our yearly shot

for people right,
for people wrong,
for people all around,
yes,
there will be 2011,
and our theory of it too.

The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway.

It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again.

That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong.

Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride.

But if you can do that, well, lucky you.

That’s our American Pastoral, as Phillip Roth put it.


self enterprise

…and hundreds of thousands of young counterculturists lived in one commune or another at some point.

It was a period in which huge numbers of young Americans rejected the traditional American way of greed-based and emotionally isolated living and searched for a new life path that embodied sharing, mutual caring, and openness.

Although not all communes achieved their idealistic goals, their very existence represented a yearning of the human spirit for something better than the status quo and a courageousness to act upon these convictions with direct action and sustained efforts.

Global warming…recession…peak oil…data smog…by necessity and by choice, thousands of people are once again being drawn toward collective living, this time empowered by the successes and failures of the past.

end of swagger

Much much more than worn out politics before we work away from harm.

Simon Johnson:

The Age of American Predominance is over.

Our leading bankers looted the state, plunged the world into deep recession, and cost us 8 million jobs.  And now many of them stand by with sharpened knives and enhanced bonuses – also most willing to suggest how the salaries and jobs of others can be further cut.

Think about the morality of that one.

the medical years

people are living longer
not because they are less likely to get sick,
but because they survive longer with disease…

As a result, a 20-year-old man today can expect to live about a year longer than a 20-year-old in 1998, but will spend 1.2 years more with a disease, and 2 more years unable to function normally.

NYTimes,
via Mind Blog

gas cram

Gregor Macdonald researches the energy sector.

From the .pdf available here.

When natural gas is trading at $4.00 and oil is trading at $92.00, the price discount offered by natural gas for an equivalent amount of btu is as much as 75%.

Yes, that’s right.

Instead of obtaining oil’s 5.8 million btu for $92, one can obtain 5.8 million btu in natural gas for $23.

The economic opportunity to perform the same amount of useful labor, at 50-75% off the oil price, is not a potentiality that any economist, analyst, or policy maker can afford to ignore.

BitTooth explains how LNG tankers currently supply 23 countries.

positioned to keep

“What power has law where only money rules?” —Petronius, 66 AD

From Economist’s View, to break the lock that big money has on politics:

“Political corruption in America is staggering.”

“Powerful forces, many of which operate anonymously under US law, are working relentlessly to defend those at the top of the income distribution.”

“The Republican Party’s real game is to try to lock that income and wealth advantage into place.”

With help from golfing buddies in elected office, over the last 25 years more than 90 percent of the total growth in income went to the top 10 percent.

Only 9 percent of income growth is divvied up among the lower 90 percent.

About 25 percent of the newly elected Republicans are millionaires. 261 members of Congress are millionaires, and 55 are worth more than $10 million.  Wealth in the Senate grew 16 percent, from $2.27 million to $2.38 million in 2008 alone.

In 1973, the average U.S. CEO was paid $27 for every dollar paid to a typical worker. Three years ago, the ratio had ballooned to $275 to $1.

“The real rulers in Washington are invisible, and exercise power from behind the scenes.'” —Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter 50 years ago.

Lawrence Lessig:

America’s economic future depends upon restarting an engine of innovation and technological growth.

Corporate America has come to believe that investments in influencing Washington pay more than investments in building a better mousetrap.

That will only change when regulation is crafted as narrowly as possible. Only then can regulators serve the public good, instead of private protection.

We need to kill a philosophy of regulation born with the 20th century, if we’re to make possible a world of innovation in the 21st.

hair-trigger hunks

As many as 25% of police using steroids?

“Essentially, this has become commonplace.”

Testing in law enforcement — much the way it is in professional sports — is a touchy subject. Like pro ballplayers, officers are usually protected by unions, and drug testing is often used as a bargaining chip. A majority of departments have random testing for street drugs like cocaine and heroin, but few also test regularly for steroids. —A. J. Perez

Simultaneously nuts and serious, don’t you think?

words everywhere

Not a writer is a better thing. There’s pain that writers say they solve. There’s joy that writers say they find. But where are solutions? Where is happiness? If I were a writer I’d have to explain what I do not know.

our cooked tomorrow

It’s time for us to wake up to thermodynamics and economics.

A human being at rest runs on 90 watts.
A hunter-gatherer would use about 250 watts.
Life in America requires around 11,000 watts per capita.

That’s like covering the Earth with seven billion blue whales !

Are we headed for success? Or a lasting economic depression on an overheated planet?

“…the wealth of civilization has a direct link to how much energy we can consume.”

