May 17, 2016
Quote of the Day
Two comments on the notorious Breitbart article calling Bill Kristol a "renegade Jew" for his opposition to Trump list me among the anti-Trump Jews in the media. I'm not in fact Jewish, at least for the past few generations that I can trace, but I have no objection to being so identified. But did they have to call me a conservative? -- David Boaz
May 16, 2016
Nobody more worthy of props.
When I run that line by Russ Roberts, he replies with a joke: "How do you know macroeconomists have a sense of humor? They use decimal points."
Roberts is the beloved host of EconTalk and the author of three excellent books which use fiction to communicate economic prociples [Review Corner: The Invisible Heart] and on Adam Smith [Review Corner: How Adam Smith can Change you Life].
April 20, 2016
I used to like Andy Borowitz quite a bit. He has become pretty stridently leftist at The New Yorker -- plus one of my lefty buddies only shares his most snide and hateful. It has turned me off. But this is pretty propsworthy:
February 12, 2016
Gaga for the Anthem
It was a pretty good Super Bowl for this Bronco Fan. I walked the dog and missed most of the halftime show. I enjoyed several of the commercials, and there was that 24-10 thing.
I really dug Lady Gaga's national Anthem rendition. I collect them and enjoy both contemporary individualized and traditional versions. The lyrics are sublime and exhibit a nuance and subtlety for which Americans are not especially renowned. I didn't understand them until I was 40.
I flirted with having Francis Scott Key narrate my ill-fated book on Dred Scott v Sandford (he was Chief Justice Roger Taney's Brother-in-law and childhood friend). Alas Key died long before any of the interesting events. Key's ghost was a bit too much even for historical fiction.
But I retain a tie with Key and the lyrics are marvelous. Thanks to Penn Jillette, I can recite the second verse from memory. It is seriously magical:
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deepBut the tune is garden-level martial pablum with a difficult range. Sorry patriots. Ergo, a little (or even a lot) of individualization fails to offend me. I wish we'd follow the Constitution as written, but a lead sheet for the Star-Spangled Banner is a living document full of emanations and penumbras.
..."I just thought about the lyrics and what they really mean," said Gaga. They've been around a long time, so I thought about what they mean now, I just sang from my heart."
December 15, 2015
Propsworthy II: People are Smarterer than Media Allows
Or...Brother jg was right...
As in any group of people -- like, say, a random collection of well educated journalists stationed safely north of the Mason-Dixon line, one of whose members suspects a missing jetliner has been swallowed up by a black hole -- some members of the Woodland community expressed fears that, to the better informed, were not well grounded.
Propsworthy: Western Oil Producers
When America's fracking-enabled shale oil revolution took off, OPEC leader Saudi Arabia was adversely affected by the drop in worldwide oil prices. Fashioning itself the 900 pound gorilla, the Saudis embarked on a sort of "WalMart strategy" whereby they hoped to put the upstart American companies out of business by driving the price of oil low enough to undermine fracking economics. But they made a big mistake in underestimating the competitive spirit of American businessmen. Guardian's Nils Pratley writes:
Investment in shale and conventional oil has plunged, it is true - the evidence is the slump in the number of rigs operating in the US. But investment and production are different things. Producers adapt. They squeeze their suppliers, they drill only their best prospects, and they cut costs. BHP Billiton, for example, has slashed spending on its US shale fields, but last month predicted that "improved recoveries and lower drilling costs will deliver stable production" this year at its Black Hawk and Permian onshore oilfields in Texas.
And where does that leave Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and the bulk of the OPEC cartel?
In the end, of course, low oil prices will probably deliver production cuts, as the Saudis intended; it's just that the timescale is constantly being extended as oil inventories soar. Having persuaded its Opec co-travellers to sign up for a short campaign, the Saudis risk being dragged into a long battle by default. The low oil price is great news (at least for the time being) for oil-consuming countries. But when, like the Saudis, you require $100-a-barrel oil to balance your budget, you have a serious problem. Even foreign-exchange reserves of $640bn don't last for ever.