That was fast

January 21st, 2017

Biggest crime in human history? Puh-leeze. A few weeks ago we suggested that the new administration might want to take on the foolishness of catastrophic global warming as a kind of line in the sand. The silly billies who say nonsense like “no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change” should be met with eye-rolling and guffaws. Now if you click on such a reference you get this. Here’s some additional detail. That was sure fast.

BTW, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s crazy out there.

The purloined letter, volume 2

January 21st, 2017

James Carville famously said in some form: it’s the economy stupid. Our view: it’s the hair, stupid or not. Whether you like or despise Donald Trump, it’s important to recognize one thing. This is a guy who the media/establishment would find it very hard to defeat with conventional firepower: oh he makes insults, he said naughty things to a TV crew, he didn’t release his tax returns, etc. etc. Overlooked in all of this is a most salient fact about the new president: he is transparent in his presentation to voters and defiance of PC. 91% of the news stories about him were negative, but somehow he prevailed.

We think a substantial portion of this invulnerability is attributable to his kooky orange-gray hair and orange face. This is a guy who wears many of his faults in an entirely visible way, with no changes or apologies. That’s an unprecedented in-your-face persona, totally rejected in the world of conventional politics, and it attracted a lot of people to really believe that when he said MAGA, he meant it. Achieve or die trying. As we’re writing this, we hear the Darth Vader theme playing on MSNBC in another room. Yawn. We haven’t a clue whether Trump’s agenda will be enacted and will succeed, though we hope so. But we say this to the media and his opponents: you underestimate at your peril a guy who wears openly the most ridiculous hairstyle in American political history.

Interesting perspective on American culture

January 20th, 2017

Spengler:

The protagonists of American popular culture are outsiders with scant patience for authority. The Western heroes invented by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour and portrayed by William S. Hart or John Wayne, and their urban cousins — the private detectives of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler — play loose with the law and play dirty with the opposition, but they have an inviolable inner code. They don’t betray their friends and they don’t exploit the weak. They don’t aspire to entry into the elites, and they don’t apologize for their vulgarity. They come in comic form, for example Huckleberry Finn, or nastily serious, like William Munny in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, or a bit of both in Hammett’s wise-cracking angel of vengeance, the Continental Op.

Religious or not, the entire dramatis personae of American fiction descends from the Christian in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the original of which every product of the American literary imagination is a reworking. Americans are pilgrims. We have no settled culture, no inheritance of customs handed down over generations, no ancient vineyards or ancient recipes, no monuments from the deep past and no long memory. We invented ourselves as a nation out of the Protestant imagination, and we must journey towards a goal that we never will reach. The goal — salvation — always awaits just beyond the horizon. Our fiction lacks endings. Our national novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, ends perforce the way it began, with Huck running away from home: “But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”

It was just last month that some Virginia schools banned Huck Finn and, of all things, To Kill a Mockingbird. It is amusing and perhaps fitting to note that a town in the state of Massachusetts banned Huckleberry Finn from its library in 1885. Roger Kimball has a good companion piece.

We note the take no prisoners approach of the inaugural address today, and found some CNN commentary amusing. Referring to the economic “carnage,” the commenter thought it made no sense, since the unemployment rate was 4.7% or so, without (of course) noting that the labor force participation rate is the lowest in 40 years. Interesting times ahead. As we wrote recently, the skim is the scam, but those relying on the skim are now facing some serious opposition.

Soundtrack again

January 20th, 2017

We discussed this six years ago, and still it’s so peculiar to have a soundtrack playing in the background as we go through the day. We “run” for more than an hour daily and listen to the radio, so there’s that — but almost all of our soundtrack doesn’t play, even on oldies or classical stations. There’s no Lesley Gore or Bobby Vee, and few Raindrops, for example. Often oddities and one-hit wonders appear: here and here for example. We don’t like most recent pop music, though we’ll make an exception for Don’t Stop Believin’.

From a business viewpoint, we note that the ad industry really ought to have clever jingles for all products, since the jingle sometimes lasts longer than the company. We recall WPRO singing about being Color Radio, and Rocky Point (RIP) crooning about its World Famous Shore Dinner Hall. Don’t get us started on Taunton Dog Track (here comes Rusty, look at him run, you’ll be sure that you’ll have fun, watching all the greyhounds run etc). Speaking of such old days, it’s interesting that there’s now a mini-network that rebroadcasts the game shows of yore, complete with the original Dristan and Anacin etc ads (eg, like jet-age plastic so tough, bullets bounce off).

