Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cab Thoughts 10/19/16

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
~H. L. Mencken

One of true amateurism's defining moments, says Duncan Hamilton in For the Glory, is Eric Liddell’s decision at the 1924 Olympics not to run his 100 meter heat because it was scheduled on a Sunday, violating his religious beliefs. Liddell won gold at 400 meter and then chose missionary work over fame. He also declined endorsements, writing offers, speaking engagements refusing, he said, to capitalize on a gift from God.

Issuing debt backed by worthless assets. Wasn't that the core problem of the Sub-prime Scandal? Now how would you classify the issuing of school loans based upon future earnings that will not exist? Is that any different?
Jonathan Sperber’s Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life (2013)  is an extensive reconstruction of Marx as a thinker and philosopher. One of his observations: Partly as a result of the influence of Engels, Marx has often been seen as an admirer of Darwin. But in fact Marx disliked Darwin’s theory of natural selection because it left human progress ‘purely accidental’, preferring the work of the forgotten French ethnographer Pierre Trémaux, who argued that racial differences have ‘a natural basis’ in biology and geology – a common view at the time.

Who is... Seth Conrad Rich?
I was watching an interview with an author on C-Span who was arguing that Islam was a failure in history. One of his points was that last year more books were translated into Spanish than all the books translated into Arabic in the last one thousand years.
The history of the world is filled with "false flag" episodes where one group performs acts disguised as another group for some perceived benefit. Hitler rescues Germans in Czechoslovakia, Russia rescues Russian Ukrainians. The "Gulf of Tonkin" attack. On September 18, 1931, some soldiers of the Kwantung Army stationed in the Japanese-leased railway zone to protect Japan's interests in southern Manchuria exploded a small bomb on the railway and claimed that anti-Japanese Chinese elements were responsible. Using the incident as a pretext to launch a full-scale assault on local Chinese troops, Japanese troops occupied the entire northeastern area over the next five months. (The Manchurian Incident) If these leaders are capable of sacrificing people and truth on this large scale, what is 400 million dollars stacked on pallets?
Golden oldie:
According to the media, savage and violent behavior towards seemingly peripheral individuals can be stimulated by nasty and erroneous public opinions.

A view of how our hard wiring helps and limits us: "Cultural evolution was centered for a hundred thousand years on tales told by elders to children sitting around the cave fire. That cave-fire evolution gave us brains that are wonderfully sensitive to fable and fantasy, but insensitive to facts and figures. To enable a tribe to prevail in the harsh world of predators and prey, it was helpful to have brains with strong emotional bonding to shared songs and stories. It was not helpful to have brains questioning whether the stories were true. Our scientists and politicians of the modern age evolved recently from the cave-children. They still, as Charles Darwin remarked about human beings in general, bear the indelible stamp of their lowly origin."--Freeman Dyson.
"It was not helpful to have brains questioning whether the stories were true." That is an extremely provocative idea. It is in direct opposition to the aims of the Enlightenment.

I have long been appalled at the military position in the Cuban Crisis that seemed to be dismissive of civilian losses. (The famous line was something like that the U.S. would suffer "only 30 million casualties, tops.") I regret to say I have come across another view of that. To have a credible deterrent against a Soviet first strike that would destroy many of its people, the U.S. government needed to defend its weapons first, rather than its citizens first. While the government may appear to be placing the value of its weapons above the lives of its citizens, the threat of deterrence is not credible if the weapons are exposed. (This is from game theorist Thomas Shelling) That doesn't mean you could not defend both but deterrence is the threat of overwhelming attack; defense is secondary.
Propitiate: verb tr.: To gain the favor of someone; to appease. ety: From Latin propitiare (to make favorable, to appease). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pet- (to rush, fly) which also gave us feather, pin, impetus, pinnacle, helicopter, propitious. Earliest documented use: 1583. usage: “A visitor from Jupiter might surmise that this civilization is required to bring grass sacrifices to propitiate some pastoral god.” Clay Jenkinson; Those Who Whack Weeds Are the Chosen People of God; Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota); Jul 6, 2014.

