Posts Tagged “Economics”

06w41:1 Muhammad Yunus

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I was happy to hear on the radio this morning that Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize, which has acquired a notoriety for sometimes missing it’s mark. The link to the MIT lecture below was included in Goodreads 05w51:1 (which I sent out on Christmas Eve), and at the time I noted he was one of the most inspiring individuals I’d ever learned about. The Peace Prize is a well deserved honour.

On a coincidental but related note, tonight’s Ideas on CBC features Avi Lewis in conversation with Pier Luigi Sacco, and the write-up on the Ideas site reads: ‘Pier Luigi Sacco teaches the economics of culture in Venice. He’s interested in concepts of post-industrial economics, co-operative enterprise and game theory. In a discussion recorded in Vancouver, he and social commentator Avi Lewis, talk about changing theories of economics as key to narrowing the gap between rich and poor.’ Ideas is on CBC Radio 1 at 9pm local, or can be streamed online from a location during times where it is 9pm local.


Ending Global Poverty | Muhammad Yunus at MIT

Muhammad Yunus Google Video Compilation |
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emailed by Timothy on Friday 13 October 2006 @ 7:20 PM

06w21:1 Forgeting the Soil

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Last night I caught the CBC1 Ideas re-broadcast of the 2004 symposium held to discuss Jane Jacobs’ last book, Dark Age Ahead. Toward the end of the program Nobel-winning economist Robert Lucas presented a picture of things being great just as they are. According to Lucas, the movement away from ‘the idiocy of rural life’ (a phrase he credited to Marx) was a good thing and nothing to be concerned about. I was dumbfounded to hear this, questioning the limits of his imagination. If everyone moved to cities, where would our food come from?

What then followed was a presentation by Norman Wirzba, who brought up my concerns with an eloquent speech on this basic problem, which is one of ignorance about the cycles of life. This ignorance is encouraged by city-living and tempts us to believe that we live in a post-agrarian age. His point is that we do not, nor could we realistically.

His talk was so good that I contacted him after the broadcast to request a copy of his paper to post on Goodreads. He got back to me this morning and it can now be found at the link below. – Timothy

The Forgetting of Soil: A Response to Dark Age Ahead | Norman Wirzba
“The steady migration of people from farms or rural areas to cities or suburbs, a migration pattern now being replicated across the globe, means that very few of us have any realistic or honest idea of where food comes from, and under what conditions it can be expected to be safely and reliably produced. Food is conveniently and cheaply purchased at the store. […] Given the important insight that culture is not primarily transmitted through the written page or computer screen but rather that ‘cultures live through word of mouth and example,’ (5) a fundamental question emerges: does the victory of urbanization over agrarian life nonetheless signal a long-term defeat if it means the loss of living, concrete examples of sustainable engagement with the land? Who in our society, what face-to-face apprenticeships, will pass on the wisdom we need to live well in bodies that are themselves dependent on the health and vitality of other biological bodies and systems?”

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 24 May 2006 @ 2:45 PM

05w51:1 Everything, or Throwing the Backlog on the Winter's Fire, or Xmastravaganza

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 51 number 1 (everything, or throwing the backlog on the winter’s fire, or the xmastravaganza)


But first the news….

“Welcome to Ohio! Ihre Papiere, bitte!” | Metafilter
“Governor Taft of Ohio is about to sign Senate Bill 9, the Ohio Patriot Act. Among its provisions: * Police can deny entry to “transportation infrastructure” to anyone not showing an ID; * Police can demand the name, address, and date of birth of anyone suspected of having committed a crime or being about to commit a crime, or having witnessed a crime or a plan to commit a crime. Failure to provide this information is an arrestable offense — so basically all demonstrators could be required to give their names, addresses and dates of birth or face arrest; * Reminiscent of Joe McCarthy’s famous question, many state licenses will begin with the question “Are you a member of an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?”. Failure to answer means no license; answering affirmatively is self-incrimination. * Perhaps worst of all, the original version of the bill simply prohibited state or local governemnts or government employees from objecting to the USA PATRIOT act. The current version allows criticism, but threatens local government with the loss of funds if they in any way “materially hinder” Federal anti-terrorism efforts. “Welcome to Ohio! Ihre Papiere, bitte!” is from Metafilter, and included this comment: “The men who founded this nation were brave and forward thinking, the United States formed as the most modern and enlightened government in history. And now, through the spoiled tricksters in power, it is being dismantled while the citizens are at home watching another sitcom, laughing, laughing, laughing. […] Oh, and f*ck Jesus and every moron who voted for Republicans because they promised to stop homosexuals from getting married.” Yeah, f*ck ’em.

