Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seeking Higher Ground

James Fallows in The Atlantic, in attempting to assess the real effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile system, perhaps unwittingly reveals why Israel continues to target Hamas missile sites in Gaza: Iron Dome is nowhere near 100% effective. Or at least not more effective than Hamas' strategy of apparently using civilians and civilian locations as shields. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), as an al-Jazeera commentator reported, at least attempts to warn civilians and avoid targeting civilians, although there is no denial that many innocents have been killed, as have many Israeli innocents been killed by suicide bombings in the past. Still, if the combatants or their supporters are brutally honest with themselves, (is there any other kind of honesty?), in a conflict of this nature, moral high ground is a relative thing, and, a difficult hill to climb. But for the moment, there is no end in sight, despite Israel's initial acceptance of an Egyptian-brokered cease fire. Hamas, it seems would rather sacrifice the last civilian victim to achieve its political ends, and, since clearly Israel can't rely solely on the Iron Dome to protect its citizens, it now appears ready to continue to attack targets in Gaza until the rocket barrage into Israel ceases. Nevertheless, the non-combatant, and innocent civilians, will continue to be victims.

"When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

VV: Bob Marley and "The White Album": How a Legend Became - Posthumously- an Household Name

From Chris Kornelis in the Village Voice: 'Robinson believed he could sell a million copies of the album, but to do it he would have to repackage not just a collection of songs but Marley himself. "My vision of Bob from a marketing point of view," Robinson says, "was to sell him to the white world." '

Full article on the late Bob Marley and the impact of the LEGEND album here

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes CSN at Woodstock  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-azgwfnZu7c&sns=em


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Inequality Isn't Inevitable

"We are not embracing a politics of envy if we are reversing a politics of greed":Economist  Joseph E. Stiglitz on how politics - and not the magical
Hand of the Market- shape current economic imbalances. And how politics and democracy will be required to change them. For the wealthy to compare tax increases to the rise of the Nazis suggests things have gone way off track in the USA. Social Responsibility and not just Noblesse Oblige are required. Read The Great Divide in the NYT http://nyti.ms/1qRBiks

Monday, June 23, 2014

Alan Turing: June 23, 1914 - June 7, 1954

Alan Mathison TuringOBEFRS (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was a British mathematician, logiciancryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development ofcomputer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with theTuring machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. Turing is widely considered as the "Father of Theoretical Computer Science andArtificial Intelligence.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

When Drones Fall....

Over 400 drones have crashed since 2001, many internationally at scenes of various US l'aventurra, but also in the US, according to Federal military records

"Quantam" Leap of Number of Refugees Worldwide: NY Times

The NY Times reports "We are not facing an increasing trend, we are really facing a quantum leap,” in the number of refugees worldwide,  the head of the UN refugee agency told reporters in Geneva, noting that close to 11 million people were newly displaced in 2013. Half the world’s population of displaced people are children, he added, the highest level in a decade.  NY Times reports that the number of people displaced by violent conflict hit the highest level since World War II at the end of 2013, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, António Guterres, said in a report released on Friday, warning that “peace is dangerously in deficit.”

"Pushed up dramatically by the war in Syria, the total number of people displaced by violence reached more than 51 million at the end of 2013, according to the agency’s “Global Trends” report for the year. This included 33.3 million people who fled violence but remained in their own country and 16.7 million refugees who fled to neighboring countries, it said.

Full article:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Freeway to Mars

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to put humans on Mars and bring them back home to Earth within 10 - 12 years - that's decades BEFORE NASA's own projections. High tech and transportation all fit into Musk's pursuit of interplanetary travel. Space is indeed The Place. Article here http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/184640-spacex-says-it-will-put-humans-on-mars-by-2026-almost-10-years-ahead-of-nasa?wpisrc=nl%5fswbd

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Income Inequality: The Topic for Our Time

On Monday, more than 10,000 MoveOn members across the country gathered online to watch Senator Elizabeth Warren and acclaimed economist Thomas Piketty discuss income inequality. 

If you missed it or want to watch it again, check out the replay here—along with Sen. Warren and Dr. Piketty's shout-out to MoveOn members and Sen. Warren's special message at the end to MoveOn members.


