Saturday, December 31, 2011

Posts of interest - 2011

Moral: Wherein we stop to the most-read posts, as opposed to looking at past December posts, while everyone relaxes in preparation for the coming year.

As a means (an attempt) to freeze a point in time (which we know is not possible), the last post of 2011 will list the top four posts in terms of having been read (well, views, anyway). Perhaps, this will be a yearly event.

Aside: As said in Mission and Method, posts are to contribute to a theme, though there may be divergent ones from time to time. Blogs allow categories, but these are problematic since they collect and present in a time order. From time to time, there ought to be a super-post that gives a more coherent view (here is an example - Truth, Fiction, and Finance). Perhaps, that type of thing will be done more often in the coming year.

Posts of interest, as of today:
  • -- Computation, finance and engineering -- From 2009. This post hints at our major problem, but it does not offer near enough emphasis on solutions. That'll change this year. In fact, in 2012, we'll respect Ben Bernanke for undertaking an impossible job; we'll admire Timothy Geithner for being in the hot seat while being cool; and more. Yet, the blogger knows about the issues underlying computation; he wonders how far amiss we have let the younger folks range just because the some only wanted to fill their pockets (see Quants series). If we are to let markets determine truth, then we need transparency (yes, Hedge Funds, you're culprits, too), and a whole bunch of other things.  
  • -- Harvard, value and quality I -- From 2010. Ah, this was almost two years ago (give me a break). Now, I hear that some at Princeton are supporting the 99% (God bless them). So, can we ever expect Harvard to revert from its switch toward the secular (mis-guided, which we can show) and allow just a little morality into the equation (they have already started?)? By the way, this year, this blog (and the related) will lay out the foundation'al framework that will support such a view. 
  • -- New royalty -- From 2010 . Has it not been the case that American capitalists (and others) have continued to exploit the energies, and the dreams, of workers around the world? Sheesh! They even did it with Communist partners (you guys and gals have any semblance of true humanity in your blood?). At this point, I'll just point to St. Margaret who exemplified how royals ought to be (yes, indeed). 
  • -- The ideological errors of capitalism II -- Adam Smith redux -- From 2010. Phew!, where did that title come from? Well, Adam has been the focus for a whole lot of bad thinking. That is not his problem. But, who is there to argue in his defense as he rolls around in his grave? Adam was of his time; we're much later and need to read him with the proper filter. His 'invisible hand' was imaginary (some seem to think of it as actual, it would seem). Self-regulation? That only applies with internal governors (systems). How many seem to have allowed them to reach for states of no restraint? Too bad that 'invisible hand' can't slap these types silly (or until they awaken to their proper senses).  
Aside: the blogger was in the military (ground troops) decades ago as a seventeen year old. Hence, metaphors, and such, are flavored by experience, though some may have been influenced Hollywood-style (media have responsibility - beyond what might have been appreciated in this regard so far).


12/29/2012 -- Summary - 2012.

01/13/2012 --  First post of 2012. 

Modified: 12/29/2012

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rank and file III

Moral: Wherein we take a further look at rank and file, a little more thoroughly.

      12/15/2012 -- Rank and file IRank and file II, Rank and File III


Rank? File? Let's take the first one, for this post.


And, we'll have to go back to the time of the Tudors. Yes, that continues the theme of the backbone of the economy.

I recently ran across Tim Lambert's site while searching a subject. Both the approach and the content had a lot of appeal. In a short paragraph, there is description of Tudor society with four broad classes. We'll take a look at those below.


As an aside, the blogger has railed about several tendencies that don't seem to die out. One of these is to have a pecking order with obvious differentiating features. Hence, we get mansions, mc-mansions, all the way down to huts. Why all of this teeming?

Well, there may be metaphysical explanations, but let's hold those big-T (Truth) issues, for a bit. We all know that the 'teeming' is not productive if it leads to unsustainable situations (but, even our politicians have been bought -- what institution of higher-learning has not prostituted itself to moolah?). Our real problem, in essence, is getting some agreement on what it is we're all after and how to do it in a manner that is conducive to the health of the human race and of the planet and of its occupants.

The general concept might the 'lordly prince trap' yet there are many other ways to characterize this thing and its features. One counsel may be staying above the fray. Is this even possible?


