Now they reveal the monsters that live within their breasts . . .

May 11, 2011

Just let ’em ramble, they’ll spin enough rope to hang themselves.

Do you ever wonder what are the fondest dreams of tea partiers (tea baggers) and the rash, radical right?

Here, they confess, in “Post-Constitutional America”:

The idea of raising a governing majority to actually roll back the New Deal is quixotic fantasy. Even in the most fiscally conservative moment in recent history, the idea of simply removing all the social democratic infrastructure of the New Deal is not even being broached by GOP politicians. Not even Sen. Rand Paul proposes it.

They shouldn’t take Quixote’s name in vain like that.

Seriously, what is left of the New Deal?  For a few examples,

  • There is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which saved countless banks in the past two decades.
  • There is the Securities and Exchange Commission and the rules on honesty in trading in securities.  Only a fool would wish a repeal to those.
  • Vestiges of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration remain, keeping small farmers from going broke and losing the family’s inheritance and heritage to speculators in the prices of commodities — not that it doesn’t work some evil these days supporting big corporations (but over at What’s Wrong With the World, they prefer the latter, one might think)
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Social Security

Why would anyone want to roll back those programs?

Outright rejection of the “progressive agenda,” the pro-democracy, pro-American, human-rights friendly political movement of the late 19th and 20th century, is one of the uglier manifestations of conservative politics of the past decade, and especially of the past year.  When confronted with the things they actually propose, those who make the proposals usually sputter that they don’t mean to do that, that they have been misunderstood.

The misunderstanding is in thinking that positive improvements in our laws are, somehow, deserving of roll back.  Why shouldn’t we bring back Jim Crow?  Why shouldn’t we bring back child labor, unclean food, unclean water, tainted meat and non-working, damaging pharmaceuticals?  They don’t know?

Have logic and common sense suddenly died?

New in tattoos: The formula of Wall Street doom

May 11, 2011

Here’s one the prof won’t even care about — you can’t cheat with this one, and if you do, you get burned:

Tattoo of the formula that created the 2008 financial crisise, from Marketplace

Tattoo of the formula that created the 2008 financial crisise, from Marketplace.

Marketplace, the radio program, noted it, and described it:

The financial crisis in one handy tattoo: surely you remember the formula that caused the financial crisis. But you haven’t seen it like this, from a creative friend of Marketplace who works for advertising firm Wieden + Kennedy, based in Portland. He enlisted “the ever-brilliant designer James Tung, computational typeface author Donald Knuth, and the steady hand of Cheyenne at Atlas Tattoo, according to his Facebook post[.]

Earlier, Marketplace interviewed Felix Salmon, who wrote about the formula for Wired.

RYSSDAL: This guy, David Li, what was he trying to do?

SALMON: What David Li was trying to do was look at lots of different bonds and try and work out whether they were all moving in the same direction or not. Whether they were correlated or not. Whether they were independent of each other or not. And he created this astonishing piece of mathematics called the Gaussian copula function, which sought to answer that very question.

RYSSDAL: What does that mean — Gaussian copula? I mean, if I can just take a little sidebar here for a second.

SALMON: People get very scared when they hear the word Gaussian. But this is just one way of looking to see whether one set of probabilities is associated with another set of probabilities. The really key part of the Gaussian copula function is the copula bit. It’s what’s known as a multivariant copula. You can take lots of different bonds or stocks or any kind of securities you like, and you can throw them all into one big equation and out the end get a single number which is easily manipulable and trackable as they say in the world of quantitative finance.

If you mention “Gaussian copula functions” at a cocktail party, you might do well to avoid anyone who appears to know what you’re talking about . . .

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