Latest Threads
Greatest Threads
Home » Discuss » Journals » Prag » Archives Donate to DU
Advertise Liberally! The Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Advertise on more than 70 progressive blogs!
Hugin's Way Point - Archives
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Wed Aug 18th 2010, 09:10 AM
But, what is the bubble? Hubris? What?

I looked back over the past (All of the way to the Tulip Bulb Craze) and in each bubble I could identify a physical commodity which was the object of manipulation... This time, however, I am at a loss.

I get a feeling it's artificial in every sense. The only two things I can attribute this to are either that it is an abstract "Technical Bubble" meaning that trading is occurring on the generalized acceptance based on nothing, but, Magical Thinking that there must be a bubble there... or this is an artifact of Algo HFT. One of those two things. Most likely, since the first assumption is built into the Algos used by the second. It's a combination of the two. GIGO, man.

There is no, there... There.

Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Wed Aug 04th 2010, 01:50 PM
in all ways (efficiency, cost, job creation ) than any government service could ever be... Yes, I'm weak.

I finished a MORNING LONG call to my local (Hahahaha! Sounded like somewhere in the Sub-Continent I was talking to.) phone conglomerate trying desperately to get some sort of service on my rapidly failing phone/network connection. Mind you... I pay a pretty penny of my meager resources for the luxury of information.

Anyway, after an hour on the phone during which (under protest) they made me DO.THEIR.WORK.FOR.THEM. by hooking and unhooking things... Until it was clear I wasn't going away that easily and yes there was probably something wrong with my over 30 years old phone wires. Well, I waited on the phone for another hour while the off-shored underpaid sweatshop customer service slave tried to connect me to someone who actually had some sort of ability to physically come to my residence and FIX.THE.FRICKING.PHONE!

Yet, another, in an ever increasing mountain of Corporate Cluster Fuck Fail!

How is this better than... Say, a socialized system? More efficient? HA!

Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Tue Jun 29th 2010, 08:07 AM
or of keeping those "Beautiful Minds" clear of the encumbrance of Reality.

"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat." -- John Milton

Granted, I'm also averse to arguments lacking in fact and logic. But, rather than shade my eyes... I prefer to rely on the critical thinking skills of those in attendance to come to their own conclusions. Which, oddly enough, tend to be liberal in nature.

Those flame bait and disrupting posts are quite obvious and should be dealt with... However, to deprive ourselves of the ammunition of a well informed argument is disgraceful.

Also, we must allow ourselves the grace of having a little mirth and fun... In an otherwise tedious existence.

'Nuff said... :|

Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Fri Aug 28th 2009, 08:11 AM
Has this covered... And, well... It disagrees with your idea.

Basically, HUO mirrors the rationale governing when it's time to foreclose a mortgage or shutter a bank.

(In the following replace 'payments' with 'jobs created')

If two sequential payments are not made, then it is unlikely that whoever is responsible for making those payments has the resources to make up those two payments and also carry the current month's payment. The unemployment situation is much worse, because, the deficit payments have ballooned to many times the minimum payment each month and it has at this point been going on for far more than two months.

Unemployment is more dire... Because this is the livelihood of those affected in question. Will they eat? Will they be sheltered? Will they receive medical attention? (As a function of public health, if not just for the individual) ... etc. Now, unemployment insurance does buy some breathing space, but, it's really a debt. Those individuals receiving it are no longer adding value to the system as a whole... They are negative spending.

Unemployment insurance is exactly analogous to living on Credit Cards while not being able to make Mortgage Payments.

I think during the last Depression... HUO was realized and that's why the WPA and CCC were implemented. So, that at least some value was being added to the system by those idled and their skills weren't lost to disuse. It kept them in a working frame of mind, too. Those people wouldn't fall into a pattern of low esteem where they were focused on maintaining their stipends.

So, isn't it time we foreclose on the current employment plan? (if there is one) and go with something different?

Read entry | Discuss (2 comments)
Posted by Prag in The DU Lounge
Thu Jul 23rd 2009, 08:12 AM
We all have something to offer...

My talent is: I'm a Jerk-Of-All-Trades.