But it is Jesus’ birthday and all, supposedly. But maybe Jesus was a bastard. Maybe he was born in the summer. Ah well, at least it’s time off work, and we get to eat well.

Where is Santa Claus? | Timothy Comeau
from 1990 when I was in Grade 10

Sata Claus | Timothy Comeau
Santa loves logs

Santa is Satan right?
at first I thought this was satire than checked out the rest of the site and saw that it’s a looney Christian one and so the video I guess is supposed to be serious.Thanks to Rany (whoever you are) for the link.

Merry Religious Assimiliation Day | OmniNerd
“The first recorded Christmas on December 25th took place in the 4th century, a date coinciding with the birthdate of Mithras, the Persian sun god. Pope Julius I is rumored to have adjusted Jesus’ birthday to match Mithras’ because the church was unable to stop the pagan celebrations and thereby could associate their festivities in Jesus’ name. Other traditions owe their roots to non-Christian origin. Evergreen trees were revered by Druids for good luck and fertility because they withstood the hardships of winter. The tree became a religious symbol of everlasting life and was decorated to symbolize the sun’s power.”

The Earthly Father: What if Mary wasn’t a virgin? | Chloe Breyer
“Should Schaberg and other scholars who question the virgin birth be hurled into the outer darkness? The problem with dismissing them, as the fourth-century church authorities dismissed their forerunners, begins with Scripture. The biblical sources for the virgin conception are a few short passages in two of the four Gospels. In Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph, who is perplexed about his fiancee’s pregnancy. Should he divorce Mary or have her stoned her to death, as the law of Deuteronomy requires? “Joseph, Son of David,” says the angel, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus.” The angel then goes on to quote the Hebrew prophet Isaiah. “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.” (In fact, “virgin” comes from Matthew’s use of a Greek mistranslation; the Hebrew in Isaiah reads “young girl.”) The version in Luke is similar.”

Mary’s Not a Virgin | The Current speaks to Jane Schaberg
Mary’s wasn’t a virgin, she was just unfaithful I guess

Eluding Happiness: A Buddhist problem with Christmas. | Jess Row

Oh, but now Buddhism’s in the picture. Which is interesting because….

Scientists to check Nepal Buddha boy | Navin Singh Khadka

Introduction to Meditation | Gil Fronsdal

…which reminds me of the Buddhist joke I once heard which I never really understood. I guess that means I’m stupid. But whatever. It went: ‘what did the Buddhist say to the hot-dog vendor? — I’ll have one with everything.’

so, on to everything….

Blink and The Wisdom of Crowds | James Surowiecki & Malcolm Gladwell

Preacher of the profane | Daniel Binswanger

Ad glut turns off viewers | Gary Levin

Are you there God? It’s me Margaret | Mathew Fox interviews Margaret Atwood

Move Toward Plain Language in Canadian Court Decisions | Michel-Adrien Sheppard

The Plain Language Association INternational Vincent Van Gogh, the drawings | Franklin Einspruch

Art in Newfoundland | Craig Francis Power
nobody writes me letters anymore. boohoohoo

this was awesome:

Optics in Renaissance Art | Charles M. Falco
(link to realmedia presentation, or go here: Lectures at Princeton page)

and this was really good…:

Urban Planning | The Current speaks to Fred Kent

Fred Kent complained about Frank Gehry’s work and that of similar architects, which in Toronto, means he’s talking about our reno-projects…. he refered to it as ‘starkichecture’ and spoke of design being a disease. Monuments to ego (*cough* Liebskind) maybe, but as public spaces, they leave much to be desired. Personally I can see an historical connection to architecture and fascism, but who cares what I think.

Some pigs are more equal than others | Timothy Comeau

Not Special | Timothy Comeau

Let’s have a culture of six pack minds baby. Because then the world might be a better place. In the meantime there’s Muhammad Yunus.

Muhammad Yunus is one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever come across in the media-scape. A highly recommended video presentation….

