Well, if you ask me…

(apropos of this) …

The US guv-ment should buy bank-owned properties, thus flooding the banks with some liquid assets that they can then lend out to interested parties in those regions with massive foreclosures. This should make banks happy — not as happy as if they’d been able to flip those properties, but we demonize the individuals that tried to do that, so why should banks be allowed? (I KNOW I KNOW), but happier than if they eventually have to sell those properties in a fire-sale type of circumstance. Or, what the hell, let Goldman Sachs buy the properties, and then sell them to guv-ment in some sort of awesome collateralized bond deal. Isn’t this what creative destruction is supposed to be about? 

Then the government should rent those properties to individuals/households, or sell them at lower prices to people trying to move into those places. (I’m spit-balling, here.) There should be something similar going on in regions where people are trying to move out of — the government should buy the houses, then get paid back by those trying to move the hell over to where they could work if they could only find a way to move there (or is this still a problem? They talked about it a lot on NPR three months ago, I’m pretty sure).

What would be good about this? (1) Banks would have more capital to loan out — though holding companies might just force them to hold on to it, so hmm. (2) Businesses might have incentives to move to the places that the gov’t finally intervened in, if the banks were actually lending, and there seemed to be people around. (Although maybe they’ve all moved. Hmm.) (3) People might move back to those locations, if everything is about getting work these days. (But this hinges on (1) and (2) happening.)

The problems with this all seem to stem from highly profitable private sector entities, who were the root of the whole stupid crisis in the beginning. Oh yeah, and the whole ‘no guv-ment spending” everything. FTS.

If you had told me, at any point between summer of 1998 and the spring of 2001, that I would one day, willingly, drive to the Burlington High School track and self-administer a speed workout, I would have called you a filthy liar. #goseahorses!

One of the eternal questions:

It’s lousy outside (raining and snowing!) and I don’t have to make a four hour drive that I was all prepared for.

Should I make myself an omelet, or popcorn for breakfast?

I still love you, Nerds Rope

I still love you, Nerds Rope


An anatomical heart made up entirely of the words from a dissertation. He put tons of effort into studying a particular cardiac arrhythmia, noted below the heart, and instead of hanging fancy diplomas on the wall, he chose to immortalize his time and efforts into a piece of anatomical art. (via Street Anatomy)


An anatomical heart made up entirely of the words from a dissertation. He put tons of effort into studying a particular cardiac arrhythmia, noted below the heart, and instead of hanging fancy diplomas on the wall, he chose to immortalize his time and efforts into a piece of anatomical art. (via Street Anatomy)

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Go Bittman, Go Bittman, Go!


I think that this is an amazing piece … I didn’t realize that Bittman was class conscious (though I had never really read his columns), which makes me feel a whole lot better about his food politics (more local + more organic = more expensive, and harder for poor people to attain). 

It’s not that I disagree with the principles, ideals, and health reasons behind organic and local foods — I do agree, and I try to buy local and organic as often as possible, though it is expensive (because I also agree, in the small part of my brain that the alligator section tries, routinely, to dominate when it tells me to buy cheap Snickers bars, which I also love), because fundamentally, food — the nutrition, the art, the labor imbued within — is worth it. But I find arguments about people’s unwillingness to ‘vote with their dollars’ (another topic for another day) when they buy crap food because it is cheaper so context and nuance free … like, people’s bad choices about their food, their children’s health, and local agriculture are all short-hand for their inability to think/unwillingness to try/general ignorance. Anyways, it’s a longer story than that, and I am procrastinating, but good on Bittman. Is there anyone I can call? 

In way more depressing news, however, this: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/education/30professors.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

What is inequality good for?

Or, a (technically second) stab at some gin-u-wine content on this thing.

As my dissertation topic has veered, increasingly, toward the role of inequality in the generation of financial crises, I think, increasingly, about the costs of and reasons for inequality. “Reasons for” encompasses two meanings — what are current and historical causes of inequality, and what are the benefits of inequality? It feels repellant to type ‘benefits of inequality’, but I’ve been confronted by at least two mainstream media outlets that I generally read, appreciate, and even enjoy forcing me to think about it. Media outlet number 1 did so by criticizing a recently published book about inequality for not recognizing the fact that inequality serves a purpose, and media outlet number 2 said basically the same thing in the context of several recent pieces about the economic implications of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and the rest of “that part of the world” (because I can’t think of a good generalization that I feel comfortable applying).

The two competing arguments I can easily summarize about the benefits of inequality have diametric orientations, and I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that I wrestle with the two when I think about inequality in a well-rounded way.

Argument number 1: Inequality inspires people to work hard because it presents examples of the alternative of not working — evidence: people’s happiness tends to stem more from their relative well-being as opposed to their absolute well-being.

Argument number 2: Inequality gives powerful entities leeway to treat the powerless worse — Marx’s reserve army of labor is more desperate for work the larger that it grows, and thus more willing to engage in exploitative relations of production.

(Gross simplifications — I make them.)

I have a general plan to write more here about inequality and outcomes — some more tentative/speculative than others, but I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that my sympathies lie overwhelmingly more with the second argument than the first.

Belated punishment

Belated punishment

It is hard to be a cat.

It is hard to be a cat.