Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cab Thoughts 10/22/16

Fear God—fear him. Fear him—fear me. Fear me— / And those like me—and save yourselves.” ---The warrior Odysseus, to Thersites (and the rest of us), in Logue's War Music

The opening paragraph of Chapter 1 of the economics textbook, University Economics by Armen Alchian and William Allen: "Ever since the fiasco in the Garden of Eden, most of what we get is by sweat, strain, and anxiety.  Two villains – nature and other people – prevent us from having all we want.  Nature is niggardly: it provides fewer resources than we could use, and much of what is available is made useful only by hard work.  As for other people, the problem stems not from malevolence: their wants and ours simply exceed what is available.  Do not suppose that if they were less greedy, more would be within our grasp. Greed impels them to produce more, not only for themselves, but, miraculously, more for us, too – provided that productivity-inducing arrangements exist."

Who is...Kingsley Amis?
The vast majority of AirBnB hosts in Chicago have household incomes of less than $100,000. And the typical Uber driver is married with kids, with a bachelors degree and a car that he uses to supplement a full- or part-time job and who makes, on average, $400 a week from 15 hours of driving. Over the last two years, Uber drivers in Chicago have earned more than $250 million.
Immigration impact on wages: New research by Harvard professor George Borjas on the effect of the Mariel Boatlift – a giant shock to Miami’s labor market that increased the size of its population by 7 percent in 42 days – finds large negative wage effects concentrated on Americans with less than a high school degree.  To put the scale of that shock to Miami in context, it would be as if 22.4 million immigrants moved to America over a few month period. Interestingly, women's wages rose.

The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players canceled a production of The Mikado to placate bloggers who suggested modern audiences were too delicate to endure the operetta’s parody of the Japanese monarchy.
A policeman approaching a car will always touch it on the taillight or near it as he approaches. Here is why, from a cop on Quora: "In the police academy we were trained to touch the tail light, trunk, bumper, etc. of any vehicle we approached for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, according to the instructors, is to make sure one or more of the officer’s fingerprints are on that vehicle so investigators can establish a physical connection between the officer and that vehicle in case a critical incident (shooting, traffic crash, etc.) takes place during the officer’s contact with the vehicle, and the officer is seriously injured or killed. My instructors trained us to always put our hand on the side of the vehicle close to the rear but NOT on the rear of the vehicle. Touching the vehicle in this manner is believed to keep the officer slightly off to the side of the vehicle and not directly behind it and in its path if it suddenly starts backing up." Pretty depressing training.
Ian Fleming’s last novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, appeared in 1965, the year after its author’s death. The esteemed Kingsley Amis published Colonel Sun: a James Bond adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham in 1968.
In William Nordhaus’s estimation, the overwhelming bulk – nearly 98% – of the benefits of capitalist innovation are reaped, not by the innovators, but by consumers.  (Nordhaus’s calculations are for the non-farm U.S. economy over the years 1948-2001.)

Golden oldie:

"In nearly eight years in office, President Obama has sought to reshape the nation with a sweeping assertion of executive authority and a canon of regulations that have inserted the United States government more deeply into American life. Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power, Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history."-- NYT.

In the Yucatán, Cortés was given a female slave, Malinche–baptized Marina–who became his mistress and later bore him a son. She knew both Maya and Aztec and served as an interpreter. She was very instrumental in his negotiations with Montezuma.

Trumpery: noun: 1. Something showy but worthless. 2. Nonsense or rubbish. 3. Deceit; fraud; trickery.  ety: From French tromper (to deceive). Earliest documented use: 1481.
Newspapers are suffering an accelerating drop in print advertising.
Among Harry Potter fans and book collectors alike, the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is known for the repetition on page 53 of '1 wand' in the list of equipment that pupils must take with them to Hogwarts at the beginning of term. This error was corrected in subsequent editions. One is coming to sale.