Ending Global Poverty | Muhammad Yunus
“ABOUT THE LECTURE: Imagine a bank that loans money based on a borrower’s desperate circumstances — where, as Muhammad Yunus says, ‘the less you have, the higher priority you have.’ Turning banking convention on its head has accomplished a world of good for millions of impoverished Bangladeshis, as the pioneering economist Yunus has demonstrated in the last three decades. What began as a modest academic experiment has become a personal crusade to end poverty. Yunus reminds us that for two-thirds of the world’s population, ‘financial institutions do not exist.’ Yet, ‘we’ve created a world which goes around with money. If you don’t have the first dollar, you can’t catch the next dollar.’ It was Yunus’ notion, in the face of harsh skepticism, to give the poorest of the poor their first dollar so they could become self-supporting. ‘We’re not talking about people who don’t know what to do with their lives….They’re as good, enterprising, as smart as anybody else.’ His Grameen Bank spread from village to village as a lender of tiny amounts of money (microcredit), primarily to women. Yunus heard that “all women can do is raise chickens, or cows or make baskets. I said, ‘Don’t underestimate the talent of human beings.'” No collateral is required, nor paperwork—just an effort to make good and pay back the loan. Now the bank boasts 5 million borrowers, receiving half a billion dollars a year. It has branched out into student loans, health care coverage, and into other countries. Grameen has even created a mobile phone company to bring cell phones to Bangladeshi villages. Yunus envisions microcredit building a society where even poor people can open ‘the gift they have inside of them.'”

I’ve linked to things relating to Bonnie Basseler’s work before. Here is a video presentation from Printceton. I’ve linked to the real audio version, but there are others available from the source website here: Lectures at Princeton page

How Bacteria Talk to One Another | Bonnie Basseler speaking at Princeton (video)

Merry Christmas everybody.

-Mr. Timothy

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emailed by Timothy on Saturday 24 December 2005 @ 5:24 PM

05w14:2 Economics

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 14 number 2 (economists)

It’s funny how economists talk about human beings as if they aren’t human themselves. – Timothy


Why Logic Often Takes A Backseat | Peter Coy
“According to the new science of neuroeconomics, the explanation might lie inside the brains of the negotiators. Not in the prefrontal cortex, where people rationally weigh pros and cons, but deep inside, where powerful emotions arise. Brain scans show that when people feel they’re being treated unfairly, a small area called the anterior insula lights up, engendering the same disgust that people get from, say, smelling a skunk. That overwhelms the deliberations of the prefrontal cortex. With primitive brain functions so powerful, it’s no wonder that economic transactions often go awry. ‘In some ways, modern economic life for humans is like a monkey driving a car,’ says Colin F. Camerer, an economist at California Institute of Technology. Until recently, economists contented themselves with observing people from the outside.”

One Small Step for Man ? | Steven E. Landsburg
“I am privileged to teach in one of the world’s most respected economics departments. We’re on pretty much everyone’s top-15 list, and by a lot of measures, we’re considered top-five. I mention this by way of pointing out that this is not some bunch of bozos we’re talking about here. And yet somehow last summer, we managed to spend a week in a state of collective befuddlement, obsessing over a seemingly impenetrable conundrum that came up over lunch: If people stand still on escalators, then why don’t they stand still on stairs?”NOTE: Article date 28 Aug 2002

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 06 April 2005 @ 5:05 PM

04w12:1 The Corporation

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 12 number 1 (The Corporation)


Review of “The Corporation” | What is The Message?
“First, let me say that the film is worth seeing for a lot of reasons. […] While I wouldn’t call the reportage exactly balanced – this is a film promoting a definite point of view – it isn’t all Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky all the time either. In particular, the testimony by Ray Anderson, Chairman of Interface, Inc., one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, clearly demonstrates the good that corporations can do, and provides part of the answer to the problem proposed by the film’s premise. […] The widely-publicized set piece is the ‘diagnosis’ of an archetypal corporation as a psychopath. […] But the examples are clearly selected to prove the point, essentially begging the question. What struck me as ironic was how the film decried corporations for using manipulative advertising and marketing techniques to attract customers, while simultaneously using the same methods to make its own points, especially the incriminating diagnosis.”

What CEOs can learn at daycare | Jim Stanford
“In fact, my only disappointment was the gradual realization that this nurturing and generally peaceful environment was completely different from the real world that my daughters were destined to inhabit. At daycare, they learn to be compassionate and co-operative human beings. But capitalism does not reward compassion and co-operation; it is driven by acquisitiveness and individualism. The rules of the game change once you leave daycare, and so do the teachers who enforce them. […] How ironic that we train our children first to be good, social human beings, only to later demand that they act like acquisitive, hard-hearted machines. Personally, I prefer the approach that rewards co-operation and compassion, and that produces an environment in which everyone succeeds. If toddlers can learn to do it, why can’t the rest of us? ”

How to Lead Now | John A. Byrne
“In truth, this is the stuff of Leadership 101: drawing the very best out of people by making the emotional bond every bit as important as the monetary one, feeding the soul as well as the wallet. But as profits have plunged and unemployment has soared, nurturing and innovative approaches to leading have fallen by the wayside, replaced by tougher, more autocratic, and more egocentric styles. Inspirational leadership has come to be lumped in with the fripperies of the bubble: the snazzy dotcom digs, the office concierge, the take-your-dog-to-work days. In many workplaces, the message has changed from ‘What can we do to keep you happy and keep you here?’ to ‘You’re lucky to have a job, so sit down and shut up.’ […] But if the recent period of excess and arrogance has taught us anything, it’s that leadership must return to the principles that are practiced by people like 49-year-old Cadagin. […] Katzenbach, who has long studied high-performing organizations, thinks that it comes down to one core issue: building pride. ”

