Notes jan 17, 2008
January 17, 2008 § Leave a comment
Spent the last few day at Stanford.
Patrick Cockburn reports that poppy cultivation for opium production is spreading rapidly in Diyala Province, and that the profits are fueling narco-terrorism because the fields are controlled by the Salafi Jihadis. American rule of Iraq is like the four horses of the apocalypse.
The US military dropped five times as many bombs on Iraq in 2007 as it had in 2006. Human Rights Watch is worried about the impact on civilian casualties
These weigh heavily in the world press, and hardly get a mention in the US. The press struggles to keep the candidates fighting with each other without issues.
Mind and thing: we tend to see them as separated by a thin wall some transparent mechanism that lets the outside inside. This might be less true with the rise of neurophysiology, but the strategy is the same: things give off or reflect light sound, and these enter the brain and behold, ideas. Yes the brain is complex, but still the view is that thing-brain-idea is a short path. I am increasingly convinced that this path is much more complex. The strategy of outside to inside is an old one. Plato saw it as cosmic geometry to mind, there was nature to mind, sensation to min, DNA to mind, evolution to mind. What if the “to mind” step is really an extraordinary maze of intertwining levels?
One piece of evidence is that old Kohler prisms reversing the visual field experiment, with the weeks necessary for the reorientation.
We probably won’t know, but the issue is deep.
Gulf Times – Why were police personnel not deployed on the rooftops of the buildings located in front of the outer gate of Liaquat Bagh at Liaquat Road to counter the possible sniper firing when such deployment is a normal practice at such occasions?
Who was in charge of the outer cordon of security deputed for Bhutto’s protection?
Is it true that the security of the outer cordon was entrusted to the Deputy Superintendent of Police who is the son of personal driver of General Ziaul Haq, and who was inducted in the Punjab Police as Assistant Sub-Inspector with special favour of General Ziaul Haq during his regime? And that the DSP has close liaison with the former federal minister whose staff car was used – innocently or deliberately for transporting lethal weapons to Lal Masjid well before the Lal Masjid operation?
And on the economy,
AP – The economy has worsened to the point where Congress should pass an economic stimulus bill of up to $150 billion, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers told lawmakers Wednesday.
Summers, an economics professor at Harvard University, had previously said $50 billion to $75 billion in tax cuts and pump-priming government spending is needed to boost the sagging economy. Now, his recommendation is double that – though perhaps employing a “trigger” that would release the money only if the economy worsens further.
He said the advantage of employing a trigger to release a second stage of fiscal stimulus that could take effect without the need for new legislation is to avoid delays that could deliver an economic boost too late.
“The risks here of ‘too little, too late’ are far, far, far greater than the risk of ‘too much too soon,”’ Summers said
Hard to accept these numbers. It means more national debt. Yet Bush will try to use the crisis to weaken social security.
Following on my thoughts about mind..Big Brain Theory Have Cosmologists Lost Theirs – New York Times
you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.
OTA! Fond memories. This would be a very helpful move.
From: Turner, Jim [Jim.Turner@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 5:03 PM
To: David Farber
Subject: RE: [IP] OTA on its way back?
Congressman Rush Holt has sponsored legislation to resuscitate OTA for several years. OTA was not repealed; its funding was cut off, so what Rush’s bill would have done is to revive OTA by refunding it. He initially had support from the House Appropriations Committee, but I believe the money ended up in GAO in the end. OTA did a series of 3 or
4 technology assessments earlier this decade. Therefore, OTA is not back, but the concept still has some life. My understanding is that Hillary Clinton in her technology speech endorsed reviving OTA as well.
On the economy:The Board – Editorials – Opinion – New York Times Blog
A couple of studies, from the Congressional Budget Office and the Brookings Institution sort through the different options and identify those that will provide the most economic bang from every budgetary buck spent on the effort.
Both agree that the key is to get money into the hands of those who need it most and would spend it most quickly.
