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Archive for October, 2008

Im Berlin

Posted by Andrew Cooper on October 28, 2008

Mrs Mindworks and I are currently in Berlin taking a short break.  If you haven’t visited, be sure to add it to your ‘must see’ list.  Astonishing architecture, a wonderful railway system and – in Potsdam, where we spent today – some totally over the top royal palaces.  The pic shows the Chancellor’s official residence reflected in the windows of the Bundestag building.

(Post visit note: there are vastly more photos than you’d ever want to look at here.  I recommend clicking ‘slide show’ and then fast forwarding using the control buttons.)

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Time for a good recession

Posted by Andrew Cooper on October 23, 2008

Last week’s edition of New Scientist included an excellent series of articles addressing the question ‘Why growth?’.  I remember a close relative of mine raising this question many years ago.  As a  professional non-economist I know that capitalism depends on growth, otherwise how would it be possible to pay bankers bigger bonuses each year (and, OK, pay increased pensions to pensioners etc. etc.).  

The growth imperative means that if there isn’t enough growth in the real economy, it’s necessary to invent an unreal one, based on lending money to people who can’t afford to repay it, and selling the resultant debt to each other while simulatneously short trading banks in the knowledge that they’ll inevitably collapse. Or something.

Also, growth obviously = more wealth which reduces poverty.  Except it doesn’t: at least, not in sub-Saharan Africa where poverty appears to be increasing whilst ‘capital flight’ is on the increase.  Poverty amongst bankers continues to be reduced, though, and it’s good to see Lloyds-TSB’s Chief Executive has still got a grip on the situation, although he probably isn’t destined for a career in the diplomatic service.  Here’s the Daily Mash’s take on the same story.

Economic melt-down punditry continues to be a major growth industry and I’m mildly surprised I haven’t been dragged onto a 24 hour news channel myself yet as they seem to have run out of people with something useful/sensible to say.  On the upside, there’s a good article by Charlie Leadbeatter here and I strongly recommend the Neuropod podcast, produced by Nature, if you’re interested in psychology and neuroscience generally.  The most recent edition includes an interview with an economist turned psychoanalyst who concludes, of course, the the melt-down is all psychology.

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American Dream a Biological Impossibility, Neuroscientist Says

Posted by Andrew Cooper on October 22, 2008

He says it here.  Back from sunny Africa but rather overloaded just now as Mrs Mindworks and I are off to Berlin for a break on Saturday and there’s lots to do in the meantime.

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Quality not quantity

Posted by Andrew Cooper on October 2, 2008

I’m not getting vast numbers of comments on this blog, but those I have received have been excellent.  The latest is from Susan Blackmore who I first came across when I read her excellent book The Meme Machine some years ago while on holiday in Italy.  Dr Blackmore has many interests, as you can see from her website.  One of them is consciouness and I also have the textbook on the subject which was published in 2003.  I agree with all the reviewers at Amazon: it’s well worth getting if you’re interested in the topic.  (How could you not be interested in it!?)

Susan first made an appearance on this blog in this post, which includes a Youtube video.  See the right hand sidebar for a link to her comment.

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