Friday, April 29, 2011

Poison oak

A beautiful plant any time of year, but especially in spring as its polished leaves and waxy little flowers unfurl.

Then again...

... I guess you could say that Ben is not really doing his job right now...
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy's long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.
(My italics). See PK.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In defense of Ben B

OK, true, I guess Ben could be doing more, but let's be fair, he did save us from GD II, and the politicians, who maybe should take some responsibility, are basically intent on making matters worse. So I say give the man a break. Let's see you do better.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The 0.5% solution

To be perfectly honest, I have a feeling they could blend in 0.5% cat pee and I wouldn't notice. But at any rate this Trader Joe special is pretty good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are symphony concerts overpriced?

The sorry financial condition of the great Philadelphia Orchestra, following on similar news out of Detroit, has Philly boy Atrios concerned, and he seems to accept that the ticket prices are just too damn high. He cites some evidence on 1975 prices and notes that "Converted into 2005 dollars... the top ticket price to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra today should be $39.33." Instead, it's the equivalent of $122.

So how come? One possibility is that the orchestra has underestimated the demand elasticity, and is simply over-pricing its product. This seems to be Atrios's view. Or it could be that the union musicians are grossly overpaid and need a good smackdown.

But my sense is that what we are seeing is simply the classic(al) example of Baumol cost disease. William Baumol noted many years ago that the production of some goods is fundamentally skilled-labor intensive and not subject to cost-saving technological change. As the cost of other, usually high-tech goods declines, the relative price of goods like live symphony concerts rises, and deflated by a standard price index the real price is bound to be higher.

In light of this I'm inclined to say: If you want to hear first-class musicians playing live, you simply gotta pay. Yes, playing Farmville is a lot cheaper than it was in 1975! If you prefer that kind of entertainment, this is a great time to be alive...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Salade Nicoise

Gosh it's tasty. All the ingredients are at your local Trader Joe's or your favorite local grocery. Mine is Piazza's, the best food store in the greater Palo Alto area. Everything that you need and most of what you want.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sierra Blue

Of the six varieties of ceanothus in my yard, 'Sierra Blue' is my favorite. Some people seem to think it is prone to becoming "leggy," but to my eye the rangy, open structure is reminiscent of a well-pruned olive tree. And the flowers? Judge for yourself.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain

What the hell is this? Outkast meets Yo la Tengo is the nearest thing I can come up with, but that doesn't quite do this 2006 hippy-funk noise-fest justice. I play their more accessible Dear Science (2008) frequently, but I had heard nothing else by these guys until I picked this up... where else... at the public library book sale. I like it.

At the same sale I snagged the perfect antidote if your ears are ringing and your nerves need a break after Cookie Mountain: Bill Evans Trio's Portrait in Jazz (1959). Actually, this one is a bit rockin' by BE standards. The all-time classic piano trio, with LaFaro and Motian. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poem of the week

Goes out,
comes back--
the loves of a cat.

-Issa (trans. Robert Hass)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Inside the poppy

With the amazing little Canon S90 "point and click."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Garden blogging

The ceanothus are peaking, the goofy black oak is leafing, the flax are getting started, and the poppies... never to be taken for granted!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

War on the Poor

I sort of remember when there was a "war on poverty" instead. And of course Medicaid is not just for the poor, in the sense that we usually use the term. Stand tall, Mr. President.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Medicine show, Huntingdon, TN, Oct. 1935

This was taken by Ben Shahn (1898-1969) when he was working for the photography group of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), along with Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and many others. Thousands of images from this project can be viewed and downloaded from the Library of Congress web site. I suppose they were mostly commies, but one can't look through this marvelous archive without seeing it as evidence that the government is in fact capable of making excellent use of our tax dollars...