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alaskaone
Topic :   Weakness and power

Some interesting thoughts on the nature of power and weakness... found in a review of a movie.

"If you believe that H. sap. is only time’s favorite monkey — that man is meat — then there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the kind of behavior we’re talking about, and no need to justify it, since there is nobody to justify it to. If you believe that man ought to be better, it implies that he can be better, and that “better” means something. And here materialism fails us, which is why Marxism became an ersatz religion. Christianity is a fortunate religion in the sense that the endless moral failings of its leaders (and followers) keeps illustrating, generation after generation, the fundamental facts of the creed. The creeds based on human perfectibility, which is the romantic notion at the heart of all utopian thinking, have as their main problem the countervailing example of everybody you’ve ever met and ever will.

It is tempting to make like the Pharisee rather than the publican and say: “God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” It is unpleasant to meditate on the truth at the center of Christianity, and perhaps at the center of all wisdom: I am like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous. (I have never been guilty of collecting taxes.) We must sympathize with the victims and care for them, but we must also identify with the malefactors, who are made of the same stuff as we are, cut from the same crooked timber. In the black comedy of The Death of Stalin, we see men — extraordinarily powerful men — who mainly are acting not out of malice or inherent wickedness but out of terror. The survival instinct is even more powerful than the libido. It is tempting to think that you’d comport yourself with more integrity in those circumstances, but would you really? Down in Beria’s dungeon, with the gunshots audible from the room next door — would you really? (One of history’s little ironies: The Lubyanka was originally the headquarters of an insurance company.) Would you be so brave with your wife and children being held in another cell? Or would you beg, connive, lie, simper, degrade yourself, and, if necessary, murder to keep yourself and your loved ones away from those gunshots?

Can you ever really trust a weak man? Is there another kind?

To understand power, one must understand weakness, especially the weaknesses that are particular to men. Human weakness is what necessitates that we constrain power—political power, especially, but also other kinds of power. We are not governed by angels, and there aren’t very many of those in the boardrooms, either. The advice that we put not our faith in princes applies to princes of the church and captains of industry, too. All that we have — culture, technology, civilization, democracy, the rule of law, government — is provisional."



07/16/2018 10:21 AM


alaskaone
Re :   When science is stupid.

A bit more on how to evaluate 'peer reviewed' studies.



07/16/2018 9:31 AM


WRS10
Re :   Does Russia Really Matter?

Bump;

Fatal Novichok dose 'came from bottle' in victim's house


Novichok that poisoned a couple in Wiltshire came from a small bottle found in the home of one of the victims, police say.

A bottle was found in a search at Charlie Rowley's Amesbury house and was tested by scientists at Porton Down, the Metropolitan Police said.

Mr Rowley, 45, remains in hospital in Salisbury in a serious but stable condition after falling ill on 30 June.

His partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, died last weekend.

Scientists at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory are still trying to establish whether the deadly substance found at Mr Rowley's house came from the same batch of Novichok that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March..............>





07/13/2018 5:08 PM


WRS10
Re :   Financialization

Speculators are supposed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in demand and supply.  I read that in a book somewhere.  Anyway, all those high oil prices stimulated research and development in fracking leading to new supplies driving prices down, for a while.  Wars on Iran, Libya etc can push prices back the other way.  Life's infinite variety continues.


07/13/2018 5:05 PM


Knightly
Re :   Financialization

about oil. recall the oil bubble awhile back. it hit $147 a barrel. the official line was the price was going up because of increased demand. however the spot price was lower than the contract price. if prices go up because of increased demand, than the spot price will be higher than the contract price.

the oil bubble ended at the same time as the real estate bubble did. cause and effect? i don't know what goes on behind close doors. things like short selling. oil was hoarded because speculators didn't know when the oil bubble would pop. the end result was the price of oil nosed dive. for awhile there was so much oil, they were running out of places to store it.


07/13/2018 12:33 PM


alaskaone
Re :   Financialization

None of that rings true to me, Knightly.

I'm not saying there are no shenanigans going on.  There most certainly are.  Question is, how much and how damaging to the works over all are those shenanigans.

The issue is not clarified by biased language and insinuations.  For example;  The massive amounts of money diverted to financial speculators — Wall Street, the City and elsewhere — are a sharing of surplus value, not necessarily willingly done.

Let's unpack that a bit.  "Massive amounts of money diverted to financial speculators".  People who, 'speculate', on commodities or even stocks/bonds... are they not using their own money?  So far as I know, they do use their own money... so how is any 'diversion' taking place?  It's their money to do with as they please.

Secondly, speculation.  Let's say we're speculating about oil.  If the price of a commodity, oil in this case, is low... that is a signal from the market that the amount of oil being produced is a little high right now, thank you very much.  Suppliers of oil should respond by slowing their production unless other factors are in play for an individual supplier... perhaps they've over extended themselves or taken on debt they need to service (both voluntary acts on their part and they should face the consequences of their actions and learn from them or go out of business).

