Tuesday, February 28, 2017


One of the au courant options with gender dysphoria, aka gender identity disorder, is pituitary agonists, drugs that stimulate pituitary sex hormones to exhaustion and delay puberty. Presumably this would put uncertain children in a holding pattern that would allow for decisions to be made more clearly.
This is a harsh medical assessment from the Peds College.

From The American College of Pediatricians article "Gender Ideology Harms Children" :
Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health — not genetic markers of a disorder.
No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one.
Gender dysphoria (GD), formerly listed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V). The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved.
Reversible or not, puberty-blocking hormones induce a state of disease — the absence of puberty — and inhibit growth and fertility in a previously biologically healthy child.
According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.
Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBQT — affirming countries. What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88% of girls and 98% of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health? 
Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.

The summary:
Our opponents advocate a new scientifically baseless standard of care for children with a psychological condition (GD) that would otherwise resolve after puberty for the vast majority of patients concerned.  Specifically, they advise:  affirmation of children’s thoughts which are contrary to physical reality; the chemical castration of these children prior to puberty with GnRH agonists (puberty blockers which cause infertility, stunted growth, low bone density, and an unknown impact upon their brain development), and, finally, the permanent sterilization of these children prior to age 18 via cross-sex hormones. There is an obvious self-fulfilling nature to encouraging young GD children to impersonate the opposite sex and then institute pubertal suppression. If a boy who questions whether or not he is a boy (who is meant to grow into a man) is treated as a girl, then has his natural pubertal progression to manhood suppressed, have we not set in motion an inevitable outcome? All of his same sex peers develop into young men, his opposite sex friends develop into young women, but he remains a pre-pubertal boy. He will be left psychosocially isolated and alone. He will be left with the psychological impression that something is wrong. He will be less able to identify with his same sex peers and being male, and thus be more likely to self identify as “non-male” or female. Moreover, neuroscience reveals that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain which is responsible for judgment and risk assessment is not mature until the mid-twenties. Never has it been more scientifically clear that children and adolescents are incapable of making informed decisions regarding permanent, irreversible and life-altering medical interventions. For this reason, the College maintains it is abusive to promote this ideology, first and foremost for the well-being of the gender dysphoric children themselves, and secondly, for all of their non-gender-discordant peers, many of whom will subsequently question their own gender identity, and face violations of their right to bodily privacy and safety.

Monday, February 27, 2017

True Only to Itself

Diversity: True Only to Itself

Originally diversity meant exotic, interesting. Nobody hoped for diversity that was, for example, criminal or perverse or insane or degrading. Diversity always had an underlying assumption, that of quality. Diversity always implied an enhancement of one's life or circumstance with "the different," the hard personal view fleshed out. At the worst, it would be spice.

That very element, the element of specialness, was its undoing. Specialness opposes sameness and, while we encourage elitism in our political and thought leaders, we hunt it to ground in us. Diversity changed and became egalitarian in its most destructive way. One could no longer pick and choose diversity, find one edifying or expansive and reject one less so. Diversity became un-judged. Random. When we encounter a community that practices mutilation, we open our hearts and turn our minds away. Like art, the diverse was true only to itself. Everything is of equal value. Equality became sameness.

 Diversity is no longer a celebration of human breadth and scope. It is a weapon against quality.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." - H. L. Mencken

In 1917, the psychologist Edwin G. Boring and his wife, Lucy, described an experiment in which they woke people at intervals to see if they knew what time it was; the average estimate was accurate to within fifty minutes, although almost everyone thought it was later than it actually was.
“Regarding economics, if you haven’t read Ayn Rand lately, I suggest that you do as her books pretty well capture the mindset. This new administration hates weak, unproductive, socialist people and policies, and it admires strong, can-do profit makers (emphasis mine). It wants to, and probably will, shift the environment from one that makes profit makers villains with limited power to one that makes them heroes with significant power. The shift from the past administration to this administration will probably be even more significant than the 1979–82 shift from the socialists to the capitalists in the UK, US, and Germany when Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl came to power.” This was written by Ray Dalio, an American businessman and founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates, one of the world's largest hedge funds. Ayn Rand!

The cuneiform inscription in the Liberty Fund logo is the earliest-known written appearance of the word "freedom" (amagi), or "liberty." It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 B.C. in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

A growing group of artists is hitting back against Ivanka Trump, with some even demanding the president-elect's daughter take their work down off her walls. This is what we professionals refer to as a "soft target."

Almost 40% of young Americans were living with their parents, siblings or other relatives in 2015, the largest percentage since 1940, according to an analysis of census data by real estate tracker Trulia.

Who is....the vampire squid?

The Obama administration indefinitely blocked oil and natural-gas drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, part of last-minute actions seeking to lock in the departing president’s environmental legacy. Since this can be overturned by similar action by Trump, one might assume that Obama is simply marking his territory.

Squid news: Goldman Sachs courted the Malaysian state fund now at the heart of global embezzlement probes, earning high fees for selling its bonds. Investigators want to know if the bank had reason to suspect misuse of the money. This ranks in mystery right up there with Brad Pitt's revelation that Angie "has no self-regulating mechanism."
Not until about age four can children conceptually distinguish “before” from “after.”  For the first three or four years of life, many researchers think, a child doesn’t distinguish between his own memories and ones that are recounted to him. Tell him about your trip to the Empire State Building, and he may later remember the event as if he’d gone himself.

A couple of phrases are new to me, "strongman," and "fake news." "Strongman" has a history, mostly with regard to Mussolini; on Google's Ngram it rose in the sixties much higher than in the 40s but still low. "Fake news" is untrackable. They will probably be everywhere, like "gravitas" was during the Bush administration, until they lose their propaganda value and we will have new generalities to fret about.

Golden oldie:

Ivanka got an earful on a JetBlue flight as a grown man bullied a young mother  on a plane.
'Your father is ruining the country,' said Dan Goldstein, a lawyer from Brooklyn, who had a  child in his arms according to TMZ.
Goldstein then began screaming out: 'Why is she on our flight. She should be flying private.'
Ivanka paid as little attention as possible and tried to preoccupy her children with some crayons to diffuse the situation until the crew escorted him off the plane.
Goldstein's husband, Matthew Lasner, said that was not what happened however on Twitter, writing: 'My husband expressed his displeasure in a calm tone, JetBlue staff overheard, and they kicked us off the plane.'
However. just an hour prior to that Lasner wrote on Twitter: 'Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them. '
(Daily Mail)
Who are these righteous people? Can you imagine the coverage had the two guys been Muslim? Or if the daughter had been Obama's?
"He's not been reading policy journals for the last decade." From Conway interview on Trump. Maybe there is hope. Maybe he can catch up.

