Thursday, June 30, 2016


Author Lionel Shriver is an American journalist and author. She is best known for her novel We Need to Talk About Kevin which won the Orange Prize in 2005. She has a new book called The Mandibles, a book describing a single family impacted by a slowly evolving economic collapse. She was interviewed on NPR and had some surprisingly things to say about her understanding of economics.
She describes the general plot to NPR's Linda Wertheimer. In the world of 2029, the U.S. has defaulted on its national debt. "Nobody wants to give you money if you're not going to pay it back," she says, so the government has had to print more money to cover its obligations. "And of course that means that the value of the dollar starts to slide. But the key to writing this book, I discovered, was to control the scale and not to let things fall apart too quickly. So to begin with, my characters are a little distressed that the price of imported olive oil has gone up."
"I wanted to record civil breakdown by degrees ... it's not all at once, it's not, you flip a switch and suddenly people are dog-eat-dog and regard everything in a Darwinian, animalistic way. I think that it starts subtly ... you walk into a restaurant and the maitre d' does not see you to your table, but just waves at it. Or doormen no longer carry groceries for the elderly. It's that little."
"I used to be bored to death by economics, and then I started reading about it, and I have to say, it's fascinating. In fact, it's become apocalyptic. It's like reading science fiction."
"I think we all have a certain setting in terms of how much we worry about anything, really, but say, how much we worry about money. And when I was not doing all that well, I would worry about not being able to pay my modest rent. And now I make more money, and I worry about worldwide economic collapse. It still makes me anxious."

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cab Thoughts 6/29/16

“Is not liberty to do evil, liberty? If not, what is it? Do we not say that it is necessary to take liberty from idiots and bad men, because they abuse it?"--Bentham

If you were to send a space probe to a distant star system, gather information about it and send it back to Earth, you'd have to wait years for the information to arrive. But if you have an entangled quantum system -- say, two photons, one with spin +1 and one with spin -1 -- you could know the spin of the distant one instantly by measuring the spin of the one in your possession. A NASA mission is entitled "Entanglement-assisted Communication System for NASA's Deep-Space Missions: Feasibility Test and Conceptual Design". And  MIT News reported a research team is now making progress toward capturing paired electron halves for quantum computing on gold film. "Our first goal is to look for the Majorana fermions, unambiguously detect them, and show this is it."
Trump is not an aberration. He is a logical step in the trivialization of public debate as a result of the public's ignorance and its fondness for celebrity. There is another element as well. People are less committed to making finances primary. Like Brexit, there is simply more involved. One un-measurable is the feeling of gradual loss of control over one's life.
A new book out called Taxing the Rich by Scheve and Stasavage explores the intellectual and political debates surrounding the taxation of the wealthy while also providing data on when taxes have been levied against the rich and when they haven't. Fairness in debates about taxing the rich has depended on different views of what it means to treat people as equals and whether taxing the rich advances or undermines this norm. Scheve and Stasavage argue that governments don't tax the rich just because inequality is high or rising—they do it when people believe that such taxes compensate for the state unfairly privileging the wealthy. Progressive taxation saw its heyday in the twentieth century, when compensatory arguments for taxing the rich focused on unequal sacrifice in mass warfare. Today, as technology gives rise to wars of more limited mobilization, such arguments are no longer persuasive. This is a summary from Bryan Caplan: 1. Democracies have no inherent tendency to "soak the rich."  2. Instead, democracies adopt high, progressive taxation in the face of compelling "compensatory" arguments for redistribution. 3. Only major wars of mass mobilization make compensatory arguments compelling. 4. Modern warfare has made majors wars of mass mobilization obsolete. 5. Therefore, tax the rich policies are a thing of the past, at least for developed countries.  They won't be coming back.

A basic precept in traditional economics is that private economic decisions are faster and more efficient than governmental ones. So, if private markets were wrong 9 times out of 10 and government were right 9 times out of 10, over time private markets would achieve better outcomes.
Who is....Pericles?

Agriculture has always been felt to be the driving force in modern history. But wait.
In 1995, archaeologists uncovered the first known temple in history in Turkey, near the Syrian border. Constructed over 12,000 years ago, Gobekli Tepe predates the invention of everything from agriculture to pottery. To put that in perspective, Gobekli Tepe is more than twice as old as Stonehenge and predates Solomon’s First Temple by almost 9,000 years. It’s the very first evidence we have of religion organized on a grand enough scale to construct great monuments. It was also extremely influential. Smaller, identical temples have been found up to 200 kilometers (125 mi) away, suggesting that Gobekli Tepe was the center of power in a massive, complex society focused around a common religion.
Most impressively of all, some experts are starting to think that Gobekli Tepe was less a result of the shift to agriculture and more the cause of it. German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt argued that agriculture arose because rulers needed a way to feed their workforce as they constructed such huge religious monuments.
So religion came first?
If people respond to how discussions make you feel, how would that impact on how you would run for office?
"For the whole earth is the tomb of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men. Make them your examples, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to be happiness, do not weigh too nicely the perils of war." Here Thucydides is quoting from the great Funeral Oration of Pericles delivered after Pericles had just led the Athenians into the Peloponnesian war. The famous and rousing speech was given after the war's first, victorious year. Yet Thucydides' readers knew that this was to be the high-water mark of Athenian greatness: what was to follow was defeat, conquest, and the imposition of a Quisling government. Later Athens was to regain its independence, but not its hegemony, and its permanently poisoned relationships with the other poleis were to lead, in the next century, to the conquest of all of Greece by the Macedonians under Philip and Alexander. So when Pericles urges his hearers not to "weigh too nicely the perils of war," we are meant to hear in the background Thucydides' sardonic laughter. Pericles took his own advice (or perhaps Thucydides put into the mouth of Pericles words appropriate to his actions), and the result was catastrophe.
Unctuous: adjective: Displaying insincere earnestness or piousness; oily. ety:  From Latin unctum (ointment), from unguere (to anoint). Earliest documented use: 1387. USAGE:
“Personally he is sleek and unctuous, is always found among the godly.” Clifton Rodman Woolridge; Twenty Years a Detective in the Wickedest City in the World; Library of Alexandria; 2015.
95% of the time a car is parked. What kind of investment is that? No wonder there is Uber.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that life expectancy for white women declined slightly from 2013 to 2014. A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences late last year showed an astonishing decline in white male life expectancy as well. In the 20 years prior to 1998, the mortality rate of middle-aged white males fell about 2 percent a year, in keeping with the trend toward lower mortality in other advanced countries. Then the rates diverged. Rates kept declining in countries like France and Britain. They began increasing for middle-aged whites in the United States.
The slide in the wrong direction was driven by drug and alcohol poisoning, chronic liver diseases, and suicide. In 1999, middle-aged blacks had higher rates of poisoning than whites; by 2013, rates were higher for whites. Overall, mortality rates for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics have declined since 1999, as they have increased for whites. 
The trend among whites breaks down neatly by levels of education. The mortality rate for middle-aged whites with a high-school degree or less has jumped since 1999; the rate for middle-aged whites with some college but not a degree stayed roughly flat; the rate for middle-aged whites with a college degree or more dropped. If there is such a thing as white privilege, no one has told less-educated whites.
The most direct indicator of rising distress is that the suicide rate in the United States is at a roughly 30-year high, according to new figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate increased for white middle-aged women by 80 percent from 1999–2014. Although the data wasn’t analyzed by education level, researchers believe it tracks with other findings about increased working-class mortality.