University of Utah’s Dr. Tim Garrett has found that about 10 miliwatts is required for every inflation-adjusted 1990 dollar.

Tim Garrett’s latest paper is a significant shock:

“There are no plausible, thermodynamically supported solutions that avoid inflation rates less than 100% and lead to stabilized atmospheric CO2 concentrations within this century.

“It is only with very rapid decarbonization that current economic growth conditions can be sustained while keeping CO2 levels below 1000 ppmv by century’s end.”

There’s a basic law of the physical universe. It is through energy transformations that anything happens. [pdf, http://arxiv.org/abs/1010.0428]

tax to benefit

If you could vote for taxes, the Laffer Curve brought us Depression 2.0. But please notice. For many more decades we relied on the Honesty Curve to bring us prosperity:



oil change ahead

What’s your assessment of the latest oil supply and demand data coming out of the International Energy Agency?

Jeff Rubin: If you look at the world energy outlook from the IEA two things really stand out.

1) About 80 per cent of the oil they expect the world to be consuming by 2035 hasn’t been found or developed.

2) About 70 per cent of the oil being produced today will be depleted by then.

time to fix wrong

Institute for New Economic Thinking;

It was the crash of 2008, which brought home the fact that there is something broken in economic theory. Two ideas – rational expectations theory and the efficient market hypothesis – have a monopoly of thought.

The Economist:

The “rational expectations hypothesis” became increasingly dominant in academic economics from the 1980s onwards, partly because it combined easy mathematics with an ideology attractive in the Thatcher-Reagan period.

Its methodology of rational expectations could “prove” with apparently mathematical certainty that solvent banks would never face sudden liquidity crises, that forcing banks to hold excess capital was inefficient, that investors could perceive their collective best interests and that “markets are always right” in the sense that the financial prices incorporate the best possible forecasts about an uncertain future.

The economic orthodoxy was particularly dangerous in finance, since it allowed Nobel laureates to calculate that upheavals of the kind triggered by Lehman Brothers would not occur even once in a billion years.

h/t Next Big Future

iceberg nation

Rebecca Solnit:

Capitalism is only kept going by this army of anti-capitalists, who constantly exert their powers to clean up after it, and at least partially compensate for its destructiveness.

Behind the system we all know, in other words, is a shadow system of kindness, the other invisible hand.

Much of its work now lies in simply undoing the depredations of the official system. Its achievements are often hard to see or grasp. How can you add up the foreclosures and evictions that don’t happen, the forests that aren’t leveled, the species that don’t go extinct, the discriminations that don’t occur?

now to some realities

“It’s very hard to get any agreement if there’s no consensus on what the underlying facts are.”

Jerry Brown via Huffington Post:
He was California’s youngest governor and now its oldest.

Very gradually, the productivity rate of our country declined. “We used to export oil,” Brown noted, not long after the Arab oil embargo. “Cars, television, cameras, watches… We had no peer.”

Then the decision was made to expand war abroad and to pursue a Great Society at home, a strategy of “guns and butter.” We began to decline, Brown said, as we did not fund these projects “from current dollars, but from fiscal gimmickry, borrowing from the future.”

“This country,” Brown declared, “has pursued a path that Rome and Germany after World War I have pursued, running the printing presses of money.” Three percent a year growth in wealth declined in the ’70s to less than one percent, and “we began to fight over our decline in purchasing power.”

The Republican response to this decline was ‘to avoid regulation and taxes.’ This was the time, Brown said, that “the credit card came into vogue.” Private and public debt accelerated to prop up the slowing economy that was once the giant of the planet.

Japan, Germany, Korea, Taiwan, all manufactured cars, watches, and other products of great quality, entering “the latter part of the century with great momentum.”

Our great cities, he said, were declining, and poverty was on the rise.

It’s time, he said “to reindustrialize.” Surely, he argued, we don’t have to rely on a war to revitalize the economy. Time, he said, to invest in new technologies, protecting environment, educating people, to make America “once again a society with upward momentum.”

“Our leaders,” he declared, “can’t tell us the truth. We’re in decline.

anti-evolutionary belief

Dec 17th Gallup poll:

Four in 10 Americans believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago.

But hey, creationists were 47% in 1993 and 1999.

The creationist viewpoint is held by 60% of weekly churchgoers and about a fourth who seldom or never attend church, each with a significantly higher percentage of Republicans.

spying becoming local

Washington Post:

The United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation’s history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The government’s goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.

Other democracies – Britain and Israel, to name two – are well acquainted with such domestic security measures. But for the United States, the sum of these new activities represents a new level of governmental scrutiny.

More than a dozen Washington Post journalists spent two years developing reports on Top Secret America.