"Oddly, people who would readily agree that attempting to lay down the future would be disastrous in, say, painting or rock music or journalism or most science and all writing of novels or of scholarly books, think that we already know how to organize a mere economy, and that the government knows best in central planning or regulation or nudging."--McCloskey

Pierre Bayle was  a French thinker and Calvanist from the Enlightenment known for his intellectual modesty, tolerance and his defense of religious liberty. If a man , he asked, was worshiping the wrong God, or worshiping Him in the wrong way, might this not be an honest mistake? He used a well-known example of mistaken identity to make his point. The wife of the peasant Martin Guerre sincerely believed an impostor to be her long-lost husband. When the real Martin Guerre returned to his village, the impostor confessed and was executed for adultery and fraud. But Guerre’s wife went unpunished, because her error had been made in good faith. Bayle reasoned that “heretics” should be treated in the same way. If they had searched diligently for the truth and acted conscientiously, they were guilty of no sin. Nobody should punish them or try to compel them to act against their honest beliefs.
On the other hand, I am rather surprised the woman was believed. Perhaps his argument was that God must certainly be as tolerant as man.
Rio de Janeiro authorities arrested IOC executive committee member Patrick Hickey, according to multiple reports. The head of the European Olympic committee is being accused of illegally scalping tickets for the Summer Games held in Rio.

Negative interest rates are supposed to stimulate growth but the one apparent correlation is increased savings. There is a growing suspicion that part of problem may be negative rates themselves. Some economists and bankers contend that negative rates communicate fear over the growth outlook and the central bank's ability to manage it. So people save in defense. That should be good for growth--unless the "savings" is really "hoarding."
Hillary says Comey exonerated her, Bill says Comey is full of "bull." Does that sound inconsistent? they just say anything?
A letter in the WSJ argues that “U.S. goods and services imports from China were triple U.S. exports to China in 2015, $498 billion versus $161 billion” and that trade deficit is bad. A letter in response asks if "people are harmed whenever they get in exchange more than they give."
The FT reports that a mysterious online group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” is claiming to have penetrated the National Security Agency, stolen some of its malware, and is auctioning off the files to the highest bidder. The NSA! Technical experts have spent the past day or so picking apart a suite of tools allegedly stolen from the Equation Group , a powerful squad of hackers which some have tied to the NSA. The tools materialized as part of an internet electronic auction set up by a group calling itself  "Shadow Brokers," which has promised to leak more data to whoever puts in a winning bid. In a series of messages posted to Twitter, Snowden suggested the leak was the fruit of a Russian attack on an NSA-controlled server and could be aimed at heading off U.S. retaliation over allegations that the Kremlin is interfering in the U.S. electoral process. Snowden.
J.D. Vance is an interesting story, a guy from the underclass who went on to a good education and significant business success. He has been making the rounds--he has a new book--and was interviewed on GPS. People are interested in his insight to white blue collar workers, the group he comes from, and he talks about them as an ethnic group. He particularly talks about the Scotch-Irish. He always mentions their drinking and  their violence--in and out of the home. (Max Byrd said of the Scotch-Irish, "Where most have love in their heart, they have rage.") GPS was interested in their voting plans this year and Vance said they would vote for Trump. He--and the interviewer--left the opinion that this decision was the result of poor education, general irascibility and xenophobia. No one mentioned the publicly declared war the Progressives have declared upon coal and its subsidiaries in the United States, industries that employ this group.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the state’s top law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania and once an ascending star in politics, was convicted by a jury Monday of perjury and related charges for covering up a grand jury leak she orchestrated. Just good people doing the people's work.
A recent study by Ball State University found that national manufacturing output between 1990 and 2013 rose by nearly $1 trillion, while nearly 90 percent of lost manufacturing jobs from 2000-2010 were caused not by trade, but by productivity gains. In other words: American manufacturers can produce more but with fewer workers, and a job that today requires only one worker might once have required five.
AAAAaaaaannnnnddddddd.......a graph:
Chart of the Day

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