Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adult Videos

I've always found it strange that pornographic films are often euhponised as "Adult Films" or "Adult Videos". Don't worry, I'm not here to judge anyone or second guess the natural instincts of men when thrown through a perversion, I just find it strange that "adult" can reference both maturity and immaturity.

In any case, welcome to Adult Videos here at TLATL. Sometimes (often), I get sick of reading and it's nice to be able to watch and listen. In fact I often find myself challenging people who seem to live in books or who hold the act of reading even above the act of living itself. Why aren't videos a good way to learn?

First off, to get your juices going, here is a video of a freely elected Congressman from the 4th district of Georgia, expressing his concern that some military decision to shift troops around might run the risk of capsizing the island of Guam.

Fear not, dear Viewer, we are not all equally paying a share of this man's $174,000 salary. Some are paying more of it than others.

Hilarity and insanity aside, far more "normal" Congressmen say slightly less dumb but far more harmful things all the time, and we vote for them too. But not every person in Congress is saying dumb things. Some are saying truly interesting things that not everyone agrees with and that certainly not every Congressman will go for, in spite of its possible necessity or even moral righteousness. Congressman Ron Paul dishes out some harshes through an Elmer Fudd facade to make sure that our folks on Capitol Hill don't get too congratulatory for their job well done. This little ditty was given in support of a bill that temporarily suspends the automatic annual payraises given to our friends (like our friend, Rep Hank Johnson, above) in Congress. You'd think not giving yourself a raise would be a slam dunk, feel good in Congress, if for nothing else the political symbolism.

Dude, quit harshing my mellow.

Finally, make some popcorn. Here comes a real Adult Video. This woman's name is Elizabeth Warren. You may have heard of her already, she's an Obama darling. She is currently the Czar of something in our country (the Congressional Oversight Panel) and is a very smart cookie. Rolling Stone did a decent number on her a couple weeks ago. This video is of her presentation some time ago at Berkely about the statistics describing the disappearance of the middle class. It's a long Adult Video, nearly an hour. I recommend skipping to minute 6, unless you like introductions and fluff. Sorry for the pun.

Three things strike me from this video. 1) It's a very interesting story, though it appears to be a story of symptoms rather than causes. 2) She appeals to her audience at the end to justify her work by linking it to the plight of poverty in our country, as if the disappearance of the middle class wasn't an alarming enough thing to arouse the elite academics in the room. 3) Would regulations, even well-guided ones, really prevent stuff like this from happening again? As she points out in her RS interview, and as I certainly believe, the only way anything will carry any weight is to sever the tie between Private Risks and Public Insurance.

Happy watching, dear Viewers.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Money, Ball

With the nation still dry-heaving its way through this economic hangover, nothing palliates the soul like the beginning of baseball season. We've already seen a 20 inning game and the first no hitter of the season. Even the Astros have finally won a game. Good times, good times.

If you're not lucky enough to be at the game in your town, I'm lining up some reading and listening, dear Reader, for your spring leisure. These articles are loosely related to each other. First is the news that the government is coming after Goldman Sachs. This gives me a glimmer of hope. However, we'll see if it goes anywhere for a couple reasons: a) most of the high ranking gov't financial officials are from Goldman Sachs, and b) with all the shenanigans that clearly happened, how much of it was actually and more importantly, provably illegal? (sort of begs the question if regulation would even work?) Not sure of the implication of this being a civil vs. a criminal type thing.

This next link was forwarded to me the other day by a friend about a hedge fund that was very active in the creation of the financial mess, though again, it's questionable if they did anything illegal. The first 40 minutes of this mp3 are very interesting. Although it may unfairly imply that Magnetar was the main culprit or main agent that caused this whole thing, it at least explains very clearly how some of the worst aspects of it happened. Though, don't forget that none of this could have happened without the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates far too low or without the implicit backing that the Fed and Treasury have given to Wall Street in the event of past and future failures. In other words, the implication is that if we had regulated Magnetar, we could have prevented this, however, the very people we would supposedly trust to regulate Wall Street not only failed to regulate it or themselves but financially encouraged these types of behavior. But a very well done and informative show.

Finally, and this one may be harder to swallow, but it is some commentary by William Deresiewicz about the disadvantages of an elite education. The reason I offer this for consideration is related to the tight link between the Ivy League and our government financial institutions (e.g., Goldman Sachs and the Federal Researve). Do we not give passes to too many people simply because they are "smart" and went to a top school? Perhaps we would change our perspective if we considered that Harvard may be producing more crooks every year than Harlem.

But back to baseball. At a recent game in Milwaukee, I was dismayed to find the triangle nacho chip had infiltrated Miller Park as well. Is nothing sacred? A couple nice reads about the Boys of Summer. First, is an interesting ranking of the organizations of baseball. Boston and St. Louis top the list, and I'll let you find out for yourselves who is at the bottom. Then, a nice little blog about the latest, greatest pitching prospect in the game, Stephen Strasburg, last year's number one draft pick. This also calls to mind that even if you can't get to a Major League ballpark, there is plenty of good baseball in the minors and independent leagues. In fact, in some ways, they offer a much better baseball experience.

So whether you're more interested in the ivy at Cambridge or the walls of Wrigley, take heart! Spring is taking us into summer, one pitch at a time.

[April 22, Editor's Addition: Here's a link for those interested to a speech given by the same William Deresiewicz about Solitude and Leadership.]