Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday 1/31/16

Christ the Provocateur. 
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” After this, things started well in today's gospel, "all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words" --that is until He said this:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury."

" prophet is accepted in his own native place." Mark says Christ could do no miracles there.This is often explained by their lack of faith, the notion that one's relationship with God is necessarily two-way, like the brilliant gospel of the disciples meeting Christ on the road to Ammaus. But this reading shows Christ means something quite different; the widow and the leper were gentiles, not Jews. Salvation was going to be universal, not provincial. All humanity would be saved, not just the Jews.
No wonder they were mad.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cab Thoughts 1/30/16

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (11 Dec 1918-2008)

In 1978, Former Board of Supervisors member Dan White murdered Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall in San Francisco, California. The story is complex but White was arrested and tried. But he claimed "diminished capacity" because he had eaten junk food prior to the killing. Despite the obvious evidence that this was a carefully planned attack, White was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. He received 5 years. This was the "Twinkie Defense."
From an article by Max Boot: The only way to accomplish the fall of ISIS is by mobilizing Sunni Arabs to rise up against it as they rose up against its predecessor, al-Qaida, in Iraq in 2007. And that won't happen unless the U.S. and its allies offer Sunnis some assurance that they will not be trading the tyranny of ISIS for the tyranny of Shiite rule.
Dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the Solar System's main asteroid belt with a diameter of about 950 kilometers. Exploring Ceres from orbit since March, the Dawn spacecraft's camera has revealed about 130 or so mysterious bright spots, mostly associated with impact craters scattered around the small world's otherwise dark surface. The brightest one is near the center of the 90 kilometer wide Occator Crater. A study now finds the bright spot's reflected light properties are probably most consistent with a type of magnesium sulfate called hexahydrite. Of course, magnesium sulfate is also known to Earth dwellers as epsom salt. Haze reported inside Occator also suggests the salty material could be left over as a mix of salt and water-ice sublimates on the surface. Since impacts would have exposed the material, Ceres' numerous and widely scattered bright spots may indicate the presence of a subsurface shell of ice-salt mix. In mid-December, Dawn will begin taking observations from its closest Ceres mapping orbit.

Fugacious: adj: 1. Lasting but a short time; fleeting. 2. fleeting; transitory: a sensational story with but a fugacious claim on the public's attention. Fugacious has roots in the Latin verb fugere meaning "to flee." It entered English in the early 1600s.
EchoPixel is building a new world of patient care with its interactive, 3D medical visualization software. The True 3D system allows medical professionals to interact with patient-specific organs and tissue in an open 3D space emanating from a display, enabling doctors to immediately identify, evaluate, and dissect clinically significant structures. In diagnostic, surgical planning and image guided treatment applications, EchoPixel technology amplifies human expertise and improves both clinical efficacy and workflow.
EchoPixel is a privately held, venture backed company located at the Fogarty Institute for Innovation in Mountain View, CA.
(From their website)

Apparently pot does matter to the white matter. If you look at the corpus callosum, what we’re seeing is a significant difference in the white matter between those who use high potency cannabis and those who never use the drug, or use the low-potency drug, according to a pot researcher.
In June 1940, France fell to the Nazis, and Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson went to Spain. During this period, the Nazis concocted a scheme to kidnap Edward with the intention of returning him to the British throne as a puppet king. George VI, like his prime minister, Winston Churchill, was adamantly opposed to any peace with Nazi Germany. Unaware of the Nazi kidnapping plot but conscious of Edward’s pre-war Nazi sympathies, Churchill hastily offered Edward the governorship of the Bahamas in the West Indies. The duke and duchess set sail from Lisbon on August 1, 1940, narrowly escaping a Nazi SS team sent to seize them.
A person can will a tattoo to a loved one just like any other possession. A kit is mailed to the funeral home. Once the tattoo is removed, it is put through a chemical and enzymatic process to permanently alter the structure of the tissue and stop it from decaying. Then it is framed! This is becoming a business.  I have an option for those too squeamish for the tattoo dissection: Professional pictures of the tattoos which are then put in frames as a collage. Better than ashes.
The U.S. has released spy Jonathan Pollard. Some will say this is an effort for the administration to ingratiate itself to Israel, for whom Pollard did much of his spying. But Pollard was a spy for anyone; he did it for money. The Navy's prosecution found that he repeatedly tried to sell Pakistan secrets, which in the following decade became the first Islamic state to build nuclear arms, and is no friend of Israel. He also gave secrets to South Africa, which in the 1960s helped Israel become a nuclear power. He did a lot of damage and it will linger. His release is weird. Most other times in history he would have been executed.
Egyptologists and followers of mysticism have been fascinated for centuries by the fact that the Great Pyramid at Giza seems to approximate pi. The vertical height of the pyramid has the same relationship to the perimeter of its base as the radius of a circle has to its circumference.

Lorentz force is the total force exerted on a charged particle by electric and magnetic fields.

Donald Trump has very little chance of being president. His odds are at 8 percent, compared to 55 percent for Hillary Clinton, according to So why the scrutiny of Trump and not Hillary?
There simply cannot be compound growth in a finite world. A modest 1% growth compounded for the 3,000 years of Ancient Egypt’s population would have multiplied its economic output by nine trillion times! Yet, the improbability of feeding ten billion or so global inhabitants in 50 years is shrugged off with ease. And the entire economic and political system appears eager to encourage optimism on resources for it is completely wedded to the virtues of quantitative growth forever. Corrections and rebalancing are inevitable.

To Have and Have Not (1945) is the only instance when a Nobel prize-winning author (Ernest Hemingway) was adapted for the screen by another Nobel-winning author (William Faulkner).
Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who insisted every day on decrying the violence and terror that ruled his country, was murdered during mass on Monday, March 24, 1980. Romero’s murder and the mayhem and bloodshed set off by a sharpshooter at his funeral the following Saturday were perhaps the immediate sparks for the bloody twelve-year civil war that started in El Salvador just months later and killed some 70,000 Salvadorans, with the United States providing financial and military backing to the government side. It is hard to overstate how fervently the campesinos of El Salvador believed in Romero and what became known as the Liberation Church. When he was gone, entire villages placed themselves at the disposal of the guerrilla factions, which came together as a united front, the FMLN.
For The Hall of Unforeseen Consequences.

