August 31, 2017

Autonomous Cars

Russ Roberts's EconTalk podcast this week features an economic look at the future of automobiles. There is curiously little discussion directly of the internecine issues we flog around here. But there are some very interesting ramifications of changing to electric and autonomous vehicles.

Internecine Posted by John Kranz at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

A maddening aspect is that guest Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz is a Londoner and has a very un-American expectation of automotive use. "Well, it will be ok to have a car with only a 100-mile range for those who only drive 50 miles per week.

Don't let me scare you off -- still some very interesting things.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2017 5:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Per WEEK? Even a Londoner could only make it to and from the Tube station on that driving budget.

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2017 6:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm listening a second time (not to check, but I listen and work and get 95% coverage in two listens).

The first part is electric cars and second is autonomous. A serious discussion on charging economics ensues, but he is seriously complacent on range anxiety. I think that comes from being a Londoner and not considering the car a necessity like us "sceptics."

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2017 6:20 PM

Friday Funnies

Yeah, it is Thursday. But I thought we had a particular cross-section of the populace 'round these parts that might appreciate this (lifted from Facebook):


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:11 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:


(With apologies to Jack Nicholson's Colonel Nathan R. Jessup.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2017 4:58 PM

August 28, 2017



I'll Take Romance

Ben Oakland & Oscar Hammerstein II ©1938

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


August 26, 2017

Stirring the Pot

I need some help before I infuriate thousands of my neighbors. Please look this over. First a bit of backstory:

My town of Erie Colorado has been invaded by a diaspora of suburbanites fleeing the city of Boulder and Boulder County (the town straddles the county line). Like me, they fled exorbitant housing costs and gridlocked traffic. Unlike me, most want to import the same political solutions which created them. To understand the politics: most residents wish they lived in Boulder.

Against this backdrop, a home exploded in the neighboring community of Firestone. It is a horrible tragedy, killing two and seriously wounding another. It was caused by negligence on the part of oil and gas extraction firms. The victims had zero responsibility, and the devastation was dramatic, obliterating the complete structure.

Today a huge portion of the new residents, who dislike oil and gas to begin with, have combined legitimate concern (one day, your home is there and one day it is a pile of boards) with some manufactured outrage (legal methods to usurp property rights have all failed -- let's use this tragedy as a cudgel). In response, Weld County is providing home testing machines. My Erie neighbors are making a beeline to get them and complaining on Facebook that the commissioners underestimated demand.

Here -- at long last -- is my point. And I am tempted to put it on the Erie Facebook page and attract the slings and arrows of outrageous local Moms.

Dear Erie Neighbors:

Might I suggest that you reevaluate risk profiles before driving up to Greeley to get your home methane test kits?

The explosion in Firestone is a horrific tragedy -- all the more so because it was caused by negligence of energy extractors.

But there were 57 traffic fatalities in the County last year. If you drive 32 miles each way to pick up and again to return your test equipment, you are not only driving more than 120 needless miles, you are participating in an activity that is more than 25 times more dangerous than living in your untested Weld County home.

There were 99,226 "housing units" in the 2010 Census (many more now). While the explosion in Firestone was tragic, a serious accident mitigating this minute risk would be worse. Stay home. Fix the rickety back step. Get that medical test you've been putting off. All better moves than testing for methane.

Am I wrong? If I am right, is it worth it?

But Terri thinks:

Not wrong. Though I would suggest that they also use Amazon services and purchase their own kit vs using a free one. Surely the children are worth the $150 asked. Saving the free ones for those who can least afford them.
Just be sure you yourself have your protective gear available from the slings and arrows!

Posted by: Terri at August 27, 2017 9:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Or you could just suggest that they read the entire Greeley Trib article:

"There is a limit of one monitor per household, and county officials will give them out as long as there is demand."

Now, if they are actually asking for more than one monitor per household, tell them to pound (fracking) sand.

And while we're on the subject, I wonder if BoCo is offering these to residents on the Boulder side of the county line?

