Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cab Thoughts 3/9/16

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.--Friedman
Pew's recent study found that the middle class was no longer the majority of the country, having dipped from 61% of U.S. households in 1971 to 50% today. 120.8 million adults are now in middle income class households, while a combined 121.3 million are in lower and upper income classes. While I strenuously oppose the use of "class" in reference to the U.S., these are surprising generalizations.

"Shadow banking" refers to the performance of risky bank-like functions by institutions that are not as carefully regulated as banks. The most dangerous such function is that of borrowing short-term in order to invest in longer-term financial instruments, all while hoping that you will be able to "roll over" - renew or refinance - your short-term loans over the durations of those longer-term investments. When you can do that, you can make a great deal of money by investing in higher-end speculative financial instruments, because short-term borrowing costs are lower than long-term speculative yields. But you also put those who lend to you - notably bank depositors or counterpart small savers (more on them, below) - at great risk, for you're engaged in a "musical chairs" form of finance: You avoid bankrupting yourself and your lenders only as long as your speculative investments keep rising, bubble-fashion, in price. high-end securities firms - firms like today's J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs - through which mainly the rich invested. Securities firms borrowed short-term from depositories - hence from their depositors - then used the borrowings to purchase high-yield speculative financial products. The result was first a bubble-inflating binge of speculative buying of such products, then the massive failure of both the securities firms that bought them and the banks and depositors who lent the short-term money once the bubble had burst. For this reason, the Glass-Steagalll Act, passed shortly after the 1929 crash in 1933, put an end to these relations between depository institutions and securities firms. It ended, in other words, the 1920s version of shadow banking. Many of the most dangerous shadow banking operations were - and still are - conducted by institutions that are affiliated with ordinary depository institutions under single holding company structures, structures that the original Glass-Steagall Act prohibited and which President Bill Clinton and Secretary Summers pushed to allow.

Who is....Louis Hughes?

People all say that time seems slower when they are young, speeding up as they age. A number of studies have shown that time perception is unchanged with aging. But the feeling of speeding time persists. Some reasonable explanations:
One, we mark time by significant events and young people's lives are more crowded by them. Two, time seems to pass faster when you are occupied and older people are busier. And, three, if clear memories form our personal timelines, then everything we remember clearly will seem more recent than it actually was. Realizing that isn't true makes us feel like time has passed us by.

What the Cubs have done is going to challenge the existing baseball structure. They have gone out and bought so much talent that other teams are almost in a different league. Rich teams are simply becoming overwhelming. The Dodgers have eight potential starters. Eight. The Yankee's bullpen looks like a who's who in baseball. These disparities are going to hurt the game.
A coffle is 'a train of men or beasts fastened together,' says the Oxford English Dictionary, and indeed Louis Hughes referred to the coffle he marched in as 'a herd.' The word comes from the Arabic qāfilah, meaning 'caravan,' recalling the overland slave trade that existed across the desert from sub-Saharan Africa to the greater Islamic world centuries before Columbus crossed the Atlantic.
The opening of Thirty Years a Slave by Louis Hughes: I was born in Virginia, in 1832, near Charlottesville, in the beautiful valley of the Rivanna river. My father was a white man and my mother a negress, the slave of one John Martin. I was a mere child, probably not more than six years of age, as I remember, when my mother, two brothers and myself were sold to Dr. Louis, a practicing physician in the village of Scottsville. We remained with him about five years, when he died, and, in the settlement of his estate, I was sold to one Washington Fitzpatrick, a merchant of the village. He kept me a short time when he took me to Richmond, by way of canal-boat, expecting to sell me; but as the market was dull, he brought me back and kept me some three months longer, when he told me he had hired me out to work on a canal-boat running to Richmond...
A year and a half ago, the Rolling Stone published a now-retracted article telling the story of a woman called Jackie's gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, and the gross misconduct of administrators that followed. One of those administrators, associate dean Nicole Eramo, has since filed a defamation suit against the magazine.
Sybaritic: adj: 1. pertaining to or characteristic of a sybarite; characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure: to wallow in sybaritic splendor.
2. (initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of Sybaris or its inhabitants. Sybaritic derives from the name of the ancient Greek city Sybaris, which was known for the luxurious lifestyles of its inhabitants. It entered English in the early 1600s.

There has been some fuss about Trump's accusation Bill Clinton and of sexual harassment. In 2009, Gallup looked at how much attention different age groups paid to political news. The older the voter, the more attention was paid. About a fifth of people under 30 followed political news "very closely;" 46 percent of those 65 and over did so. More importantly, 20% of current Americans of voting age were born after Bill Clinton was in office. This stuff is going to be meaningless to a lot of people. Or maybe new.

Well, this is interesting--or could be. Former Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb is accusing his party's front-runner for her "inept leadership" in Libya as secretary of State. "Hillary Clinton should be called to account for her inept leadership that brought about the chaos in Libya, and the power vacuums that resulted in the rest of the region," Webb wrote in a post recently.
Golden oldie:
The death toll of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) was 1.2 million. A century later, the Napoleonic Wars killed 1.9 million men. And a century after that, the First World War cost more than 9 million servicemen their lives. Perhaps as many as 8 million people died in the Russian Civil War of 1918-21 (though most of these were the victims of the famine and pestilence unleashed by the conflict). But even this figure pales into insignificance alongside the total mortality caused by the Second World War. For military personnel, the total body count was roughly twice the figure for the First World War. But this figure excludes civilian casualties. According to the best available estimates, total civilian deaths in the Second World War amounted to 37.8 million, bringing the total death toll to nearly 57 million people. Somewhere in the region of 2.4 per cent of the world's entire population was killed in the Second World War and 0.5 per cent in the First, compared with roughly 0.4 per cent in the Thirty Years War and 0.2 per cent in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of the Spanish Succession. ... In the Second World War roughly 3 per cent of the entire pre-war population of all combatant countries died as a result of the war. For Germany, Austria and Hungary the figure was around 8 per cent, for Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union 11 per cent and for Poland -- of all countries the worst affected by the war -- nearly 19 per cent.--Ferguson
Communism's grand total of victims is  variously estimated at between 85 million and 100 million murdered, the most colossal case of political carnage in history.
Ketchup derives its name from the Indonesian fish and soy sauce kecap ikan. The names of several other Indonesian sauces also include the word kecap, pronounced KETCHUP, which means a base of dark, thick soy sauce. Why would English garum [or fish sauce] have an Indonesian name? Because the English, starting with the medieval spice trade, looked to Asia for seasoning. Many English condiments, even Worcestershire sauce, invented in the 1840s, are based on Asian ideas.
Here is a quote--and attitude--I have always found disturbing: "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle. I do believe there are some born with virtue and some without. It is distressing, though, to think that many need example and training--teaching--to have virtue. This idea places demands upon the home and the education system. The ancient Greeks taught citizenship actively. Very significant, if true.

Spanish explorers: Juan Diaz de Solis and Giovanni da Verrazano were eaten by natives. Balboa, after discovering the Pacific, was betrayed by his colleague Francisco Pizarro and executed on trumped-up charges. Pizarro in his turn was murdered by rivals. Hernando de Soto marched an army pointlessly all over what is now the southeastern United States for four years until he caught a fever and died.
Muslim pirates (or corsairs) in North Africa, in retaliation for the encroachment of Spanish kings, raided the Mediterranean and the coast. They enslaved at least a million European Christians in Algiers and other port cities. In Europe, corsairs were regarded as a barbarian menace, reviled for selling thousands of Christian sailors into slavery. But they themselves viewed their war as a religious conflict against Christian invaders and were seen by Arab and Berber inhabitants of the coast as local heroes. The most famous of the corsair commanders were two brothers, 'Aruj and Hizir, both known in Europe by the Italian name of Barbarossa.
Joe DiMaggio had a 56-game hitting streak, still unsurpassed in the majors, which ran from May 15 to July 17, 1941, when it was stopped in Cleveland by a average pitcher named Al Smith. The next day he began a streak that lasted for an additional fifteen games.
Martin Frobisher explored the Arctic region of Canada, found what he thought was gold, and carried fifteen hundred tons of it home on a dangerously overloaded boat only to be informed that it was worthless iron pyrites. Undaunted, Frobisher returned to Canada, found another source of gold, carted thirteen hundred tons of it back, and was informed, with presumed weariness on the part of the royal assayer, that it was the same stuff.
AAAAAAaaaaannnnnnnddddd......a picture of Louis Hughes:

No comments: