Must-Read: To Understand Donald Trump, Look to Europe['s] Far-Right: "Newish parties... are gaining support with platforms...:
Must-Read: Matthew Yglesias: To Understand Donald Trump, Look to Europe['s] Far-Right: "Newish parties... are gaining support with platforms...
Live from Yellowstone Lake Lodge: WTF!?
Daniel Little: The Case for Realism in the Social Realm: "The case for scientific realism in the case of physics is a strong one...
...The theories... postulate unobservable entities, forces, and properties. These hypotheses... are not individually testable, because we cannot directly observe or measure the properties of the hypothetical entities. But the theories as wholes have a great deal of predictive and descriptive power, and they permit us to explain and predict a wide range of physical phenomena. And the best explanation of the success of these theories is that they are true: that the world consists of entities and forces approximately similar to those hypothesized in physical theory. So realism is an inference to the best explanation...
"WTF?!" is the only reaction I can have when I read Daniel Little.
Live from Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: Paul Krugman meditates on why the goldbug-grifters currently running and speaking at the APP Monetary Policy event down-valley here in Jackson Hole make such a good living--why they find so many marks, and why it does not matter that the predictions of the goldbug-grifter-con men have proven so false for so long:
Paul Krugman: [The Old Man and the CPI](http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/25/the-old-man-and-the-cpi/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body): "I was treated to a long ad from Ron Paul...
Live from Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: We of What Recovery? and all of our friends at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Policy Conference and Drinking Party are not the only people up in Jackson Hole this week. There is the American Principles Project down-valley somewhere--a conference of grifters and goldbugs, charging their attendees a healthy sum, because, they say, current Federal Reserve policies are dangerously inflationary, and so they need to "bring sanity back to U.S. monetary policy". Their top five headlined speakers: George Gilder--Chairman, George Gilder Fund and former Reagan advisor. Steve Moore--Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Heritage Foundation. Benn Steil, PhD--Senior Fellow & Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations. Peter Schiff--Financial Analyst. Jim DeMint--President, Heritage Foundation.
I have already dealt with George Gilder, Stephen Moore, and the conference organizer Steven Lonegan. Now we come to headliner number 3, Benn Steil. Unlike Lonegan, Gilder, and Moore, Benn Steil is not a liar: he does not knowingly state things that he knows to be false.
He is, however, what Bugs Bunny would call: "a maroon".
Here are five examples:
(1) Benn Steil does not understand the constraints facing countries that do not issue the principal reserve currency: He writes that if the U.S. were to lose its dominant reserve-currency status:
The Federal Reserve would now be forced to operate under external constraints comparable with those imposed by the classical gold standard, under which the US needed more gold to create more dollars.... [T]he US would no longer be able to cover its current account deficits just by conjuring dollars, it would also have to issue debt in euros...
But the Eurozone, Britain, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and many other countries are all very able to issue their own debt in their own currencies. They are able to cover their current account deficits by conjuring euros, pounds, Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, Swiss francs, and a host of others. They do not have to issue their debt in dollars. They are in no wise "forced to operate under external constraints comparable with those imposed by the classical gold standard." Not at all.
Live from Evans Hall: One reaction to the rise of Donald Trump in Republican presidential primary polls has been the extraordinary hurry with which many other candidates have fallen all over themselves to endorse self-deportation.
Note, however, that by "self-deportation" I do not mean what Mitt Romney meant by the phrase: make life so unpleasant for undocumented immigrants in the United States that they decide to leave. What I mean by "self-deportation" is candidates adopting policies that would deport themselves.
Across the Wide Missouri: I score this--John Scalzi vs. John Ringo--for Scalzi, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0. How is John Scalzi mischaracterizing Ringo's argument? If I had to summarize John Ringo’s Sad-Puppy Hugo Awards argument, it would be as:
It seems to me that Scalzi and company went the extra mile, and more, to turn Ringo’s argument into something semi-coherent that could be examined and refuted…
Live from Bullwinkle Plaza: It is quite an accomplishment to both be (a) the worst economic forecaster among your peers, and yet (b) engage in no public reflection and discussion of how and why you got the past wrong, and how you are changing your model of the economy in order to get it less wrong when you forecast in the future.
Charles Plosser has managed that accomplishment.
Those close to him in the WSJ rankings of Fed forecasting success--Bullard, Lacker, Kocherlakota, Williams, and Bernanke--have all discussed, sometimes at great length, what they got wrong, why they think they got it wrong, and what they think they have learned. Not Charles Plosser--at least, nowhere that I have seen. I have not even found any recognition by Charles Plosser that every single year he was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia he did get it wrong, did misjudge the economy, and was recommending monetary policies that would be unduly and inappropriately restrictive. None.
And so the honorable and intelligent Duncan Black descends further into insanity:
Over at Equitable Growth: Paul Romer has a long post that seems to me to get some elements of the story right, some elements of the story wrong, and to miss some elements of the story completely:
Paul Romer: What Went Wrong in Macro--Historical Details: "During my time at MIT, Robert Solow was harshly critical...
...of the new classical macro models pioneered by Robert Lucas, dismissive in a way that seemed to me to skirt uncomfortably close contempt. I recall hearing the same type of criticism from Frank Hahn.... If it sounded like contempt to me, others may have heard it the same way.
At this point, Romer should say what Solow's and Hahn's criticisms were ca. my freshman college year 1978-1979. The argument, as I remember it, went like this: READ MOAR
Must-Read: Vox Voxsplains Vox.com: What http://www.vox.com has had to say about what it thinks it is doing:
On explainer journalism: Vox: Nine Questions About Vox: "The media is excellent at reporting the news and pretty good at adding commentary...
...What’s lacking is an organization genuinely dedicated to explaining the news. That is to say, our end goal isn’t telling you what just happened, or how we feel about what just happened, it’s making sure you understand what just happened. We're going to deliver a lot of contextual information that traditional news stories aren't designed to carry, and we're hiring journalists who really know the topics they cover. There’s no way we’ll be able to help readers understand issues if we haven’t done the work to understand them ourselves.... This article is an example. It tries to identify the main questions you might have about Vox and answer them in a clear, logically structured way. At the beginning is the most obvious, most important thing people might want to know about Vox rather than the latest scoop. This article contains news--we’re announcing our name, Vox.... But the new information isn’t the point. The point is to leave you with a better understanding of what we’re trying to do with Vox.
Platon: So, Sokrates, now you have taken a look at and had a test drive of our forthcoming website redesign. What do you think of it?
Sokrates: May I say that piece of scene-setting inclueing is awful?
Platon: You can say what you want. You are Sokrates. But we do the best we can in limited space. Now, might you address the substance, perhaps?
Sokrates: The website all looks very good. A lot of thought and experimentation has clearly gone into it. If you ask me, it looks to me to have right now to have successfully nailed three of what I guess are the five essential requirements of a modern year-2015 website. And it may well turn out in the end to have what I guess are the other two requirements nailed as well. But that really depends on implementation. We cannot even guess at whether it has those nailed right now.
Must-Read: The way I like to put it is that it looks to me like the last time Robert Lucas of University of Chicago did his homework was back in the fall of 1979. It was then that Paul Volcker shifted Federal Reserve policy and made disinflation job number one. Yet the models that tracked how expensive in terms of elevated unemployment and idle capacity that policy was were not the rational-expectations models of Chicago-Rochester-Minneapolis. They were, rather, the adaptive-expectations models of the Federal Reserve-MIT-Princeton. And Lucas's response was to put his fingers in his ears and say: "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
We are thinking about this, again, now because Lucas's "methodological" commitment to modeling economies by assuming that businesses never have any idea that if they cut the quantity they produce they will be able to charge a higher price has annoyed Paul Romer--that Lucas and company are clinging to intellectually-destructive "Stigler conviction" rather than scientific "Feynman integrity".
In my view, having strong views and being an aggressive advocate for them is not a bad thing. Failing to understand that the point of the enterprise requires that you be willing to mark your beliefs to market is.
Apropos of all this, M.G. Ziegler:
M.G. Ziegler: Wrong Positions, Strongly Held: "It is often said that many of the best thinkers/doers/leaders in history have one thing in common...
The feel-bad thing to read this week from my archives is: on social networks and investment banker compensation levels:
Unfogged: The Mysteries of Chet: I have here a special, economics-type query which I direct to Brad DeLong, among others. Here's the thing: I have known many investment bankers in my day. Hell, I'm related to plenty of investment bankers, even if only by marriage. Many of these men are stand-up guys, fun to be with, always up for smoking a few bowls and playing golf. Others are asshole blowhards....
I guess I first ran into this mode of doing economic "theory" back in 1984, when Ed Prescott came through Cambridge, MA presenting a paper and did an absolutely awful job at explaining his model. Unless you had worked through his math carefully--or had talked to somebody at all--you left Prescott's seminar thinking his results were much more general than they were, and with next to no insight as to which of his assumptions were crucial and which were simply ornamental to produce the results he wanted to get.
Must-Read: Henry Farrell: A Brief Theory of Very Serious People: "Tyler Cowen argues that the concept of ‘Very Serious People’ refers to people who...
Across the Wide Missouri: Ed Luce: Donald Trump leaves indelible mark on Republicans: "The legions of Republicans flocking to Mr Trump’s banner are not going anywhere...
...Trump’s finest hour is yet to come.... Trump is likely to do in the debates exactly what has been working for him on the campaign trail--insult the other candidates by name and watch them squirm.... Nor is it possible to steal Mr Trump’s policy clothes. There is no logic to his platform.... Consistency is a vice. Coherence spells dishonesty.
Over at Equitable Growth: The very sharp Nick Rowe has a useful piece today giving the baby-step intuition behind Schmidt and Woodford's argument that, no, expected and actual inflation do not as a rule decline one-for-one when a central bank lowers nominal interest rates:
Nick Rowe: Understanding Schmidt and Woodford on Neo-Fisherianism: "Suppose you are really bad at algebra... can't solve...
...X = 0.5X. So you make a tentative first guess at the answer, say X=1, plug your guess into the right hand side, get X=0.5, which is your second guess, which you plug into the right hand side again, to get X=0.25, which is your third guess, and so on. Eventually your guesses converge to X=0... tatonnement (groping) towards the answer, just like the Walrasian auctioneer who solves the supply and demand equations in micro by raising prices if there's excess demand, and cutting prices if there's excess supply. But... if the equation is X = 2X... your guesses will diverge further and further away from the right answer.... READ MOAR
Live from Evans Hall: An unexpected surprise! I get to spend this afternoon with evocations of George Akerlof and Bob Shiller!
Admittedly, the evocations are sub-Turing ones. But as long as you are willing to go with it and not test their bounds to the breaking point, the illusion of learning from and interacting with other minds--other minds clearly smarter than me--is well-nigh complete!
Hoisted from Other People's Archives from Five Years Ago: Paul Krugman** (2010): The Conventional Superstition: "Calculated Risk points us to a speech by Kevin Warsh...
that strikes me as almost the perfect illustration of the predicament we’re in, in which policy is paralyzed by fear of invisible bond vigilantes. Warsh isn’t an especially bad example — but that’s the point: this is what Serious People sound like these days. The bottom line of Warsh’s speech — although expressed indirectly — is that it’s time for fiscal austerity, even though the economy remains deeply depressed; and no, the Fed can’t offset the effects of fiscal contraction with more quantitative easing. In short, the responsible thing is just to accept 10 percent unemployment. And why is this the responsible thing? On fiscal policy:
...and things like this show up in my email inbox in rapid order:
Why Is FEMA Hoarding Survival Food?
You're not going to believe what FEMA just tried to pull.
You won't believe what the government is doing now...
>> Click here to watch the banned video now.
It's true, Friend. They are coming. Like it or not.
And they won't leave empty-handed.
Don't wait. You snooze, you lose.
Get the truth about what the government is trying to get away with, before they yank it offline.
>> Secret video exposes what you need to know.
PS...It's going to be every man, woman and child for themselves... food mobs will strip store shelves bare... get prepared by watching this ground-breaking video before it's taken down by government hackers...
Must-Read: Erik Loomis: A Glimpse Into the Black, Shriveled Hearts of the Class Warriors: "When you think that maybe the hearts... aren’t actually that closed to compassion...
Across the Wide Missouri: Debating, on Bloomberg, a guy who had subpoenad a dead woman to appear in his committee hearing room was... creepy. Highly creepy:
Wikipedia: Thomas M. Davis: "The Terri Schiavo case. The committee subpoena...