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2017 2:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Boulder clearly doesn't care that <remy_voice>people will die!</remy_voice>

The complaint is that their are not sufficient units for the number of households that want exactly one. (Innumeracy is more rampant than appreciated.)

Thanks, but I don't think I'll doe on this hill. I feel I should make a stand against the anti-extractors, but it should be on property rights, not misplaced risk.

On that end I was working on:

"What about the majority? Well, a majority of your neighbors would like to your home razed and replaced with a Broncos Cheerleaders' training facility. But we don't put that up for a vote because you have been paying your mortgage and taxes. These mineral rights predate you, so the owners are not bound to win an election to exercise them."

Better? Worse?

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2017 3:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not sufficient units *where* for the number of households that want one? On Earth? Weld County has spent $1,901 to purchase monitors "to date." There is no cap on available units other than - "as long as there is demand."

Or is the Trib wrong?

On your "majority" argument, it's way too complicated. Modern suburbanites expect everything, for nothing, immediately and always. Capiche?

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2017 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

You want to wait until a unit becomes available? When your house is about to explode? Have you no children?

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2017 11:28 AM

August 25, 2017

And, the Asshole of the Day Award goes to...

Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson:


This was on SciBabe's Facebook feed. Love her, but she has a blind spot for doctor supercilious.

But jk thinks:

I commented "I bet there were a few doubters last week."

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2017 6:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dear Dr. Ty,

Would that be "predicted" from tree rings and insect larvae examined last century, or "forecast" from atmospheric observations over the past thirteen days?

(Even then, only prompting an NHC advisory 8 days ago.)

But yeah, I guess weather is a proxy for climate predictions then after all, right?

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2017 7:10 PM
But jk thinks:

The post drew several comments along the lines of climate != weather. Our hostess defended the tweet with "It's Dr. Tyson!"

Well, then.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2017 1:24 PM

August 24, 2017

Econ is Hard

All Hail Freeman!


But johngalt thinks:


Despite bread shortages, consumers having trouble making a sandwich.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2017 6:57 PM

"I may be Hitler, but I'm still not Trump"

The segue machine is set to kill.

I may have set a personal record in tagged categories for this post. It's part five of a YouTube original creation by Chris Ray Gun called "Social Justice: The Musical"

I post this one first because it's the first episode I found [while searching for "modern protest songs" after listening to Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth' following 'The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down' as referenced in the previous post] and also because it is timely and entertaining. The guy seems very talented and well worth a look at his other work.

Enough. On with the show!

August 23, 2017

Too Much Time on my Hands...


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:56 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Or, as his friends know him, "Bobby."

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2017 1:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Seque link.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2017 1:12 PM



Wichita Lineman

RIP Glen Campbell

Jimmy Webb ©1965

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


But johngalt thinks:

Just. Excellent. Gives me chills.

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2017 2:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Aw, thanks, man!

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2017 3:16 PM

August 21, 2017

Another way to watch the solar eclipse

One way to observe today's solar eclipse hasn't been mentioned, much less laboriously detailed, by our media scribes. And you can do it indoors, in real-time or after the fact. Simply point your browser to Weather Underground's Wundermap and find a personal weather station that has a solar sensor readout. Not all PWS's have them, but mine does. As does this one in Salem, Oregon and this one in Casper, Wyoming, both of which are in the path of totality. (Mine is in the low 90-percent zone.)

After clicking a link, scroll down to the "Solar Radiation" plot.
The links are for live, real-time data. For future viewing, simply select the date "August 21 2017" at the top of the weather history section.


Oh, and because everyone's saying it... DON'T STARE AT THE SUN!
(Because nobody already knows that or something.)
Okay, I'll stop mocking - I just heard Ross Kaminsky say he knows a kid who is still partially blind in one eye from doing this.

