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Greed's Bad Sister

When you read conservative and libertarian economists, you will inevitably, at one time or another, run into an interesting paradox: the envy paradox. While greed among this type is the good bad emotion, and has been since Mandeville pointed out the virtue of the vices in a system of markets, envy is the wicked sister, the bad bad emotion which we must shame. The reply, when one criticizes some billionaire, often rings this chime: you are envious! Myself, I'm envious as hell. And you can't take the truth (I'd shout back, Jack Nicholson style). Envy is just justice on a bad hair day. Prima facie, the diabolization of envy and soft focus on greed makes little sense. If you dub envy “aspiration”, hey presto, it becomes a virtue. Sell the sports car, sell the high end restaurant, use the envy - this is 101 Marketing. The Horatio Alger striver, realizing that capitalism is the best of all systems and the thing to do is to swim upstream and rescue the bankers daughter, is mucho
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The Great wrong place

  In his famous – and to my mind famously wrongheaded – essay about “mysteries”, W.H. Auden wrote: “Actually, whatever he may say, I think Mr. Chandler is interested in writing, not detective stories, but serious studies of a criminal milieu, the Great Wrong Place, and his powerful but extremely depressing hooks should be read and judged, not as escape literature, but as works of art.” We have long accepted not only Chandler but every motherfucker who writes as writing works of art. Art is a category,   not a laudative. The reason that this passage sticks with me is the naming of the Great Wrong Place. I have often felt like I have spent a considerable portion of my life   in the Great Wrong Place, and that it didn’t have to be like that. This is why, I suppose, I am so fascinated by seedy stories of crimes and misappropriations during the Cold War, and the entire history of that encounter between two bad options, squeezing us, the inhabitants of our various Great Wrong Places, i

A valedition: the party dress

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In what language do we read faces?

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what is wrong with Von Mises (Ludwig, not Richard)

  I ain’t satisfied at all, at all   with Jonathan Rée ’s London Review essay on Hayek. An essay in the form of a review, the classic LRB format. Ree starts out wrongfooting from the moment the runner is off his mark: in the first graf: “We s​ocialists like to hark back to better days, when ideals shone bright and principles stood tall: equality, fairness, democracy, internationalism, mutuality, jobs, education, food, housing, medicine, pensions, peace, friendship and love. But there is one strand of the tradition we prefer not to think about: the idea of putting an end to the wasteful chaos of capitalism by implementing a comprehensive economic plan.” “We socialists” here puts Ree on a definite side, from which he can pretty much cut away at socialism. This is the timehonored neoliberal stance of all the socialist parties that tossed themselves in the garbage in the post-Wall period – the French socialists, the Italian Olive tree, the English Labour party. In fact, of course, g

ChatGPT, Perceptual absorbance and machine dreams

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Chichikov and Charlie Javice

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