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

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