UPDATE: Aaaand, it's over. [Click to enlarge]
Impressive reductions in radiated power and UV index by this near-total eclipse near Denver, Colorado (solar radiation dipped from 720 W/m^2 before to 47 W/m^2 during the eclipse) and a 4 degree F drop in ambient temperature, before rising again throughout the day.

1st Ammendment under fire

Finally, the "hate speech" movement is hitting its stride. The carpet bombing of news from a paltry protest in Charlottesville has made gone viral look like a runny nose. I went looking fairly hard to see how many white reprobates were able to gather after a country-wide call. A nearly vile article in the WSJ (Mike Rosen was right *sigh*; their reporting pages are quite liberal) that had to use supremacist, racist and I think even "hate" at least once each paragraph finally mentioned the tally of good-ole boys at several hundred. My FB feed was blind with hatred and disinformation for them, and especially (Surprise!) Trump.

I think the MSM is shirking in reporting this # of the white-boys for one of two possible reasons: 1. that's just not enough to drive the outrage theater the way they want to, or 2. Antifa/BLM/Anarchists outnumbered them. Both could be the case as well.

But to the title; this new purge of "Hate" groups that FB and Google have been inching towards for quite a while now may go pandemic, as noted here at PL, and is a grave threat I believe to the 1st Amendment rights of speech and association.

Am I being as histrionic as my liberal friends (Censure Trump! Putting up statues is akin to glorifying Goebbels!), or are others having some concern?

But nanobrewer thinks:

Oh, and meant to work this in somehow:

Google and Apple (combined 98 percent market share in mobile-phone operating systems), have banned Gab, an upstart Twitter competitor with a free-speech policy quaintly modeled on the First Amendment itself, from their app stores. Google cited “hate speech” as its reason for exclusion

Could City Journal be next?

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 21, 2017 12:37 AM

August 15, 2017

Free Money

You HAVE to read this! Holler if you need my help to evade Rupert's jackbooted paywall thugs.

Zach Maher explains the liberty-sapping side-effects of the famed Scandinavian welfare state, put best in the subhead: "When the state treats childrearing like a job, make sure you don't run afoul of the boss."

Six months ago, my 2-year-old niece broke her leg. The physician who treated the girl told my brother-in-law that his daughter would be given a full-body CT scan. The doctor insisted that the procedure was mandatory, but not for any medical reason. Rather, the Swedish social-services administration requires such scans to look for evidence of child abuse. While the doctor did note that the broken leg was the result of an accident, he told my brother-in-law the matter was "out of my hands."

When the girl's parents refused to subject her to this unnecessary procedure, the hidden machinery of the Swedish welfare state sprang into motion. My brother-in-law and his wife were required to attend multiple interviews with social workers and to submit friends and neighbors in their small town for questioning. Social workers even inspected their home. Suddenly, decisions as benign as what milk to buy seemed potential evidence of parental deficiency. My in-laws feared their two children might be taken from them.

In Sweden, the state reserves for itself ultimate responsibility for children's well-being. As a parent my job is to give my kids the trygghet necessary to become productive, tax-paying members of Swedish society. This is why I receive financial support and medical benefits. The state is paying me to be a parent. I am, in effect, an employee--and if I do a poor job, my responsibility as a parent might be taken away from me.

The same creepy and suffocating paternalism from the "Dragon Tattoo" books by Stieg Larsson. But sadly true.

But johngalt thinks:

Reprinted here.

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2017 10:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

One might blithely suggest that all this state scrutiny could have been avoided by simply going along with the full-body CT scan. I personally have wished to have such a procedure after a broken bone was attributed to a benign cyst that was only discovered after the fracture. "What other surprises lurk in my body," I thought? The "radiation" imparted by this "unnecessary procedure" is less than that received on an international airline flight.

But the author hits the real reason to object to the Swedish statism - Individual freedom is replaced by an almost Soviet-like duty to conform, with neighbors reporting neighbors for living outside of that conformity.

