Sunday, July 31, 2011

7th Art: A Separation (2011)

One of the best movies of the last few years comes from the most unexpected country: Iran. The movie is called "A Separation" ("Jodaeiye Nader az Simin") and was directed and written by Asghar Farhadi.

As it always happens in closed societies, talented artists overcome censorship through labyrinthine stories and indirect denunciation of the establishment. "A Separation" is a masterful example of the power of art to circumvent restrictions to freedom of expression.

If you like strong and realistic dramas with the most impressive direction and acting, and because of limited distribution won't have the opportunity to enjoy it on the silver screen, make sure to find a DVD copy and to watch it! Here is the trailer:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Origins of America's Fiscal Ruin

According to this opinion article in the Wall Street Journal, the politics of unfulfillable promises are at the root of the problem:
This is the road to fiscal perdition. The looming debt downgrade only confirms what everyone knows: Congress has made so many promises to so many Americans that there is no conceivable way those promises can be kept. Tax rates might have to rise to 60%, 70%, even 80% to raise the revenues to finance these promises, but that would be economically ruinous.
The same could be said about most modern western nations. History books may one day register the fact that this was the main legacy left for future generations by 20th century's fascist and socialist utopias.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The US Debt Ceiling Deadlock

We get to the point where three things have become clear:

(1) The US is being governed by two political factions that are unable, even under the most extreme circumstances, to put the nation's interests above their own partisan goals. Are you surprised? I'm not. This is the fulfillment of a trend that has started decades ago.

(2) The President is poorly equipped as a negotiator. His political strength, the reason why he got elected, is that he's a messianic politician. But messianism is normally the reason why political crises flourish. Are you surprised? Given his track history in politics, I'm not.

(3) The radicalization of the discourse among the supporters on the two sides of the aisle only proves that each faction is fully capable of energizing the cliques on their sides.

McArdle for example argued that:
Obama, meanwhile, seemed to be going out of his way to isolate Boehner from his more militant caucus members--praising Boehner's willingness to cut a deal, if only it weren't for the crazies on the far right. Perhaps this makes Obama look like a nice guy to people who don't understand the GOP intra-party dynamics, but of course, it poisons an already poisonous relationship between Boehner and the tea-partiers. If I were feeling uncharitable, I might argue that Obama seems to be willing to lower the chances of getting a deal, as long as he raises the chances that the other guys get the blame. And frankly, I'm not feeling very charitable right now.
Maybe they will yet reach an agreement in time. But all of this is evidence that we're living through an unordinary political moment that may have significant global economic consequences, which won't limit themselves to the relatively simple and eminently technical negotiations regarding debt ceilings.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fred Kofman on Activism and Leadership Responsibility

The Norway tragedy makes this statement by Fred Kofman on activism and leadership responsibility more relevant than ever (in Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values, via Juliano Torres):
The easiest way to bring a group together is to find a common enemy and blame it for the group's misery. In the long run, however, that strategy destroys the group's spirit.