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FB statuses up to July 27, 2009

July 28, 2009

Math has taught me that my ideas can sometimes be beautiful and wrong at the same time.

Manager: “The good news is that your pay just went up 10%, by law! The bad news is that you’re fired.” Gang-leader: “The good news is that I can hire you at 5 an hour which is your skill-level, the bad news is that you might be fired upon”.

Questions I would ask our politicians were I in the press-corp: “What do you plan to do to curb the escalation of drug-related criminal activities and to reduce the hyper-incarceration of (mostly black) young men, that does not involve cracking-down and doubling police efforts and does not involve a moralizing campaign to try and discourage the consumption of drugs?”

Sad day today with the national minimum-wage rising to 7.25$/hour (a 10.7% increase). I feel for all the poor and low-skilled people who won’t get a job because of it. Increasing the cost of hiring people during a recession is immoral in my opinion. Besides freedom means freedom to work at whatever wage you deem acceptable. In my youth I actually paid to work.

“Personally I do not think it is necessary (or even desirable) to read the entire Kama Sutra before having sex the first time, so instead I approach the book as I do my PhD students’ research projects” — R. Durrett

Believe it or not I’m thinking doing some random graphs in my topics class…

“Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!” — Russell B. Long

FB is all about jokes and snarks, but on my math blog I’ll be all seriousness. There’s nothing wrong with split personalities. In any case, if you also have a math blog let me know and I’ll add it to my blogroll.

We generally don’t like to appoint czars anymore. Yes a “car czar” was suggested recently, but it went nowhere. Efforts are underway to create a Health-czar, but we’ll see. Generally speaking czars are on the way out. Except! Wait, except! What about the “money-czar”? That guy Bernanke who is in charge of the-quantity-of-money-in-the-economy? Are we Ok with that?

Still remember in the mid-nineties stepping out of my tiny Civic hatch-back and gasping at a Ford Explorer: couldn’t believe how big that thing was. Now even 24Oz containers don’t impress me much anymore….

Bailouts and stimuli are not the answer. Let’s give peaceful sociatal exchanges a chance!

“Whatever the tragedies in many autistic lives, autistic cognitive strengths have been vital to the progress of mankind and they are proving increasingly important for how we live and how we think…the deeper our appreciation of the individual, the more we can appreciate how many different ways the human mind can contemplate the beauty and wonder of creation.” — T. Cowen.

“Most of all, by mimicking some traits of autistics, we are becoming more human. What’s next? We could benefit in further ways by adopting a better and deeper understanding of human neurodiversity” — T. Cowen.

Questions for the math crowd: If you had to teach a Topics course what would you cover? What book/papers would you follow? Keep in mind: this would be an opportunity to learn some new stuff along with the students.

I’m cold. In July. In Kansas. Brrr…

“So like when Bear Stearns began to run into trouble, they’re gonna..say, ‘All right fellas, you’re getting rid of those two hedge funds; you’re gonna raise more capital—even if it means you have lower profitability.. [Y]ou do it or we’re gonna take sanctions against you.’ You need a tough, strong regulator, unified—no holes in the system— who sees the problem ahead of time, so they have complete transparency, they know exactly what’s going on” — Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.

Our politicians are currently trying to design a new health-care system (pause)…….OK you’re allowed to laugh.

“You are a character in the story of your life. Evolution has formed you so that you, mostly unconsciously, craft the character you project to be likable and interesting. The crafting of this image is done via manipulations that are just good enough to not force most folks to notice them. Perceptive folk may notice them more, but usually also know they will not be rewarded for calling our mutual charade”

“I want a government small enough to fit inside the constitution” — Mike Munger.

“I’m very strongly pro-market and very strongly against business” — Luigi Zingales.

“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad” — James Madison

“Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely;…He desires, not only praise, but praiseworthiness” — Adam Smith

“Oh Lord and butter!”

1 2 3 test 1 2 3 test

I’m a proud valtellino-milanese-italoamerican-pacificnorthwesterner-virginian-michigander-manhattankansans.

Lardo (affettato)!

“Well, Lord love a duck!”

Guinness: they do one thing really really well.

Ireland! Wow!

Going to Eire for the first time.

Wow, what a game by team USA against Egypt!

“As private citizens we ought to constantly pray that no major, news-worthy, disaster occur in the world lest our politicians jump on the opportunity to regulate away our freedoms whether they are tangentially related to said catastrophe or not.” — Me.

“Knock! Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Annie” “Annie who?” “Are you from Minnesota?” (I made it up)

Ricerca di parole crociate (alla faccia di Osama).

The politicization of health-care continues, but it’s not the way to go: we don’t want to put politicians in charge of doling out a scarce resource such as medicine to this or that pressure group based on electoral victories: what that will do is make the insurance companies even more rich and powerful.

Incroci obbligati!

Il cafferino!




Milano’s strength: it’s always been a sponge for foreigners willing to work. Now almost every salesperson has a a foreign accent!

Tortellini in brodo!

Pizza alla romana: capperi e acciughe!

Prosciutto cotto!

Vacanze a Milano!

The environmentally disastrous, poor border-dwellers property expropriating, double-wide technology-laden billion dollar and ongoing monstrosity that is the “fence” on the US-Mexican border is more of humanitarian stain than Gitmo and yet nobody ever mentions it. Plus it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, just kills more people.

Does anybody know if Obama plans to stop building that terrible fence on the southern border? Generous estimates put the final cost at 300B dollars.

Freedom means staying home on election day…… (with eyes closed, ears covered, chanting “Blah,blah,blah,blah,….”)

I’m certainly not going to vote in this weekend’s European elections: voting should be left to those who believe in politicians.

June is one of the most beautiful Kansas months, along with October and January (in my opinion).

The movie theater had a “TUESDAY STIMULUS SPECIAL”. We’re never going to get rid of that ugly word….

UP is a strange, strange movie: the main character looks like Henry Kissinger.

Compliance costs from thousands of regulations — pouring out from over 60 departments, agencies and commissions — amounted to $1.17 trillion in 2008. The federal government spends an additional $49.1 billion just to administer and enforce its rules. This figure is on par with federal income tax revenue ($1.2 trillion)…The Bush spending explosion was accompanied by more than 30,000 new regulations.

I must be the only person who tears up when watching Ratatouille…it might have to do with my dear uncle Valter, artist and culinary chef, flashes of our mythical trip to Paris before I acquired any memories.

Six frogs on the corners of a hexagon are allowed to jump over each other and go twice the distance, can one of them ever come back to the center of the hexagon?

Heard from a construction worker: There’s no crisis, don’t believe them, all the major chains of hotels are building like crazy.

Cooked polenta and spezzatini for a bunch of paesanos

Giovanni disagrees: we’re not white, we’re peach.

In Kansas we stare at the clouds.

Baby has an irresistible attraction to stairs, garbage cans, and outlets. For some reason…

I used to think Italian politics was bad….

Giovanni and I came up with a pretty fun game: a giant beach ball is kicked up in the air by one participant (a sort of pitch), while the other tries to whack it with a baseball bat.

“Kindness is the parent of kindness; and if to be beloved by our brethren be the great object of our ambition, the surest way of obtaining it is, by our conduct to show that we really love them.” — A. Smith.

When the govt does something (and not just stand there) it typically bans some activities, stomps around erratically, and as a result everything stops to a standstill. If instead the govt “does nothing”, then a whole range of activities will take place. So “doing something” means “doing nothing” and vice-versa.

In an effort to reduce costs, 36.5 billions of the 787B “sedative” package were awarded to the IT industry to create a “nationwide network of electronic health records”…………………OK you can laugh now.

Very predictably, after bailing out the anti-competitive semi-monopolists to the sound of billions of dollars, our politicians are now getting all tough on “anti-trust” regulation, that way they can give the ultimate coup-de-grace to the few honest firms remaining.

Time is more expensive on the Space Shuttle, why else would tomorrow space-walk be scheduled for 8:16?

“price controls eventually kept the legal prices of civilian goods and services from rising substantially, civilian markets became subject to excess demand and the available goods had to be rationed by nonprice means, such as first-come-first-served transactions and discrimination according to race, sex, and friendship.” B. Higgs on WWII.

“If the President does it, then it’s not illegal” — R. Nixon.

Between Bush’s 700B “Wall-Street fat-cats bailout” and Obama’s 750B “economic sedative” we’re in for some pretty ugly economic times, but what do I know.

“This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” — A. Smith.

Today I’m chairing a Ph.D. defense in Economics. I’ll have to refrain from asking too many questions.

Student in OH: “I hate my major, marketing, I don’t care about helping some company make one more buck. I want to make a difference in the world, you know.” Me: “Like what?”. Student: “Border patrol or US custom official, you know, busting drug trafficking or illegals”…………Me: stunned.

When Spring semester ends my body falls apart. A bit like the car in Blues Brothers when they finally get to Chicago.

I drew a blank, and then Bingo!

Most government hand-outs are collected by rich old people (Hint: they’re the ones who contribute money to political campaigns).

Ok fine, don’t legalize drugs, but at least decriminalize them.

There a hundred billion solar systems in our galaxy and a hundred billion galaxies.

Ever wondered why US automakers produce so many gas-guzzlers? It’s a thirteen-letter word that starts with P and ends with ISM.

Rule of thumb #2: to achieve German quality bureaucracy it’s not enough to match Germany’s amount of public spending as share of GDP.

Rule of thumb #1: whenever a politicians estimates the cost of a new project (whether a war, a stimulus, or a great new scheme), multiply by 100.

Gloria: Julian, stop this! This is crazy! Julien: Oh, suddenly throwing a giraffe into a volcano to make water, is crazy!

What??!! The earth is moving???

FIAT from “Fix It Again Tony” to “Financed by Italian and American Taxpayers”.

An impartial spectator would presume that going forward we shall need some new regulations AND some new deregulations (real ones, not fake ones).