Read entry | Discuss (35 comments)
Posted by Prag in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Jul 04th 2009, 09:23 AM
Since our resident expert on Gilligan's Island seems to be AWOL, I suppose I'll have to take up the metaphorical slack.

Having long been fascinated with Cargo Cults (a fascination I share with the likes of Richard Feynman ) I can't help, but, express my deep belief that our current economy resembles a colossal Cargo Cult.

First, let me give you the basics... Then you may think so too.

A Cargo Cult is formed when a naive population observes a more advanced population's logistical infrastructure in action... For example, a radio operator calls for supplies (cargo) to be brought in and a ship or plane delivers a load of good things from some distant location. This seems to be a magical transaction to the naive (here and now oriented) observer. Not knowing the underlying technology of how the logistics were being accomplished the naive observer assumes the cargo was delivered because of the 'ritual' involving the radio. So, desiring some good cargo for themselves the naive observer fashions a 'radio' from some common local materials, say... a coconut and some vines. He or She then proceeds to perform the 'ritual' in an effort to obtain more cargo.

"Just as cargo cultists create mock airports that fail to produce airplanes, cargo cult scientists conduct flawed research that fails to produce useful results. (and The-Smartest-Guys-In-The-Room conduct flawed economic recovery/stimulus programs which fail to produce useful results -- My thoughts.) Feynman cautioned that to avoid becoming cargo cult scientists, researchers must first of all avoid fooling themselves, be willing to question and doubt their own theories and their own results, and investigate possible flaws in a theory or an experiment."

I sure see this going on... Don't you?

From the wiki...

"The most widely known period of cargo cult activity, however, was in the years during and after World War II. First, the Japanese arrived with a great deal of unknown equipment, and later, Allied forces also used the islands in the same way. The vast amounts of war materiel that were airdropped onto these islands during the Pacific campaign between the Allies and the Empire of Japan necessarily meant drastic changes to the lifestyle of the islanders, many of whom had never seen Westerners or Easterners before. Manufactured clothing, medicine, canned food, tents, weapons, and other useful goods arrived in vast quantities to equip soldiers. Some of it was shared with the islanders who were their guides and hosts. With the end of the war, the airbases were abandoned, and cargo was no longer dropped.

In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors, and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses. The cult members thought that the foreigners had some special connection to the deities and ancestors of the natives, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

In a form of sympathetic magic, many built life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw and created new military-style landing strips, hoping to attract more airplanes. Ultimately, although these practices did not bring about the return of the airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the war, they did have the effect of eradicating most of the religious practices that had existed prior to the war.

Over the last sixty-five years, most cargo cults have disappeared. However, the John Frum cult is still active on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu."

Anyway, I've been harbouring this hypothesis for awhile now... Gilligan's Island Weekend on the WEE seemed to be the ideal unveiling moment.

Comments? Suggestions? Additional Content? :allears:
Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by Prag in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Jun 05th 2009, 04:59 AM
We here all are being teh #47!

Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by Prag in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Apr 18th 2009, 10:28 AM
:fireworks: :hiredclowns: :balloons:

First some background, a little over a week ago, Ozy and I were discussing the failings of using the Stock Market Indexes (Dow, S&P, NASDAQ, etc.) as indicators of the economic health of these United States. (Especially, since a former chairman of one of those indexes has recently been charged with running a colossal Ponzi Scheme. Details here)

So, we decided to rummage through the gumbo (non-shrimp) of numbers and stew up a custom Index for the SMW.

Since that phrigingdumbass guy with the way-cool poll tracking posts during the elections didn't seem to be about... I was called upon to put something together. ( Details here )

Using my newly found dictatorial powers, I set forth.

Early on in the process, I decided there would be a few important areas for coverage by the Index and ground rules to follow;

1. The SMWEI will attempt to reflect the Economy from the point-of-view of the average resident on the Demand Side of the U.S. Economy... A 'Retail' Index, if you will. Yet another index for Supply-siders to point at to justify the Bankrupt Voodoo Trickle-down foolishness of the past 30 years is not needed. (I'm sorry Ghost Dog, although I agree that in this highly interconnected and complex Global Economy we need something covering everything. Given the data available to me I can't manage that at this time. I will continue searching for a way to do it, however.)