The Morality of the Market | Jerry Z. Muller
“One perennial pitfall in thinking about the moral effects of capitalism is issue of comparison. When philosophers ask about the morality of capitalism, they too rarely ask ‘compared to what’? Of course capitalism is morally inferior to many a philosophical utopia. […] But the flip side of the cash nexus is first of all the freedom and self-determination that comes from having cash, and second the fact that relations based on cash do not involve the total subordination of one individual to the will of another […] there are plenty of good arguments about the moral hazards of a market society. But there are also good arguments about its moral advantages, and these should not get overlooked in discussions about globalization. Many of the moral advantages and conceptions of selfhood that those in capitalist societies take for granted are due in no small part to capitalism itself. ”

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 15 March 2004 @ 10:48 PM

04w11:1 Patrick Moore vs. Vandana Shiva

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 11 number 1 (Patrick Moore vs. Vandana Shiva)


Eco-Traitor | Drake Bennett
“Patrick Moore has been called a sellout, traitor, parasite, and prostitute […] Moore helped found Greenpeace and devoted 15 years to waging the organization’s flamboyant brand of environmental warfare. […] He derides today’s activists as philosophically unmoored and blindly technophobic, and he offers an alternative philosophy that not only accepts but celebrates humankind’s growing ability to alter the planet. […] ‘As I like to say, maybe it’s time to figure out what the solutions are, rather than just focusing on problems.’ […] When I understood sustainable development,’ he recalls, ‘I realized that the challenge was to take these new environmental values that we had forged and incorporate them into the traditional social and economic values that drive public policy. In other words, it was a job of synthesis.’ ”

Battle for Biotech Progress | Patrick Moore
“The campaign of fear now waged against genetic modification is based largely on fantasy and a complete lack of respect for science and logic. In the balance it is clear that the real benefits of genetic modification far outweigh the hypothetical and sometimes contrived risks claimed by its detractors. […] For six years, anti-biotech activists managed to prevent the introduction of G.M. crops in India. This was largely the work of Vandana Shiva, the Oxford-educated daughter of a wealthy Indian family, who has campaigned relentlessly to ‘protect’ poor farmers from the ravages of multinational seed companies. In 2002, she was given the Hero of the Planet award by Time magazine for ‘defending traditional agricultural practices.’ Read: poverty and ignorance. It looked like Shiva would win the G.M. debate until 2001, when unknown persons illegally planted 25,000 acres of Bt cotton in Gujarat. The cotton bollworm infestation was particularly bad that year, and there was soon a 25,000 acre plot of beautiful green cotton in a sea of brown. The local authorities were notified and decided that the illegal cotton must be burned. This was too much for the farmers, who could now clearly see the benefits of the Bt variety. In a classic march to city hall with pitchforks in hand, the farmers protested and won the day. Bt cotton was approved for planting in March 2002. One hopes the poverty-stricken cotton farmers of India will become wealthier and deprive Vandana Shiva of her parasitical practice. ”

Poverty & Globalisation | Vandana Shiva
“Who feeds the world? My answer is very different to that given by most people. It is women and small farmers working with biodiversity who are the primary food providers in the Third World, and contrary to the dominant assumption, their biodiversity based small farms are more productive than industrial monocultures. This deliberate blindness to diversity, the blindness to nature’s production, production by women, production by Third World farmers allows destruction and appropriation to be projected as creation. Take the case of the much flouted ‘golden rice’ or genetically engineered Vitamin A rice as a cure for blindness. It is assumed that without genetic engineering we cannot remove Vitamin A deficiency. However, nature gives us abundant and diverse sources of vitamin A. If rice was not polished, rice itself would provide Vitamin A. If herbicides were not sprayed on our wheat fields, we would have bathua, amaranth, mustard leaves as delicious and nutritious greens that provide Vitamin A. The devaluation and invisibility of sustainable, regenerative production is most glaring in the area of food. While patriarchal division of labour has assigned women the role of feeding their families and communities, patriarchal economics and patriarchal views of science and technology magically make women’s work in providing food disappear. ‘Feeding the World’ becomes disassociated from the women who actually do it and is projected as dependent on global agribusiness and biotechnology corporations. ”

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emailed by Timothy on Sunday 07 March 2004 @ 12:48 PM