Dr Thomas Piketty and US Senator Elizabeth Warren 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Reverie: "Taking a Chance on Love"


Ethel Waters and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, "Taking a Chance on Love" from Cabin in the Sky.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Crooner's Delight: New from Bob Dylan - Full Moon and Empty Arms



From Spirits in the Night, a forthcoming album by Bob Dylan, a performance of a Frank Sinatra tune.

A nice article on Dylan, his love for the voice, music and moods of Frank and other giants of American popular music, and a little detective work on what seems to be our own musical giant's next forthcoming album, appears in UNCUT UK here

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Piketty Factor: "Capital in the 21st Century" - The right book for the "Right" Time?

Economist Thomas Piketty's book, "Capital in the 21st Century" is already causing a stir in media, political and economic circles for its analysis on the negative impact of extreme capital accumulation on growth. In essence, he posits that, for the many, inheritance will matter more, much more, than individual merit and hard work. That is, the increase in wealth in capital will prove inversely proportional to the increase in employment and related growth needed for the expansion of the overall economy, not only for the expansion of those at the very highest levels. The Paris School of Economics professor's book is dense, theoretical and scholarly, but references a great deal of data and research. It provides a more academic foundation to the more anecdotal and intuitive sense that, while things are proceeding very, Very, VERY, VERY well for some, for many others, things are not going well at all in the present, and the prospects for the future, especially for succeeding generations, either the young or those on fixed incomes or facing retirement, are not looking promising at all. Since the last decades of the 20th century, and into the 21st, the hegemony of the Right-based ideology of an anti-government free market corporate society, as we move into this era of advanced capitalism, denied the importance of equality and true opportunity for all segments of society in favor of a trickle down theory. Following the 2008 economic collapse, despite the marginal increases in financial regulation, the resurgent stock market was accompanied by sluggish employment. Where economic growth occurred, it was for those who already held a lot of wealth. For those who did not hold capital, specifically for salaried employees and wage workers, growth has languished, or worse.

Whether he is "on the money" or not, a fresh view is needed and that may be what "Capital in the 21st Century" can provide. The book, and much of the writing surrounding the debate of his book and ideas, will no doubt become required reading in New York's City Hall, where Mayor Bill deBlasio has made the issue of inequality a central issue in his recent election campaign and, hopefully, his administration. It also needs to be discussed in the White House where President Obama has recently cited the issue as well.
--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

What follows is Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn's Piketty Primer:

Thomas Piketty's Book "Capital in the 21st Century" (Harvard University Press) - excerpt here
Excerpt of the excerpt: "In a way, we are in the same position at the beginning of the twenty-first century as our forebears were in the early nineteenth century: we are witnessing impressive changes in economies around the world, and it is very difficult to know how extensive they will turn out to be or what the global distribution of wealth, both within and between countries, will look like several decades from now. The economists of the nineteenth century deserve immense credit for placing the distributional question at the heart of economic analysis and for seeking to study long-term trends. Their answers were not always satisfactory, but at least they were asking the right questions. There is no fundamental reason why we should believe that growth is automatically balanced. It is long since past the time when we should have put the question of inequality back at the center of economic analysis and begun asking questions first raised in the nineteenth century. For far too long, economists have neglected the distribution of wealth, partly because of [economist] Kuznets’s optimistic conclusions [about the inevitable historical decline of inequality, but which was not based on empirical research] and partly because of the profession’s undue enthusiasm for simplistic mathematical models based on so-called representative agents. If the question of inequality is again to become central, we must begin by gathering as extensive as possible a set of historical data for the purpose of understanding past and present trends. For it is by patiently establishing facts and patterns and then comparing different countries that we can hope to identify the mechanisms at work and gain a clearer idea of the future."

Stephen Erlanger in the NY Times: Taking on Adam Smith (and Karl Marx) here
Excerpt: "The last part of the book presents Mr. Piketty’s policy ideas. He favors a progressive global tax on real wealth (minus debt), with the proceeds not handed to inefficient governments but redistributed to those with less capital. “We just want a way to share the tax burden that is fair and practical,” he said.

"Net wealth is a better indicator of ability to pay than income alone, he said. “All I’m proposing is to reduce the property tax on half or three-quarters of the population who have very little wealth,” he said."

John Cassidy in the The New Yorker Inequality by the Numbers: Thomas Piketty's Inequality Story in Six Charts here

John Cassidy in the New Yorker: Is Surging Inequality Endemic to Capitalism? here

Moyers and Company - Perspectives on Piketty here
National Review: Technology will save us. Dean Baker: Provides valuable insights. American Prospect: deTocqueville 2.0. More.



Pascal-Emanuel Gobry in Forbes: The Conservative Case for Thomas Piketty here
Excerpt: "But on his proposals on inequality, I think this quote aptly sums up his project–which happens to be one I share: ”my point is not at all to destroy wealth. My point is to increase wealth mobility and to increase access to wealth.”

Time Magazine on Why Thomas Piketty is Freaking Out the Super-Wealthy here
Excerpt here:

"Piketty’s 15 years of painstaking data collection—he poured over centuries worth of tax records in places like France, the U.S., Germany, Japan and the U.K—provides clear proof that in lieu of major events like World Wars or government interventions like the New Deal, the rich take a greater and greater share of the world’s economic pie. That’s because the gains on capital (meaning, investments) outpace those on GDP. Result: people with lots of investments take a bigger chunk of the world’s wealth, relative to everyone else, with every passing year. The only time that really changes is when the rich lose a bundle (as they often do in times of global conflict) or growth gets jump started via rebuilding (as it sometimes does after wars).
This is particularly true in times of slow growth like what we’ve seen over the last few years. I’ve written any number of columns and blogs about how quantitative easing has buoyed the stock market, but not really provided the kind of kick that we needed to boost wage growth in the real economy, because it mostly benefits people who hold stocks–that’s the wealthiest 25 % of us. Meanwhile, consumption and wage growth remain stagnant. And as Piketty’s book makes so uncomfortably clear, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. No wonder I saw an advertisement for a storage company on the subway the other day that read, “The French aristocracy didn’t see it coming, either.”

"That’s one of Piketty’s biggest messages–inequality will slowly but surely undermine the population’s faith in the system. He doesn’t believe, as Marx did, that capitalism would simply burn itself out over time. In fact, he says that the more perfect and advanced markets become (at least, in economic terms), the better they work and the more fully they serve the rich. But he does believe that rising inequality leads to a less perfect union, and a likelihood of major social unrest that mirrors the sort that his native France went through in the late 1700s. Indeed, the subsequent detailed collection of wealth data in the form of elaborate income and tax records made France a particularly rich data collection ground for his book. (Bureaucracy is good for something!)

"My feeling about this book is similar to that of New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman. It’s going to be remembered as the economic tome of our era. Basically, Piketty has finally put to death, with data, the fallacies of trickle down economics and the Laffer curve, as well as the increasingly fantastical notion that we can all just bootstrap our way to the Forbes 400 list. It’s telling and important that Piketty credits his work to the fact that he didn’t forge his economic career in the States, as so many top thinkers do, because he was put off by the profession’s obsession with unrealistic mathematical models, which blossomed in the 1980s to the exclusion of almost all other ideas and disciplines, and the false ideologies that they were used to justify. “The truth is that economics should ever have sought to divorce itself from the other social sciences and can only advance in conjunction with them,” he argues.
Indeed, had more top economists followed the lead of other social scientists and ditched their black box models in favor of spending time in the field—meaning on Main Street, where trickle down theory hasn’t ever really worked—they might have come to the same conclusions that Piketty has. We can only hope that the politicians crafting today’s economic programs will take this book to heart>"

Piketty: "Income Equality "Completely Useless" here
Excerpt: "If you'd like to live in Downton Abbey, the good news is that our economy has entered a second Gilded Age of opulence and elegance.

The bad news is that you'll likely end up among the vast majority stuck sweating in the kitchen.

In a new book, Thomas Piketty, the French economist who helped popularize the notion of a privileged 1 percent, sounds a grim warning: The U.S. economy has begun to decay into the aristocratic Europe of the 19th century. Hard work will matter less, inherited wealth more. The fortunes of the few will unsettle the foundations of democracy.

The research Piketty showcases in his book, "Capital in the 21st Century," has set the economics field ablaze. Supporters cite his work as proof that the wealth gap must be narrowed. Critics dismiss him as a left-wing ideologue."

Paul Krugman in the NY Times on "The Piketty Panic" -- unable to refute, the right resorts to name calling. Column here
Excerpt: "The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling — in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue."






Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo