Brad returns!

by Gimpei | 13:08 in | comments (0)

Oh joyful day. Brad Delong has returned to the Daily Gimpei. Witness this comment to my latest post. It is surely the finest example of the synthesis of the Sinnestrieb ("the sensuous drive") and Formtrieb ("the formal drive") into the Spieltrieb ("the play drive") since Schiller himself! It is short and yet it contains worlds:

I *do* have a day job...
In honor of this most auspicious event, I do hereby declare April the 24th Brad Delong day, and will heretofore add him to my blogroll.

P.S. Brad may be off the hook, but there's still the little matter of Malaysia. Despite my entreaties, I haven't gotten a single hit! Watch out Malaysia, I'm posting photoshoped naked pictures of you unless I see some results.

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Where are you Brad?

by Gimpei | 18:23 in | comments (1)

Brad where are you? Was the shoulder rub bad? Did you not approve of my grappa? I made it myself from the grape residue left over from some wine I also made myself. Did I mention that I did it the old fashion way, stomping on the grapes like a... person who stomps a lot. Please come back, even if you aren't the real Brad Delong. The illusion of a famous visitor is enough for me. I hate being disillusioned; I want to be reillusioned. More illusioning damn it!

P.S. Don't make me photoshop your head onto nude pictures.

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OMG OMG OMG. Warren Ellis + GI Joe. This is too good to be true. I keep slapping myself in case it's all actually a dream, but no it's real! I always liked Transformers, but GI Joe definitely had better storylines. Like the one where a Iceberg gets turned into a killer whale, or when dusty gets transported into an alternate universe where Cobra is good and GI Joe is bad, except there are no goatees! Now all they need to do is bring back Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. I think Alan Moore would be good for this one. After all, they had to recite poems in order to get their abilities to activate.

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Things are really heating up in the comment section to my post on Brad Delong's blog. A little context, Robin is taking issue with Brad Delong's critique of the media's reportage of a book by Amity Shlaes that questions the success of the New Deal. Brad thinks the book is deeply flawed and that its flaws aren't being properly emphasized by the media. Robin's response follows.

If a book says the earth is not round and congressmen and congresswomen are quoting it, then I do want to know what the hell they're thinking, or not thinking. Like Bush, I don't want to hear their whole argument or reality's forceful rebuttal. I just want to get a sense of this phenomenon on its own terms -- which de long is unwilling, but not ill-equipped, to do. I also want to know the arguments for the world ending in 2012 -- I don't need Brad DeLong to tell me it's not going to end on that date. And I don't really need a piece in the article saying "Experts say the world isn't going to end."

I think, Brad -- whether you be real or fake -- that you over-estimate the imprimatur those articles give Shlaes's opinion and under-estimate how interesting people like Shlaes and their arguments are, whether or not they're right. And i also think you over-estimate how effective your rebuttals are.

For instance, your attack on Updike got all the right points about where Updike was wrong about Shlaes being factually wrong. Good stuff! But you really couldn't think why anyone would want to know Updike's take on this book, whether or not he knew anything about Aggregate Demand? I loved your dismantling of all his and her errors. But you didn't give any credit to Updike for being sarcastic about her book throughout his summaries -- the rebuttal doesn't come at the end, it comes in little stabs like "in a bold stroke of pyschologizing" "[FDR] was more charming, she has to admit, than Hoover" and the condemnation of her style and structure - which for Updike perhaps isn't all, but enough to expose her as a sham. The point is he didn't need to be an economist to see through her. His mockery of her is as effective as yours, if not more so, for being so wry and charming in its Updikean way. And you also condemn him for his little novelistic take on the 1930s at the end. Jesus! I found that part really interesting, but I guess only economists can discuss those 10 years of history now. god forbid the New York Times ever quote Steinbeck again. Or Dos Passos. I'd actually enjoy your reading of Steinbeck, even though you'd apparently be utterly deaf to his style (or lack of it).

I'm objecting to the tone more than anything else: you get angry in a way that your supporters will cheer and the people who disagree will look elsewhere and the people who don't care will wonder why you're shouting. And you also come across as something of a cultural commisar, which is mean and absurd to say, given how generous you are with your thoughts when in a good mood and given that you're blogging. But your attitude when you want to fight your corner is basically what made Pravda so boring and useless: no need to give any time to enemies of the state, the central committee already established months ago they were ideologically and factually unsound.

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A new visitor!

by Gimpei | 22:42 in | comments (0)

One of the responses to my post on Brad Delong's was from a visitor named... Brad!

Is that you Professor Delong? If so, sit back in my massage chair, relax and make yourself at home. See that art deco liquor cabinet to your right, go ahead and open it. Feel free to pour yourself a snifter; I recommend the grappa.

What, you're leaving already? Have some more grappa... You look tense, would you like a shoulder rub? If you're an impostor, I'll be really angry. Actually, I really need the traffic. Check out my post on slate!

