Review of "The Saga of Erik the Red"

October 23, 2008

The full text and a summary of the saga can be found here.  Obviously, this saga is famous because it discusses the "discovery" of America.  Otherwise, it's rather boring – that is to say there's not much poetry or slaughtering.


Review of "The Saga of Gisli"

October 23, 2008

The full text and a plot summary can be found here. The sagas are a great way to experience a different time period. There is so much recognizable in the sagas, yet there is clearly a divide created by time and changes in morality.

Someone might dismiss the sagas as stories about people getting into disagreements, killing each other and then reciting poetry – like a modern news story minus the poetry, I would reply. Yet the sagas, especially this one which I very much enjoyed are more than that. Gisli is conflicted and his story is, at times, quite touching. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a bad ass. Anyway, if you’re looking for a good, quick, cheap read, you could do a lot worse than these stories.


"Your" retirement accounts

October 23, 2008

This combined with this is scary stuff.  It's also a further reminder that in today's world, nothing is "yours" unless government wants you to think that it's yours.  This statement applies to your positions in financial firms as much as it does to anything else.


Unintended consequences of bailouts

October 23, 2008

The end of the independence of the Fed – I'm not sure it ever was "independent" or even what that would mean, but it if I am right, and it always was a charade, the charade is over.


Review of "The King’s Gambit (SPQR I)" by John Maddox Roberts

October 22, 2008

This is quick, enjoyable read.

It's definitely not the best historical mystery that I have ever read, but the setting is great.  It's always surprising to me that there aren't more of these books set in ancient Rome.  Perhaps the reading public just can't follow the intricacies of ancient Rome anymore.

The plot is described briefly here.  The narrator is explained here.  I very much enjoyed the fictionalization of Titus Milo.  I'm not yet sure if I'll keep reading on in the series – I'd like to get the series on my Kindle, but the text in the Kindle edition was terrible.  If I do keep reading on, it will be primarily because the series is a great way to keep up on my Roman history.


Professor Kling is on fire

October 22, 2008

There is no better place to go for serious, soul-searching thought about our Economic crisis than Professor Kling.  He admits what needs admitting and is searching for answers.  He's willing to engage anyone who has helpful thoughts.  And, with comments like these, he's very entertaining:

My main beef with economists is that standard macroeconomics does such a poor job of describing what is going on. The textbooks models are pretty much useless. Where in the textbooks is "liquidity preference" a demand for Treasury securities? Where in the textbooks does it say that injecting capital into banks is a policy tool?

Graduate macro is even worse. Have the courses that use representative-agent models solving Euler equations been abolished? Have the professors teaching those courses been fired? Why not?

I have always thought that the issue of the relationship between financial markets and the "real economy" was really deep. I thought that it was a critical part of macroeconomic theory that was poorly developed. But the economics profession for the past thirty years instead focused on producing stochastic calculus porn to satisfy young men's urge for mathematical masturbation.

I doubt he'll get much mainstream attention, but they just be futher proof that he's actually on to something.


The absurdity of democracy

October 22, 2008
What happens when the voter in the exact middle of the earnings spectrum receives more in benefits from Washington than he pays in taxes?

The author believes we're about to find out.  If we don't find out in the coming Obama administration, we'll find out soon enough – would anyone care to bet that we won't reach this point in the next 25 years, I'll give good odds?

The fact that we will reach this point is predictable.  It is a necessary consequence of democracy.  When this country shifted from a republic, a union among states, to a democracy, reaching this point became inevitable.  Have people so forgotten the ancient writings on democracy that they forget this?  Perhaps they believe it will be different this time, just like the recent housing bubble was different from previous bubbles . . .


Unintended consequences of bailouts

October 22, 2008

"Bankers will pocket over 10% of the bailout in 'bonuses'."  Ouch.  Well, I suppose they deserve something – after all they earned that money by duping the rest of us into bailing them out.


Reason and Ron Paul

October 22, 2008

Now that Dr Paul is off the main stage, Reason will praise him and welcome him to the Libertarian fold again.  Does this post mean we can expect to see a revival of truly libertarian economic theory at Reason?  I'm not holding my breath.


Bretton Woods 2 death watch

October 22, 2008

It continues