Saturday, May 27, 2017


"People succeed in markets by reducing scarcity – that is, by easing scarcity’s grip on their fellow humans. ................People succeed in politics by increasing scarcity – that is, by tightening scarcity’s grip on their fellow humans."--Bordeaux 

In the 20 years to 1998, the mortality rate of middle-aged white Americans fell by about 2% a year. But between 1999 and 2013, deaths rose. The reversal was all the more striking because, in Europe, overall middle-age mortality continued to fall at the same 2% pace. By 2013 middle-aged white Americans were dying at twice the rate of similarly aged Swedes of all races. Suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol abuse were to blame.

In terms of physical acreage, grape vines claim the largest total plantation area of any cultivated fruit crop on the planet (and they’re produced in almost every country of the world). It takes around 4-5 years for newly planted vines to be fully matured and ready for harvesting to make wine. A ton of wine grapes makes around 750 bottles, with each bottle requiring just under three pounds of fruit to make.
The Brits are understandably upset over the leaks from the American intelligence services about the details of the Manchester bombings. It is hard to understand this behavior--assuming bribery is not involved--but I heard an interview with an Intel guy who said, "It's cool to be in the know." And there seems to be little downside to being an abusive insider. Lois Lerner took the Fifth Amendment and retired with full benefits.

Although now less-known, the Irish dramatist Sean O'Casey's six-volume autobiography is said to be as personal and compelling as the plays. Frank McCourt, who would cover the same sort of ground a half-century later in Angela's Ashes, described O'Casey's autobiography as a revelation "He's the first Irish writer I ever read who wrote about rags, dirt, hunger, babies, dying. The other writers go on about farms and fairies and the mist that do be on the bog and it's a relief to discover one with bad eyes and a suffering mother."

This overturning of the new Trump immigration law is really interesting. It seems as if the judge has declared 1. non-citizens are protected by the Constitution (so how, for example, would war be waged? Could an aggrieved Ukrainian sue the Americans for not helping him have freedom of speech?) and 2. the judge's opinion of Trump's unspoken, theorized motives undermine his law. That is to say, the judge declares he knows what Trump is really thinking.
If my news-poor view is correct, this is a real reach of judicial power. Well meaning, culture-conscious grownups are necessary to avert constitutional crises.

The title of Umberto Eco's new  book is “Pape Satàn Aleppe.” It is taken from Pluto’s cryptic exhortation to Dante and Virgil in Canto VII of the Inferno. To this day, critics are still not sure what “Pape Satàn Aleppe” means, and what’s more, there is no consensus about why Dante trembles when he hears these words. Eco knows this, of course, and in his brief introduction, he identifies Pluto’s confused words with his own disconnected thoughts.

A quote:  "It wasn't always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn't easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more." Ben Carson, right? Nope. Obama, 2015.

Who is..Richard Hickock?

A 17-year-old student, who is said to have been armed with three guns and two grenades, opened fire on 16 March at Alexis de Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, leaving at least eight injured, including the headmaster. The attack was carried out after the student had watched American-style mass shooting videos, according to the interior ministry.
While the Americans may not be willing to accept blame, the idea of insane behavior being infective is a disturbing one. Certainly there is evidence that car accidents and suicides have higher rates when they are publicized. One can only wonder if such thinking waters the mouths of those confident leaders who know things will be better if they could only have more control of entertainment, art and the news.
The old question still rankles: If good art is good for you, is bad art bad for you?

"Women will never know who they are until they let men be men. Let’s get rid of Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers, anorexics, bulimics, depressives, rape victims and incest survivors. Feminism has become a catchall vegetable drawer where bunches of clingy sob sisters can store their moldy neuroses.”--Paglia, of course.

How is this possible? In a never-published manuscript, Richard Hickock, one of the killers depicted in Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood,’ tells his story about the 1959 murder of the Clutter family, revealing new insights about his view of the killings and raising questions about his motive.

And another. A laptop computer containing floor plans for Trump Tower, information about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and other national security information was stolen from a Secret Service agent's vehicle in Brooklyn, police sources told the Daily News.

Sears is being destroyed by Amazon. Yet 100-odd years ago, Sears was Amazon! Catalogue retailing—what an innovation. That is the nature of capitalism: the disruptor gets disrupted.