Golden oldie:

What is characteristic of the socialistic solution of the so-called social problem is not the end of promoting public welfare and eliminating, as far as possible, poverty, ignorance, and squalor, for this end is not only perfectly compatible with individual freedom, but may also be considered as complementary to it.  The very core of the socialist solution is the peculiar way its supporters propose to reach that end, namely, by resorting to a host of officials acting in the name of the state and limiting accordingly, if not suppressing altogether, private initiative in economics as well as in several other fields that are inextricably connected with the economic domain.--Bruno Leoni
In 1770 Captain James Cook discovered Eastern Australia in the now-famous research vessel, the HMS Endeavour. The ship returned to England in 1771 and was last seen at sea in 1778. Researchers believe they have now found the scuttled remains of the ship at the bottom of a harbour in Rhode Island, New England. They believe the ship was used to ferry British troops during the American Revolution.
In Great Britain, a warm winter dropped their hospital respiratory distress admissions from an average of 150 admissions per week to10.

One decade ago there was:
No iPhone. Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January 2007, and it didn’t ship until June of that year.
No Facebook (unless you were in college at the time). Facebook only opened to the general population in September 2006.
No Twitter. The full version of the product launched in July 2006.
No Instagram. The picture sharing site only launched in 2010.
No Kim Kardashian. “Keeping up With The Kardashians” debuted in October 2007.
No Uber. The company received its seed funding in 2009.
No iPad. Apple started taking pre-orders on the first-gen product in March 2010.
If we are not physically overrun by barbarians, what will destroy us?  Not learned quibbles on the nuances of what the Founding Fathers really meant.  Rather, we will ruin ourselves with minimum wage and comparable worth laws; with controls on prices of goods, apartments, and loans; with erratic changes in the price level; with government domination through the budget, environmental regulation, and antitrust intrusions; with progressive attenuation of property rights; with subsidization of inefficiency and sloth and divisiveness….
Free men require free markets.  If we lose the battle of economic freedom, we lose the entire war.
--William Allen

The Stationers Company was the official organization of printers and publishers, given a monopoly in 1557 to practice "the art or mystery of printing." As early as 1538, Henry VIII had issued a proclamation against "naughty printed books," and the creation of the Stationers' Company was yet another attempt to regulate and censor the "many false, scandalous, seditious, and libelous" books that were emerging from the private presses. 

AAAaaaaaaannnnnndddddd.....a graph of seasonal variations in the market:
Chart of the Day

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Collapse of the Migili

Jerome Barkow is a Canadian anthropologist at Dalhousie University who has made important contributions to the field of evolutionary psychology and who looks the part. He has some interesting writings and has an essay in "Cato Unbound" that discusses his idea of "cultural editing" in respect to the Internet. Noting our genus, Homo, has only a single species, sapiens, he asks "Why?" His answer is that we evolve through culture and that our culture is edited by the young as they see what works and does not work in the world. He argues the Internet has become a cultural source which the youth of the world can use to edit the culture. Like many smart academics, he quotes himself:  “biology is destiny only if we ignore it” (Barkow 2003). His essay contains a segment from, of course, his own work on the cultural collapse of the Koro people, aka the Migili. It is interesting and is excerpted below:

Cultural editing is not necessarily smooth. Even before the age of the Internet, preferential attention to the high in status could have unpredictable results. In my own work, during the 1970s, I lived among a people in Nigeria’s Middle Belt who called themselves the Migili (and whom the literature refers to as the “Koro”). Shortly before my arrival, a group of young Migili men had served in the Nigerian army. They had been astounded to learn that their revered elders were held in contempt by the surrounding Muslim, Hausa-speaking peoples, who thought of Migili as ignorant and dirty. The young men lost all respect for their elders and did the unthinkable: Upon returning home they physically attacked some of the male elders, cutting off their hair because they had learned that outside the group, the elders’ hairstyle was considered laughably feminine. The organization of Migili society had been based on promotion of individuals through a series of ranks or age-grades, and the elders now refused to promote young men. Local social organization, in which the age-grades had defined roles, collapsed when the age grade of young males responded to the ending of promotion by refusing to carry out their essential responsibilities. The economic system, in which this age-grade did most of the heaviest labor communally, planting and harvesting the staple crop, yams, was transformed overnight, as was the religious system. Farming aid was now given only to one’s close relatives or to those who would fully reciprocate that aid. Most people converted either to Evangelical Christianity or Catholicism, though some embraced Islam. The society changed thoroughly and irrevocably. The organization of a society is of course part of its culture, and for a culture to be perpetuated, the young must respect their elders: at least in some crucial ways, they must want to be like them and therefore to attend to them and learn preferentially from them. To take the prestige away from the older people is to throw a monkey wrench into the system of cultural transmission (Barkow 1982).

Monday, June 27, 2016


"Weiner" is a difficult film. Really a documentary from Showtime, it follows the strange Anthony Weiner in his efforts to win the nomination for N.Y. Mayor on the Democrat ticket, a campaign launched less than two years after the sexting scandal that forced his resignation from Congress. After a brief stint at the top of the polls--he was doing remarkably well-- the endeavor collapses under the fallout from a fresh round of revelations that Weiner had returned to his old ways, using the pseudonym “Carlos Danger.” It is certainly interesting, in a "I can't look away" manner, as Weiner shows the obsessive and exhibitionist cravings essential to politics and his perversity.
Somehow the documentary is haunted by American Politics, Hillary and her problems with Bill, forgiveness and bigotry, with just enough farce to prevent anyone in the audience from settling in. No one come out well, not even Huma who did approve of this and does gamely participate in the strangeness until the end. You walk away wondering how the system creates these people and how we can escape them.

It is not an enjoyable 90 minutes. But there is an enjoyable and entertaining speculative curiosity, one reminiscent of the obscene phone caller. He has a focal madness, a narrow perversion via the camera phone. Where does this perversion come from? We have ancient genes molded by ancient encounters and pressures. Those pressures did not include electronics. Electronics are a late circumstance for us; it never shaped us. So what genetic predisposition does Weiner's weirdness--or the obscene phone caller--tap into?  It must be an extension of something ancient. What? Or is it some epigenetic creation, a screwy diversion of some genetic open-mindedness?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday 6/26/16

Michael Symmons Roberts went to Oxford a militant atheist. "As university went on I got deeply into philosophy — and the philosophy completely undermined my atheism, by making me realize that there was no overarching objectivity, no Dawkinsian bedrock of common sense if you strip everything away. I realized that atheism was just as culturally conditioned as being a Catholic."
A convert to Roman Catholicism, Roberts has been described by Jeanette Winterson as "a religious poet for a secular age."
Although rooted in the English lyric tradition, his work draws on the language of science (especially genetics and genomics), theology and philosophy.
Sailboarders is from the collection Rising Sparks. The title Raising Sparks derives not from Christianity but from Hasidic Judaism’s belief that the world is full of “fragments of divine light”, scattered at the moment of creation, and that it is the purpose of each individual life to “find and raise” these fragments so as to restore the world to wholeness.
Here, physical and metaphysical become one and the language moves easily between the Old Testament and documentary realism. These men are waiting both for a wind across the ocean--and for divine breath across the void--to fill their sails. 

These men wrestle angels. 

Each now sits on an enormous wing waiting for the winds to come

which will not come to taunting or to whistles, 
just indifference. These gales have flown for miles
across the primeval darkness of oceans, 

fetching up waves, and waves ahead of them.
One gust will animate the faceless imagos, 

these giant phosphorescent painted ladies,
send them dancing in a chest-to-chest embrace, 

fighting on the beach with a Jacob, an Icarus.
Beyond the chrysalis, they only live one summer, 

such is their speed, their coruscating colour.

A poem by Michael Symmons Roberts

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cab Thoughts 6/25/16

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it. -Oscar Wilde, writer (1854-1900)

Alexander Lee has an article in History Today on Eco and his gradual opposition to modernism which began to figure in his philosophy, his writing and his fiction. He writes: Driven by an unshakable belief in humanity’s capacity for reason, modernism rested on the assumption that objective truths about past realities existed independent of the observer, in the same way that Juliet’s rose would have smelt as sweet by any other name. Provided that they were approached with sufficient caution and self-awareness, these truths could be uncovered by rational enquiry. By stripping away foolish preconceptions, a disinterested scholar could determine the underlying ‘laws’ of human society much as a scientist could discover the laws governing the physical world. Once such ‘laws’ had been uncovered and made known, the oppression foisted upon mankind by an exploitative class structure and organized religion would be done away with, and immense socio-economic improvements would follow.
That is really quite good.