2. The SMWEI will include both objective measures and reasonable subjective assessments of the Economy.

3. All objective data included in the SMWEI will be drawn from the SMW and to a lesser degree the WEE.

4. The SMWEI is a number between -10 and +10. It will be posted starting in the WEE and then on Mondays (or the first Business Day of the week) in the SMW.

5. I encourage anyone interested in submitting their assessment (a number between -10.0/+10.0) to be included in the Index to either post it in the SMW or if you'd rather keep your entry private, PM me with an appropriate subject line. A little statement about why you think the entry is good and helps in understanding your reasoning, but, is not necessary.

That said... The value of this week's SMWEI is....

(Drum roll please.)

-----------> (-5.6)(minus five-point-six) <---------

A couple of comments... The Index seems to be currently trending neutral. It may be due to the stimulus or possibly we've entered the lower bar of this 'L' shaped recovery which has been discussed... or maybe everyone has been laid off.

Some groups of North-American Natives believe that in order to fight something, it must first be defined and named. The SMWEI is an attempt at accomplishing this.

Thank you...

:freekosherhotdogs: :cottoncandy: :syrupysoftdrinks:


Edit: I went back to spell phrig properly and add free balloons to the offerings.
Read entry | Discuss (3 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Thu Apr 16th 2009, 09:03 AM
or not-so-informed as the case may be.

(this looks like a likely spot... Here under this Dilbert cartoon.)

First, a little about the scheme behind the SMWEI. Last week Ozy and I were discussing the weaknesses of using the Market Indexes as a measure of the health of the US Economy. So, I decided to form my own Index exclusive to the SMW.

Now, this is no regular Economic Index.... I prefer to think of it as a "Smart Economic Index"(tm)(c)(r)(pat. applied for)

What makes it "Smart" is that it includes a few 'key events' which can, if they happen, significantly effect the value of the Index. Also, it features an anti-saturation algorithm designed to balance the subjective input I receive with the objective metrics built in... In other words, unlike 'polls' and other items which can be biased via a few individuals making repeated entries to deliberately change the outcome. This Index will self-correct for those types of attempted manipulations. So, there will be no 'banging' of the SMWEI.

I have to admit this Index is weighted significantly toward the 'Demand Side' of the Economic Spectrum. Because that's where most of us live and quite frankly the Trickle-down Supply-side Voodoo Index has been done to death. I'm hoping to better capture the situation of the Median American and how the Economy looks from this side.

What I need now is (hopefully informed) subjective Subject Matter Expert input from people... Such as all of you!

To answer Ghost Dog's question earlier this week... Yes, the SMWEI currently only considers the U.S. Economy, but, as is true for Geography in many cases... Some Non-US Residents may have a better grasp of the US Economy than people living here do. With that in mind, feel free to also submit your estimate of the US Economic Condition even if you aren't Resident or a US Citizen.

Here's what I need.... Currently one number between -10 and +10 which best fits your estimation of the current Economic state of the US. -10 being the worst state you can possibly imagine (I would reserve -10 for a Colossal National Disaster.) +10 being the absolute best economic situation you can come up with.

Input away... and if you'd like your comments/guess to remain discreet for one reason or another please feel free to PM your comments to me. I promise, I'm not there to argue with your opinion... The SMWEI will do that.

Read entry | Discuss (4 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Mon Apr 13th 2009, 10:42 AM
Sorry, I wasn't around much, but, I was also working on my new concept of the Instant Gratification Theater (in-the-round).

I'm quite taken with the whole concept. I'd give you more details... Haven't gotten the Copyright settled yet, however.

Anyway, back to the SMWEI... Late last week Ozy and I were discussing our dissatisfaction with using the Market Indexes as a measure of the US's Economic Health and I suggested I could put together an Index which would better indicate the View of the Common People... As far as the Economy is concerned.

I started out with two views of how to go about this...