In the U.S. we used to talk about a "melting pot" where different cultures coexisted and voluntarily adopted some of each others' customs. The contemporary trend has been toward a politically correct mediocrity, where certain beliefs are vilified and embracing customs or traditions of other cultures is decried as "appropriation." This glimpse into the epitome of European socialism shows us where such attitudes might take our country, if we don't stand up to them today.

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2017 11:13 AM
But jk thinks:

Many thanks for the free link. Fight the Power!

Side topic for sure, but the very solid-to-me reason agains the full body scan is that people tend to take counter-productive actions against undeserving risk. If I have this anomalous item, I might pursue extraction or biopsy at greater risk than the target.

A guest told Russ Roberts we lack the skill to manage "Turtles, rabbits, and birds (TuRB)." The metaphor is keeping each species in a pen. Our medicine excels at rabbits: we can build a fence and keep them in. But a suspect could be a turtle, which would grow so slowly there is little risk, or a bird which will defy treatment.

Early detection is the mantra, but it only works for rabbits.

What chills me about the article is the total absence of property rights in our own persons. I completely suspect that my progressive friends would think this great: better to humiliate 99 than let one child abuser roam free. But the theft of agency in that most private matter chills me.

It also speaks to the "kind" tyranny of Scandinavia. It's not the Romania of "Tovarasu Militian" or the last throes of Venezuela. It's a Stepford Wives tyranny, and it has many fans in the USA.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2017 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

For the uninitiated, "Tovarasu Militian" is "Comrade Detective." I was struck by the fact that they call their detectives "militia." I guess it's more descriptive to call him "comrade policeman."

Also, google translate has "companion" or "comrade" translating to tovaras, without the "u."

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2017 4:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I meant to link, thanks.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2017 4:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Paying closer attention last night, the Romanian title isn't Tovarasu or Tovaras, but Tovarasul - literally, "comrade."

I posted more highlights from last night's viewing here.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2017 11:12 AM

Next Step for Canada - Southern Border Wall

What is it with southern borders anyway?

Thousands of migrants are fleeing the United States for Canada via a remote back road in upstate New York.

The Canadians arrest the migrants as soon as they step across the border. But the migrants prefer to take a chance by seeking asylum in Canada rather than risk being deported from the United States.

Canadian police have set up a reception center on their side of the border. It includes tents where migrants are processed before they are turned over to the government agency that handles their applications for refuge.

Officials estimate that 400 people crossed the border at the site on Sunday alone.

Canada said last week it planned to house some migrants in Montreal's Olympic Stadium. It could hold thousands, but current plans only call for only 450.

Unconfirmed reports have Prime Minister Trudeau boasting, "It will be a big, beautiful wall, with many beautiful maple leaves."

August 13, 2017

Review Corner

To the degree that we have forgotten the fact that a school should be a tool -- a means to an end, not an end in itself -- Dewey is the culprit. For him, the school would become everything -- the literal center of the world, he said on occasion. In Dewey's dream, the school ceased to be an instrument supporting parents and became instead a substitute for parents.
I have a difficult task ahead. I'm going to write a less-than-glowing review about a very good book. A book I enjoyed reading, which contained many important ideas, and one which was written by perhaps my new favorite Senator: Ben Sasse (R - NE).

The problem with The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis---and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance is that it was upstaged by Sen. Sasse's "Conversations with Tyler [Cowen]." I implore you to make space for that. Watch the video instead of listening to the podcast because it is that thoughtful. Sasse is non-partisan and a bit academic (he was President of Midland University before that dark patch in his life of being elected to the US Senate).

The podcast gets you 90% of the good stuff in the book:

"Rather than a short transition period of personal uncertainty and discovery," Paula Fass observes in The End of American Childhood, adolescence was becoming "a prolonged sojourn of development spent among other youth." School was not only about in-classroom learning; it was also -- or even primarily -- a social hub." When a teenage majority spent the better part of their day in high school, they learned to look to one another and not adults for advice, information, and approval," observes cultural historian Grace Palladino .

