This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. September 17, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. Small Not Only Is Not Beautiful, It May Be Illegal: The Australian Classification Board has banned several adult films from distribution because, in their opinion, although the actress’ were all over 18 years old their smaller breasts made them appear to be under 18.

2. Outsourcing For Dummies: The Project On Government Oversight found that the federal government pays private contractors on average 1.83 times more than it pays its own employees for the same work, according to the group’s study released yesterday.

Do you think the workers get the difference? Do defense industry and homeland security contractors argue for smaller government?

3. Honor Your Ancestors: If you are non-African, 1-6% of your genome is Neanderthal.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. Fair and Balanced: A few days ago, the english language newspaper The Bangkok Post did something I had not seen it do during my entire time in visiting Thailand, irrespective or coup or calamity. It devoted its entire first page to an editorial. Of course anything deserving of such coverage would prompt someone like me who searches the news for bits of humor to read the entire editorial closely.

The editorial appeared intended to warn the nation that the administration of the newly elected government of Prime Minister Princess LuckyGirl, that has been in power for all of two weeks or so, is leading the nation to perdition because its summary removal of the existing chief of police is a harbinger of how this government intends to operate.

Now, it was not questions of accuracy or significance that gave me pause after reading the editorial, but why now launch such a furious attack?

It could be, as proven by the Republican Party in the US, immediate and constant challenge to the newly elected party is good politics.

I, however, wondered if it was not something else. In examining the few actions of the newly elected government it is clear that in most cases they intend to act with dispatch in implementing certain policies (including allowing the fugitive ex-prime minister and Princess LuckyGirl‘s elder brother Thaksin the Terrible (3T) to return to Thailand) and replacing many of the prior governments holdovers with their own retainers. The sole exception appears to be the military, the army in particular. It was 3T‘s attempt to replace the existing command with his supporters that prompted the coup that ultimately removed him from office. This time it appears to be the policy to avoid any threat to the Army General Staff’s prerogatives until at least they retire in a year or two. As a result there has been very little grumbling heard from Army headquarters about the new administration.

Could the opposition, sensing reticence from the institution that brought them to power several times in the past few decades, be attempting to somehow strengthen the resolve of the Generals to oppose their old enemy, 3T by persuading them that strong public opposition to the new administration is building? Stay tuned. We should know where the Army stands as soon as it appears 3T may be granted amnesty. I cannot believe that 3T, before proceeding as vigorously as he has for amnesty in the near future, has not made some accommodation with the only institution that can bring him down. It would not be the first time in recent Thai history that the military has changed sides to protect their interests.

2. See You Later Crocodile: Due to the recent flooding, dozens of Crocodiles have escaped the Crocodile Farm near Pattaya, Thailand.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have come down with the dreaded summer cold that has laid me up for a few days. As a result except for a dinner with the Bad David, I have remained generally close to home. This has forced me to watch the Star Movie Channel, (the only english language channel I have), another Murdoch venture, that shows some of worst movies made. The last few days they appear to holding a Steven Seagal festival. Seagal has put on a lot of weight since his early movies featuring him killing everything in sight. He still kills everything in sight, but now he has become a fat man to go with his fat head.

My Italian grandmother used to tell me that she thought heroes in American cinema were not heroes at all but psychotic serial killers. I responded that they were not, they were just Republicans. (OK, not all Republicans. Nevertheless you have to admit that most male cinema action heroes are proudly and publicly Republican. Democrat action heroes tend to be restricted to women and Matt Damon.)

Did you ever wonder why it is that in America a sex worker is not considered a good role model while the actors in these glorification of mayhem are looked upon as models of moral rectitude and suitable for elected office?

My grandma wondered about that also.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLE:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

“Who are we,” the Isabella character exclaimed? “Or more accurately, why are we?”

“Huh,” the Vince character responded. “What are you talking about?”

“What are we doing in this story? It’s not about us at all.”

“Of course it is about us. We are the main protagonists.”

“Look at it this way. The story is about a business deal gone bad, not your or my emotional or physical reaction to it or even our involvement. We appear to be minor characters observing and not a party to whatever is going on.

“You mean like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet?”

“Sort of…and you know what happened to them?”

“They died.”

“That’s just it. I have the feeling we are being set up by the author, to be… well, removed.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I Didn’t Know That:

Houses in Europe during the Middle Ages had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. The roof was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slide and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

b. What Adam Smith Really Said:

Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”
[Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations,Book I, Chapter IX, p. 113]

Actually what the merchant’s and master-manufacturers did do was to fund into being an entire profession called Economics to persuade you that their gains and profits are for your benefit.

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

Some of the milder and saner statements by Ministers featured in Rick Perry’s recent prayer extravaganza:

Democratic Party is controlled by a ‘demonic structure.'”

“Violent overthrow of the US government must remain ‘on the table.'”

“God is punishing the African-American community for supporting gay rights, reproductive freedom and the Democratic Party.”

Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol” and that homosexuality is “a plot cooked up by the Illuminati to control the world’s population.”
d. Profiles in Presidential Courage:

Eisenhower Republican Administration before the Party went looney-toons:

From a Life Magazine article from 1954 where President Eisenhower’s top economists discussed their plans for a slowing economy. Here’s how they were thinking about dealing with it:

“Anti-depression planning by the Administration includes plenty of stop-gap measures just in case the experts prove wrong and the expected moderate decline turns into full-scale recession. On the shelf are $15 billion of public-works projects [that’s about $100 billion today] already blueprinted and approved by Congress, which can quickly be set in motion. Plans have been made to speed up state and local public-works projects, if need be by buying up their bond issues. The “tight money” policy, which has already been liberalized, would quickly be switched to fast expansion of credit by decreasing Federal Reserve margins, resuming the price-pegging of government bonds, and stimulating installment buying. Taxes would be cut still more, the building industry would get special inducements to expand. The Republicans say they will spend money faster than the New Deal if they have to.”

Do you mean the Obama stimulus program was really a Republican idea? Is Obama in fact an Eisenhower Republican in disguise?

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

“However, if acutely raised steroids were to persist for several weeks or even increase as volatility rises, they might have cognitive and behavioral consequences, specifically by shifting risk preferences or disturbing the neural basis for rational choice. Research into how this may happen is in its infancy, but recent work in neuroscience and economics has shown how various brain regions, such as the amygdala, the anterior insula, and the nucleus accumbens, encode decisions and behaviors that deviate from rational choice. It has been suggested that, if these brain regions are over-activated, then investors will display the irrational behavior often observed in real markets.”
“Endogenous Steroids and Financial Risk Taking on a London Trading Floor,”

Will this mean that neoclassical economists will now consent to replace the now discredited “rational market” theory with the “Testosterone Market” theory?

f. The Trolley Test I:

There is a standard experiment in psychological literature to test ones moral principles and it goes like this:

Assume you are a conductor of a trolley and you see five people on the track ahead of you but you know you will be unable to stop in time to avoid striking and killing them. Assume also that you can switch on to another track and avoid hitting them. Unfortunately, in this latter case you will strike and kill a single person.
1. What will you do?
2. Will your answer be the same if:
a. The individual on the track switched to is a women,
b. A child, or
c. Someone you know?
3. Did you really think you would be able to make this decision within the clearly short time you have to make it or will you be so paralyzed by this moral dilemma that you will be unable to decide, thus killing five people by your indecision.
4. Which decision would make you feel least guilty afterwards?

Note: I have varied the questions a bit from the standard experiment.

TODAY’S CHART:

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Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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