Monday, July 31, 2017


A Cherokee fable.

A famous chief, known for his kindness and his concern for the tribe, was approached by his grandson. What, he asked, could he do to become a good man?
The chief said, "When I was young, I had within me two wolves, one filled with ambition and anger, one filled with kindness and respect for his fellows. Both fought within me ceaselessly. You have within you the same wolves."
"Which one will win?" the grandson asked.
The old man answered, "The one you feed."

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Shortly after James Fenton’s “God, A Poem” appeared in the TLS, P. J. Kavanagh asked in the Spectator what had happened in the three centuries since Henry Vaughan to make his kind of poetry “almost impossible” and Fenton’s wry poem “a reasonable summing up of a contemporary mood”. Kavanagh concluded that as well as losing Vaughan’s faith in God we had also lost the faith in ourselves that was meant to replace it: “You’re a serious mistake in a nightie / You’re a grave disappointment all round”.
Peter Porter called this poem “a fine blasphemy”. But Fenton himself has pointed out that “the mockery of religious usage . . . as ancient a practice as the most ancient civilizations we know, was not considered blasphemous. It was a sign of being on good terms with one’s religion”. In that case, perhaps what Kavanagh sees as a piece of stoical gallows-humour could also be read as a tongue-in-cheek tiff in which God and man merely squabble over who is the bigger disappointment. (from TLS)

God, A Poem

A nasty surprise in a sandwich,
A drawing-pin caught in your sock,
The limpest of shakes from a hand which
You’d thought would be firm as a rock,

A serious mistake in a nightie,
A grave disappointment all round
Is all that you’ll get from th’Almighty,
Is all that you’ll get underground.

Oh he said: “If you lay off the crumpet
I’ll see you alright in the end.
Just hang on until the last trumpet.
Have faith in me, chum – I’m your friend”.

But if you remind him, he’ll tell you:
“I’m sorry I must have been pissed –
Though your name rings a sort of a bell. You
Should have guessed that I do not exist.

“I didn’t exist at Creation,
I didn’t exist at the Flood,
And I won’t be around for Salvation
To sort out the sheep from the cud –

“Or whatever the phrase is. The fact is
In soteriological terms
I’m a crude existential malpractice
And you are a diet of worms.

“You’re a nasty surprise in a sandwich.
You’re a drawing-pin caught in my sock.
You’re the limpest of shakes from a hand which
I’d have thought would be firm as a rock,

“You’re a serious mistake in a nightie,
You’re a grave disappointment all round –
That’s all that you are”, says th’Almighty,
“And that’s all that you’ll be underground”.


Saturday, July 29, 2017


Life never knows the return of spring. --John Gay in Beggar's Opera

... on the moral side, the black market is reprehensible. It involves disrespect for the law, disobedience, illegality, and so on. But, from the coldly economic point of view, my own feeling is that the black market has been a very good thing for France. It has prevented disorganization. It has helped to keep the inflation from leading to a complete stoppage of production all over the place.....It is not approving the black market; it is saying that it may be the lesser of bad things. The government attempt to regulate prices and to ration by direct controls would have led, if it could have been enforced in France, to a very much lower pace of recovery than had been possible through the stimulus in considerable measure because of the black market. Do not forget that some of the biggest operators on the black market in France are the nationalized government industries.--Freidman on the black market in France after WWII

MacLean violates a fundamental principle of historical and philosophical biography: the principle of charity, which according to the esteemed philosopher Simon Blackburn  requires that the analyst must “maximize the truth or rationality in the subject’s sayings.” There are several versions of this principle, analogous to Occam’s Razor in the sciences. The principle of charity requires that you take the claims, words, and arguments of a subject at face value, unless there is compelling direct evidence to the contrary.--Munger on MacLean

"The greatest difference is that in Europe, politics and religion have been separated from one another, but in the case of Islam it is religion that determines politics" — Zoltan Balog, Hungary's Minister for Human Resources.

I am really fascinated by the response to this MacLean book: Once I realized that this was the approach, the larger point became clear: Democracy in Chains is a work of speculative historical fiction. There is considerable research underpinning the speculation, and since MacLean is careful about footnoting only things that actually did happen she cannot be charged with fabricating facts. But most of the book, and all of its substantive conclusions, are idiosyncratic interpretations of the facts that she selects from a much larger record, as is common in the speculative-history genre. There is nothing wrong about speculation, of course, but there is nothing persuasive about it either, in terms of drawing reliable conclusions about history.--from a review by Michael C. Munger

What is...Tintern Abbey?

