Thursday, November 27, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
So I was thinking about how some people have different personalities than others. To be honest about my nerditude I was thinking about extremely smart people I have known and how their ways of thinking are completely different But anyway I thought of a very geek question. You know two people. They are quite different. Now imagine a Science Fiction novel where the characters were aliens. Would a reasonable science fiction author choose to make those two characters members of two different intelligent species ?
I am reminded of a not very good Sci Fi movie Sphere (which I think was an Ishtar level waste of talent). It starred Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel Jackson who are stuck on a spaceship from the future which contains a strange sphere (you guessed that) which spoiler alerts them.
The Jackson character is interesting. An un-naturally calm math genius who doesn't relate with other people in a normal way (the millionth Spock in science fiction) . He shaved his head for the role. Now it just so happens that Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone are almost exactly the same height and Jackson is a head taller. Oh also you know he is African American. I noted that he looked about as physically different from his crew mates as Spock ever did.
The role was Spock who might or might not be Spock with a beard. I think the film is worth 5 minutes of your time (scroll past the boring beginning) for a bit of his performance.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
It seems that Forbes, the AARP and Mike Huckabee object to his research which involved a shrimp running on a treadmill. He confessed at the Chronicle of Higher Education
My name is David, and I am the marine biologist who put a shrimp on a treadmill—a burden I will forever carry. To be clear, the treadmill did not cost millions of taxpayer dollars, the goal of the research was not to exercise shrimp, and the government did not pay me—or anyone else—to work out shrimp on treadmills.[skip]
Exactly how much taxpayer money did go into the now-famous shrimp treadmill? The treadmill was, in fact, made from spare parts—an old truck inner tube was used for the tread, the bearings were borrowed from a skateboard, and a used pump motor was salvaged to power the treadmill. The total price for the highly publicized icon of wasteful government research spending? Less than $50. (All of which I paid for out of my own pocket.)[skip]
In an effort to put an end to the erroneous media reports of wasteful government sponsored shrimp-treadmill research, I am willing to put my infamous treadmill up for sale. All profits will go toward supporting marine-biology research so that grandmothers across the country will no longer be denied medication, our heroic soldiers fighting abroad might be able to get the military equipment they need, and the House science committee can rest easy knowing that they can once again eat fat juicy shrimp—free of bacteria—without using up government funds. For the bargain price of $1-million (shrimp not included)—that’s 67 percent off the price listed by Forbes.com—a lucky individual, perhaps Rep. Lamar Smith (the Texas Republican and chairman of the House science committee), can literally put their money and their shrimp where their mouth is.
It looks as if Ron Fournier may sweep the left blogosphere.
I read this by Joan McCarter at DailyKos
The nation's most stubborn and willfully ignorant pundit, Ron "why won't Obama lead and make Republicans like him" Fournier, strikes again.I thought it would be absurd for this blog (traffic about zero) to link to DailyKos (daily traffic much less than the population of China). McCarter goes on to quote Fournier again
On health care, we needed a market-driven plan that decreases the percentage of uninsured Americans without convoluting the U.S. health care system. Just such a plan sprang out of conservative think tanks and was tested by a GOP governor in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.Honestly. He wrote that. In November, 2014. Four and a half years after the Affordable Care Act—modeled after a Heritage Foundation proposal and Mitt Romney's Massachusetts law—passed. After a presidential election in 2012 that featured Mitt Romney going through insane contortions trying to differentiate between Romneycare and Obamacare because they are almost exactly the same.
Instead of a bipartisan agreement to bring that plan to scale, we got more partisan warfare. The GOP resisted, Obama surrendered his mantle of bipartisanship, and Democrats muscled through a one-sided law that has never been popular with a majority of the public.So a bill to bring that plan to scale became a one-sided muscled through law that essentially brought that plan to scale (the main difference is that the Federal Government funded both, as the USA can't send the bill to the One World Government (yet)). So how did bringing RomneyCare to scale become "a one-sided law" ? That would be the famous Fournier transform, in which Ballance beats reality if reality is embarrassing to Republicans. I also note that Jon Gruber has become an un-person. It is very likely that, before his "stupidity" leaked, McCarter would have quoted RomneyCare architect Jon Gruber saying that it's the same damn plan. Jon Gruber, the wonk who must not be named (even though it is reasonably likely that you or someone you care about will owe him your, his or her life some day). Now I see that Paul Krugman and Matthew Yglesias are on the case. Yglesias even brought up Jon Gruber, reminding me that Yglesias is doubleplusungood at being a hack. Last I checked Chait hadn't checked in (he does have a genuinely great post on ObamaCare Uber Ales which you really ought to read) Update: Jim Newell too "DC pundit takes troll game to new level: Ron Fournier’s strange history of Obamacare" Aaron Carroll (via Jonathan Bernstein) Gary Legum at Wonkette (that hit is going to leave a snark)
Ron Fournier has written many dumb columns in his career. In fact, Ron Fournier has written only dumb columns in his career. But today he has outdone himself by gracing our political centrists, yearning as they are for some bipartisanship, with the dumbest column of his, nay, of any pundit’s career.Steve Benen too
Monday, November 17, 2014
So weird.I comment
David Cameron has issued a stark message that “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” in the same way as when the financial crash brought the world to its knees six years ago. ... Politically, Conservatives believe an emphasis on the risks still facing the UK will make anxious voters recoil from handing stewardship of a fragile economy to a relatively untried Labour team.
