Monday, November 26, 2012

Would tapping America's energy cornucopia speed economic recovery?

Nah. My colleague Steve Smith and I are fracking skeptics, tree-huggers, and fact-based economic realists, as our recent op-ed suggests. The Chamber of Commerce begs to differ.

Friday, November 23, 2012

David S. Ware, RIP

Somehow I missed news of his death last month. A great one: his huge sound was unmistakeable, and his commitment to the pursuit of beauty--wherever it might take him--was uncompromising. As a player, in my view, he stands with Hawkins or Rollins.

This one is not for the faint of heart, but it gives a flavor of the man's power and intensity. With very cool Matthew Shipp piano.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 24

Maceo kills. Listen to the whole thing... relentless.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


My recollection of Ronald Reagan's approach to environmental policy is that he maintained that trees pollute, and generally favored massive deregulation, cost-benefit analysis be damned. It's surely a good thing if he made an exception for the Montreal Protocol to control CFCs. But it's disingenuous at best for Cass Sunstein to claim that cost-benefit analysis is "a tool disliked by many progressives but embraced by Reagan," as if the left remains the major obstacle to a rational approach to climate change. Most of the mainstream environmental movement came around to CBA and market-based policies, such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, some time ago. Meanwhile, the mainstream conservative movement in the United States, including the GOP, has gone all in for an anti-intellectual, anti-science ideology that denies the problem before it even gets to talking about a solution. Whether that is because they have an irrational commitment to some fantasy Randian worldview in which the unfettered market can do no wrong a priori, or because they are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, I cannot say. All I can say is that Sunstein should know better. If he thinks invoking Reagan will sway some Republicans, I say good luck with that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What a great country

Sure, we have our problems, but where else but America could someone have come up with this unsettling little masterpiece...

Friday, November 9, 2012


... are pretty cool. Questions remain... Are we a divided red and blue, or a thousand shades of purple? That turns out to be a gray area...

They all axed for you...

... they even inquired about you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mr. Coates is reminding me...

... why I should feel damn good about this election: here, and here. Now let's push on the policy agenda: screw the budget deficit until we get started fixing the climate, and putting the country's poorest and most marginalized people back at the top of the priority list.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


... to all you folks who can now tie the knot in several states that begin in the letter M. Oh, you too, Mr. President.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I made a cat bus terrarium

Well, I carved the structure, and some enterprising (and beautiful) fungi did the rest... as they invariably do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The opportunity gap and the political gap

This piece by Lane Kenworthy provides a concise and well-informed discussion of the causes of and potential policy solutions for the apparent decline in intergenerational economic mobility in the United States--that is, the failure of equal opportunity. A central tenet of the "American creed" is that over their life course, people should have a roughly equal chance of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. Recent trends toward greatly increased income and wealth inequality would sit a little better with many if they were not accompanied by a caste-like divide reproduced across generations.

Because he advocates a more activist and redistributive role for government, Kenworthy's prescriptions will appeal more to liberals than to conservatives. But he does not short-change the views of James Heckman and others, generally associated with the right, that changes in family structure have played an important--perhaps central--role in reducing upward intergenerational mobility in the past several decades. Policy interventions in families are constrained by the requirements of basic liberty and respect for the private sphere, but there is still much that a thoughtful and sensitive government could do to provide support and assistance to disadvantaged parents and kids.

Or so say the wonks. But even if the wonks offer some good ideas about how to narrow the opportunity gap, we also face a gap in political will. Last night I joined a standing-room crowd at Santa Clara U to hear Bobby Seale speak. He was plugging his books and movie projects, but in the meantime offered a compelling if somewhat meandering account of the history of the Black Panthers. If some of his recollections were self-serving (a young person could get the impression the Panthers were right up there with ma and apple pie), it was nonetheless bracing to be reminded of a time in American history when grassroots activism was forcing social change, while simultaneously promoting community self-help in the form of school breakfast programs, health clinics, etc.

Seale believes that what scared J Edgar Hoover most was not those angry black men and women with their afros, rhetoric, and guns, but those free breakfasts for little kids. That was ground zero for the revolution. The wonks would agree.