Monday, August 23, 2010

Language and Psychology

Great new podcast up by the people at Radio Lab over language experiments and the ability to process the outside world. I don't have much to add, in relation to the talk. But I do find Jill Bolte Taylor's discussion about the new experiences she felt when language was taken away from her by a stroke, a very interesting experiment that seems to show support for the hypothesis that some psychoanalysts have on language. The notion that language imposes an arbitrary divide between the subject and an object, causing the subject to never experience the object as an entity in itself, instead attempting to impose a hierarchical relation to it. Though, at the same time, it's hardly an objective experimental design, what is to say that her emotions were not also created by the strokes impact on the brain itself? Nevertheless, great podcast, I would recommend it to all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

State Budget Crisis Interactive Map

Interesting interactive map at the financial times website, here .

This highlights the fiscal picture that is often obscured in our deficits debate. For all the good the stimulus did, it was still rather small, considering the deficits the states were running. As Ezra Klein has
pointed out before, much of the stimulus dollars were used just to get states back to square one when the financial crisis destroyed their balance sheets. Since states are heavily reliant upon consumption and property taxes, and the crisis primarily hit the housing sector and also saw a massive drop in consumption spending, states were in dire need. Here is a good chart showing the states fiscal situation, that Ezra uses in his post:

This is a pretty good depiction of the downward drags facing our economy. With balanced budget amendments, states will have to cut services and jobs, causing further reduction in spending. It's not a question of whether or not stimulus is good or bad, but what are the offsetting measures that could affect the success of a stimulus that are often ignored.