Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Helping capitalists is not to be equated with helping capitalism.--Lavois

A cynical take on "fake news" by Higgs:
A little-noticed aspect of this ongoing activity relates to the matter of “failed polices.” Government’s critics constantly harp on allegations of such failures in an attempt to sway public opinion in favor of throwing the (current) rascals out and replacing them with the critics’ preferred rascals. Revelations of “scandals,” whether personal or managerial, provide especially useful allegations in the world of fake news. Thus, for example, critics of the government’s so-called drug war(s) constantly allege that these efforts have failed to stem the use and trafficking in such forbidden fruits and therefore ought to be modified or abandoned. Such criticism, whether well founded or not, however, falls victim to the assumption that the policy has failed merely because it has not halted or even reduced drug use and trafficking. But the policy, at least at the federal level of government, has not been altered substantially or abandoned in response to such criticism, and the reason it has proved so durable is that it has decidedly not failed insofar as its principal warriors are concerned. The drug war has brought tremendous infusions of money and power into the hands of its conductors, who would be crestfallen indeed if their effort had succeeded in reducing the use and trafficking they purport to be targeting. Such success would remove the foundation that supports their hold on money and power and hence would prove personally devastating to them, however desirable it might seem to be in the abstract.

Derek Walcott was born on St. Lucia. Walcott's two-dozen collections of poems and plays -- one recent work, Tiepolo's Hound, includes his paintings -- earned the 1992 Nobel. The Nobel committee cited the "multicultural commitment" in Walcott's work, and so many followed suit (often adding "post-colonial") that interviewers now get a forewarning: "If anybody uses the word 'multiculturalism' I'm walking out of the room."

R. J. Rummel’s compilations show that approximately 262 million, MILLION, persons were deliberately killed by their own governments during the twentieth century alone—many times the number of death’s in that century’s international wars. Rummel calls this death toll “democide.” Yet people always see the government as somehow a kind intervener in life, I'll bet often intervening against the threat of corporations which are, so far, unarmed. If people rightly fear the power of a governmental leader, the obvious solution is not to replace him with a powerful leader you agree with, it is to decrease the power of the position the leader has assumed.

Currency manipulation transfers wealth from the citizens of countries that practice it to the citizens of countries fortunate enough to buy the manipulators’ subsidized exports. And yet it is the governments whose citizens are on the receiving end of these transfers who fussily try to prevent these transfers, while the governments whose citizens are taxed to fund the transfers stubbornly carry on with them. So with the Trump administration threatening to stop Beijing’s alleged currency manipulation, and Beijing resisting, it’s as if the Trump administration believes itself to be charged with the responsibility of protecting the welfare of the Chinese people at the expense of American citizens, while the government in Beijing plays the role of benefactor of the American people at the expense of Chinese citizens. (WSJ)

Gary Taubes reminds listeners that his new book and the subject of The Case Against Sugar is like all his previous work; it's really about good science versus bad science. Because the human body, like the economy, is so very complex, it's extremely difficult to parse out the effect of a single variable. Taubes maintains though, that every culture which adopts the Western diet and lifestyle invariably falls victim to the cocktail of ailments we face- including obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, etc. "The agent is sugar," he warns. And it's dangerous because it's so delicious.
So I hope he has better arguments than the common sugar element. What about the internal combustion engine? Or toothpaste? Or voting?

Who is...Sally Brown?

Trump's Inauguration Speech was confident and nationalistic. These politicians frequently declare they must pick up more power when faced with a domestic problem as they see the state as an ever increasing source of right and proper power. Remember Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country" speech. Or this from Roosevelt's "fear itself" speech: "But........ in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis--broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe." They just can not stop themselves.