Nuclear power generates nearly 20% of the nation’s electricity but more than 60% of the carbon-free power. Over the past 50 years, nuclear plants — by offsetting fossil-fuel combustion — have avoided the emission of an estimated 60 billion tons of carbon dioxide. And because of natural gas, the U.S. is one of the few countries that has decoupled GDP growth from emissions growth.
Golden oldie:
The Bradley effect is an attempt to explain discrepancies between polling results and voting results. The theory proposes that some voters who intend to vote for the white candidate would nonetheless tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the non-white candidate because they were afraid the pollster would think less of them. It was named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections.  
There is some anxiety among the powers-that-be that Trump may be stronger than he appears in the polls because the press is so opposed to him and the voter is reluctant to admit support for him.
ISIS is reportedly training pilots in Sirte, Libya, a city just across the Mediterranean Sea from the shores of Italy. ISIS is believed to be building up a base in Libya in case the international coalition operating in Iraq and Syria manages to dislodge them from the territory they hold there. The rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a result of the disastrous U.S. war in Iraq, but its ascendancy in Libya is a result of the 2011 U.S. intervention in that country, one that Hillary Clinton gave her full-throttled support as secretary of state. Clinton also voted for the Iraq war back in 2003.

Although anorexia is more common among young people than any other age group, it is more deadly in the elderly. From 1986 to 1990, the elderly accounted for 78% of all deaths due to anorexia.
AAAAAAnnnnnndddddd.......a video of the world's most simple motor:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Plato's Socrates on Speeches

Nothing is new under the sun. Here is Plato's Socrates on speeches, an appropriate reading for the beginning of the interminably long political season.
I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

McCone and the Kennedy Assassination

Half a century after JFK’s death, in a once-secret report written in 2013 by the CIA’s top in-house historian and quietly declassified last fall, the spy agency acknowledges what others were convinced of long ago: that McCone and other senior CIA officials were “complicit” in keeping “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission.
According to the report by CIA historian David Robarge, McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a “benign cover-up” at the spy agency, intended to keep the commission focused on “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’—that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.” The most important information that McCone withheld from the commission in its 1964 investigation, the report found, was the existence, for years, of CIA plots to assassinate Castro, some of which put the CIA in cahoots with the Mafia. Without this information, the commission never even knew to ask the question of whether Oswald had accomplices in Cuba or elsewhere who wanted Kennedy dead in retaliation for the Castro plots. (Politico)
No doubt this will become our CIA cover-up story for the next decade. But.....
This might remind one of Oswald in Mexico City.
Jack Childs was a spy/raconteur who knew Castro. He says Castro told him that when Oswald realized the Cubans would not grant him a visa when he was in Mexico City he screamed with defiant bravado, "I'm going to kill Kennedy!" This was confirmed by the spy Rodriques Lahera in a debriefing with Harold Swenson. In November 1963, the Cuban intelligence officer in charge of monitoring possible CIA/exile activity against Cuba, Florintino Aspillaga, was told by Castro to abandon his usual sweeps and focus all his listening devices on the Dallas area.
So.....? The specifics of the assassination are beyond debate. Oswald, a defector to Russia, a communist disillusioned with the Russian system but enamored with the Cuban one, murdered President Kennedy. The only question is whether someone or some group influenced Oswald's decision. Castro may not have been involved. But it sounds as if he was not surprised.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cab Thoughts 1/27/16

"I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men!"--Woodrow Wilson

The Chinese were using the decimal system as early as the fourteenth century B.C., nearly 2,300 years before the first known use of the system in European mathematics. The Chinese were also the first to use a place for zero.

Some students are demanding that Woodrow Wilson's name be expunged from the Princeton campus, most prominently the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. They also want a mural of him taken down. They feel so strongly about this that they occupied the university president's office, holding it for 32 hours until the school's administration agreed to consider their demands. 
Modern warriors fighting in the past.
Autolycan: adjective: Characterized by thievery or trickery. ety: From Autolycus, the son of Hermes and Chione in Greek mythology, who was skilled in theft and trickery. He was able to make himself (or things he touched) invisible, which greatly helped him in his trade. Shakespeare named a con artist after Autolycus in A Winter’s Tale. Earliest documented use: 1890. Examp: “In a disarming note at the beginning of the book, Adams offers an apology for his autolycan procedures.” Times Literary Supplement; Jun 5, 1981. I was going to say the word has nothing to do with wolves but some research raises a question about that.    Autolycan appears as a character in Homer, pertaining to Odyssess:
And Meriones gave Odysseus his bow and quiver,
and a sword, and put on his head a helmet
made out of leather. On the inside it was firmly strung
with leather thongs; on the outside white tusks
of a shining-tusked boar were closely set this way and that,
well and skillfully. And in the middle a felt cap was fitted into it.
This helmet Autolykos once stole out of Eleon, from Amyntor, son of Ormenos,
penetrating into his close-built house,
and gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Skandeia.
And Amphidamas gave it to Molos as a guestgift,
and he in turn gave it to Meriones, his son, to wear.
But then it was put on the head of Odysseus and protected it.
George Akerlof’s and Robert Shiller’s new book, Phishing for Phools, contains a lot of contemporary liberal thought. One of the more interesting is their opposition to free speech. From the book:  "Our view of free speech closely mirrors our view of free markets.  We view both as critical for economic prosperity; and free speech as especially critical for democracy.  But just as phishing for phools* yields a downside to free markets, similarly, it yields a downside to free speech.  Like markets, free speech requires rules to filter the functional from the dysfunctional." 
Free speech seems to be a tool, not an ideal, to these people. "Dysfunctional" speech seems to be speech they feel is less well thought out or emotional--essentially political speech they disagree with. That they could get this published in America is telling.
Who is...John Jay?
Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that roamed around Australia - a heavily-armoured sheep-sized creature with a parrot-like beak. The dinosaur, named "Kunbarrasaurus", was identified following a 3D construction of the creature, whose remains were dug up in the outback in 1989. The skeleton was one of the most complete set of dinosaur remains found in Australia and one of the world's best-preserved fossils of an ankylosaur, a four-legged, herbivorous creature which had bones in its skin and was closely related to stegosaurs.
According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), "social expenditures" are expenditures that occur with the purpose of redistributing resources from one group to another, in order to benefit a lower-income or presumably disadvantaged population. These can be direct transfers or indirect. The U.S. has lower than most direct transfers but the indirect, through incentives, credits and private structures are high. Re-distributive social spending in the US is indeed different from many other countries. But the overall magnitude is actually greater (both proportionally and in absolute terms) in the US than in almost all other countries measured.
Conspicuously missing from President Hollande’s decisive declaration of war was any mention of the biggest elephant in the room: state-sponsorship. A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’” And what about the Saudis?

The "carbon tax." Heritage Foundation analysts modeled the cumulative costs of the Obama administration's climate agenda by modeling the economic costs of a carbon tax. They estimate that by 2030 the damage would be:
• An average annual employment shortfall of nearly 300,000 jobs;
• A loss of more than $2.5 trillion (inflation-adjusted) in aggregate gross domestic product;
• A total income loss of more than $7,000 (inflation-adjusted) per person.
So Americans will get higher electricity rates, higher unemployment and lower levels of prosperity. Even though electricity generation accounts for the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the estimated reduction is minuscule compared to global greenhouse gas emissions.
I hope there will be a vote. 

Those who say the United States should have intervened in 2011 to topple Assad should explain either how they could have rallied U.S. public support for an Iraq-like occupation and rebuilding of Syria, or, in the absence of that, how Syria would have avoided Libya’s fate.
Golden oldie:
Following centuries of colonial rule by countries including Portugal, Britain and Italy, Mogadishu became the capital of an independent Somalia in 1960. With bad luck and predatory leaders, by 1981, close to 2 million of the country’s inhabitants were homeless. A civil war killed some 50,000 people; another 300,000 died of starvation as United Nations peacekeeping forces struggled in vain to restore order and provide relief amid the chaos of war. In early December 1992, outgoing U.S. President George H.W. Bush sent the contingent of Marines to Mogadishu as part of a mission dubbed Operation Restore Hope. Backed by the U.S. troops, international aid workers were soon able to restore food distribution and other humanitarian aid operations. Sporadic violence continued, including the murder of 24 U.N. soldiers from Pakistan in 1993. As a result, the U.N. authorized the arrest of General Mohammed Farah Aidid, leader of one of the rebel clans. On October 3, 1993, during an attempt to make the arrest, rebels shot down two of the U.S. Army’s Black Hawk helicopters and killed 18 American soldiers. Clinton withdrew all U.S. troops.

"The Islamic State has grown that strong due to the irresponsible policy of the United States," exclaimed Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev, demanding that "really consolidated efforts" are needed to counter ISIS' terrorist threats. This comes just hours after President Obama toughened his rhetoric, vowing that the global coalition formed to destroy ISIS "will not relent," adding, rather oddly, that the group responsible for the Paris terror attacks is "a bunch of killers with good social media."
The term "fortified" conveys quite literally how wines are strengthened with the addition of a distilled spirit at varying stages of the production process. The spirit acts to raise the total alcoholic content of the finished product to around 15% to 20% by volume. There are many fortified wines produced around the world. In the case of most Ports (from Portugal, that is), port-style wines and sweet Madeiras, spirit is added during fermentation, thus killing off the yeasts and leaving a varying amount of sugar. This approach also applies to the many so-called natural sweet wines or vins doux naturels such as those based on the Muscat grape in southern France and other Mediterranean countries. Some fortifieds are termed "liqueur" wines, and for this style the fortification is done in the very early stages of, if not before, fermentation so that the grapes macerate and release their flavors through the action of the added alcohol.
A wise man said recently that "the problem with academics is they feel the need to be smarter than truth."
In a recent review of literary criticism by Lisa Ruddick in "Criticism," these little gems shone. 
Judith Halberstam on the psychopathic killer, Buffalo Bill, in "Silence of the Lambs:" In a well-known reading of the film, Halberstam suggests that Bill is as much “hero” as villain. For he “challenges the . . . misogynist constructions of the humanness, the naturalness, the interiority of gender.”  By removing and wearing women’s skin, Bill refutes the idea that maleness and femaleness are carried within us. 
Then the prose romances of William Morris are praised for modeling a society devoid of private property and of individual human personalities. The article suggests that in Morris’s “grim present”—the actual social world of late Victorian Britain—the “individual idiosyncrasy” of human beings was “overvalued.” Further, the feeling of “personal identity” enjoyed by the Victorians was a species of “portable property,” like the other kinds of “private property” enjoyed by “disaggregated liberal subjects.” Morris’s socialist fiction, by contrast, offers a scheme for a society whose members would lack a “durable sense of self” and even any “differentiation between persons.” 
Finally, in the journal "ELH: English Literary History," we read for example that “free love” is a “radical” answer to the monogamy that serves “a capitalist and patriarchal sense of property and propriety.” 
Smarter than truth indeed.
The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from nine to 19, with the average being age 11. Many victims are not just runaways or abandoned, but are from "good" families who are coerced by clever traffickers.
John Jay was an influential man at the time of the American Revolution who, surprisingly, was opposed to separation from Great Britain. Jay was elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774 as a representative from New York, where he published a paper entitled Address to the People of Great Britain, in which he promoted a peaceful resolution with Great Britain instead of independence. Jay was reelected to the Second Continental Congress in 1775 but, upholding his opposition to complete independence from Great Britain, he resigned in 1776 rather than sign the Declaration of Independence. Upon his return to New York, Jay helped draft the state’s constitution before his election as the state’s first chief justice in 1777. Despite his early misgivings about independence, Jay served as president of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1779 and in 1782 signed the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain. He contributed to the The Federalist Papers, part of the successful campaign waged by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to win ratification for the Constitution in 1788 and 1789. Soon after, President George Washington appointed Jay as the first chief justice of the United States.

On Dec. 10, 1941 twenty-six-year-old Thomas Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemane, a Trappist Order near Bardstown, Kentucky; and on the same day in 1968 the fifty-three-year-old Merton died in Bangkok, Thailand, from accidental electrocution.

A lifting body spaceplane is relatively straightforward. Launch a spaceship into space that can then return to earth smoothly via landing on a runway like a normal aircraft does. This would theoretically increase safety, cut costs and enhance mission flexibility. The Shuttle was a very large, and some would say bloated version of the this concept. While a number of versions of this idea have been developed, Boeing's X-37B is the current favorite. Boeing has launched the X-37B space plane four times into orbit, with the little space plane’s endurance being pushed farther and farther each time. The last flight saw the ship stay aloft for almost two years (674 days to be exact) and Boeing may be looking at building a larger version and possibly one that is capable of carrying passengers in the future.    

AAAAAaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnddddddd.....a picture of Boeing’s X-37B (Credit- Boeing):
Dream Chaser Space Plane Could Take On Air Force Missions Like The X-37B

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Three Reviews: Short/Martian/Revenant

"The Big Short" is a docudrama of the Lewis book. I had little hopes for it; the book describes a complex financial story, the elements of the 2008 financial collapse, and I thought would be hard to do. The movie is pretty successful. They accepted the difficulties and simply announced them to the audience. Then they did self-effacing stage whispers and asides to explain the tough parts. While the awful people come across as awful, the victims are a bit removed. (It is tough when so many people--even the average guy--are benefiting right up to when the music stops. Everyone saw the advantages of the free money.) The guys who spotted the problem are well done. They are, dramatically, the most difficult because, as Lewis emphasizes, the only people with clear vision are true outsiders and they, as a rule, are not attractive people or heroes. I thought Bale was particularly good in the difficult role of the unfortunate Burry. My only grouse was the story was a bit sanitized. These people were really terrible people and were unbelievably cruel, much crueler than portrayed. And the government's part was diminished with only the SEC and the ratings people criticized; the easy money government policies and the sub-prime impetus were never really mentioned, as if this occurred in a governmental vacuum rather than the result of a conscious, complicit effort on the part of legislators.

"The Martian" is the result of a thought experiment: What would happen if a knowledgeable scientist was abandoned on Mars? One man shows--like "Castaway"--can be wearying but there is enough variety in the plot-line not to burden Matt Damon too much. It is clever enough and certainly dramatic--several people watching shouted out with dismay at anxious moments. There are some peculiar elements that seem a bit forced--the prominence of female action heroes (of the four hundred seventy or so astronauts with astronaut badges signifying flight at greater than fifty miles from earth, forty are women), the surprising assistance of known and sworn political enemies--and are noticeable (and the movie had a disclaimer at the end--something I can not remember seeing before but perhaps I was just sensitive to the circumstance.) Generally a fun movie.

"The Revenant" is a mixed survivalist-revenge movie with astonishing and relentless action pursued by furious and dangerous men, some pathological. DiCaprio is good, Hardy, whose part is juicier, is terrific. The opening minutes are unforgettable. There are some clear problems. There is no relief for the audience; the terrors are non-stop, relieved only by periodic reloading. You know it is a tough movie when starvation is a respite. And there is some irresolution--a strange quality in so riveting a story played out by men of such intensity. And finally there is the theme; anything named "The Revenant" has a heavy burden, especially when the man returning from the grave has visions. Regrettably the people who made the movie seemed content to create the question and leave it at that.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Vacation Seven

  Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

There is a recent article about the American character, how risk is inherent to it, how the history of the settling of the west symbolizes it and how federal regulations endanger it. The author's point is that regulation in the future will inhibit a successful aspect of the American character and impair our recovery. I, on the other hand, think the damage has been done; the current problems are directly attributable to the markets aversion to risk. There are countless factors in the economic disaster we are experiencing, and about to experience. The obvious are expanding credit/debt, the purposeful loaning of money to less than credit worthy people and the tremendous leverage that has developed in the economy (by that I mean using less and less assets to support more and more debt.) But I'll bet when the final assessments are written there will be a more basic culprit: the attempt to eliminate risk. This "risk" concept is essential to free markets. Every economic encounter should contain risk because risk is a proxy for responsibility. If you can buy a house with no money down and get 125% from the bank, you can walk away from the mortgage with 25% of the loan and put it in your pocket. No risk. No responsibility. On the other hand, the creditor is completely dependent on the good will of the borrower, as vulnerable as a woman in the street. Such thinking makes investment closer to theft. No wonder the creditor runs to homogenize the risk. And I will bet it is the underlying problem in the "illiquidity" of the economy: no one wants to give money in a culture that holds irresponsibility in such high esteem. Everyone wants to be as safe as possible but transactions that are risk less, like
other efforts, are worthless--or will prove to be. Life cannot be seen as risk less. Nothing in, nothing out. The real question is if the risk aversion nature of our economy will supplant the older pioneer quality of the country. That would be real change.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday 1/24/16

Today's mass was in a new, small church with the Stations of the Cross in new, leaded windows. Very spare.
The Gospel was Luke's first, his opening letter to the "most excellent Theophilous," explaining Luke's motives in the Gospel. He has investigated everything and is sending Theophilous his findings of the life of Christ.
His first description is Christ returning to Galilee and speaking at the local synagogue. He reads a passasge from the old testament predicting the coming of the Son of Man. Then He sits down. Everyone looks at Him and then He says, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
They all must have lost their minds.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Vacation Six

 Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

"ACORN had been given a compelling incentive, as CRA allowed the organizations to collect a fee from the banks for their services in marketing the loans. The Senate Banking Committee had estimated that, as a result of CRA, $9.5 billion had gone to pay for services and salaries of the organizers."
This from a review of the history of the sub prime disaster. It is a small part but nonetheless surprisingly accepted. This may well be what these candidates mean by spreading the wealth.
Tolerance has become indifference. This huge scandal has blended in with all the discrepancies, outrages and disasters that the democracy metabolizes in its days and weeks. That any culture can blink at such behavior, behavior that strikes at its roots, is compelling evidence for its decline. This bizarre manipulation of finances, demographics and now voting--a huge sweeping effort at social restructuring conjoined with considerable personal gain--is unpleasant only, like bad weather, as people submissively adjust their lives in their passionless economic worlds. We shrug these events off like minor wounds and slog on. At its heart this indifference comes from despair, the despair of the soldier in the trench who knows the decisions that will decide his life have slipped beyond his control and he must survive within the limits applied to him from above, by his superiors. This country has always had a defiant independent quality in its genes; that may be thinned out.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Vacation Five

Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

Palin was in town last night. I'm beginning to feel some real sympathy for her. This woman is not a professional politician. She ended up governor of a big state by a series of circumstances and, by all accounts, is an attractive and compelling woman. Is she an expert on the Middle East? No. Is Biden? No. Is she as goofy as Biden? No. Is Barney Frank a guy you would put in charge of anything? No, not even a male prostitution ring. But I think the savagery she has inspired means something: I think people I dislike are afraid of her and that interests me. And they--that is the republicans, the democrats and the press--have been cruel to her. The republicans have thrown her to the wolves because it doesn't matter; she attracts a voter she will not alienate under any circumstances. The democrats hate her because she makes women and abortion complicated, and the press hates her because the democrats do and she is popular with a group they disdain. That stunt on CNN was unforgivable. The cruelty is unforgivable. It is beyond anything I imagined people in the public space would do.
That said, I really dislike the two presidential candidates and hope that whoever wins has enough judgment and humility to pick good advisers and listen to them. This period of time is too important to us to have such uncertainty in our leaders (although I must admit Obama acts the part). At any rate, I am done with this election; I'm voting for Palin. I know she won't win but she needs a friend.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vacation Four

Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

I have met a milestone: I have signed up for Social Security. This has been troubling. First, I can not believe I am this old. This is clearly an emotional and not a reasonable conclusion. After all, a woman younger than I -I knew her as a child - has Alzheimer's. But there is something about this age that feels a bit like turning the third corner of the 400; there is a finishing feeling. Many people I know think that people are in much better health than people used to be and generally I think that is true. But illness is more than a weight that grows like a wart with age, it is a sniper in the trees. I've never thought much about my health or my limits until just recently but milestones are reminders. For some they become millstones. On the other hand, I bought some o.r. shoes two years ago and thought wistfully at the time they would be my last. Now, with this economy and the idiots running for office I have decided to buy another pair.
The other discomfort was the office itself. My experiences with these bureaucracies are usually bad. From the inevitable surly cop to the stunningly disinterested postal worker, the professional government employee always meets my low expectation. And it started badly; my first effort to register--after taking time from work with great effort--was yesterday. Columbus Day. Of course they were closed and I walked away cursing that most of the government wanted to abolish the day--or at least the name--anyway. On my second try every preconception I had was initially confirmed. The room was filled with tough looking, badly dressed people. There was a lot of loud talk and some clearly undiagnosed problems loosed on an unsuspecting world. On the other hand they were uniformly polite, concerned and social. The employees were helpful to everyone; even with the obvious lunatics late in the day they were all smiling and good natured. I was sorry to have prejudged them all, clients and employees, so harshly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Vacation Three

 Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

So much is going on.Everyone should keep journals. These times are astonishing in their speed and change. Obama looks like a blowout. I spoke to a very conservative woman last weekend who hates Obama and she said she hoped the election would be decisive. No more of these bitter, hard fought contest with courts and challenges and outrage. I think it is a wise view. Nixon was beaten by Kennedy by gross fraud in Chicago and never considered fighting the results because of the pain it would cause the country. I think the same now. But this is going to be destructive. Obama is coming to power with a groundswell of uncertainty of the value of freedom, uncertainty that we can run our own lives and should be stuck with the results. It is a depressing view--hardly new and shopworn with failure throughout history--but seems popular enough to carry the day and decade. It is even accepted by the capitalist who fears a real social collapse without it. But it will be hard. A class of bureaucrat/managers will develop to guide the world and there will be no place to hide from their benevolence. Production will certainly decline for the more homogeneous mean and, lurking in the background, will be that gnawing threat that there are limits to growth, that innovation may not be forthcoming under such a benighted and preoccupied system and that serious sacrifices must be made by some, likely the very individuals who should step forward. And in the face of such problems flies the overt failure of the government leaders to exhibit any competence at all in this crisis. "No one knows what to do" will echo in our minds for years. How can we possibly look to the government system--however changed--when the leaders of the new system are the same pilots that caused the initial wreck? Well, there are no guillotines, no firing squads, no racks. And we are resilient. Even in an economic revolution run by half baked politicians avowing discredited theories, hard work always survives--if it doesn't win.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Vacation Two

Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

It's fitting that these elections follow the Olympics; these elections are the Olympics of insincerity. Virtually nothing that is said is real. Energy independence is foremost--and geologically impossible. Good inexpensive medical care for all Americans is an oxymoron. Solving the sub prime mortgage problem is a bit awkward as the problem occurred with strict government oversight and appears to be aided and abetted by government policy.
And what is not talked about is very real, specifically the debt of the government and its citizens.

The core of this problem, this propaganda of hypocrisy, is our tolerance, our willingness to listen to nonsense and our unwillingness to judge, to hold opinions we may be held responsible for. But first it comes from our terrible tolerance for the truth, a disinterest in the face of serious and obvious problems. This indifference comes from conformity in a world where all the sharp edges have been rubbed off. And indifference to terrible truth makes the indifference to lies almost a relief.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Vacation One

Some guys go on vacation and have guest bloggers. My guest blogger is me from the distant past:

The democratic political process is, in its marrow, insincere. The aims, ambitions, motives, achievements, successes and failures of politicians are a twisted and irregular matrix of smallminded, egocentric and sometimes overtly evil preoccupations wrapped in a fragile shell of glitz, optimism, charity and fellowship. Atilla wearing St. Francis' cowl. We, and our media filters, view events like the current campaign with detached openmindedness and grade them like a contest or performance. We see the practiced frozen smiles of the gymnast and judge how well they "connected to the audience". We watch the paired skaters and comment how they are interpreting the music despite our knowing they would skate exactly the same without the music and the music was no factor in the performance at all. And so every four years we watch these performances and hear these sentiments with suspended judgement, openheartedly--or, perhaps, hopefully--giving these incompetent and predatory creatures a second chance.
The Clinton drama gives some spice to this year's masque. Hillary brings adult conflict to the fore. With little experience, with the ironic dependence upon her husband for her independent stature and with notable political failures she has, by force of will and personality, become a national figure and built a base of fierce support. She energized her campaign and prepared to step foreward to her position as next in line only to have her trailbreaking make way for a candidate from a more disenfranchised group than she. And last night she had to applaud his success. No one can say where she is in this play, second or fourth act, but she is no minor character and she is brave.
Unfortunately she and the rest of them--regardless of their compelling complexities-- are minor leaguers. Our nation and the world face serious problems that will require solutions that will be judged on results, not posturing. The fact that any of these ciphers want to appear responsible for our future proves they do not understand our problems well enough to be given the task.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday 1/17/16

If any gospel classifies as truly funny in the horrific collision between the material and spiritual that is described in the New Testament, this is it: The Marriage at Cana.
The host run out of wine. A human, social crisis in an important social tradition. Mary says, "They have no more wine." Innocent and probably a wry smile. "My time is not yet come," is Christ's answer. Aaaawww, Mom. "Do what he tells you, " she says patiently to the steward. Knowing. Just knowing. Everything indirect. Understood. A product of years of intimacy, of learning what she had under her roof.
It is said that the Vatican has kept in secret a journal written by a Jewish girl from her early youth until her death. She was a contemporary of Christ and a neighbor from His village. She must have been remarkable as literacy was rare then and rarer among women. It is an account of her growing up and maturing with Christ Himself, first tangentially and then, as Christ becomes more captivating, the journal focuses on Him almost exclusively. Imagine the divine in the everyday.---Actually I made that up but Mary did experience it, you see a bit of it in this Gospel and it would have made a hell of a story.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Cab Thoughts 1/16/16