Unemployed workers are a good place to start. A study in 2002 by Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com following the 2001 recession concluded that a dollar spent in extending emergency unemployment insurance benefits would add $1.70 to the economy over a year, as unemployed workers increased their spending and the money ricocheted across the economy. This packed a bigger punch even than an income tax cut targeted at those with the lowest earnings.
Note that the impression here is that some stimulus can get the economy back on the endless cycle of ups and downs, otherwise it will just be a bigger down. But his leaves out the longer term deterioration in the US economy, in part through policy, but in part just because the rest of the world is entering the globalizing economy. the money that gets spent to fix it will need to be paid back, but most likely with a shrunken economy unable at any time in the future to pay off those costs (and the war, etc). The result will be in the next weeks a titanic struggle over
- Who will benefit from “saving” the economy”?
- Who will pay for that effort?
I see that Bernabke responded to the same issues today, not fully, but in part The Washington Monthly
A fiscal initiative at this juncture could prove quite counterproductive, if (for example) it provided economic stimulus at the wrong time or compromised fiscal discipline in the longer term….To be useful, a fiscal stimulus package should be implemented quickly and structured so that its effects on aggregate spending are felt as much as possible within the next twelve months or so.
….Any fiscal package should also be efficient, in the sense of maximizing the amount of near-term stimulus per dollar of increased federal expenditure or lost revenue. Finally, any program should be explicitly temporary, both to avoid unwanted stimulus beyond the near-term horizon and, importantly, to preclude an increase in the federal government’s structural budget deficit.
Big corporations have been winning more than their share of victories lately in Congress and in the courts. But the California Supreme Court may have just brought things to a new low. It turns out that it does not have enough justices without financial interests in oil companies to do their job of meting out justice.
My view is that corporations could have responsibilities if their charters demanded them. Those stated social purposes would also give managers inside leverage to actually meet social criteria. Having had the opportunity to hang around inside some major companies in a lot of normal meetings about product design, marketing and sales, it was rare to hear any actual discussion of what might be good for clients or customers.
To fully understand Friedman’s point of view it would be necessary to go into the history of private property. One important piece is the work of John Locke, who was arguing for the protection of the nobles against the king, and said that the property that nobles held existed before the king did. Locke never considered the possibility of claims for property for those below the level of the titled landholders.
What has to be considered in the private property perspective is consequences. If private property in the context of actual laws is like 0 in 00 in roulette and the house always wins and we get an increasing concentration of capital, political influence and disregard for the social and environmental, then we have to raise fundamental questions.
The GardenWorld argument is simple. It’s as that the two political parties, because they represent the same economic interests, do not offer an agenda that 80% of the population would vote for. An agenda that was environmentally rigorous, entrepreneurially responsive, with education and health as enablers of participation, and a foreign policy that make friends rather than enemies, realistic about the dangers and the world, and taking credit for the fact that the US economy must be an increasingly smaller share of the world economy, and setting a model for how to manage that interdependence and complexity.
I then say that this agenda needs an evocative image to mobilize energy and commitment. Based on a lot of interviews I say that such an image already exists, and it is captured by the phrase, ” everyone wants to live in a blend of civilization and nature. Why don’t we use our wealth to go there?”
The book says that we do not need a rigid plan but extreme flexibility of innovation and imagination to meet the challenges of climate change, population migrations, and heterogeneity of belief.
But the current parties cannot represent that agenda because they are so tied into what I call the merry-go-round. The merry-go-round is the dynamic of energy of the mainstream economy to which most people feel a need to align themselves. But many are left out and the merry-go-round cannot handle them all. There are not enough jobs and in many parts of the economy we already have over production.
I argue that GardenWorld is not a template but a design criteria. It’s as look with intent at it every part of every environment as an opportunity to increase aesthetics by adding green and increased economic viability by adding green. All else is details. An example would be using Erik Erikson’s eight stages of the life cycle as a design template for policies: make sure that the policy works across the life cycle.