Archive for the 'business' Category

From silly to pernicious

Friday, March 21st, 2014

This is mostly silly; hard to think anyone (outside of PhD’s in education) can believe such nonsense. This was pernicious, back in the bad old days of the USSR. Hey wait a minute. Haven’t those days just come back? Next stop: Azerbaijan?

Through a glass darkly no more

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Scott Johnson has a Tough Guy vs. Wimp visual that is pretty funny but misses an important point. The so-called wimp can be a tough guy — here and here are evidence as to whom he despises and is more than willing to act against. This is consistent with the standard religion of leftism by the way, that the US is an imperialist bad actor that has created enemies abroad and repression at home. Exactly what the faculty lounge is all about, but quite a bit more intense and ruthless. (BTW, these fellows and gals are often seriously lacking in historical knowledge, but they fill in the blanks with ideology; after all, truth isn’t about truth, it’s about a technique to get power to enforce equality of outcomes.)

Ah, but how did we get so far away from the America many of us know in our bones? The answers are the university and the media. 3% of Yale donations went to Romney, which is pretty good, by the way. The media are 12-1 against conservatives, which we think slightly understates the case. Still, it’s kind of shocking that things have gotten this bad this fast; yet we only have to look back to the cases of Iran and Honduras to see that the pattern was fully formed and evident years ago. But still, this far this fast? Well, citizens, pause to consider a breathtaking exercise in projection from five years ago, and consider what, unfettered, this level of narcissism has wrought. And there you have it, this far this fast…

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

George Will:

Here is Snyder’s distillation of a Welsh journalist’s description of a Ukrainian city: “People appeared at 2 o’clock in the morning to queue in front of shops that did not open until 7. On an average day 40,000 people would wait for bread. Those in line were so desperate to keep their places that they would cling to the belts of those immediately in front of them. . . . The waiting lasted all day, and sometimes for two. . . . Somewhere in line a woman would wail, and the moaning would echo up and down the line, so that the whole group of thousands sounded like a single animal with an elemental fear.” This, which occurred about as close to Paris as Washington is to Denver, was an engineered famine, the intended result of Stalin’s decision that agriculture should be collectivized and the “kulaks” — prosperous farmers — should be “liquidated as a class.” In January 1933, Stalin, writes Snyder, sealed Ukraine’s borders so peasants could not escape and sealed the cities so peasants could not go there to beg. By spring, more than 10,000 Ukrainians were dying each day, more than the 6,000 Jews who perished daily in Auschwitz at the peak of extermination in the spring of 1944. Soon many Ukrainian children resembled “embryos out of alcohol bottles” (Arthur Koestler’s description) and there were, in Snyder’s words, “roving bands of cannibals”: “In the villages smoke coming from a cottage chimney was a suspicious sign, since it tended to mean that cannibals were eating a kill or that families were roasting one of their members.” Snyder, a Yale historian, is judicious about estimates of Ukrainian deaths from hunger and related diseases, settling on an educated guess of approximately 3.3 million, in 1932-33.

Meanwhile, back in the late, great USA, via Bret Stephens: “What’s up, my dude!” the Canadian teen star says to the president of the United States. “What’s up, Biebs!” the president of the United States answers back.

And this: “The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans.” The sole exception, he added, “was one episode like four years ago in which I was wearing some loose jeans, mainly because I was out on the pitcher’s mound and I didn’t want to feel confined while I was pitching.” Thanks for clearing that up

Once in a Blue Moon — not

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Roger Kimball explains why today’s problems are only the beginning for the prankster and the rest of us. Steyn rates Blue Moon. And it’s been almost fifty years, and we never knew that that’s what Eric Clapton was playing in 1967.

ACA = VA

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

ACA = VA, more or less. This really wasn’t all that hard to figure out. So much for the BS. They think you’re stupid, particularly the Julias, and so far they’ve been right. But things may change

News from the insurance world

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Warren Buffett:

“I love apocalyptic predictions on it, because you’re right, it probably does affect rates. The truth is that writing U.S. hurricane insurance has been very profitable in the last five or six years. Now, the rates have come down very significantly, so we aren’t writing much, if anything, in the U.S.,” he said, adding that when it comes to weather impacts on Berkshire, “it hasn’t been true so far.”

He also likes Keystone. And in a weird moment, he revealed he bought his first stock just after Pearl Harbor.

“Sometimes-inefficient”

Friday, March 14th, 2014

NYT:

For industrial output, the expansion of 8.6 percent for the two months, compared with the same period last year, was the weakest since April 2009. Retail sales growth, at 11.8 percent, was the weakest since early 2011. Investment in fixed assets rose 17.9 percent, the weakest pace in more than a decade. The January and February figures were grouped together to reduce distortions from the Lunar New Year holiday, which moves from year to year and can fall in either month. To some extent, the slowdown in China’s growth is the result of deliberate engineering by policy makers. Beijing realizes that the economy must shift away from exports and heavy manufacturing, and toward consumption-led growth,. At the same time, it is trying to rein in the sometimes-inefficient lending that has taken place during the last few years

Sometimes-inefficient lending? Could this rather inappropriate delicate tone have anything to do with China’s kicking NYT reporters out of the country?

Final point: check out the CSFB chart in this piece.

Don’t be a Silly Billy

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Imagining a public figure giving unusual responses to the media.

“You think that 9996 parts of the air have no power but that 4 bits are going to cause a catastrophe? Go out for a walk and don’t be a Silly Billy.”

“You think in the 21st century that human nature has changed since the days of Cain and Abel? Lose the progress metaphor and don’t be a Silly Billy.”

“You think that centralizing health care is a good thing? Learn something from Wikipedia and the app store and don’t be a Silly Billy.”

Must be better ways, but the tone ought to be scorn without anger.

The university, the media, and the rest of us

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Gallup has a poll showing what people from L to R and in-between care about. It’s a little surprising in that there’s so much agreement on important things. OTOH, here’s a typical college voting 26-3 in favor of nonsense. The media, of course, are just like the college kids: they’ve mostly never worked a day in their lives in the real world, i.e., the private sector. Too bad politics is downstream of culture.

Dots

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

CNN:

The passengers are Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, and Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18. They entered Malaysia on February 28 using valid Iranian passports. To fly out of Malaysia, Reza and Nourmohammadi used passports that were stolen in Thailand, a booming market for stolen passports. The passports belonged to citizens of Italy and Austria…Authorities said they don’t know how Reza and Nourmohammadi came to possess the passports.

On Saturday, Reza used the Italian’s passport; Nourmohammadi used the Austrian’s. According to Thai police, an Iranian man named Kazem Ali bought one-way tickets for the men, describing them as friends who wanted to return home to Europe. While Ali made the initial booking by telephone, Ali or someone acting on his behalf paid cash for the tickets, police said.

The tickets were purchased at the same time from China Southern Airlines in Thailand’s baht currency and at identical prices, according to China’s official e-ticket verification system Travelsky. The ticket numbers are consecutive, implying they were issued together.

Both were for travel from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam via Beijing. The ticket for the man who was using the Italian passport continued to Copenhagen, Denmark. The ticket for the holder of the Austrian passport ended in Frankfurt, Germany.

We have no idea where this is heading, but there so far seems to be an absence of information on the 29 year old. The Daily Mail has a piece with many photos of those who were on the plane.

Strange yet again

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Were the Italian and Austrian stolen passports of MH370 used by Asians? There’s more to learn here: Wretchard has some good links to twitter feeds and pilots that are interesting.

AA587, TWA800, ValuJet 592, Alaska 261, Swissair 111, Egyptair 990, that Air France flight from a couple of years ago: the list is so short that we know the flight numbers of many incidents. And a forgotten incident from nine years ago, when an Egyptian was arrested in Memphis with a uniform and a DVD telling airline pilots how they should act in public.

Fatal air incidents have become so rare in recent years due to technological improvements that suspicions are warranted when aircraft just disappear. We’d be very surprised if the B777-200 in the Malaysia case turns out to be anything other than foul play.

