The False Apology Syndrome flourishes wherever there has been a shift in the traditional locus of moral concern. At one time, a man probably felt most morally responsible for his own actions. He was adjudged (and judged himself) good or bad by how he conducted himself toward those in his immediate circle. From its center rippled circles of ever-decreasing moral concern, of which he was also increasingly ignorant. Now, however, it is the other way round. Under the influence of the media of mass communication and the spread of sociological ways of thinking, a man is most likely to judge himself and others by the opinions he and they hold on political, social, and economic questions that are far distant from his immediate circle. A man may be an irresponsible father, but that is more than compensated for by his deep concern about global warming, or foreign policy, or the food situation in Africa.
Uncle Sam has dedicated several petaflops of computing power to redesigning nuclear war heads and simulating nuclear explosions (thereby getting around the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which forbids actually blowing up a real new nuke design to test it). You'd think at least one central bank (most likely the Federal Reserve Bank, given the central nature of the US economy since the end of World War II) would have a supercomputer cranking through scenarios right now. After all, the big banks and brokerages are doing Monte Carlo simulations to assess the risks of buying and selling securities using more or less real-time stock data […]
When I asked how the Financial Accelerator was implemented, Gertler said: "The model is a set of non-linear equations. We take a loglinear approximation around the steady-state, which gives us a set of difference equations. We then solve using software such as Matlab" [On a desktop PC !]
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Just released for a third time on DVD, The Big Lebowski has, in a decade, inspired a cinematic cult with websites, festivals, and teachings to live by. At the heart of this denomination is the Dude, brilliantly incarnated by Jeff Bridges as a Zen slob whose three great loves are weed, white Russians, and bowling. And the Dude is indeed a fantastic character. Ten years on, though, the movie's most striking role belongs to John Goodman as Walter Sobchak: a hawkish, slightly unhinged Vietnam vet and the Dude's best friend and bowling partner. Watching The Big Lebowski in 2008, it becomes clear that Walter is essential to the Coen brothers' message in this movie, which is slyer, more political, and more prescient than many of its fans have recognized. Perhaps that's because Walter, with his bellowing, Old Testament righteousness and his deeply entrenched militarism, is an American type that barely registered on the pop-culture landscape 10 years ago. He's a neocon.