11 June 2012


So the president says something stunningly stupid on Friday (08 June 2012, below).  It happens.  In our modern culture people are unfortunately expected to talk a lot.  The thinking seems to be that if you speak often, people will think you know something.  Or maybe Ford Prefect was right all along*.

Anyway, when you speak often of many things, especially, in the case of this president, about things you know absolutely nothing about like the economy or the constitution, you are bound to slip up every now and again and say something that pegs the asinine meter.  Obama said the private sector was doing "fine."

So what?  So his press secretary says today that the press isn't doing its job.  It's not reporting on "context."  In this case, Obama is saying that the drag on the economy is the loss of public sector jobs.  And, as a quick aside, based on current political rhetoric one would think that the only public sector employees we have are policemen, firemen and teachers.

So the press secretary has the cojones to berate the press for not doing its job properly because his boss said something just beyond-the-pale stupid and they don't take care to parse nuance?



*Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy reference.  I'll explain fully later.

10 June 2012

When Ideas Have Sex

What does an Acheulean handaxe have to do with the mouse sitting there on your desk?

I heard this story on NPR today.  A new show my local NPR station called the TED Radio Hour.  It is an interview and abridgment of a speech given by author Matt Ridley (video below).  I transcribed one part of the interview that was particularly sharp and one of the more important points I wish critics of free markets would get their heads around.

Can you explain why you measure prosperity in terms of time?

Yes, this was an insight that's occurred to a lot of people in the economics profession before.  This is what economic prosperity, what economic growth is.  It's a reduction in the amount of time it takes to fulfill a need.  That's how we fit so much consumption in our lives; [it] is by reducing the amount of time it takes to earn it.  So I think in the end the real measure of how well off you are is how long you have to work to fulfill a need, or indeed a luxury, and the difference between a need a luxury is often blurred.

Technological advances benefit everyone in the long run.  Looks like there's another book I'll be picking up.