From our earlier post on soundtracks, we note a couple of others reported having the same phenomenon. We wonder just how common it is. If it’s universal it has tremendous potential commercial value. Yet, unless we’re mistaken, it has been little studied, and the studies have been peculiar. If we’re mistaken, we’d like to know.

Miscellany

January 19th, 2017

What does it mean that one of the signers of this charming letter is now offering 7000 words of analysis and advice? (Kissinger, who is discussed extensively in the latter link, had nicer things to say than did the letter.) BTW, of course the sentence should be reduced; it wasn’t her, it was a bad guy who committed the crimes. The 1956 Secretary of State in the Congressional Record: “You are dealing with a kingdom and with a dynasty which more than any other in the world practices very religiously certain religious doctrines and they have felt for a long time — it goes back centuries — a very particular animosity toward the Jews, because they credited the assassination of Mohammed to a Jew.” Well, that explains a lot. Finally, fun with numbers: Question, when is a hoax not a hoax? Answer, when it pays real well, duh!

More: this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal, so learn how to build an igloo. and then there’s fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist professor at Yale. SNL, ugh.

What’s happening in Davos?

January 18th, 2017

WSJ:

Mr. Xi stressed that no power should attempt to dictate to other countries a specific path. Development, he said, is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” borrowing a phrase from U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Some in the audience noted irony in the appeal from the leader of a country that has undermined competition. Foreign companies and governments complain that China has moved to restrict foreign companies’ access to its markets, while buying up technology and assets from firms abroad. The U.S. and Europe also accuse China of selling goods from steel to solar panels at improperly low prices. “Here, we have the global elite embracing Xi as the anti-Trump,” said Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College, London. Mr. Trump has pledged to defend American firms and workers against foreign competition and impose tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, among other countries. Mr. Trump also accused China of manipulating its currency to boost exports. “China has no intention to boost its trade competitiveness by devaluing the renminbi, still less will it launch a currency war,” Mr. Xi said. China’s yuan weakened almost 7% against the dollar last year, nearly double the drop in the year earlier.

Also, via CNBC: In most middle class societies, people can’t get a raise, Biden said. But if we offered free college, he said, they would be thankful. “We can afford to do that in a heartbeat,” Biden said. We can pay for every student to go to community college for $6 billion a year.”

Hmmm. “In fall 2016, some 20.5 million students are expected to attend American colleges.” If they all went to community college, tuition would thus be $150 a semester. Sounds about right for the quality of education the snowflakes are getting.

What do these people have in common?

January 17th, 2017

Via PL:

Ken Adelman, David Adesnik, Michael Auslin, Mike Baker, Christopher Barton, Kevin W. Billings, Robert D. Blackwill, Daniel A. Blumenthal, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Anna Borshchevskaya, Joseph A. Bosco, Michael Chertoff, Patrick Chovanec, James Clad, Eliot A. Cohen, Gus Coldebella, Carrie Cordero, Michael Coulter, Chester A. Crocker, Patrick M. Cronin, Seth Cropsey, Tom Donnelly, Daniel Drezner, Colin Dueck, Eric Edelman, Joseph Esposito, Charles Fairbanks, Richard A. Falkenrath, Peter D. Feaver, Niall Ferguson, Jamie Fly, Richard Fontaine, Aaron Friedberg, Dan Gabriel, Greg Garcia, Jana Chapman Gates, Jeffrey Gedmin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, James K. Glassman, David Gordon, Christopher J. Griffin, Mary R. Habeck, Paul Haenle, Melinda Haring, Robert Hastings, Rebeccah Heinrichs, Francis Q. Hoang, Rachel Hoff, Jeffrey W. Hornung, William C. Inboden, Jamil N. Jaffer, Ash Jain, Marc C. Johnson, Myriah Jordan, Robert G. Joseph, Tim Kane, Kate Kidder, Robert Kagan, Rep. Jim Kolbe, David Kramer, Stephen Krasner, Matthew Kroenig, Frank Lavin, Philip I. Levy, Philip Lohaus, Mary Beth Long, Peter Mansoor, John Maurer, Matthew McCabe, Bryan McGrath, Richard G. Miles, Paul D. Miller, Charles Morrison, Michael B. Mukasey, Scott W. Muller, Lester Munson, Andrew S. Natsios, Michael Noonan, Tom Nichols, John Noonan, Roger F. Noriega, Stephen E. Ockenden, John Osborn, Robert T. Osterhaler, Mackubin T. Owens, Daniel Pipes, Everett Pyatt, Martha T. Rainville, Stephen Rodriguez, Marc A. Ross, Nicholas Rostow, Michael Rubin, Daniel F. Runde, Benjamin Runkle, Richard L. Russell, Andrew Sagor, Kori Schake, Randy Scheunemann, Gary J. Schmitt, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Russell Seitz, Kalev I. Sepp, Vance Serchuk, David R. Shedd, Gary Shiffman, Kristen Silverberg, Michael Singh, Ray Takeyh, Jeremy Teigen, William H. Tobey, Frances F. Townsend, Jan Van Tol, Daniel Vajdich, Ruth Wedgwood, Albert Wolf, Julie Wood, Dov S. Zakheim, Roger Zakheim, Sam Zega, Philip Zelikow, Robert B. Zoellick, Laurence Zuriff, and quite a few others

Oops! More at AT.

Counterintuitive

January 16th, 2017

WSJ:

The main Shanghai Composite Index fell as much as 2.3% intraday, before suspected buying by state-backed funds known as the “national team” in the last half-hour of trading helped narrow the day’s loss to 0.3%.

The more lively and speculative Shenzhen market saw deeper losses, with its benchmark Shenzhen Composite Index and the Nasdaq-style ChiNext board both down 3.6%. The two indexes both slumped as much as over 6% in the last 30 to 40 minutes of trading. The Shenzhen index’ drop was its largest since it fell 4.9% on Dec. 12.

The apparent trigger was Leshi internet Information & Technology, which provides online video broadcasting services. The firm resumed trading Monday after a period of suspension. The stock initially rose at the open but started tumbling just after the lunch break. Selling soon spread wider on the ChiNext board, where the technology firm is a bellwether and a barometer of general sentiment.

This happened in a climate of nervousness following a Sunday article published by the official Xinhua News Agency that described the acceleration in initial public offering approvals in recent months as a normalization of that market, which has seen several IPO moratoriums over the past decade.

“We saw a crash-style slump during the last trading hour today as panic spread because sentiment was severely hurt by Xinhua’s rhetoric,” said Deng Wenyuan, an analyst at Soochow Securities.

China approved 227 IPOs last year, slightly more than 223 in 2015. But most of last year’s approvals came after July. The first half of 2016 saw few listings, as Chinese authorities were trying to stabilize the share market after a selloff that began in the summer of 2015.

The Chinese securities regulator has picked up the pace of IPO approvals since the start of this year, greenlighting 24 IPOs two weeks into the new year.

“Xinhua’s article sent a signal to the market that Beijing supports the acceleration of IPOs, which was a huge blow to market confidence,” said Amy Lin, senior analyst at Capital Securities, noting the deals will drain cash from previously listed shares.

We would have thought that a pickup in IPO’s was bullish, but then again, this is China. At PE’s of 51x, anything can happen.

Fire them all!

January 15th, 2017

If we’re going to reduce government spending and waste, as well as media corruption, there’s a very easy place to begin: fire the stupidest of the stupid. We have a suggestion in that regard, and it is not based on partisanship — anyone who advocated for the “dossier” or reported it on TV or in print (other than with winks and laughter) should be loudly dismissed from his job and ridiculed in public discourse. No, wait, they should also be displayed in stocks or pillories for a few weeks (possibly a good idea for the Cathedral of Global Warming nincompoops as well). We need only look at the most obvious of frauds to make this judgment.

According to a writer on the left, this group of idiots, imbeciles and morons includes many at the highest levels of the so-called intelligence community, another good reason for heads to roll. Why is it so obvious that mass firings are common sense? In the ancient days of 1987 it was 30 years after the book was published and 24 years after From Russia with Love the film that Roger Simon found himself at the Yalta Hotel, with cameras rolling. In the century since Mata Hari was executed, the story is all the same. Anyone who thinks that Trump was that stupid at the Ritz Carlton has pretty much forfeited his right to have an income. HT: Clarice

What a terrible thing to have lost one’s mind. Or not to have a mind at all.

January 14th, 2017

Every day more and more people enter the lunatic fringe. And Mr. Brawley is at it again. Ah yes, the media. The MEDIA — scream!!! Finally we’ll point to a serious VDH piece on the urban-rural divide, today and in history.

Bonus fun, at least for us: we’re watching In the Heat of the Night for the very first time on TCM. Very entertaining movie, but we can’t help thinking that the anti-Trump cohort imagines the USA is back in Sparta, Mississippi in 1967. To what extent this is projection, we can’t say. ‘Tis a pity though that nothing has improved, indeed has worsened, in the last 50 years.