One of the persistent burdens this country has had to shoulder has been the importing of solutions to problems that exist where the immigrant has come from. So anarchists in the 19th Century brought their anti-Czarists fanaticism to Chicago and Homestead. Now this nonsense from one  Linda Sarsour:

“I hope that we when we stand up to those who oppress our communities that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad. That we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or in the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House,” Sarsour said.

“Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our community, it is not to assimilate and please any other people and authority,” she said. “Our obligation is to our young people, is to our women, to make sure our women are protected in our community.”

“Our top priority and even higher than all those other priorities is to please Allah and only Allah,” Sarsour declared.

A wrestler named Dan Richards is the most hated character in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountain Wrestling (AMW) program, a small professional wrestling circuit. His nom de guerre?  “Progressive Liberal”

"You may have noticed that there is not a single female heart surgeon in the world... It's amazing. It's peculiar. Why do you think that there are none? Because it requires great physical effort -- beyond what a woman is capable of. That's in general. Along comes a woman who challenges this, and she succeeds in becoming a surgeon. But she is one woman among several million male surgeons." --Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh 'Ali Gomaa

"This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the people themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to better information, and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community."--this is from Hamilton, the federalist. "Dangerous innovations in the government!"

According to the official calendar put out by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House of Representatives will only be in session for 147 days in 2017. Probably will keep them out of trouble.

A study by academics at the International Islamic University Malaysia showed that  Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries have 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1000 population, compared with a world average of 40.7, and 139.3 for countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. According to official statistics, Pakistan has produced only eight patents in the past 43 years.

In Q1 2017, global debt hit a new all time high of $217 trillion, or over 327% of global GDP, up $50 trillion over the past decade.

According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.
So now we are going to complain that teenagers are not having kids?

That whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.--Swift

Golden oldie:


A lot of people are dismissive of the Founders of the American Revolution--like Washington and Jefferson--for their slaveholding. I wonder if they are the same people who laugh at Dante's provincialism for excluding Virgil from Christian Heaven.

Law emerges, and cannot but emerge, within the developing communal moral context.--Law and Justice in Community

The American Revolutionary War caused "proportionately more" deaths — from battle, captivity and disease — than any war other than that of the Civil War of 1861-65. The perhaps 37,000 deaths were five times more per capita than America lost in World War II. Sixty-thousand loyalists became refugees. "The dislocated proportion of the American population exceeded that of the French in their revolution." The economic decline "lasted for 15 years in a crisis unmatched until the Great Depression."--from Holger Hoock's "Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth." This book calls the Revolution the "first Civil War" and emphasizes the cruelty to the loyalist side.

This Ayn Rand quote is profound. "If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' . . . Men had thought of wealth as a static quantity, to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created."
There is a zero sum kind of thinking about economies: What you have I can not have, what you have has been taken from me. The economy is seen as fixed; the economic pie can be only shared, it can not get bigger. This zero sum thinking is creeping into morality. There seems to be only so much righteousness to go around.

"Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone."
Scholars now debate whether Wordsworth was attempting to transcend or merely cover up the historical facts -- that the "wreaths of smoke" came from the local ironworks, and the "vagrant dwellers" were the hordes of poor beggars who squatted in the woods and hustled the tourist crowd at the Abbey. The poem shows Wordsworth doubtful enough of man, and in "sad perplexity" at all that comes and goes; still, it remains a hymn to all that stays, and one of the essential Romantic texts---from Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey and Steve King

AAAAaannnnnddddd....a chart:
Chart of the Day
Horizontal Line

Friday, July 28, 2017


Jon Cassidy on MacLean: 

"One of her most common tricks is to take a descriptive statement and pretend that it’s a normative one. For example, James Buchanan once explained that classical liberalism (libertarianism) and George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” were categorically incompatible due to the question of paternalism, i.e., one’s attitude toward his fellow man. Either “other persons are to be treated as natural equals… or they are to be treated as subordinate members of the species, akin to that accorded animals who are dependent.” Buchanan, for his part, thought others were equals.
MacLean gives him Bush’s position: “People who failed to foresee and save money for their future needs, Buchanan wrote in 2005, ‘are to be treated as subordinate members of the species, akin to… animals who are dependent.’” This is exactly backwards, but the real intent is worse than mere distortion. She wants to portray Buchanan as a slavemaster at heart."


