finem respice

Thermodynamics


Erections Have Consequences

Friday, May 18, 2012 - 11:29 (+0100) by ep

he is obviously not reading the journal

To hear it told in the European press (well really, to hear it told just about everywhere), the horror of "austerity" presently looms over Europe like some dark specter that draws energy from the state, sucking the color right out of its flagging host as it mercilessly exsanguinates cash, growth and hope from an otherwise chaste, vulnerable and pious body politic. (Fiscal vampires prefer catholic virgins, you understand). Even The Telegraph's normally moderate and sage International Business Editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard seems to have been taken in by the methodical, decades-long campaign to conflate state spending and growth- a premise as manifestly absurd as it is widely accepted. To wit, Evans-Pritchard's May 15th piece on Italy bears the sub-header:

As Greece erupts, Italy is moving into the eye of the storm. Its economy is contracting at speeds not seen since the depths of the slump in 2009 as draconian austerity bites, greatly increasing the risk of social revolt and a banking crisis. (Emphasis added).1

Of course, it is entirely possible that Evans-Pritchard's editor was responsible for that little edition, given that the tone of the article's body treads with a much lighter foot. Even so, the tenor of the piece follows a regular, and regrettable, pattern:

Rising anger has led to a spate of violent attacks by terrorist groups over recent weeks, all too like the traumatic 'years of lead' in the late 1970s. The government is mulling use of troops to protect targets after anarchists shot the head of Ansaldo Nucleare last week and hurled petrol bombs at tax offices.2

Read: "If the Germans don't pay us, there will be revolution. The Germans better damn well pay us."

Angelo Drusiani from Banca Albertini said the only way to avert catstrophe is to convert the European Central Bank into a lender of last resort. Otherwise Italy faces "massive devaluation, three to five years of hyperinflation, and unbearable unemployment."3

Read: "If the Germans don't pay us, there will be revolution. The Germans better damn well pay us."

The Italian Banking Association ABI accused Moody's of an "irresponsible, incomprehensible, and unjustifiable" smear. "Moody's decision is an attack on Italy, its companies, its families and its citizens," it said, calling on the EU authorities to clamp down "severely" on rating agencies.4

Read: "'Shut up,' they explained."

  1. 1. Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose, "Italy's Banks Shaken as Economic Slump Deepens," The Telegraph (May 15, 2012).
  2. 2. Ibid.
  3. 3. Ibid.
  4. 4. Ibid.
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Karma, Lobotomized

Monday, March 2, 2009 - 14:32 (+0100) by ep

sounded good on paper

Karma is a very unappealingly idealistic concept. It may be some innate cynicism on my part that colors the lenses through which I see karma, but I find traditional understandings of karma to be an unlikely dynamic in any version of the cosmos that is not self-servingly laced with a sufficiently toxic dose of anthropic bias to return very high LD50 numbers. The sort of bilateral and evenhanded “cosmic justice,” for lack of a better term, that is implied stretches the imagination a bit past the limits of suspended disbelief. However, performing a rather radical hemispherectomy on karma results in a substantially more compelling version of the dynamic. Negative karma, of a sort, seems quite common. One wonders if the surgeon responsible for the procedure warned the patient and his or her wards about the possibility of hemiplegia and vision issues following the surgery. As an aside, one also wonders what cosmic karma seizures looked like before the operation.

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