What Sasse calls segregation by birth year, Glenn Reynolds called "warehousing" in his book The New School [Review Corner]. Both refer to the Lord of the Flies quality of spending all your time with, and seeking primarily the approval of other 3rd, 5th, 7th, 11th (whatever) graders. Sasse has a nice riff on bullying, wondering whether a 13-year old who spent a lot of time with little kids or grown-ups would be so disturbable by the opinion of 13 year olds.
Today, young people's lives are driven by one predominant fact: birth year. Instead of helping with the family business or apprenticing, teenagers are now hanging out, in person or online, with friends, most of whom are their same age and year in school. Correspondingly, senior citizens live out their years in nursing homes where they also interact mainly with their age peers. Retirees buy condominiums in age-segregated communities like Sun City, California, and Kings Point, Florida, where people under 55 are prohibited unless accompanied by an older adult.

I'm a sour. spur-grapes autodidact, but there's a good bit of Mike Rowe wistfulness as well:
Paul Goodman, an intellectual godfather of the New Left, spoke for a movement of doubters fifty years ago [...]

Goodman wrote: "When, at a meeting, I offer that perhaps we already have too much formal schooling and that, under present conditions, the more we get the less education we will get, the others look at me oddly." Discussion ignores the purposes for which schools might or might not be effective and proceeds immediately to questions of "how to get more money for schools" and "how to upgrade the schools." And the superstition persists that more money correlates to better outcomes despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he lamented.

The book is also not short on reflecting Sasse's quiet Nebraska charm:
(Incidentally, for those looking for reasons to mock Midwesterners for lacking creativity, it's worth noting that my grandfather was named Elmer; one of Elda's two brothers was Elmer; one of her sisters also married an Elmer; and a third sister married a Delmer. Family reunion pick-up sports were often the three big Elmers and a Delmer versus everyone else.)

Wow, jk, this is a vicious hit-job of a Review Corner. I only hope the Senator never sees such cruelty...

Sasse is a little-c conservative. Hey, some of my best friends are conservatives. I'll even let them in my home, though I scrub pretty thoroughly after they depart,

He avoids "Get Off my Lawn" well, though it is clear he takes editing pains to stay away. There is an underlying Calvinist message that supports his thesis well. None can doubt that our affluence and technology contribute substantively to weakness in young adults. Having many of your friends die of polio did focus the pre-Salk mind (an example from the book, but not one I am presenting charitably).

But we need to find strength and resolve and vocation in our modern, affluent society. He does not say we shouldn't, but he makes two assertions that bug me.

"What ordinary people once made, they now buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves replacing an entire system because some minute component has failed." Our global systems of production have radically reduced the prices of almost everything, but they have also come at the cost of promoting a new mentality that everything is disposable.

This drives me mad from my lefty and righty friends. We are rich. We've made incomprehensible advances in production. The time of a fellow who is bright enough to repair a TV is much much much much much better directed elsewhere. This argument is a couple notches above wishing for we still had polio. (Which, again, he did not say.)

I am old enough to remember the TV repair guy. But our TV (in its handsome walnut console) was a big investment that several of our neighbors could not mange. Now all o' God's children gotta flat screen; and, anybody smart enough to repair it has a much better job than pulling out and testing dusty vacuum tubes. (They can repair guitar amps!)

My second gripe is "production - over - consumption;" Senator Cornhusker says:

Third, embrace limited consumption. "Luxury is the bane of republics." At some point we forgot the difference between needs and wants and decided that acquiring things could bring us happiness. It's not true. Gluttony is a danger we've forgotten to guard against . But even more basically, consumption alone cannot make us happy; meaningful production can.

I accept that something's being Calvinist does not make it wrong. This is a book about creating happy kids and productive adults worthy of republican self-rule. I pity people who "work for the weekend" almost as much as the Senator.

