Thursday, December 17, 2015


The government, you know, the thing everyone loves to pretend to hate but actually makes our lives vastly better, has a Department of the Treasury. And they have a new website for saving for your retirement called MyRA.
It's actually quite navigable and good.
Baby snake bit his tongue.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Brain and brain

I love Debbie Cameron. She's a British linguist and she spends a LOT of time making fun of terrible science. She goes after the male/female brain nonsense. She cuts through a lot of malarkey.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


One summer back in the late '80's I was with my childhood friend Todd at Bard College and we decided to go to this talk being given by Paul Volker.
The president of the college, Leon Botstein, was moderating the Q&A session. There were maybe 20 economics dudes in the room plus Todd and me.
Guess who wasn't allowed to ask a question? That's right. Me. Probably because Leon figured me and my bohemian friend were likely to scream obscenities at the man who'd been arguably the most powerful man in the world in the early 80's.
But we weren't. I just had one question. One question I wasn't allowed to ask the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve. And it was this:
"Why are you so opposed to inflation?"

It's a legitimate question. Inflation was all anybody talked about (this was while the Chicago school of bozo/voodoo economics was at its height.) During the 80's especially the orthodoxy in economics was vehemently opposed to high interest rates and also against public debt. But from a theoretical economic background it didn't make much sense.
And it still doesn't.
Funny thing is that now in 2015 and the Fed is starting to take heat from the same power players for not raising interest rates.
As a field, economics is more susceptible to fads than one might intuit. And they've lost the big picture since, what, Veblin? I don't even know. But it's weird to see the entire swoop of the Fed flip 180 degrees. I mean, they can only do one thing: control the supply of money. And the Randian nutcases are pretty much well-shamed from the almost-second-Great-Depression they caused.
I wonder what Volker would say now?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mass Shootings

You are more likely to die in a mass shooting than to win the Powerball drawing, but the truth is that you are not going to do either. That does not stop people from buying lottery tickets, and it does not stop people from fearing being killed in spectacular acts of terrorism.
It is true that guns kill tens of thousands of Americans every year—the majority of them from suicide. Of the fraction that are homicides, only a vanishingly small fraction of those are high profile mass shootings of the type that make people fear to go to office parties, or to movie theaters. If gun violence itself is what you fear, the most prudent action you can take is to not have a gun in your home.
Good grief this Hamilton Nolan essay in Gawker, You Will Not Die In A Mass Shooting, is all the things I've been thinking for the last few days.

You are far more likely to die driving to the movie theater than you are to die by being killed by a mass shooter at the movie theater.
This kind of thing is why people are more afraid of airplanes than automobiles.
It’s also why I’m lukewarm about assault-weapon bans. Now a handgun ban would do a LOT of things -- mostly suicide prevention. But fairly few people are killed with any sort of long guns. (Although it’s possible that psychologically mass shooters are drawn to so-called “assault weapons” and that eliminating them might reduce mass killings, but nobody’s allowed to do any research on that so...)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

In Denial

This anti-Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ad is both brilliant and pointless.
Aesthetically I am super amused by it. I love the banners with Cordray and Warren on them. The rubber stamps are kind of awesome in that 1984-meets-Brazil sort of way.

If someone can tell me what the white cylinder (not the coffee cup) on the desks is, I'd appreciate it.
The compositing is beautiful. I have to presume that the first three rows of workers are photographed against blue/green screen and that they're either duplicated or they were on a stage where they could just move them back. Because the keying and roto work are simply top notch.
The stairway all the way upstage is beautiful too. I love the little lamps on the desks. And I feel pretty confident we all know what everyone who actually works for the CFPB will be wearing for Halloween next year.
But even American Banker magazine thinks the ad will backfire. It's obvious the ad is absurd, the CFPB only talks to consumers who have been ripped off by financial institutions and helps them, they don't "deny" anybody loans. And the fact is that consumer credit is really cheap and readily available right now. No Citizens are feeling the squeeze of the CFPB.
The joke is that the outfit that produced this ad is made up of people being actively investigated by the CFPB.
But even more than that, this ad was done for another purpose entirely. It's a money grab. There are rich idiots who will pour millions of dollars into PR agencies like the American Action Network. And this ad, while arguably helping the CFPB and liberals, will be touted by them as a great success thereby bringing in more cash.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Media Trying to Destroy America

Steve Kroft's interview with President Obama on 60 Minutes this week displayed the media's absolute longing for war.
Make no mistake about it, the news media love wars. And it isn't just Kroft being a sock puppet for Lara Logan, no, wars are good good business for television. There's little better for ratings and ad revenue than pictures of American kids coming home in boxes (failing that, some bomber runs on cities will have to do).

The palpable lust and eagerness Kroft displayed for the US getting into a hot war with Russia over Syria was pretty remarkable. Like a 5th-grader trying to stir up a fight on a playground he told Obama that Putin was "challenging" his leadership. Whatever that means.
The news media is extraordinarily dangerous. They have no concern at all for American lives, or the lives of countless foreign civilians. The more who die, the better the media's business is. So they beat the drums for endless war.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


October 1, 2015. We're way out from the election -- 13 months. And predictions are notoriously squirrely this far out. That said:
My prediction for the Democratic ticket is Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders 2016 will win the next Presidential election.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Arc Of White Supremicism

I should have known better but I started reading Dan Simmons' spectacularly racist screed Flashback. The book is about how terrible things became for America after, you know, the Muslims and the Japanese took over.

I think that the zeitgeist of white supremacists in America can be found comparing and contrasting Flashback to the white nationalist bible The Turner Diaries.
The Turner Diaries are written in a post-apocalypse where the race war was being raged (it's implied it's being won) against Blacks and Jews.
Flashback takes the more modern Right tack in being pro-Israel (although Israel has been destroyed by the Global Caliphate before the beginning of the story), but still plenty racist against Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics.
The biggest zeitgeist aspect of all this though is that all the stuff that was supposed to have happened by now (2015) in The Turner Diaries didn't go down. Packs of roving Black FBI agents aren't having their way with White women, the Day of the Rope didn't happen. Sure, some assbucket blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City but it didn't set off a race war like he hoped it would. So the new thing in the White Power movement is the feeling that they've already lost.
America is doomed, and there's nothing the White Man can do about it. The President is Black. The head of the Justice Department is Black. And it looks like this will be the last generation with a majority White electorate.
To the White Power movement this is a disaster. And where before they felt that getting some more guns and blowing some things up would get their White brethren to wake up, now it just seems too late.
Worse, I suspect, is that even they are realizing that their racist belief system is based on nothing. America isn't falling apart. There isn't chaos and anarchy in the streets. In fact, things are more stable no matter what the howler monkeys of the Right-wing media screech.
It's gotta be hard to be a White supremacist when nothing, nothing you've predicted has come to pass. Well, it's not like White supremacists have ever been that self-reflecting anyway.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are We Even Bothering to Think Anymore?

60 Minutes this week did a hit piece on Obamacare.
They followed a family where the husband was diagnosed with cancer and the family went broke when they went to a hospital in Texas (even though they were from Ohio.) And the hospital charged them all sorts of crazy prices and they're in enormous debt.

The thing mentioned in passing is that all happened before the ACA. But then Leslie Stahl points out that even though the family is on Medicaid now, they would have had the same problem because Texas doesn't have a Medicaid reciprocity agreement with Ohio.
So why wouldn't they go to Kessler instead? If the same man were diagnosed now then he could.
The point of the whole piece was that the ACA does not do anything about controlling prices of health-care. This is a bit of intellectual sleight-of-hand. No, the government does not negotiate prices. Yes, everyone has private insurance.
The insurance companies as, you know, part of the "free market" may negotiate with health-care providers all they want. The 60 Minutes piece even briefly mentioned that fact pointing out that insurers would never have paid what the Texas hospital charged that family.
At this point they may as well put Lara Logan back on to talk about Benghazi.