02/26 Open Thread: Today is Most Holy Immobile Earth Day
On this day in 1616 in a desperate attempt to prop up sacred superstitions, the church banned Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaulti de Galilei from teaching or defending the nefarious heretical idea that the earth orbited the sun. They did this, mind you, for his own good, for his and for ours, and it was a blessed and holy event.
Meanwhile, back to reality, more or less
Let us briefly discuss Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico's President, commonly known as AMLO. He has much to teach the world, starting with this little quotation:
“In Mexico the governing class constitutes a gang of plunderers…. Mexico will not grow strong if our public institutions remain at the service of the wealthy elites.”
which is from his book A New Hope for Mexico, or at least it is so reported in Mexico’s AMLO Shows How It’s Done, a February 11 article in Counterpunch by Ellen Brown. ( https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/11/mexicos-amlo-shows-how-its-done/ ) Of course, instead of "Mexico" it should say "so called western liberal democracies", but that is a mere quibble. The article is short, but difficult to excerpt within the confines of fair use, so you really should read it. It is concerned with Obrador's goal of creating an economy that that improves human welfare and doesn't simply boost GDP. In particular, it focuses on his plan, already being implemented, to build and open 2,700 branches of a government owned bank by sometime in 2021.Yep, a nationwide public banking system. Definitely worth a read..
This could be quite a wide ranging topic; most politicians, most of what they say, propose and promise, most salespersons, ditto, advertising, PR, press releases, government promouncements, and on and on and on. Here I'm simply going to talk about a couple of articles I ran across. Welcome to the Era of Fake Products published in Wirecutter on 02-11-2020 deals pretty specifically with e-commerce, and, as a result, a lot of it is about Amazon, not-the-river,(tm). ( https://thewirecutter.com/blog/amazon-counterfeit-fake-products/) The intro highlights a major culprit:
Imagine walking into your local grocery store and seeing two virtually identical cartons of milk right next to each other. The only discernible difference—and it’s barely discernible—is that there’s a tiny tag on one carton saying the milk is sold by a third-party seller. Oh, and it might have rat poop in it.
This scenario isn’t all that far from what’s happening in e-commerce retailers’ massive, hard-to-police markets of third-party sellers.
Its a fairly short article chock full of data, information, studies, scary tales and real dangers. The final section, How to be smarter about fakes has some advice, good advice, but I wish it had more. All the same, its a good read.
Meanwhile, Garbage Language Why do corporations speak the way they do? by Molly Young, published in New York Magazine on February 17, 2020, and republished at Vulture.com on February 20, 2020 takes a look at corporatespeak, that fascinating pompous gibberish that made bullshit bingo a nationwide overnight sensation. It is an entertaining and humorous look at how said bullspeak arose in various milieus, how and why it continues to arise and evolve, and what it is really all about, replete with examples and sporadic pearls of insight such as
You can always track the assimilation of garbage language by its shedding of scare quotes; in 1911, “initiative” and “incentive” were still cloaked in speculative punctuation.
At my own workplaces, the New Age–speak mingled recklessly with aviation metaphors (holding pattern, the concept of discussing something at the 30,000-foot level), verbs and adjectives shoved into nounhood (ask, win, fail, refresh, regroup, creative, sync, touchbase), nouns shoved into verbhood (whiteboard, bucket), and a heap of nonwords that, through force of repetition, became wordlike (complexify, co-execute, replatform, shareability, directionality).
It was a fun read and a good diversion from all that is going on these days.
Key Economic Indicators
Mars Bars?? How Fast Food Reveals Secrets of the Economy ( BBC via Pocket: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/how-fast-food-reveals-secrets-of-the-...) Takes one from the Pizza Principle to the Waffle House Index as alternative metrics for divining the state of the economy or condition of some element thereof. After reading it, I had a heightened sense and appreciation of how one could invent and use many alternative metrics to get a handle on many different aspects of economic health and reality. In a sense, this has already been out there insofar as one can use various data points to recognize the size, scope and prevalence of things like food deserts which will, in turn, throw light on both economic and nutritional/biological health. (There is an interesting tie back to AMLO here, with his beliefs that where the market based business model fails to provide certain goods and services to identifiable sectors, segments and locations, then the government should step in to provide said goods and services there.) I don't know if the pizza principle could be useful to anybody unless expanded upon, but the Waffle House index could obviiously be put to use by both aid providers and economic vultures. Of course, the conclusions to be drawn from the use of some of these indicators will depend upon the assumptions one brings to the table. For example, the article states that:
How much will a Big Mac cost you in Lima? Or Abu Dhabi? The answers can tell you a lot about “purchasing power parity (PPP)” – whether exchange rates mean that a product costs the same in different countries. A tool to make this theory more “digestible” was launched by The Economist in 1986. It allows comparison of several base currencies to others around the world. As they wrote this month: “A Big Mac currently costs $5.06 in America but just 10.75 lira ($2.75) in Turkey, implying that the lira is undervalued.”
Perhaps the Turks simply know the difference between food and farce, or have been improperly propagandized or don't cater to their children to the degree USians do, or maybe those kids don't find Ronald McDoofus to be at all cool. There are a great many things that would lead a rational analyst lacking cultural blinders to think that the price disparity noted is solid evidence that both the dollar and the Big Mac are horribly overvalued. I, for one, certainly find that to be an equally probable view.
At any rate, a quick read that is also worth reading.
have a good one
Title Image is from page 335 of "Dialogo di Galileo Galilei Linceo matematico sopraordinario dello studio di Pisa."
It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours