Print Story I find that answer vague and unconvincing
By TheophileEscargot (Fri Dec 30, 2016 at 04:01:07 AM EST) Reading, Watching, Me, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "And the Weak Suffer What They Must?" Watching. Me. Links.

What I'm Reading
And the Weak Suffer What They Must? by Yanis Varoufakis. Economic history about how the Eurozone came to exist in its devastating form. Has a few anecdotes from his brief time as the Greek finance minister, but doesn't tell that story in detail.

It talks a lot about the "Nixon Shock" of 1971 when the US came off the gold standard, ending the Bretton Woods system of the end of WW2. That system regulated exchange rates, though they would sometimes be shifted in value after negotiations between states and central banks. However it relied on the US having a manufacturing surplus, and goodwill by the US and the smaller states. (Varoufakis perhaps underplays the genuine fear of inflation, especially regarding Paul Volcker's motivations.)

Missing the predictable world of stable exchange rates, European figures tried to recreate it with moves towards the single currency with the Exchange Rate Mechanism. However there was a fundamental floor in the inability of the nations to "recycle surpluses". If a nation like German has a trade surplus, goods and services go out while money comes in. Under floating exchange rates, its currency goes up, which means its consumers can buy more stuff, but the goods and services it produces become more expensive, and so the trade surplus shrinks back.

With fixed exchange rates though, the money goes in and has to come out somewhere. In a single state, the government will tax it and spend it in places without a trade surplus. In the Eurozone, it created a financial bubble where money was lent out to deficit nations at unsustainable levels of risk and interest. When the 2008 banking crisis hit, the European Union and the central bank forced the deficit nations to use tax money to bail out the banks that had made dodgy loans. With no Keynesian spending, this caused a doom loop between bank and government debt.

The basic story should be familiar, but Varoufakis goes deep into the details, showing how Greece was used as an example to threaten punishment to Italy and Spain. It's pretty grim reading as you see the cynicism and incompetence at work.

Despite everything, Varoufakis still sees a more democratic Europe as the solution. However he points out that the "more Europe" solutions being touted are not in fact more democratic, and generally involve the smallest figleaf of democracy being used to cover up more power for bureaucrats and institutions.

Overall, a very useful book. However I'm not totally convinced by his analysis of the motivations of all the people involved. I suspect blind panic and a genuine fear of inflation might have had a greater role than he gives them.

What I'm Watching
Saw "Star Wars: Rogue One" at the cinema. Liked it: good science fiction action movie. Managed to see it in Imax close to the front (after finishing Xmas shopping) so had a great immersive experience in the battle scenes. Not as good as The Force Awakens but far better than the prequels.

Had an OK Christmas on the whole. Took the toddler up to visit the parents for a couple of days beforehand, and went for a day to visit my sister afterwards, so got to see the family a bit. Toddler liked his presents, main ones were a remote control Thomas the Tank Engine and a magnetic drawing set. The latter really warmed my heart when after having fun with it, he wandered over to try to draw on the furniture with a magnetic "pen" to no effect whatsoever. Xmas dinner was cooked OK, though I should have kept the Yorkshires in a bit longer to get them crispy. Just did a poussin since the toddler and me are the only meat-eaters here.

Socioeconomics: ‘Negligible’ link found between executive pay and performance. Home ownership 'overestimated by official data'. Brexit will let us end free movement of capital. The churches have been empty for 100 years.

Politics. The Conservatives have outborrowed Labour for a century. 7 times the CIA influenced foreign politics

Pics. Antient Topography of London: drawings of buildings that were old in 1815. Vintage condom packaging.

Sci/Tech. Customized cat feeder. Anil Dash: advice for Twitter.

Video. Mr Night.

Articles. The data formats of Star Wars suck, via. Children of Men revisited. Star Wars, Capitalism and "Benign Dictatorship". REM and disco, via.

< Books I've Read This Year 2016 | New Two Oh One Seven >
I find that answer vague and unconvincing | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
I preferred Rogue One to The Force Awakens by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Dec 30, 2016 at 09:48:34 AM EST
though fifteen_year_old thought The Force Awakens was better. She's lucky, she's never seen the prequels.

Star Wars data formats by wumpus (4.00 / 2) #2 Fri Dec 30, 2016 at 10:01:10 AM EST
Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away a speeding smuggler freighter filled with data tapes had far higher bandwidth than imperial transmissions.


Data Formats by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #8 Sat Dec 31, 2016 at 10:02:03 AM EST
There are thousands of cultures with thousands of differing philosophies around data storage and data security.  So I have no issue with differing formats being used.  In the last twenty years how many formats have we had and how many are in use currently?  Additionally I'm absolutely certain that the humans in Star Wars are totally incapable of building their own hardware.  I find it more likely the droids are doing the design work and actual construction, so those interface sockets that show up all over the place are purely the droids realizing they need something that the humans don't. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Okinawan Karate by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Jan 01, 2017 at 01:49:20 PM EST
is not to be written down (there is a scene in the original "Karate Kid" were Mr. Miyagi sneers at the whole idea of learning karate from a book). I think it is not so much due to the lack of specifics writing allows for describing technique (and distrust of "book learning") vs. the distrust of the survival of the book after the entire island turned into one of the deadliest battlefields of WWII).

I suspect such cultures depend a lot on just how likely a book would survive. Egyptian books seem to live forever, if they are buried sufficiently far from the Nile. The Jews have rules about each Torah has to have every single character exactly correct or the Torah can't be used in services. They are more concerned with incorrect books surviving than worried about the book surviving at all (although I'm sure that there are plenty of precautions to protect the books).


[ Parent ]
Karate by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Jan 01, 2017 at 09:48:28 PM EST
I think it's more that it's nearly impossible to learn physical moves from text because it is so hard to see your own performance.  You need a teacher to look at what you do and direct you how to change.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Varoufakis book sounds interesting by Herring (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Dec 30, 2016 at 07:10:49 PM EST
I've always been deeply sceptical about monetary union without political union. Have both or have neither - half-way is never going to end well. I've also wondered why the hell countries like Greece wanted in in the first place.

I'm not sure how it's going to end though. It may not be pretty.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

According to Varoufakis by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Dec 31, 2016 at 01:39:23 AM EST
People in countries like Greece thought they could get less corrupt, more capable economic management from central European techocrats.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Riesman on Children of Men by lm (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Dec 30, 2016 at 10:52:43 PM EST
To copy/paste what I wrote on the Face Book when someone else posted the same link.

Children of Men has been one of my favorite films since I first saw it years ago. IMO, Riesman's overview of the plot is a bit ham fisted. The entire film is shot in first person from the point of view of Theo. We the audience never see anything on screen that he does not witness himself. What that entails for the final scene is open to interpretation but IMO it makes the film a good more bleak than even most people think.

It's also a fun film to watch with a Bulgarian friend who can translate what that one old gypsy in the refugee camp is actually saying.

Riesman is dead on about the cinematography. Aside from those two magnificent sequences he mentions that were taken in single cuts, the imagery and palette throughout are amazing.

I'm not quite sure that I buy Riesman's thesis that the film is super relevant to today's world other than capturing the feeling of being a refugee at a time of war and upheaval. The refugee crisis is used as a mechanism to forward the plot and little else in the film. In that sense I suppose it's relevant. The west is largely ignoring the crisis and seemingly doesn't care. Like Theo, we would prefer to remain aloof unless driven by financial need. But Riesman doesn't really go down that road.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
More than threats by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Sat Dec 31, 2016 at 01:41:21 AM EST
If you let them control your currency, since they can decide to stop acting as a lender of last resort to your banks if you disobey them.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
Every "optimistic" piece about Brexit... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Jan 01, 2017 at 06:02:24 AM EST
seems to involve, at heart, dissolving the British electorate and finding a new one.

To Murphy's credit, at least his "silver lining" is actually truly something that couldn't be done in the EU & of a scale that could match up to the losses exit will create.

But it is hard to see how to get a government that would implement such a thing without people voting in a very different way than they do now. And the likelihood of that has to be questioned in my view.

Best of the web by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #16 Thu Jan 05, 2017 at 06:29:46 PM EST

I find that answer vague and unconvincing | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)