Saturday, December 31, 2016


Hogmanney is the Scottish New Year, a mixture of ancient traditions and, possibly, a more modern reaction to the strict Cromwellian restrictions of the Middle Ages. It has a number of characteristics. Bonfires are a part, perhaps from Viking or Clan days. "Redding" the house is another. It is a ritualistic cleaning, a readying for the new year. The fireplace is swept and some read the ashes, like auguries. After midnight, neighbors visit, bringing small gifts, usually food, and receiving them, usually whiskey. Importance was placed on the first to enter in the new year, the "first foot." (Tall handsome men were good, redheaded women bad.) The house and the livestock are blessed with water from a local stream--which sounds really old--and then the woman of the house would go from room to room with a smoldering juniper branch, seemingly counteracting all the "redding" with smoke. Robert Burn's version of the traditional Scottish Auld Lang Syne, which translates to “times gone by,” is sung.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Liston and Race

A Christmas story about a Christmas icon:

For its December 1963 issue, Esquire Magazine's managing editor Harold Hayes let his cover designer George Lois pick the cover. The cover became a close-up of boxer Sonny Liston in a Santa Claus hat.

Esquire's advertising director would eventually estimate that the magazine lost $750,000 due to the cover. According to Vanity Fair, "Hayes lit the fuse, and Sonny Liston exploded a ragged hole in the country's Norman Rockwell preconceptions of Christmas." An art-history professor at Hunter College proclaimed the cover "one of the greatest social statements of the plastic arts since Picasso's Guernica." For Hayes, Liston-as-Santa was "the perfect magazine cover," he wrote in a 1981 article in Adweek magazine, "a single, textless image that measured our lives and the time we lived them in quite precisely to the moment." Published in a national climate "thick with racial fear," he explained, "Lois' angry icon insisted on several things: the split in our culture was showing; the notion of racial equality was a bad joke; the felicitations of this season—goodwill to all men, etc.—carried irony more than sentiment."
"Norman Rockwell preconceptions?" "one of the greatest social statements..?" ".. image that measured our lives..?"

Wait a minute here. Race trumps everything in this culture but.....Liston was a criminal and was mob connected. He knocked out the extremely popular Floyd Patterson in 1962, a fight that was opposed by the NAACP because of damage they thought the fight would do to the Civil Rights Movement. And Liston threw a championship fight against Ali. Liston told a sports writer later, “That guy [Ali] was crazy. I didn’t want anything to do with him. And the Muslims were coming up. Who needed that? So I went down. I wasn’t hit.”
Liston was terribly unpopular for a lot of good reasons.
Can this race monster ever get sedated? And is it possible these media types might be taking themselves a little too seriously?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Russians, Kennedy and American Elections

The Russians are interfering with our election! Several of Trump's appointees know Putin!

Being alarmed at Putin and the Russians is certainly reasonable; Russia has become a well-armed international criminal enterprise. What is not reasonable is how we seem to be alarmed so rarely. Any search for information of Russian disinformation campaigns aimed at the West generally and the U.S. in particular will yield volumes. Not paying attention to this is simple naiveté, except when it's malicious.

According to Soviet documents found as the Soviet state dissolved, Teddy Kennedy tried to negotiate a deal with the Russians to his, and his party's, advantage. Kennedy literally asked the Soviets, avowed enemies of the U.S., to intervene on behalf of the Democratic party in the 1984 elections. Kennedy’s communique was not discovered until 1991, eight years after Kennedy had initiated his Soviet gambit.

Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across a memorandum composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the chief of the KGB. The memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. 

“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”

He proposed a quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.

In 1992, Tim Sebastian published a story about the memorandum in the London Times.

Forbes commented as follows: When President Reagan chose to confront the Soviet Union, calling it the evil empire that it was, Sen. Edward Kennedy chose to offer aid and comfort to General Secretary Andropov. On the Cold War, the greatest issue of his lifetime, Kennedy got it wrong.

That greatly underestimates what Kennedy did. Kennedy did not pick the wrong side in an argument, he picked a known enemy of his own country for personal advantage. The Russians have changed their public political philosophy (Lord knows what they believe now) but they have not changed their spots. But neither have we: We did not worry then and we will not worry now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/28/16

You can fleece a sheep many times, but you can skin him only once.--anon (and unspoken tax theory)

Marijuana for medical use has been approved in several states and for recreational use in fewer. There are few studies showing efficacy and none showing safety. In fairness, studies are hard because there are a number of chemicals in marijuana. But a lot of money is involved and it is likely that desire will rise above reason and scientific principle.

So....a carbon tax will decrease carbon availability by increasing its price but a raised minimum wage will not decrease work availability by increasing its price?

I took a course mandated by my employer where the essential theme of the course was that everyone was, inherently, a bigot. This course had an exam that, if I did not state that point, I would fail. Everyone I know who took it resented the exam and answered the questions the way they were to be answered. I suppose it is no worse than Freudian parental lust but Freudian parental lust was never a qualification for employment. One can only wonder what kids are taught.

What is...The Mary Celeste?

Walter Williams: "Bill Gates cannot order you to enroll your child in another school in order to promote racial diversity.  He has no power to condemn your house to make way for a casino parking lot.  Unless our elected public officials grant them the power to rip us off, rich people have little power to force us to do anything.  A lowly municipal clerk earning $50,000 a year has far more life-and-death power over us.  It is that type of person to whom we must turn for permission to build a house, ply a trade, open a restaurant and do myriad other activities.  It’s government people, not rich people, who have the power to coerce us and rip us off.  They have the power to make our lives miserable if we disobey."

The odds of picking the correct Powerball grand prize numbers are one in 292,201,338.

Probably inevitable. Most warriors are men, most criminals are men.....The idea is emerging that men are actually a threat, generally, to the world they live in. Colleges are, of course, first to act. At a mandatory freshmen orientation training at Gettysburg College in August, male students had to watch a documentary which stated in part that the “three most destructive words” a boy can hear growing up is “be a man.” The freshmen also went through breakout sessions in which they were told mass shooting sprees are rooted in "toxic masculinity." The “Thrive” club, part of the Claremont colleges consortium which meets as a “safe space” to talk about mental health, advertises that “masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to preform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it.” 
We can not defeat an evil without being able to speak its name.

Golden oldie:
Marx must be right; there are clearly unseen forces at work that advance the cause of some cultures, even the staggeringly stupid.   ...
"Individual and societal acclimation to technological change is worthy of serious investigation if for no other reason than it has continuously happened!  And what is most remarkable about this process is that we humans have again and again figured out how to assimilate new technologies into our lives despite how much those technologies disrupted our personal, social, economic, cultural, and legal norms.  We prevailed and prospered."
This is from a book by  Adam Thierer with the  wonderful title, Permissionless Innovation .

Craven:  adj. (but can be a noun) 1. archaic: defeated, vanquished. 2. lacking the least bit of courage :  contemptibly fainthearted. use: a craven refusal to deliver the unwelcome news personally
 ety: middle English "cravant," introduced 13thC. "Craven" suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance. One might speak of "craven yes-men." "Dastardly" often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous, as in this example: "a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians." "Pusillanimous" suggests a contemptible lack of courage (e.g., "After the attack, one editorialist characterized the witnesses as 'the pusillanimous bystanders'").

Police arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined.

In 1990, those 65 and over comprised 12.5% of the population; now, according to Census Bureau projections, that share is racing toward 16% in 2020 and 19% in 2030. That's one in five Americans. Already, federal spending for older Americans (mainly Social Security, Medicare and nursing home care under Medicaid) dominates the national budget. It's crowding out spending on other programs, from defense to parks, and is the chief source of chronic budget deficits. More, the younger generations are forced to subsidize the medical and retirement costs that the government, in its kindness, offered to support years ago. Is there a better example of taxation without representation?
"We don’t operate on innuendo." These are the sacred words of President Obama.

Krauthammer on our bitter choice: "Two generations of Americans have grown up feeling that international stability is as natural as the air we breathe. It's not. It depends on continual, calibrated tending. It depends on the delicate balancing of alliances and the careful signaling of enemies. It depends on avoiding self-inflicted trade wars and on recognizing the value of allies like Germany, Japan and South Korea as cornerstones of our own security rather than satrapies who are here to dispatch tribute to their imperial master in Washington.
It took seven decades to build this open, free international order. It could be brought down in a single presidential term. That would be a high price to pay for the catharsis of kicking over a table."

When the Clintons decamped from Washington in January 2001, they took some White House furnishings that were public property. They also finished accepting more than $190,000 in gifts, including two coffee tables and two chairs, a $7,375 gratuity from Denise Rich, whose fugitive former husband had been pardoned in President Clinton's final hours. A Washington Post editorial ("Count the Spoons") identified "the Clintons' defining characteristic: They have no capacity for embarrassment. Words like shabby and tawdry come to mind. They don't begin to do it justice." (from Geo. Will's column)

Banks no longer control the mortgage market. They accounted for less than half of the mortgage dollars extended to borrowers during the third quarter. Taking their place are nonbank lenders more willing to make riskier loans banks now shun.

The Mary Celeste was found drifting in the open seas off Gibraltar. Its cargo was untouched, there was plenty of food and water aboard, the personal belongings of passengers and crew were in place but all 10 people vanished and were never heard from again. This true story was adapted in a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--his first big magazine sale--called "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement," which purported to be an eye-witness account of the gruesome end met by those aboard the mysterious "ghost ship." Dr. Jephson reveals that they were all murdered by African-American cutthroats bound on a racist jihad against all white men; he alone survived because he had just the right sacred jewel in his possession.

A Mark IV, a 10-foot, blimp-shaped nuclear bomb weighing some five tons, went missing over the Pacific during a US air force B-36 training flight on February 13, 1950. A diver thinks he may have found it. ad:


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Electoral College

The word "democracy" appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison wrote, “Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”

According to 2013 census data, nine states — California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Michigan — have populations that total roughly 160 million, slightly more than half the U.S. population. It is conceivable that just nine states could determine the presidency in a popular vote. The Electoral College gives states with small populations a measure of protection against domination by states with large populations. But it also assumes that voters in a state have voting aims in common.

This effort at balance in governing was more important that simple numbers in the minds of the Founders. In the Senate, Rhode Island has the same representation as California. The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto. Everywhere in our structure you can see the emphasis upon shielding the citizenry, the emphasis upon protection rather than expression, the belief that error is to be more feared than righteousness.

The current political discussion that attacks the Electoral College must accept that the idea that was part of the essence of the founding of America, that is the defense of the minority from the majority, is wrong.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Trade Deficit

Faith in numbers:
GDP = C + I + G + (X - M) or GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government purchases + Exports - Imports

"When net exports are negative," Ross and Navarro write, "that is, when a country runs a trade deficit by importing more than it exports, this subtracts from growth." Navarro is Trump's new head of the National Trade Council. He is the Head Of Trade Management!
He, Navarro, and presumably the guy who appointed him, believe that, therefore, we can boost growth by curtailing imports. He has faith in numbers. That's what the equation looks like. The same logic would conclude investment money coming into the country was a negative for GDP.

He goes on: "Trump proposes eliminating America's $500 billion trade deficit through a combination of increased exports and reduced imports. Again assuming labor is 44 percent of GDP, eliminating the deficit would result in $220 billion of additional wages."

Matt Yglesias responds: "According to Ross and Navarro, if the United States made it illegal to import oil, thus wiping $180 billion off the trade deficit, our GDP would rise by $180 billion. With labor constituting 44 percent of GDP, that would mean about $80 billion worth of higher wages for American workers. So why doesn't Congress take this simple, easy step to boost growth and create jobs?
Well, because it's ridiculous."

Yglesias also has faith in numbers.
GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government purchases + Exports - Imports. Looking at this superficially some, but usually not professionals, assume that trade deficits subtract from GDP, because there is a minus sign attached to imports. What they forget is that the goods imported then show up as a positive in either the consumption or investment category. So a gallon of gas imported at 1 dollar is a minus dollar for GDP--but, when it is later sold for 2 dollars, it is a positive 2 dollar for GDP, a net positive 1 dollar.

Faith in numbers.

We all must hope and pray the Chief Executive is less influential than we think.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sunday, Christmas

Today we celebrate God's stepping into Time. In this extraordinary integration, He enters a Middle Eastern family and places Himself in their care, the finite and the Infinite in a simple domestic human scene.

Always responsible to Him, they became responsible for Him.

Imagine that. This is a moment of almost Nordic complexity.

The message of Christianity--that of forgiveness, love, family and community of man--so distilled down in the symbols of this holiday, is so optimistic and hopeful one is always struck by the homicidal, nihilistic, despairing and similarly faith-based philosophies that have risen as alternative explanations of man's condition.