More Amazon news

January 13th, 2017

NYT:

with Amazon’s announcement Thursday that it plans to hire 100,000 new employees in the next 18 months, the Baltimore facility and at least 70 other Amazon fulfillment centers across the country stand to be among the biggest beneficiaries. Fifteen miles away in the suburbs, all that is left of Owings Mills Mall is rubble, demolition having started in the fall, after the last anchor stores, Macy’s and J. C. Penney, closed within months of each other.

Productivity in the retail sector, online and offline, jumped 3 percent in 2015 compared with a measly 0.8 percentage point for business over all, he said. The typical online retailer generates $1,267,000 in sales per employee versus $279,000 at bricks-and-mortar stores. In the last four years, traditional retailers have cut more than 200,000 jobs, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The 100,000 hires it plans for the next 18 months represent a 56 percent increase in the 180,000 full-time United States employees it had at the end of 2016. Amazon has more than 300,000 full- and part-time employees globally.

On January 1, 1996 Amazon had 11 employees.

All the horses’ patoots

January 12th, 2017

Interesting exchange regarding the incoming CIA chief, with Warren citing John Brennan and his concerns about global warming. There are so many people who need firing, and anyone employed by the CIA who spends his time writing about the weather is a good place to start. (BTW, this Brennan really is an idiot or a toady, to judge by the outrageous things he is very comfortable asserting.)

Compare and Contrast

January 11th, 2017

A paper by this fellow and some others:

Changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are moderate in most climate model projections under increasing greenhouse gas forcing. This intermodel consensus may be an artifact of common model biases that favor a stable AMOC. Observationally based freshwater budget analyses suggest that the AMOC is in an unstable regime susceptible for large changes in response to perturbations. By correcting the model biases, we show that the AMOC collapses 300 years after the atmospheric CO2 concentration is abruptly doubled from the 1990 level. Compared to an uncorrected model, the AMOC collapse brings about large, markedly different climate responses: a prominent cooling over the northern North Atlantic and neighboring areas, sea ice increases over the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian seas and to the south of Greenland, and a significant southward rain-belt migration over the tropical Atlantic. Our results highlight the need to develop dynamical metrics to constrain models and the importance of reducing model biases in long-term climate projection.

We’re sure this paper is more reliable than this other paper, which defies common sense in a particularly egregious way. An updated version of Rathergate, which we have no interest in deconstructing. BTW, CNN got its knickers in a twist, which was quite funny.

Bonus: also funny was Lindsey Graham’s appearance on O’Reilly, which he had ducked over the last year. He clearly was unhappy being there, but this was a weak attempt to recognize the new state of things. BTW, he and McCain coordinated or discussed the turning over of the coo coo dossier to the FBI. Very unhappy guys.

What did you learn in school today, son?

January 10th, 2017

Upcoming lectures at University of Maryland, 2/13/17 — don’t miss them! Here is Professor 1, with a PhD from UVa:

From one perspective, the twists and turns of the American Odyssey of race and racism appear paradoxical and hypocritical. Practices of racial discrimination collide with high-minded Enlightenment idealism, whether in consideration of Supreme Court cases, the cultural mores of national belonging, school admission policies, or even presidential elections. For many, the American racial landscape appears full of pitfalls and puzzles and is anything but consistent or uniform. However, a sociological evaluation of “race” as a practice of social domination reveals a robust and consistent national logic.

The pillars of that “Racial Reasoning” are: (1) beliefs in nonwhite dysfunction and pathology; (2) a white patriotism that loves “America” and hates “the state;” (3) a sense of whiteness as Messianic paternalism; and (4) a palpable commitment to the nation that whiteness is under attack. By tracing the growth and seduction of these principles, Dr. Hughey demonstrates how one of the most recent incarnations of this logic —- the rise, popularity, and election of Donald Trump —- was neither coincidence nor fluke accident, but a natural and purposeful consequence of a social, political, and economic commitment to white supremacy.

Professor 2, with a PhD from UC Santa Cruz:

White American investments in racism produce a devastating cost to people of color; but they also produce visibly degrading symptoms in white Americans and the larger national body. This talk will focus on the spiritual depravity, deadening, and social alienation of white America in the age of Trumpism.

I argue that these collective symptoms are fundamentally rooted in white Americans’ investments in gendered racism, which teach whites not only to deaden themselves to the suffering of others but to their own humanity. I show how white America’s spiritual depravity, deadening, and social alienation drives not only interracial racist violence, but also white-on-white mass shootings, intra-racial violence in the families of police officers, prison guards, and soldiers, intimate partner violence, and environmental devastation. Thus, white America will either reckon with and remedy its collective spiritual degradation or the chickens will come home to roost.