When Thomas Piketty’s "Capital in the 21st Century" came out in 2013, it quickly became a favorite of the political left and neo-Keynesian economists as his findings fit the narrative of increasing income inequality. Paul Krugman said “ Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t. And conservatives were terrified.” Larry Summers hailed it as a “Nobel Prize-worthy contribution.” Cheery, but maybe wrong. The  IMF’s Carlos Goes has an article where Piketty’s work is described as “ rich in data, [but] the book provides no formal empirical testing for its theoretical causal chain.” The author continues “I find no empirical evidence that the dynamics move in the way Piketty suggests. Acemoglu and Robinson, who by using a simple regression analysis, concluded “the main economic force emphasized in Piketty's book, the gap between the interest rate and the growth rate, does not appear to explain historical patterns of inequality (especially, the share of income accruing to the upper tail of the distribution).” Oh, well.

Jefferson’s first public proposal against slavery was through an emancipation bill he proposed to Virginia’s House of Burgesses (boroughs), the first legislative assembly in the New World. While its endorsement of the “one man one vote” principle was compromised — at first enfranchising only free men, then only landowning men, and of course no women — the House of Burgesses reflected a commitment to consensus and to community.

NBC did much of the high profile Olympics events on tape delay. Social media made the outcomes irrelevant by the time the events are shown. Why would NBC do that? Their answer: "The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sportswriters. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public."
The anti-terrorism sanctions against Iran are still in effect, a fact the administration has touted many times. Obama conceded at his press conference both that these sanctions are still in effect and that they applied directly to his $400 million pay-out to our terrorist enemies. But here’s the president’s problem: While he is correct that the sanctions barred him from sending Iran a check or wire transfer, they also make it illegal to do what he did.
President Obama engaged in the complex cash transfer in order to end-run sanctions that prohibit the U.S. from having “a banking relationship with Iran.” The point of the sanctions is not to prevent banking with Iran; it is to prevent Iran from getting value from or through our financial system — the banking prohibition is a corollary. (from Andrew C. McCarthy)
This looks to be illegal. But these people are not encumbered by laws that apply to the likes of us.

With all the talk about infrastructure, you would think the government has been ignoring it.  But over Obama's presidency, Washington has spent nearly $1 trillion on infrastructure. This was more money than any other president in history has spent. (It cost about $250 billion to build the interstate highway system.) I hope they were checks and not pallets of cash.
President Maduro of Venezuela has decreed that any company that goes out of business has committed economic treason and its employees are subject to arrest. Inflation went from 19 percent in 2012 to, the IMF estimates, 720 percent this year, and a projected 2,200 percent the next. To cut inflation, the army has started forcing butchers to sell food at a 90 percent loss, and the government has said it can force anyone to leave their job and work for at least two months growing food instead. Amnesty International has said this is tantamount to "forced labor."
Do they mean "slavery?"
Michael Lind has a not-so-revolutionary observation that is still worth a thought. Intellectuals, he says, are a small and isolated minority of their society yet are always expecting to influence it. "It was never possible for Chinese mandarins or medieval Christian monks in Europe to imagine that their lifestyles could be adopted by the highly visible peasantry that surrounded them. But it is possible for people to go from upper middle class suburbs to selective schools to big-city bohemias or campuses with only the vaguest idea of how the 70 percent of their fellow citizens whose education ends with high school actually live."

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the federal government has issued 600 major regulations totaling $743 billion, according to a study from the American Action Forum. That group is described as conservative.
According to Fox Sports, Fielder had season-ending neck surgery in July. It is said that Prince Fielder will never play again. He hasn't played since July 19 after an MRI revealed a herniation of disks in his neck just above an area that was repaired two years ago. 
In Cuba, government permission is needed to have a boat. The fishermen's boats are smaller than a normal rowboat and therefore too small to take far from shore (e.g., to another country).  So most seafood has to be imported. An economist felt this is a clear case where the regime has sacrificed productivity in order to exercise control over its people. Shocking.

Nicolas Maduro has hired Alfredo Serrano, a 40-year old Marxist economist from Spain, as his new main economic advisor. So an arsonist becomes fire chief.

January 2013, CNN reported that then Secretary of State Clinton was treated with blood thinners at a New York hospital to help dissolve a blood clot in her head.
This kind of thing is very disturbing. On July 8, 2016, 27 year-old Democratic staffer Seth Conrad Rich was murdered in Washington DC. The killer or killers took nothing from their victim, leaving behind his wallet, watch and phone. Now Julian Assange seems to suggests on Dutch television program Nieuwsuur that Seth Rich was the source for the Wikileaks-exposed DNC emails and was murdered.

AAAaaaaannnnnnnddddd.....a picture of Galaxy NGC 5866, Edge-On:
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

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