Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Economics with Jack

Marginal Revolution recently posted a link to a debate on the pros and cons of a government stimulus package. DeLong argues that government spending, by using unemployed resources--that would be you and me--will create $150 of output for every $100 spent. Murphy says (and I agree) that DeLong is giving the government far too much credit: he assumes the politicians will be able to directly target the various underemployed/unemployed tech workers, small business entrepreneurs, and former bankers who are being shifted out of dying industries as the financial system reboots itself. He estimates the gain at $50 of value added for every $100 spent.

My take on the issue is that Congress is inherently wasteful. John McCain made his whole Senate career by pointing out how much pork is tucked into every piece of legislation--and let's not pretend that the non-pork spending went to the best firms for the job, either. The stimulus, as a political issue, is going to happen anyways of course. Unlike Murphy, I don't see that as a bad thing.

The economy is shifting resources from construction, manufacturing, and high-level banking into whatever the next big growth industry will prove to be. Obama needs to invest in retraining these workers instead of building highways--to make an investment in human capital instead of plain capital. Pell grants need to go up, state and local debt needs to be assumed, and research and technology firms should get more money as well. Recapitalizing the bank system needs to happen as well, and that should be the focus of the short-term tactical debate. In the long run, though, we need to support the college-educated and experienced workers who are currently underusing their skills. An infusion of cash into sick industries, like autos and construction, is not going to benefit the intended stimulus targets in the long run--like Murphy says, can you imagine an unemployed investment banker working a jackhammer? Stop sending money to inefficient companies. Money spent reorienting the workforce and making full use of the university research system will eventually drive the recovery and prove itself the best option.

Failing that, let's recognize that top-down intervention is possibly a bigger headache than it is ultimately worth. A corporation that can't earn more than a dollar back on a dollar spent has an obligation to return that money to its owners in the form of dividends--this from no less an authority than Warren Buffett--and there's no reason why government should be different. Tax cuts would put cash back into the private sector, and the arguments in favor can be seductive. On the other hand, that means we would be hoping that average citizens, who would almost certainly use the money for bills, interest, or saving, would gradually begin to start buying and investing once more (or so the logic goes). If we go through with the tax cuts, you would in fact see saving and investment balance out--because the sector shift will also balance out. It's much much better to concentrate on providing a safety net for workers than on public works. Trust me, I'm a poet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Jack, as an English major you definitely get an education that provides you with eloquence and cohesion with your words. I will say that I wish I had the creativity and vocabulary to write as you do. Unfortunately, engineering majors don't really provide you with classes such as yours. However, deep into last night I realized that I learn a different type of poetry. Here is a sample of engineering poetry.

#define FOREVER 1

code char *welcome = "Hello Mike and Greg! Today is 10/14/08 and this is Lab 7.\n";
char *pmsg = 0;
char nullTerm = 0;
char upper;

int counter = 0;
int rate = 3;
int reload1 = 0x87;
int reload2 = 0x6F;
sbit portbit = P2^7;
sbit portbit0 = P1^0;
sbit portbit1 = P1^1;

void init(void);

init(); /*initialize UART for serial comm mode 1 9600 baud*/
while(FOREVER); /*run forever*/

void init(void)
EA=0; /*disable interrupts*/
TMOD = 0x21; /*Mode 2 Timer 1, Mode 1 Timer 0*/
TH0 = 0x87;
TL0 = 0x6F;
TR0 = 1;
TH1 = 0xfa; /*9600 baud reload value*/
TL1 = 0xfa;
TR1 = 1; /*turn on timer 1*/
SCON = 0x50; /*mode 1 serial port TI=1*/
portbit0 = 0;
ET1 = 0;
PS = 1;
PT0 = 0;
ES = 1;
EA = 1;
pmsg = welcome;
SBUF = *pmsg;


void SPISR(void) interrupt 4
TI=0; /*clear interrupt flag */
if (*pmsg != 0)
SBUF = *pmsg;
else if (*pmsg == 0)
ET0 = 1;
RI=0; /*clear receive flag */
ACC=SBUF; /*copy recieve character */

if(ACC >= 0x61 && ACC <= 0x7A)
upper = ACC - 0x20;
upper = ACC;

if(upper == 0x53) /* S */
portbit0 = 0; /* Enable */

else if(upper == 0x4C) /* L */
portbit0 = 1;
portbit1 = 1; /* Direction - CW */
else if(upper == 0x52) /* R */
portbit0 = 1;
portbit1 = 0; /* Direction - CCW */

if(upper == 0x30)
rate = 3;
reload1 = 0x87;
reload2 = 0x6F;
else if(upper == 0x31)
rate = 30;
reload1 = 0x87;
reload2 = 0x6F;
else if(upper == 0x32)
rate = 15;
reload1 = 0x87;
reload2 = 0x6F;
else if(upper == 0x33)
rate = 5;
reload1 = 0x0E;
reload2 = 0xDF;
else if(upper == 0x34)
rate = 5;
reload1 = 0x4B;
reload2 = 0x27;
else if(upper == 0x35)
rate = 6;
reload1 = 0x87;
reload2 = 0x6F;
else if(upper == 0x36)
rate = 5;
reload1 = 0x87;
reload2 = 0x6F;
else if(upper == 0x37)
rate = 5;
reload1 = 0x98;
reload2 = 0xA8;
else if(upper == 0x38)
rate = 5;
reload1 = 0xA5;
reload2 = 0x93;
else if(upper == 0x39)
rate = 5;
reload1 = 0xAF;
reload2 = 0x9F;