Both you and the Guardian's correspondent* are attempting to explain the strategy with a model in which voters decide how to vote based on their views of the consequences of their votes -- an attempt rational or otherwise to reason.
I suspect that Cameron's strategy is based on the fact that fear makes people conservative. Psychologists have published experimental results which I will paraphrase from memory (make up on the spot) in which showing people a photo of the mouth of a great white shark causes them to oppose gay marriage (that is in their is less support for gay marriage in the shown a shark subsample than in the shown a flower sub sample -- recall I am working from memory of what I remember from reading abstracts -- that is bullshitting) Here is the abstract I vaguely remembered (thank you Google). I don't know exactly what the "a mortality salience threat" was or what way of being "staunchly unsupportive of homosexuals" it induced.
I doubt Cameron knows this literature even as well as I do. I do not doubt that his message has been tested on focus groups and that it works, and that it works through fear. My guess is that ISIS and Ebola would do just as well as red lights flashing on the economic dashboard.
*I admit I just read the URL and didn't click.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014
I quote bits here and cut and paste my comment
"white working class, which voted Republican by a 30-point margin last week:"
"As Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin observed this summer, 54 percent of the white working class born after 1980 think gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, according to data assembled from the 2012 election." -- Kevin Drum quoting Noam Scheiber quoting Teixeira and Halpin
"But if that's the case, why does the WWC continue to loathe Democrats so badly? I think the answer is as old as the discussion itself: They hate welfare. "
"So who does the WWC take out its anger on? Largely, the answer is the poor."
"That's because they're closer to it. For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars."
"Does it matter that the working class barely pays for most of these programs in the first place, since their federal income taxes tend to be pretty low? Nope."
"So sure: full-throated economic populism? That might work, though everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means. But here's one thing it better mean: policies that are aimed at the working and middle classes and that actually appeal to them. That is, policies that are simple, concrete, and offer benefits which are clear and compelling."
When Teixeira and John Halpin write "the white working class born after 1980 " they are basically not at all talking about the same "white working class, which voted Republican by a 30-point margin last week:"
Last week 12% of voters were under 30 and 37% over 60. The election told us what older people (such as myself -- age 54). You basically don't discuss age at all. This really makes no sense when discussing 2014, 2012 and how they are different.
OK what is to be done ? Look it's simple. There is a difference between not paying much income tax and paying less than zero. the number 47% horrifies Republicans for a reason. They fear that if the fraction whose income tax liabilities are less than 0 gets enough over 50% to make up for lower turnout of the less rich, then the "takers" will take over. I think they have a point, except that I think that would be a good thing (given the large numbers of takers who work full time year round and pay much more in payroll taxes than they receive in EITC).
I think that Democrats can win elections by promising higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes for everyone else. I think that few voters buy the Republican line that Republicans cut taxes for the non rich. I use the word "think" but I think that these claims are about as weak as the claim that the climate is getting warmer.
First try to name a Democrat with the following features
1. He was elected President
2. He was not an incumbant at the time
3. the top marginal income tax rate was under 69%
4. the income tax was constitutional
and 5 he didn't propose higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes on everyone else.
Hint, this is a trick question -- those 5 conditions have never ever been met. In contrast both Clinton and Obama were elected after promising higher taxes on the rich and a middle class tax cut (and Obama actually delivered).
I also recall a TV discussion of a focus group which watched a Bush senior Clinton debate with the dials. The group included declared undecided voters, declared Clinton supporters and declared Bush supporters. Clinton said something like " only the rich have received tax cuts" and the average declared Bush supporter twisted the dial to agree. Rage at the Republiscam of promising tax cuts for all and giving them only to the rich was strong in 1992 *among rank and file Republicans*.
Since then Gallup has polled again and againa and always gets solid majorities who support higher taxes on the rich (as I very much enjoy reminding you, long ago I pointed out these polls to you and you were very surprised). In 2005 polls showed that the only social security reform with majority support was raising the payroll tax ceiling. In 2009 and 2010 polls showed that the only provision of the ACA which reduced the deficit and had majority support was and is the surtax on high incomes.
People in the USA want to soak the rich and spread it out thin. This is a feasible policy (Obama did it -- mild on the soaking -- but he did it). I am sure it would be good policy. The popular populist policy and the practical way to address income inequality is to make the income tax more progressive.
This would, of course, creaate problems such as .... I mean we might return to the dread economic growth rates of the 50s when the top rate was 91% and the 60s when the top rate was 70%. I absolutely promise you that there is less than no evidence that a higher top marginal income tax rate would be bad for growth
. OK enough policy proposals, I want to whine about how unfair it is,
I note that the WWC includes a lot of people on food stamps and/or receiving EITC. I also note that the ACA has done a lot for a lot of white working class people including those under 4/3 the poverty line (who may be poor not working class by the original definition of the phrase but the few who vote are included in the numbers you quote), those who don't get insurance from their employers and those who might lose their job with benefits. That is almost all of them.
You note but do not focus on the deep deep irrationality of welfare hatred. The only huge means tested program is Medicaid which is almost as popular as Medicare. Many hard working people benefit from food stamps and the EITC. The people getting checks without working are over 65 (and that program is super popular) disabled (and that program is not hated) or very few and getting tiny checks. I am sure that welfare hatred is not based on knowing people who are actually living on welfare.
Also you don't note foreign aid hatred. On this issue, the delusions of the overwhelming majority of US citizens are so extreme that they are not discussed in polite debate. In polls The median US respondent guesses foreign aid is 10% to 28% of the Federal budget (I have a total of 2 polls in mind but the numbers are all in that range). This is absolutely not based on living next door to a foreigner who receives aid. This is pure fantasy (foreign aid is less than 0.7% of the US Federal budget). Foreign aid is a tiny program. But the vast majority of US voters think it is a huge program. That means that hatred of foreign aid is a big issue.
pulled back from comments: The counties in North Carolina that had the highest percentage of slaves to whites in 1860 are the same counties where more than 90% of whites voted for Mitt Romney. Links to follow at my blog. Thornton Hall Which reminds me that "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Do I really have to wade through that Stephanie Schmidt-Grohe and Martin Uribe paper too, and reverse-engineer their result as well? I'm too old for this. Don't any of you young whippersnappers have an economic intuition? Do you all get snowed by every fancy-mathy paper that comes along?
I expect I will have to. Pray for me.--Nick Rowe Who earns a bonus victory lap for keeping an extremely elaborate metaphor un-mixed and out of the ditch.
I had to click the link to find out that "the Scandanavian flick" was related to driving cars and not Swedish monetary policy.
If you had asked me to describe a Scandanavian flick I would have said there is this knight by the sea who meets death and they decide to play chess (actually I thought of another Ingmar Bergman film "Monica," which I have heard described on PBS as "an escapist skin flick" -- the sea is featured in "Monica" too, but Monica is much better looking than death).
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
He concludes "we have an off-cycle electorate that assumes that they’ll be dead in 15 years, so let the good times roll."
The argument makes sense, but the votes of US adults over 60 don’t. The Republican policy stance (except during campaigns) is the opposite of “let the good times role”. They fight for reduced deficits and, in particular, demand entitlement reform.
In particular, Arkansans over 60 voted for Tom Cotton who voted to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70. This is a “death bet” only if to death they say “you betcha”.
Cotton’s vote is on a roll call and the Republican Study Group budget is public, so I think it is OK to link to a partisan source
“Cotton Was the Only Member Of The Arkansas Delegation To Vote for Republican Study Committee Budget That Transformed Medicare Into Voucher System, Raised the Eligibility Age For Medicare To 70 And Cut Social Security Benefits.”
One can not use rational self interest to explain why people aged over 60 vote for Republicans who demand that Democrats accept entitlement reform and then denounce the Democrats for accepting some of the Republican demands.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Orwell himself couldn’t have come up with a more ironic title for this spy program than “Students Against Fear,” although I suspect the idiosyncratic capitalization would’ve killed him if he weren’t already dead.