June 21st, 2013

contemplative gambit sitting on a chair

Profits Without Production

One lesson from recent economic troubles has been the usefulness of history. Just as the crisis was unfolding, the Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff — who unfortunately became famous for their worst work — published a brilliant book with the sarcastic title “This Time Is Different.” Their point, of course, was that there is a strong family resemblance among crises. Indeed, historical parallels — not just to the 1930s, but to Japan in the 1990s, Britain in the 1920s, and more — have been vital guides to the present.

The most significant answer, I’d suggest, is the growing importance of monopoly rents: profits that don’t represent returns on investment, but instead reflect the value of market dominance. Sometimes that dominance seems deserved, sometimes not; but, either way, the growing importance of rents is producing a new disconnect between profits and production and may be a factor prolonging the slump.
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Source at Paul Krugman's column.
Köln roter Himmel

Century of Massacres: Remembering Bremen, the First-Ever School Shooting


Image links to non-graphic image gallery


One hundred years ago, a gunman entered a school in Bremen, Germany, and killed five girls in the first-ever mass school shooting. The similarities with the dozens of horrifying attacks that have come since are haunting.

On Friday, June 20, 1913, 100 years ago, death arrived at the Marienschule school in Bremen, Germany. What happened that day wasn't just any old murder -- it was the first documented mass school shooting in history.

It was shortly before 11 a.m., as teacher Maria Pohl lined her students up in two lines to leave the school building for recess. As the girls began to move, a man stormed up the stairs and opened fire. His name was Heinz Jacob Friedrich Ernst Schmidt, a 29-year-old unemployed teacher who had only lived in the city since December of the previous year.
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The terrible events that took place 100 years ago are no longer a part of modern memory in Bremen. The original Marienschule was destroyed during a World War II bombing run and rebuilt at another location. The graves of the five girls, where they were buried side by side, have long since been decommissioned. Killer Schmidt was declared to be insane and no trial was ever conducted. He spent the rest of his life in a Bremen mental asylum and died of tuberculosis 20 years later.

At the time of his arrest, Schmidt called out, "This may be the beginning, but the end is yet to come." He was right, too. His bloody legacy in Bremen was only the first of what would become a worldwide series of school shootings over the past century -- and Bremen has been supplanted by Erfurt, Winnenden, Littleton and, most recently, Newtown.

Source; article by René Schlott
I found the 1913 New York Times report on the shooting, for those interested in historic sources. Contains language regarding mental illness that is no longer considered acceptable.

I'd never heard about this before reading the article.
contemplative gambit sitting on a chair

Kickstarter says "We were wrong"

[OP: Trigger warning added for sexual assault; both articles cited are safe however their comments are not]

On Wednesday, Kickstarter found itself in a difficult situation when game designer Casey Malone uncovered some revealing posts on Reddit. An advice writer named Ken Hoinsky, who was raising money to publish his writing on dating and seduction in book form, turned out to have given advice in the Seddit forum that looked more like advocacy of sexual harassment and assault than actual dating advice. Kickstarter reviews projects before they go live, but it's made a practice of only reviewing materials that will appear on the site itself, not supplemental material that appears outside of Kickstarter that may be incorporated into final products, or that's germane to proposals. And Malone's posting outlining his discovery of Hoinsky's writing, which was published just hours before the month-long fundraising period closed, presented Kickstarter with a dilemma.

Ultimately the site decided to leave Hoinsky's proposal up and to allow payment processing of the pledges to him to go forward, rather than changing practices in mid-stream. But today, Kickstarter announced four responses to the incident:
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Article source here; Kickstarter's full apology here.

OP: This is probably the best response we could hope for after they didn't pull funding for the book. As others have pointed out, Kickstarter will be losing a substantial amount of money as a result of this mishap, so hopefully they'll figure out a better way to respond to such controversy in the future. Tag suggestions needed.
marston, cowboy

TW: Jeremy Forrest jailed for pupil abduction and sexual offences

TW: underage sex

Teacher jailed for five and half years after admitting having sex with a child after earlier conviction for taking her to France.

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OP: I've read a few comments of support for the couple, including some that claim it's not paedophilia or statutory rape because the girl "is not a pre-pubescent child" (what's the age of consent for?). Now, I do have a friend who met her now-husband when she was 14 and he was 35, but he was not her teacher and they waited until the age of consent to take it any further. Nevertheless, the support I have read for this man sits uneasily with me.

Tag suggestions welcome.