Friday Night Music: "600 Pounds of Sin"
TweetWeek: June 22, 2013

Noted for June 22, 2013

  • Rich Lowry: Who Mitt Romney Is:: "Romney… is… someone who overhead some conservative cocktail chatter and maybe read a conservative blog or two, and is thoughtlessly repeating back what he heard and read."
  • Thoreau: The undiscoverable country?: "I’ve mentioned before that there are certain parallels between the fiziks situation today and that of 120 years ago:  We have theories that work amazingly well for all known interactions in the regimes where we can do observations of those interactions.  We can’t necessarily unify those interactions, and there are a few phenomena that we don’t know how to fit into those frameworks, but our theories work really well for a lot of technologies. Of course, at the end of the 19th century we had theories that worked pretty well for a lot of things and enabled a lot of technologies, and nobody had any idea that working out the equilibrium of matter and light would lead to transistors. The analogies with the end of the 19th century are hopeful, because they suggest that we could be on the cusp of a revolution that will yield technologies beyond our imagining. However, it has been pointed out to me that the experimental observations required to test theories of fundamental interactions are now (mostly) vast undertakings with industrial-scale energy consumption and teams of thousands.  Even leaving aside funding issues, if the complexity of the requisite observations continues to scale up as it has in the past century, what hope is there for further discovery? It isn’t just about the funding, it’s about butting up against the limits of human intellect and human organization…. Most physics professors  today could not sit down with a sophomore and explain the math and logic that underlies the conundrums facing theories of fundamental interactions, and why this is such a hard puzzle.  Most of us can and do explain to sophomores the basic problems that led to a need for quantization and relativity, and we do this with real math. We can get them pretty close to the core issues.  However, for the problems that stymie studies of fundamental interactions today, most of us outside of specialized circles have only the most basic understanding of the issues, and we certainly can’t explain it to students. How are we to bring talent to bear on these problems?  More importantly, if the only way to understand the problems is to first absorb a vast amount of specialized knowledge and skills, and in the process absorb a lot of perspectives and assumptions, how does one bring fresh perspectives and novel ideas into the mix?"

  • Jennifer Ablan: The housing proposal that won’t die: "One of the biggest economic stories this year has been the recovery in U.S. home prices. But for the more than 11 million homeowners stuck with a mortgage that’s worth more than the value of their home, it has felt more like being Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. The housing crisis may be over for Blackstone, Colony, American Homes 4 Rent and other deep-pocketed investment firms snapping up foreclosed homes with cheap money courtesy of the Federal Reserve, but for many Americans they are still living with it some five years later. So maybe that’s why  a controversial idea of using the government’s power of condemnation to seize and restructure distressed mortgages in order to provide debt relief to struggling homeowners  just won’t go away, even though many think it’s unconstitutional and bond investors have rallied to savage the proposal."

  • Mark Blyth:

Dean Baker, Gerald Epstein, and Robert Pollin (1998): Globalization and Progressive Economic Policy | J. Bradford DeLong: The Second Great Depression: Why the Economic Crisis Is Worse than You Think | Counterparties | Ricardo Hausmann: The Logic of the Informal Economy | James Kwak: Want To Reduce the National Debt? Find More Workers |