Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/13/16

On those rare occasions when social movements inspire large segments of the public to become involved in politics, it is because some large, glaring injustice stirs our passions.  But no one will become passionate about monitoring a thousandth of the daily activities of government.  To propose that the general public voluntarily sacrifice large portions of their lives to the task of studying such tedious matters as the provisions of the latest farm bill, all so that each can have a microscopic chance of improving a microscopic fraction of government policies, is at least as utopian as proposing that we all simply agree henceforth to work selflessly for the good of society.--Michael Huemer
 
 
Revenant: Bears can run up to 40 miles per hour, fast enough to catch a running horse. The fastest known human alive today is Usain Bolt, who can run 27mph.
 

This interesting assessment from a NYT book review:  "Thrillers require plot above all else, which makes it all too easy for them to avoid heroes with any depth or believability. The genre makes a point of satisfying readers’ expectations. In other words, thrillers are by their nature anti-literary, because literature is about, among other things, ambiguity." So LeCarre would be.... what?
It can be easily argued that narrative is everything. What we look for. It explains TV and the Internet. And probably a lot of political speeches. Narrative is all.
The academic just wants us to reach outside our box, poor dear. But we are so limited.
 
Systematic analyses by two biotechnology companies revealed that major findings in published papers could be reproduced for less than a quarter of the papers reviewed. One study examined 67 articles and the authors were able to replicate the results of only 25% of the studies. While the reproducible results were robust – that is, they were sustained using a variety of tests – the results from the other 75% of studies could not be reproduced even when the methods outlined in the original papers were replicated exactly.
 
Who is.....Kayla Mueller?
 
Roger Pielke is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado and a hugely respected expert on disasters. He thinks man-made global warming is real. But in his own area of expertise he is very clear that the rise in insurance losses is because the world is getting wealthier and we have more stuff to lose, not because more storms are happening. This is incontrovertibly true, and the IPCC agrees with him. But when he said this on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website he and Silver were savaged by commenters. Crushed by the fury he had unleashed, Silver apologised and dropped Pielke as a contributor.
 
The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter.
 
Interesting summary of the New Hampshire in WashPo: What both Trump and Sanders share is that they treat the problem as one of political economy, in which both the economic and political systems are rigged in intertwined ways, thus speaking directly to people’s understandable intellectual assessment of what is deeply wrong with our system and why it no longer works for them. The long term danger for Clinton is that Sanders has framed the whole race in a way that will make it very hard for her to counter this argument.

"Well, he did make money for quite a while,” Munger said. “My attitude is that anybody who makes money running a casino is not morally qualified.” This is Charlie Munger, clearly not an open minded old white guy, on Trump. He was worse on Bernie. “As an intellectual he’s a disgrace,” Munger said of Sanders. Munger thinks he’s “a little nuts,” saying that the Vermont senator is too fixated on income inequality, which he says is simply a consequence of democracy. He thinks that people will accept their economic status if it’s justified—though Sanders‘ position appears to be that it isn’t.

Trump has raised the topic--if not the level--of discussion on trade barriers and, indirectly, minimum wage. He opposes free trade and the lower prices that that trade allows. It has always been curious to me about the attitude of Westerners toward abused workers in foreign lands; somehow they turn this inequity inward. The Chinese are not out producing this country; their low prices are the result of culturally ingrained abuse and a history of tyranny. Of course anyone can refuse to reward that culture by refusing to buy from it but, as usual, that would damage the already abused workers who are under it.

 
Golden oldie:
 
I watched the candidates speak for the first time as the leaders in New Hampshire commented on the final results. First was Hillary who delivered a specific, pointed speech in a clear effort to redefine herself. She still mysteriously poses as someone opposed to financial corruption and influence in politics. Next was Sanders whose vision of the country was almost childishly unreflective, with money and perks for all and no clear idea of any impact such policies could have. His posing was that of an outsider despite the fact that he was elected to go to Washington 25 years ago and has relentlessly advanced there. Finally Trump spoke. I had never heard him before and it was not enlightening. He mainly thanked people and then explained he was going to generally make things right in the nation by having smart people run and negotiate things. Generally Sanders seemed an old man mouthing really bad old ideas to a na├»ve and hopeful audience, Hillary gave the best speech but looks to be swimming upstream with her "I've been fighting for you all my life" nonsense and Trump looked like a guy substituting volume for content but his family is gorgeous. Kasich, a guy with an actual background of administrative success, was whimsical.  
 
A fascinating little tidbit: Manitou Lake on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron is the world’s largest lake within a lake (41.1 square miles).

 
After beating Sonny Liston in February, 1964, Cassius Clay went to a private party at a Miami hotel that was attended by his friend Malcolm X, an outspoken leader of the African American Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam. Two days later Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam and defended the organization’s concept of racial segregation while speaking of the importance of the Muslim religion in his life. Later that year, Clay, who was the descendant of a runaway Kentucky slave, rejected the name originally given to his family by a slave owner and took the Muslim name of Muhammad Ali.
 
Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.--Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
 
Hired "clappers" were routine in French plays and quite well organized with a chef de claque to direct things, commissaries to chat up the play at intermissions, rieurs to laugh, and pleurers to cry.
 
Sylvan: adj: 1. of, relating to, or inhabiting the woods. 2. consisting of or abounding in woods or trees; wooded; woody: a shady, sylvan glade.
Quote: The scene thrills one like military music!…wide grass-carpeted avenues that branched hither and thither in every direction and wandered to seemingly interminable distances, walled all the way on either side with compact ranks of leafy trees whose branches met above and formed arches as faultless and as symmetrical as ever were carved in stone; and here and there were glimpses of sylvan lakes with miniature ships glassed in their surfaces.-- Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad; or, The New Pilgrim's Progress, 1869
ety: Sylvan derives from the Latin term for "forest," sylva. It entered English in the mid-1500s.
 



Four times in the history of presidential elections, the candidate who won the most popular votes has not been elected president. This occurred in the 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000 elections.
 
When you strive for power you may form a temporary, fleeting alliance with the great principles, if they happen to serve your purpose of the moment, but the hour soon comes, as the great conflict enters a new phase, when they will not only cease to be serviceable to you, but are likely to prove highly inconvenient and embarrassing.  If you really mean to have and to hold power, you must sit lightly in your saddle, and make and remake your principles with the needs of each new day; for you are as much under the necessity of pleasing and attracting, as those who gain their livelihood in the street.--Auberon Herbert
 
"If markets are not efficient when monetary policy is off course, there is absolutely no reason to assume that monetary policy would be efficient when monetary policy is not off course. Inefficiency results from irrational pricing, it's either a problem or it isn't. People don't become irrational just because the fed funds rate is set at 2% rather than 3%. Either markets are irrational or they aren't. If they are irrational, then the case for government intervention is much stronger. Of course government intervention is also prone to errors, so market inefficiency doesn't automatically make intervention desirable, but certainly the case for it is stronger." I think there is a misprint here--I think he means "markets" not "monetary policy" after the first comma--but this is an interesting point about markets and interventions by Sumner. The underlying point is, why should we expect more accuracy from leaders than markets? And, if you are offering borrowers money at artificially low rates, what is irrational about taking it?

In a statement honoring American hostage Kayla Mueller on the anniversary of her death in Syria, her family suggests they are preparing to go public with “the heartbreaking story” of their attempts to ransom her from the Islamic State. And, they say, they will be speaking out about “those who hindered us” — an apparent reference to their frustration with officials in the Obama administration over how their daughter’s case was handled. U.S. officials have confirmed that Mueller was tortured by her Islamic State captors — and, according to debriefings of some who were held with her — even taken as a “wife” and sexually abused by the terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But much remains unknown about what happened during her ordeal. Although the family has received photos of her body, it has not been recovered and the way she died, whether murdered by her captors or killed by a coalition bombing, remains unclear.
The story is not the individual vs. the unfeeling state here; the story is the collision between wide-eyed innocent humanitarianism  and the vicious, rabid real world. Reality should be known and understood but, if you are a 20 year old girl it is probably best learned at home through good books; if you are going to confront it, it is best to be well armed.
 
AAAAAaaaaannnnnnnddddddd.....a picture of a woman, well armed:

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