Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun times

If we can move away from markets briefly to the other side of the economy, I found this albeit older piece by a d00d named Robin Hahnel, who apparently is a pretty interesting spearhead for a libertarian-socialist(?) movement known as participatory economics. I used to think Chavez were people in England who wore knock-off Burberry, but no more.

Now I'd recommend skipping or not worrying about the beginning section, a somewhat self-righteous/congratulatory critique of the 'main stream media" etc. etc. that we've all heard enough before and cutting into the meat of the whole deal. We've beat around the Chavez bush before, but this seems a pretty interesting list of social policies in action that make me think a little better of the Chavismo outside of the man himself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Make the Globalization Stop

The Finland based Leningrad Cowboys backed up by the Red Army Choir (yes, the same one as back in the day). It's either something heroic out of a Tom Stoppard Play or something to begin a Thomas Friedman book. Either way, did they have to choose the song that is ambiguous at best about the legacy of George Wallace and Watergate?


I love this city. Long live the markets. Theme Song

Saturday, March 29, 2008

i am sick....

of finance....and sick of new york...i am out unless anyone can say anything to convince me otherwise.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

God Bless America and God Damn this Movie!

One of the advantages of a) teaching in a sociology department and b) teaching a class in a sociology department about race and ethnicity in a relatively fruitful time for national discussions about race and ethnicity is that I occasionally run into an analysis that articulately (and unknowingly) criticizes one of the banes of my existence: the Academy Award winning film Crash. A letter to Senator Obama written by a group of sociologists in response to his speech last week reads (and I quote at length):
Specifically this research documents that racism is a highly institutionalized social condition and practice rather than something that exists solely within the minds of racists. The problem with your equating racism with prejudice and your characterization of “race” as the key issue rather than racism is that it does not account for the fact that racism is not merely a product of intentional (though perhaps sometimes unconscious) interactions between individuals, but rather the result of deeply seated social and institutional practices and habits. The use of language like “the race issue” or, as you put it, “race is an issue” is therefore confusing and evades a more real and serious discussion of racism.... Long after many Americans cease to consciously and actively discriminate against racialized “others,” there persists racist social patterns dictating where people live, which organizations they belong, what schools they attend and so on – that were created during slavery and de jure segregation. For this reason contemporary social and institutional structures are products of racist foundations. As such, they perpetuate the practices of the nation’s racist past, even though many of the people populating these structures may not be overtly bigoted. In short, racism entails social and economic exclusion and discrimination, not just racial hatred.
Substitute "your" with "the Academy Award winning film, Crash" and you have a fairly concise reminder of why this film set back race relations in this country 25 years.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Food Blogging=Flogging?

Blake Hounshnell, over at the normally excellent Passport blog, goes a wee bit callous on us this morning:
The International Herald Tribune reports on the latest from Egypt. So far, seven people have died of either fights or exhaustion from waiting in line for subsidized bread. (Curious, since people don't generally wait in line in Egypt.)

The rising cost of food is of course a serious problem both outside and inside the U.S. I'd say it's about time we get another economic bubble started already.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

And just like that...

It's gone.

It is a shocker. Even more shocking is the unprecedented moves the Federal Reserve is making. While Bear Stearns has legally been bought by JP Morgan(for $2 a share mind you, the stock is trading at $30, and the deal was approved by the US Government and the Federal Reserve in a matter of hours - which probably means the bank was going to have to declare bankruptcy on Monday), the Federal Reserve has now taken over all of the banks trading positions(up to $30 billion). This is the similar to how the UK bailed out Northern Rock - through nationalization. The Federal Reserve has effectively nationalized Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns was the 5th largest investment bank in America.

At least the Fed is getting a clue about what kind of situation we are in - something is systemically wrong with the United States' modern banking system. An outright collapse could have caused huge losses for banks, hedge funds and other investors to which Bear Stearns is connected.

Greenspan's Thoughts

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer's Fall a Narrative on Modern Femininity

It's a shame the Governor of New York failed to find a woman he could trust with his secrets. Alas, they must remain the purvey of prostitutes. A true sexual encounter would have been used as leverage against him.

Roger Cohen's adventures in sub-Friedmanian ideology

Routine exercises in the deconstruction of New York Times op-ed page ideology should be mandatory for school children. To wit: "Tribalism Here, and There," by Roger Cohen. In good Friedmanian fashion, Cohen, surveying the destruction of the Kenyan political and social scene, gives us a brief, dichotomized summation of the state of the world today:

But we’re beyond tribalism, right?

Wrong. The main forces in the world today are the modernizing, barrier-breaking sweep of globalization and the tribal reaction to it, which lies in the assertion of religious, national, linguistic, racial or ethnic identity against the unifying technological tide.

Connection and fragmentation vie. The Internet opens worlds and minds, but also offers opinions to reinforce every prejudice. You’re never alone out there; some idiot will always back you. The online world doesn’t dissolve tribes. It gives them global reach.

Jihadism, with its mirage of a restored infidel-free Caliphate, is perhaps the most violent tribal reaction to modernity. But fundamentalism is no Islamic preserve; it has its Christian, Jewish, Hindu and other expressions.

It always eases my mind when opposition to globalization is equated with terrorism; I'm reassured in my thinking that "there is no alternative." Now let's hear about the "tribes" within our own midst:

America’s peaceful tribes are also out in force. As Obama and Hillary Clinton engage in the long war for the Democratic nomination, we have the black vote, and the Latino vote, and the women-over-50 vote, and the Volvo-driving liberal-intellectual vote, and the white blue-collar vote, and the urban vote, and the rural vote, and the under-30s vote — sub-groups with shared social, cultural, linguistic or other traits and interests.
Oh, sure, they're "peaceful" tribes, but tribes none the less. If only they could be bridged in a great ecumenical movement towards neoliberalism! Those blacks, Latinos, women, latte-liberals, white blue-collars, urbans, rurals, and youths must somehow be made to see the light of those who know best, those not contained within these broad strokes of parochialism -- and who might that be, if not older, white, male, globalization-fetishist jetsetters like Cohen? (And don't forget Thomas Friedman, the pater familias of this band of merry wankers.) But who will lead them? Quis custodiet ipses custodes?

It's Obama. Obama will lead us, hand in hand, in a grand march towards "an interconnected world beyond race and tribe," towards globalization (no matter how red in tooth and claw). Obama will be our benign managerial expert, ready and willing to oversee the gradual, harmonious integration of world capitalism. Only don't call it capitalism! That suggests "winners" and "losers," and Cohen has already explained to us the inevitability of the great horizon of "barrier-breaking modernity," against which can be marshaled only the hopeless dregs of old world tribalist naysayers, irrationalists, terrorists, and Luddites. Capitalism has no past; it has no history of accumulation or colonialism (Kenyan history begins after 1963); it plays no culpable role in the formation of reactions against it. It can only be future, the bright, glorious future of the "unifying technological tide."

After all, Kofi Annan told him so.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Market Talk

I said last year that if we bought commodities we would all be rich. This is where the commodities market stand now, just since January!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"As the world burns...

the important thing is to keep shopping."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams stream

Destroyer's new album available for stream on the Merge website:

Some here may no doubt be interested!

First impressions: Not nearly as good as Rubies. I'm still listening, though. But really, could Bejar possibly top Rubies so soon?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gaza Sit.

Vanity Fair: The Gaza Bombshell

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Video from trains, Part One