1. A strictly objective aggregate measure containing weighted values of a combination of economy related metrics; Market Indexes, Unemployment Rates, Retail Energy Prices, etc... But, it seemed boring and as I'm Attention Challenged... This Month's Cover of "Vanity Fair" soon distracted me.

2. A purely subjective index... Modeled on the "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" 'Doomsday Clock'. The idea being that periodically we'd get together and evaluate (from shared information and experience) where on a scale the index should be set... I decided against this because lacking any objective measures it would draw even more heat on participants of the SMW/WEE community by the DU Pollyannas. Who already see and refer to us as 'Gloom 'n Doomers'.

Rejecting those two ideas left only one design... (Brilliant, if I say so myself) of a combination of objective and subjective weighted metrics combined into an index.

Here's how it's going to work.... Late in each week I will accept input from the public-at-large on a scale from 1 to 10 on the state of the Economy. (Doesn't really matter how many, but, I'd like more than ten entries initially) I will dump those in with a group of selected objective economic measures and... DING! Out pops the SMWEI for the next week! Which I will then post initially in the WEE and Monday Morning on the SMW.

How's that sound? Huh?
Read entry | Discuss (2 comments)
Posted by Prag in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Mar 20th 2009, 07:10 PM
Instead they follow the pattern of a con played in the Old West...

It ran like this, a flamboyantly dressed stranger would come into town and very conspicuously place a very full envelope into the Hotel Vault for 'safekeeping'... Implying it was stuffed with cash.

The stranger would then take advantage of the generosity of the locals drinking, gambling and whatnot on a tab. Insinuating that they would be paid for their services from the money, but, it was inconvenient to get the money just then, because the money was in the hotel vault.

This would continue for awhile until the stranger (as Mark Twain would say) started to smell like three-day-old fish.

Late one night the stranger would sneak off... When the villagers discovered he'd gone they would rush to the Hotel Safe to see if he'd left the money. What they found in the envelope was typically cut up newspapers sometimes sandwiched between a couple of low denomination bills.

THIS is what we are dealing with...
Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Fri Mar 20th 2009, 11:10 AM
We have what we need, but, we insist on screwing it up.

Not to spin off into Theology, but, I recently encountered an explanation of why Humans are so dangerous.

It's because we don't have any claws or fangs... Tigers know instinctively other Tigers are deadly and therefore they avoid ticking off each other. We primates never learned that lesson. There is little injury from thumping around on each other with our soft pink hands. In fact some of us enjoy it... However, we also have the ability to escalate things way beyond those games. So, we have this attraction to destruction while at the same time lacking the instinctive ability to see the danger in it.

That's why I give our species the life expectancy of an unrefrigerated jar of mayonnaise.

Sorry for the philosophical excursion, but, y'all sent me into a moment of Navel Research.
Read entry | Discuss (2 comments)
Posted by Prag in Latest Breaking News
Thu Jan 22nd 2009, 10:01 AM
I decided to take advantage of the amnesty name change program.

My other username had accumulated... Um, let's say, baggage over the years... Not really anything I or anyone on DU
had done, but, it was a generational shift in society.

New DU username. But, I'm still here... Still the same...

Hope you have a good day Ozy.

Read entry | Discuss (3 comments)
Posted by Prag in Economy
Sat Jan 17th 2009, 12:21 PM
and the evidence Archaeologists look for to find it in digs.

During it's peak the Ceramics used all over the Empire were of a high quality, mass produced,
and widely traded. The Ceramics were therefore fairly standardized throughout the Empire.

When Rome met it's decline, however, the system of production and trade of these implements
was one of the first to almost universally break down. Suddenly in the record the pottery
changes to much cruder locally made wares. Upon determining the stratum at where this
transition occurs Archaeologists can determine when the Empire lost it's influence in a
given area.

It would seem we're about to face such a transition and as you point out we don't make anything
here anymore, I'd expect to begin to start seeing people either doing without or substituting
cruder locally made wares.

I thought I'd share this factoid.

Your "Beaten Spouse" metaphor is a good one, IMHO.

Read entry | Discuss (2 comments)
Random Journal
Random Journal
Visitor Tools
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals  |  Campaigns  |  Links  |  Store  |  Donate
About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.