Thursday, July 27, 2017


Joe Rago of the WSJ died this week at the age of 34. He had won a Pulitzer Prize.
Here is an excerpt from his article on the ACA just before it was passed,  "The Obamacare Crossroads," March 20, 2010:

Democrats are on the cusp of a profound and historic mistake, comparable in our view to the Smoot-Hawley tariff and FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act. Everyone is preoccupied now with the politics, but ultimately at stake on Sunday is the kind of country America will be. . . . In our world of infinite wants but finite resources, there are only two ways to allocate any good or service: either through prices and the choices of millions of individuals, or through central government planning and political discretion. This choice is inexorable. Stripped of its romantic illusions, ObamaCare is really about who commands the country's medical resources. . . .
A self-governing democracy can of course decide that it wants to become this kind of super-welfare state. But if the year-long debate over ObamaCare has proven anything, it is that Americans want no such thing. . . . The ugliness of the bill, and of its passage, means that some or all of it might be repealable, but far better not to make the tragic mistake in the first place.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals, the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents. The men who radically altered history, the great creative scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned if at all. -Martin Gardner, mathematician and writer (1914-2010) 

FactSet Research estimated that combined profits in the S&P 500 companies will rise 6.5% in this year’s second quarter. But the 6.5% average disguises considerable variation. Five of the 11 sectors have 1.3% earnings growth or less. Two are actually declining. Then there’s energy, where earnings growth is not just above above-average but 61 times more than average.
Needless to say, earnings growth is way out of balance. The energy sector’s big recovery skews the average—remove it and the average drops from 6.5% to 3.6%, according to FactSet.
So, does an index fund make sense?

Seven thousand Dutchmen volunteered for the SS, and a higher proportion of Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust—three-quarters of them, more than twice the proportion in Belgium, for example, and three times more than in France—than in any other occupied country of Western Europe. Whatever the reasons for this disproportion—the relatively unpropitious Dutch landscape for a life of clandestinity is surely one—unease about it is inevitable. According to one historian of the Holocaust in the Netherlands, Marnix Croes: the Dutch reacted to the German occupation, including the persecution of the Jews, with a high degree of cooperation, following their reputed tradition of deference to authority. This did not change when the deportations started, and it lasted until the beginning of 1943. . . . [T]here was for a long time little doubt that the bureaucracy would not sabotage German-imposed measures, and in fact these were thoroughly implemented.

Who is....Deep Blue?

The heart of the left isn’t helping the poor, or reducing inequality, or even minority rights.  The heart of the left is being anti-market.  With some honorable exceptions, very few leftists are capable of being excited about deregulation of any kind.  And even the leftists who do get excited about well-targeted deregulation get far more excited about stamping out the hydra-headed evils of market.--Caplan
This is more than the their confidence in their ability to control complex systems, it is also a disdain for spontaneous and beneficial order.

Will has an article on baseball and the changes in the game. One point, two pitchers in the 1960 World Series final game game, the Yankees' Bobby Shantz and the Pirates' Elroy Face, were 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches, respectively.

According to the 2010 Contaminated Water report from the United Nations Environmental Programme, more people die from contaminated and polluted water than violence and war.  

The second to last thing China wants is a new Korean war. But the last thing China wants is a united Korea under South Korean leadership. China's Communist Party leadership has learned the lessons of 1989-1991, when German reunification ultimately pushed the borders of NATO some 1000 kilometres to the east and Soviet communism was thrown into the dustbin of history. --Barbanes

NBC Sports on the deterrent effect Reaves might bring--or not bring--to the Pens:
Over the past four seasons the St. Louis Blues — Reaves’ former team — were on the receiving end of eight incidents that resulted in supplemental discipline from the NHL (suspension or fine), typically reserved for the dirtiest plays. The only team that was on the receiving end of more during that stretch was the Boston Bruins (10 –and keep in mind, this was a team that had Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic for most of those years)

House Republicans are proposing eliminating the deduction that companies get for interest they pay on debt, a move that would alter modern finance. (wsj)

Golden oldie:

The Enigma coding machine, invented in 1919 by Hugo Koch, a Dutchman, looked like a typewriter and was originally employed for business purposes. The German army adapted the machine for wartime use and considered its encoding system unbreakable. They were wrong. The Brits had broken the code as early as the German invasion of Poland and had intercepted virtually every message sent through the system. Britain nicknamed the intercepted messages Ultra.

The market's long-run effect on people's standard of living is probably the most successful economic argument of the last fifty years.

A network of seven internet sites in Europe to sell items including fabric, DVD cases, and maps are fake outlets. The faux store fronts are a multinational system to disguise payments for the $40 billion global online gambling industry. Online gambling is illegal in many countries and some U.S. states. The dummy sites underline a strategy which regulators, card issuers and banks have yet to tackle head-on. The scheme found by Reuters involved websites which accepted payments for household items from a reporter but did not deliver any products. Instead, staff who answered helpdesk numbers on the sites said the outlets did not sell the product advertised, but that they were used to help process gambling payments, mostly for Americans.

James Otis, a Massachusetts lawyer, came to prominence in his impassioned speech against the Writs of Assistance in 1761, centering his arguments on natural law. Struck by lightning in 1783, James Otis did not live beyond the Revolution. But John Adams remarked that he had never known a man “whose service for any ten years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country as those of Mr. Otis from 1760 to 1770.”

A warning issued by the head of a mosque-seminary in Pakistan's capital city: "The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses ... Sportswomen are spreading nudity. I warn the sportswomen of Islamabad to stop participating in sports ... Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the hereafter for such women."

What does this mean for the future voting? A new poll released exclusively to the Hill shows that most Americans feel the investigations into alleged collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign are a distraction. The poll found that 64% of Americans believe the investigations are hurting the country, and 73% believe that the focus on Russia is distracting Congress from important issues like health care and tax reform.

The so-called Institute on Inequality and Democracy at the University of California Los Angeles, a publicly funded institution, recently released  a 'Resistance' handbook for their students.  Among other things, the handbook specifically defines "Trumpism" as a movement that "consolidates power through white supremacy, misogyny, nationalism, xenophobia, corporatism, and militarism."
And here I thought he was just a jerk.

Apart from this principle there would be no basis for general public support for economics as a legitimate academic discipline, no place for economics as an appropriate part of a liberal educational curriculum.  I refer, of course, to the principle of the spontaneous order of the market, which is the great intellectual discovery of the eighteenth century. --James Buchanan

Good news: More than 200 colleges and universities have set up Bias Response Teams.

I can’t talk about the details of the intelligence, but we have, the intelligence community has said, that this election was meddled with by the Russians in a way that is frankly not particularly original. They’ve been doing this for an awfully long time. And we are decades into the Russians trying to undermine American democracy. So in some ways, there’s no news, but it certainly puts a heightened emphasis on our ability to figure out how to stop them. --CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Uh oh. In a new report, Circa reveals why the Michael Flynn investigation may be nothing more than an act of retaliation orchestrated by Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe after Flynn personally supported an FBI agent that filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against McCabe back in 2012. 

Petrochemicals, once a cheap byproduct, are powering a U.S. manufacturing boom and export bonanza. The new investment will establish the U.S. as a major exporter of plastic and reduce its trade deficit, economists say. (wsj)

AAAAaaaannnnndddddd.....a picture of another of our animal friends, Deep Blue, believed the largest great white ever seen:
Largest Great White

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Burnout and Loneliness
The General Social Survey of 2016 found that, compared with roughly 20 years ago, people are twice as likely to report that they are always exhausted. Close to 50% of people say they are often or always exhausted due to work. This is a shockingly high statistic — and it’s a 32% increase from two decades ago. The book The Happiness Track reports that 50% of people — across professions, from the nonprofit sector to the medical field — are burned out. This isn’t just a problem for busy, overworked executives. Rather the problem is pervasive across professions and up and down corporate hierarchies.
One element that pops up in these discussions is, surprisingly, loneliness

This is particularly true in Medicine.

The consolidation of medical care, the loss of independence and the drive for productivity has had its effect. Meetings and conferences within hospitals and among different groups have almost disappeared.  And with it goes that collegiality, that social framework embedded in the professional work. The horizon for medicine has retracted to the exam room and the dictating office. And among the less clinical subsets, like radiology, it is worse. Some specialties work in solitary confinement.  

The old adage has proven true: "If you can't bill for it, it will vanish."

Monday, July 24, 2017


Untended Consequences in The Congo

A story of unintended consequences created by people who believe they can control complex systems.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has vast mineral reserves; the value of their reserves is estimates at 24 Trillion Dollars. Needless to say, this has attracted financial predators, militias who act like the Mafia at mining sites, demanding payment for access to work sites and portions of paychecks to allow the miners to work. The products of these mines are bought and used by sophisticated electronics companies.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Bill--eager to do good for all men everywhere--included a provision that mandated the purchasing company note where the minerals came from and who benefitted. The hope was to shame the companies or to influence them from outside criticism so they might influence the banditry. So exposing the sources of Apple's or Intel's  tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold would somehow influence the criminal militias. Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) famously said at the time that the bill was supposed to “cut off funding to people who kill people.”

So what happened? The companies could not be sure of their sources or the local economics so, fearful of coming under government criticism and action, they abandoned the Congo and went to other states. Companies avoided the extra costs and red tape by boycotting tantalum, tin and tungsten mined in the Congo and instead looked to suppliers in Australia and Brazil. Congolese mineral exports plunged by 90% in the wake of the legislation, according to DRC mining officials. Consequently, income to militias from such mines either plunged or vanished entirely.

In a   study in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists Dominic Parker and co-author Bryan Vadheim document that while the law may have cut off one source of revenue to armed groups, it led them to intensify their plundering of civilians in the region—exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. By their estimates, violent incidents more than doubled after the law was implemented. Impact on miners was not included.

The economists assert that before Dodd-Frank, Congolese militias acted as “stationary bandits.” The idea is that a strongman who seeks to rule for years won’t use his iron fist to crush the people entirely—and he may even invest a bit in roads, security and other provisions to ensure he avoids an uprising that could loosen his control. Messrs. Parker and Vadheim stress that stationary bandits are no saints, but the arrangement “may be safer and more economically productive than anarchy.” Messrs. Parker and Vadheim found that armed groups specifically targeted farmers during harvest time—especially after bumper crops.

But certainly the politicians rest comfortably with the assurance they have done their part to improve the state of mankind. At least they tried.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


The last several Gospels are filled with parables, so many that the Apostles finally ask Christ why he speaks in parables. He replies,
"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."
So is Christ saying that the human brain ruminates on concepts and works through them with more positive results than simply hearing a didactic lesson or a convincing argument?
That seems to have a lot of implications to education and to creative writing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


"The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition." --G K Chesterton

A new study by Concordia economics professor Ian Irvine shows that subsidizing EVs in the North American context will not reduce GHG emissions in the short-term, and may even increase them—at a cost to taxpayers.
Recently published in Canadian Public Policy, Irvine's study compared the incentives for producing EVs that are found in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, North America's fuel-efficiency regulations, with new EV subsidy policies in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
He found that, while the subsidies encourage the production of more EVs, they undermine the efficiency requirements of existing incentives for conventional vehicles. This results in a zero or negative near-term GHG benefit.
"Sometimes you have more than one policy aimed at a particular goal, and usually those policies are complementary," Irvine notes. "But in this case, they work at cross purposes."

And another Canadian report:
Subsidizing the purchase of electric cars in Canada is an inefficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is not cost effective, according to a Montreal Economic Institute study released Thursday.
"It's just a waste," said Germain Belzile, one of the authors of the study, which examined electric vehicle subsidies offered by Canada's two biggest provinces Ontario and Quebec, which can rise to as much as a third of a vehicle's purchase price, depending on the model.
"Not only do these programs cost taxpayers a fortune, but they also have little effect on GHG emissions," he said.

Who is...David Gelernter?

"Life has no meaning a priori. ... It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose." - These are the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher. It is a belief that creates a rat's nest of options. People, of course, can not live this way but he is taken quite seriously. The French never have recovered from the Second War. It drove them all nuts.

Speaking of nuts, here is a quote from Bernie Sanders: “The American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina.”
Some people can just say these things. Ditto the writings of Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams. He's from Trinity College!

An interesting question was asked in the hearing yesterday about the Russians' hacking the DNC: If this was such a big deal, why did the DNC refuse to allow the feds to examine the hacks?

Garry Kasparov, the international chess champion who was beaten by an AI machine, has given the issue of AI a lot of thought. Last month he released a new book called Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins. He says that the IBM machine that beat him "was anything but intelligent. It was as intelligent as your alarm clock. A very expensive one, a $10 million alarm clock, but still an alarm clock. Very poweful -- brute force, with little chess knowledge. But chess proved to be vulnerable to the brute force. it could be crunched once hardware got fast enough and databases got big enough and algorithms got smart enough."

A guy ran through a group of people at a London mosque in a car. This will, as usual, be taken seriously when it is just another wacko in religious/political drag. Fear the Bell Shaped Curve!

Golden oldie:

A 36-year-old Spanish bullfighter died after he tripped on his cape in the ring and was gored by the bull during an event in France, according to the Guardian. Ivan Fandino was hospitalized, but later died from his injuries.

The damage to human society, and to “the planet”, from the projected rise of a few degrees of global temperature, while commonly described as apocalyptic, would be minor compared to the results of all-out nuclear war.  More to the point, the degree of human responsibility in climate change is more disputed among serious scientists than the public is aware, due to the role of such contributing factors as solar variations.  But the degree of human responsibility for nuclear weapons is unquestionably total.--Diana Johnstone

A case of malpractice recently concerned the removal of the wrong testicle (the good one removed, the diseased one left behind).
A 2006 study supported by the public Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality analyzed nearly 3 million operations over nearly two decades, and found that wrong-site surgery occurred in "only" about 1 in 112,994 cases.

Rizzo injured catcher Austin Hedges during a home plate collision recently. Rizzo is getting justified criticism but it is the exact kind of play Pete Rose was famous--and revered--for.

Carrie Fisher had cocaine, heroin and ecstasy in her system when she died last December, according to an autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press. "Sleep apnea."

In a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases in future, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a federal prohibition on disparaging trademarks as a constitutional violation in a ruling involving a band called The Slants. From a report: The opinion in Matal v. Tam means that Simon Tam, lead singer of an Asian-American rock band called "The Slants," will be able to trademark the name of his band. It's also relevant for a high-profile case involving the Washington Redskins, who were involved in litigation and at risk of being stripped of their trademark.

Israel has been secretly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel and medical supplies for years, a "secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war" aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces, the WSJ reported.
And, if that were not enough madness, the Saudi information ministry said the Saudi Royal Navy allegedly stopped an attempted terrorist attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf on June 16, when it captured three members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps from a boat as it approached the kingdom's offshore Marjan oilfield. The Saudi Center for International Communications added that the boat carried explosives, and the Iranians aboard "intended to carry out terrorist act in Saudi territorial waters."
Something is going on with the Saudis.

The worst thing you can do is to convince yourself, or be convinced by others, that you are somehow a victim and therefore  unable to achieve success through your own effort and initiative.  Some people start out with fewer advantages than others, but even those who are less advantaged can do extremely well if they make the effort and apply themselves intelligently….  No one cares more about your personal success than you do.  Neither does anyone else know more about your interests, skills, and goals. (From Common Sense Economics)

[E]nvironmentalism has become a dogmatic, fundamentalist, persecuting religion that will keep us from ameliorating our environmental problems. --Paul Heyne


On Thursday, the country’s military said that a Canadian Special Operations sniper had shot an Islamic State fighter in Iraq from more than two miles away, purportedly breaking a world record for the longest confirmed kill shot in history, according to the Globe and Mail. The Murder Olympics.

In 1993, Yale University computer science professor David Gelernter was seriously injured while opening his mail when a padded envelope exploded  in his hands. The attack just came two days after a University of California geneticist was injured by a similar bomb and was the latest in a string of bombings since 1978 that authorities believed to be related. This bomb went off in his kitchen, in his family's home. The perpetrator was Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called “Unabomber.” These bombings were included with 14 others since 1978 that killed 3 people and injured 23 others. A close reading of this story is interesting. The Left has always held Kaczynski in some regard because they agree with his environmental position and he was an academic. It is worth reading about, more for the surrounding politics than the madman himself.
Gelernter wrote a book called Drawing Life about this and it gave several academics the opportunity to savage him.

According to the website Wired UK, as of June 5, there were 535 terrorist attacks around the world -- with 3,635 fatalities -- since the beginning of 2017 alone.

"...the great divide in America today is between those who do believe, as the founders did, that “first come rights and then comes government,” and those who believe, as progressives do, that “first comes government and then comes rights.”--Will's intro to Barnett's Our Republican Constitution

Several of his former law clerks have said they think Justice Kennedy is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so.

AAAAAaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnndddddd.....a graph:

Friday, July 21, 2017


On this day in the year 365, a powerful earthquake off the coast of Greece caused a tsunami that devastated the city of Alexandria, Egypt. Although there were no measuring tools at the time, scientists now estimate that the quake was actually two tremors in succession, the largest of which is thought to have had a magnitude of 8.0.  The quake was centered near the plate boundary called the Hellenic Arc and quickly sent a wall of water across the Mediterranean Sea toward the Egyptian coast. Ships in the harbor at Alexandria were overturned as the water near the coast receded suddenly. Reports indicate that many people rushed out to loot the stranded ships. The tsunami wave then rushed in and carried the ships over the sea walls, landing many on top of buildings. In Alexandria, approximately 5,000 people lost their lives and 50,000 homes were destroyed.

The surrounding villages and towns suffered even greater destruction. Many were virtually wiped off the map. Outside the city, 45,000 people were killed. In addition, the inundation of saltwater rendered farmland useless for years to come. Evidence indicates that the area’s shoreline was permanently changed by the disaster. Slowly, but steadily, the buildings of Alexandria’s Royal Quarter were overtaken by the sea following the tsunami.

It was not until 1995 that archaeologists discovered the ruins of the old city off the coast of present-day Alexandria.
(from This Day in History)

Thursday, July 20, 2017


History as DNA

One of the aspects of the thinking, or non-thinking, on the political Left is their obsession with the past.

The Left, since Hegel, are people of history. The Dialectic shapes our lives. (Hegel thought the battle was one of ideas, Marx thought it of economics.) The present is the inevitable product of the past. Perhaps this is the reason the Left is so preoccupied with the past.
Each dialectic strand collides and combines with its opponent strand to create a new strand, like DNA, which moves on to the present, in search of a new opponent. That makes the present--rather than a solution of the past--a new strand soiled by one element of the past. The revolution is never enough; the past must be purified. So an American immigrant of Polish ancestry finds himself the modern personification of ancient English slaveholding planters, a second generation American of Irish grandparents becomes a representative of the Spanish Inquisition.
For this reason, the revolutionary Marxist does not defeat his opponent, he is obligated to deracinate him, to kill his family, friends and associates.

Theirs is not a war of ideas, it is a war against the Past. And, as such, they can never be successful. Or appeased.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Two things are infinite ... the Universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the Universe.--Albert Einstein

The Keynesian idea that massive government spending, a "stimulus package," would revive the economy after the Great Recession of 2008-2009 resulted in trillions of dollars of government borrowing here and abroad which created only a decade-long anemic recovery. The number of jobs created under President Barack Obama's stimulus turned out to be fewer than the number we would have had if the government had done nothing — according to the Obama administration's own analysis. So we got $9 trillion of debt with almost nothing to pay for it. Amazingly, every Obama budget forecast that annual growth would reach 3.5 to 4.5%. We never got growth above 3% under Obama, and the average growth was 2%, ending at 1.6%. The reality was, on average, about 1.5%age points below the projection, which was about an 80% overestimate of growth.

“Administrative power is like off-road driving,” Mr. Hamburger continues. “It’s exhilarating to operate off-road when you’re in the driver’s seat, but it’s a little unnerving for everyone else.”
He says he observed this effect during a recent conversation with a prominent legal scholar. The colleague, a longtime defender of administrative law, was discussing the topic shortly after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
The colleague told Mr. Hamburger: “I am beginning to see the merit of your ideas.”
--Tierney, writing on "administrative law," quoting Phillip Hamburger

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Why? Power, like all of us, seeks  freedom of action. It seeks to escape interdiction. So it opposes checks, veto, review and boundary.
So the first act of the would-be tyrant is to silence--silence--opposing voices.
If you ever see suppression of opinion you are seeing tyranny in action
Minimum wage law has always had an ulterior motive. Look at the Davis-Bacon Act that fixed wages for workers on federal make-work programs.
The congressional debate that preceded enactment was filled with references to “unattached migratory workmen,” “itinerant labor,” “cheap, imported labor,” “cheap bootleg labor” and “labor lured from distant places” for “competition with white labor throughout the country."
The idea behind the Davis-Bacon Act was to feed jobs to white unions and legislate the poor out of the market.

Who is...Amity Shlaes?

The aim of modern politics and business is to create easy-to-handle and marketable public groupings. The more refined the grouping target, the more refined--and successful--the message. Ice cream devotees and gun right groups are pretty straight-forward, first time car buyers and small government groups less so. The essence of the democracy has been the basic interstitial philosophical connections supporting all but violent revolutionary groups devoted to destroying that interstitial structure.  Communities have historically been resistant to significant outliers because they had no support system to nurture or protect them. That is no longer true. You can isolate yourself in a completely self-supporting environment now--sort of self administered brainwashing that the North Koreans used to do. So a dizzy socialite like Patty Hearst can get grabbed by several total lunatics and, after four months in a closet, emerge as a full-fledged, gun toting revolutionary without a cause.