The Trump Rally. In spite of the promises of all the experts the markets are up 1500 points.
Now, growth is next. But, the dollar is now the strongest it’s been since 2002. Soooooo......why would a manufacturer utilizing low wages in the Far East and benefiting from the strong dollar by selling their products into the US, decide to pay higher US level wage rates and have to compete in world markets with the anchor of a record high dollar around their necks? What part of this picture am I missing?

The New Yorker has an article on Time. Here's a quote from it: For Augustine, the present wasn’t something to observe; it is spoken and inhabited. Or perhaps it inhabits us—time is a volume, and we are its vessel. For James, it was the other way around: time is the container to our thoughts; the present moment is undefined without our mind to fill it.
So two brilliant minds have two polar opposite views of the question.

Part of a Q&A with Jamie Dimon in Bloomberg: What is your diagnosis about what’s going on in this country, this economic angst, the anti-immigrant sentiment?
It’s not anti-immigration per se. America’s changing too much for that. The core of the frustration and anger were two things. First, middle-class incomes have really not grown for 15 years. Second, the difference between unskilled and skilled has been growing over time. The unskilled really have a hard time having what you would call a living wage.

We find that 94% of net job growth in the past decade was in the alternative work category,” said Obama's former top White House economist Alan Krueger. In other words, nearly all of the 10 million jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were not traditional nine-to-five employment, but low-paying temp, on-call, contract workers, independent contractors or freelancers.

Solipsism: n: a theory in philosophy that your own existence is the only thing that is real or that can be known.
The French philosopher René Descartes is often credited with introducing solipsism as a major problem of modern philosophy, but the word solipsism most likely sprang from a French satire written by Giulio Clemente Scotti in 1652 called La Monarchie des Solipses. The term wasn't used in English until the late 19th century, when solipsism, a composite of the Latin solus ("alone") and ipse ("self"), was applied purely in the philosophical sense. Recently the word has taken on another, more general sense, suggesting an ego-driven selfishness or self-indulgence. Latin solus alone + ipse self.  First Known Use: 1874

Biden suggested that Hillary lost primarily because she never "really figured out why she was running" in The Hill. Now they tell us. It wasn't greed, insatiable lust for power, arrogance, entitlement and hubris? She wanted to be President but didn't know why? Well, that's good to know.

AAAAAannnnnnnnddddddddd........the above-mentioned cuneiform of what is said to be the earliest appearance of the word "freedom," recently made popular by Mel Gibson:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Darrius Heyward-Bey

This story has been hanging around the Internet on ESPN.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, with the help of his mother, who is a certified accountant, has been frugal with his nearly $35 million in career earnings.
Heyward-Bey made nearly $30 million in his four years with the Oakland Raiders prior to a stop in Indianapolis in 2013 and then joining the Steelers in 2014.  
The 29-year-old receiver has managed his money closely, saving "most" of it, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Darrius and his mother designed a monthly allowance for him and he pays her a commission to help manage his money and track his expenses.
"I get an email [from her] every Tuesday," Heyward-Bey told Fowler. "I can read it over, check it up. I see where the money is going."
Heyward-Bey also explained that he's able to continue to save because of his simple lifestyle.
"I don't have any kids and I'm not married, so the money I spend is on me. It's really easy to say no to myself. I keep things real simple. I'm not really a flashy guy. I understand what I want to buy. I invest my money well and pay my taxes."
According to Fowler, Heyward-Bey even shuts off the cable in his California home for the six months of the year he's not there.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Santayana on Chromosomes and Men

The fetus, if uninfluenced by hormones, will develop as a female, albeit an underdeveloped one. Here is a description by the philosopher Santayana, in his only novel, of the birth of a boy:
The child had been born punctually. The first grave and alarming duty of entering into the world was performed not only unflinchingly but with a flourish: for this thoroughly satisfactory child was a boy. His little organism, long before birth, had put aside the soft and drowsy temptation  to be a female. It would have been so simple for the last pair of chromosomes to have doubled up like the rest and turned out every cell in the future body complete, well-balanced, serene, and feminine. Instead, one intrepid particle had decided to live alone. Instead, one intrepid particle decided to live alone, unmated, unsatisfied, restless, and masculine. And it imposed this unstable romantic equilibrium on every atom of the man-child's flesh, and of the man-child's sinews. To be a male means to have chosen the more arduous, if perhaps the less painful adventure, more remote from home, less deeply rooted in one soil and one morality. It means to be pledged to a certain courage, to a certain recklessness about the future: and if these risks are to be run without disaster, there should be a greater buoyancy, less sensitiveness, less capacity for utter misery that women commonly show. Yet this capacity is sometimes lacking. Mysterious influences may cross and invade the system and send through it , as it were, a nostalgia  for femininity, for that placid, motherly comfortable fullness of life proper to the generous female.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


But in the end what Obama did that is unforgivable is increasing centralization in a complex system.--Taleb

Trump is now the official President. Somehow all the options offered by celebrities  were wrong. One wonders at these people who seem to believe they are and should be influential. They interview each other, pontificate on shows, even take out political ads featuring themselves. The Clinton campaign looked like a entertainment roadshow. Maybe they are only satisfying.

Moscato is the same as Muscat, a very ancient Mediterranean variety known for a highly pronounced aroma which can even seem like a "grape perfume." Moscato as a general style of wine - rather light and with noticeable sweetness - is very trendy right now. The inspiration for this particular incarnation comes from Piedmont, Italy and specifically Moscato d'Asti. As often happens when a grape catches on, the original is copied in other parts of the world. There are also dry and fortified sweet versions of Muscat-based wines which all share a marked aromatic profile.

Parable: noun: A short story that illustrates a moral lesson. Interesting background. ety: From Old French parable, from Latin parabola (comparison), from Greek parabole (comparison), from paraballein (to compare), from para- (beside) + ballein (to throw). Earliest documented use: 1250. The same origin as "parabola."

Underfunded government pensions to the tune of $1.3 trillion, with a gap that just can’t be filled, is the ticking time bomb facing the US economy which faces dramatic cuts in public services - and potentially riots reminiscent of Athens six years ago - according to former Federal Reserve advisor Danielle DiMartino Booth. This is a serious woman.

Few truths are so well-supported by theory and so universally verified by experience as is the truth that the greater the number of people with whom we are free to exchange and trade, the greater is our prosperity and the more peaceful and enriching is our culture.  Yet few truths are as stubbornly resisted. Somehow people campaign for the decrease of options, restriction of wealth and the promotion of scarcity without quam or embarrassment.