And a warning to the powerful demonic bakers cabal in the world:
Facing a bread shortage that is spawning massive lines and souring the national mood, the Venezuelan government is responding this week by detaining bakers and seizing establishments.
In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights (a great name!) said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.
The misuse of "bread power."

"If you want, we could open the way for 15,000 refugees that we don't send each month and blow the mind of Europe" Turkey's interior minister Soylu threatened Europe in a speech late Thursday. "Europe, do you have that kind of courage."
So, immigrants and refugees are weapons?

Golden oldie:
From all indications, someone or some group is killing scientist associated with the Iranian nuclear program. At least four have been murd...

Vladimir Nabokov made this distinction: "Satire is a lesson, parody is a game." So when does parody/teasing become cruel? What on SNL is a lesson?

In a recent Transamerica retirement survey, 25% of current workers said they expect Social Security to serve as their primary source of income once they end their careers. The problem, however, is that Social Security was never meant to sustain retirees by itself. In fact, those monthly benefits will only suffice in replacing about 40% of the average worker's pre-retirement income. Since most seniors need a good 70% to 80% of their previous income, and some inevitably wind up needing 100% or more, relying too heavily on those benefits could result in some pretty serious financial trouble.

An important insight about Lincoln and his assessment of America: "Lincoln's greatness began with his recoil from the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, which empowered residents of those territories to decide whether to have slavery. The act's premise was that "popular sovereignty" — majorities' rights — is the essence of the American project. Is it, or is liberty?" Then he writes, Justice Robert Jackson wrote, "The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to ... place  (certain subjects) beyond the reach of majorities." --Will, on freedoms vs. rights

Buchanan on the Trump election: "the only known crimes committed by Americans during and after the campaign are the leaks of security secrets by agents of the intel community, colluding with the Fourth Estate, which uses the First Amendment to provide cover for criminal sources, whom they hail as “whistleblowers.”"

A DC area entrepreneur named Kyle Albaugh wants to create a marketplace for colleges and applicants, which he calls Bid Brain. Colleges would provide Bid Brain with their admissions and financial aid/criteria. That would enable Bid Brain to tell you, for example, how much scholarship aid a white student with an ACT score of 29 who ranked in the top 10 percent of his class and who comes from a family with an $85,000 income and no other siblings in college could expect to receive – providing the student with the exact price for attending that university. 
Students, of course, would provide Bid Brain all the needed academic, demographic, and financial information needed to allow a determination of the price of the colleges for which the student would be eligible for admission. Then the student would receive a list of potential colleges and prices. With that information in hand, the student would then formally apply for admission to the college (or colleges) of his or her choice.

There is a debate going on in the libertarian web over immigration. Most favor all immigration freely across borders. One offers this economic view: "Standard economic estimates say that letting all the world's talent flow to wherever it's most productive would roughly DOUBLE global prosperity.  That's an extra $75 TRILLION of extra wealth per year.  How is this possible?  Because even the world's lowest-skill workers produce far more in the First World than they do at home." This is probably--but probably un-provably--true but the economic world would be vastly improved by simply eliminating the soul and economic crushing governments around the world, too. What the libertarian view that escapes me is this: Does it allow for free association? Could a Jewish group exclude atheists? Particularly, does it allow people to exclude others on the basis of their political and economic structure? Should, for example, a state be allowed to exclude people from entering it who are overtly hostile to it? Does the state require structural rules the libertarian will always oppose?

The U.S. has spent $22 Trillion dollars on entitlement programs over the last 50 years.

In the first nine months of 2016, around 32 percent of U.S. vehicle trade-ins carried outstanding loans larger than the worth of the cars, a record high, according to the specialized auto website Edmunds, cited by Moody’s. Typically, car dealers tack on an amount equal to the negative equity to a loan for the consumers’ next vehicle. To keep the monthly payments stable, the new credit is for a greater length of time. Over the course of multiple trade-ins, negative equity accumulates.

New analysis by Dr. David Macpherson of Trinity University and Dr. William Even of Miami University finds that an $11 minimum wage in St. Louis would cost the city roughly 1,000 jobs, with the job loss mostly occurring among the city’s most vulnerable populations.

AAAAaaaaaannnnnnndddddd......a graph:


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