Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Federal Reserve Explained!

It’s true–paper money makes it easier to cause inflation. Much easier. A government can “just print” more money. The US did this in the American Revolution, and again during the Civil War. Some people say we’re doing it now. I don’t think that’s quite right, because of the way the Federal Reserve works, which few […]

Rhetoric of the Gold Fetish

In anthropology, a “fetish” is an object believed to have magical powers. A rabbit’s foot, a horseshoe, a lucky coin: these are “fetishes,” material things supposedly animated by magic power. They can ward off bad times. Historically, when Americans talked about the gold standard, they often talked about it as magical. Gold would make bad […]

the always already of polling

Polling–maybe the worst thing ever to happen to our politics. Somewhere I came across a quote from Foucault–I think it was Foucault1–saying “truth is the product of the system of beliefs designed to produce it.” A Model T Ford was the truth of the Ford assembly line. If we think of the Ford assembly line […]

The Gold Standard of Lunacy

The gold standard is coming back in a a big way. Not only do a number of recently elected congressman and Senators favor a return to the gold standard: the President of the World Bank recently initiated a conversation about returning to gold, and the New York Times recently ran an editorial by James Grant […]

Googling Peer Review, Part Two

Talking with a friend about peer review, it occurred to me that the stuff which has been most influential in my intellectual life, the stuff that’s been most profound and useful, is profound and useful in ways that have nothing at all to do with peer review. Was Foucault’s Discipline and Punish peer reviewed? It […]

Social Security was a Jobs Bill

Social Security was first proposed in the mid-1930s, as a jobs bill, an answer to the unemployment problem. In the mid 1930s a California doctor, Frances Townsend, proposed establishing a 2% sales tax on all purchases, and using the resulting funds to guarantee every American over 60 a pension As you can see below, he […]

Blind Imitation

What do we do when we learn by imitation? What does it mean when the imitation crosses “racial” lines? I’m working on the history of music, and looking here at the career of Eddie Lang, who was perhaps the single most recorded person in the 1920s. I want to eventually compare Lang to John Powell, […]