So, let's look at Tim's description of 'rank' as it was then. And, in respect to those who are the 99% (the 1% get all of the love that they need), we'll go backwards.
  • laborers -- ah, we all know about this level. For one, it's to where one falls if one fails. Too, many have climbed their way out of this level. In some cases, childhood is just this. Tim mentions illiteracy for this class. In New England, universal education was an early goal. Any rise via learning has to be accompanied by opportunity. In a lot of cases, there were none (think Japan's lost generation). On the other hand, everyone ought to be able to do something with their hands that is productive -- besides, labor may actually be the most loving thing that someone could do (to be explained - but, it is more than bear birth). In short, any and all of those who do 'real' work are here (except for a few professionals -- surgeons - did you have to ask?).
  • yoemen -- Tim says that this little group worked with the laborers. So, think foremen (not straw boss, okay) and supervisors. On the other hand, you could think of someone who cares about results (how many, seemingly, push-button situations lead to crap? -- don't answer, please -- too disheartening). These could read and write. By the way, did we not know over here, in the 1950s/60s, a dock worker philosopher? My thought is that we ought to look for 'yoemen' contributors who had a grand-scale impact.
  • gentlemen -- money, in other words. Fat cats, too. Those who cannot even wipe their own behinds. Do we not know these people? In many cases, pretenders to nobility. Oh, wait, sorry; yes, landowners, having enough money to not worry about the tomorrows, and such. What we, at one time, thought might be the upper middle class. You might say that the first two were the 99%. This group here is on the boundary between the 1% and the rest. Naturally, there are good connotations here; as in, couth behavior makes for good neighbors. Too, refinement ought to be a goal; on the other hand, one can muck manure and still appreciate opera.
  • nobility -- now this group for which I'm expending a bunch of effort to define, perhaps defend, what they do and represent is a puzzle. In an advanced sense, it's a role. But, somehow, the role gets internalized (this, folks, is the real personification). Of course, the Brits know this better than ourselves. From whence the first king? God? Oh no, as we have the history of the machinations (Tudors, included). Methinks that it's a combination of several things which would include ability (of course, intelligence, but is it measurable -- say, oh, I'm 99.999th percentile on the college boards?), opportunity (all sorts of things), motivation (the wise man would pass this up, just like Charles the Hammer told the Pope no thanks in regard to being Holy Roman Emporer -- my kind of guy), and a whole lot more. By the way, CEOs think that they are kings (they are, in the sense of the multinational entity over which they reign -- we need to rein them in -- where is our Magna Charta for business jerks?).
I like these four. Naturally, there are many other ways. Like, let's look at the military. You know the saying, officer and gentleman. So, right there, you have the split. Right above yoeman (as in, any wet-behind-the-ears lieutenant can rule it over the highest of the sergeants) is a boundary. Now, people can, and do, cross that line through training (90 day wonders) and education (say, the military academies).

But, as I've said before, and I'll try to collect some stories: there are people in those lower classes who are much more capable than some (perhaps, many) of the uppers. Oh, that's a given? How many fortunes, and dynasties, have been lost by idiotic decisions by descendants?

Look at our beloved Kate (Duchess of Cambridge -- she has many cousins over here). Her lineage has people from a family who had a baronage (that was lost by some nitwit) working in the coal mines. Too, you read about the many who lost in markets (yes, as we've seen of late). Many, even to the likes of Newton (the cap-ital-sino is not representative, at all, of an advanced society, folks).


There will be some more talk about rank. Then, we'll get to the file.


12/15/2012 -- Coase, on the subject.

12/13/2011 -- McKinsey report shows that households hold over 40% of the world's wealth. Hence, the consumer as the major influence on the economy. Now, consider that the household wealth collection (using income in the U.S. as a proxy) is skewed to a very small bunch.

12/05/2011 -- We have a new meme. Rather than have/have nots (which is a moral split), we now have 1%-99% (a metrical space); that is, something within which we can maneuver and make decisions (any more meaningful?).

12/05/2011 -- It's interesting how idiotic the supposedly smart can be. The real issue: the failings of an idiot have a small influence; the failings of the 'real idiots' have wide impact (and, in so many ways). Somehow, we muddle through.

Modified: 12/15/2012