Thursday, December 22, 2011

We have to do better on inequality -
"Why has the top 1 per cent of the population done so well relative to the rest? The answer probably lies substantially in changing technology and globalisation. When George Eastman revolutionised photography, he did very well and, because he needed a large number of Americans to carry out his vision, the city of Rochester had a thriving middle class for two generations. By contrast, when Steve Jobs revolutionised personal computing, he and the shareholders in Apple (who are spread all over the world) did very well but a much smaller benefit flowed to middle-class American workers both because production was outsourced and because the production of computers and software was not terribly labour intensive."

This was written by Lawrence Summers. Either he is incompetent, or he is trying to delude us. Either way he is an idiot.

via @bittman

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Bishop's Wife (1947)**
Bizarre theology, even by Hollywood standards, and the original casting with Grant in the role of the bishop might have worked better. It just seems like it is all cobbled together just so we can have a tearful "I must go" scene. A Christmas perennial although the holiday has nothing at all to do with the story.
Duck Soup (1933)****
The Marx Brothers' best film. Consistently funny, briskly paced, wonderfully silly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obama and Geithner: Government, Enron-Style | Rolling Stone:
"In other words, Geithner and Obama are behaving like Lehman executives before the crash of Lehman, not disclosing the full extent of the internal problem in order to keep investors from fleeing and creditors from calling in their chits. It’s worth noting that this kind of behavior – knowingly hiding the derogatory truth from the outside world in order to prevent a run on the bank – is, itself, fraud!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

No War Crimes Trial for Bush/Cheney, While Chirac Convicted on minor Fraud | Informed Comment:
"Ironically, Chirac was the princpled one here. He opposed the Iraq War and castigated Bush for speaking of a ‘war on terror.’ He quite reasonably said that terrorism (with which the French had a great deal of experience) is a police matter. Bush militarized our heritage of democracy rooted in 1776, whereas Chirac declined to do that to his heritage, of 1789.
"The French don’t put their former presidents on a pedestal, beyond the reach of accountability, the way cult-of-personality prone Americans do."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

John Lennon: "I was sick of White Christmas" | Music |
"Then there's a song he and the Plastic Ono Band will be recording that very night, for their Christmas single. It's called Happy Christmas (War Is Over), and he says that when he first played it to Spector, the producer said that the first line is a direct crib from the Paris Sisters' I Love How You Love Me, which Phil produced back in the pre-Crystals days.

"'I like quoting from old songs,'" John says, "'but you get into such trouble with copyrights. It's a drag.'"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Scrooge (1951)**
Alastair Sim is fine as the iconic miser but the film is too heavy handed and boasts the tallest and healthiest looking Tiny Tim of any version of the oft-told tale.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Empire of the Sun (1987)**
Earnest, uneven account of a boy enduring a Japanese internment camp of British exiles in China during the end of WWII. First and last half hours are terrific, entire middle is sluggish and too long. Spielberg still can't lay off the overbearing music cues either.
Melancholia (2011)**
Wants to be a fable, but it is filmed with such realism and cinema-verité that you're never quite sure what the director is going for. Still, the opening montage is stunning, and if you have to watch the Earth be destroyed, you could do far worse than this group of actors. Pluses for originality and chutzpah.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Bernie Bytes: 5 takes on Pujols, Marlins:
"Sure, he could take the Cardinals' money even if the offer is inferior to Miami's. It's still a lot of money. And he could live happily ever after. But I'll repeat: Pujols is under no obligation to do that. This is his chance to determine his future on his terms. Sure, he has said he wanted to be a Cardinal for life. Sure, he has said he wanted to be like Musial. Sure, he has said that winning is the top priority. A move to Miami would obviously contradict all of those declarations."

It's always the player who is the bad guy. Miklasz pays lip service to Mr. Pujols saying he is not under "obligation" to sign with the Cardinals low-ball offer. But then in a thinly disguised way castigates him for not being Stan Musial. Mr. Musial was incredibly underpaid as a performer and never even had the opportunity to be a free agent so the comparison is ridiculous and erroneous. These sports romantics are always comparing current players' situations to those in the past but there can be no comparison. Yes Musial played his whole career with the Cardinals. HE HAD TO! Unless he was traded or cut by the owner, who of course would have been "obligated" to do so by the player's poor performance. Give me a break. I hope Mr. Pujols moves on from St. Louis. The smugness is getting even thicker than normal there.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Evolved Self-management System | Edge:
"So now, where does the placebo effect fit in? Placebos work because they suggest to people that the picture is rosier than it really is. Just like the artificial summer light cycle for the hamster, placebos give people fake information that it's safe to cure them. Whereupon they do just that.

"This suggests we should see the placebo effect as part of a much larger picture of homeostasis and bodily self-control. But now I'm ready to expand on this much further still. If this is the way humans and animals manage their physical health, there must surely be a similar story to be told about mental health. And if mental health, then—at least with humans—it should apply topersonality and character as well. So I've come round to the idea that humans have in fact evolved a full-blown self management system, with the job of managing all their psychological resources put together, so as to optimise the persona they present to the world."