Archive for February 21st, 2012
Sometimes I think it would be interesting to write a movie in which the dialogue reflects actual considerations/priorities. For example, in a movie discussing a money exchange: “One thing: wherever we do this, I want a cheap location, understand? An abandoned warehouse, maybe, or empty farmland, but the acoustics are bad and who knows the weather?—let’s use an old abandoned building…”
Because sometimes the motivations are a little too clear.
Very good post by James Fallows, with graphs. Post begins:
ome day people will look back in puzzlement at the prevailing U.S. mood of 2011, when in the face of the biggest job-loss collapse in two generations the prevailing rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans alike emphasized the need to cut public spending, now. (And, yes, it should have been seen as puzzling and self-destructive at the time.)
Much as we now look back in puzzlement at the prevailing U.S. rhetoric of 2002, with its gung-ho emphasis on the need to invade Iraq now. And the rhetoric of 2012, going on around us, with its off-hand discussion of the need to attack Iran any day now. Good for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, for saying in public what National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has apparently been saying in private on his trip to Israel: that bombing Iran is in fact a risky, bad, and self-defeating idea, and that the Netanyahu team should not be under the illusion that the U.S. would welcome their doing so.
Austerity measures, in the middle of a collapsing private economy, make things worse, not better. This observation would be akin to “gravity pulls you down, not up” except that so many people seemed not to remember or believe it last year. (Viz: the whole debt ceiling train-wreck.)
Here’s a visual aid, in keeping with repeated posts that the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson has been doing on the subject. It comes from the Rockefeller Institute, which has documented trends in employment over the past few years. These lines show the changes in public and private employment since the collapse that began four years ago: . . .
Take a look at this and try to tell me that object-copiers are not coming Real Soon Now.
I still had much of the same stuff as yesterday, but I took it in a non-ginger direction:
4-qt sauté pan with:
1 Tbsp hot chili sesame oil (the oil — this and the EVOO)
1 tsp EVOO
1/2 medium onion, chopped
I sautéed that over medium-low heat until onions softened, then added:
1 bunch scallions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz firm tofu, cubed (the protein)
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 baby bok choy, chopped
2 handfuls chopped celery
1/2 bulb fresh fennel and some fronds, chopped
1/2 cup rice—the rest of the leftover rice (the starch)
grinding of black pepper
good sprinkle of crushed red pepper
I turned up the heat a bit and cooked that for 6 or 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then I added:
1 bunch red kale, chopped (including stems, which I minced) (the greens)
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
I lowered heat, covered, and simmered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end I sprinkled it with a little bit of garam masala.
Not bad. And when you have red kale, you know you’re having greens. The baby bok choy is too iffy. I’m going to view that as a vegetable.
This will be three meals, I would say.
I’m seeking the word that describes the drawbacks/evils of having too much of a good thing, brought about by reading this interesting article on the evils of too much efficiency in economic transactions. The authors provide examples of the general phenomenon:
. . . So whereas some efficiency is good, more efficiency may not be better. The psychologist Adam Grant and I published an article last year suggesting that the “too much of a good thing” phenomenon may be more general than commonly thought. Some choice is liberating; too much choice is paralyzing. Some motivation produces excellent performance; too much motivation leads to folding under pressure.
Finding the right amount of each of these things — what Aristotle called the “mean” — is the real challenge we face, both as individuals and as a society. In my view, the real criticism of capitalism that is implied by the criticism of Mr. Romney and Bain is that in worshiping efficiency so single-mindedly, it has ignored the possibility that too much efficiency — too little friction — might be a bad thing.
Finding the mean isn’t easy, even when we try to. It is sometimes said that the only way to figure out how much is enough is by experiencing too much. But the challenge is even greater when we’re talking about companies, because companies aren’t even trying to find the mean.
For an individual company and its shareholders, there is no such thing as too much efficiency. The price of too much efficiency is not paid by the company. It is what economists call a negative externality, paid by the people who lose their jobs and the communities that suffer from job loss. Thus, we can’t expect the free market to find the level of efficiency that keeps firms competitive, provides quality goods at affordable prices and sustains workers and their communities. If we are to find the balance, we must consider stakeholders and not just shareholders. Companies by themselves won’t do this. Sensible regulation might. . .
The whole article is worth reading, but my question now is: What is the word for “too much of a good thing”?—specifically, for the harm that results from having/doing too much of something that, done more moderately, is quite good?
UPDATE: I knew it would come to me: “plethora” is the word.
UPDATE 2: “Surfeit” would also serve.