It is hard to believe an active evil force is not present to influence it.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/24/16

"I have no child for whom I could wish to make a provision-no family to build in greatness upon my Country's ruins." --Washington

In 1950 George Bernard Shaw died at the age of ninety-four. One young journalist who had interviewed Shaw on his 90th birthday, and had said he hoped to interview him again on his 100th, was told: "I don't see why not; you look healthy enough to me." In his decline, a visitor, attempted to console Shaw by telling him to "think of the enjoyment you've given, and the stimulus." He replied, referring to his famous literary prostitute: "You might say the same of any Mrs. Warren."

If it is true that having more people in the world implies that there will be less for each person – because of diminishing returns, for example – then the highest possible per capita wellbeing would come about in a world with only one person – Deaton
There are four types of nursing facilities in the U.S., Skilled. Independent, Assisted and full time nursing units.

Skilled Nursing Facilities  are relatively short stay, high care level facilities used for rehabilitation after a surgery and other such events. There are 15,700 Skilled Nursing Facilities in the US.
Independent Living Facility are where the patient does not receive daily care from the facility and they live in a house or apartment on the facility grounds; there are 245,000 ILF residents in the U.S.
Assisted Living Facility are for residents are who independent but require regular visitation from the facility staff for services such as medication management; there are 835,200 ALF residents in the U.S.

Who is....Ri Sol-ju?

Hardy received such criticism over his novel Jude the Obscure ( What "Swinburne planteth, Hardy watereth and Satan giveth the increase," said one; "What has Providence done to Mr Hardy that he should rise up in the arable land of Wessex and shake his fist at the Creator?" asked another. The Bishop of Wakefield advertised that he burnt his copy; an American reader mailed Hardy the ashes of his. Even Hardy's wife complained about the book.) that he gave up prose and wrote only poetry afterwards. "Perhaps I can express more fully in verse ideas and emotions which run counter to the inert crystallized opinion -- hard as a rock -- which the vast body of men have vested interests in supporting.... If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition might have let him alone."

Metro Detroit Airport now has  a new way to allow people to move seamlessly through airport security. Certified as a “qualified anti-terrorism technology” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CLEAR has been used more than five million times to move travelers quickly through airport security lines at 16 other airports. “They validate their identity using a knowledge-based quiz, they use a government identification that’s validated using technology, and then we link it to their bio-metrics — we take 10 fingerprints with a digital reader, we take a scan of their iris, and we take a high-res photo of their face,” said CLEAR spokesperson David Cohen. Now the hook: "Membership" to use CLEAR costs $179 per year. Apparently terrorist don't have the $179. Or maybe they have bad iris scans.
But voter ID is offensive/dangerous/discriminatory/microaggression/something.

“Crime fiction,” from Edgar Allan Poe to Hannibal Lecter, owes a debt to Thomas De Quincey. A small, arrogant man--at Oxford, De Quincey disdained the final oral exams because they were not, as advertised, conducted in ancient Greek--he grew up rich and led a life of dissipation and, in some ways, horrid perversity. He was a drug addict--laudanum--of prodigious proportions, was enamored with Wordsworth and spent years as an acolyte in his shadow. Despite his infirmities, his production was considerable, especially his essays. He is best known for Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1822) and On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts (1827).

The "States Rights" debate, aka "popular sovereignty," creates strange bedfellows. As the Mormons expanded into Utah, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned the Missouri Compromise and opened the territories of Nebraska and Kansas to slavery should their residents so choose. In shepherding the bill through Congress, however, the Mormons' political ally Stephen Douglas inadvertently opened up unbridgeable sectional divides in both of the two major parties. Southern Whigs abandoned their party to support the expansion of slavery, whereas many anti-slavery northern Democrats found the Missouri Compromise's repeal a pill too bitter to swallow. Out of that political chaos, an assortment of Know-Nothing nativists, Whigs, and anti-slavery northern Democrats coalesced into a new Republican Party. In 1856, the Republican platform linked slavery and polygamy together as the "twin relics of barbarism," the unholy fruit of popular sovereignty.
Democrats, however much they disliked polygamy, correctly understood the Republican position on polygamy as a backdoor attempt to regulate territorial slavery. Thus, many southern Democrats opposed anti-polygamy efforts.
Among high-school students who graduated in 2014 and took the ACT college-readiness exam, here's how various racial/ethnic groups fared when it came to meeting the ACT's college-readiness benchmarks in at least three of the four subjects: Asians, 57 percent; whites, 49 percent; Hispanics, 23 percent; and blacks, 11 percent. However, the college rates of enrollment of these groups were: Asians, 80 percent; whites, 69 percent; Hispanics, 60 percent; and blacks, 57 percent.

There be thoughtful anarchists! The main issue that anarchist economist David Friedman identified in his book The Machinery of Freedom as the problem area for anarchists is the fear that an anarchist society would not provide enough defense against a powerful foreign government.

Apple is  unveiling a new TV app that will allow users to find and watch streamed and live TV in one place.

Golden oldie:

Of the top four nations in the world for private gun ownership -- the United States, Yemen, Switzerland and Finland -- the No. 3 and 4 spots belong to small nations with a minutemen-style civilian call-up as a defense strategy or with a history of partisan war.

Reported by Just Facts, the Pentagon in 2009 estimated that 65 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. were unqualified for military service because of weak educational skills, poor physical fitness, illegal drug usage, medical conditions or criminal records. 65%!

In early 1977, to celebrate its seventy-fifth birthday, the TLS ran a special issue in which a score of literary luminaries was asked about the authors who, in their opinion, were most underrated – and overrated. The responses were suitably forthright, provocative, amusing. Hugh Trevor-Roper considered “the whole Bloomsbury group – excepting only J. M. Keynes – to be the most overrated literary phenomenon of our times” – and Lytton Strachey to be its charlatan-in-chief.
Rebecca West dismissed Leo Tolstoy for the “sheer nonsense” of Anna Karenina; Larkin chose D. H. Lawrence, mostly on the basis of Women in Love (“boring, turgid, mechanically ugly”). Readers were treated to a gnomic Bob Dylan (“Overrated and underrated: the Bible”), a paranoid Karlheinz Stockhausen (“for security reasons I cannot name the book which I consider to be ‘the most over-estimated.’”)
In the “overrated” category, several authors were selected more than once: J. R. R. Tolkien, Ezra Pound, Arnold Toynbee, Sigmund Freud. E. M. Forster was chosen both by Anthony Powell, for his “bland self-satisfaction”, and Anthony Burgess, for his lack of “creative potency”. André Malraux cropped up three times.
Cobb also scorned James Joyce as “arrogant, unpleasant, and above all, quite unreadable”. Those under attack, by a tacit gentlemanly agreement, were all dead – though not necessarily for long. Malraux had been in the grave for barely two months; Isaiah Berlin’s choice was Hannah Arendt, who died in late 1975.

Today, approximately 26% of major league baseball players are foreign-born, a more than five-fold increase from the 1940s. In the World Series, the Chicago Cubs have 6 foreign-born players and the Cleveland Indians have 5 foreign-born players on their rosters. Salaries and talent, of course, are up. “Unsophisticated economic theory sees a larger pool of workers as a drag on wages,” said Boudreaux from George Mason in a recent article in "Forbes." “Correct theory, in contrast – dating back to Adam Smith – understands that productivity, wages, and prosperity are enhanced by a deeper division of labor made possible by a larger supply of the ultimate resource: human effort and creativity. The data demonstrate this principle at work in major league baseball.”

North Korea’s first lady, Ri Sol-ju, has vanished from public view for the past seven months. That can mean bad things in North Korea.

The guy who creates Dilbert writes: "In order for us to be here today, our predecessors only needed to survive and procreate. They had no need to understand reality at any basic level. And we have no such need either. That’s why you might believe you are reincarnated from a monk and I might believe my prophet flew to heaven on a winged horse but we can both get through the day just fine. Many different interpretations of reality are good enough for survival."  He has said this as an analysis of the election but it works anywhere.
This is a theme in Dyson's writing, that a narrative is more important than the reality.

Obdurate: adj: 1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.
Usage: "Still, Michael was unforgiving. Stubborn as a balking goat. When, after they'd become engaged, Corinne had wanted to see her friend one final time to explain what had happened, Michael was obdurate in opposition: no."-- Joyce Carol Oates, We Were the Mulvaneys, 1996 ety: 
Obdurate comes from the past participle of the Latin verb obdūrāre, a derivative of the the adjective dūrus "hard." In Classical Latin obdurare meant "to harden, be hard," and also "to hold out, endure." In Late and Christian Latin, the verb meant "to harden the heart (against truth or God)." It entered English in the mid-1400s

The population of Florida grew by nearly a million people in the four years since the last Presidential election.

From an article in the NYT titled "Spooked by Russia, Tiny Estonia Trains a Nation of Insurgents:" " Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes." And 25,400 volunteers turn out occasionally for weekend military training sessions--that is four times the size of the Estonian 6,000 man army.

Police arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined.

The poet Wilfred Owen was killed just one week before the Armistice, 1918. As his parents in Shrewsbury listened to the bells of the local church ringing to celebrate the event, they heard the door chimes announcing the telegraph which brought news of his death.

It seems to be nothing more than simple and obvious wisdom to compare social institutions as they might be expected actually to operate rather than to compare romantic models of how such institutions might be hoped to operate.  But such simple and obvious wisdom was lost to the informed consciousness of Western man for more than a century.  The socialist mystique to the effect that the state, that politics, somehow works its way toward some transcendent “public good” is with us yet, in many guises, as we must surely acknowledge.--Nobel Laureate James Buchanan

AAAAAaaaaaannnnnnnddddddd.....a color coded voting map:

Friday, December 23, 2016


There has been some interest in the origin of Santa recently, some stimulated by the "White Santa-Black Santa" controversy. This shows only that the Americans can make anything racial; they are simply race obsessed. It is now officially a pathology. But there are some interesting things about Santa. (Lisa Hicks has a nice article on the evolution of Santa, possibly from the early days of the provocative Odin, in Collectors Weekly.)

Nicholas of Myra is usually identified as "St Nick," a fourth-century Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, part of modern-day Turkey) in Lycia.  His bones were disinterred for examination. In 2004, a three-dimensional digital reconstruction of his face was made. His modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of "Saint Nikolaos":

His identification was confirmed by his broken nose, the result of an injury he received in a legendary altercation between St. Nicholas and Arius, an infa­mous heretic, at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

His reconstruction from the University of Liverpool, with his nasal fracture:

Saint Nicholas

And from Manchester:
 The real Santa Claus

A portrait of the chilling Odin:

“Odin the Wanderer” by Georg von Rosen (1886)

And :

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Saturn is the Roman Chronos, an early Titan in the history of the evolution of the gods and man, the son of the Earth and Sky. He defeats his siblings and, in fear of a prophesy that he will be overthrown by a son, eats his children. One child, Zeus, is hidden by his mother and grows to rescue his siblings and overthrow his father.

Saturn is the original fertility symbol in mythology, preceding Persephone in chronology and hierarchy. He does not quite fit the popular notion of a historical evolutionary progression away from female fertility goddesses to the more combative male deities. As the second layer of the gods, supplanted by Zeus and his siblings, he is much less active but had a significant old mythological following.

Saturnalia originated as a farmer's festival to mark the end of the autumn planting season  (satus means sowing). It started as a two day celebration but grew longer and later; it was seven days around the winter solstice in the third century A.D., when numerous archaeological sites demonstrate that the cult of Saturn still survived. The poet Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-180) has the god Cronos (Saturn) say in his poem, Saturnalia:

"During my week the serious is barred: no business is allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games of dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, occasional dunking of corked faces in icy water--such are the functions over which I preside."

A public holiday with gifts, masters and slaves swapping clothes, the strange election of a temporary house "monarch." A time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees.

By that time, with Christianity well established, it is difficult to determine which gave and took.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/21/16

A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. -Grace Hopper, computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral (1906-1992)

Clinton opposes the 2010 Citizens United decision, which established the right of corporations and labor unions to participate in electioneering. In the debate, she said it "has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system." But the decision does not do that. All the decision did was to prevent the government from suppressing speech about political matters. The justices noted that under the law it struck down, it would be a felony for the Sierra Club, within 60 days of a general election, to run an ad urging "the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests." The court ruled that speech doesn't lose protection merely because it comes from corporations—a category that includes many advocacy groups.
Such expression would be censored if Clinton had her way. Perhaps she prefers influence peddled the old fashioned way through direct personal contact and foundations.

The death certificate for Katie May states that a blunt force injury to her neck tore an artery, which cut off the blood flow to her brain. The certificate also lists her death as “accidental,” revealing that it was caused during a “neck manipulation by chiropractor.”
Four large studies have established an association between neck manipulation and stroke in patients 45 and younger.
This is called Wallenberg's syndrome and is well known in medical literature to occur in previously healthy individuals.

In 2012, Clinton's brain scans revealed a clot had formed in the right transverse venous sinus, and she was being successfully treated with anticoagulants. A transverse sinus thrombosis is a clot arising in one of the major veins that drains the brain. It is an uncommon but serious disorder. It has been speculated that Clinton may have had a "predisposition to clot formation." (She had a deep vein thrombosis, a clot in the leg, in 1998.) Indeed, she continues on anti-coagulants. I had said earlier that she had experienced a stroke. That is technically incorrect. A stroke implies brain cell death and her physicians have said publicly that, despite the vascular injury, she suffered no cell death.

Who is.....Bob Tollison?

In 1970, Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist, became president of Chile after being confirmed by the Chilean congress. For the next three years, the United States exerted tremendous pressure to try to destabilize and unseat the Allende government. Many felt that pressure illegal and immoral. How was it different from the more recent--and much more violent--American efforts to influence the governments of Iraq, Libya and Egypt? Or Russia's efforts in our election?

The market is a proprietary setting where individuals bear the consequences of their actions in the form of changes in their net wealth. The political setting is a non-proprietary setting where individual agents do not always feel the full benefit and cost of their decisions. Behavior will differ in the two cases, not because the objectives of behavior are different, but because constraints on behavior are different.--Tollison

A guy named Caplan has an interesting notion; he thinks that people think elections are surveys and thus not binding. He offers this as an argument, I think awkward:
With nearly half a million registered members, the American Independent Party is bigger than all of California's other minor parties combined. The ultraconservative party's platform opposes abortion rights and same sex marriage, and calls for building a fence along the entire United States border.But a Times investigation has found that a majority of its members have registered with the party in error. Nearly three in four people did not realize they had joined the party.

Golden oldie:
A recent article reported that 93% of people killed in American directed drone attacks on terrorists are innocent bystanders and that the A...

Paul Beatty won the 2016 Man Booker Prize for  “The Sellout,” his satire about one man’s attempt to reinstitute slavery in modern-day Los Angeles. He is the first American to win the award.

‘No matter how bad things might be, they’d be worse if you hadn’t done what you do.  Although you might not realize it, your good work at least helps to keep things from being even worse and just might, one day, be part of the impetus that makes for positive improvement.’--Clemson University (and GMU) economist Bob Tollison, who always said, "We are all part of the equilibrium."

So Trump has been castigating Hillary because she is married to Bill; now a movement has stirred to punish Ivanka's business because she is related to Donald. What reasonable and understanding people we are. In the Old Testament they believed the sins of the father were visited on the son. Maybe that old time religion is back.

Ornery:  adjective: Having an unpleasant disposition: irritable, stubborn, combative, etc. Ety: An alteration of the word ordinary, from Latin ordo (order, rank). In the beginning the word ornery was just a dialect pronunciation of the word ordinary and meant the same. Over time it acquired negative senses, from commonplace to lazy to mean to cantankerous. Earliest documented use: 1692. Usage: “DI John Rebus is an ornery and often difficult detective who is frequently at odds with his young assistant and his supervisors.”Tom Budlong; Video; Library Journal (New York); Oct 15, 2016.

The math being right does not necessarily mean the description is right. Ptolemy's math was right. And Copernicus’s sun-centered model “did not work much better than those of Ptolemy; in fact, in the end, they turned out to work less well”, the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli wrote.
This is reminiscent of Sir Francis Galton's observation of the wisdom of crowds. As Mencken summarized: The idea that a group of idiots, taken collectively, are wise.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper said it appeared that a “nonstate actor” was behind a massive cyberattack that briefly blocked access to websites including Twitter and Netflix.

In simplest form, Clinton had a private email server in violation of the law, common practice and common sense.  But why?  Why would Hillary Clinton have gone to such great lengths to have an impermissible private account?  Why once discovered were such lengths taken — now involving people inside the Obama administration – to prevent independent investigation? Comparisons are being drawn  to Watergate but the real lesson from Watergate is that any accounting in the nation of politicians' behavior is impossible without a free--and interested--press.

According to Misao Dean, Professor of English at the University of Victoria, the canoe can be a symbol of colonialism, imperialism and genocide. She also accused canoers of "cultural appropriation" because they are primarily white men and have a privileged place in society.

The latest test scores from the Nation’s Report Card show that about two-thirds of students aren’t proficient in science despite rising scores for elementary- and middle-school students.

James Cartwright—former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—could be imprisoned for lying to the FBI. The general told a federal court last week he regretted he didn’t tell the bureau the truth about conversations he’d had with reporters about a secret cyberattack disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. He could serve up five years in prison. “People who gain access to classified information after promising not to disclose it must be held accountable when they willfully violate that promise,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein in a press release.
Gen. Cartwright wasn’t even the original source of the Iran leaks. The general says he confirmed details the reporters already had in an effort to prevent them from publishing information that could harm America’s national security.
That probably comes as a surprise to most aware citizens.
Though Mrs. Clinton didn’t leak to reporters, her personal server exposed national secrets to potential hackers, and she gave a number of people (including some of her attorneys) without proper clearances access to that information. When Gen. Cartwright became the subject of an investigation, he was stripped of his security clearance. That never happened to Mrs. Clinton.
If you are not Clinton, justice can be swift. (from wsj)

A survey in Latvia found that women found men more attractive when they were pudgy than lean. Latvia.

AAAAaaaaaannnnnndddddd..... a picture of Val Kilmar  December, 2015:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yes, Virginia

One of the most famous Letters to the Editor ever to appear in a newspaper was this query from an 8-year-old girl. It was first printed in the New York Sun in 1897, along with a response by editor Francis P. Church. It proved so popular that it was reprinted every year until the Sun went out of business in 1949. 
The Question

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon
The Answer

"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

"You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

"No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Monday, December 19, 2016


Michael Chabon was in town marketing his new book, Moonglow. It has has been well reviewed. He is a talented guy--he won the Pulitzer Prize for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay--but he is eccentric in his writing with a lot of specific, and diluting, types of styles. While he emphasizes a Jewish literature tradition, he has written sci-fi, an unsuccessful HBO series, comics, movies ("John Carter"), and mysteries. 
There is an interesting slant in his philosophy: He is interested in entertaining his reader. He wants to write seriously but wants the reader to be more than edified, he wants him to enjoy the experience.