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)

Ryan Clark's sickle cell episode in Denver a few years ago points it out: Denver creates a true home field advantage, almost unfairly so. It sits about 5,200 feet above sea level, or some 4,000 feet higher than Pittsburgh's altitude.  “You're a mile high. That is just the science of it,” said Frank Velasquez, a former Pittsburgh Pirates strength and conditioning coordinator who is director of sports performance at Allegheny Health Network. “There's less oxygen up there, and our muscles require oxygen to function. The muscles will fatigue quicker and burn a little more — that's the physiology of the situation.” Disadvantages of playing in Denver come in more subtle forms, according to Heyer. Because there is less oxygen at higher levels, nighttime breathing may be heavier, affecting sleep quality, he said. “Sleep is an issue from my perspective in terms of not being optimal for the players,” said Heyer. The dry climate also affects hydration. “Players tend to lose more water through breathing, and there's a greater tendency to experience water depletion,” he said. “That can certainly affect performance.”

The British nurse Edith Cavell was executed in Brussels, Belgium, for treason on October 12, 1915 by the occupying German army. Her execution had an immediate and lasting effect on the course of WWI. In response to recruitment posters that asked, “Who will avenge Nurse Cavell?” enlistment numbers doubled in England. She was actually apolitical and ministered to all wounded. She told her students in her evening lectures that nursing would lead to “the widest social reform, the purest philanthropy, the finest humanity.” Good nurses were “the handmaids of that science which not only assuages and heals the suffering of today, but reaches on, through ever-widening circles, to the dawn of perfect manhood when disease shall be unknown . . ."

A recent CNN article lays many of the world's problems on global warming. This was a response in a letter to CNN: "All the perils and travails ......- from inadequate access to clean water and sanitation to long dreary hours of backbreaking work - were routinely suffered by nearly everyone on earth before the industrial revolution. Filth, hunger, short life expectancy, illiteracy, subjugation of women, sanguinary conflicts over scarce resources - these horrors are not the recent consequences of climate change.  They are the ages-old consequences of persistent and widespread poverty.  This poverty and its accompanying miseries were eliminated only when and only where people embraced the very economic system that so many of today's environmentalists wish either to abolish outright or to jeopardize with unprecedented government-fashioned fetters: entrepreneurial capitalism."

The Affordable Care Act may be in some trouble when the U.S.'s biggest health insurer, UnitedHealth, cut its 2015 earnings forecast with a warning that it was considering pulling out of Obamacare, just one month after saying it would expand its presence in the program.

In 1950, 9 percent of American adults lived alone; today, 33 percent do so, more than half of them in the 35−64 age group, more than half of them female.

The latest science on the "sensitivity" of the world's temperature to a doubling of carbon-dioxide levels (from 0.03% of the air to 0.06%) is also reassuring. Several recent peer-reviewed studies of climate sensitivity based on actual observations, including one published in 2013 in Nature Geoscience with 14 mainstream IPCC authors, conclude that this key measure is much lower-about 30%-50% lower-than the climate models are generally assuming.

Government and consumer watchdog groups have raised concerns about the ties between the Clinton Foundation, Canadian billionaire businessman Frank Giustra and the nation of Colombia. A charitable foundation running a private equity fund is "not something one hears about commonly" and is "very concerning," according to one watchdog group who say the practice is unusual and could pose a significant conflict of interest.

Who is....Bill Ayers?

According to legend, coffee was discovered in the 9th century when an Ethiopian goat herder named Khaldi noticed that his normally lethargic goats were more excitable after they had nibbled the red berries from an evergreen tree. Khaldi took the berries to a Muslim holy man, who turned the raw fruit of the coffee tree into the delicious beverage.

In Jessica Alexander’s book on humanitarian aid, Chasing Chaos, she describes the effort in specific, human detail, based on front-line work in Darfur, Rwanda, Haiti, and other regions. She has some sympathy for cash transfers, but not just any. "Advocates of cash transfers call it the future of aid. And for those who worry about where the money will be spent, the aid community has come up with a semiofficial rule, which some in the industry refer to as one of the Ten Commandments of cash transfers: Give the money to women. Women will spend it on the family [instead of] on alcohol and prostitutes."

The air campaign over Syria averages seven strikes a day. In Operation Desert Storm, we flew 1,100 sorties day. Even in the Kosovo campaign, we averaged 138.

Deborah Solomon, writing in her biography of Norman Rockwell, describes a social unity he captured: "The great subject of his work was American life — not the frontier version, with its questing for freedom and romance, but a homelier version steeped in we-the-people, communitarian ideals of America’s founding in the eighteenth century. The people in his paintings are related less by blood than by their participation in the civic rituals, from voting on Election Day to sipping a soda at a drugstore counter. Doctors spend time with patients whether or not they have health insurance. Students appreciate their teachers and remember their birthdays. Citizens at town hall meetings stand up and speak their mind without getting booed or shouted down by gun-toting rageaholics. This is America before the fall, or at least before searing divisions in our government and general population shattered any semblance of national solidarity."

C.I.A. Director Brennan: In the past several years because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of hand wringing over the government's role in the effort to try to undercover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that are taken that make our ability, collectively, internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.

Golden oldie:

Shortly before her fateful maiden voyage, a fire started in the Titanic's coal bunkers. As revealed during the British inquiry into the disaster, the flames were still raging when the ship set out for New York, creating a potentially dangerous situation for those on board. According to surviving stoker J. Dilley: "We didn't get that fire out and among the stokers there was talk that we'd have to empty the big coal bunkers after we'd put the passengers off in New York and then call on the fireboats there to help us put out the fire." That didn't turn out to be necessary, since Dilley claimed the flames were extinguished when the iceberg ripped through the hull and flooded the bunkers with seawater.

Propinquity: n: 1. Nearness in place; proximity. 2. affinity of nature; similarity. Propinquity entered English in the mid-1300s and can be traced to the Latin propinquitās meaning "nearness."