A speculator may, in effect, take possession of a quantity of oil at price X/barrel.  Said speculator is betting that the price of a barrel of oil will go up.  Well, then you have to ask what's happening to make the price of a barrel go up?  The answer, hopefully, is that not quite enough oil is being produced.  When the speculator sells his/her oil at the higher price, they are increasing the amount available thus they are providing a service in which both parties win.  The speculator makes a buck, consumers have access to oil that would not otherwise have been available.

Absent shenanigans, this seems like a win/win scenario regardless of the commodity.  And don't forget... nothing, not one thing, guarantees the price of oil or any other commodity will increase.  The speculator very well could lose and absent shenanigans… they alone suffer the consequences.

You can argue, perhaps, that the speculator isn't creating anything... and that's true.  However, like putting money in the bank for a rainy day... the action is, overall, a positive force in an economy... absent shenanigans.



07/12/2018 12:43 PM


alaskaone
Re :   Reply To Knightly

Reply to Knightly (07/10/2018 5:02 PM)

I'm thinking that's not entirely accurate, Knightly.  It appears to be saying, essentially, that borrowing a shitload of money you can't afford to repay and then attempting to repay it by printing up vast quantities of paper to repay those debts isn't the fault of the nation doing the borrowing and printing.

Or am I mistaken?

The most recent example of hyper-inflation is Venezuela.  No war.  No debt.  No lack of ability to legitimately create wealth via natural resources or human ingenuity.  

currency exchange markets can drive down a nation's currency. which means that nation would have to borrower more. 

Why?  While Venezuela's primary export was oil.

don't forget the effect compound interest rates have. some countries that rely on oil exports got burn when the price of oil dropped. 

Were the oil industry not nationalized by the Venezuelan government... why would it matter?

Chávez didn't plan ahead in the event the price of oil would drop, which it did. 

That, once again, seems to argue against the wisdom of nationalization.

Venezuela has a limited national railway system, which has no active rail connections to other countries. The government of Hugo Chávez tried to invest in expanding it, but Venezuela's rail project is on hold due to Venezuela not being able to pay the $7.5 billion[clarification needed] and owing China Railway nearly $500 million.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuela#Shortages

That, once again, seems to argue against the wisdom of nationalization.  Were private industries to decide railways were a good idea, the burden of construction and maintenance would be on them... not the government.

projects like the would improve venezuela's economy if the oil bubble had lasted. 

Boondoggle projects like an unneeded railway don't really improve an economy aside from a temporary cash cow for politically connected construction companies.  How do I support that assertion?  Well, Am-Trak is a good example.  So is the California project for a high speed train from LA to SF.   

venezuela had to pay off loans to other countries as well as having money for its internal economy.
Are you sure about that?  It appears a case of political corruption, mismanaging of money and resources.

 that nation had to import much of its consumer goods. 
Are you sure about that?

americans haven't had to face the same level of shortages that nation have to face. 
Well, that's certainly true.  Why?  We're 21 trillion dollars in debt.  We have far more people.  We have far more generous welfare programs.  We have natural disasters and endless wars.

Why them and not us?



07/12/2018 12:29 PM


WRS10


07/12/2018 6:35 AM


Knightly
Topic :   Financialization

I suppose I could respond “yes and no” on the question of financialization and increasing detachment from production. The massive amounts of money diverted to financial speculators — Wall Street, the City and elsewhere — are a sharing of surplus value, not necessarily willingly done. But it is certainly true that activity on financial markets greatly exceed any rational bounds — I once tried to quantify the composite size of stock, bond and forex markets and concluded that 11 days of trading on those markets equals in value the size of the entire world gross domestic product.

Industrialists and financiers ultimately have a symbiotic relationship. Financiers need profitable enterprises to produce the profits that are skimmed off and speculated on, and industrialists benefit from the pressure that financiers bring to bear, forcing up stock prices that they profit from. There is a considerable overlap between the two as well, financiers often buy industrial companies and other makers of tangible products (even if to siphon the money out of them and leave them an emptied husk) and industrial companies often develop their own finance arms. GE Capital was once one of the most profitable parts of General Electric, for example.

There is so much financial speculation because the profits generated and the wealth flowing to those who reap the profits have far more money than they can spend or invest. So this excess is diverted into speculations. At time, speculation is more profitable than production, so that exacerbates the tendency of capital to chase higher returns through speculation. So you are completely correct that financialization has gone beyond any rationality at the same time that accumulated financial wealth is not necessarily detached from productive enterprises.


https://systemicdisorder.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/real-number-of-unemployed/#comments


07/11/2018 11:32 AM


Knightly
Re :   Reply To alaskaone

Reply to alaskaone (07/09/2018 9:59 AM)

I'm thinking that's not entirely accurate, Knightly.  It appears to be saying, essentially, that borrowing a shitload of money you can't afford to repay and then attempting to repay it by printing up vast quantities of paper to repay those debts isn't the fault of the nation doing the borrowing and printing.

