Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 11th, 2010

Father and son play some jazz piano

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Chucho Valdes, one of Cuba’s finest jazz pianists, performs "La Comparsa" with his father, Bebo.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2010 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

Wall Street and Hegel

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Interesting post by J.M. Bernstein in the NY Times on the philosopher Hegel and how he would view Wall street. The conclusion (though read the entire post):

… Every account of the financial crisis points to a terrifying series of structures that all have the same character: the profit-driven actions of the financial sector became increasingly detached from their function of supporting and advancing the growth of capital.  What thus emerged were patterns of action which, may have seemed to reflect the “ways of the world” but in financial terms, were as empty as those of a knight of virtue, leading to the near collapse of the system as a whole.  A system of compensation that provides huge bonuses based on short-term profits necessarily ignores the long-term interests of investors. As does a system that ignores the creditworthiness of borrowers; allows credit rating agencies to be paid by those they rate and encourages the creation of highly complex and deceptive financial instruments.  In each case, the actions — and profits — of the financial agents became insulated from both the interests of investors and the wealth-creating needs of industry.

Despite the fact that we have seen how current practices are practically self-defeating for the system as a whole, the bill that emerged from the Congress comes nowhere near putting an end to the practices that necessitated the bailouts.  Every one of those practices will remain in place with just a veneer of regulation giving them the look of legitimacy.

What market regulations should prohibit are practices in which profit-taking can routinely occur without wealth creation; wealth creation is the world-interest that makes bankers’ self-interest possible.  Arguments that market discipline, the discipline of self-interest, should allow Wall Street to remain self-regulating only reveal that Wall Street, as Hegel would say, “simply does not know what it is doing.”

We know that nearly all the financial conditions that led to the economic crisis were the same in Canada as they were in the United States with a single, glaring exception: Canada did not deregulate its banks and financial sector, and, as a consequence, Canada avoided the worst of the economic crisis that continues to warp the infrastructure of American life.  Nothing but fierce and smart government regulation can head off another American economic crisis in the future.  This is not a matter of “balancing” the interests of free-market inventiveness against the need for stability; nor is it a matter of a clash between the ideology of the free-market versus the ideology of government control.  Nor is it, even, a matter of a choice between neo-liberal economic theory and neo-Keynesian theory.  Rather, as Hegel would have insisted, regulation is the force of reason needed to undo the concoctions of fantasy.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2010 at 9:10 am

More privacy issues with HTML5

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Tanzina Vega reports in the NY Times:

Worries over Internet privacy have spurred lawsuits, conspiracy theories and consumer anxiety as marketers and others invent new ways to track computer users on the Internet. But the alarmists have not seen anything yet.

In the next few years, a powerful new suite of capabilities will become available to Web developers that could give marketers and advertisers access to many more details about computer users’ online activities. Nearly everyone who uses the Internet will face the privacy risks that come with those capabilities, which are an integral part of the Web language that will soon power the Internet: HTML 5.

The new Web code, the fifth version of Hypertext Markup Language used to create Web pages, is already in limited use, and it promises to usher in a new era of Internet browsing within the next few years. It will make it easier for users to view multimedia content without downloading extra software; check e-mail offline; or find a favorite restaurant or shop on a smartphone.

Most users will clearly welcome the additional features that come with the new Web language.

“It’s going to change everything about the Internet and the way we use it today,” said James Cox, 27, a freelance consultant and software developer at Smokeclouds, a New York City start-up company. “It’s not just HTML 5. It’s the new Web.”

But others, while also enthusiastic about the changes, are more cautious.

Most Web users are familiar with so-called cookies, which make it possible, for example, to log on to Web sites without having to retype user names and passwords, or to keep track of items placed in virtual shopping carts before they are bought.

The new Web language and its additional features present more tracking opportunities because the technology uses a process in which large amounts of data can be collected and stored on the user’s hard drive while online. Because of that process, advertisers and others could, experts say, see weeks or even months of personal data. That could include a user’s location, time zone, photographs, text from blogs, shopping cart contents, e-mails and a history of the Web pages visited.

The new Web language “gives trackers one more bucket to put tracking information into,” said Hakon Wium Lie, the chief technology officer at Opera, a browser company…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2010 at 7:28 am

Shave report

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I’m not doing a SOTD post on the trip. For one thing, it’s the same every day:

Prairie Creations Barbershop tallow-based shave stick
Muhle travel brush (black aluminum)
Feather Premium razor
Feather blade
Royal Copenhagen aftershave

For another, I can’t upload photos until I get home.

Nonetheless, I do want to comment on the excellence of the Muhle Travel Brush: extremely light, packs well, and lathers like a champ. Well worth your consideration if you travel.

One VERY frequent traveler with lots of packing and unpacking (an airline pilot) suggested that the nickel-plated brass is the best bet: the threads on the aluminum ones eventually wear out. But I’m just a regular traveler, and for me the aluminum works well.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2010 at 6:01 am

Posted in Shaving

Big-spending by Obama: Not

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Excellent Paul Krugman article, well worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2010 at 5:27 am

Posted in Daily life

Travel notes, stage 2

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Today I depart upstate New York and travel (by train, thank God) to Philadelphia to visit TYD. I’ve been extremely fortunate with the weather: crisp sunny days, with trees turning golden. I have good photos of various things, including Nelly, The Son’s tuxedo kitty, a calm and sweet 8-year-old.

I do note that I am eating well: not so much the excellent food (produce fresh from the farm) as my observing serving size and avoiding snacking. We’ll see…

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2010 at 5:26 am

Posted in Daily life

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