Animosity from righteousness will never disappear but the infrastructure that created the democracy and supports it now, can.

In India, between 1952 and 1962, DDT caused a decrease in annual malaria cases from 100 million to 60,000. By the late 1970s, no longer able to use DDT, the number of cases increased to 6 million

In Sri Lanka, before the use of DDT, 2.8 million people suffered from malaria. When the spraying stopped, only 17 people suffered from the disease. Then, no longer able to use DDT, Sri Lanka suffered a massive malaria epidemic: 1.5 million people were infected by the parasite.

In South Africa, after DDT became unavailable, the number of malaria cases increased from 8,500 to 42,000 and malaria deaths from 22 to 320 .

"'s liberalism has become grotesquely mechanistic and authoritarian: It's all about reducing individuals to a group identity, defining that group in permanent victim terms, and denying others their democratic right to challenge that group and its ideology. Political correctness represents the fossilized institutionalization of once-vital revolutionary ideas, which have become mere rote formulas. It is repressively Stalinist, dependent on a labyrinthine, parasitic bureaucracy to enforce its empty dictates."--the dreaded Paglia

Well into the 20th century everyone knew what liberalism stood for: freedom, property rights, equality of opportunity, markets--"the liberal system of free exportation and free importation," as Adam Smith put it. Liberalism was common sense; in terms of political real estate it represented the precious middle ground. The liberalism of yore didn't emphasize groups but rather individuals. Liberalism and autocrats didn't mix, for there was an inherent civility to this liberalism. Americans discussed issues politely because they respected one another, individually. Those politicians who, in contrast, fought for rights of groups (senior citizens, labor, women) were known, whatever their party, as progressives.--Amity Shlaes, explaining a lot of what is wrong with the world.

Golden oldie:


Some point to the American grocery store as the example of success in supply and demand. According to a January 2014 Consumer Reports article, citing figures from the Food Marketing Institute, the average supermarket had fewer than nine thousand items in 1975.  By 2008, that number had quintupled. Quintupled.
We are not far from the point where the deliberately organized forces of society may destroy those spontaneous forces which have made advance possible.--Hayek. This is such an interesting quote, "deliberately organized forces" vs. "spontaneous forces."

In the U.S., 31% of income is taken by the State in taxes; in France it is 60%. Then it is dispersed as the State sees fit.

It has been more than a year since the Pentagon announced that it was opening a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing Cyber Command, then six years old, to mount computer-network attacks... "In general, there was some sense of disappointment in the overall ability for cyberoperations to land a major blow against ISIS," or the Islamic State, said Joshua Geltzer, who was the senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council until March. "This is just much harder than people think...."  

Love is like Oxygen. So is credit. Loans to businesses are way down.

Entangled particles are one of physic's modern mysteries. Paired particles seem to mirror each other and respond instantly to each other over huge distances, raising questions about the travel speed of communication. As they are individually paired they are interesting as a possible encryption technique.
Science Magazine reports a team of physicists using the Chinese Micius satellite (launched back in August 2016) have sent quantum-entangled photons from a satellite to ground stations separated by 1200 kilometers, smashing the previous world record. Sending entangled photons through space instead of optical fiber networks with repeaters has long been the dream of those promoting quantum-key exchange for modern cryptography. This was a very limited success. They were only able to recover about 1000 photons out of about 6 billion sent and the two receiving stations were on Tibetan mountains to reduce the amount of air that needed to be traversed. Also the experiment was done at night to minimize interference from the sun. Still, baby steps...  

In the Southeast, 30% of car loans are in arrears.
It takes 47% of the average paycheck to buy a pickup.

Oregon became the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as "nonbinary," neither male nor female, on their driver licenses and identification cards Thursday in a decision by The Oregon Transportation Commission.

Being magnanimous with the property of others, Jeremy Corbyn has called for the empty homes of rich people in Kensington to be seized for Grenfell Tower residents who have been made homeless by the fire.

The Russians say that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive again.

Friction between the U.S. and Mexico over trade is starting to cut into sales for U.S. farmers and agricultural companies, adding uncertainty for an industry struggling with low commodity prices and excess supply. (wsj)

AAAAaaaaaannnnnddddddd.....a graph:

Chart of the Day
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