Monday, October 25, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I needn't have worried. Soon enough, I found Price-Less Evaluations, "the most trusted medical marijuana evaluation center in San Francisco," whose site features a photo of a model in a lab coat and a coupon for a "420 special" (good for a $20 discount on April 20, 2011). Many California pot doctors will ask patients to bring in medical records that prove that their problems are legit (though they don't always check them). But the woman who answered the Price-Less 24-hour info line assured me that despite my lack of documentation, "the doctor can just evaluate you, and he'll decide whether you qualify or not."
The receptionist led me back into a hallway, where I saw a stooped, white-haired man in a rumpled pullover—the doctor. "Come on in," he mumbled. I stepped into an office and sat down at the edge of his desk. "So, can cannabis help you in some ways?" he asked, pen poised over a recommendation form. "I think so, yeah," I replied, trying to sound confident.
"So how does it help you?" he asked as the ink dried. "Well," I offered, "I have periodic pain from typing a lot, and in my lower back, and it could help me with that." He smiled. "Good. It's signed right there." The entire conversation had taken less than 90 seconds.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Yet Keynesian theory has a no less serious problem, namely that workers take a "stupid voluntary vacation" during the downturn, due to their stubbornness on nominal wage cuts......Aggregate demand macroeconomics works in many cases and it almost always "works" (predicts well) when the macro forces are pointed toward destructive ends. We are not sure why it works at all, or if it always works, and yet we see a great fervor of belief in it and a demonization of those who are skeptics.Huh? I mean you could say we're not sure of all the detailed dynamics of why it works, or it may be an incomplete theory which doesn't encompass the complexities of real world economies. But my understanding is we're pretty sure of the generalities of why it works. There's a mismatch between demand for goods/services vs supply, with an excess of supply. Thus unemployment rises above the natural level, lowered consumer and business confidence etc. This can lead to a self-reinforcing cycle of less consumption, more savings, yet higher unemployment and possible deflation which further exacerbates the cycle. Some form of governmental stimulus to aggregate demand can help break this cycle and act as a counter cyclical force.
This model has fit quite well with real world data over many decades and several economic cycles. So there's a perfectly good model, it makes both mathematical and intuative sense AND it works (as Cowen says). But pointing this out to skeptics and saying their models don't seem to "work" is "demonization". I don't get it. And by the way, who exactly is doing this demonization?And finally, I'd like to see the statistics for people taking "stupid voluntary vacations" and an explanation of what exactly he even means by that. Currently I believe there's broad underemployment across all categories of jobs, so its not as if there's some huge pool of people refusing to work because the pay's too low. Jobs aren't there because demand isn't there to justify hiring. But apparently Cowen thinks this is all a problem of people being to stupid to work. Good theory there. We don't even need Keynes with that kind of genius explanation.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
IZZARD: What if someone comes to you in the middle of the Second World War and says, ‘do you have any Jewish people in your house?’ and you do have them. That would be a lie. That would be disrespectful to Hitler.
O’DONNELL: I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that!
MAHER: God is not there. Hitler’s there and you’re there.
O’DONNELL: You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out.
I think its interestng that she imagines god will save her from having to tell a lie, but somehow failed to save all the jews who actually got killed. Apparently the "way out" he provides is often death.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
"We are black, brown, and white. We are Jew and gentile. We are from different communities, various backgrounds, and all races, colors, and creeds.
We will Take America Back, not from Democrats or Republicans, but from an arrogant political class that puts its interests before those of all Americans."
I wonder if i could manage to not vomit long enough to become a member and get a look at what goes on among the rank and file Tea partiers.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Rick Santorum would very much like to be president. For the past few years, he has been diligently appearing at the sorts of conservative events—the Values Voters Summit, the Conservative Political Action Conference—where aspiring Republican candidates are expected to show up. But before he starts printing "Santorum 2012" bumper stickers, there's one issue the former GOP senator and his strategists need to address. You see, Santorum has what you might call a Google problem. For voters who decide to look him up online, one of the top three search results is usually the site SpreadingSantorum.com, which explains that Santorum's last name is a sexual neologism for "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
(and yes,i know you can't prove this has anything to do with the mosque controversy or republicans blah blah. i'm willing to make a bet on it though)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
To use a fancy word, there’s a metacognition deficit. Very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate. A few people I interview do this regularly (in fact, Larry Summers is one). But it is rare. The rigors of combat discourage it.
Of the problems that afflict the country, this is the underlying one.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Two things i like about this clip. One when cooper asks her if she has any proof and the crazy lady says "in the initial conversation with your producers i wasn't told i'd be grilled to produce any evidence of what i'm saying is true". Second is that her botox makes her look like the crypt keeper - only her mouth moves and the rest is wrinkled and dead looking. Love it.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I don't have enough of a background in economic forecasting to really dissect the paper's conclusions but I'll point out that Zandi is not a liberal economist, and in fact was a McCain economic adviser. Also, as I understand they used pretty standard models to make their analysis and it is relatively consistent with related alalysis from the CBO.
But the main reason I read the paper wasn't for the stimulus analysis but because i was interested in exactly how the Moody's Analytics economic model works and that's touched on in Appendix B of the paper. It talks about inputs to the model such as credit spreads (TED, LIBOR etc), household cash flow, mortgage rates, treasury yields, Federal Reserve asset values, undewriting standards on lending, business cost of capital (corporate bond yields), labor supply (based on full employment level of labor), and other capital stack input factors, FOMC's inflation target and several other factors. This is covered starting on page 18 of the paper. If anyone knows more about the nitty gritty of how this model functions please add a comment.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Likewise, having the formidable, and seemingly strong priored Warren at the head of CPFA is dangerous. She seems to have strong beliefs and the analytical ability to plow through anyone in her way.
