Friday, October 30, 2009

Markets are dead metaphors

From the thread to a post on Gifthub, this is worth reading a few hundred times:

Kia said...

We are just now witnessing the collapse of the markets. We may also see the collapse of "the markets" in another sense, the markets as a metaphor for life. Metaphors are not merely ornaments: they are very strange. For instance, the moment you take for granted that a metaphor is the equivalent of the thing it describes or points to, is the moment when that metaphor is effectively dead. It's worse than useless for thinking with. But usually people go on using such metaphors long after they've ceased to generate any new ideas--which is one of the things a metaphor is supposed to help us do. People will just keep walking on in the resulting conceptual daze, because to think about it is like looking at the end of the world. Some will invest heavily in re-animating the corpse and blame the demise on the usual suspects: the all-powerful and infinitely devious upstart poor and other outsiders.

I mean, maybe the market was never supposed to become the dominant metaphor of the content of human livelihood; maybe that's why it fails.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

USia: Mammon awaits

Via Mr. Herrell:

Opening the non-open access medical journals: Internet-based sharing of journal articles on a medical web site #

Candyass Conclusion:
Although the site covers a range of subjects, the focus is on the medical field. It has found that a large number of such articles, from a very wide range of journals, are shared. Major scientific and medical journal articles are frequently shared. There are ethical and financial issues at stake. While the solution to the problem is unclear, it is certain that the problem requires further research, and further discussion in an open access area.

To Which, Milton:

Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopoliz'd and traded in by tickets and statutes, and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the Land, to mark and licence it like our broad cloath, and our wooll packs.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Calling all JSTOOGES

Happy users of JSTOR:

Congratulations on your access to temporary privileges to hard-won human knowledge. It's Open Access Week. Work to open current research in all fields to all humans, regardless of army, flag, corporate affiliation, class, race, gender, discipline, school tie, media preference or facial hair.

SPARC is a co-organizer. Kristin Thomson and Jennifer McLennan say things here. Future of Music Coalition is here.

Or, Be damned.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Analogous trends commencing with some guy in Nevada


  • Quite Tiny: Missilettes use sim cards to track bad guys, fly through their windows, and nail them on their toilets where they sit reading The New York Times.


  • Quite Tiny: Myriad messagettes aimed at select victims exposed anywhere across the globe where they sit reading The New York Times.
  • Remote warfare: Remote automated target marketing. Some guy in Nevada pulls a switch and here they come.

Main difference:

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Still insane

The Yes Men managed to produce a sane statement from the US Chamber of Commerce regarding climate change.

However, a representative of the US Chamber violently protested "Hingo Sembra's" statement, reassuring the assembled news people that Mr. Sembra was a fraud, and that the US Chamber of Commerce in fact is still vehemently insane on the subject of climate change. Later it reiterated same via a formal statement.

In support of the righteousness of his cause, the US Chamber of Commerce rep produced business cards.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Right to Pipes

Regarding the Big Pipe issue:

the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promotehigh-speed broadband #

See as well: Berkman Broadband Study, which finds the US to be "a middle-of-the-pack performer" (p. 10).

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Humping Dumpty: Plutonomics by Ajay Kapur et al

Markets need stronger government reassurance, said Citigroup's former global equity strategist, Ajay Kapur, on 2.24.09: Only government intervention can save us, he bleated from Hong Kong, where he now does something or other with Mirae.

Kapur, you may not recall, was the lead author of Citigroup's exemplary memoranda on Plutonomy.

In part 1, Oct. 16, 2005, Kapur, along with Niall Macleod and Narendra Singh, opined that "select Plutonomies" exemplified economies so tilted toward the wealthy that they had become resilient in the face of factors that would normally put the skids on growth, things like the price of oil. Prime among the Plutonomies were the US, UK, and Canada, nations with "high dopamine intensity populations" (p. 9 - (Phil K. Dick couldn't make this shit up)).

On p. 10, these leading lights mention the "bearish guru's" lament that global imbalances portend nasty shite happening, and respond with their chart-packed thesis that as the super-rich save less, they spend more, driving Plutonomic economies ever upward. (14 - 21, & fig. 25).

"To summarize so far, plutonomies see the rich absorb a disproportionate chunk of the economy, their decision to lower their savings rate, often corresponding to the asset booms that often accompany plutonomy, has a massive negative impact on reported aggregate numbers like savings rates, current account deficits, consumption levels, etc. We believe the key global imbalance is that some large economies have become plutonomies, and others have not -- this imbalance in inequality expresses itself in the standard scary "global imbalances" that so worry the bears and most observers. They do not worry us much." (emphasis added) (21)
Things to fear: "blatant expropriation of property by governments," changes in taxation that would hurt "the corporates," protectionism or regulation, especially if it improves labor's wages and conditions (23).

Our conclusion? The three levers governments and societies could pull on to end plutonomy are benign. Property rights are generally still intact, taxation policies neutral to favorable, and globalization is keeping the supply of labor in surplus, acting as a brake on wage inflation. (24)
One more possible worry: "a backlash to 'Robber-barron' (sic) economies" - but again, not to worry, and welcome, dear reader, to true fuck-the-lot-of-you thinking at its finest:
...the cleaning up of business practice, by high profile champions of fair play, might actually prolong plutonomy. (25)
This memo was followed up by part 2, March 5, 2006 - the memo featured in Moore's Capitalism, where it notes that another potential crimp in Plutonomy could come from the other 90% of the Plutonomy's populace exercising their democratic voting rights.

So, when Mr. Kapur's prognostics turned to shite, it was Government's responsibility to put it all back together again.

The same government that was duly elected by the problematic proles:
Low-end developed market labor might not have much economic power, but it does have equal voting power with the rich. (24)
Clearly much was amiss with Mr. Kapur's analysis. The worrisome thing is how much was not amiss, and how much, as in dollars, geld, etc., is working to assure its ongoing validity.*

*Workers at 23 top investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and stock and commodities exchanges can expect to earn even more than they did the peak year of 2007, according to an analysis of securities filings for the first half of 2009 and revenue estimates through year-end by The Wall Street Journal.

Goldman Sachs reported quarterly net earnings of $3.19 billion, or $5.25 a share, up from $845 million a year earlier, on net revenue of $12.37 billion. Revenue from equities trading was up substantially, while investment banking posted a decline.

CEO Lloyd Blankfein sees "improving conditions and evidence of stabilization, even growth, across a number of sectors." Goldman set aside $5.4 billion for compensation during the third quarter, raising its total to $16.8 billion for the year, but the ratio of compensation and benefits to net revenue declined from the second quarter. W$J

Labels: , , , ,

Net not yet dead

Exaflood not yet surging on horizon, despite small corporate fowl prognosticating imminent Lycidian swim.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Binding the unicorn

nothing in this agreement precludes any other company or organization from pursuing their own similar effort. The agreement limits consumer choice in out-of-print books about as much as it limits consumer choice in unicorns. Today, if you want to access a typical out-of-print book, you have only one choice — fly to one of a handful of leading libraries in the country and hope to find it in the stacks. Brin

Labels: , ,