From Alpha To Omega
Critical Thinking & In Depth Interviews
#046 Engines, Entropy, and Value
February 22, 2014 01:42 AM PST
This weeks our guest is Dr. William Paul Cockshott, a reader in the Computer Science Department of Glasgow University. Paul was trained as an economist, then as a computer scientist, and he has made contributions to the fields of image compression, 3D television, and parallel compilers. He is also known for his work in applying econophysics to classical economics, the field of economic computability, and as the co-author of the book 'Towards a new Socialism', advocating for the more efficient and democratic planning of a complex economy.
In this show we discuss the origins of classical political economy, and how it was influenced by the rapid advances in the world of physics. We talk of the importance of Watt and his steam engine, the development of the theories of thermodynamics and entropy, and their importance in economy. The work of Babbage and Alan Turing also get a mention, as well as the human as universal robot. We also discuss the overwhelming empirical evidence for Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, why it is that it works, and the importance of the work of previous guest Prof. Gregory Chaitin in the modern factory. Oh yes, and some roman pottery, chinese crossbows from the Qin Dynasty, and how difficult it is to fold your clothes.
You can find his books, talks, and research on his website here:#045 Dollar Hegemony
January 31, 2014 03:16 PM PST
This week our guest is Matias Vernengo. Matias is an Associate Professor of Economics, at Bucknell University, and a former Senior Manager of Economic Research at the Central Bank of Argentina. He blogs regularly at his site Naked Keynesianism, as well as for Triple Crisis, and is currently the co-editor of the Review of Keynesian Economics. We discuss a paper he recently co-authored with David Fields on the hegemonic role of the Dollar in the world economy. We talk of the advantages of being the worlds reserve currency, the Bretton Woods agreement, Nixon closing the gold window, the Triffin Dilemma, threats to the dominance of the dollar in world trade, and the irrelevance of gold in today’s financial system.
You can find his excellent blog here:
The Triple Crisis blog here:
And the Review of Keynesian Economics Journal here:
You can also find the paper we discuss here:
Enjoy!#044 Sins Of The Father
January 15, 2014 03:37 PM PST
This week our guest is Conor McCabe. Conor is a Research Fellow in the School of Social Justice in University College Dublin, and has just released the second edition of his book, 'Sins of the Father: Tracing the Decisions That Shaped the Irish Economy'.
The book is a brilliant class analysis of the Irish economy since the origins of the state, and seeks to give a deep systemic structural analysis to the causes of the crisis, and to help explain why things panned out the way they did. We discuss the Garden Cities of Ebenezer Howard, Irish economic policy and the British Empire, the rise of land speculation in Ireland, an extravagantly pointless Irish hotel, NAMA - the worlds largest property company, which owns all the worthless toxic commercial property in Ireland. Amongst other things...
You can find Conor's book here: (It's well worth the read...)
Happy New Year!#043 The Falling Rate of Learning
December 17, 2013 08:27 AM PST
The guest on this years Christmas edition is David Blacker. David is a Professor of Philosophy of Education and Legal Studies at the University of Delaware. His academic background is in the history of philosophy, and his writings pursue insights from that tradition within the context of contemporary education problems. His essays have appeared in the Monthly Review magazine, and he has just released an excellent new book, called, ‘The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame’, which looks at how the educational world is being affected by Marx’s law of the falling rate of profit. We discuss many of the themes of the book, including: determinism vs free will, base vs superstructure, the 'Ye Deluder Satan' Act, student debt and neo-feudalism, radical youth movements, and the utility of a stoic pessimism.
You can buy his book here:
And you can find the monthly review here:
Happy Xmas!#042 Oh So Reserved
November 23, 2013 03:43 PM PST
This weeks our guest is Dan Kervick. By day Dan works in the book publishing industry. By night, Dan is an independent scholar, specialising in the work of the British Philosopher David Hume, and a regular blogger on progressive and egalitarian economics over on:
We discuss the institutional working of the banking system, how reserves really work, bubble blowing and the logic of quantitative easing, military Keynesianism, and the role of capital flows in the modern economy.#041 PV or not PV
November 08, 2013 04:20 PM PST
This weeks our guest is Dr Marco Raugei. Marco is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Oxford Brookes University (UK), and a Senior Researcher with the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change of ESCI - Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain). His main research interests are in theoretical improvements of existing approaches for environmental sustainability assessment, and the development of strategic energy supply scenarios, with special focus on photovoltaic (PV) technologies. He has also been actively contributing to the theoretical and methodological advancement of Emergy Synthesis, which looks at human-dominated processes and systems as parts of and ultimately supported by the larger system in which they are embedded, namely the global geo-biosphere.