SBUF = upper; /* echo recieve character */

void TOISR(void) interrupt 1
counter = counter + 1;

portbit = !portbit;
counter = 0;

TH0 = reload1;
TL0 = reload2;

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Mr. Poet
by Jack Escobar

I envy the fractal perfection of your well-balanced lines.
You think I don't see the effortlessness of imperfection
in casual
the rigid introspection demanded by form?
If my lines are leaves
carried by breezes,
I'd see them smashed
beneath your earth-grasping feet,
the powder thus inhaled by your fat nostrils.
Nothing is nothing
next to you,
the way you pull the levers that
shake the world;
the bright gravity of your ebullient star
driving mine out of commission.

How can one man stand upright
in the furious gulf?
How can I fight back
against Bukowski's drunken fists?
"unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
don't do it."
So I made up my mind.
I drowned the baby in the bath.
I knew not the sun:
so I didn't do it.
Dream On
by James Tate

Some people go their whole lives
without ever writing a single poem.
Extraordinary people who don't hesitate
to cut somebody's heart or skull open.
They go to baseball games with the greatest of ease.
and play a few rounds of golf as if it were nothing.
These same people stroll into a church
as if that were a natural part of life.
Investing money is second nature to them.
They contribute to political campaigns
that have absolutely no poetry in them
and promise none for the future.
They sit around the dinner table at night
and pretend as though nothing is missing.
Their children get caught shoplifting at the mall
and no one admits that it is poetry they are missing.
The family dog howls all night,
lonely and starving for more poetry in his life.
Why is it so difficult for them to see
that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial.
Sure, they have their banquets, their celebrations,
croquet, fox hunts, their sea shores and sunsets,
their cocktails on the balcony, dog races,
and all that kissing and hugging, and don't
forget the good deeds, the charity work,
nursing the baby squirrels all through the night,
filling the birdfeeders all winter,
helping the stranger change her tire.
Still, there's that disagreeable exhalation
from decaying matter, subtle but everpresent.
They walk around erect like champions.
They are smooth-spoken and witty.
When alone, rare occasion, they stare
into the mirror for hours, bewildered.
There was something they meant to say, but didn't:
"And if we put the statue of the rhinoceros
next to the tweezers, and walk around the room three times,
learn to yodel, shave our heads, call
our ancestors back from the dead--"
poetrywise it's still a bust, bankrupt.
You haven't scribbled a syllable of it.
You're a nowhere man misfiring
the very essence of your life, flustering
nothing from nothing and back again.
The hereafter may not last all that long.
Radiant childhood sweetheart,
secret code of everlasting joy and sorrow,
fanciful pen strokes beneath the eyelids:
all day, all night meditation, knot of hope,
kernel of desire, pure ordinariness of life
seeking, through poetry, a benediction
or a bed to lie down on, to connect, reveal,
explore, to imbue meaning on the day's extravagant labor.
And yet it's cruel to expect too much.
It's a rare species of bird
that refuses to be categorized.
Its song is barely audible.
It is like a dragonfly in a dream--
here, then there, then here again,
low-flying amber-wing darting upward
then out of sight.
And the dream has a pain in its heart
the wonders of which are manifold,
or so the story is told.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I kissed a man.

I didn't really do that but I thought my first post should have something eye catching.

Anyway, I'm sitting in Aerodynamics I and I just thought I should give Jack the gratification of knowing that his friends kind of somewhat pay attention to this shit. Jack I love you.

Side note: If Jack weren't a man, I'd propose to him ten years ago.

To the main point. While sitting here in my thrice-weekly aero-coma I have been contemplating what makes people happy and how to achieve said happiness. Now, I am not sad or depressed in any fashion and in fact I have quite a wonderful life. But I'm curious as to what people think make people happy. What do you guys think?

According to the late great Mark Twain:

"Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination."

Monday, September 29, 2008

On finding them in bed together.

tired breath
comes crystalline

cymbals rumble
beneath the

fabric of denim shirts

-- there's blood
on the pockets--

"yes I'm lonely
wanna die"

if yr burn-hole
hadn’t made

her apparition
go away,

I could've forgiven
your face

in her wallet