Monday, May 1, 2017


"The end of socialism is not a higher living standard or even making life better for the poor, as much as a socialist will talk about the well-being of poor people. No, the end of socialism is socialism, or to better put it, the ideal of socialism. Once socialism is established, as it was in Venezuela or in the former USSR or Cuba, the social ideal had been met no matter what the actual outcome might be."--Anderson

Hugh Latimer (Bishop of Worcester), Nicholas Ridley (Bishop of Rochester) and Cranmer were the "Oxford Martyrs." All three Protestants had been arrested by the vengeful Catholic Mary, and imprisoned together at Oxford. Cranmer's promotion of the English Bible and his authorship of The Book of Common Prayer are his most significant connections to Christian literature. Latimore and Ridley were burned first and Latimer encouraged Ridley, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."  Bradbury quotes these words in Fahrenheit 451 and has his hero, Guy Montag, resist all persuasions to recant a belief in books. Cranmer was killed last, with fits and starts reminiscent of Joan of Arc.

Fable: There are two twins in a mother's womb. One twin says, "Do you believe in life after delivery?" The other says, "No, there is no life after delivery."
You can write the rest.

There is a general belief that wars benefit economies. But building things that blow up cannot add to material wealth of a society; it is the ultimate "make work" project, like building a school and then tearing it down. But wars do benefit some people. Sacrificing a young soldier on the battlefield certainly does not benefit him.
Bordeaux: "Wars that make certain farmers and industrialists (and their workers and suppliers) more prosperous do not thereby make society more prosperous. What is true for some in this case is emphatically not true for the group.
The diversion during WWI of resources, including manpower – much of which was literally slaughtered on European battlefields – made Americans (and, of course, also Europeans) at large more impoverished rather than more prosperous.  This reality binds even if it is the case that the war was necessary, noble, and conducted as efficiently as possible.
Converting butter and plowshares into guns and swords makes the bulk of the population poorer, not richer.  There is no such thing, for society writ large, as wartime prosperity.  There is only wartime impoverishment."

Recent research by the Japanese government showed that about 30% of single women and 15% of single men aged between 20 and 29 admitted to having fallen in love with a meme or character in a game – higher than the 24% of those women and 11% of men who admitted to falling in love with a pop star or actor. The development of the multimillion-pound virtual romance industry in Japan reflects the existence of a growing number of people who don’t have a real-life partner, said Yamada. There is even a slang term, “moe”, for those who fall in love with fictional computer characters, while dating sims allow users to adjust the mood and character of online partners and are aimed at women as much as men. A whole subculture, including hotel rooms where a guest can take their console partner for a romantic break, has been springing up in Japan over the past six or seven years. (The Guardian)

According to research published in the Journal of Democracy, the percentage of people in Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and the US who maintain that it is “essential” to live in a democratic society has nose-dived as the memory of the Second World War has faded away. The figure is now below 50 per cent among millennials in all six countries.

Work at the high-security government lab that handles deadly pathogens like the Ebola virus has been suspended recently, when it was discovered that nylon hoses used to pump air into the scientists’ protective suits had not been designed or tested for breathing safety, officials said. The hoses have been in use since 2005. What?

Cimmerian: adj:
1. very dark; gloomy: deep, Cimmerian caverns.
2. Classical Mythology. of, relating to, or suggestive of a western people believed to dwell in perpetual darkness.
Usage: The sunny English noon had swallowed him as completely as if he had gone out into Cimmerian night.
-- Edith Wharton, "Afterward," Tales of Men and Ghosts, 1910

ety:  Cimmerian, also spelled Kimmerian, comes from the Latin plural noun Cimmeriī, a borrowing from the Greek plural noun Kimmérioi. In the Odyssey the mythical Cimmerians lived at the edge of Oceanus that surrounds the earth in a city wrapped in mist and fog, where the sun never shines, near the entrance to Hades. The historical, “real” Cimmerians are mentioned in Assyrian sources (Gimirri), the Hebrew Bible (Gomer in Genesis 10:2), and by the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century b.c.). Herodotus says that the Cimmerians were nomads driven south from the steppes of southern Russia by the Scythians through the Caucasus Mountains, turned west, and c676 b.c. overthrew the kingdom of Phrygia (in west central Turkey), whose last king was Midas. The connection between myth and history is that there are variant readings for Homer’s Kimmérioi—Cheimérioi, “Wintry People, Stormy people”; and Kerbérioi “Cerberus’s People,” both of which were displaced by the historical Cimmerians. Cimmerian entered English in the 16th century in reference to the nomads, and in the 19th century in reference to the Homeric people.

Even as farm output and overall population have increased, use of water in the United States has actually declined since 1970.  That change reflects greater efficiency in farming.

The purpose of the economy is not to make jobs. Jobs are infinite. We can make construction workers use teaspoons instead of shovels and that will make for more jobs.--McCloskey, channeling Friedman.

Futurism: In 1909 the Italian poet F. T. Marinetti published his "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" in the Paris newspaper, Le Figaro. This is regarded as the birth of the Futurist movement, which in radical or watered-down ways had a significant influence on modern art and literature, and on modern communications theorists.  The Futurist movement celebrated the techno-discord it saw on the horizon -- the rush of cars, the collapse of community, the shock of new and now. And it derided Romantic nostalgia. According to King,  the eleven specific points in the Manifesto "glorified the driver at the wheel, the smashing of the museums, the literature written with "the racer's stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap," the great crowds of New Man "excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot," and the "hygiene" of war. It even celebrated the overthrow of its own beliefs: "The oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade for finishing our work. When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts-we want it to happen!""

Before Rasputin, in the early 1900s Nicholas and Alexandra had been intimate with a renowned occultist named Monsieur Philippe, parting with him only after being told repeatedly of the damage he was doing to their reputation.

The size of underground economies differs across countries. In Greece it has been estimated to be as big as 30% of GDP, in Spain 25%, in Italy 20%, and in the United States, about 7%.

Malcolm X's murder was really disturbing to me. Still is. I heard him speak at Wesleyan. The crowd was mixed toward him, some Southern racists, some opposed to his separation talk (he was a  segregationist) and some disliked him because he was a criminal (he was.) And, of course, there was the Honorable Elisha Mohammad, a truly evil bastard. The thing I remember most was how benign a guy he was, soft spoken and yearning for clarity and acceptance. He was actually slight and frail. The crowd began to talk back at him (remember this was Wesleyan where he had every reason to expect to be accepted) and he began to lose his composure; he began to lose the refined speech he had tried so hard to cultivate and started to make syntax errors.
I was in the reception room with him after the speech. He was a thoughtful guy, trying to understand the world and himself, trying to improve himself. His break with Mohammad was on principle and he was killed for it. I had never known a guy who was murdered.

So is Trump saying Marshall McLuhan was right? Is the media the message?

GDP=C + I + G + X M. The -M component of the GDP equation gives the impression that imports (M) must be subtracted from the economy but that is an error. M is subtracted so it won't be counted twice.

The reason imports are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP (C + I + G + X M) is because imported goods and services are included in the value of consumer spending (C), business investment (I), and government consumption expenditures and gross investment (G). Because we want to measure goods and services produced domestically, we remove those that have been produced outside the economy.

A group called The Anne Frank Center put out this announcement: “His [Trump's] statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism.”
Is that correct? How has he done that? Would Netanyahu agree? What about Trump's three Jewish grandchildren? This is all getting to be too much.


Bloomberg's U.S. Startups Barometer has tumbled over 20% from a year ago with initial financing down over 30%.