Who is...Max Weber?

According to a WSJ poll, both parties’ presidential front-runners are growing increasingly unpopular, with Hillary Clinton showing an especially steep decline over the past month. Among voters in both parties, 56% hold a negative view of Clinton and 32% hold a positive view. That 24-point gap is almost twice as wide as in a Journal/NBC poll last month, when 51% viewed her negatively and 38% positively, a 13-point gap. GOP front-runner Donald Trump continues to be the candidate in either party viewed most negatively, with 65% of registered voters viewing him unfavorably and 24% favorably, a 41-point difference. Unlike with Clinton, those numbers haven’t changed much over the past month.

Actor and director George Clooney, a supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, broke ranks over campaign financing on Saturday to condemn the 'obscene' sums of money in U.S. politics and praised Clinton's chief political rival in the process. Clooney made the remarks in an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC News ' Meet The Press the day after he and his wife, Amal, hosted a fundraiser on Democratic Party hopeful Clinton's behalf Friday night with a price tag of up to $353,400 per couple.

For liberals the Middle Ages have never ended. Unhappy with your wages? Petition the prince.

Bjorn Lomborg is featured in two videos on Gates Notes, the blog of Bill Gates. In these pieces, Lomborg addresses the issue of energy poverty and argues that the world's poor need better access to cheap fuels, including fossil fuels. Gates states that "...we should be investing dramatically more money in RandD to make fossil fuels cleaner and make clean energy cheaper than any fossil fuel."

The Bank of Japan  is revealed to be a top 10 holder in about 90% of all Japanese stocks. Crazier still, if as Goldman predicts the BOJ doubles its purchases of ETFs, the central bank could become the No. 1 shareholder in about 40 of the Nikkei 225’s companies by the end of 2017,The Bank of Japan is buying Japanese stocks!

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called Obama's recent visit "an attack on the foundation of our history, our culture and our symbols.""Obama came here to dazzle the non-state sector, as if he wasn't the representative of big corporations but the defender of hot dog vendors, of small businesses in the United States, which he isn't," Rodriguez said. The foreign minister’s response came days after Cuba President Raul Castro said that the United States is "the enemy" and warned Cubans to be vigilant about the United States' efforts to undermine the Communist revolution, according to Reuters. Sounds like, smiling aside, Obama was just salt in Cuba's wounds. So who was Obama's visit aimed at and what was the objective?

Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They don't want anyone interfering with our friendship.

Golden oldie:
The United States has reduced its carbon emissions by 2% from last year. Over the past 14 years, our carbon emissions are down more than 10%. On a per-unit-of-GDP basis, U.S. carbon emissions are down by closer to 20%. Astonishing--and done without Kyoto or cap-and-trade or wind/solar (which is unchanged at 3%.)

Today, 99 percent of Bangladesh's girls and 97 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school. The great progress in primary education over recent years is the reason that the country has met the two Millennium Development Goals related to primary schooling: universal enrollment and gender equality. But what does that mean? Does this say anything about the quality or the value of their educational experience? Like so many bureaucratic benchmarks, it is half a baseball score, meaningless without a context.

Max Weber was a German sociologist and political economist whose most famous and controversial work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, examines the relationship between Calvinist—or Puritan—morality, compulsive labor, bureaucracy, and economic success under capitalism. The Art of the Plausible.

According to George Will "Progressivism" has four tenants: First, history has a destination. Second, progressives uniquely discern it. (Barack Obama frequently declares things to be on or opposed to “the right side of history.”) Third, politics should be democratic but peripheral to governance, which is the responsibility of experts scientifically administering the regulatory state. Fourth, enlightened progressives should enforce limits on speech (witness IRS suppression of conservative advocacy groups) in order to prevent thinking unhelpful to history’s progressive unfolding.

Gender wage discrimination has been hashed over and over. Most believe that there is disparity but not discrimination--an important distinction. But if it is true, if women are willing and able continuously to do the same amount of the same work as men at less cost, an employer would be foolish to pay men more when he could hire equally productive women for less.

From 1921 to 2012, $10,000 invested in the SandP would have grown to $41,380 under Republican presidencies but to $575,324 under Democrats.

Climate: n: the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years. 2. a region or area characterized by a given climate: to move to a warm climate.
The word "Climate" originally referred to an area of the earth. It is from the late 14c., "horizontal zone of the earth," Scottish, from Old French climat "region, part of the earth," from Latin clima (genitive climatis) "region; slope of the Earth," from Greek klima "region, zone," literally "an inclination, slope," thus "slope of the Earth from equator to pole," from root of klinein "to slope, to lean". The angle of sun on the slope of the Earth's surface defined the zones assigned by early geographers. Early references in English, however, are in astrology works, as each of the seven (then) climates was held to be under the influence of one of the planets. Shift from "region" to "weather associated with a region" perhaps began in Middle English, certainly by c. 1600. So the different regions have different weather. The climate is actually different from region to region. The current debate (soon to be outlawed) is over the generalized world climate. As such, sampling is challenging as regions are different.
The battle cry of "Climate Change" is peculiar as it has no opponents. It reminds me of the old definition of a sociologist: A man constantly amazed by the obvious. The very nature of the climate is that it changes--from region to region, from time to time, from season to season. When some climate hangs around for a long time it is usually named, like a Period or an Epoch. The climate is dynamic. Since Christ there have been three major shifts, the period at the time of Christ, the Medieval Warm Period (end of the 9th century to the 13th) and the Little Ice Age (1640s to 1690s). If the earth is warmer now it would be the third time a definitive temperature increase has occurred since Christ. It is interesting that the current "change" is seen as ominous, that the present is optimum. Such a view is the hallmark of the conservative.

In November 2009, NASA declared that it had discovered water on the moon that could allow for the development of a space station on the moon. The water is billions of years old, which could give scientists clues into the history of the solar system. The Steelers signed Brian Mihalik to a futures contract from the Philadelphia Eagles. He was supposed to be a guy with good upside on the defensive line but the Steelers have him listed as an offensive tackle for the upcoming season. Repeat Villanueva?

"And with respect to Congress, and transpacific partnership, I think after the primary season is over, the politics settle down a little bit in Congress and will be in a position to start moving forward. Because I know that we have had a majority of members in the past who were in favor of this deal. Otherwise you would not have gotten the authority for me to go ahead and fast-track this agreement. But I think we all know that elections can sometimes make things a little more challenging. And people take positions in part to protect themselves from attacks during the course of election season." This is Obama talking about Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and saying that the politicians are compromised by elections as to what they can do. Compromised by elections!

AAAAaaaaaaannnnnddddddd.....a rendering of phases of the moon:
moon phases diagram

Friday, June 24, 2016

Good Intentions‏

In the 46 years since the founding of their Native American Program, Dartmouth's commitment to Indian education has allowed nearly 700 Native Americans from more than 200 different tribes to attend Dartmouth.
A man I know is part Cherokee and his daughter was recruited by Dartmouth as part of their affirmative action plan for Native Americans. She was flattered and thrilled . She sent in her pre-application and they responded with their recruitment letter which explained how they integrated the Indian students into the community. They paired each student with a current white student--same sex--and they would guide the new student through the basics of living at Dartmouth including running water, indoor plumbing and the like.
The girl was so offended she refused to apply.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Druckenmiller in "Business Insider"‏

"Business Insider" has an interview/speech from The Felder Report with the very successful investor, Stanley Druckenmiller. Here are some of his opinions. They are surprising, at least. But they are also a year old. What is interesting is that the consensus has unchanged but the prophesies have not come true.

“Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board… focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity… most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets.” Interestingly, his further point in this regard was not the popular, “don’t fight the Fed.” In fact, it was just the opposite:
“80% of the big, big money we made was in bear markets and equities because crazy things were going on in response to what I would call central bank mistakes during that 30-year period.” He goes on to cite a specific time when the Fed made perhaps its most egregious error which led to some of the greatest profit opportunities of his career:
“Probably in my mind the poster child for a central bank mistake was actually the U.S. Federal Reserve in 2003 and 2004… we had great conviction that the Federal Reserve was making a mistake with way too loose monetary policy.” And “Too loose monetary policy” has severe repercussions:
“The problem with this is when you have zero money for so long, the marginal benefits you get through consumption greatly diminish, but there’s one thing that doesn’t diminish, which is unintended consequences.” What’s more, he says it’s happening again today:
“So that’s why, if you look at today… I’m experiencing a very strong sense of deja vu… If you look to me at the real root cause of the financial crisis, we’re doubling down. Our monetary policy is so much more reckless and so much more aggressively pushing the people in this room and everybody else out the risk curve that we’re doubling down on the same policy that really put us there and enabled those bad actors to do what they do.” The trouble is we only discover the consequences once it’s too late for the Fed to really do anything about it:
“I feel more like it was in ’04 where every bone in my body said this is a bad risk reward, but I can’t figure out how it’s going to end. I just know it’s going to end badly and a year and a half later we figure out it was housing and subprime. I feel the same way now.”
It could be even worse this time because the policies are that much more aggressive than they were back then:
“This is the first time in 102 years, A, the central bank bought bonds and, B, that we’ve had zero interest rates and we’ve had them for five or six years… To me it’s incredible.”
More aggressive policy creates even bigger potential problems:
“There are early signs… In 2006 and 2007, which I think most of us would agree was not a down period in terms of speculation, corporations issued $700 billion in debt over that two-year period. In 2013 and 2014 they’ve already issued $1.1 trillion in debt. 50% more than they did in the ’06, ’07 period over the same time period. But more disturbing to me if you look at the debt that is being issued in the last two years back in 0’6, ’07 28% of that debt was B rated. Today 71% of the debt that’s been issued in the last 2 years is B rated. So, not only have we issued a lot more debt, we’re doing so at much less standards.”
As a reminder, these are the words of the greatest money manager alive today. Since he gave this speech almost a year ago the corporate bond market has deteriorated significantly. And I’m fairly certain he doesn’t see the junk rout as being contained.
So how is Druckenmiller positioning himself to deal with the consequences of another “central bank mistake”? He recently made a massive bet on gold. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cab Thoughts 6/22/16

A man's admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.--deTocqueville

In 2011, Robert Harte and his 13-year-old son went to a store for hydroponic equipment to grow tomatoes for a school project. A state trooper had been assigned to watch that store and write down the license plates of any customers (apparently, shopping at a gardening store translates to marijuana production). To follow up that stellar bit of police work, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office twice examined the Hartes’ trash. They found, both times, an ounce or so of “saturated plant material.”
The Keystone Kops couldn’t tell the difference between tea and tokes using their senses, so they field-tested the substance and the test came back positive for marijuana. (“A partial list of substances that the tests have mistaken for illegal drugs would include sage, chocolate chip cookies, motor oil, spearmint, soap, tortilla dough, deodorant, billiard’s chalk, patchouli, flour, eucalyptus, breath mints, Jolly Ranchers and vitamins,” notes Radley Balko.)
Still, after falsely reading the tea leaves, the deputy sheriffs performed a military-style raid on the family home. (From the Cato Institute, who filed an amicus brief when Hayes sued objecting to militarized police tactics.)

Washington’s destructive policies have been dubbed “regime uncertainty” in a strand of analyses pioneered by Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute. Regime uncertainty relates to the likelihood that an investor’s private property – namely, the flows of income and services it yields – will be attenuated by government action.
Who is....Bjorn Lomborg?

Scientism: 1 :  methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist 2 :  an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities) This is often pejorative. Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism's single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.

The Treasury Secretary announced that Alexander Hamilton will remain on the $10 bill and Andrew Jackson will be pushed off the $20 note in favor of a woman from American history. Harriet Tubman.  I hoped it would be Hillary. Or Caitlyn. No such luck.

Wall Street and the offshore financial jurisdictions are being demonized by politicians and their media allies. Would these people respond? Do these people have a defense? The banks and Wall Street did not respond to attack and essentially won. Sort of Rope-a-dope. During the past decade or so, the attacks on the big banks have resulted in regulations that caused the big banks to grow bigger at the expense of smaller banks, while at the same time being less able or unwilling to service their smaller and more entrepreneurial customers, hurting economic growth and employment. Coal has been destroyed; they did not fight back. But the NRA does fight back and has been pretty successful.

Drug enforcement personnel estimate that about 2,500 Americans every day try cocaine for the first time.

You will perhaps doubt that the Great Enrichment happened, or that it was so great, or that it will continue – or doubt that it is justified, in view of environmental decay and consumerist excess.  But the evidence, regarded without prejudice, is overwhelming.  From about 1800 to the present the world’s economy did something good, which looks to be permanent and looks to be justified.  If contrary to the evidence we cling to our prejudices about economic history – our view that the Industrial Revolution was impoverishing, or that the Great Enrichment was an irremediable environmental disaster, or that Europe is rich only because of poverty in the Third World, or that the new rich are always getting relatively richer, or that after all any enrichment is vulgar – we will mistake how we got here and will give mistaken advice on how to move forward.  We will betray the remaining poor of the world.--Deirdre McCloskey

WSJ headline: "Ignoring LinkedIn Is Hurting Your Career"
Trump has made protectionism a valid topic. Bordeaux writes protectionism distorts the economy from a free consumer-based entity to a production entity. Protectionism is a policy, enforced with threats of violence, that prevents consumers from spending their incomes in ways that promote their own best interests; protectionism is a policy of forcing consumers to spend their incomes in ways that promote the interests of current producers. Protectionism treats production as the ultimate goal of economic activity — a goal that consumption must be made to serve. He adds that it robs the producer of "dignity."
Golden oldie:
This is quite amazing. N.Y. A.G. Schneiderman said that a group, calling itself “AGs United for Clean Power,” will address climate change by threatening criminal investigations and charges against companies, policy organizations, scientists, and others who disagree with its members’ climate policy agenda. Sort of the other side of RICO.
“Paul Solotaroff said that in his time with Trump, he found ‘a guy with two extraordinary senses. One is something I call clairvoyance, the ability to read a market way it is formed and get there first. The second is clairaudience, hear what is in people’s hearts and minds.’ He described clairaudience this way: ‘There’s Donald, on the 26th floor of his massive office in the Trump Tower, and somehow he read and saw and heard into the hearts of disaffected underemployed white people in Coatsville, Pennsylvania, in, you know, West Virginia, in Ohio. And not only was he able to hear that seething rage, he was able to read it back to them, word for word, in ways that no Republican has ever done before.’”--Brian Stelter; Rolling Stone Writer: Trump ‘Was Not Talking About Her Persona’; CNNMoney (Atlanta); Sep 11, 2015.
I understand that the hacking group Anonymous plans to attack Trump's campaign. If they are really interested in improving the world, how about going after ISIS' social media.
"If, as claimed by humanism, man were born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to death, his task on earth evidently must be more spiritual: not a total engrossment in everyday life, not the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then their carefree consumption. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become above all an experience of moral growth: to leave life a better human being than one started it." This is from the esteemed Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his despised Harvard address of 1978, a speech that upset the so called intellectual community mightily.
A 2009 paper from the European Union expects that the reduction in cold deaths will definitely outweigh extra heat deaths in the 2020s. Even near the end of the century, in the 2080s, the EU study projects an increase in heat deaths of “between 60,000 and 165,000” and a decrease of cold deaths of “between 60,000 and 250,000.” In other words, the effects will probably balance each other out, but warming could save as many as 85,000 lives each year.--Bjorn Lomborg

In real wars, belligerents’ strategies include efforts to impoverish and dishearten enemy populations by destroying their enemies’ wealth – by burning their crops, bombing their homes and businesses, and embargoing merchant ships bringing valuable goods into enemy ports.  Yet if Beijing really is ensuring that Americans continue to buy Chinese-made goods at prices below the Chinese’s costs of producing these goods, then Beijing is destroying its own people’s wealth no less certainly and ominously than if the People’s Liberation Army literally burned Chinese crops, bombed Chinese homes and businesses, and embargoed foreign merchant ships bound for Chinese ports.--Bordeaux

The poorest 40 percent of all Americans now spend more than 50% of their incomes just on food and housing. That was presented last week as if it was a lot. But historically there might be a different slant. In 1901, food and housing took up about 60 percent of people’s incomes. About 40 percent of a consumer’s income was spent on food and about 20 percent of a consumer’s income was spent on housing. 20 percent was spent on apparel while virtually nothing was spent on transportation. Health care took up about 5 percent, entertainment was 2 percent and books were 1 percent. In 1901, 1 percent went for alcohol and the other 11 percent was used for everything else. So...are things worse or better?

Compared to 1970 when the first Earth Day was celebrated and 14,400 BTUs of energy were required for every dollar of output, the energy efficiency of the US economy has more than doubled – we use much less than half that amount of energy today (5,970 BTUs) for every dollar of output. Thanks to innovation, increases in energy efficiency, and advances in technology, the US is able to produce ever-increasing amounts of real output with continually decreasing amounts of energy usage per dollar of real GDP. amazing picture of the Andromeda galaxy in the stars of the Milky Way--over Columbia:
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On Righteous Minorities

All societies are organized around some principles. Tribal. Ethnic. Right of Kings. Religion. The unseen movement in history. All societies have some organizing principles
America was organized by people who took the idea of liberty and the inherent value of the individual that was swirling around in the Enlightenment and made those ideas concrete in law. They adopted "isonomy," the equality of political rights. In On Revolution, in 1963, Hannah Arendt wrote "Isonomy guaranteed … equality, but not because all men were born or created equal, but, on the contrary, because men were by nature ... not equal, and needed an artificial institution, the polis, which by virtue of its νόμος would make them equal." Every man, regardless of his background or qualities, was equal before the law. This equality was not granted by the state, it was protected by the state.
They were as a group fearful of administrative power and did not trust the government to do the right thing or to do the right thing well. And this concept of equality through isonomy, liberty and personal responsibility was held in common among their fellow citizens.

The murders in Orlando were committed by a guy with allegiance to a different, higher, law than ours. He was following the dictates of an ancient set of rules he believed are the laws of God. Those laws trumped our laws. Now that makes law-making sticky as the general situation in America has included an agreement among the citizenry on the basics. This guy--and guys like him--do not agree on our basics and our legal concepts simply do not apply to him.

The essence of this country is that a primary legal agreement has been set up as the foundation of law and behavior. Dissent should be tolerated but no one in the United State should be allowed to oppose its founding principles. Citizenship and immigration to this country should hinge upon that idea as well. Anti-democratic, anti-liberty minorities advocating their own violent solutions to the problems of some group have been rightfully suppressed in the past from the Klan to the homicidal Marxists. That was the essence of the Civil War. It should be our essence now.

There may come a point where the Second Amendment will be seen in the light of  "I do not trust the government to do the right thing or the right thing well but I trust my fellow citizens less."
That will be a sea change in America.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Guns and the Essence of Bigotry

Modern politics has become an argument between symbolism and reality. There is the need to do something, anything, and the confidence of the modern world still is strong within us. So is the need generalize and to make things simple--the essence of bigotry.
Guns and violence are complex entitles. And clear objectivity is difficult. The high ground in debates like this is often shallow.

Some observations:

Public perception:

Government studies:



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday 6/19/16

Today Christ is curious about how He is seen. He asks the apostles about the people and then the apostles themselves.

“Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist;
others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He scolded them
and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

These are maddening exchanges. Doesn't He know what everyone is saying? He has a plan; does it matter what they say? 
But most curious--fascinating, really-- why the secrecy? It is as if the apostles, the people, humanity have input into what happens. As if the entire spiritual universe were "entangled."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cab Thoughts 6/18/16

Knowledge always comes as a surprise, as an interruption of the previously held norm.. Therefore central planning can’t work.--Alaric Phlogiston

Vivian  Kellems, a doughty Connecticut entrepreneur, was outraged that she was forced to withhold federal taxes from her employees’ wages. She called it involuntary servitude, and she itched to make her constitutional argument in court. She never got that chance, but she published her plan for a peaceful revolution. She asked her readers to really examine the stub of their paycheck. Observe how much your employer pays you and how much less you take home. Notice the dollars withheld for Medicare, Social Security and so forth. If you are like most of us, you stopped looking long ago. You don’t miss the income that you never get to touch. “Such a payroll policy,” wrote Kellems in her memoir, Taxes, Toil and Trouble, “is entirely legal and if it were universally adopted, in six months we would have either a tax revolution or a startling contraction of the budget!” Her original plan was to have the taxes sent after the paycheck was issued.
My plan would be to have taxes due on election day.

In a leaked transcript, IMF staffers were caught on tape suggesting that a threat of an imminent financial catastrophe was needed to force other players into accepting its measures such as cutting Greek pensions and working conditions, or as Bloomberg puts it, "considering a plan to cause a credit event in Greece and destabilize Europe." The leaders of Europe were considering destabilizing Europe.

What is....Point Rosee?

Net exports (exports less imports) account for only about 4 percent of Chinese GDP. The amount of China’s economy dependent upon fixed capital investment is astronomical. For example, from 2011 to  2013, in three years, China produced more concrete than the United States did in the entire 20th century. Read that again.

With WW1 a mass rebranding of royalty was ordered by George V. The king led by example and dropped Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, adopting the British-sounding 'Windsor.' Much against their will, the rest of the in-laws were de-Germanized. Prince Alexander of Battenberg became the Marquess of Carisbrooke; Prince Alexander of Teck became the Earl of Athlone; Adolphus, Duke of Teck, became the Marquess of Cambridge. The unfortunate princesses of Schleswig-Holstein were demoted, in the king's words, to 'Helena Victoria and Marie Louise of Nothing.' And the unem­ployed Prince Louis of Battenberg would be Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven.

President Bill Clinton later called America’s failure to do anything to stop the genocide in Rwanda “the biggest regret” of his administration. But isn't our current policy to avoid such interventions? For example, ISIS is certainly a homicidal cult with genocidal aims. Isn't the idea we have no responsibilities to right these international wrongs?

The Spring following Pearl Harbor the Dodgers went to spring training in Havana. Hemingway was there, met several players, took them home to get drunk and got drunk himself. Eventually Hemingway challenged the man nearest his size, Dodger pitcher 'Apple Cheeks' Casey, to box. Casey was a lot like Hemingway, plagued by self-doubt and dark moods and drank to great excess. When Hemingway challenged him, he demurred at first. He was fourteen years younger than Hemingway and had boxed competitively. He didn't want to show up the man in his own house. But the old writer kept pushing until Casey agreed. They used gloves and Hemingway attacked Casey with all his might, throwing kicks along with punches. The fight continued until Casey knocked Hemingway down for good.

The constellation Leo is stuffed with galaxies that are visible in a backyard telescope. Three of the brightest and best known are M65, M66, and NGC 3628, also known as the “Leo Triplet”.  You can see all three galaxies in virtually any telescope and even in a good pair of binoculars. If you can see all three galaxies at once, keep in mind you’re seeing at one time the collected light of more than half a trillion stars. Half a trillion.
It is said that “Guccifer has no programming skills and guessed passwords of prominent public figures after reading their biographies.” ( reporter Matei Rosca ) So we are having our major leaders hacked by guys with my computer sophistication level?

Golden oldie:
One of the common criticisms of Obama is that he is tougher on America than he is on America's enemies. This from his interview in The Atlantic: “One of the reasons I am so focused on taking action multilaterally where our direct interests are not at stake is that multilateralism regulates hubris.” So the sharing of the burden of war efforts--as in Bosnia and Kuwait--is not an effort that promotes unification toward a just and worthwhile act. Rather it is a rebuke against America's arrogance and a reminder of its dangerous limits. Even in war this guy is scolding us.

Andrés Sepúlveda rigged elections throughout Latin America for almost a decade. On the question of whether the U.S. presidential campaign is being tampered with, he is unequivocal - "I'm 100 percent sure it is."

In the 1960s, archaeologists determined that a site on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland in Canada — L’Anse aux Meadows — had been a Viking settlement, established about a millennium before Columbus. L’Anse aux Meadows, however, had merely been a temporary settlement, which the Norse abandoned after a few short years. Thanks largely to the work of Sarah Parcak, a leading space archaeologist, evidence has been unearthed of a possible second Viking site in North America — and it’s located about 300 miles further south than L’Anse aux Meadows. The site at Point Rosee, which Parcak pinpointed after analyzing satellite imagery, is located on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. (NYT) Last summer, Parcak and a team of archaeologists conducted a test excavation at Point Rosee, and uncovered an “iron-working hearth [and some cooked bog iron] partially surrounded by the remains of what appears to have been a turf wall,” The National Geographic reports. It dates to between 800 AD and 1300 AD.

The International Space Station is the largest object ever constructed by humans in space. The station perimeter extends over roughly the area of a football field, although only a small fraction of this is composed of modules habitable by humans. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it continues to be built built piecemeal. To function, the ISS needs huge trusses, some over 15 meters long and with masses over 10,000 kilograms, to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants.
Pecuniary: a: 1. of or relating to money: pecuniary difficulties. 2. consisting of or given or exacted in money or monetary payments: pecuniary tributes. Usage: My honest friend, in pecuniary matters, always be exact as a second-hand; never mind with whom it is, father or stranger, peasant or king, be exact to a tick of your honor.-- Herman Melville, Israel Potter, 1855. ety: Pecuniary can be traced to the Latin term pecūnia meaning "property, money" with the root pecū meaning "flock; farm animals." It entered English in the late 1400s.

Conservatives say they are underrepresented among college professors. (Oddly they, or the researchers who support their argument, do not target student populations for disparities, where the issue first arose. Might too many liberal students be admitted?) To show the faculty imbalance, scholars have matched names against voter-registration lists or sent out surveys to members of professional associations.
Recently some professors have gathered in a new organization, Heterodox Academy, to hammer away at this issue. The golden word appears in its founding statement. "Our mission is to increase viewpoint diversity in the academy." This means adding more conservatives. The outfit claims that its members cover the political spectrum, but they all object to a professoriate now "almost entirely on the left." For the Heterodox supporters, left-wing unanimity distorts research and teaching. Now diversity might cut two ways.

Some estimate that the aggregate underfunded position of all state and municipal pensions is in excess of $2 trillion -- portending a pension crisis in the years ahead. This underfunded position has caused many pensions to seek riskier, higher-yielding investments such as hedge funds. Kentucky's Employee Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System are among those pensions that are significantly underfunded and rife with conflicts of interest in management.

The Central Texas Angel Network, known as CTAN, was the most active individual angel group in the country in 2015, according to the HALO Report recently released by the Angel Resource Institute and PitchBook. Members of CTAN, a nonprofit organization of more than 150 accredited angel investors, invested more than $13.3 million into 43 startups last year. Of those, 20 were new investments and 23 were follow-on investments into existing portfolio companies. With these investment totals, the group increased its funding activity by 30 percent over 2014, though annual investment dollars dropped slightly from a high of $14.6 million in 2014. In addition, the CTAN portfolio achieved seven exits in 2015, almost doubling the group’s total exit activity since its founding in 2006. Over the past 10 years, CTAN members have invested more than $68.4 million into 127 companies.

The giant Pacific octo­pus is one of the fastest-growing animals on the planet. Hatching from an egg the size of a grain of rice, one can grow both longer and heavier than a man in three years.

The original story of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi in 1883, was an outgrowth of the efforts to create an 'Italian' education and literature for children in the newly united nation of Italy, a nation that had never previously had a national literature. It is not a charming story. The puppet escapes his creator, harasses and abuses him, kills his cricket advisor (the eventual Disney Jiminy Cricket) and generally runs amuck. He is a character of thoughtless exuberance  who swings between lies and candor, generous sentiment and cruel mockery, with good intentions but no fortitude. This is often discussed as somehow representative of the Tuscan personality but certainly not by Tuscany's friends.

Rule 40(b) is a recent addition to the Republican Party rule book. It stipulates that in order to win the nomination, a candidate must demonstrate he has earned a majority of delegates from at least eight different states. Rule 40 (b) was passed originally to thwart libertarian candidate Ron Paul.

AAAaaaannnnnndddddddd....a picture of The International Space Station over the Earth:
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Hunter-Gatherer Lands on the Moon

A recent dinner conversation centered on equal opportunity for women in the workplace and education. I support it--with the caveat that earnings differential does not measure the same thing--but one logical question came up: What makes the species happy anyway? What are we really like? Does a nine-to-five job fulfill a male? Would it fulfill a female? Is the woman's happiness the point or is the equal representation on some unseen ledger--admittedly inferior--the point. It seems that is the basic question as equal opportunity of a hateful thing is no bargain or justice. There is no certainty that a woman--or man, for that matter--will find happiness in the modern workplace. After all, we are hunter-gatherers at worst, agricultural beings at best. Why should any of us, male or female, find reward in the modern world?
In fact, this modern life is an experiment on a gigantic scale. Of course, those experiments are ubiquitous. We get on elevators to live and work high in the air. We drive sixty miles and hour. Is the species built for any of this?
One experiment concerns coherence, proximity. The early cultures were tribal, close knit and homogeneous. The worst punishment in the world was banishment, forced separation from the family and tribe. Socrates chose death as the alternative. Yet now that separation is routine. Families are routinely broken up with divorce and work demands and retirement preferences. Does that harm the atavistic hunter-gatherer within?
More, what are people who chose to leave their friends and families like? In Europe, migration was a slow and deliberate thing. An emigration to America was nothing like it; it was closer to going to sea than a migration. Who did that? What were they like, giving up home and hearth to land on foreign, hostile shores? And who were these people who left that new shore and struck inland, into the forests and across unmapped Comanche plains what?
And what kind of children did such people have?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Plainfield Teachers

Morris Newburger, Lew Krupnick and Bink Dannenbaum pulled off one of the great pranks in sports: The Plainfield Teachers.

After a couple of phone calls showed the NYT would print imaginary scores from the imaginary Plainfield Teachers football team, they began to put out press releases on ginned-up stationary.
Mr. Newburger created a sports information director for Plainfield Teachers College. His name was Jerry Croyden, fashioned from Newburger’s familiarity with the Croydon Hotel on the Upper East Side. Mr. Newburger became Mr. Croyden, and was the only one who answered the new, $5-a-month phone line that was installed at the brokerage firm where he worked.
Jerry Croyden (Mr. Newburger), with Mr. Dannenbaum’s help, began producing news releases with a Plainfield Teachers letterhead. The team acquired a nickname (the Lions) and was outfitted in the school colors (mauve and puce). Its coach was Ralph “Hurry Up” Hoblitzel, a former Spearfish Normal star who devised the W-formation, in which both ends faced the backfield. One of the ends was “Boarding House” Smithers.

The peak was the creation of Johnny Chung, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound halfback who was half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian. Mr. Newburger had a dry cleaner whose name was Chung. Plainfield’s publicity ballyhooed Chung as a Heisman Trophy candidate. It claimed that, for energy, he ate bowls of wild rice during halftime. After Plainfield’s win over Randolph Tech, Herbert Allan, writing the “College Grapevine” column in The New York Post, said: “John Chung, Plainfield Teachers’ Chinese sophomore halfback, has accounted for 57 of the 98 points scored by his unbeaten and untied team in four starts."

Of course it could not last and eventually was exposed.
Newburger, under the name Jerry Croyden, sent out his final news release: “Due to flunkings in the midterm examinations, Plainfield Teachers has been forced to call off its last two scheduled games.”
No one printed that, but The Philadelphia Record, which had bought into the hoax, was remorseful that Plainfield Teachers was no more. Under an unsigned item titled “Football Casualty,” it said that the newspaper “regretted the passing (of Plainfield Teachers). The place had possibilities. We don’t see why exposure of the gag should have to end the team’s career. It should keep playing the rest of the season. We want to know how it made out with the now-cancelled games. And we want to know if the ‘Celestial Comet’ could make All-American.”
Bob Cooke, sports editor of The Herald Tribune in 1941, wrote, “The gentle humor that went into the Plainfield hoax appealed to the imaginations of both sportswriters and the public.”
(From Bill Christine in the NYT)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cab Thoughts 6/15/16

"We human beings always seek happiness. Now there are two ways. You can make yourself happy by making other people unhappy--I call that the logic of robbery. The other way, you make yourself happy by making other people happy--that's the logic of the market. Which way do you prefer?"-- Zhang Weiying
The most recent numbers from the California Franchise Tax Board show nearly 90 percent of the tax money comes from one-fifth of the taxpayers – those making $91,000 and up. They belong to the only income range whose average income increased in the last two decades. From an average of almost $173,000 per return in 1994, the average adjusted gross income for the top fifth of taxpayers reached nearly $238,000 by 2013, a 38 percent increase. Forty-five percent of the state’s income tax money comes from the top 1 percent of filers – those with adjusted gross income of at least $501,000. Those taxpayers recorded an average adjusted gross income of $1.6 million in 2013, almost double what it was in 1994.
Imagine how dangerous a recession would be for tax revenues.

A new take on the elites in the U.S.: For lawyers, doctors, and dentists-- three of the most over-represented occupations in the top 1 percent--state-level lobbying from professional associations has blocked efforts to expand the supply of qualified workers who could do many of the "professional" job tasks for less pay.

Eskimo: n: A name referring generically to all Inuit and Yupik people of the world. This name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean "eater of raw meat." Strangely, the Eskimo people themselves seem not to care.
Linguists now believe that "Eskimo" is derived from an Ojibwa word meaning "to net snowshoes." However, the people of Canada and Greenland prefer other names. "Inuit," meaning "people," is used in most of Canada, and the language is called "Inuktitut" in eastern Canada although other local designations are used also. The Inuit people of Greenland refer to themselves as "Greenlanders" or "Kalaallit" in their language, which they call "Greenlandic" or "Kalaallisut."
Most Alaskans continue to accept the name "Eskimo," particularly because "Inuit" refers only to the Inupiat of northern Alaska, the Inuit of Canada, and the Kalaallit of Greenland, and it is not a word in the Yupik languages of Alaska and Siberia.

As a result of the ongoing collapse of the Alberta energy economy, CBRE Canada estimates that Calgary's downtown office vacancy rate was 20.2% as of March 31, nearly twice as high as the 11.8% a year ago. 20%.
It has become fashionable for government to define things it wants to control as "a public good." For example, water. The economic definition of a "public good" is:  A public good has two specific characteristics: it is (1) non-excludable and (2) non-rivalrous in consumption.  In lay-persons’ terms, this means that (1) if the good is supplied to Smith, no one – including the supplier – can, at reasonable cost, prevent Jones and Williams from also consuming the good even if Jones and Williams refuse to pay for their use of it; and (2) Smith’s consumption of the good does not diminish (that is, does not “rival”) Jones’s or Williams’s ability to consume the good. Safe drinking water is emphatically not a public good thus defined, for safe drinking water is both excludable (your water supply, and yours alone, can be cut off if you don’t pay your water bill) and rivalrous in consumption (every gallon of water that you use today is a gallon that your neighbors cannot use today).
During Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign visit to Liberty University, he told students that our nation was created on racist principles.
The intellectual in the West seems to be in growing despair. Here are a few lines from John Gray in "Lapham": Civilization is not the endpoint of modern history, but a succession of interludes in recurring spasms of barbarism. The liberal civilization that has prevailed in some Western countries over the past few centuries emerged slowly and with difficulty against the background of a particular mix of traditions and institutions. Precarious wherever it has existed, it is a way of life that has no strong hold on humankind. For an older generation of liberal thinkers such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Isaiah Berlin, these were commonplaces. Today these truisms are forbidden truths, which can no longer be spoken or in many cases comprehended. 
For many in the West, the threat ISIS poses to their view of the world seems a greater disaster than the atrocities ISIS has committed and threatens to repeat. The bafflement with which the West approaches the group is a symptom of the senility of the liberal mind, a condition for which there is no obvious remedy. Perhaps what our culture lacks, in the end, is the ability to understand itself. 
Long term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists have found. The new research was published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Science.
Just when the political and economic agitation of the campaign was beginning to clarify, this Mathews guy manages to force another social issue (abortion) into the discussion. Probably couldn't figure out a racial element. I have been agnostic about this election, interested more in the cause of these candidates' success than the candidates themselves, but Trump's performance with the idiotic Mathews ideologue-disguised-as-objective-journalist was just unforgivable. Everyone in the universe knows that election discussions with the Left will not involve finance, war, terrorism, deficit, debt, welfare, social security or the Federal Reserve--it will involve the Holy Trinity of abortion, contraception and gay marriage. As important as these questions might be to individuals, they should not be the centerpiece of national policy. That said, they will always be so and any candidate must anticipate that these questions will come up-- intense, sanctimonious and heartfelt. Not having an answer for these inevitable questions seems to be a hallmark of Rube-publican candidates and they seem to pick answers from a Saturday Night Live script. (Remember the "women's bodies shut down  during rape" answer?) I do not care about these people at all but this Trump guy should really be punished for this stupidity.

Hamilton could be in trouble over a casting call that seeks “non-white” actors and appears to violate human rights law. The official casting notice asks for “non-white men and women, ages 20s to 30s” to audition, because a major selling point of Hamilton is its cast full of black and Latino performers.
 Who is.....Deidre McCloskey?