Don't mind that Robin guy who criticized you in the comments section; he's just being defensive because he's a journalist.

Between you and me, journalists are all lazy rubes. They're constantly writing on a deadline, so they don't have the time to check anything they say. Hell, they're so pressed for time that they often let the PR directors of the companies they're supposed to be monitoring write their copy.

As for journalists not reporting accurately on Keynes, the great depression, etc., agreed, criticize away!

At the same time, are you really surprised that the reporting is bad? The subject matter is complicated to the point of incomprehensibility. It's like asking someone to explain Hegel. Nobody understands Hegel, not even... Hegel! Now imagine trying to condense your explanation into a 250 word article. What would you do in this situation? What would you do?!

I know what I'd do: panic and call the first person I could find who could say something about Hegel. I wouldn't be stupid enough to call two people because they'd probably disagree leaving me back at square one. Then I'd send the copy off to my editor as quickly as possible. If it's biased, so what, it's the editor's job to fix that. Besides, I have forty minutes to get something out on Merleau-Ponty. Aaaah.

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Where did Brad Delong's blog title, grasping reality with both hands, come from. Am I alone in finding it extremely irritating? I hope its derived from some famous quote; otherwise it's a perfect example of a horrifically overwritten title, like A Heartbreaking Jerk of Staggering Penis, only worse since there's no irony.

P.S. I do enjoy the blog, I just hate clicking on that title everyday in google reader.

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Crazy ass business card

by Gimpei | 09:29 in | comments (0)

I think the japanese might appreciate these, but the man has to do something about cost.

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Kahneman has some spot on analysis of the use of models in economics. The basic idea seems to be that people want models even if they don't work, because the illusion of certainty they provide is preferable to the reality of a world that is random and uncontrollable.

Reminds me a bit of the recent article on witch hunting in which Johann Hari theorizes that witch-hunting in the Congo is a way for people whose lives have been surrounded by death to regain some control. The collective misfortune of the community becomes the responsibility of the witch, and the witch's killing acts as a communal catharsis.

This also seems to relate to survivor's guilt and the tendency for people who have lost loved ones to feel a responsibility for their death. I've always thought of both of these phenomena as a way of asserting control: better to blame yourself than to accept the fact that the universe is fundamentally chaotic and that awful things can happen at any time for no reason and you can't do a thing about it. But I digress, enjoy the excerpts of the Kahneman's interview below:

Prof. Daniel Kahneman has dozens, perhaps hundreds, of stories about people's irrational behavior when it comes to making economic decisions. ... But the story Kahneman recalls when asked about the economic models at the root of the current financial crisis is actually taken from history, not an experiment. It concerns a group of Swiss soldiers who set out on a long navigation exercise in the Alps. The weather was severe and they got lost. After several days, with their desperation mounting, one of the men suddenly realized he had a map of the region.

They followed the map and managed to reach a town. When they returned to base and their commanding officer asked how they had made their way back, they replied, "We suddenly found a map." The officer looked at the map and said, "You found a map, all right, but it's not of the Alps, it's of the Pyrenees."

According to Kahneman, the moral of the story is that some of our economic models, perhaps those of the investment world, are worthless. But individual investors need security - maps of the Pyrenees - even if they are, in effect, worthless. ...

"In the last half year, the models simply didn't work. So the question arises: Why do people use models? I liken what is happening now to a system that forecasts the weather, and does so very well. People know when to take an umbrella when they leave the house, or when it will snow. Except what? The system can't predict hurricanes. Do we use the system anyway, or throw it out? It turns out they'll use it."

Okay, so they use it. But why don't they buy hurricane insurance?

"The question is, how much will the hurricane insurance cost? Since you can't predict these events, you would have to take out insurance against many things. If they had listened to all the warnings and tried to prevent these things, the economy would look a lot different than it does now. So an interesting question arises: After this crisis, will we arrive at something like that? It's hard for me to believe."

The financial world's models are built on the assumption that investors are rational. You have shown that not only are they not rational, they even deviate from what is rational or statistical, in predictable, systematic ways. Can we say that whoever recognized and accepted these deviations could have seen this crisis coming?

"It was possible to foresee, and some people did. ... I have a colleague at Princeton who says there were exactly five people who foresaw this crisis, and this does not include ... Ben Bernanke. One of them is Prof. Robert Shiller, who also predicted the previous bubble. The problem is there were other economists who predicted this crisis, like Nouriel Roubini, but he also predicted some crises that never came to be."

He was one of those who predicted 10 crises out of three.

"Ten out of three is a pretty good record, relatively. But I conclude from the fact that only five people predicted the current crisis that it was impossible to predict it. In hindsight, it all seems obvious: Everyone seemed to be blind, only these five appeared to be smart. But there were a lot of smart people who looked at the situation and knew all the facts, and they did not predict the crisis." ...

The interesting psychological problem is why economists believe in their theory, but this is the problem with the theory, any theory. It leads to a certain blindness. It's difficult to see anything that deviates from it."

We only look for information that supports the theory and ignore the rest. "Correct..." ...

Let's end with your story of the Swiss soldiers and the map of the Pyrenees. I know why the map helped the soldiers: it gave them confidence. But why didn't they use a map of the Alps? Why don't we use the right economic models, ones that are relevant to extreme cases as well?

"Look, it's possible that there simply is no map of the Alps, that there is nothing that can predict hurricanes."

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There is a sadness

by Gimpei | 09:08 in | comments (0)

Avid readers of the Daily Gimpei will remember my description of Updike as a "penis with a typewriter". While Updike may not have liked this characterization, I think J.G. Ballard would have found it quite apropos. Alas, he can appreciate it no more for he has passed away.

I leave you now with some excerpts of Ballard's classic "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan."

WHY I WANT TO FUCK RONALD REAGAN [1967] by JG Ballard [excerpt from "The Atrocity Exhibition" ]

RONALD REAGAN AND THE CONCEPTUAL AUTO DISASTER. Numerous studies have been conducted upon patients in terminal paresis (GPI), placing Reagan in a series of simulated auto crashes, e.g. multiple pileups, head-on collisions, motorcade attacks (fantasies of Presidential assassinations remained a continuing preoccupation, subject showing a marked polymorphic fixation on windshields and rear trunk assemblies). Powerful erotic fantasies of an anal-sadistic surrounded the image of the Presidential contender.

Subjects were required to construct the optimum auto disaster victim by placing a replica of Reagan’s head on the unretouched photographs of crash fatalities.

In 82% of cases massive rear-end collisions were selected with a preference for expressed fecal matter and rectal hemorrhages. Further tests were conducted to define the optimum model-year. These indicate that a three year model lapse with child victims provide the maximum audience excitation (confirmed by manufacturers’ studies of the optimum auto disaster). It is hoped to construct a rectal modulous of Reagan and the auto disaster of maximized audience arousal.

Motion picture studies of Ronald Reagan reveal characteristic patterns of facial tones and musculature associated with homoerotic behavior. The continuing tension of buccal sphincters and the recessive tongue role tally with earlier studies of facial rigidity (cf., Adolf Hitler, Nixon). Slow-motion cine films of campaign speeches exercised a marked erotic effect upon an audience of spastic children. Even with mature adults the verbal material was found to have a minimal effect, as demonstrated by substitution of an edited tape giving diametrically opposed opinions...

INCIDENCE OF ORGASMS IN FANTASIES OF SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH RONALD REAGAN. Patients were provided with assembly kit photographs of sexual partners during intercourse. In each case Reagan’s face was super imposed upon the original partner. Vaginal intercourse with "Reagan" proved uniformly disappointing, producing orgasm in 2% of subjects.

Axillary, buccal, navel, aural, and orbital modes produced proximal erections. The preferred mode of entry overwhelmingly proved to be the rectal. After a preliminary course in anatomy it was found that the caecum and transverse colon also provided excellent sites for excitation. In an extreme 12% of cases, the simulated anus of post-costolomy surgery generated spontaneous orgasm in 98% of penetrations. Multiple-track cine-films were constructed of "Reagan" in intercourse during (a) campaign speeches, (b) rear-end auto collisions with one and three year model changes, (c) with rear exhaust assemblies...

SEXUAL FANTASIES IN CONNECTION WITH RONALD REAGAN. The genitalia of the Presidential contender exercised a continuing fascination. A series of imaginary genitalia were constructed using (a) the mouth parts of Jacqueline Kennedy, (b) a Cadillac, (c) the assembly kid prepuce of President Johnson...In 89% of cases, the constructed genitalia generated a high incidence of self-induced orgasm. Tests indicate the masturbatory nature of the Presidential contender’s posture. Dolls consisting of plastic models of Reagan’s alternate genitalia were found to have a disturbing effect on deprived children.

REAGAN'S HAIRSTYLE. Studies were conducted on the marked fascination exercised by the Presidential contender’s hairstyle. 65% of male subjects made positive connections between the hairstyle and their own pubic hair. A series of optimum hairstyles were constructed.

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Those crazy Japanese

by Gimpei | 15:48 in | comments (0)

From Japan Today:

A 34-year-old man was charged with assault on Wednesday, accused of wiping saliva on a woman’s coat while she was sleeping on a Keihin Tohoku line train.

Police said Nobufumi Kamigaki, a resident of Yokohama City, wiped saliva he had put in his hand on the left shoulder of the 23-year-old woman sitting next to him, at around 7.10 a.m. Wednesday. Train security personnel on board happened to see the incident and escorted the man off the train at Tsurumi station, handing him over to police.

Kamigaki has admitted to wiping saliva on the woman’s clothes and told police he had done it to about 20 women since the end of last year, telling police: “I wanted to make beautiful women dirty.”

I wonder if he's named Gimpei too...

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Once more I have stolen a delightful clip from boing boing for your viewing pleasure.

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