Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/17/16

Manners are minor morals. Manners are to morals as the final sandpapering, rubbing, and polishing on a fine piece of furniture are to the selection of the wood, the sawing, chiseling, and fitting. They are the finishing touch.--Hazlett

Economists are always debating the relative merits of consumption vs. production. Production seems to be the basis of the Broken Window Theory, i.e. any production--even production that produces nothing of value--aids the economy. So some will say that a hurricane is good for the economy because it stimulates production, although that production at best only recreates previous status. Under this assumption, war should be great. The consumption position is that all economic activity is ultimately justified by how much it enables us to expand our consumption, not by how much it enables us to expand our production.  Consumption is the end; production is the means.  Of course, production is an essential means; we cannot expand consumption without expanding production.  But production is not the ultimate purpose of economic activity. So digging a hole and then filling it up again at a certain hourly rate is meaningless to the economy.

The University of Florida has offered its students counseling in the face of offensive Halloween outfits on October 31. The poor dears.

Beijing has selected countries that it aimed to lift from poverty, while forging political alliances and creating markets for Chinese goods. Their economic development plans have merged politics and economics with their potential customers. This is an interesting distortion in economics.
Caracas is the biggest client of China's state-orchestrated development lending, accepting some $65bn in loans since 2007 for projects such as oil refineries, gold mines and railways. But in May this year, Venezuela engineered a default under which it has deferred paying the principal -- and only honors the interest -- on outstanding debts estimated at $20bn-$24bn.

The World Health Organization has decided to impose its good ideas on the rest of us by encouraging states to raise the taxes on sugary drinks. They have determined, somehow, that sugary drinks are bad for us and that raising the price of them will discourage their use. So, why won't raising the price of labor with the minimum wage discourage the use of that labor? Cost is cost, overhead, overhead.

Who is.... James Callendar?

Jonathon Swift died quite tormented by madness and the fear of it. Fourteen years earlier he wrote "Verses on the Death of Dr Swift," mostly about society, but it contained this little section that foretold what he would do with his small estate:
 He gave the little Wealth he had,
To build a House for Fools and Mad:
And shew'd by one satyric Touch,
No Nation wanted it so much....
And this was his epitaph: "Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity, dean of this Cathedral Church, where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart. Go, traveler, and imitate if you can one who with all his might championed liberty."

David Tepper, arguably the top hedge fund manager and investor of his generation, speaking before the election: “You have one person with questionable judgment and the other person may be demented, narcissistic and a scumbag,” Tepper said. “Not saying which one is which, you can make your decision on that. So it makes it a very difficult choice.” Tepper runs Appaloosa Management, a $19 billion hedge fund firm.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) finds that global debt -- including the debts of governments, households and non-financial businesses -- reached a record $152 trillion in 2015, an amount much higher than before the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Alfred Nobel: At his death, Nobel's father was fleshing out plans for what sounds like plywood, and for coffins in which those mistaken for dead might have a device to save themselves. Perhaps acquired from his father, Nobel had a lifelong fear of being buried alive, and in his will he left instructions to have his arteries cut after death, just to be sure. He was an isolated misanthrope and rumors abound as to why he created his optimistic Prize. One interesting one stems from a case of journalistic mistaken identity. His brother, Ludvig, was also a self-made man but in oil. When he died he was mistaken for his brother and the obituary confused Ludvig with Albert and described him as the "merchant of death" for his 90 dynamite factories. The theory is that Nobel was so horrified by this glimpse at his legacy that he did all he could to combat it.

Sheenagh Pugh (b. 1950) taught creative writing for many years at the University of Glamorgan in Trefforest, Wales, until her retirement in 2008. She has published nine books of poetry,  two novels, translations and a critical study of fan fiction, The Democratic Genre (2005), one of the first such books to approach fan fiction from a literary and scholarly perspective.

20% of American households do not have television service of any kind. Read that again.  87% of people with the TV on are, at the same time, using a secondary viewing appliance. Streaming is going to be a big deal.

Golden oldie:

In 1792, publisher James Callendar—then a supporter of Thomas Jefferson whose paper was secretly funded by Jefferson and his Republican allies–published a report of Alexander Hamilton’s adulterous affair with a colleague’s wife, to which Hamilton later confessed. (In 1802, when then-President Jefferson snubbed Callendar’s request for a political appointment, Callendar retaliated with an expose on Jefferson’s “concubine.” He is believed to have been referring to Sally Hemings, who was part black and also the likely half-sister of Jefferson’s deceased wife, Martha.) In 1796, an essay appeared in the Gazette of the United States in which a writer, mysteriously named “Phocion,”  attacked presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson for carrying on an affair with one of his slaves.  Phocion turned out to be former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Politics is always dirty. Even the Founders were dirty politicians. Now, what dynamics are afoot there?

The area of a circle is Pi times the radius squared. The area of a circle of the diameter of 18 is Pi times 9 times 9 equals Pi times 81. A circle of 12 diameter has an area of Pi times 6 times 6 equals Pi times 36. So you get more pizza with one 18 inch pizza than two 12 inch.

Everywhere TV revenues are down and TV usage is as well. Streaming is the future, they say. This looks provocative: After spending nearly $50 billion last year to acquire DirecTV, AT&T is preparing to roll out an internet video service that could upend its satellite-television business along with the rest of the pay-TV industry. Apparently sxecutives aren’t concerned that the lower-priced internet offering could eat into its existing TV business.(!)

New research warns that the number of women in the computing workforce will decline to 22% from 24% by 2025 if nothing is done to encourage more of them to study computer science.

In 1928 Dorothy Parker, under her pen name, Constant Reader, reviewed A. A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner in the New Yorker. Milne's children's books -- When We Were Very Young, Winnie-the Pooh, Now We Are Six -- had dominated the best seller lists. In the book, Pooh reveals that he added the "tiddely pom" to his Outdoor Song "to make it more hummy." She wrote: "And it is that word 'hummy,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

Vasectomies have suffered a decline of 64% in the number of men undergoing the procedure within the last 10 years. In 2004-5, there were 31,216 vasectomies carried out in England, but in 2014-15, that fell to just 11,113 according to NHS Digital.
“People worry massively and have lots of misconceptions about it," said Genevieve Edwards of Marie Stopes, a leading provider of vasectomies for the NH. Yes, she really said that.

A Chinese government investigation has revealed that more than 80 percent of the data used in clinical trials of new pharmaceutical drugs have been "fabricated." They also showed that many clinical trial outcomes were written before the trials had actually taken place.
Ah, science.

Aaaaaannnnndddddd.....a graph:

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