This might be one of the key problems of modern literature.
He asked for questions to be submitted before the talk and I submitted this question, which he answered:
"A famous definition of genre fiction is that it is like pornography: Certain events are expected by the reader and and those expectations are met by the author.
A recent review of a mystery novel was dismissed in a NYT review as being, as all genre fiction, without "ambiguity."
Do you think these observations are accurate, do you think of them as legitimate criticisms of genre quality and how can we genre fans defend ourselves against the disdain of our enemies disguised as friends and family?"
His answer emphasized quality, reasonably, but he also said all styles, even the most serious, have their own rules and milestones.

No creation can escape its environmental fingerprints.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday 12/18/16

In today's gospel, Joseph has a dream where he is told the child Mary is carrying is not the product of an illicit relationship, it is the Son of God. The entire New Testament hinges on this moment. The divine nature of Christ is brought to the outside world for the first time. The resurrection of  Christ is the edifice of Christianity, the nature of Christ's conception is its foundation. Enter Arius.

Arias, an early Christian bishop, argued that Christ had a beginning and therefore could not be God. He was declared a heretic, then absolved, then made a heretic again. But his distress is crucial as it was--and is--the world's distress. The Prophet Mohammad formed his opinion of Christianity through an Arian philosopher and, while he accepted the Jews as monotheists, he thought Christians polytheists.

Logic brought to bear on a being that rises from the dead seems misapplied. If either part of the story is acceptable, then it is hard to limit the rest of the story with petty human concerns. But, strangely, human reaction is the essence of the story. Like all the nativity scenes, humanity is at the center. Christ comes to the world as a vulnerable infant, dependent upon human care. Christ's later claims will mean nothing to the world without the disciples' translation, acceptance and proselytizing. Humanity is the linchpin of the entire story.   After all, human faith was the basis of it all, for Mary--and Joseph--could have said "No."

Astonishing. And a hell of a dream.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/17/16

Manners are minor morals. Manners are to morals as the final sandpapering, rubbing, and polishing on a fine piece of furniture are to the selection of the wood, the sawing, chiseling, and fitting. They are the finishing touch.--Hazlett

Economists are always debating the relative merits of consumption vs. production. Production seems to be the basis of the Broken Window Theory, i.e. any production--even production that produces nothing of value--aids the economy. So some will say that a hurricane is good for the economy because it stimulates production, although that production at best only recreates previous status. Under this assumption, war should be great. The consumption position is that all economic activity is ultimately justified by how much it enables us to expand our consumption, not by how much it enables us to expand our production.  Consumption is the end; production is the means.  Of course, production is an essential means; we cannot expand consumption without expanding production.  But production is not the ultimate purpose of economic activity. So digging a hole and then filling it up again at a certain hourly rate is meaningless to the economy.

The University of Florida has offered its students counseling in the face of offensive Halloween outfits on October 31. The poor dears.

Beijing has selected countries that it aimed to lift from poverty, while forging political alliances and creating markets for Chinese goods. Their economic development plans have merged politics and economics with their potential customers. This is an interesting distortion in economics.
Caracas is the biggest client of China's state-orchestrated development lending, accepting some $65bn in loans since 2007 for projects such as oil refineries, gold mines and railways. But in May this year, Venezuela engineered a default under which it has deferred paying the principal -- and only honors the interest -- on outstanding debts estimated at $20bn-$24bn.

The World Health Organization has decided to impose its good ideas on the rest of us by encouraging states to raise the taxes on sugary drinks. They have determined, somehow, that sugary drinks are bad for us and that raising the price of them will discourage their use. So, why won't raising the price of labor with the minimum wage discourage the use of that labor? Cost is cost, overhead, overhead.

Who is.... James Callendar?

Jonathon Swift died quite tormented by madness and the fear of it. Fourteen years earlier he wrote "Verses on the Death of Dr Swift," mostly about society, but it contained this little section that foretold what he would do with his small estate:
 He gave the little Wealth he had,
To build a House for Fools and Mad:
And shew'd by one satyric Touch,
No Nation wanted it so much....
And this was his epitaph: "Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity, dean of this Cathedral Church, where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart. Go, traveler, and imitate if you can one who with all his might championed liberty."

David Tepper, arguably the top hedge fund manager and investor of his generation, speaking before the election: “You have one person with questionable judgment and the other person may be demented, narcissistic and a scumbag,” Tepper said. “Not saying which one is which, you can make your decision on that. So it makes it a very difficult choice.” Tepper runs Appaloosa Management, a $19 billion hedge fund firm.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) finds that global debt -- including the debts of governments, households and non-financial businesses -- reached a record $152 trillion in 2015, an amount much higher than before the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Alfred Nobel: At his death, Nobel's father was fleshing out plans for what sounds like plywood, and for coffins in which those mistaken for dead might have a device to save themselves. Perhaps acquired from his father, Nobel had a lifelong fear of being buried alive, and in his will he left instructions to have his arteries cut after death, just to be sure. He was an isolated misanthrope and rumors abound as to why he created his optimistic Prize. One interesting one stems from a case of journalistic mistaken identity. His brother, Ludvig, was also a self-made man but in oil. When he died he was mistaken for his brother and the obituary confused Ludvig with Albert and described him as the "merchant of death" for his 90 dynamite factories. The theory is that Nobel was so horrified by this glimpse at his legacy that he did all he could to combat it.

Sheenagh Pugh (b. 1950) taught creative writing for many years at the University of Glamorgan in Trefforest, Wales, until her retirement in 2008. She has published nine books of poetry,  two novels, translations and a critical study of fan fiction, The Democratic Genre (2005), one of the first such books to approach fan fiction from a literary and scholarly perspective.

20% of American households do not have television service of any kind. Read that again.  87% of people with the TV on are, at the same time, using a secondary viewing appliance. Streaming is going to be a big deal.

Golden oldie:

In 1792, publisher James Callendar—then a supporter of Thomas Jefferson whose paper was secretly funded by Jefferson and his Republican allies–published a report of Alexander Hamilton’s adulterous affair with a colleague’s wife, to which Hamilton later confessed. (In 1802, when then-President Jefferson snubbed Callendar’s request for a political appointment, Callendar retaliated with an expose on Jefferson’s “concubine.” He is believed to have been referring to Sally Hemings, who was part black and also the likely half-sister of Jefferson’s deceased wife, Martha.) In 1796, an essay appeared in the Gazette of the United States in which a writer, mysteriously named “Phocion,”  attacked presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson for carrying on an affair with one of his slaves.  Phocion turned out to be former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Politics is always dirty. Even the Founders were dirty politicians. Now, what dynamics are afoot there?

The area of a circle is Pi times the radius squared. The area of a circle of the diameter of 18 is Pi times 9 times 9 equals Pi times 81. A circle of 12 diameter has an area of Pi times 6 times 6 equals Pi times 36. So you get more pizza with one 18 inch pizza than two 12 inch.

Everywhere TV revenues are down and TV usage is as well. Streaming is the future, they say. This looks provocative: After spending nearly $50 billion last year to acquire DirecTV, AT&T is preparing to roll out an internet video service that could upend its satellite-television business along with the rest of the pay-TV industry. Apparently sxecutives aren’t concerned that the lower-priced internet offering could eat into its existing TV business.(!)

New research warns that the number of women in the computing workforce will decline to 22% from 24% by 2025 if nothing is done to encourage more of them to study computer science.

In 1928 Dorothy Parker, under her pen name, Constant Reader, reviewed A. A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner in the New Yorker. Milne's children's books -- When We Were Very Young, Winnie-the Pooh, Now We Are Six -- had dominated the best seller lists. In the book, Pooh reveals that he added the "tiddely pom" to his Outdoor Song "to make it more hummy." She wrote: "And it is that word 'hummy,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

Vasectomies have suffered a decline of 64% in the number of men undergoing the procedure within the last 10 years. In 2004-5, there were 31,216 vasectomies carried out in England, but in 2014-15, that fell to just 11,113 according to NHS Digital.
“People worry massively and have lots of misconceptions about it," said Genevieve Edwards of Marie Stopes, a leading provider of vasectomies for the NH. Yes, she really said that.

A Chinese government investigation has revealed that more than 80 percent of the data used in clinical trials of new pharmaceutical drugs have been "fabricated." They also showed that many clinical trial outcomes were written before the trials had actually taken place.
Ah, science.

Aaaaaannnnndddddd.....a graph:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Trump Voters

A friend of mine is a pediatrician who years ago immigrated to America from India. She is clearly Indian and speaks with a slight, British-influenced accent.
She does some work for the state and found herself returning from some state meetings in Harrisburg on a back road in rural central Pennsylvania. Trump had just won the election and the conference had been alive with talk about it.

She stopped at a gas station and approached the building to buy some snacks. At the door were two tough looking middle-aged men talking, clearly local rural guys. She immediately thought of herself, a lone immigrant woman here in the heart of what was apparently revolutionary Trump country, facing two locals who fit her stereotypical Trump voter. She was suddenly intimidated and anxious.

She smiled and, preoccupied with her concerns, inadvertently spoke them. "I'll bet you are happy with the election," she said, and immediately regretted it.

The two smiled back and one said, softly, "Oh, you might be surprised."

She looked at him quizzically.
He said, again softly and with a shrug, "The rich always win."

She smiled and said, "Yes."

She entered, relieved, bought her snacks and left. They were gone.
It was only when she was in her car that she realized the men had lied to her to make her more comfortable.

Is this a great country or what.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

First Lady

There is clearly dissention in the Trump White House: We are not going to have a First Lady. Great cheekbones and jawline or not, Melania is not going to be The Washington Hostess. She says she wants to be with her son, who will stay in his New York school, but, clearly, that is not enough. She simply does not want the Washington gig.

This, more than anything else in this overturning election, might signal the true enormity of the change brought by Trump's victory: The obvious suspects do not want the spoils. There will be no multi-lingual beauty in the White House receiving line. What politician's wife in the entire history of the world would not want to pick clothes, silverware and china to provide the opportunity to have social events where she could be envied? What good looking woman would not salivate at the chance to step into the spotlight, beam and favor a follower with her gentle smile or reduce an enemy to dust?
But Melania does not want the gig.

There has been little made of this so far; likely the press has been stunned mute by events. And some narratives are emerging, albeit slowly. Will there be a First Lady pro tem? Is Melania deferring to Ivanka? Would such a handoff be appropriate? Is an attractive First Daughter just too creepy as the First Lady? Does this entire problem signal a shift away from Washington? Will Melania be First Lady in New York? (A revolution in itself.)

Perhaps Melania is shy--but history does not suggest that. So what are we to do? A concerned nation expects a First Family, all of it. Does she feel like an outsider? Does she not like us, like Michelle? Should we be offended? Clearly something must be done.
Perhaps we have had a peak at what is to come. Kanye West was one of the first show business people to visit Trump. His wife, a renown beauty, has significant reality show experience.

Kim Kardashian for First Lady! Kim, a lonely nation turns it eyes to you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/14/16

"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In the last six years, insurance premiums rose 19%, or 3X faster than inflation. Deductibles rose 63%, more than 10X faster than inflation. Earnings rose only 11%, or less than 2X faster than inflation. Those three numbers explain why most people feel pressured by healthcare costs. In the aggregate, healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are consuming a large and rapidly swelling portion of middle-class income.
Businesses are responding to increased costs by raising the premium contributions of employees and raising deductibles. Even among large companies, 45% now have healthcare plans with deductibles of $1,000 or more.

Apotheosis noun: 1. the ideal example; epitome; quintessence: This poem is the apotheosis of lyric expression. 2. the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.
Apotheosis is a Late Latin and Greek word meaning "deification." It ultimately derives from the Greek combining form theós meaning “god.” It entered English in the late 1570s and later developed the sense "departure from this earthly life into heaven." 
"For a long time, the U.S. has boasted that its lively election is a sign of its system’s superiority. However, the essential purpose of the election is to provide a driving force for development. The most important task for presidential nominees is not to win the election, but to eventually govern the country.  It's time for the U.S. to take a close, honest look at its arrogant democracy and flawed politics."---from.......edited and translated from 美国选举乱象凸显制度弊端 Source: People's Daily!!!!! Interesting the Chinese think of government as "the driving force of development."