It’s well-known that U.S. manufacturing output continues to rise despite the reality that the number of Americans employed in jobs classified as being in the manufacturing sector peaked in June 1977 and has fallen, with very few interruptions, ever since.
Nevertheless, some people  continue to insist that the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is largely due to increased American trade with non-Americans.  Other studies find empirical evidence that labor-saving innovation rather than trade is overwhelmingly responsible for the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Hemingway's first book, the story collection In Our Time, had been published by Boni Liveright the previous autumn, under a contract that granted them an option on his next three books. Hemingway was a rising star with the finished first draft of The Sun Also Rises in his pocket, along with tempting offers from other publishers -- Scribners, Knopf and Harcourt, Brace. His only way around Horace Liveright was to get him to reject his next manuscript. Hemingway's solution was to submit The Torrents of Spring, a ninety-page satire which he knocked off in eleven days. This aimed at a variety of targets, but chief among them was Sherwood Anderson and the writing style of the "Chicago School" -- in Hemingway's view, representative of the worst in puffed-up, lyrical romanticism. Anderson was a leading author for Boni & Liveright, and Hemingway knew that they wouldn't dare publish his slap at him, though his letter accompanying the manuscript played it straight: "The only reason I can conceive that you might not want to publish it would be for fear of offending Sherwood. I do not think that anybody with any stuff can be hurt by satire...." Horace Liveright's return letter was as hoped, expressing his belief that the book was unpublishable and "a bitter, and I might say almost vicious caricature of Sherwood Anderson." ( from Steve King)

The Bestseller Code is an “anatomy of the blockbuster novel” based on computer analysis of New York Times bestselling fiction. It is satisfying to read comparative analysis of Virginia Woolf and Jackie Collins on the simple and reasonable grounds that they are authors whose novels are widely read, and the program makes some interesting discoveries. Across genres, bestsellers use do but not very; didn’t instead of did not. Intimacy sells, explicit sex does not. Bestsellers use question marks and avoid exclamation marks. Appealing, proactive characters and a regularly pulsing plot are marketable. In bestsellers, there are many instances of the words thing and things.
Companies have found a way to keep consumers from price comparing. Lenovo, the largest PC seller, makes the SAME model for Best Buy, Costco, Wal-Mart, etc., but gives them each a slightly different model number. Lenovo also sells the same unit on its own website with a slightly different model number. The one character difference in model numbers is probably a code indicating which store is selling it. So, not only can’t you price compare, but you can’t get a refund from your credit card company for the difference even if you have ‘price match’ on your credit card.

In billion-year-old bedrock, 100 stories below ground, the Finns have found what the whole world is looking for: a place to bury their most dangerous nuclear waste.

Golden oldie:
Obama continues with his strange public approach to Russia. Putin is not a 21st Century man. Russia is a "regional power." Obama is more c...

The Trident program is Britain's submarine-based nuclear deterrent which has been in operation since 1994. Construction of a replacement generation is now underway after a parliamentary vote in July 2016 approved an upgrade that is expected to cost the U.K. taxpayer £31 billion ($39 bn).
Recently, The Sunday Times revealed that a serious malfunction in the system took place off the Florida coast just weeks before the vote, but was not made public.
In what the newspaper describes as the only test of a British missile in four years, the unarmed missile veered off in the direction of the U.S. mainland, the exact opposite of the Royal Navy's intent.
Candidates aspiring to take over as chairman of the Democratic National Committee met at George Washington University to discuss what went wrong in 2016 and how to get the party back on track. Some of the stuff was astonishing; Sally Brown's comments are worth finding and watching.

Over the next decade the United States government is expected to spend close to $50 trillion.

Good news. People will  be able to buy an American-made Kalashnikov. Kalashnikov USA, which split from its Russian parent company three years ago, will start selling a semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun called the KS-12 in February, CEO Brian Skinner told CNNMoney. Jobs and industry. Making America great again.

Barack Obama likes to brag about how he brought federal deficits down, and that's true: In FY 2010 (the first year covered by an Obama administration budget) the deficit was just under $1.3 trillion, while in FY 2017 (the final year covered by an Obama administration budget) the deficit will be just over $500 billion. The federal debt, on the other hand, has almost doubled over his eight years.

AAAAaaaannnnnnddddddd......a graph:

Joanna Andreasson

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