“The legal system focuses on the restitution of victims not the punishment of criminals. For violations of the law, maximum compensation to victims is specified in camels. Typical compensation to the family of a murder victim is 100 camels for a man and 50 for a woman; an animal thief usually must return two animals for every one he stole.”

In other words, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act regulated public trading of Credit Default Swaps in the severest manner possible: It forbade it […] This provided an overwhelming edge to the biggest players who traded them the most, as the high costs of contacting potential counterparties, negotiating contracts individually, and compiling private information created enormous economies of scale.

“A true party-man hates and despises candour; and, in reality, there is no vice which could so effectually disqualify him for the trade of a party-man as that single virtue. The real, revered, and impartial spectator, therefore, is, upon no occasion, at a greater distance than amidst the violence and rage of contending parties.”

The US is by far the largest producer of manufactured goods and this is accomplished year after year by employing less and less people: what a feat!

Pro-legislation bias: the propensity of people to over-estimate the ability of laws to fix real problems and to under-estimate the many unintended consequences of legislation.

The will of the people scares me as much as people’s goodwill gives me hope.

I’m an economic optimist and a political pessimist.

Hey hey, come out and say: yes I’m bankrupt and it’s OK.

“We must here, as in all other cases, view ourselves not so much according to that light in which we may naturally appear to ourselves, as according to that in which we naturally appear to others.”

I don’t vote (seriously) and I don’t cheer for anyone, but I went to our local Tax Day Tea Party yesterday. The Bush-Obama ticket is spending 9.3 trillion dollars in a 14 trillion dollars economy. Any person with a minimum of good sense should be appalled.

The current “extended order” is a very recent phenomenon that we mostly don’t understand: our genetic make-up was shaped by hundred thousands of years living in small groups or bands of hunter-gatherers.

“We live in an “extended order”, where we are all working for people we do not know, and are being supported by the work of people we do not know”.

That wisdom which contrived the system of human affections, as well as that of every other part of nature, seems to have judged that the interest of the great society of mankind would be best promoted by directing the principal attention of each individual to that particular portion of it, which was most within the sphere both of his abilities and of his understanding.

The tragedy of all the money that is being funneled towards “scarce capital”-destroying-institutions like GM and AIG is that it is taken from other more productive workers in society who will loose their job or not find it in the first place.

Axiom II: one should never make the mistake of defending or abetting the actions and opinions of the clowns that run the US Congress.

Axiom I: market failures arise because of perverse government incentives.

“When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty.”

If “too big to fail” is a problem, why are we making these banks bigger?

Recycling is another way of producing and could in some cases be really bad for the environment.

Corporatism is neither left, nor right…it’s both.

I hereby nominate AIG, GM, Citigroup,etc…and the US Congress for the Darwin Award of the year.

Government regulation is actually “deregulation” in the bad sense of the word, because it gives monopoly power to certain firms that can then do “whatever they want”.

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Asking a general if he needs more troops on the ground is like asking a professor if he needs more grant money.

Would you rather save AIG or save the US?

“Every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges of the like faculty in another. I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love.”

Naomi Klein starts out well by recognizing the importance of shocks and fear being at the root of many historical abuses, but then she blames the wrong people. It’s the rise of “disaster STATE-capitalism” that’s the problem.

The G-20 is a cartel of politicians.

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.

The current crisis N was caused by the regulations spawned from crisis N-1 and will produce new regulations that will cause crisis N+1. Iterate.

We need a much more activist judiciary.

Well, maybe Big Government is not so bad after all: the key is to elect the right people so that they’ll do the right thing. (april’s fool).

Obama’s strategy of appointing people that owe back-taxes to the government is working marvels and nothing short of genius.

f(x) goes into a bar and asks for a drink. “I’m sorry,” the barman says. “We don’t cater for functions.”

When invariably elected officials fail to maintain their electoral promises the most outraged are their political adversaries, while their supporters keep quiet: it should be the other way around.

PPC is studying to become an expert at predicting the past.

It’s futile to try an get smarter, but maybe it’s possible to get wiser.

There are twenty thousand 165-million mini scandals like the bonuses one in the 3.3 trillions of bail-out money that have been dished out so far.

A market solution to mortgage-foreclosures? Lower home prices! Which by the way brings down rents as well. What better way to help people in distress?

The strength of a society should be measured by its ability to grant its people the “freedom to fail”: the only kind of freedom there is, actually.

So Enron went financially creative, busted: they let it fail and jailed its CEOs. WallStreet does the same and they get showered in liquidity. Anti-Texas bias?

One week off and I go O for a trillion from the floor plus sprained upper back…..

PPC’s living quarters are in the kitchen: I grew up in a kitchen, that’s where I spend most of my time.

US Presidents are more and more keen to launch in preemptive strikes, cheered on by the populace of course.

“The Bailout Republic” is how future generations will look back on the period of US history that started just about a year ago.

When you stare at a river you need to look closer to see which way it’s flowing, but no matter how far back you step you won’t see which ocean it is flowing to.


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