Thought: There was (rightly) a cloud of illegitimacy over Bush, dispelled (wrongly) by 9/11. Creates some interesting incentives for Trump." This was written by Paul Krugman, apparently suggesting that 9/11 created legitimacy for Bush' presidency and that Trump might create a similar disaster for the same reason. Perhaps becoming a less serious man.

Who is....Robert Gates?

In the early twentieth century, the principle of geographic diversity was used to conceal bias against Jews in the admission of students to Harvard and other leading academic institutions. Because the Jewish population was concentrated in New York and other east coast communities at that time, quota limits on how many Jewish students would be admitted were concealed by saying that Harvard wanted a diverse student body, consisting of students from around the country.
Therefore some highly qualified Jewish applicants could be passed over, in favor of less qualified applicants from the midwest or other regions of the country. (Sowell)
He argues the same diversity argument is used now to exclude high-achieving Asian applicants.

Hans Rosling is a physician and epidemiologist. The Cuban embassy in Sweden had asked him to find out whether toxic cassava could have caused roughly 40,000 people to experience visual blurring and severe numbness in their legs. On his first morning in Havana, Rosling met local epidemiologists in a conference room. "Then, two men walk in with guns, and in comes Fidel Castro," he recalls. "My first surprise was that he was so kind, like Father Christmas. He didn't have the attitude you might expect from a dictator." With Castro's approval, Rosling travelled to the heart of the outbreak, in the western province of Pinar del Río. It turned out that there was no link with cassava. Rather, adults stricken with the disorder all suffered from protein deficiency. The government was rationing meat, and adults had sacrificed their portion to nourish children, pregnant women and the elderly.
Reporting back to Castro, Rosling couched his conclusions carefully: "I know your neighbours want to force their economic system on you, which I don't like, but the system needs to change because this planned economy has brought this disease to people." After his presentation, Rosling went to the toilet. A Cuban epidemiologist approached him to thank him. He and his colleagues had come to the same conclusion several months earlier, but they were removed from the investigation for criticizing communism. Corroboration of their work from Rosling and other independent researchers supported the policy changes that stemmed the outbreak.
There is no info as to whether Cuba changed its general policy.

Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, said on Charlie Rose that, when sitting across the table from Putin, he looked into the eyes of "a cold stone killer."

Golden oldie:

An interesting approach to the VP nominee Paul Ryan has emerged for Obama supporters.  Liberal critics gleefully report Ryan supported Presi...

The death rate increased 1.2% last year, and life expectancy fell in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. Female life expectancy dropped from 81.3 to 81.2 years, and male life expectancy fell from 76.5 to 76.3 years.  As ABC News notes, “A decades-long trend of rising life expectancy in the U.S. could be ending: It declined last year and it is no better than it was four years ago.”
The core elements of Obamacare went into effect in 2014. Now, in our obsessed news culture, one would think the conclusion would be the negative change in survival rates would be related to Obamacare.

A couple of phrases are new to me, "strongman," and "fake news." "Strongman" has a history, mostly with regard to Mussolini; on Google's Ngram it rose in the sixties much higher than in the 40s but still low. "Fake news" is untrackable. It is interesting how these phrases emerge. I remember when the big word was "gravitas." It has gone away. There's probably conferences, tax deductible, where these words and phrases are debated and chosen.

In 1879 Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House was greeted with praise from Shaw and suffragettes, scorn and fear from others. The play was described as dropping of "a bomb into contemporary life," and "a death sentence on accepted social ethics." Theatrically, the bomb was signaled by Nora's exit from her house and gender-roles at the end of Act V -- the "door slam heard 'round the world." Ibsen appeared to retreat from his radical views when he agreed to rewrite the play with a more palatable ending -- Nora is made to return inside, and sink to her knees before her children's bedroom -- but this was merely because such a "barbaric outrage" on the play was planned by one German production, and having no recourse to stopping it, Ibsen preferred to do his own bowdlerizing.

The need for diversity:  Hillary Clinton won California by 4.2 million votes and New York by 1.6 million. Without those two votes Trump won by 3 million. The Electoral College does make a lot of sense in diversifying the vote.

Italian equities have underperformed German equities by -65%, reversing the previous half century’s pattern when Italian equities outperformed on a total return basis. Similarly, since 2003 Italian factory output has lagged Germany’s by 40%. The diagnosis is simply that Italy has become woefully uncompetitive, and as a result, is not solvent. (from a market letter. These guys are almost always wrong....but.....)

"Cinema is gone," Martin Scorsese says in a recent interview. "The cinema I grew up with and that I'm making, it's gone."
"The theater will always be there for that communal experience, there's no doubt. But what kind of experience is it going to be?" he continues. "Is it always going to be a theme-park movie? I sound like an old man, which I am. The big screen for us in the '50s, you go from Westerns to 'Lawrence of Arabia' to the special experience of '2001' in 1968. The experience of seeing 'Vertigo' and 'The Searchers' in VistaVision."
Scorsese points to the proliferation of images and the overreliance on superficial techniques as trends that have diminished the power of cinema to younger audiences. "It should matter to your life," he says. "Unfortunately the latest generations don't know that it mattered so much."

Trade limits will be all the talk as Trump is a proponent. Somehow people campaign for the decrease of options, restriction of wealth and the promotion of scarcity without qualm or embarrassment.

When Clinton won against Bush--a guy I think was the last significantly good leader--he got 43% of the popular vote. Bush got 37% and, the big factor, Perot, stole 19% of the vote from Bush. Otherwise Clinton would have been slaughtered. Trump got 46% of the vote.
AAAAaaaaaannnnnnddddd.......a graph:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is generally defined as taking something from someone else’s culture–an image, a prop, a term–and degrading him and it by making that a thing of your own.

Susan Scafidi, the author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, defines it as "[T]aking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else's culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture's dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. While this apparently is like a "social plagiarism," apparently it is more than hurtful, it is harmful, especially when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects.

It sounds as if the community of man has some borders.

Some examples: white musicians borrowed the musical stylings of their black counterparts. Madonna, for instance, popularized the form of personal expression known as voguing, which began in black and Latino sectors of the gay community. Madonna has also used Latin America as a backdrop in a music video and appeared in attire with roots in Asia, as has Gwen Stefani who faced criticism for her fixation on Harajuku culture from Japan. Miley Cyrus became the pop star most associated with cultural appropriation. During recorded and live performances, the former child star began to twerk, a dance style with roots in the African-American community. Jaso wearing dreadlocks.
Would a black guy quoting Shakespeare be appropriating white culture?