Its very strange to me that many seem to think its critical that the head of the consumer finance protection bureau not be too interesting in protecting consumers. and more so that they think its a convincing argument to anyone who's not out to support the financial industry over the rest of the country. And as many others have said, the politics of it before the midterms make the appointment a no brainer. sure the financial industry is gonna be pissed and they might weaken support for democrats in the future. but they're already pissed and many are already publicly blaming obama for economic weakness in spite of the unprecedented stimulus measures he's pushed through. so i'm operfectly happy to piss them off and try to keep our congressional majorities with a great, publically popular pick for CFPA.
By the way, there's more to Karl Smith's criticism of Warren, which is why I linked it, but it basically boiled down to she's too tough and she will have "confirmation bias", ie she thinks to banks need agressive regulation already and therefore will agresively regulate the banks even if the data doesn't warrant it. Well, lets just say i'm not too worried about the banks or their overregulation right now. After a couple decades of deregulation and growth in the financial industry's wealth and influence, i think they, their lobbyists and their pawns in congress are perfectly capable of looking after their interests.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
One of the most important and highly debated issues in the currently BASEL III negotiations is capital requirements. Capital requirements are regulations controlling the ratio of a bank’s capital to its risk weighted assets. This basically means banks much be able to absorb the unexpected loss of value to risky assets (think subprime mortgage loans, MBS’s, etc) with cash or highly liquid, non-risky assets they have. To be more specific:
Wikipedia.org - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capital
The big problem with the current capital requirements as defined by BASEL II is that it just doesn’t include lots of risky assets. These assets are called “off balance sheet”. This was apparently partially adressed in BASEL II but not implemented in the US till 2007, after the bubble was built on the back of overleveraged banks and other financial institutions with short term financing (often as short as overnight on REPO markets). But even after 2007, there remained the possibility to hide risky assets in off-balance sheet entities. Here’s an excerpt from a research paper explaining how a bank could take securitized MBS’s and hide them to circumvent the capital requirements, thus increasing leverage and risk for the institution and increasing the possibility of default and bankruptcy.
to consider an idealized securitization transaction whereby the originator, bound by
capital adequacy rules, sells a pool of assets to an off-balance-sheet entity. What is of
critical importance, however, is the issue exactly what kind of an off-balance sheet
entity takes control over the assets. It may be a special purpose vehicle (SPV), i.e. what
Gorton and Souleles (2005) call a bankruptcy remote, “robot firm,” with no employees,
no physical existence, and no capacity to make substantial economic decisions. SPVs
typically carry out predefined tasks of tranching pools of receivables obtained from the
originator into asset-backed securities which are then sold on the market in much the
same way as described above. Alternatively, the originating bank could set up an offbalance-
sheet conduit called structured investment vehicle (SIV), a physically existing,
managed and leveraged financial company whose purpose will be to undertake arbitrage
by buying long-term fixed-income assets from its sponsors to fund them with short-term
liabilities such as asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP).
As Shin (2008) astutely observes, the critical difference between SPVs and SIVs
stems from the fact that selling a loan is entirely different from issuing liabilities against
it. While the former – to the extent that loans are indeed passed down the chain –
contributes to spreading credit risk around the whole economic system, the latter keeps
it concentrated around the very bank that originates the loans and only hides it from the
regulators. As recognized by the IMF (2008, p. 69) in one of its latest reports on global
…SIVs and commercial paper conduits, are entities that allow financial institutions
to transfer risk off their balance sheet and permit exposures to remain mostly
undisclosed to regulators and investors; to improve the liquidity of loans through
securitization; to generate fee income; and to achieve relief from regulatory capital
So banks don’t want these requirements because it limits their ability to leverage and take risk and thus make tons of money. The biggest banks in particular believe they will not be allowed to fail and even if they are, the executives will still be rich and taxpayers or investors will take the hit. And the latest news is that the latest draft of BASEL III is watered down, weak tea.
“Early reports suggest that the final draft accord — agreed to by everyone except Germany so far — largely caved in on its definition of capital, which will allow banks a lot more leeway to skirt the new rules. It also, as expected, allows a long transition period before the new rules take effect. In return, it mandates a minimum leverage ratio. This would be great news except that the new minimum is 3%, or 33:1”-http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/07/are-bankers-winning-again
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Anyway, the good movie was "Sunshine" (2007). I'm amazed i had never heard of it, but i guess it didn't have any major actors. Or at least i didn't recognize anyone except cillian murphy who was in the dark knight. I won't go intop the plot since it doesn't sound all that great. And the way the handle the very end is kinds over the top and silly. But the writing and acting are great. the characters are well developed (for an ensemble action film) and the plot makes sense and holds together well. The story starts a bit slow and i was worried that it would be a straight ahead, mission to save the world thing. But after about 30 minutes things pick up, the plots more gripping and from there things are great (till tthe kinda wierdness in the end). So go watch it.
And secondly, my latest sci-fi book is Spin, was the hugo winner in 2006 or something. Its also very good. I'm halfway though so it may end up shit (like the sequel to that decent book about the trojan war reenacted on mars with robots and various god whose name i can't remember) but so far excellent. Once again, i'm impressed by complex characters, interesting plot and novel scientific ideas. anyway, someone's bothering me so i'm done. but go read it.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
On August 6, 1945, Yamaguchi was a 29-year-old engineer, preparing to leave Hiroshima, Japan, where he had been on a business trip. That morning, the crew of an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing some 140,000 people.
Yamaguchi suffered burns but survived, and made his way back home to Nagasaki -- just one day before another B-29 crew dropped another atomic bomb on that city on August 9, resulting in another 70,000 deaths.
The New York Times reports that Yamaguchi, recognized as the only official survivor of both bombings, died on Monday in Nagasaki of stomach cancer at the age of 93.