Or am I mistaken?

The most recent example of hyper-inflation is Venezuela.  No war.  No debt.  No lack of ability to legitimately create wealth via natural resources or human ingenuity.  



currency exchange markets can drive down a nation's currency. which means that nation would have to borrower more. don't forget the effect compound interest rates have. some countries that rely on oil exports got burn when the price of oil dropped. 

Chávez didn't plan ahead in the event the price of oil would drop, which it did. 

Venezuela has a limited national railway system, which has no active rail connections to other countries. The government of Hugo Chávez tried to invest in expanding it, but Venezuela's rail project is on hold due to Venezuela not being able to pay the $7.5 billion[clarification needed] and owing China Railway nearly $500 million.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuela#Shortages

projects like the would improve venezuela's economy if the oil bubble had lasted. venezuela had to pay off loans to other countries as well as having money for its internal economy. that nation had to import much of its consumer goods. americans haven't had to face the same level of shortages that nation have to face. 




07/10/2018 8:02 PM


alaskaone
Topic :   CA university racism


If a university bases it's admissions on skin color... that makes it a racist institution, does it not?


07/10/2018 9:06 AM


alaskaone
Re :   Causes of hyperinflation

I'm thinking that's not entirely accurate, Knightly.  It appears to be saying, essentially, that borrowing a shitload of money you can't afford to repay and then attempting to repay it by printing up vast quantities of paper to repay those debts isn't the fault of the nation doing the borrowing and printing.

Or am I mistaken?

The most recent example of hyper-inflation is Venezuela.  No war.  No debt.  No lack of ability to legitimately create wealth via natural resources or human ingenuity.  




07/09/2018 9:59 AM


alaskaone
Re :   An actual war upon women



IRAN is being internationally slammed for arresting a number of people for posting un-Islamic videos on Instagram — including a teenage girl who posted clips of herself dancing fully-clothed.

The hard-line Islamic country’s state TV channel broadcast a video on Friday in which Maedeh Hojabri, a 19-year-old gymnast, admitted breaking moral norms.



The initial report I saw said she was given a sentence of 4 years in prison and was to be whipped 80 times.  However, I've been unable to verify that anywhere.  I did find a BBC report saying, "In 2014, six young Iranians who posted a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams' hit song Happy on the streets and rooftops of Tehran were given suspended sentences of up to one year in prison and 91 lashes."



07/09/2018 9:30 AM


Knightly
Topic :   Causes of hyperinflation

very hyperinflation in history has been caused by foreign debt service collapsing the exchange rate. The problem almost always has resulted from wartime foreign currency strains, not domestic spending.



07/08/2018 11:29 PM


WRS10
Re :   Does Russia Really Matter?

We should be so thankful to the brave dumpster divers who came across the dumped instrument;

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/ames ... 80936.html


The couple fighting for their lives after being poisoned with a nerve agent may have been contaminated after “dumpster diving” for items in skips and outside charity shops, according to a friend.

Counter terrorism police are scouring the homes of Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, amid fears they stumbled on a container holding the military-grade Novichok poison after it was discarded by a Russian hit squad................>



07/06/2018 2:11 PM


Knightly
Re :   True or false?

 CA is on the left. it also has one of the richest economies in the world. ranks around five.


07/03/2018 6:28 PM


Knightly
Re :   Reply To alaskaone

Reply to alaskaone (06/29/2017 10:48 AM)

Isn't it interesting how house prices skyrocketed with the advent of fannie mae and freddy mack?

Correlation isn't causation, of course.  There are other factors;  zoning laws, larger houses, and in the western states, federal annexation of vast quantities of land.

one reason why house prices are skyrocketing is too many want to live in the same locale. one reason for urban sprawl is land and houses are cheaper on the outer rings of a metro area. 


07/03/2018 6:26 PM


alaskaone
Re :   Reply To Knightly

Reply to Knightly (06/29/2018 5:25 PM)

one rumor i heard was the elite, or whatever you what to call them, want the usa to collapse so the banksters can buy up the country on the cheap.

The US is already dead.  It just hasn't realized it, yet.  There is no way out of 21 trillion dollars of debt and 120 trillion of liabilities.  The federal government will collapse.

State and local governments aren't in much better shape but they will provide stability and, no, 'banksters' will not buy up the country on the cheap.  Collapse of the feds doesn't have to lead to anarchy.

Also, if the fed is raising interest rates, isn't it also raising the payments on the national debt?  Good ol' unka sam isn't going to be pleased about that.


06/29/2018 10:09 PM

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