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August 2020

Modigliani (1944): Liquidity Preference—Noted

Franco Modigliani (1944): Liquidity Preference and the Theory of Interest and Money ‘As long as wages are flexible, the long-run equilibrium rate of interest is determined exclusively by real factors... the propensity to save and the marginal efficiency of investment. The condition, money saving = money investment, determines the price level and not the rate of interest. If wages are rigid... the propensities to save and to invest but the situation is now more complicated; for these propensities depend also on money income and therefore on the quantity of active money which in turn depends itself on the level of the rate of interest.... In a system with rigid wages not only interest but also almost every economic variable depends on the quantity of money.... [In] the "Keynesian [liquidity trap] case"... the long-run equilibrium rate of interest is the rate which makes the demand for money to hold infinitely elastic... [and] the rate of interest is determined exclusively by institutional factors.

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Irwin Collier: Schumpeter's Macro Syllabus 1948—Noted

Irwin Collier: Harvard. Advanced Economic Theory, Second Term. 1948 ‘Joseph Schumpeter: "Economics 103b. Spring Term 1947-48. Plan of Course and Suggestions for Reading. The plan of the course is to start from and to build upon Professor Haberler’s lectures in the Fall Term (103a). We shall start from the statics of equilibrium and then discuss at some lengths the use and limitations of the method of Comparative Statics. After this, we shall survey various Dynamic Models. These models will be made the starting points of excursions...

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Themes | Lecture

When do I say the Long 20th Century really started? 1870. Why then? The third modern watershed—the third step-up in the global pace of economic growth—globalization, and the start of the American century. When do I say the Long 20th Century really ended? 2016. Why then? Four reasons: (1) end of the American century, (2) slowdown in global-north growth, (3) failures of economic management, (4) revival of what we now call neo-fascism as a challenge to liberal democracy...

Quantities: What was the typical human standard of living back in 1870? Perhaps $4/day—$1300/year. What is the typical human standard of living today? Perhaps $35/day—$12000/year. Is there a "typical" human standard of living today? Maybe not: global inequality is much greater than it was in 1870, and even more so in 1800. A global north of 800 million with a typical standard of living of $50000/year—$150/day; a global south of 6.8 billion with a typical standard of living of $7000/year—$20/day Is the world today a utopia? Definitely not… Is greater San Francisco today a utopia? What do you think?

Grand Narrative

21:00 of audio


Inequality & Humanity

14:00 of audio


What Has Gone Badly Wrong?

15:30 of audio

  Slouching Towards Utopia?

4:30 of audio

.#berkeley #economichistory #highlighted #lectures #tceh #themes #2020-08-30

Dasgupta on Doing Economics | Lecture

Why would one want to “think like an economist”?: What is “thinking like an economist”? Cost-benefit, opportunity cost, system equilibrium, marginality. This turns out to be useful for thinking about the economy. (Other things too: but mostly the economy.) But Dasgupta has a different take, a game theorist's take...


.#berkeley #cognition #economics #highlighted #lecture #rhetoric #2020-08-29

Sokrates vs. Machiavelli on the Educational Process | Lecture

On books:

Machiavelli: "I… step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where, solicitously received by them... I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me..."

Sokrates: "The creations... if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence…. [Words] once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not..."


.#berkeley #books #cognition #educationalprocess #highlighted #lecture #2020-08-29

Macroeconomics for Beginners | Optional Lecture

The “general glut”: What people used to talk about, instead of recession and depressions. It focuses on what is going on: excess supply in pretty much all of the markets. Back Up to 1803: Jean-Baptiste Say argued back then that a “general glut” was a metaphysical impossibility: “If certain goods remain unsold, it is because other goods are not produced; and that it is production alone which opens markets to produce.... Whenever there is a glut, a superabundance, [an excess supply] of several sorts of merchandize, it is because other articles [in excess demand] are not produced in sufficient quantities...” By 1830 Say had changed his mind...


.#berkeley #economics #highlighted #lecture #macro #monetaryeconomics #monetarypolicy #optional #2020-08-29

Lectures: Left- & Right-Wing Alternatives to þe ‘Classical Liberal’ Order

6.3.1. Alternatives to the ‘Classical Liberal’ Order: Really-Existing Socialism


6.3.2. The Rule of Josef Stalin


6.3.3. Fascism


6.3.4. Naziism


6.3.5. How Many Species of Anti-Democratic Totalitarian Movements?

.#berkeley #economichistory #lectures #tceh #2020-08-28

A "Liberal" Education | Optional Lecture

“Liberal education” ≠ “kinda left- wing education” here. “Liberal education” here means “appropriate to somebody free”. Someone with control over their own destiny. Someone with a share of control over our common destinies. Not a serf, not a cleric, but also not a vassal—not somebody embedded in the system in a fixed place...