21st century thinking

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

AFP:

In his first department-wide policy guidance statement since taking office a year ago, he told his 70,000 staff: “The environment has been one of the central causes of my life.” “Protecting our environment and meeting the challenge of global climate change is a critical mission for me as our country’s top diplomat,” Kerry said in the letter issued on Friday to all 275 US embassies and across the State Department. “It’s also a critical mission for all of you: our brave men and women on the frontlines of direct diplomacy,” he added in the document seen by AFP. He urged all “chiefs of mission to make climate change a priority for all relevant personnel and to promote concerted action at posts and in host countries to address this problem….We’re talking about the future of our earth and of humanity. We need to elevate the environment in everything we do,” he said. It was, he said “our call to conscience as citizens of this fragile planet we inhabit.”

WRM also notes the tragic and morally inverted worldview of the self-styled intelligentsia.

China brain teaser

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

As we were just saying, China is predicting lower growth and (at last!) slower secular fixed asset investment. Now it turns out that China has had its first domestic corporate bond default in recent memory — yes it was on one or another of Solyndra’s Asian relatives.

Mostly to date credit problems have been masked by the country’s mind-boggling shadow banking system that has tried to insulate the economy from post-2008 world economic problems. None of that taxes the brain, and we’ve covered related topics for years. But here’s a doozy: if you can figure out this infinite-loop-copper-trading-L/C scheme that apparently doesn’t require physical copper — well, more power to you. We’ll try to figure it out on our next long flight; if we do, we’ll report back.

China’s growth target 7.5% and lower fixed-asset investment

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Guardian:

In an annual parliament meeting that began on Wednesday, premier Li Keqiang said China aimed to expand its economy by 7.5% this year, the highest among the world’s major powers…China’s economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, told parliament the government will target 17.5% growth in fixed-asset investment this year, the slowest in 12 years. Investment is the largest driver of China’s economy and accounted for over half of last year’s 7.7% growth by rising 19.6%

And check out slides 3 and 4 of the presentation linked here. Slower is still fast.

Pow Zoom to the Moon

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

No not the Honeymooners routine. NBC: “NASA astronauts cannot get to and from the station without Russian help, due to the retirement of the space shuttle fleet.” What’s Plan B?

Bonus question: what is China planning?

Gas attack

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

What passes for wisdom today: “in the old Westerns or gangster movies, right, everyone puts their gun down just for a second. You sit down, you have a conversation; if the conversation doesn’t go well, you leave the room…if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits.” Fellow sure likes the sound of his own voice, and he’s far from alone in his naïveté. It’s what they really believe inside the beltway, the media, the media, and the academy. There’s a war on, but only one side is fighting.

Smokin’ dope

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Wow. Watch the first few minutes of this interview of the Secretary of State. It features this:

It’s really 19th century behavior in the twenty-first century…You just don’t invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests

Why not? And what’s with this 19th century business? Have human nature, national interests, and the will to power all disappeared recently? WRM comments on the strange views of the academy, media and policy elites.

Common sense and logic, MIA

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

A study via MJ:

Global warming isn’t just going to melt the Arctic and flood our cities—it’s also going to make Americans more likely to kill each other…hotter weather leads to more murders, more rapes, more robberies, more assaults, and more property crimes…Just how much more crime can we expect? Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warming projections, Ranson calculated that from 2010 to 2099, climate change will “cause” an additional “22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft” in the United States.

This is not the only venue where common sense and logic have gone MIA.

Cognitive dissonance?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

It has been said that humans are not a rational animal, but a rationalizing one. So when we see a comment like this — “there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All are untrue” — we wonder why the stridency? Of course, these are politicians, not the brain trust, but we also see such stridency in certain parts of the academy. Why the rigidity and over-reaction on the part of some? Just a case of nasty personalities? Or maybe that, as true believers in the religious doctrines, they are more than a little discombobulated when reality veers from their desired, indeed predicted, outcomes. Time will tell.

It is better to light one kindle than to curse the darkness

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

So said the Christophers many years ago, or something like that. Now Krauthammer is getting his own version of the Steyn treatment. We think there should be a rumble to settle all scores. Lets the 9800 oxygen and nitrogen guys join with the 900 argon guys and beat the tar out of those 4 carbon oxygen creeps. That’ll show ‘em. (The shouting to ban heresy from the public discourse shows you can start a religion out of just about anything.)