But I will not demonize consumption qua consumption. That's a sticky, conservative, Calvinist tar pit. Enjoy your affluence. Be grateful if you want. Help get it to others. But don't live a life of year-round Lent. And, never, ever, even once, forget your Adam Smith:

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

Well, now that I have so cruelly ravaged the poor author.... I repeat: watch the Tyler Cowen podcast. Buy the book. Read the book. You'll dig it; but it only gets three and a half stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

A good education should expose children to adults. (Isn't that what teachers are for, to impart the wisdom of other adults?) And it should expose them to more history and more perspective on their own places in it. This is where I find modern schools falling short.

As one who can repair televisions, and cars, and homes (and guitar amps) I do see both sides of the "repair or replace" argument. But the critical thing is to know more about how things work than how to take the steps to repair them. And by extension, to know more about how human civilization works so that you can be an informed citizen who directs his own government, not just a cubicle dweller who votes the way the hippest teevee personality suggests you do.

Posted by: johngalt at August 14, 2017 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

The teacher perhaps keeps it from going completely "Lord of the Flies." But instructor interaction is limited and has a different dynamic.

I first heard this in Glenn Reynolds's "The New School." His daughter attends online classes which free up her time to intern at the local TV station. Reynolds points out that she is working with adults to complete tasks and achieve goals. That's a different relationship than teacher-student.

My sister pushed back on this as well. "You went to school," was her biting riposte. I went to smaller school, and I played games with neighborhood kids who were older and younger. And, in high school, I worked with adults. I think there's a tipping point with today's huge, institutional schools and a day filled with structured activities which are also segregated by age.

Yes, you were despoilt by the Heinlein quote on specialization. Fine for individuals, but harmful when extended to societies.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2017 12:49 PM

August 10, 2017

Quote of the Day

Mr. Damore is an embarrassment to the company's strategy of appeasing the diversity furies with tokenism, perfectly acceptable to Google's critics as long as it affirms their insistence that any and all disparities arise from discrimination and victimization. -- Holman Jenkins

August 9, 2017

All Hail Freeman

Been too long:


But johngalt thinks:

"Exhausting?" But, we were told Trump is a Lazy Boy?

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2017 4:19 PM

Must See TV

We all love that the ThreeSources banner shows the philosophical and economic poverty of Communist North Korea.

NED bless the actor Channing Tatum. He has worked tirelessly to bring this odd project to fruition:


It is a six-episode depiction of the 38th parallel: comically funny and stunningly enlightening about the perils of taking Marx too seriously.

It is a Soviet-era TV show that Channing and his pals have restored and dubbed in (cable-TV) English. Detectives Gregor Anghel and Joseph Baciu are the "Starsky & Hutch" of Bucharest, consigned to attempt coolness in those horrid little soviet tin can automobiles.

The entire occupation is dubious because "there is normally no crime" in Communist paradise. Sometimes, they'll respond to a break-in just to find some over-enthusiastic neighbors (and, no, I am not making this up) had redistributed a person's wealth to the less fortunate in the neighborhood.

And they smoke a lot.

In the first episode, titled "The Invisible Hand" (not making that up either), a Jordache label found at a crime scene leads them to the American Embassy where they meet the buxom, decadent Ambassador, and a shadowy figure who operates a casino and sells jeans.

This was developed by the Soviets to make us look bad ("Partner, isn't it redundant to say 'Capitalist whore?'") but I think it would make Rev. Jeremiah Wright put on a Lee Greenwood album.

We'll see if the magic holds through all six episodes (I'm leaning yes), but you have GOT to see at least one.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [6]
But jk thinks:

Four (out of six) episodes in. It has turned from campy Communist propaganda into very artsy Communist propaganda.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2017 2:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I watched episode 1. It has its charms. I'm planning to go on from there soon. I only have the series finale remaining from my latest fave - 'Strike Back.' American Damien Scott and Brit Michael Stonebridge are admirable heroes, although the gunfight scenes are less believable in the later seasons than in the first couple: There's no way they both should be unscathed from the hail of bad guy bullets on so many occasions.

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2017 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Finally finished Episode Six last night. I'd suggest sticking with it. It changes quite a bit.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2017 4:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Watched episodes 2-4 last night. Hilarious in places. Episode 3 was best. Some highlights - "evil capitalist plot" is referenced, as shadowy characters distribute free "Jor-DACK-ee" jeans in the streets. In a difficult moment, one of the communist detectives asks the other, "What would Lenin do?" "He'd kick his ass," came the response. Alas, the suspect had already hanged himself to avoid torture. "Why do we torture people?" "Because it works."

A touching scene when one detective's teen daughter is found surreptitiously listening to western music (after her father explains to her little brother that "it's your duty to inform on your sister) but the father doesn't get angry. He calmly explains that it's not "just music" but it's propaganda, designed to seduce good communists into the wicked ways of capitalism. "The west wants to make all of us prostitutes."

Earlier that same detective related a story about his uncle who emigrated to New York. "They made him start his own business just to survive." I guess that passes for "prostitution."

The funniest yet was when Jane, the young woman from the US Embassy, said she misses her home country (although nobody makes love like Romanian men.) "Of course I don't miss the poverty, the racism and the crime. Or the AIDS. Just about everyone in America has AIDS."

The opening credits include the seal of approval of the "Ministry of Acceptable Diversion for the People's Republic of Romania" or something to that effect. #propaganda

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2017 11:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Yet, we're into incredible Harrison Bergeron territory here, They try so clumsily to bash the West, yet it would turn George Monbiot into Lee Greenwood. They cannot hide the repression, poverty, and lack of individuality.

The scary dream sequence of New York opens with a cool Starsky & Hutch car. "Game, set, match West."

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2017 2:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You make an excellent point that I had not fully appreciated, although there was a scene that I thought proved it. When Gregor brings a pair of the Jordache jeans to the partners apartment, partner's wife seems to long for a chance to touch them, much less wear them, without the inherent guilt of "materialism." In that one moment of acknowledging human nature, communist propagandists admitted why they are destined to lose.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2017 5:02 PM

August 8, 2017

l'Affaire Kaepernick

It's Sports. It's a Rant. I suspect I am plowing new ground...

Unlike Spike Lee, whom I admire unconditionally as a filmmaker, I've no problem with the soft demand for the services of one Colin Kaepernick. In fact the idea of his not getting a job in Miami because of his fondness for Ché Guevara T-Shirts makes me somewhat giddy. Consequences! 'Bout bloody time one of the limousine lefties pays for his sins.

Blog friend SC hates Jay Cutler in the way that Inigo Montoya hates the man who killed his father. He was stunned to see Cutler get the Dolphins' gig.

But I have what I hope might be an original thought. The unoriginal thought is that whole "1 - 10" thing. If you're going to be a pain in the ass, you can get a job in the NFL. But you had better be an uncontestable asset to winning football games. The possibly original thought is that this is why we don't see Tim Tebow starting for the Broncos this Thursday. And, indeed may be why the Broncos had little appetite for Mr. Kaepernick.

I liked Tebow. Even this old atheist fell for his aw shucks charms and his passion for his philosophy and beliefs. I even bought a gorram Jets t-shirt!

But one day, when things were not going so well, I saw an interview that bugged me. "At the end of the day," quoth #15. "It's not about football. What really matters is the platform it provides to do our ..." and I did not hear the rest of the sentence because some idiot was screaming at the TV. Some guy with glasses. And a beard.

Jesus told the tax collectors and soldiers to be good tax collectors and soldiers. That and "render unto Caesar" are my favorite parts of doctrine. And, I'm sorry Mister Tebow, but you are paid "a lot of simolians" for your football skills -- wherever they came from. That interview has never left my mind. Peyton Manning is either a pretty good bloke, or has the world's finest PR firm. I suspect him to be a caring individual. But he shows up early to view film -- not to advance his message, but to win.