You can sometimes find his writings on Ugo Bardi’s blog:
We discuss his work on renewable energy, in particular his work on the current state of Photovoltaic or PV systems. We learn about the key differences between Energy Returned on Energy Invested and efficiency, bootstrapping fossil fuels to build a renewable future, re-organisation of our current economic system, and renewable energy’s storage problems.
October 12, 2013 12:21 PM PDT
This week we are joined by Professor Matheus Grasselli. Matheus is the Deputy Director of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, and an associate professor at McMaster University, where he is the co-director of PhiMac, the Financial Mathematics Laboratory. He also writes a blog on Quantitative Finance for the Fields Institute, where he discusses his work, and thoughts on economic modelling, complexity theory, and probability. Matheus has been working with Prof. Steve Keen to help give a mathematicians viewpoint on his ground-breaking monetary economic models of the capitalist system. We discuss the current state of neoclassical macroeconomic modelling, complexity and emergence, Wynn Godley and his stock-flow consistent models, Hyman Minsky and Ponzi finance, black swans and fragility, Bayesian vs Freqentist statistics, Poker, and Samuel Beckett.
You can check out his blog here: http://fieldsfinance.blogspot.co.uk/#039 Former People
October 06, 2013 12:40 PM PDT
This week we have the second part of our interview with C. Derick Varn. We discuss Derick’s new on-line literary journal 'Former People, A Journal of Bangs and Whimpers', the origins of modernism, the influence of Freud, relativity, and quantum mechanics on modernism, modernism's role in politics, and of course, a little Marx. Derick also reads a few excerpts from his writings and poetry.
You can check out Derick's stuff here:
Enjoy...#038 Capitalism is Killing The Dinosaurs - AGAIN!
September 22, 2013 05:44 PM PDT
This week we are joined again by C. Derick Varn. Derick is a poet, teacher, and theorist. He blogs for the (Dis)Loyal Opposition to Modernity, Symptomatic Commentary, and is one of the chief editors of the on-line socialist magazine, the North Star. He also co-hosts the ‘Pop The Left’ podcast with Doug Lain, and has just started a new on-line literary magazine, Former People: A Journal of Bangs and Whimpers, which seeks to look again at modernism and it’s relevance to politics. We discuss the historical tensions between Marxists and anarchists, how Occupy stunned the vanguard, the problems with democracy and the flaws of Leninism, Chomsky on Marx, the interaction of the base and superstructure, and how capitalism is killing the dinosaurs again....
Enjoy!#037 Profits, Cycles, and Breakdown
August 31, 2013 12:02 AM PDT
This week we are joined by the renowned Marxist economist Michael Roberts. Michael predicted the whole economic and social crisis we now find ourselves in, years before it occurred. He is a working economist in the city of London, and the author of the book ‘The Great Recession’, which gives his Marxist analysis of the current crisis. You can read his prolific writings over on his excellent blog, ‘The Next Recession’.
We discuss the key differences between Keynes and Marx, Keynes' class consciousness and ideology, Kondratieff waves and profit cycles, capitalism killing robots, the breakdown theory of Capitalism, and the possibility of a final permanent crisis.
You can find his blog here:
And his book here:
Hosted by Tom O'Brien this podcast hopes to feature in-depth interviews with leading figures in the fields of Economics, Peak Oil, Democracy, Politics, Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, Complex Systems, Agnosticism, Permaculture, Collapse, and the Environment.
This human is interested in lots of things, and finds specialisation an offense to the human spirit. Some of the topics this human is interested in are: economics, environment, energy, democracy, philosophy, politics, science, mathematics, literature, music, film, and other humans.
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