Wednesday, May 31, 2017


“Slow is Smooth. Smooth is quick. Quick is fast.”--SEAL slogan
Would there be any threat from automation if interest rates were positive and the cost of capital real?

Millennials are the only generation out of the four current generations who don't identify work ethic as a key part of their identity, according to the Pew Research Center.

FBI Director James Comey attempted to go public as early as the summer of 2016 with information on Russia’s campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election, but Obama administration officials blocked him from doing so, two sources with knowledge of the matter told  Newsweek.

"Unless you need a financial advisor to help you get started in that routine, you probably don't need a financial advisor at all," Jack Bogel said, giving a nod of approval to, instead of a human advisor, hiring a low-cost robo-advisor to help you automate your investing. (Vanguard now offers such a service). "It's a personal choice. If you think you need a helping hand, then you do."

In 2013, when Democrats controlled the chamber,  then-Majority Leader Harry Reid obliterated the filibuster for all presidential nominees except Supreme Court justices.
Historically, it wasn't easy to sustain a filibuster, since it required the senator to remain in the chamber, standing on his feet and continuously speaking — or lose the floor, and see the issue brought to a vote. As long as a filibuster was underway, the Senate was blocked from moving on to other business. Filibusters were grueling ordeals. That explains why there were so few of them: only one per year, on average, before 1970.
In 1970, the Senate adopted a new policy under which senators had only to announce a filibuster on Bill X or Nominee Y in order to prevent that bill or nominee from being voted on. By unanimous consent, the Senate would agree to defer the issue in dispute, while other Senate business could proceed.

Richard Dawkins is fond of pointing out that a single college in Cambridge has won more Nobel Prizes than the entire Muslim world.

Who is....Jeffrey Lacker?

It remains to be seen what will happen to health care. The idea of mandating everyone have health care is an interesting gambit in ObamaCare as it is the obverse of the idea that everyone has a right to health care. If health care is a right like life, liberty et al and not an aspiration like your own home, super models and Audis then the thinking of the nation has changed a lot. The practical problems are terrific (think how scarcity would be managed) but the philosophical change is revolutionary.

Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science focuses on generalities the Left dislikes but not much on consequences. For example, it reveals that Republican creationists exist but are they influential? They don’t affect the biologists or anthropologists studying evolution. George W. Bush refused federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but that hardly put a stop to it (and not much changed after Barack Obama reversed the policy).  In his first chapter Mooney’s brief acknowledgment that leftists “here and there” have been guilty of “science abuse.” First, there’s the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience.

The tyranny of the majority is no less real than any other, and, indeed, it may be more dangerous because it feeds on the idealistic illusion that participation is all that matters.--Buchannan

Presidents have had trouble with the press before. Both Adams and Jefferson did. Roosevelt was the most dramatic. Roosevelt created the Special Senate Committee on Lobbying, aka The Black Committee, after its chair,  Sen. Hugo L. Black (D–Ala.). The committee's original mission was to probe the opposition campaign to the "death sentence" in the Public Utility Holding Company Bill, a provision that would have allowed, under certain circumstances, the dissolution of utility holding companies. The Black Committee gained traction with the public when it brought to light evidence that some lobbyists had concocted thousands of "fake telegrams" sent to Congress to protest the bill. Smelling blood, Black expanded the investigation into a general probe of anti–New Deal voices, including journalists. Over a nearly three-month period at the end of 1935, FCC and Black Committee staffers searched great stacks of telegrams in Western Union's D.C. office. Operating with virtually no restriction, they read the communications of sundry lobbyists, newspaper publishers, and conservative political activists as well as every member of Congress. Writing to Black, one investigator stated that they had gone through "35,000 to 50,000 per day." Various newspapers and members of Congress later estimated that staffers had examined some five million telegrams over the course of the investigation. In 2017, this would be akin to staffers from a congressional committee and the FCC teaming up at the headquarters of Google and Yahoo! and then spending months secretly searching emails. (from the David Beito article in Reason)

The involvement of WikiLeaks in the Edward Snowden affair, catalogued ably by authors like John Schindler, Edward Lucas, and others, was so obviously facilitated by the Russians that it should be used as a case study in Espionage School 101. Recall that when Snowden showed up in Russia—a destination Assange recommended—WikiLeaks dispatched a fixer from their staff named Sarah Harrison to meet Snowden in Hong Kong and stand by his side in Moscow. From the time Snowden arrived in Russia, Harrison stuck to him like glue. If you think Assange’s recommendation, Snowden’s arrival, and Harrison’s presence are at all possible without a cozy relationship with the Russian secret services, then you don’t understand how any of this works.
Indeed, the later feuding between the Snowden camp and WikiLeaks (insofar as it was more than mere theater) speaks well of Snowden, in that it suggests what many of us long suspected: that Snowden was a stupid little boy who got involved way over his head in matters way beyond his competence. Assange and Harrison know what they’re doing, and for whom. Snowden, by now, also knows, but there’s not much he can do about it but to repay his masters for his new life in Russia.--Nichols

This is interesting. According to the WSJ, American companies are trying to stop employees from raiding their 401(k)s, in an attempt to ensure that older workers can afford to retire and make room for younger, less-expensive hires.
Public choice theory states that lying is more rational for a politician than for individuals in other walks of life. A politician's lies are less likely to be noticed or remembered by the "rationally ignorant" voter. Rational ignorance means that the individual voter has little incentive to invest time and money in gathering and analyzing political information because he will not be able, with his single vote, to change the election result. The politician running for office also has an incentive to lie when deprecating his opponents' character. If he wins, there will be no way to know whether or not his opponents would have been as bad as he claimed. And since the politician has no property rights in his office, the discounted value of his political reputation over time is very low, giving him an incentive to trade long-term credibility for short-run victories. --from Lemieux

A New Jersey teen pleaded guilty recently to a plot allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group to kill Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to the United States.

Golden oldie:
The State of the Union speech was the first formal campaign speech of this long and dreadful campaign season that inexplicably is tolerated ...

Having a state school system is a remarkably difficult idea to understand in a democracy. The relationship between the public and its government is by nature very difficult and antagonistic. The strongest argument for the separation of school and state is that it is extraordinarily dangerous to have the state in the business deciding which ideas and values are, and which aren’t, to be taught and conveyed.

Scientists try to avoid confirmation bias by exposing their work to peer review by critics with different views, but it’s increasingly difficult for liberals to find such critics. Academics have traditionally leaned left politically, and many fields have essentially become monocultures, especially in the social sciences, where Democrats now outnumber Republicans by at least 8 to 1. (In sociology, where the ratio is 44 to 1, a student is much likelier to be taught by a Marxist than by a Republican.) The lopsided ratio has led to another well-documented phenomenon: people’s beliefs become more extreme when they’re surrounded by like-minded colleagues. They come to assume that their opinions are not only the norm but also the truth.

It is generally believed--approvingly--among academics that education raises social liberalism and economic conservativism. But why should a social community prefer that over any other?

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker announced his immediate resignation Tuesday, admitting that he discussed sensitive information with an analyst regarding the Fed's plans for economic stimulus. What!?

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring set off decades of chemophobia with its scary anecdotes and bad science, like her baseless claim that DDT was causing cancer in humans and her vision of a mass avian die-off (the bird population was actually increasing as she wrote). Yet Silent Spring is taught in high school and college courses as a model of science writing, with no mention of the increased death tolls from malaria in countries that restricted DDT, or of other problems—like the spread of dengue and the Zika virus—exacerbated by needless fears of insecticides.
One of Trump's more obnoxious qualities is his willingness to besmirch the country for his own purposes. He famously responded to a question about Putin, "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" 
His response to Assad's poison gas attack on the children--and then on the first responders--was to connect American errors in the past to the act. That is ridiculous. The gas attack is the result of Assad and his supporters, the Russians. Period. You don't get to have six degrees of separation for responsibility.

Fox and O'Reilly had paid out around $13m to halt potential legal action against O'Reilly, on claims including sexual harassment and verbal abuse. O'Reilly's show is a monster money maker having brought Fox $178m in advertising revenue in 2015 and $188.6m in the first nine months of 2016, according to research firm Kantar Media.
And why does Trump have an opinion?

AAAAaaaaaaaannnnnndddddddd......a graph:
Charles Minard's flow-map describing Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. Created in 1869, modern-day graph maven Edward Tufte called it "the best statistical graphic ever drawn". The main variables it conveys are army size, spatial location, temperature and time. The beige line is the army on its way to Moscow, the black line is the return journey. The most striking thing about it is the incredible shrinkage of le Grande Armée as the Russians chip away at it for 6 months.

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