Monday, February 20, 2017


Vaporizing Vape Shops

E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. They contain nicotine, a chemical derived from tobacco and other plants. Plain English was never a deterrent, though, to regulators on an empire-expanding mission. The Food and Drug Administration this week rolled out new regulations on e-cigarettes based on a 2009 law giving the agency power over products that "contain tobacco."
E-cigarettes, let's remember, operate by heating a solution containing nicotine, rather than burning tobacco. These small operators are unlikely to afford the estimated million-dollar cost of submitting each and every existing product and product variation for retroactive consideration by the FDA, as required by the law. Their trade group, the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, estimates that 99% of existing products therefore will exit the market during the two-year phase-in of the prohibitory new rules.

The above is from an article in the WSJ. This regulation essentially effectively eliminates a tobacco competitor. So it is sort of a pro-tobacco regulation.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


There is a new book out called The Book That Changed America about the period before the Civil War and the impact Darwin had upon slavery.

There was a time when it was debated whether humans had a single origin or several, with each race being separately created. The multiple-creation school, polygenism, was popular with apologists for slavery. If, as they supposed, the Adam-and-Eve creation produced whites, but other races derived from earlier and inferior acts of creation, then whites were justified in applying a different moral standard to people of nonwhite race, who were not created in God’s image. This requires a certain misunderstanding of "species." Or, perhaps an understanding of species that was specious.

But if humans had a single origin (monogenism), as Darwin proposed for other species, then all human races were genealogically connected: Blacks were every bit as human as whites — equivalent to distant cousins — and slavery became morally untenable. This is perhaps one of the very few times in the history of evolutionary biology that Darwin’s ideas aligned with a literal interpretation of the Bible. Like Darwin, the Genesis account suggests a single origin for all humans — courtesy of Adam and Eve — with no mention of multiple creations.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London in 1895 on Valentine's Day.
Though at the height of his success, and fond of applause, Oscar Wilde's personal life made him vulnerable to attack. He had heard that his eventual nemesis, the Marquess of Queensbury, planned to publicly confront him on the opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest; he had arranged to have Queensbury's ticket withdrawn and to have a policeman present, but he declined a curtain call, just in case. The Marquess had made it clear in notes to his son, Lord Alfred Douglas, that his relationship with Wilde must stop -- or else: "If I thought the actual thing was true, and it became public property, I should be quite justified in shooting him at sight. These christian English cowards and men, as they call themselves, want waking up. Your disgusted so-called father. . . ."
Horribly, more recently, an elder son had committed suicide on the heels of his own homosexual relationship with a politician.
The Marquess was particularly incensed that Wilde's play was opening on Valentine's Day.
Having been prevented from attending the opening, three days later Queensbury appeared at Wilde's Albemarle Club with a witness and a calling card inscribed, "To Oscar Wilde posing Sodomite." This written accusation, the desire of Lord Douglas to spar with his father in public, and Wilde's naïve belief that he would merely have to deny his homosexuality in court to win, provoked him to file charges of libel. He found out too late that Queensbury would play by his rules, and be able to frighten, cajole or bribe a number of male prostitutes into testifying against him.

Not long after its triumphant debut, The Importance of Being Earnest was withdrawn from theaters across England and America; not long after that, Wilde was in prison. The last, tail-spin years ended in one of the cheapest, un-Oscar hotels in Paris, and with "un enterrement de 6e classe" in Bagneux cemetery:
    JACK: Poor Ernest! He had some many faults, but it is a sad, sad blow.
    CHASUBLE: Very sad indeed. Were you with him at the end?
    JACK: No. He died abroad; in Paris, in fact. I had a telegram last night from the manager of the Grand Hotel.
    CHASUBLE: Was the cause of death mentioned?
    JACK: A severe chill, it seems.
    MISS PRISM: As a man sows, so shall he reap.
    CHASUBLE: Charity, dear Miss Prism, charity! None of us are perfect. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts. Will the interment take place here?
    JACK: He seemed to have expressed a desire to be buried in Paris.
    CHASUBLE: In Paris! I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last. . . .

(from Steve King and Ellmann)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Monsieur Vogue

"‘Make America great again.’ A lot of people think that means make America white again.”
 I say that a friend of mine, the writer David Israel, is now calling it the Whites-Only House.
“People are really afraid of these dark, dark institutions of bigotry and anti-Semitism that have come out from under the rocks like creepy snakes and come up to rear their heads up like cobras,” André agrees.

This is from Maureen Dowd's interview with "Monsieur Vogue," André Leon Talley, the former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, in a recent article in the NYT containing references to "Proustian madeleines" and "doppelganger" just to assure you know she's serious. Nonetheless, it is an excellent article with surprisingly cautious nuance regarding Trump, Melania and their opponents. 
But these quotes are instructive.

This election and post-election has been filled with dark recriminations, inferences and worries. Given that Trump is a loud, obnoxious blowhard, is he a racist? After all, many racists are loud, obnoxious blowhards. Is he a malignant bigot? The press assumes so. A recent interview with an admittedly professionally controversial activist included talk about Nazi salutes and KKK affiliations. Is any of this real? "A lot of people think that means make America white again." Is that real--or even remotely fair? What about "I say that a friend of mine, the writer David Israel, is now calling it the Whites-Only House"--is that fair?

Trump might be a rabid racist--but we do not know that. One might argue that voting for a guy we know little about is a little crazy--but that argument is over now. These assertions are little more than innuendo. Rumor. Conclusions from vague generalizations; belief about what he believes. It is strangely reminiscent of the Thought Police. And, weirdly, it is the mechanism of bigotry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


"It is a cruel mortification, searching for what is instructive in the history of past times, to find that the exploits of conquerors who have desolated the earth, and the freaks of tyrants who have rendered nations unhappy, are recorded with minute and often disgusting accuracy, while the discovery of useful arts, and the progress of the most beneficial branches of commerce, are passed over in silence, and suffered to sink into oblivion."--John Kenyon’s 1983 volume, The History Men

Puberty-blocking drugs are emerging as therapy for "gender dysphoria."
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders under “Gender Dysphoria without a disorder of sex development” it states: Rates of persistence of gender dysphoria from childhood into adolescence or adulthood vary. In natal males, persistence has ranged from 2.2% to 30%. In natal females, persistence has ranged from 12% to 50%.”  Simple math allows one to calculate that for natal boys: resolution occurs in as many as 100% – 2.2% = 97.8% (approx. 98% of gender-confused boys)  Similarly, for natal girls: resolution occurs in as many as 100% – 12% = 88% gender-confused girls

The Russian/Wikileaks problem is fascinating. The Russians deny it. Wikileaks says it was not the Russians, it was a Democrat insider. (Craig Murray insisted that the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks did not come from the Russians, and were given to the whistle-blowing group by Americans who had authorized access to the information. As an envoy for Wikileaks, former UK ambassador Murray claims he flew to Washington for a clandestine hand-off with one source, who "had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks... Neither of [the leaks]  came from the Russians." )
More, the effort was not typical disinformation; the information was true. So, apparently to the American press, the truth of the story is less important than its source. We are in the crazy situation where our enemies are accused of trying to influence us with the truth and we are angry over it.

Dyson says physics is a young man 's game but not because the intelligence deteriorates. Rather the older you get the more attached to things you get. You are unable to adapt and grow in new ways.

During the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Nanking, the capital of China, fell to Japanese forces, and the Chinese government fled to Hankow, further inland along the Yangtze River.
To break the spirit of Chinese resistance, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered that the city of Nanking be destroyed. Much of the city was burned, and Japanese troops launched a campaign of atrocities against civilians. In what became known as the “Rape of Nanking,” the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male “war prisoners,” massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians, and raped at least 20,000 women and girls of all ages, many of whom were mutilated or killed in the process.
A very talented American of Chinese extraction decided to write a history of it and it became a classic work. She, however, was so upset by her research that she fell into a deep depression and eventually took her life.

Who is...Beatrix Potter?

According to Reuters, the so-called overseers of the U.S. intelligence community (as it supervises the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), while not disputing the CIA's analysis of Russian hacking operations - something which would be unprecedented for the US spy industry and would telegraph just how partisan and broken the country's intelligence apparatus has become - has refused to endorse the CIA's assessment "because of a lack of conclusive evidence" that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Wait. What?

A free society, by its nature, is bound together and operates through devices and channels of individual aspirations and anticipations.  It relies not on authoritarian decrees enforced with the thumb screw, but on induced coordination of largely autonomous people who, in pursuing their personal ends, contribute to the well-being of the community. So wrote William Allen. The idea here is that there are innumerable personal pathways to the present which contribute to each individual's decision in the marketplace. No one, not even the great Khan, can anticipate and direct such decisions.

At the start of the 20th century, average life expectancy globally was just 31 years. Today it is 71. Every country in the world has seen improvements in infant and child mortality since 1950. The so-called Green Revolution has increased food supply and reduced famine in parts of the world where malnutrition and starvation had long seemed inevitable. Throughout the world, there’s less violence, more literacy and greater political freedom.
--Norberg's new book reviewed in the WSJ

As of the first week of December, the U.S. market has gone 1955 days without a 20% correction. That is more than three times the average of 635 days for the whole period from 1-3-1928 to 12-8-2016.

Students at the University of Pennsylvania removed a portrait of Shakespeare from a prominent location in the school’s English department after complaining that he did not represent a diverse range of writers.
The chair of the department confirmed in a statement that the portrait was stripped from the wall by his students as “a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department,” The Daily Pennsylvanian reports. Department Chair Jed Esty explained that the portrait was “delivered” to his office and replaced with a photograph of Audre Lorde, a celebrated African American feminist and author.

Golden oldie:

Le Guin gave an interview a while ago to the "New Yorker" on The Left Hand of Darkness, her groundbreaking sci-fi story where an earth ambassador meets a gender ambiguous culture. She said this:
"But science fiction in 1968 wasn’t about women. It was about men. It was a man’s world. I felt I was taking a huge risk as it was, presenting a largely male readership with these weirdly re-gendered people. I thought the guys would hate it.
I was wrong. They liked it fine. It was the feminists who gave me a hard time about it for years. They wanted me to have been braver. I guess I wish I had been. But I did the best I knew how to do. And Genly does learn a lot! "
But there is no middle ground for the enthusiast, no process.

Trump has said he would not attend every daily intelligence meetings when President and some are upset. Obama skipped 62.5 percent of intelligence briefings this year.  President Barack Obama had only attended roughly 40 percent of his daily intelligence briefings throughout his presidency, according to the Government Accountability Institute (GAI).Oct 2, 2014. The Government Accountability Institute? Anyway, nobody is upset.

Protectionism is theft.  First, it robs consumers of freedom of choice in their purchase..  Second, it robs consumers of some of their wealth by compelling them to pay higher prices for protected goods and services. That theft is reflected further in the economic community as paying unnecessarily higher prices for protected goods and services reduces the goods and services, current or future, that consumers are able to acquire.

In 1901 Beatrix Potter published The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Having been turned down by a half-dozen publishers, Potter financed this first edition herself -- 250 copies with her own black and white illustrations. Within a few weeks, another 200 copies were needed; within a year, Potter had a deal with a major publisher and orders for the entire first printing of 8,000 copies; by now, forty million copies of Peter Rabbit have been sold, in just about every language. A first edition copy of the 1902 edition can cost $20,000 today; a copy of Potter's own 1901 edition is expected to fetch upwards of $70,000 at an upcoming auction.

Russia's disinformation program has been on all cylinders for decades and has been  causing all sorts of trouble. Why is it so important now? And who, aside from the Russians, should we hold responsible? Should the government be protecting us from this kind of thing?

Biology is moving very fast and so the same kind of people who became physicists in those days now tend to become biologists. (Freeman Dyson, comparing the great age of physics in the 1920s to the present.)

The right wing has worries about national power rankings the way the left wing has worries about individual income rankings.  But in uplifting the poor, rank is not the point.  Level is.  Modern economic growth is not about seventh-pessimism rankings, and was not caused by exceptional national power to do violence.  After all, backward Russia in 1812 and 1941-1944 turned back invasions from a technologically advanced and militarily powerful Western Europe, as it had done in the Great Northern War against Sweden in 1709.  The Great Enrichment is about an irreversible arrival of the poor at the Washing Line … caused by their own efforts made productive by accepting the Bourgeois Deal of letting the bourgeoisie innovate for the long-run good of us all.  Not national rank.--McCloskey (The "Washing Line" is a reference to Hans Rosling 's notion that the most important invention of the modern era is the washing machine.)

A Rose By Any Other Name Department: Oxford University is encouraging students to use the gender-neutral pronoun 'ze' instead of 'she and 'he'. The students' union wrote in a leaflet that the move was intended to reduce the risk of transgender students being offended. Students hope that the use of ‘ze’ will continue into university lectures and seminars, reported The Sunday Times.
According to Oxford University's behavior code, using the wrong pronoun to define a transgender person is an offence.  

Inspectors from the U.S. and other countries are probing whether a decades long cover-up of manufacturing problems at a key French supplier to the nuclear-power industry are a safety threat to reactors. Read that again.

Now, as the Jill Stein investigation of the votes of several states peters into irrelevancy, perhaps some bright eyed journalist will explain why she did it. She was not involved, practically, in the recount. She and her agents admitted there was no evidence of fraud or tampering with the votes. So why was it done? I hope it wasn't motivated by the desire for chaos, doubt and mistrust--to make the citizens question the democracy. That, of course, would be opposed to the well-being of the culture, something the Russians would do.

Vanity Fair is reporting the Clinton camp is beginning to implicate Huma in the election defeat. "[Abedin] was enjoying the red carpet and enjoying the photo spreads much too much in my opinion," one campaign insider reflected. "She enjoyed being a celebrity too much." She is blamed for "reinforc[ing] all the bad habits" throughout the campaign. "Where in most presidential campaigns the circle grows broader and broader, [Clinton's] grew smaller and smaller," one insider source explained to Vanity Fair.

 AAAAaaaaannnnnnddddddd.....a photo of the Pyramids of Giza:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran, was first published in 1923; it remains at or near the top of the all-time best-seller lists in both the Arab world and the West. With its aphoristic style, it was mandatory reading in the '60s. It was a small book--and not heavy.
"The whole Prophet is saying one thing," he summarized. "'You are far greater than you know -- and all is well.'" Words and a view to live by.
Born in Lebanon in 1883, Gibran spent most of his life in America, his boyhood in Boston and then, from 1912 until his death in 1931, in New York City.

This  is from "The New Frontier," one of Gibran's more political writings. He preached harmony and inclusion, peace and contentment so these lines are a bit alarming when seen in today's context and the final line is argued to be the source of Kennedy's famous line:

"There are in the Middle East today two challenging ideas: old and new. The old ideas will vanish because they are weak and exhausted. There is in the Middle East an awakening that defies slumber. . . . It is growing and expanding; it is reaching and engulfing all sensitive, intelligent souls; it is penetrating and gaining the sympathy of noble hearts. The Middle East, today, has two masters. One is deciding, ordering, being obeyed; but he is at the point of death. But the other is silent in his conformity to law and order, calmly awaiting justice; he is a powerful giant who knows his own strength, confident in his existence and a believer in his destiny.

There are today in the Middle East, two men: one of the past and one of the future. Which one are you? Come close; let me look at you and let me be assured by your appearance and conduct if you are one of those coming into the light or going into the darkness. Come and tell me who and what you are. Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?. . ."

Monday, February 13, 2017

SN 1572

Last night of all,When yond same star that’s westward from the pole
Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns
--Bernardo, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1, introducing The Ghost

This is a NASA picture of an area in Cassiopeia.
The red circle visible in the upper left part of the image is SN 1572, often called "Tycho's Supernova." This remnant of the star explosion is named after the astronomer Tycho Brahe, although he was not the only person to observe and record the supernova.
When the supernova first appeared in November 1572, it was as bright as Venus and could be seen in the daytime. It is still visible with a telescope but not with the unaided eye as light is reflected from the debris that resulted from the explosion, first seen by Tycho and his contemporaries. This cloud of material is about 3,500 light-years away and 35 light-years across. It is being heated by radiation from young, hot stars within it, and the dust within the cloud radiates infrared light.
In England, Queen Elizabeth summoned the mathematician and astrologer Thomas Allen, "to have his advice about the new Star that appeared in the Cassiopeia to which he gave his Judgement very learnedly", as the antiquary John Aubrey recorded in his memoranda a century later.

In Ming dynasty China, the star became an issue between Zhang Juzheng and the young Wanli Emperor: in accordance with the cosmological tradition, the emperor was warned to consider his misbehavior, since the new star was interpreted as an evil omen.
SN1572 upset all of traditional cosmology as it introduced change in a presumed unchanging universe and tremendous size in what was thought to be an approachable and manageable existence.
Some have argued that this is the star discussed in Hamlet in the quote above, a quote that sets the scene for the appearance of the Ghost, and eventually family and social upheaval.
As an aside, conspiracy/trivia fans will be interested in some minutia surrounding the star as it involves the man who was Shakespeare:
In England, the mathematician Thomas Digges studied the "new star" and wrote a book about it. Digges dedicated his book to Edward de Vere's new father-in-law Lord Burghley. 
The relevant ancestors of Tycho Brahe are  Erik Rosenkrantz (1427-1503)  and  Sophie Gyldenstierne (+1477),  parents of  Kirstine Rosenkrantz  (+1509 )
At the time of the explosion, the Stratford Shakespeare would have been in his teens--although the explosion glowed for 16 more years.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Augustus and the Sibyl by Caron

Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus and crucified in the reign of Tiberius.
There are many stories from that time and many sources, The Golden Legend being one.
One story recounted by Mary Beard:
"It was the day of Jesus’s birth and the emperor Augustus serendipitously asked the pagan prophetess, the Sibyl, if there would ever be someone born more powerful than himself; the Sibyl showed him the answer in the sky, where a vision the Virgin and child appeared.
But in more detailed versions of the story there are links to buildings and dedications in Rome: in particular to the church of the Ara Coeli on the Capitol in Rome. One story was that Augustus set up, in response to the vision, an Ara Primogeniti Dei, meaning “Altar of the Firstborn of God.” Later this became the nucleus church of the Ara Coeli (the church we still walk past, on the left, on the way up to the Capitol)."

Saturday, February 11, 2017


One of the greatest insights of economics is that individual incentives work while group rewards and punishments don’t. Collective guilt doesn’t work to change anyone’s behavior. In the end, collective guilt, fashioned from bogus analysis and delight in stereotypes, is mere slander. It’s a formula for constant antagonism and it’s poisoning American politics.--Easterly

According to NYU political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, waging war is one of the surest means to success for a president, at least as far as getting re-elected constitutes success.
"A sociologist is constantly amazed by the obvious."

The 48 elections since 1824 have produced 18 presidents that received less than 50% of the popular vote. In 1876, with 51%, Tilden is the only presidential loser to win a majority of the popular vote.

Iconoclasts! Fifty statues of Christ and other Christian figures have been defaced and smashed apart in a crime wave sweeping parts of Germany.

Meme: n: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. It was coined in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, by British scientist Richard Dawkins which he defined as "a unit of cultural transmission." 
The Greek root was mim-, meaning "mime" or "mimic." The English suffix -eme indicates a distinctive unit of language structure, as in "grapheme," "lexeme," and "phoneme." So it is a sort of bi-lingual pun.