The US economy reportedly added 211,000 jobs, more than the 200,000 expected, solidified its position as the "most important" one in recent years, after it was broadly interpreted by economists as the sufficient condition for the Fed to hike rates on December 16, 7 years to the day after the same Fed cut rates to zero. According to the BLS' Household Survey, while 375,000 foreign-born workers found jobs in November, a whopping 326,000 native-born Americans lost theirs. Read that again.

On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice, according to a new study by NASA scientists published in the Journal of Glaciology. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise-about a foot a century-with no sign of recent acceleration.

If recession is truly impending, as it increasingly appears, that would mean not just the end of the recovery but the end of "accommodation" as a given force, that is a demonstrable failure of the basic Keynesian principle of monetarism. So, does that worry any Keynesians?

During Prohibition, de-alcoholized (according to the letter of the law) "near beer" was often delivered to customers with a separate package containing a portion of the raw alcohol that had been boiled off. The drinker then squirted the alcohol back into the near beer with a syringe, thus making what was commonly called “needle beer.”

AAAAaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnndddddddd......A graph of all attacks since 1970 that took place in United States. A terrorist attack is defined as the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non‐state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation. The spike in the '70s? The esteemed Bill Ayers and his murderous friends.
Number of Attacks
Number of Attacks

As of 2014

Friday, January 15, 2016

State of the Union

A few years ago we were having a holiday party and I had set aside a few nice white wines. A red wine got accidentally mixed in with the whites and as I announced that these whites were really good, I poured the red one. My son looked at me and asked with painful politeness, "How is that white?"

The President in his State of the Union address was upbeat. He felt the U.S. was in good shape and he had a lot to be proud of. He cited, for example, the 14 million jobs created since he took office.
But there is another side.
America is more than $8 trillion in debt (a 77% increase) that has been accumulated since he was inaugurated seven years ago. If the President truly wants to take credit for the jobs created, the basic math works out to be nearly $600,000 in government debt for every single job created.
While debt in the US has increased 77% over the last seven years, GDP has only increased by 13%.
Now, you’d think that for each additional dollar the US government was spending and compromising future generations, there would be at least $1 in GDP growth. In the ledger, government spending is put dollar for dollar into the GDP. Ideally you’d get more than $1 in GDP growth. Businesses have to do this every single day. If someone borrows $10 million to buy and develop agricultural farmland, obviously the net effect once finished should result in a property that’s worth MORE than $10 million. But it took them $3.71 of debt to buy just $1 of GDP growth.
How is that good?

But, he declared, "Anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction." Yet....

The government’s own numbers show that they are completely insolvent, to the tune of nearly $18 trillion. Does this mean nothing?
The annual reports for the Social Security trust funds show that they are rapidly running out of money. Where will the new money come from?
The Census Bureau’s data shows that the earnings for middle class Americans are stagnating. For years. What's the plan? Is it something as yet undone?
The Labor Department’s numbers show that the number of Americans who have dropped out of the work force hasn’t been at this level since the Carter administration.
USDA figures show that the number of food stamp recipients is near an all-time high, simultaneously when the number of homeless children in America is at a record high.
And all of this, at a time when trust in government is near an all-time low.

A lot of people are pleased with the last seven years. But it is hard to understand. And it's unfortunate that any questions raised are not taken seriously and just dismissed as "peddling fiction."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino and Zoltan

Erich von Däniken was a guy who wrote about "alien" references in history. His famous one was Chariot of the Gods. It was so goofy and so much fun. He was a creative guy, helped by the free time he had while serving various prison sentences for various serious frauds.
Ridley Scott said that his film "Prometheus" is related to some of Däniken's ideas regarding early human civilization.

In this theme, here is “The Madonna with Saint Giovannino.” It was painted in the 15th century by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) and hangs as part of the Loeser collection in the Palazzo Vecchio. Above Mary’s shoulder is a disk shaped object. Below is a blow up of this section and a man and his dog can clearly be seen looking up at the object.
Here are some blowups:
The Madonna with Saint Giovannino
The Madonna with Saint Giovannino
The truth is out there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cab Thoughts 1/13/16

“Apparently, it’s a kind of a ‘honey is sweet, but the bee stings’ situation: they want IS to weaken Assad as soon as possible to make him leave somehow, but at the same time they don’t want to overly strengthen IS, which may then seize power."--Sergei Lavrov on U.S. policy
"Ladies and gentlemen, the shadow of one word has impended over me all this evening, and the time has come at last when the shadow must fall. It is but a very short one, but the weight of such things is not measurable by their length, and two much shorter words express the whole round of our human existence.... Ladies and gentlemen, I beg to bid you farewell - and I pray God bless you, and God bless the land in which I leave you." This was Charles Dickens' farewell speech in New York the day of his last reading of his tour. The crowd cheered and wept. He died two years later in England.

According to the CDC, there are 110 million cases of sexually-transmitted disease in America today, and another 20 million  STD cases are added to that total every year.  The United States has the highest STD infection rate in the entire industrialized world, and more than half of all Americans will have a sexually-transmitted disease at some point during their lives.
Obama spoke at the Paris global summit and said, apparently shamed-faced, that he had "come here personally, as the leader of the world's largest economy and the second largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem; we embrace our responsibility to do something about it."
Another thing we have to be sorry for. It is not that the U.S. has been stagnant on this theoretical problem. U.S. carbon emissions are lower than they were in 1996, and this decline came despite an 18% increase in population and a 51% climb in the nation's real gross domestic product. Per-capita emissions of CO2 have steadily declined, to the point where they are a third less than they were in the early 1970s and 16% below 1990 levels. The amount of CO2 the U.S. emits per dollar of GDP is 30% lower than it was in 1990. But guilt is guilt, especially when something is disliked.

Davy Jones's Locker: in: A euphemism for death at sea and refers to the bottom of the ocean, where drowned sailors lie. Many theories exist as to where the name “Davy Jones” stems from, but while its origins are unclear, its meaning is not; sailors use the term when referring to the devil of the sea. Jones was described by one 18th century author as having 3 rows of teeth, horns, a tail, and blue smoke coming from his nostrils.

The poet Shelley's body washed up on the beach at Viareggio (his copy of Keats's poems in his pocket), and was burned in an ad hoc funeral pyre, the remains delivered to the cemetery in Rome where Keats was buried. Something, though not the heart, or something looking like it was plucked from the fire by Leigh Hunt, and it was given to Mary Shelley, and found in her belongings at her death, wrapped in a manuscript sheet of "Adonais."

Jordan says it has taken in 1.4 million Syrians fleeing the war there since it broke out in 2011, but the UNHCR puts the figure at 600,000.
At least 250,000 people have died in more than four years of conflict in Syria.
Supreme Court Justice writes in a new book that the court should look abroad for guidance on some decisions because about 20% of cases have something to do with what happens outside the U.S.. Our thinking, even legal thinking, should be more inclusive. Underlying this is the idea that America has nothing unique to offer its people or the world. If that is true, we need a real sitdown. America is a very tough place to live with incredible personal demand and responsibility. If that has no great value, we need to hit the reset button. What we will get, I do not know.

In 2012, the Los Angeles city council unanimously approved a resolution that all Mondays in the City of Angels will be meatless.
Golden oldie:
The number of men and women age 65 and older cohabiting outside of marriage nearly doubled between 1990 and 2000.
Government is typically a bad entrepreneur not because some economists or political philosophers deem it to be, but because the conditions under which it operates are radically different from those facing private entrepreneurs.  Market-driven economies are dynamic; they have to be to survive.  State-driven economies, or what Nobel laureate economist Edmund Phelps (2013: 127) calls “social economies,” are “fatally lacking in dynamism.”
OPEC sees Brazilian oil production plateauing as soon as next year. That is a pretty significant development considering the fact that, not too long ago, Petrobras thought output would continue rising rapidly through the rest of the decade.
The big American drug company Pfizer Inc. plans to merge with a Dublin-based company called Allergan PLC and set up headquarters overseas, thereby legally becoming an Irish company. Who benefits? If the merger goes through, Pfizer will keep paying U.S. corporate taxes for money earned here. It will get a new deduction opportunity, however, and will not have to pay U.S. taxes on foreign-earned money shipped back to the states.
This so-called corporate inversion will be a public plus for an obvious reason cited by Pfizer: The firm will have more cash to spend in America on investments that habitually sprout opportunities. Who benefits?  And who does not? It is a measure of the problem in this country that many will say the people will benefit from Pfizer's greater ability to invest more money and the government--who should be the people--will lose money to waste.

Who is....Malthus?

For the head of Planned Parenthood to self-righteously complain about the “politicization” of women’s health care as her organization receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually in government subsidies – money forcibly extracted by government from taxpayers and then given to Planned Parenthood – is an astonishing feat of hypocrisy.  No one who is ethically mature demands money from Smith and simultaneously complains when Smith expresses opinions about how that money is spent.

Thomas Robert Malthus, in his Essay on the Principle of Population,Malthus first published in 1798, proposed the principle that human populations grow exponentially (i.e., doubling with each cycle) while food production grows at an arithmetic rate (i.e. by the repeated addition of a uniform increment in each uniform interval of time). Thus, while food output was likely to increase in a series of twenty-five year intervals in the arithmetic progression 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and so on, population was capable of increasing in the geometric progression 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and so forth. This scenario of arithmetic food growth with simultaneous geometric human population growth predicted a future when humans would have no resources to survive on.  To avoid such a catastrophe, Malthus urged controls on population growth.
There is an interesting counter for the theorized Malthusianism pressure of growing population. Nothing is a resource – not petroleum, not iron ore, not trees in a forest, not fish in a lake, not even land – until and unless human ingenuity discovers a way or ways to use, at low-enough cost, that material to satisfy human wants. So that the real resource is the human mind. The human mind is a creator and a developer of resources before it is a consumer.
Penury: n: 1:  a cramping and oppressive lack of resources (as money); especially :  severe poverty 2:  extreme and often niggardly frugality ety: c. 1400, from Latin penuria "want, need; scarcity," related to paene "scarcely." This is sometime used figuratively.

The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.--Smith
AAAAAaaaaaaannnnnnddddd .....a video of sunset at the Golden Gate with a "green flash:"

In the recorded time-lapse sequence, unusually warm air created by bridge traffic refracts sunlight toward the Earth, causing a superior image of the top of the Sun to form. This image will disappear -- marking the first "sunset" -- only after the main image has dipped below the deck. All the while, boats pass in the foreground, cars pass over the bridge, and clouds reflecting sunlight drift by in the distance. The scene ends with Earth's turbulent atmosphere itself creating a path that only higher-energy visible sunlight can traverse, making the last glimpse of our home star appear to flash green.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Greek to Me

As the West should have learned by now, isolated economic systems that do not work can be a threat to those that do. Russia collapsed in silence but its bond market caused screams throughout the West. Contagion from the failed state can hurt you. So what is it the West is trying to do in Greece? Greece as an economic power--or failure--will not damage its neighbors unless its neighbors volunteer for the risk. For some reason, they have.

For some reason the Europeans are signing up for the Tsipras socialist zombie wish. Why?

The West does this a lot. They act as if the degenerate use of mind-altering drugs--which, as a side effect, forever restructures the brain to demand the medication--is some sort of bout of bad weather that will, in time, blow over. Similarly they think of prisons as areas of improvement where basically good people can be shown the error of their ways and become social contributors.
No doubt these reversals occur, often molded by profound religious experience as evidenced by 12 step programs. But even those programs insist that the self-inflicted victim come to some insight that he is the problem. Even the 12 step programs demand that the offender play out his badly played hand.
Or is the West, as they are in Greece, simply biding time. Simply supporting a holding pattern. Restructuring the loan, extending its period, tweaking the conditions, turning down the heat on the pot. Waiting for the next nice conference in Geneva. Declining the option to make a decision and come to a conclusion.
Most important, avoiding judgment.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Greeks Demanding Gifts

This is an interesting project that pits the Greek people against the EU, of which they are a part. It documents much of the final crisis and typifies much of the debate one hears and reads of concerning money in the cultures of the world. The Greeks have borrowed 333 million Euros from other Europeans and the lenders want it back. The Greeks are arguing that the loan is somehow a function of the democratic process, perhaps does not need paid, or should be paid in a way that the lenders do not like. If the debtor does not pay, the creditor does and it seems the Greeks believe that right.

What is prominent here is the current concept that seems to be so pervasive in the West: Pretending. The new government takes a bold stand, pretending to have some say in the matter and they are cheered by the public. When the truth begins to emerge, everyone pretends there is a conspiracy afoot. The country has no money, lives on borrowed money, holds a referendum then puts a gun to its own head and says, "Give us want we want or we'll shoot."