, why would God be fine with the wrong person being punished? If sin is a personal failing, then it shouldn't transfer. I understand the compassion and kindness in stories where someone screws up and another takes the blame for them, but this literary trope requires that the punisher not know the facts on the ground, so he punishes the wrong person. This should not come into play with God. Us mere humans should not be able to deceive him successfully, or he needs to get his omniscience meter checked. In the book of Melchezidek, sin is explicitly treated like debt through use of the linking metaphor of the Jubilee Year, it seems to me, which then is extended just that much farther and we have atonement. I imagine the progression went like this: In the Jubilee year, you forgive everyone's physical debts against you. Sins are like debts (this is what I could never grasp) and so can be forgiven by anyone who will pay the price (the verb "forgiven" works for both sins and debts in English; there must be a similar Hebrew word). Somebody else pays those debts down, and voila! you're sin-free. I'd rather have a jubilee year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Gold Standard doesn't Work! Now With Added Graph Goodness

The price of gold is set by the worldwide market. The price of the US dollar is determined by US centric stuff. When we were on the gold standard, interest rates would spike fairly regularly, producing widespread market disruption--people would lose everything. Here's some graphs from the website econobrowser, whichndoes a much better job than I ever could.

Monday, May 23, 2011

High top tax rates = growing economy

Someone very clever (Mike Kimel) graphed top tax rates vs. economic growth. Someone else graphed median tax rate vs. economic growth. This median rate included all taxes, not just income. Tax rate and gdp are correllated, if you're curious, and the winning median tax rate is 25% and the best top tax rate is 65%. So. raise the rates on the wealthy and drop them on the middle class already.

Here's the fascinating work.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dallin Oaks (paraphrased) We don't like gays and we're not sorry about it.


Long, long article here about aversion therapy at BYU. Hint, the participants had to sign releases stating that they knew that they would be shocked and that they would be given pornography to view. The reading is not for the faint of heart or stomach.

The picture is of Brigham Morris Young, Brigham Young's son.

Dallin Oaks, then, here, here, and here; in the thick of things.

Dallin Oaks, now:
"The aversive therapies that have been used in connection with same-sex attraction have contained some serious abuses that have been recognized over time within the professions," Oaks says. "While we have no position about what the medical doctors do, we are conscious that there are abuses and we don't accept responsibility for those abuses."

Notice that Apostle Oaks doesn't say that he didn't know what was happening; he doesn't say that he discouraged (or encouraged) showing pornography to suicidal kids while shocking their genitals (and now shocking our consciousnesses), he merely says that it isn't his fault.

Looking at this in a lawyerly fashion, this non-apology is pretty close to an admittance, and a refusal to be accountable for his actions.

Wet Joseph or in a cage match vote for the "wicked boys" over God

“To convince the unbelievers that he [Joseph Smith] did possess supernatural powers he announced that he would walk upon the water. The performance was to take place in the evening, and to the astonishment of unbelievers, he did walk upon the water where it was known to be several feet deep, only sinking a few inches below the surface. This proving a success, a second trial was announced which bid fair to be as successful as the first, but when he had proceeded some distance into the river he suddenly went down, greatly to the disgust of himself and proselytes, but to the great amusement of the unbelievers. It appeared on examination that plank were laid in the river a few inches below the surface, and some wicked boys had removed a plank which caused the prophet to go down like any other mortal.”(Hamilton Child's Gazetteer and Business Directory of Chenango County, NY for 1869-70)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ah, Italy

I ran across this building picture serendipitiously. Where's it from? Dunno; but the pic name itself is italian. And the building is lovely. More of this in the USA, please.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Things don't change

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” -- Plutarch

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blues and Bach for Easter

I have been attempting to find a mighty fine blues song to celebrate Easter. But, unless your Jesus is a backdoor man, the pickings are mighty slim. Here's something beautiful, biblical, and not even blasphemous.


Bach, handily enough, wrote a legitimate Easter oratorio (BWV 249, for those keeping track), and it is stunning. Here's a taste:

Wonder if he'd be more popular today if his name were easier to spell

Reinhold Niebuhr, "Moral Man & Immoral Society", written in 1932, describes this moment in US history:

[A] laissez faire economic theory is maintained in an industrial era through the ignorant belief that the general welfare is best served by placing the least possible political restraints upon economic activity. ... Its survival is due to the ignorance of those who suffer injustice from the application of this theory to modern industrial life but fail to attribute their difficulties to the social anarchy and political irresponsibility which the theory sanctions. Their ignorance permits the beneficiaries of the present anarchic industrial system to make dishonest use of the waning prestige of laissez faire economics. The men of power in modern industry would not, of course, capitulate simply because the social philosophy by which they justify their policies had been discredited. When power is robbed of the shining armor of political, moral and philosophical theories, by which it defends itself, it will fight on without armor; but it will be more vulnerable, and the strength of its enemies is increased.

When economic power desires to be left alone it uses the philosophy of laissez faire to discourage political restraint upon economic freedom. When it wants to make use of the police power of the state to subdue rebellions and discontent in the ranks of its helots, it justifies the use of political coercion and the resulting suppression of liberties by insisting that peace is more precious than freedom and that its only desire is social peace… If psychological and social scientists overestimate the possibilities of improving social relations by the development of intelligence, that may be regarded as an understandable naiveté of rationalists, who naturally incline to attribute too much power to reason and to recognise its limits too grudgingly. Men will not cease to be dishonest merely because their dishonesties have been revealed or because they have discovered their own deceptions. Whenever men hold unequal power in society, they will strive to maintain it. They will use whatever means are most convenient to that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible arguments they are able to devise.

Founding Fathers more socialist than you might think

The founding fathers were well aware of the problems with great disparities in income and took steps to make life more equal for all.

"In a letter to James Madison in 1785, for instance, Thomas Jefferson suggested that taxes could be used to reduce “the enormous inequality” between rich and poor. He wrote that one way of “silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.” "

“The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the general government are levied,” Jefferson wrote in 1811. “The poor man, who uses nothing but what is made in his own farm or family, will pay nothing. (With) our revenues applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings.”

from Here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Wealth Flows Up

I've been trying to figure out why the wealthy get wealthier unless there's some strong societal pressure to keep things even kind of equal. Turns out I'm not the only one. Here's a study, complete with calculus, explaining all about it.

http://www.growthcommission.org/storage/cgdev/documents/EquityandGrowth/Bowles.pdf

Basically, the answer is inheritance. And capital. If you have inherited money, then you can use that money to make more money--you have a head start. Inheriting social position is at least as useful, in that you have a built-in set of people to help you along.

Here's an article discussing wealth inheritance specifically in the US. http://www.economicmobility.org/assets/pdfs/EMP_LitReview_Wealth.pdf It comes to the conclusion that between 45% and 80% of all US wealth is inherited. Nice, if you choose your parents carefully enough.

And, another paper: http://www.nber.org/~denardim/research/denardi.pdf

Friday, April 22, 2011

Have I mentioned lately how good it is to be rich?

The real beneficiaries of the explosion in income for top earners since the 1970s has been not the top 1 per cent but the top 0.1 per cent of the general population. Since 1974, the share of national income of the top 0.1 per cent of Americans has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 per cent of the total, a truly mind-boggling level of redistribution from the have-nots to the haves.
From The London Review of Books.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If our sons die to protect their interests they should have to pay more taxes.

That's what it is, after all.  The whole weight of the American military is used to protect the interests of the wealthy amongst us, and to enhance (through privatization) those interests.  Gah.  Tax the wealthy some reasonable amount. And reinstate the estate tax to some reasonable level. 

Badly done drawing of how much fun it is to be Halliburton feedback loop:

If people die for you, actually die for you and your interests, don't you owe them something?