The bad news, from Mark Steyn: “In Malmö as in Chicago, the gulf between reality and the Official Lie will only widen in the years ahead.” The good news, via Instapundit: “it’s inevitable that the truth will emerge.” But getting there won’t be half the fun. Or will it? (HT: PJ)

Bonus: to see the opposite of the blathering clowns above, consider this VDH piece.

Where will it all end?

January 9th, 2017

Every day it seems, we have a new low: great picture though, of a fellow who “shared a stage at a climate event with Gov. Jerry Brown, billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer and University of California system president Janet Napolitano.” HMD comments about a depraved culture: “Chicago cops shot 25 people, virtually all armed and dangerous, or 0.6% of the total.” Where’s a bold act of defiance when you really need it? We Kant hear you, comrade. Here’s one way it could end, some new Pearl Harbor moment. How far above 0% is the probability of the snowflakes enlisting in the Army on a new December 8?

Miscellany

January 8th, 2017

High school dropout and guy with postgrad degree together at the UN: “climate change is the most important issue facing not only this generation but all future generations.” Great argument for turning that place into an apartment building.

Nice, if sad, story. BTW, there’s fun in the future. Oh yes, more fun. Mr. Teaparty spreads angst. Messrs. Klavan and Lifson on the ongoing meltdown in the media.

Since at least 7% believe the moon landing was faked, or that Elvis is alive, or that 9-11 was an inside job, there’s a certain amount of nuts and deplorables for every occasion. But when someone, we forget who, said that half of some mainstream group were deplorable, the interesting part of that comment is that it reflected a genuine belief, one that is believed by the media even more, if it were possible, than they believe in global warming. Their moral superiority is a big chunk of their identity. Question: are you a biased person if you reject insanity?

Super fun bonuses: Hooray for Hollywood! More fantastic statements here from the cognoscienti whose professional lives consist of pretending to be other people. There is such wisdom in our midst! We wonder what they think about Global Warming (snark). Have a nice day!!

A third of a century ago

January 7th, 2017

From a link at Powerline:

We know that wars have occurred, will occur, are occurring, but bringing such experience down into our hearts, and taking continual, tangible steps to prevent war, becomes a difficult task. Two groups on campus, Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Students Against Militarism (SAM) work within these mental limits to foster awareness and practical action necessary to counter the growing threat of war. Though the emphasis of the two groups differ, they share an aversion to current government policy. These groups, visualizing the possibility of destruction and grasping the tendencies of distorted national priorities, are throwing their weight into shifting America off the dead-end track…The belief that moribund institutions, rather than individuals are at the root of the problem, keep SAM’s energies alive…

Indeed, the most pervasive malady of the collegiate system specifically, and the American experience generally, is that elaborate patterns of knowledge and theory have been disembodied from individual choices and government policy. What the members of ARA and SAM try to do is infuse what they have learned about the current situation, bring the words of that formidable roster on the names of Butler Library, names like Thoreau, Jefferson, and Whitman, to bear on the twisted logic of which we are today a part. By adding their energy and effort in order to enhance the possibility of a decent world, they may help deprive us of a spectacular experience – that of war. But then, there are some things we shouldn’t have to live through in order to want to avoid the experience.

Sounds a lot like Jack Handey, but it’s not.

Interesting graphs on the F-35

January 6th, 2017

Here and here on the F-35. More negativity here. The guy who spends an awful lot of time thinking about this just published a book. We want to say something clever, like it’s the perfect aircraft for skiing, swimming and deep sea diving, but we can’t think of anything clever at the moment. At least they haven’t spent the entire $1.5 trillion yet. Whew!

Super unfun bonus: we think there’s at least a 50/50 chance that today’s nut has a version of the typical backstory. If he does, the story will get the usual downplay.

In brief

January 5th, 2017

Very interesting commentary from an insider at the CIA. We won’t be surprised if the story has legs. Wait and see. We’re not going to comment on the most discussed story of the day, except to agree with Scrooge on this one. Double bonus points for posting the video on the internet. A trend worth encouraging.

Some humor, some serious unhumor

January 4th, 2017

This video is kind of funny. We haven’t looked for many reactions, but the ones we’ve seen have been fairly civil or at least not outraged for the most part. Quite surprising. Oh yes, everyone is quite tolerant these days. We live in charming times. Finally, Omaha Beach, Iwo Jima, Antietam update: “I know that women are at least as strong as men.” More idiocy. Someday in the future, the US may return to rationality over PC gibberish. We just hope it’s not too late.