Trade economist Harry Johnson wrote, “To the primitive mind, one case of magic’s working (or seeming to work) is sufficiently impressive to confirm faith in magic against a long series of experienced failures.” (This was quoted by Bordeaux in response to an argument that Reagan's tariff on motorcycles helped Harley-Davidson. He went on: "The argument against protectionism is not that it doesn’t help the particular firms that are shielded from the competition of foreign rivals.  Of course protectionism helps such firms.  The chief economic argument against protectionism is, instead, that the gains that it creates for protected producers come at the greater expense of consumers and of other domestic producers.  Reagan’s tariffs diverted resources artificially to Harley-Davidson.  Those resources came from somewhere.")

Air quality stations across the continent detected traces of radioactive Iodine-131 in January and February, which seem to have come from eastern Europe. The high levels of Iodine-131 has led some to suggest Putin is testing nuclear weapons in Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic. But no other nuclear fission isotopes have been measured at elevated levels in conjunction with I-131 in Europe so far.

The Manhattan Institute's Josh B. McGee reports that teachers' pension plans, which cover more people than all other state and local plans combined, have at least a $500 billion  gap between promised benefits and money set aside to fund them.
A clear and present consequence is, McGee says, "pension cost crowd-out." Because pensions are consuming a larger share of education spending, 29 states spent less per pupil on instructional supplies in 2013 than in 2000, and during that period instructional salaries per pupil were essentially flat. Imagine that.
I do not remember a single instance during the last election when this topic was raised by either the media or the candidates. The second story today in the WSJ however is transgender bathrooms.

The chemical substance used to kill Kim Jong Nam was a banned nerve agent called VX, Malaysia police said, raising the political stakes in a case that has already frayed diplomatic ties between Malaysia and North Korea.

When the Twin Towers was attacked, the number of people within was greater than the population of Albany.

Last November, The New York Times reported that the Dallas police and fire pension fund sought a $1.1 billion infusion, a sum "roughly equal to Dallas' entire general fund budget and not even close to what the pension fund needs to be fully funded." The promise of future broken promises. Someday this underfunded plane is going to land. And the money to pay for it will have to be either expropriated or created.

An obit of James Alfred Wight, better-known as veterinarian-novelist James Herriot, stated the popularity of the Herriot books was based on "finely drawn and colorful characters, empathy for humans and animals, a good story set in a gentler time, respect for uneducated but hard-working people... an appreciation for the land ...a glow of decency that makes people want to be better humans." His books have sold over 60 million copies around the world.

“8 million tonnes are deposited into the oceans each year”; there is a “2:1 ratio of plastic to plankton”. The "tonnes" here is "tons" of plastic. Plastic. This is the subject of a new documentary, "A Plastic Ocean," on the ubiquitous--and non-degradable--plastic in the world's oceans. It is a full feature-length film, on limited release in the UK and on iTunes, and is the result of a four-year project by Jo Ruxton, a producer who has worked for the BBC on the Blue Planet series, the journalist Craig Leeson and the freediver and environmentalist Tanya Streeter to document and raise awareness of the extent to which plastic has polluted, and continues to pollute, the world’s seas. 
As aesthetics don't sell, the approach seemingly is to scare people about their health. And animals apparently eat plastic. do we. Up to a quarter of fish sold in America and the UK has consumed plastic, and this plastic releases chemicals called phthalates – endocrine disruptors which mimic the effects of hormones in the body and increase the risks of developing a myriad of health problems. The use of plastics day-to-day also carries risks; the phthalate bisphenol A., or BPA, can seep from plastic containers and bottles into food and drink. Streeter makes an emotional plea to parents in particular to change their behavior as consumers. Hormones. Wouldn't you know.
As if politics weren't enough.

From a review of Scruton's new book: "... we can only do justice to some of our moral emotions by invoking a concept of the sacred: we yearn for redemption, reaching out in moments of liminal experience — “falling in love, recovering from illness, becoming a parent” — towards “the soul of the world”."

AAAAAAaaaaannnnnnndddddd.........a graph:

Image: Our World in Data

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