Leonard Woolf married Virginia Stephen (Woolf) in 1912. Both were writers, public intellectuals and influential among both groups. Together Leonard and Virginia Woolf entered into the Bloomsbury group, which also included various other former Apostles and were co-founders of 1917 Club. Virginia became a brilliant writer, under the influence on WW1 which both thought destroyed the West. Much of his life was caring for her and her depression which ended in suicide. His autobiography, Downhill All the Way, has a picture in it of him and his dog. No picture of Virginia.
The Saudis are officially on board with killing gays. Now any state or group in the U.S. with any ambiguity toward gays will get serious reaction, including boycott. So.....? Maybe they are just following Obama's dictum. Maybe it works for them.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Washington to meet Vice President Joe Biden and attend the administration’s 2016 Nuclear Security Summit. But he is not expected to enjoy a formal meeting with President Barack Obama — a slight the White House explained away as scheduling issue but which has been widely perceived as sign of Obama’s frustration with Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian actions. He held an off-the-record dinner at Washington’s high-end St. Regis Hotel where Erdogan ripped the American media’s coverage of his administration’s policies and bashed the White House’s support for Kurdish fighters in Syria. No admin officials were invited. (But Obama did go to Cuba, right?)
This is from a recent review of Deidre McCloskey's new book: Most economists—from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty—say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. “Our riches,” she argues, “were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.” Capital was necessary, but so was the presence of oxygen. It was ideas, not matter, that drove “trade-tested betterment.”  Nor were institutions the drivers. The World Bank orthodoxy of “add institutions and stir” doesn’t work, and didn’t. McCloskey builds a powerful case for the initiating role of ideas—ideas for electric motors and free elections, of course, but more deeply the bizarre and liberal ideas of equal liberty and dignity for ordinary folk. Liberalism arose from theological and political revolutions in northwest Europe, yielding a unique respect for betterment and its practitioners, and upending ancient hierarchies. Commoners were encouraged to have a go, and the bourgeoisie took up the Bourgeois Deal, and we were all enriched.

OPEC production problem: "I am not sure you can call it a freeze," one OPEC source said. A senior oil industry source said: "The problem now is to come up with something that excludes Iran, makes the Saudis happy and doesn't upset Russia." 
That should be a piece of cake.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has issued a warning to municipal and state judges across the country that their courts could lose federal funding if they don’t ease up on fines and arrest warrants for minor crimes involving poor offenders, indigent minorities in particular. The Supreme Court has ruled that disparate impact doesn’t violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only “intentional” discrimination does. “The administration is quite wrong to say that Title VI incorporates a ‘disparate impact’ standard,” Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity points out. “The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that it does not.” 
But, as in much of the world, ideology trumps everything.
AAAannnndddd................ a picture of an IRA member on "patrol," West Belfast 1987:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Internet Comments on the Stanley Cup

The Playoffs are now over. In a time where Trump and Hillary are running for President, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. One element the Penguins adopted was unusual--at least for them: their decision to increase their strong points before the Playoffs. Usually they would trade their strengths to bolster their weaknesses (usually skill for muscle and aggression) but this year they enhanced their strengths and gave up on their weaknesses; they didn't go out and find support for Simon Dupres, they traded him for more speed.
Here are some stories, one-liners and comments from the Internet. Toronto is especially bitter:

I made a *minor* mistake of scrolling through a couple pages of Sid-related comments and it was a cesspool green with envy. Sid cements his legacy as one of hockey greats. [Globe & Mail]
As Phil Kessel lifted the Cup in triumph, his many loud critics were conspicuously silent. [CBS Sports]
The decisions on who gets the Cup first after the captain are often emotional ones and some of them linger for a long time in the fans' memories. There was a sad reason Sidney Crosby handed off the Cup to Trevor Daley first. His mom is battling cancer and not doing well, and it meant a lot for her to be able to see this. Sending love to the Daleys. [AP]
City of Pittsburgh has now renamed Murray Avenue, Matt Murray Avenue for a day to honor the goaltender.
Underachiever was never a label that should have been attached to Sid and Geno, but the Pens stars took it all the same. [CBS Sports]

Letang joins Gretzky, Beliveau and Milt Schmidt as players with points on winning goals in all 4 games of a Stanley Cup final.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cullen are much-loved members of the Penguins family. One of them knows his future, but what does it hold for the other two? [PPG]
Our happy tide came at the expense of two stars who've waited forever for a chance at the Cup. For Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, losing the Cup was devastating and you could see it on their faces last night. [SJ Mercury News]
San Jose only had 6 shots on goal in 32 minutes after Kris Letang scored to give the Penguins the lead.
But where to begin with these Penguins? The head coach who assumed control on Dec. 12, summoned from the minors to rescue a team facing its nadir, now toppling the franchise with which his NHL career started? The captain who added the Conn Smythe trophy to his overflowing arsenal, seven years to the day after leading Pittsburgh to the title at age 21? The first teammate who took the grail from him, the one with the broken ankle and ailing mother, or the second, the one whose career ended due to blood clots? The rookie goaltender? The redeemed sniper? The general manager who took so much heat last season, now remembering how he wound up here?(SI)

Of the 20 players on the roster when the Pens clinched the Cup with that 3–1 win over the Sharks in Game 6 Monday night, just six were holdovers from the group that Rutherford inherited  in the summer of 2014.
Former Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar also had an opportunity to raise the cup as a member of the Penguins coaching staff, as well as former Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy..
“Pretty much everyone said since the beginning of the year, ‘Oh wow they got Phil Kessel, their forwards are great, but man their defense is a huge question mark,’” Ian Cole said. “‘Their defense will be their downfall. Their defense is terrible.’ I think you saw this series, especially this series but obviously the whole entirety of the playoffs, going through teams like Washington and Tampa Bay and a team out here that had the most goals per game, the most shots per game, was unstoppable. I think we did a fantastic job shutting them down.”
And then Daley handing it to Pascal Dupuis, who thought he was going to cry but held back. "This is as good as we could have done without him playing," Crosby said. "That was special."(SI)
San Jose had allowed 40 shots in a game only twice all season; the Penguins got 40 three times in these six games.
A funny article form Edmonton:
The Sharks defense pair that, by all accounts, got exposed the most by Pittsburgh was the slower pairing of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak.
In one first-period sequence, Jones stopped Crosby, Conor Sheary, and Kessel from point-blank range, keeping his desperate teammates within a goal of tying it.
Even if Fleury is given the chance to compete for his old job in training camp, it’s possible the Penguins would lose him in an expansion draft in 2017. Consequently, it’s conceivable that he will ask to be sent elsewhere, despite having a limited no-trade clause in his contract.
“I don’t know,” Fleury said after Game 6. “We’ll talk to management before I leave town, I guess. That’s it.”

And a picture of Dupuis with the caption: "Pascal Dupuis skating off the ice for the last time in a Penguins uniform."

When he was just 19 years old, and starting with the Boston Bruins, Kessel was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  But he made it through that and won the 2007 Masterston Trophy for dedication and perseverance in the face adversity.
Then came his time in Toronto, where, and there’s really no nice way to put this, he became a punching bag and a joke, a scapegoat for a team that had too many problems and no easy answers.
People made fun of his conditioning, they mocked his weight and they ridiculed him for being shy and less than polished with the media.
Now, he’s a Stanley Cup champion that probably should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy. (A Toronto blog, I think)

"It's a long year, but it's the best year I ever had," an emotional and fully bearded Kessel said on the ice at SAP Center as the Penguins celebrated the Cup on Sunday night.

Since 1996, only 13 players have produced more points per game in the post-season (minimum 40 games) than Kessel (0.94). The Wisconsin native sits a touch below Alex Ovechkin (0.98), but ahead of similar scorers, past and present, like Dany Heatley, Corey Perry, Paul Kariya and Brett Hull, albeit in significantly fewer games.

With 30 points, Couture became the fourth player in the last 20 years to reach that many in a single playoff run. Letang assisted on all three game-winning goals in the Final. He finished with 15 points in 23 games, second among defensemen.

A trade summary
  • Kessel was acquired on July 1, 2015 in a massive trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Less than a month later, the Penguins robbed the Vancouver Canucks by grabbing Bonino in a trade that featured Internet whipping-boy Brandon Sutter.
  • After realizing that the David Perron trade wasn’t really working out, the Penguins and Ducks concocted an “everyone wins” move as Hagelin became a Penguin in January.
  • Justin Schultz has  been worth the look for a third-round pick.
  • The Penguins also acquired two blueline fixtures on March 2, 2015: Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy.
  • And replacing Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan was a “trade” of sorts