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Showing posts from April 20, 2014

an op ed from a mouse hole

As allegories move towards some threating point Where fact and magic clutch at your throat Remember – you don’t get the dynamics of this joint -         Don’t even think you have a vote. They call it homeland – cast a firelit glow Over the dude peeing in his pants On the corner – he’d been the first to go When they were downsizing the urban peasants. Yes, the bottle is now uncapped But we aren’t stuffing genies back inside it. You think you’re so special? You’ve just relapsed. That fucked over feeling, you’ll just have to hide it.

delusions in economics

This week, Ezra Klein reprinted an old speech given by the economist  Thomas Sargent in 2007 under the title: “ This graduation speech teaches you everything youneed to know about economics in 297 words.”   Given that Sargent is a “clintonian democrat”, I don’t think Klein meant to mock the man. However, the speech is a disaster, a series of bromides that do tell us a lot about the current intellectually bankrupt state of economics. For political reasons, about 1980, economics began to experience a huge increase in prestige. Although economists have long felt that their discipline was the physics of the social sciences, few other people did. But in the era of Reaganomics, when every big newspaper was adding a business section to the sports news and ‘living’, other people began to take the physics idea seriously. Sargent does us a favor by stripping down economics to the inspirational truisms that make it apparent that this is less about physics than about Babbitry, gussied up with mo

our Seneca

I know little about Seneca. In the back of my mind, I have the idea that his plays are disgusting and his moral philosophy derivative, although where these judgments come from I cannot tell. I know that he was studied by all the greats – Machievelli, Montaigne, Bacon – but I put this down to an exaggerated enthusiasm for Rome. So I had little reason to plunge into the article about Seneca’s and Nero’s suicides, Dying Every Day, by James Romm, in the winter Yale Review. Yet every once in a while I like to dive into a scholarly topic that I’m really not interested in, in the hope that I’ll broaden my horizons. I am an incorrigible optimist re those horizons, which – being horizons – are probably geographically and mathematically impervious to the broadening motivation. Nevertheless… Well, Romm’s article is excellent. Of course, I recognize that much of it regurgitates what every historian of the period knows – but it plays the facts to create a kind of Lehrstueck about tyranny and wha