Data show that people don’t identify as happier today than a half-century ago. If true, that is perhaps evidence in favor of the “hedonic treadmill” theory of psychology, which claims that people quickly get used to improvements in their lives and take them for granted. Now of course there may be a problem distinguishing between comfort and happiness.

One of the rarest of all Enigma Machines, the M4, designed for use by the German Navy during World War II, was sold earlier this month at Bonhams for $463,500.

Who is....Robert Gates?

Craig Murray insisted that the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks did not come from the Russians, and were given to the whistle-blowing group by Americans who had authorized access to the information. 

President Obama famously mocked Mitt Romney in 2012 for suggesting that Russia was our principal geopolitical adversary. Yet today they are upset over the closeness of secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, to Vladimir Putin. And apparently shocked, shocked (!), over the Russian efforts in the U.S. elections. Re: the latter, Obama has promised action. Another line in the sand?
On the other hand, what the Russians are being accused of is revealing the truth. The truth! And they are denying it! Crazy. Maybe a new crime: "Unwarranted revelation of the truth."
(I am not approving of hacking or theft here but it is a strange combination of factors.)
So we are facing the bizarre situation of American politicians routinely lying in campaigns and objecting to the release of their own communications--which are truthful.
Disinformation is a fascinating field and everyone should inform themselves about it. (For example, what if all the scurrilous DNC conversations about Sanders were untrue? What if the clearly bigoted discussions regarding Catholics were planted by the Russians?)

According to the ABA, for the first time, women make up a majority of law students, holding just over 50 percent of the seats at accredited law schools in the United States.

The Squid and their numbers: Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) has agreed to pay $56.5 million to resolve a U.S. class action lawsuit accusing it and other banks of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the $553 trillion derivatives market.

Gunmen killed five female security employees and their driver on their way to work at Kandahar airport in south Afghanistan, officials said, the latest episode of violence against women in the country’s security sector. I wonder whose idea the "female security employees" was? Remember when the Americans were making the tribal councils in Iraq have women members--until they were missing meetings because they had been murdered.? Forcing social change from the top down.

Pennsylvania gasoline tax will rise eight cents in 2017 to become 72 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation.

The “race to the bottom” is yet another common myth about free trade and globalization that is refuted daily by what is actually happening in the world.  If the theory were true – that a major driver of investment decisions for American multinational companies is a remorseless search for cheap labor and low standards abroad – then we should expect that most outward foreign investment from the United States would flow to low-wage, low-standard countries.  The reality is quite the opposite.  The large majority of U.S. outward investment flows to other rich, developed, high-wage, high-standard countries.--Griswold

In its January issue, National Geographic is featuring nine-year-old transgender rights activist Avery Jackson on its cover.

Free Trade!  What is it?  Why, breaking down the barriers that separate nations; those barriers, behind which nestle the feelings of pride, revenge, hatred, and jealousy, which every now and then burst their bounds, and deluge whole countries with blood; those feelings which nourish the poison of war and conquest, which assert that without conquest we can have no trade, which foster that lust for conquest and dominion which sends forth your warrior chiefs to scatter devastation through other lands, and then calls them back that they may be enthroned securely in your passions, but only to harass and oppress you at home.--Richard Cobdon

"Obama should submit any Putin documents to WikiLeaks to be authenticated to our standards if he wants them to be seen as credible." This is a tweet from Wikileaks; the thieves want to authenticate the stolen emails! Curioser and curioser.

In The Prince, written in 1513, Machiavelli advocated openly that in the art of ruling efficiency has to be more important than ethics, and that rulers often have to lie, cheat, and take all sorts of measures that are cruel and ruthless. It is nice to know that current leaders are part of a historical philosophical tradition.

Former Secretary of Defense, Robert  Gates said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on the Russian hacking: "Putin saw the United States withdrawing from around the world. I think actually the problem has been that President Obama's action often have not matched his rhetoric. His rhetoric has often been pretty tough," Gates said. "But then there's been no follow up and no action. And if you combine that with red lines that have been crossed, demands that (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) step down with no plan to actually figure out how to make that happen, the withdrawal from the Middle East, from Iraq and Afghanistan and essentially the way it was done, I think it sent a signal that the U.S. was in retreat." "I think some of the things that have been done have accentuated that impression around the world. And I think Putin felt that he could take advantage of that," Gates explained.

“The only phone call Donald would always take,” a Trump insider told Politico last July, “was Ivanka.”

When immigrants enter the workforce two very important other things change. First, immigrant workers spend or invest their earnings, both of which activities increase the demand for labor – thus putting upward pressure on wages. So more happens than just their lower wage. A second change is one that was emphasized by Adam Smith: larger supplies of workers, as well as more consumers of the economy’s output, lead to greater specialization. Jobs change.  As Smith explained, this greater specialization makes workers more productive.  This increased productivity, in turn, causes wages to rise. From Bordeaux, who then adds, "the population today of the 13 original U.S. states is more than 34 times larger than it was in 1776.  And yet wages in these states today, far from being lower."
The response would logically be, "But a lot more is going on in the economy than just the immigration," which is exactly the point.

AAAaaaaannnnnndddddd.......a cartoon:

Friday, February 10, 2017


Obnoxious, insincere conflict is the nature of politics. It is not confined to one group or party.
The Rube-publicans simply refused to allow the vote for Obama's Supreme Court nominee.
This is not new. But it is growing.
Clinton nominated 15 people for his cabinet. How many negative Rube-publican votes total did those 15 nominees get? Zero.
There were 63 negative votes against Obama's 15 cabinet nominees. At the current rate Trump's nominees will get 300 votes against.
Elaine Chao was the first Asian American woman in U.S. history to be appointed to a President's Cabinet. She served as the 24th Labor Secretary  under President Bush  from 2001 to 2009. She was Dep. Secretary of Transportation and the Director of the Peace Corps under George H. W. Bush. She was president of the United Way of America for four years.On November 29, 2016, incoming President Trump  nominated Chao to serve as the Secretary of Transportation. She was confirmed by the Senate on January 31, 2017, in a 93-6 vote.
Chao is married to Senator McConnell of Kentucky who has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 3, 2015.
Shumer voted against her.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


There is no place for dogma in science.--J. Robert Oppenheimer

American poet Marianne Moore contracted to provide to the Ford Motor Company a name for the new car they were about to launch. Moore was almost a cult figure in America during the 50s and 60s, known as much for her love of baseball (sometimes throwing the first pitch) and prize fights (sometimes dining with Cassius Clay), as for her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry.
Ford wanted was a car name that "flashes a dramatically desirable picture in people's minds," from a woman who seemed to know mainstream America. What they got was "Anticipator," "Thunder Crester," "Pastelogram," "Intelligent Whale," "The Resilient Bullet," "Mongoose Civique," "Andante con Moto," "Varsity Stroke" and then, as her very last try for the name magic, "Utopian Turtletop."
Ford demurred and defaulted to an ad company that offered 18,000 names. These were winnowed down to a precious few, "Corsair" "Citation" "Ranger" and "Pacer," but, in the end,  Ford returned to its better, much earlier idea: the Edsel.

Trump's favorability ratings are really high--for him--at 50%. Not as high as Obama's 58%--but up certainly.

Trump attended the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore, a tradition for presidents — actual, sitting presidents — stretching back to Teddy Roosevelt. And Army won for the first time in 15 years. HHHmmmm.
Who is....Tilly Smith?
A comment on Trump's Carrier deal: "The Republican Party now shares one of progressivism’s defining aspirations — government industrial policy, with the political class picking winners and losers within, and between, economic sectors. This always involves the essence of socialism..." (Will). The Sanders people must be thrilled with him.
"But of course helping capitalists is not to be equated with helping capitalism. If the virtues of the market order stem from the knowledge generated by free competition, then there is no surer way to threaten this system than by subsidizing selected competitors." (Lavois)
The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65.
"This is a big deal," says Philip Morgan, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who was not involved in the new analysis.
"There's not a better indicator of well-being than life expectancy," he says. "The fact that it's leveling off in the U.S. is a striking finding."
An attempted hack into Georgia's voter registration database was traced back to the Department of Homeland Security, The Wall Street Journal reported.
McCloskey on the cause of the explosion in wealth in the West which she attributes to middle class liberty and dignity, not materialism or exploitation. "It is so big, so unprecedented, the Great Fact, that it's impossible to see it as coming out of routine causes such as trade or exploitation or investment or imperialism. That's what economists are good at explaining: routine. Yet all the routines had occurred on a big scale in China and the Ottoman Empire, in Rome and South Asia. Slavery was common in the Middle East, trade was large in India, investment in Chinese canals and Roman roads was immense. Yet no Great Fact happened.
Something must be deeply wrong with explanations of the usual economic sort. In other words, depending exclusively on economic materialism to explain the modern world, whether left-wing historical materialism or right-wing economics, is mistaken. Ideas of human dignity and liberty did the trick. As the economic historian Joel Mokyr puts it, "economic change in all periods depends, more than most economists think, on what people believe." The gigantic material changes were the outcome, not the cause. It was ideas, or "rhetoric," that caused our enrichment, and with it our modern liberties."
The Japanese are said to be investing up to 50 billion dollars in this country's small businesses. Everyone seems thrilled. But doesn't investments from a foreign country into our country contribute to the trade deficit? Doesn't Trump hate that? So shouldn't it be bad?
Golden Oldie:
The goods that we now import from China we import from China for a sound economic reason – namely, the prices that we pay for these Chinese-assembled goods are the lowest prices available.  If Trump’s economic policies artificially block Americans’ access to such goods from China, the prices we will pay for similar goods “produced here or somewhere else” will be higher than are the prices we pay now.  Americans’ real wages and standards of living will fall.--Bordeux
According to leaked documents released by Edward Snowden, British intelligence spied on Israeli diplomats and military officials in 2008 and 2009, warning that "the Israelis constitute a true threat to regional security, notably because of the country’s position on the Iran issue."
Somebody called the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization (which means they deduct their dinners), reports “the top 1 percent of farm subsidy recipients received 26 percent of subsidy payments between 1995 and 2014.” The group’s analysis of government farm-subsidy data also found that the “top 20 percent of subsidy recipients received 91 percent of all subsidy payments.” Fifty members of the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans have received farm subsidies, according to the group, including David Rockefeller Sr. and Charles Schwab.
Tilly Smith was 10 years old when she went with her parents  and her younger sister to Thailand for a holiday in December, 2004. She had, coincidentally, studied tsunamis with her geography teacher, Andrew Kearney, shortly before taking the trip. On the beach she watched the waves suddenly begin to recede. She warned her mother, Penny, that the beach was about to be struck by a tsunami. Mrs Smith and her husband, Colin, from Oxshott, Surrey, alerted other holidaymakers and hotel staff and scores of people were cleared from Maikhao beach at Phuket. It is estimated that she saved about one hundred people.
This is interesting. Trump's team has submitted a list of 65 questions requesting information on everything from how to keep aging nuclear plants online to a list of employees and contractors that attended the United Nations climate meetings.
When arguing the risks of leadership one can always fall back on Caligula and his appointing a horse as consul. It works both ways. Caligula was nuts or he thought consuls worthless. Except, he apparently didn't--at least appoint a horse. The information is from Suetonius who actually said, “it is said that he had marked down his horse to be consul.” Vague and hearsay. And maybe a confirmation of choice number 2. But, whatever the background, according to Mary Beard there is no horse on the consular lists ever.
Friedman calls Trumps advisors and cabinet appointees "the Star Wars bar of extremists and nut cases."
Bovarism: noun: A romanticized, unrealistic view of oneself. ety: From Emma Bovary, the title character in Gustave Flaubert’s 1857 novel Madame Bovary. Earliest documented use: 1902. USAGE:
“My own introduction to bovarism came courtesy of a boy called Bob Miller, two years above me at college, who enjoyed pretending that he was a horny-handed scion of the Tyneside proletariat and justified views on any social question with the refrain: ‘Ah’m more wukkin’ class than thee’ (his cover was eventually blown by an admissions tutor who pointed out that under ‘father’s profession’ on his UCAS form were the fatal words ‘company director’).”
D.J. Taylor; Picking at the Carrion; The Independent on Sunday (London, UK); Jul 5, 2009.
I am astounded that the liberal press has not yet figured out a way to write "Trump" as "'Rump."

Dickens, Tolstoy, Tolkien, Jane Austen. Virginia Woolf, Kipling’s “Kim” and the “Jungle Books.” “Islandia.” Keats, Yeats, A. E. Housman. These are books and writers that the remarkable Ursala Le Guin re-reads. She says re-readability is a good way to gauge the quality of writers--but no way to judge the quality of readers.

Iceland's Interior Minister revealed details of a time the Obama administration "sent a planeload of FBI agents to Iceland seeking our cooperation in what I understood as an operation set up to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks."
52% of thirty year olds make more than their parents did at their age. Good, huh? But it was 92% in the 1970s.
The average regulatory wait-time  to add a runway at the Pittsburgh airport is 15 years.
AAAaaaannnnnndddddd......a picture of Tilly Smith: