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Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

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Greening Dubai [Apr. 30th, 2009|12:45 am]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Friends making the world a better place...

Once again, my friend Magda is working on killer stuff. She's bringing energy efficiency to Dubai (yes, Dubai!) with a great energy-efficient neighborhood has connected rooftops, gardens, and terraces. It's a green neighborhood... in Dubai. Shit, you should all check it out. My friend's firm is named... um... have to check the web... RMJM. Oh, and her name is Magda Magdalena Urbanska. I've written about her before. Watch out for her; she'll be famous soon.

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Back in NYC [Apr. 29th, 2009|06:43 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

Back in NYC

Flying over JFK. Oddly, we had a airbus - the old school truck-people-mover things that drive up to the plane in place of the expandable drawbridge. I thought I'd go swimming at the pool and meet friends after. Instead, I watched Lost and passed out and didn't see anyone.

LOTS and LOTS of images...Collapse )
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The Great Depression vs. The Long Depression; which one are we? [Apr. 28th, 2009|05:02 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

The Great Depression vs. The Long Depression;
which one are we?

What I worry about is not that we are at the precipice of another Great Depression, ala 1927. What I worry about is that we are at the precipice of another Great Depression, ala 1873.

The "Long Depression" (which is what we call it; the people who lived through it called it "The Great Depression") had one of the longest recessions on the books. That recession, depending on the economist, lasted from 5 to 10 years. But what's scary is that it left the economy on perilous and shaky ground. The governments at the time, beholden to corporate and wealthy power, did nothing to correct the deep systemic problems that created The Panic of 1973, and because of that, our economy (and the world economy) roiled through endless severe recessions until The Great Depression.

Right now we're at a crossroads. Either we initiate a lot of fundamental, systemic and severe reforms on our free market economy, or we go back to the way things have been for the last thirty years (the laissez-faire, market is good, regulations are bad model). The problem is that before The Great Depression, our economy would experience regular and deep crashes. In that environment, 401ks are useless, and investing is only open to the rich (mutual funds become too risky for middle class). Before The Great Depression, there was a market crash (not just a recession, but a full out crash) every 5 to 20 years, like clockwork.

So our choice now is simple: either we go along with the laissez-faire crowd, and prepare for more crashes in our lifetime. Or we change shit so that he gains aren't as high, but the risks are also not as high.
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A Hootenanny and Goffs' Surrounding Towns [Apr. 28th, 2009|10:02 am]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
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A Hootenanny at Goffs!

A lot more pics...Collapse )
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Weekend Picture Post: Goffs, Ca. [Apr. 19th, 2009|07:29 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
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Until a few days ago, I've been in Needles, and not Goffs. Needles is were I went to school; Goffs is where I grew up. Needles has about 5,000 people and Goffs has about 23. Needles and Goffs are super redneck-y, but Democrat-lovin' as well. God, guns, family, and Democrats. Oh, and crystal meth, beer, fighting, and motocross.

I grew up around scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, jackrabbits and coyotes. In Needles, I go for a walk every day (as long as it's not hotter than 90 degrees) but I've only seen a few jackrabbits, a bunch of lizards, a few quail, but no snakes or scorpions or coyotes (but I hear the coyotes at night). One thing I was looking forward to: stars. I seriously miss the stars. Needles still has too much light pollution, so I couldn't wait to get to Goffs, AND it's a new moon. Still, even in Goffs, the light from Las Vegas (two and half hours away) obscures the northern horizon as if the sun is coming.

I worked with my mom, who got a temp job as an "enumerator" for the US census. She drives around the surrounding environ with a GPS and "tags" houses for the Fed. (She looks up what info the GPS thing has and makes sure it's correct.) I hadn't talked to my dad, since his number no longer worked and he's sort of an "off the grid" sort of guy. So I had my mom drive me to Goffs and I left a whole bunch of Post-It notes all over his doors.

In Needles, I watch endless cable TV, and eat endless junk food. Not working on my comic, watching bad TV, eating peanut butter wafers, watching news channels, eating Ranch flavored Doritos, Yoo Hoos, and eating and watching whatever crap my step-siblings want to eat or want to watch. When I get back to NYC, I'll have to hide out for a month just to get back in shape. I walk through the desert about an hour or so a day (because I like to) but that doesn't do a damn thing when I'm shoving gallons of high fructose corn syrup down my throat.

Tons and tons of pics...Collapse )

Me holding a little chick.

Tons and tons of pics...Collapse )
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Needles: Demolition Derby [Apr. 13th, 2009|02:32 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

Demolition Derby close to Needles, Ca.

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More photos...Collapse )
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Weekend Picture Post: Needles, Ca. [Apr. 12th, 2009|10:23 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
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Needles, Ca.

This is an impromptu trip. I was originally going to fly to Mexico City, hang out with a friend, and then the two of us were going to drive down to Central America. After about a month, I would fly back to Las Vegas and visit my parents in Goffs and Needles, California.

But my friend in Mexico City got a directing job in Miami. So I bought a ticket to Needles, Ca.

It's quiet here. The desert is all desaturated pastels. I haven't seen my mom or her family and three or four years? I used to think the desert was ugly, but I see the beauty in it, even if it is austere.

More pics... lots more pics...Collapse )

The view from the backyard
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Was this mess a result of fraud? [Apr. 5th, 2009|03:40 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

William K. Black On Fraud

A still photo from the William K. Black interview on Bill Moyers Journal

I agree with all of his details and almost all of his facts, but as usual, I disagree with the larger synopsis that our current mess is due to fraud. I disagree that Geitner and co. are lying. At worst, they're lying to themselves, or considering the political ramifications of their actions. Likewise, the banks did engage in a type of fraud, and our fiscal situation was a giant Ponzi scheme, but the stress needs to be placed on systemic corruption, NOT on individual corruption. The problem with our individualistic viewpoint is that we miss structural problems and systemic corruption. It's NOT a cover-up; but a combination of a lazy press, a lazy public, and deep rooted ideological and structural problems that resulted in the inadvertent fraud and inadvertent Ponzi scheme of our larger economy. Yes, the banks and the government (in deregulating the industry) ARE responsible for the mess, but it's not a problem of individuals, but a problem of systemic ideological pressures, models and structures. Again, this was a structural/ideological problem, not a moral problem.

Other than that, this is a good program to listen to. I like Bill Moyers.
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Weekend Picture Post: Music... [Apr. 3rd, 2009|03:23 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

Weekend Photo Dump

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Last Tuesday I went to see Alash (Tuvan Throat Singers) at Zebulon. To me, "I went to see Tuvan throat singers" sounds like the punchline or opening to a joke, but damn... they were amazing. And I mean amazing. It was one of the best shows I've seen. I literally held my breath while I was watching them. Check out their Myspace page; it's not nearly that good as the live show, but whatever.

A few days later, I went to see Palms at Monkeytown. I was late, since they were playing on Thursday and Thursday is my Dungeons and Dragons night (seriously). Anyway, they were great, and I ended up knowing a lot of the people there, and met a super cool and hilarious member of the band.

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Recently, I've been forgetting my camera. Last night, my friend Red came over and we bullshitted until about 2am. We finally went upstairs to a neighbor's party, but it was already winding down. Then we jumped in a cab, even though we're both broke, and went to this great place in Chinatown. The place is a restaurant of some sort, and they occasionally have crazy dance parties. I ran into the bass player of The Palms and we danced until they closed, which was about an hour after we got there.

A few days before that, I saw one of the last performances of USAISAMONSTER. It was amazing and intense and I wish I would have brought my camera.
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Unemployment [Apr. 2nd, 2009|02:20 pm]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

The Unemployment Rate

So everyone is making a big deal about the 8.5% unemployment rate, which is a big deal, but it's also a bit of a lie. Our real unemployment rate is 15.6%, and is what the government terms "U-6." As the government says, U-6 includes the "total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers." Click on the link.

Also, I'm not a fan of Robert Reich, but agree that saying the word "depression" seems reasonable.

One last thing: I talk a lot about the role of ideology in this mess, and shout, "I ACCUSE!" to the laissez-faire gang. If you want a long summary of what I think, and why I hate your fiscal libertarian ideology, read this account about how the banks created a subtle oligarchy. It's by Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Organization (the IMF), a organization I dislike, but I agree with Mr. Johnson 100%.
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