"And thus we end by thinking again of the unlikeness between ourselves and the Russians ; and by envying them that extraordinary union of extreme simplicity combined with the utmost subtlety which seems to mark both the educated Russian and the peasant equally. They do not rival as in the comedy of manners, but after leaving Tolstoy we always feel that we could sacrifice our skill in that direction for something of the profound psychology and superb sincerity of the Russian writers."--from a review by Virginia Woolf of Leo Tolstoy’s The Cossacks and Other Tales of the Caucasus. In it she compares Tolstoy to the English writers of the time.

"The big and little tragedies of a profit-directed economy are necessary for it to get better.  The same is true in science and art, though not about money profit.  Many experiments fail, and we get the benefit from the better ideas for surgeries and paintings and fish restaurants that succeed because resources have been reallocated to them instead.
Trade-tested betterment is the most altruistic of economic systems, because everything is directed toward satisfying ordinary customers."--McCloskey

Golden oldie:
Jocelyn Wildenstein is an over-wealthy New York woman who wanted to take advantage of her wealth and the incredible technology available ...
Chelation is a therapy used to combat heavy metal poisoning. Somehow it has become one of those procedures that attract "Laetrile experts" and the like and and is used for a lot of things, especially artery disease. There is no evidence that it works and a lot of evidence it doesn't--and 30 deaths have occurred with it--but, nonetheless the federal government has just sponsored 37 million dollars in research grants to further investigation. If the Clinton Foundation were involved it would be more understandable but the best explanation seems to be it just isn't their money.

In a similar vein, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has been associated with the passage of kidney stones and some guy from Michigan is looking for grant money to study it.

Funny line in an open letter to the esteemed candidates on their opposition to free trade: "I do want you to know that you and Mr. Trump are merely the latest tools in a long, shameful parade of charlatans and scammers who absurdly promise the masses that greater prosperity is to be had if only they’ll agree to pay higher prices for the goods and services they consume."

A recent article in the WSJ complained that high tech companies were not hiring enough people. But people--workers--are a resource like land or fuel; should not all resources be used economically? Here is part of a letter to the editor: "....[this is the...] ages-old fallacy of judging the worth of firms and industries according to how many workers they employ rather than according to how well they enhance human well-being by increasing the production of consumer goods and services.  If your standard were the appropriate one, there’s an easy solution to the problem that you diagnose: you and others who share your view can hire workers to sit around idly, doing nothing of value.  If you are unwilling to pay people to perform such ‘work,’ you’ve no cause to complain that firms in tech sector do not effectively do the same."

Who is.....Joseph Schumpeter?

Medicare  unveiled a far-reaching overhaul of how it pays doctors and other clinicians. Compensation for medical professionals will start taking into account the quality of service - not just quantity. Imagine. "Quality." As definitive as "beauty?" It will be amazing.

Recent research by Professor Valentina Zharkova (Northumbria University) and colleagues has shed new light on the inner workings of the Sun. If correct, this new discovery means that future solar cycles and variations in the Sun’s activity can be predicted more accurately. The research suggests that the next three solar cycles will see solar activity reduce significantly into the middle of the century, producing conditions similar to those last seen in the 1600s – during the Maunder Minimum. This may have implications for temperatures here on Earth. Future solar cycles will serve as a test of the astrophysicists’ work, but some climate scientists have not welcomed the research and even tried to suppress the new findings. —Global Warming Policy Forum, 9 August 2016
Some [critics] were welcoming and discussing. But some of them were quite — I would say — pushy. They were trying to actually silence us. Some of them contacted the Royal Astronomical Society, demanding, behind our back, that they withdraw our press release. The Royal Astronomical Society replied to them and said, ‘Look, this is the work by the scientists who we support, please discuss this with them.’ –Professor Valentina Zharkova, Global Warming Policy Forum, 9 August 2016

The observable universe is made up of at least two trillion galaxies, according to a new study. That’s 20 times more than had previously been thought. The new estimate comes from a British-led study that used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to create a 3D map of the universe. It was once thought that God was unnecessary to explain the wonders of the universe; now the wonders of the universe are so overwhelming, not even God can explain them.

The world economy is about $75 trillion. Boosting growth by 1 percentage point would require $750 billion in extra annual spending.

Here’s what was very disturbing to me: after the medical episode, she went to her daughter’s apartment and not to an Emergency Room. Secret Service procedure for each detail dictates that everyone knows which hospital to go to depending on the event - heart failure, gunshot, you name it. It is very revealing that, whatever is wrong with her, she is being treated by her own private medical specialists in secret and, judging by the ballet-like reaction by her detail, they have dealt with this before.
Her detail knew that there was something very wrong with her and they were prepared.
---this is from an article by a former secret service agent, Gary Byrne, on Mrs. Clinton's fainting episode blamed on dehydration, then pneumonia.

Gelernter wrote an article on the election and it is brutal. He really hates Clinton. A line from it:  "Why do we insist on women in combat but not in the NFL? Because we take football seriously."

Chesterton on the need for context of virtue:  "The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered…it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful."--G.K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”

There are many ways to define an economic bubble. One is the expansion of wealth out of proportion to the growth of GDP. The growth of wealth in this country linked to low interest rates, not production, might qualify.

"Can Capitalism survive? No. I do not think it can.” --Schumpeter
Marx believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its enemies (the proletariat), whom capitalism had purportedly exploited, and he relished the prospect. Schumpeter believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its successes, that it would spawn a large intellectual class that made its living by attacking the very bourgeois system of private property and freedom so necessary for the intellectual class’s existence. And unlike Marx, Schumpeter did not relish the destruction of capitalism. “If a doctor predicts that his patient will die presently,” he wrote, “this does not mean that he desires it.”--Economic Dictionary

Tyler Cowen believed that the economy involves a continuing struggle among the Three Ss: Stupidity, Schumpeter, and Smith. 

This is an interesting quote from Clinton. "So how are you going to pay for infrastructure jobs and paid family leave?’, I say, ‘Well, I’m telling you how I’m paying for everything,” she said at a campaign event in Seattle, drawing a contrast with GOP nominee Donald Trump.  “I am not going to add a penny to the national debt,” she vowed. “We’re going to go where the money is. We’re going to make the wealthy pay their fair share, and we’re finally going to close those corporate loopholes.” What this really means is that immediately on taking office she’s got to raise taxes by $500 billion. As that is 3.5% or so of GDP an immediate fiscal tightening of that amount would put the US economy back into recession. Oh, well.

Great line from Vernon Smith: State control can never substitute for self-control without destroying freedom and all that is human in both society and economy.

AAAAaaaaaaannnnndddddd......a chart: