Sunday, September 30, 2007

If anyone here is in marketing or advertising

New Fig Newtons Ad Preys On Inherent Human Weakness

"NEW YORK—Flattery, pride, self-aggrandizement, fear of rejection: This latest Fig Newtons ad campaign hits on all cylinders, a delighted advertising executive said."

from a performance of the best comedian ever - "By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalization for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something...rid the world of your evil fuckin' presence, OK, back to the show.

You know what bugs me though, everyone here in marketing is now thinking the same thing, 'Oh, cool, Bill's going for that anti-marketing dollar, that's a huge market.'" - Bill Hicks

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

read it and find out

Saudi Religious Police Attacked by Girls

"According to the head of the commission in Khobar, two girls pepper sprayed members of the commission after they had tried to offer them advice."

I'm starting to like Saudi women... they feisty! Damn I want to be there when they have their sexual revolution.

" of the girls pepper-spraying them in the face as the other girl filmed the incident on her mobile phone, while continuing to hurl insults at them."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The blind leading the Japanese

Japanese Deregulation: Big Corporations are Destroying People's Lives - Uchihashi Katsuto interviewed by Okamoto Atsushi

"[Uchihashi Katsuto, born in 1932, is a prominent economic, political and social commentator and the author of seventy books including his eight volume collected works. He was interviewed by Okamoto Atsushi, the editor of Sekai (World). ..."

The ideas that "caused Latin America to go completely bankrupt" are being implemented in Japan. When the US business community was getting its collective panties in a bunch in the 80s at the thought of Japan overtaking the US economically, it ironically would probably have scared them further to think that Japanese economists were being trained in American economic ideas. Goes to show that fear can be misplaced at times.
Looks like Japan is ditching the state-led economic model that made it rich, and moving its way towards the United Statesian, Friedmanite model of extreme wealth disparities, insecure workforces, underfunded public services and a slow choking of demand in the domestic market as incomes for the majority stagnate or fall. What a path to recovery it is likely to be!

Fascinating book on how the world economy works

Super Imperialism by Michael Hudson

This (non-Marxist, don't let the title fool you) book describes how the dollar became the world's key currency; why the rest of the world's people work hard and save their hard-earned money - and manufacture little plastic figures of children's movies with a 6 month self life, among a whole lot of other things - so that fat United Statesians can buy resort vacations for their chihuahuas on their credit cards.

(Michael Hudson is an independent Wall Street financial economist and professor and has been an economic adviser to the Canadian, Cuban, Mexican, Russian and US governments, and to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).)

Friday, September 21, 2007

What makes ideas fit


"The ecosystem of socialism, seen through the material forms in which its principles were transmitted—books, newspapers, manifestos—and the parties, movements, schools and men who were its bearers. From Babeuf to Marx to Mao, the passage of printed ideas, and their inundation by images..."

The relative success of different ideas today may have something to do with a 'survival of the fittest'-sort battle of ideas - where the best ideas win. But one can't ignore is the environment in which ideas "compete" - and how the means of production and dissemination of ideas help determine which ideas prevail. In the age of television, the only ideas that have a chance of competing are those likely to win over the owners of a production studio and television station. Ain't no printing press gonna cut it no more.

Contra Debray, it's not something magical - an essence - in television that inevitably leads to the result of dumb, functionally illiterate populations. Socialists just need to amass a boatload of cash, win a hostile takeover of News Corp, radically restructure it, and use another boatload of cash to run a company that'll probably hemorrhage money; it's expensive to use television to educate, and the returns don't appear on any but a metaphorical balance sheet.

Review: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto by Mario Vargas Llosa

Fucking brilliant. Here's some quotes:

On sex: "All human activity that does not contribute, even indirectly, to testicular and ovarian arousal, to the meeting of sperm and egg, is contemptible... as well as everything that distracts us from the truly essential purpose of human life, which, in my opinion, is to satisfy desires. I see no other reason for our being here, spinning like slow tops in a gratuitous universe."

On the nation: "'Nation', that ridiculous politico-administrative contrivance manufactured by statists greedy for power and intellectuals in search of a master, that is, a Maecenas, that is, a pair of prebendal tits to suck on - is a dangerous but effective excuse for the countless wars that have devastated the planet, for despotic impulses that have sanctified the domination of the weak by the strong, and for an egalitarian smoke screen whose noxious fumes, indifferent to human beings, clone them and impose on them, under the guise of something essential and irremediable, the most accidental of common denominators: one's place of birth."

On law: "How could I avoid being the most ingenious tangler or disentangler of juridicial arguments when I discovered in my first law class that so-called legality is, in great measure, an intricate jungle in which technicians of obfuscations, intrigues, formalisms, and casuistries would always come out ahead? And that the profession has nothing to do with truth and justice but deals exclusively with the fabrication of incontrovertible appearances, with sophistries and deceptions impossible to clarify."

And sex again: "It is also true that without their prohibitions, sins, and moral fulminations, desires - especially sexual desire - would not have achieved the refinement they have reached at certain times. Consequently - and this is not theoretical but practical - as the result of a modest personal survey of limited scope, I affirm that people make love much better in religious countries than in secular ones (better in Ireland than in England, in Poland than in Denmark), better in Catholic countries than in Protestant ones (better in Spain or Italy than in Germany or Sweden), and that women who have been educated in nuns' academies are a thousand times more imaginative, bold, and delicate than those who have studied at secular schools."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

National debt hangover

World Economy in Flux As America Downshifts

"For years, economists have warned that the U.S. can't run up endless charges on the national credit card to cover its huge appetite for imported cars, oil, electronics and other goods. Someday, they said, the bill will come due."'s a sober treatment of why "'we have to tighten our belts here at home'".

Blame evolution

Homo politicus: brain function of liberals, conservatives differs

"Aristotle may have been more on the mark than he realised when he said that man is by nature a political animal.

Dozens of previous studies have established a strong link between political persuasion and certain personality traits.

Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.

The affinity between political views and "cognitive style" has also been shown to be heritable, handed down from parents to children, said the study, published in the British journal Nature Neuroscience."

read it and find out

US rate cuts: Like a blow to the head by Julian Delasantellis

"CNBC's Maria Bartiromo was so gushingly giddy in her coverage of the [stock market] rally that you would have thought that Starbucks had opened a coffee stand in her electroshock therapy suite. ... [But the rate cut which sparked the rally has already caused, and will likely lead to further, dollar devaluation] China [which has close to a trillion and a half dollars in its reserves] could decide that it's a choice between losing a lot of money, fast, by selling its dollars, or losing a lot more, slowly, by keeping its dollars. the US feels China will not do it. probably hurts less to do it fast. Or, China could do it smart, slow and gradual; that's the way China likes to manage change. There are some indications that this is exactly what is happening. ...China probably is already diversifying away from the US dollar, but among all the cacophonous noise of the glorious roiling tsunami of inanity that is US public life, the actual signal information is being missed."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A flight from the dollar to a better world

U.S. Banks Brace for Storm Surge as Dollar and Credit System Reel by Mike Whitney

What's really interesting for leftists about pessimistic economic forecasts like this one is the thought of what will happen in a world with a devalued dollar. During the Vietnam war, when the US government was (customarily) spending beyond its means on means of killing people, it was forced to abandon its commitment to sell gold for $35 an ounce. But since foreign nations since then have lent us back so many of the dollars that have been created and spent, the dollar hasn't suffered the kind of major devaluation that would occur to any other country's currency if its government pissed money US-style. The situation that has developed pretty much gives the US government carte blanche to, well, write checks.

Bottom line being, a flight from the dollar might eventually take the form of cargo planes flying troops and material home from their hundreds of overseas bases. (And then, perish the thought, we'll have no worldwide base structure to protect ourselves from the USSR!)

The p-word

Either way, it could be an unkind cut by Henry C.K. Liu

(panic) Nothing more exciting than a few thousand-word analysis of the state of the world economy, eh? (panic) This one, written by one of many analysts who predicted the subprime bust far in advance, is a bit dire. (panic) In that, it differs a bit from what I'm reading in the WSJ these days. (panic) But then, no one in their right mind writing - or editing - for the WSJ or major US media would ever publish such an alarmist perspective. (panic) Don't want to spark a panic.
Time will tell whether Liu's analysis is on point - following an interest rate cut on Tuesday, the Dow is now not very far off from its all-time high.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Even Veblen might be surprised

Small Collectors

"Encouraged by wealthy, art-loving parents, children are collecting Warhols and even Rembrandts. Kelly Crow on their kid-centered tastes, 'art allowances' and why auction paddles aren't toys."

Keep this article on hand, in case you ingest a toxic substance and need to vomit.

In the end, though, it's not all bad - where better to store something by Jeff Koons than in a kid's room next to crayons, finger paint, pens, pencils, craypas, sledgehammers, chainsaws, industrial-grade incinerators, etc.?

Interesting how not only have kids become articles of conspicuous consumption - I just heard the other day that the median income of a white couple with toddlers in Manhattan is a few hundred g's - but you gotta accessorize them too!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This is the world's most influential magazine

The Economist: The World’s Sleaziest Magazine by Mark Ames

"...The Economist's record is so appallingly deceitful that it would require a separate article, and scores of beta-blockers just to read through without suffering a 10-valve thrombo." This article does not examine The Economist's entire record - only its recent coverage of Putin.

The Economist was founded by one James Wilson, who instituted an export-driven public finance strategy for India during the first years of direct British rule. Which happened to coincide with famines that killed tens of millions of Indians (but which shouldn't be considered to be caused by 'capitalism' in the way that 'communism' is surely to blame for the famine deaths in Mao's China, wink wink). Ah but the Market moves in mysterious ways, and The Economist has been there to praise It, whether It be starving millions of Indians or Irish to death.

A bit late for an obituary

American Economy: R.I.P. by Paul Craig Roberts

Did you ever think the world would end before a former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, a Contributing Editor of National Review or an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration made a comment about Karl Marx that did not compare him to Satan and/or Bozo the Clown? Well, Roberts was all three, and in this piece he actually gives Marx favorable (if brief) treatment - and yet still with us is the world, albeit crumbling apart.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And it's the best way to get free porn

The wiki way

This kind of masturbatory ode to the internet used to be really common back when tech stocks were soaring high as housing prices now... not so much anymore. But this is somewhat interesting; it suggests that the internet can radically reduce transaction costs (which I've seen estimated elsewhere as comprising 40% of economic activity!), which are the reason why enormous corporations arise in capitalism.

Friday, September 07, 2007

read it and find out

Welcome to Fleece U by Barbara Ehrenreich

"Our mission is to take feckless teenagers like you and turn them into full-fledged debtors."

Man, I'm lucky I left school before they started charging for the privilege of going into debt. ... but since debt is such a wonderful disciplining agent... damn it, I was jipped, I demand retroactive fees for being put into debt!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

We won't cut and run, we'll bomb Iran?

Why Bush Can Get Away with Attacking Iran - When Wishful Thinking Replaces Resistance by Jean Bricmont

Just when you think you can rest easy in the knowledge that it would be impossible for Bush to attack Iran...

The author, Jean Bricmont, wrote a book criticizing postmodernism and the incomprehensible wreck it has made out of the Left. He gets a jab in this article too: "A large part of the academic left long ago gave up informing the general public about the real world in order to debate whether Capital is a Signifier or a Signified, or worry about their Bodies and their Selves..."
Speaking From Experience, Part II: Former CIA official expects war with Iran by Ken Silverstein

...and then this. Hopefully, this guy's experience in the CIA has left him unable to analyze anything with any degree of accuracy, but...