I suspect at the end of the day, NFL coaches and GMs see that in young Mister K. It's too bad really, and I suspect his SJW girlfriend. But I do not think it's race. I do not think it has anything to do with supporting the troops. I think rather that people see a man lacking the focus to win a championship, even though he might possess the skills.

Rant Sports Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Sports talk today had both Kapernick and Tebow starting at QB, despite their pain-in-the-ass-ness, if they were starting-caliber QBs. As backups, however, "don't let the door hit ya."

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2017 4:32 PM

August 7, 2017

A Complete History of Money

I still have a google alert for mentions of "Liberty Dollar" and it brought me this blog post yesterday. There's no need to excerpt - it is lucid and concise, summarizing the past and future problems with trade currency exactly as I understand them.Wiser men will correct me, I'm sure, but I agree with the author who concludes, "So, if you find yourself religiously checking some cryptocurrencys price, or bogged down in discussions about the one true bitcoin, or constantly asking what currency to buy, please at least remember that we have bigger fish to fry. We are here to fix the financial system."

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:31 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Ahh monetary policy . . . it makes me long for those halcyon days when we added the phrase "NATALEE HOLLOWAY PICTURES" as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to rise in the rankings of boring monetary policy debate.

The finest description of money I've encountered is in Homer Economicus:

"The Functions of Money In the "Trilogy of Error," caught with illegal fireworks by Chief Wiggum, Milhouse exclaims, "I can't go to juvey! They use guys like me as currency!" Could Milhouse actually become money in the juvenile hall? To answer this question we first have to know what functions Milhouse would have to serve to legitimately be called money. Second, we have to know what properties (or characteristics) Milhouse would have to possess to serve those functions.

"Let's start with functions. For something--call it an asset--to be considered money, it typically must function as three things:
-- A medium of exchange
-- A unit of account
-- A store of value

"These functions are not mutually exclusive. The extent to which an asset serves one function largely determines to what extent it serves the other two functions."

My first, #1 with a bullet, choice would be competing currencies. Why not let my gold bug friends trade in Liberty Dollars, my hippie friends in Bitcoin, and Nelson's pals in shares of Milhous? It is one place I'm an anarchist: let people choose what they wish to use and what to accept. (The pizza joint near my first house in Aurora used to accept US Dollars or Mexican Pesos).

But. The cottage industry of attacking fiat US Dollars is a bit overwrought. The medium of exchange function requires an adequate supply. My Austrian friends howl, but deflationary shocks are real and if I might lapse into jargon, suck really bad.

Of course, if the supply of money is grown foolishly, it threatens the store of value function. I do not believe that an orderly, expected 2% inflation rate is that destructive. No, you cannot leave a large part of your worth in cash, long-term.

Ergo, my third choice is the third-best system we have. An FOMC effectively presiding over a 2$ inflation target. Not sexy, not infused with the fires of liberty. But stodgily, Hamiltonianly stable.

(Second choice is an nGDP targeting, rules-based Fed)

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2017 12:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If I stipulate, for the sake of argument, that deflation is so terrible as to be avoided at any reasonable cost, would you concede that central bankers confiscating 166% of the economy's increased productivity through innovation and efficiency is an unreasonable cost?

And then there's the elimination of currency, requiring every transaction to be conducted through their banking system. At that point we will revert to other physical currencies, I predict.

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2017 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Nossir. (But I'm enjoying picturing my blog brother typing about the evil bankers in his Guy Fawkes mask.)

"Would I buy life insurance if it was $300,000 dollars a year for $250,000 coverage?" No, but I do buy life insurance at a premium and payout that satisfy my risk preference.

I lived through the Arthur Burns years; I know the ravages of inflation. The Bernanke "revolution" was that 2% is a good trade. If you're holding cash, you have to make plans to avoid it. The "loss" accrues to debtors -- a well represented constituency.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2017 4:55 PM

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