...signed by Davis, ordered the appearance of Schiavo, her husband, Michael, and her doctors. The subpoenas specified that the witnesses bring to the hearing:
all medical and other equipment that provides nutrition and hydration...in its current and continuing state of operations.
Davis issued a joint statement with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) that stated:
This inquiry should give hope to Terri, her parents and friends, and the millions of people throughout the world who are praying for her safety. This fight is not over.
Many legal scholars criticized this action as an inappropriate congressional intervention in an ongoing court case that defied the rule of law and amounted to a bill of attainder—not against the party the politicians are attempting to aid, but against the party on the other side of the courtroom.
Live from Oceana Naval Air Station: Am I wrong to be repeatedly gobsmacked and disgusted by the narcissism of the Bush clan?
No More Mister Nice Blog: That Other Time George W. Bush Suggested 9/11 Was No Big Whoop: "BooMan flags this passage...
I remember a comment George W. Bush made to me during a one-on-one, in-flight interview. He said the toughest moment of his life wasn’t what to do after 9/11 but seeing his father... defeated by Clinton. I thought for a moment he might cry, but of course he wouldn’t.
BooMan is understandably appalled:
Over at Equitable Growth: Ezra Klein has a very nice explainer on the likely consequences of the possible announcement next week of a 5-4 partisan Supreme Court vote to disrupt ObamaCare via the case King v. Burwell:
Ezra Klein: King v. Burwell Won’t Destroy Obamacare: "A ruling for the plaintiffs in King won't change anything about Obamacare...
...in California, or New York, or Massachusetts, or even Kentucky. And it won't be a long-term problem for the states using a federal exchange out of convenience rather than ideology; they'll just set up their own exchanges.... Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Delaware, and Maine are already working on backup plans. So King can't destroy Obamacare. What it can do is let Republican elected officials destroy Obamacare in states where they have a majority. That's a very different thing, and it will lead to very different political dynamics.... Resistant red states will be left with a wrecked insurance market — and a hefty tax bill.... READ MOAR
Must-Read: David Smith: Why has R, despite quirks, been so successful?: "Bow Cowgill said, 'The best thing about R is that it was written by statisticians...
The worst thing about R is that it was written by statisticians.
R is undeniably quirky... and yet it has attracted a huge following for a domain-specific language, with more than two million users wordwide. So why has R become so successful, despite being outside the mainstream of programming languages? John Cook adeptly tackles that question in a 2013 lecture, 'The R Language: The Good The Bad And The Ugly'.... To understand a domain-specific language, you have to understand the domain, and statistical data analysis is a very different domain than systems programming.
Comment of the Day: Lee A. Arnold: Thurday Musings on Macroeconomic Policy and "The Right": "Brad: '...not political in this sort of partisan sense: it is, rather, that the prosperity of fiscal expansion is a false prosperity'...
Live from the Ferry Building: Vineet Bhagwat**: Is the San Francisco Housing Market Efficient? (2006): "Under the direction of: Professor Jonathan Levin...
Live from La Farine: As I wrote, moderate Republicans have abandoned the claim that President Obama stiffed them and ran a partisan administration. Instead, they now say that Obama wanted to negotiate with Republicans, but that Pelosi and Reid, somehow, would not let him do so. Thus it remains very interesting that Ron Fournier continues to cling to the 2009-2011 "Obama won't let us into the room, won't listen to" Republican talking point. And it is also interesting that Ron Fournier claims that Bill Clinton began his second term "with standing to convert campaign promises into results":
Erik Loomis**: Idiocy Upon Idiocy: "Of course Ron Fournier would weigh in on the New York Times...
Hoisted from the Archives from Spring 2009: This Is Getting Damned Annoying: Will I Ever Be Allowed to Disagree with Paul Krugman Again About Anything? (Niall Ferguson Edition):
There have been two annoying things about the past decade. The first is that I feel like I have been living in a Ken Macleod novel--and one of the more dystopic ones too, at least up until January 21, 2009 (I am glad he has stopped: Ken: please don't get cranky again).
The second is that the best way to understand the world is through these two rules:
...In August 2011 he denounced the ‘delusions’ of the chancellor whose ‘experiment in austerity’ was ‘going really, really badly’.... Mr Osborne was worrying needlessly about business confidence. ‘The confidence fairy’ was the term Mr Krugman coined to ridicule anyone who argued for fiscal restraint. Unfortunately for Mr Krugman, the more he talked about the confidence fairy, the more business confidence recovered in the UK. In fact, at no point after May 2010 did business confidence sink back to where it had been throughout the past two years of Gordon Brown’s premiership.... UK unemployment is now 5.6%, roughly half the rates in Italy and France.... Weekly earnings are up by more than 8%; in the private sector, the figure is above 10%. Inflation is below 2% and falling...
The graph that Ferguson is looking at: READ MOAR
Today's Economic History: Matthew Yglesias: Surplus content: "Keynes on bubbles...
...I think Chapter 22 of the General Theory is enduringly relevant:
It may, of course, be the case — indeed it is likely to be — that the illusions of the boom cause particular types of capital-assets to be produced in such excessive abundance that some part of the output is, on any criterion, a waste of resources; — which sometimes happens, we may add, even when there is no boom. It leads, that is to say, to misdirected investment. But over and above this it is an essential characteristic of the boom that investments which will in fact yield, say, 2 per cent. in conditions of full employment are made in the expectation of a yield of, say, 6 per cent., and are valued accordingly.
When the disillusion comes, this expectation is replaced by a contrary ‘error of pessimism’, with the result that the investments, which would in fact yield 2 per cent. in conditions of full employment, are expected to yield less than nothing; and the resulting collapse of new investment then leads to a state of unemployment in which the investments, which would have yielded 2 per cent. in conditions of full employment, in fact yield less than nothing.
We reach a condition where there is a shortage of houses, but where nevertheless no one can afford to live in the houses that there are. Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom.
Think about Greece with its 'unsustainable' economy bolstered by government borrowing, or the US with its 'unsustainable' housing boom. Indeed, those particular arrangements could not be sustained forever. But why, when they unwound, were they replaced by a boom in unemployment? Surely it's not hard to come up with a higher-productivity sector for people to work in than the unemployment sector? To simply observe that the old arrangement suffered from some mis-valuation problems doesn't explain what's really mysterious and troubling about recessions.
Lord, Enlighten Thou Our Enemies: Let us start with John Stuart Mill's prayer:
'Lord, enlighten thou our enemies,' prayed nineteenth-century British economist and moral philosopher John Stuarrt MIll: http://olldownload.libertyfund.org/Texts/MillJS0172/Works/Vol10/PDFs/Mill_1277.pdf:
Sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions, and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers: we are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom; their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength...
Live from Century City: Josh Barro says: Take panel questions via direct message. He is correct. Requiring questions to be less than 140 characters is a major technological innovation!
Live from Peet’s Coffee: It is official: after the last winter in Kansas City, I need a quad latte to be my best self for breakfast meetings.
Is it time for Rehab?
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....
On Robert A. Heinlein (1964):
So the banker is the son of a bitch in the deal--Or is he, now? Bankers never handle their own money to any important extent; they are custodians of other people’s money. If the banker thinks that it is a bad deal in the long run [because of discrimination], is it not his solemn duty to his stockholders and his depositors to refuse it? No matter how it offends the “human rights” of purple people eaters? Is he morally justified in hypothecating other people’s money in a deal which he considers risky--whether the risk be on that one piece of paper, or long-term risk for his whole crazy structure of loans and futures and so forth? I say he is not; he is a steward and must behave as one--not as a social reformer. Are you and I entitled to a backseat veto over his judgment? No, it ain’t our money. So far, I think, no argument--You, the banker, and the subdivider are each morally entitled to turn down the purple people eater...
And me on Twitter via Storify:
It could have turned out very differently.
It could have been--as those of us who more-or-less hooted Raghu Rajan down at Jackson Hole in August 2005 wrongly thought—-that the money-center universal banks did understand their derivatives books; that asset-price innovation variances did drift up or down with time relatively slowly; that the weak point in the global economy in the mid 2000s was the global imbalance of the US trade deficit, and the possibility that some large bad actor had been selling unhedged dollar puts on a very large scale--not the subprime mortgages on houses built in the desert between Los Angeles and Albuquerque, and the use of securities based on those subprime mortgages as core banking reserves. READ MOAR
...about the history of men's fashion, but doesn't even know that there exist professional historians of fashion who write books about it that can be consulted by people who want to know more.
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences: Chad Orzel provides the pointer to Helge Kraghe, who writes in Physics Web http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/13/12/8 about how quantum theory existed in the equations of physics half a decade before the human brain of any physicist understood it:
It was 100 years ago when Max Planck published a paper that gave birth to quantum mechanics - or so the story goes.... According to the standard story... quantum theory emerged when it was realized that classical physics predicts an energy distribution for black-body radiation that disagrees violently with that found experimentally. In the late 1890s, so the story continues, the German physicist Wilhelm Wien developed an expression that corresponded reasonably well with experiment - but had no theoretical foundation. When Lord Rayleigh and James Jeans then analysed black-body radiation from the perspective of classical physics, the resulting spectrum differed drastically from both experiment and the Wien law. Faced with this grave anomaly, Max Planck looked for a solution, during the course of which he was forced to introduce the notion of 'energy quanta'. With the quantum hypothesis, a perfect match between theory and experiment was obtained. Voila! Quantum theory was born.
Glaukon: So: Blogging...
Hypatia: I would like to start by offering the floor to the Great and Good Felix Salmon:
Felix Salmon: To All the Young Journalists Asking for Advice...: I’m also very flattered by the lovely things you said... about how you’d love to have a career in journalism... do[ing] the kind of thing... I do. You won’t.... By the time you’re my age... you’ll... be doing something... nobody today... foresee[s]....The obstacles facing you are much greater than anything I managed to overcome.... The exact same forces which are good for journalism and good for owners are the forces which are bad for journalists....
J. Bradford DeLong on April 12, 2015 at 12:52 PM in Economics: Information, Information: Internet, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Economics, Streams: Highlighted, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (5)
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Matthew Yglesias puts his finger on why friends don't let friends trust any of the conclusions of Jeffrey Goldberg:
...Jeffrey Goldberg's reluctance endorsement of the Iran deal is a big PR win for the Obama administration.... You won't hear many complaints....
But part of that arbiter role is that he has to take some swipes at the White House, leading to a ridiculous interpretation of how we got here.... [Goldberg's] central--and incorrect--premise... is that the Iran deal (which is good) is better than no deal... but that a tougher approach could have produced some much better utopian deal had Barack Obama really wanted one:
...came to a parley with the suppliants and their friends, in order to save the town; and prevailed upon some of them to go on board the ships, of which they still manned thirty, against the expected attack. But the Peloponnesians after ravaging the country until midday sailed away, and towards nightfall were informed by beacon signals of the approach of sixty Athenian vessels from Leucas, under the command of Eurymedon, son of Thucles; which had been sent off by the Athenians upon the news of the revolution and of the fleet with Alcidas being about to sail for Corcyra.
...I’ll take questions as long as anybody can endure listening, until they drag me away to wherever else I’m supposed to go.
Let me get more serious, and answer a question from Noah Smith about what David Graeber means with his book Debt:
The rational kernel inside the bullshit goes roughly like this:
Humans have evolved to be gift-exchangers--beings that maintain our societies by engaging in gift-exchange relationships with kin, close friends, and immediate neighbors. Why? For two big reasons: First, to keep us all pulling roughly in the same direction. Second, to take advantage of the division of labor. There are powerful psychological mechanisms that urge us to engage in such gift-exchange relationships, and to keep such gift-exchange relationships reciprocal--in rough balance.
When agriculture and cities are invented, things get weird: rather than just gift-exchange relationships with thick-tie counterparties--kin, close friends, and immediate neighbors--we find ourselves engaged in weird thin one-sided gift-"exchange" with kings, priests (& gods).
“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
On climate change, Pence says CO2 from burning fuels can’t be the cause of increased global temperatures because it “is a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature…” not an unnatural one. He also mixes up India and Indonesia.
Pence says George Washington was a Republican: “Republicans, from George Washington to George W. Bush just have better ideas.” Washington didn’t belong to any political party and famously warned against them in his farewell address.