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...)