.#berkeley #cognition #education #humancapital #lecture #optional #2020-08-27

The Ethics of a University | Optional Lecture

Never thought this was necessary before... It probably still isn’t necessary today... But this past decade has been a very weird, very norm-breaking decade in a lot of ways So it is best to be clear on what we are doing here... This is a university... A safe space for its members, and a safe space for their ideas...

.#berkeley #cognition #education #lecture #optional #moralresponsibility #2020-08-27

Things I Have No Time to Teach þis Fall, But þt I Would Like to—Note to Self


"Data Science" & "Thinking Like an Economist":


Andy Matuschak would approve of how Niccolo Machiavelli reads:

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Briefly Noted for 2020-08-22

James Baldwin: The American Dream Is at the Expense of the American Negro ‘I picked the cotton, and I carried it to the market, and I built the railroads under someone else’s whip for nothing…

Berkeley: GSI Remote Teaching Hub

Fred: COVID Dashboard ‘Initial Claims, Continued Claims, Personal Income, Personal Consumption…

Robert de Nero: The Good Shepherd

Gretal Kovach (2007): Pizza Chain Takes Pesos, & Complaints ‘“I certainly wasn’t expecting ‘pizza for pesos’ to become a touchstone for the immigration issue,” Mr. Swad said. It was nothing more than an effort to “reinforce our brand promise to be the premier Latino pizza chain,” he said. “We’re businessmen. The Latino population is significant and it’s important,” Mr. Swad continued. “It’s here to stay. The United States... is going to be different, and it has an opportunity to be better.” Mr. Swad, who is Italian-Lebanese and was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, did not speak Spanish when he opened his first take-out pizzeria in Dallas in 1986…

Gretal Kovach (2007): Pizza Chain Takes Pesos, & Complaints ‘“It’s a trivial example, but Hispanics now have their own pizza chain,” Mr. Krikorian said. “It’s a consequence of having too many people arrive from a single foreign culture, and may well reflect a kind of cultural secession”…

Daniel Voshart: Photoreal Roman Emperor Project ‘Using the neural-net tool Artbreeder, Photoshop and historical references, I have created photoreal portraits of... the 54 emperors of The Principate (27 BC to 285 AD)…

x*Charlie Stross*: Dead Plots ‘the eminent mainstream literary faculty are still turning out deeply sensitive realist-mode explorations of the human condition that totally neglect the tech dimension. We live in a world with killer drones, state level actors gaslighting each others' electorates with bots and sock puppets and AI generated user icons... where private space launch companies are listed on the stock market and cars park themselves. A realist-mode 21st century novel that ignores phenomena that were tropes in 20th century SF is a de-facto historical novel, or a retro nostalgia trip for people who are deeply uneasy about modernity...

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McSweeney's: Miskatonic University’s Draft Reopening Plan—Noted

Miskatonic seal

McSweeney's: Arkham Board of Health Feedback on Miskatonic University’s Draft Plan for a Safe Campus Reopening ‘Library services: You note that all of your library’s holdings have been digitized for online reading, including certain “foul, repellent, and irrudinous tomes that bespeak eldritch accursed rites and which, once made public, may unleash nameless aeon-dead horrors”...

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Briefly Noted for 2020-08-21

I do confess that I am flummoxed by self-identified positively-valenced “white supremacy” as a thing.

My WASPy view was always that America was an America of ethnicities underpinned by the dominant myth-message: “people coming from elsewhere to build a utopia in which we all could live better lives”. This mosaic worked, with cultural influences flowing every which way, with the ideas and cultural orientations of WASPy Massachusetts Puritans, Virginia libertarians, and Kentucky pioneers serving as the first layer of the cultural matrix. The exchange in the 2006 movie The Good Shepherd between Joe Pesci and Matt Damon grossly overstates the case, but is in the right direction:

Joe Pesci: “Let me ask you something…. We Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the n------, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?”

Matt Damon: “The United States of America…”

Yes, African-Americans were always at the bottom, but there was no monolithic “whiteness” in the mosaic anywhere. Remember: when I was at Harvard in the 1980s, when an Italian-American Catholic married an Irish-American Catholic in Boston, it was a “mixed marriage”, and people would shrug their shoulders and say it was unlikely to last.

I look at how somebody by the name of Mark Krikorian can raise the alarm on behalf of "whiteness" against the idea of “Hispanics now hav[ing] their own pizza chain…. [It] may well reflect a kind of cultural secession…” Mark Krikorian finds it alarming that an Italian-Lebanese-American born in Columbus, OH sees a market for Hispanic-inflected pizza in Dallas and moves to satisfy it. And then I think: this was always a grift, this is the fascist playbook—create the bigotry against a despised other, and then use that bigotry to create a volk:

Sean Illing: Why Rev. William Barber Thinks We Need a Moral Revolution in America '“Racism may target Black people, but it damns a democracy and it damns humanity”'…


This is why retail businesses need large permanent financial transfers now. We do not want retail businesses that are not coronavirus transmission hotspots from receiving erroneous “shut down“ signals from the market. And yet that is what is happening when we do not make them whole from the effects of the crisis of March and April:

Jason Del Rey: Amazon, Walmart, & Target Reap þe Rewards of Covid Restrictions ‘Some feared the pandemic would widen the gap between the haves and have-nots of retail. That fear is now reality…


Not that Isaac Asimov’s 1950s novel The Naked Sun Is either a great mystery novel or a great science fiction novel. But it is a place to start in thinking about how this next upward leap in interacting with each other via symbols and screens is going to work. What personality types are going to do well? What personality types are going to do badly? In in-person interactions, a great deal of the information channels our bids and offers about authority because rapidly reaching consensus about what the group was going to do trumped reaching the best decision at the price of maybe reaching no decision at all. But those channels do not operate through screens, as anyone who has ever participated in a flamewar Or watched trolls destroy an online discussion knows very well:

Sean Gallagher: Respawn Point: þe Inevitable Reincarnation of þe Corporate Office ‘Stanford Institute for Economic Research figures in June showed only 42 percent of the US workforce working from home full-time—the fact remains that people's relationship with their workplace has been dramatically restructured, perhaps permanently…


Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (155): The Roman Oration

Wikipedia: Wrought Iron | Cast Iron | Bessemer Process | Steel

Boichik Bagels

Constance Hunter (2020-08-19): Riding the Covid-Coaster

Casey Johnston: How to Fit in a Real Workout When You Have Only 20 Minutes ‘[Randi Zuckerberg takes] a slightly more aggressive line here with her “pick three” rule: “Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness. Pick Three.” But I often see this rule separated from Zuckerberg’s follow-up clarification: “I can pick a different three tomorrow, and a different three the following day. But today, I can only pick three. As long as I wind up picking everything over the long run, then I’m balancing my imbalance”…

Jim Wendler: How to Fit in a Real Workout When You Have Only 20 Minutes ‘This is my favorite. I don’t recommend it, but it’s useful for non-beginners who have limited time to train. The I’m Not Doing Jack Shit program entails walking into the weight room, doing the big lift for the day (bench, squat, military or deadlift), and then walking out… I’ve made this deal with myself many times before I’ve trained: If I do X weight for X amount of reps, I’m leaving…

2020 Democratic Party Platform

Wikipedia: Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus Pius

Wikipedia: Faustina the Elder—Annia Galeria Faustina



FRED: COVID Dashboard Initial Claims, Continued Claims, Real Personal Income, Real Personal Consumption Expenditures...

Covid fred dashboard 2020 08 21

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The Pompeians Commanded by Afranius Surrender: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

And the Pompeians surrender. It is June 10, -49. In six and a hal months since crossing the Rubicon, Caesar has forced the disbanding of the equivalent of eight Pompeian legions without doing more than skirmishing, moving rapidly, and cleverly managing logistics and intercepting supply lines:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘In this work, and the deliberations on it, two days were spent. By the third day a considerable part of Caesar's works was finished. To interrupt his progress, they drew out their legions about the eighth hour, by a certain signal, and placed them in order of battle before their camp. Caesar calling his legions off from their work, and ordering the horse to hold themselves in readiness, marshalled his army: for to appear to decline an engagement contrary to the opinion of the soldiers and the general voice, would have been attended with great disadvantage...

But for the reasons already known, he was dissuaded from wishing to engage, and the more especially, because the short space between the camps, even if the enemy were put to flight, would not contribute much to a decisive victory; for the two camps were not distant from each other above two thousand feet. Two parts of this were occupied by the armies, and one third left for the soldiers to charge and make their attack. If a battle should be begun, the nearness of the camps would afford a ready retreat to the conquered party in the flight.

For this reason Caesar had resolved to make resistance, if they attacked him, but not to be the first to provoke the battle.

Afranius's five legions were drawn up in two lines, the auxiliary cohorts formed the third line, and acted as reserves. Caesar had three lines, four cohorts out of each of the five legions formed the first line. Three more from each legion followed them, as reserves: and three others were behind these. The slingers and archers were stationed in the centre of the line; the cavalry closed the flanks.

The hostile armies being arranged in this manner, each seemed determined to adhere to his first intention: Caesar not to hazard a battle, unless forced to it; Afranius to interrupt Caesar's works. However, the matter was deferred, and both armies kept under arms till sunset; when they both returned to their camp. The next day Caesar prepared to finish the works which he had begun. The enemy attempted to pass the river Segre by a ford. Caesar, having perceived this, sent some light-armed Germans and a party of horse across the river, and disposed several parties along the banks to guard them.

At length, beset on all sides, their cattle having been four days without fodder, and having no water, wood, or corn, they beg a conference; and that, if possible, in a place remote from the soldiers. When this was refused by Caesar, but a public interview offered if they chose it, Afranius's son was given as a hostage to Caesar. They met in the place appointed by Caesar.

In the hearing of both armies, Afranius spoke thus:

That Caesar ought not to be displeased either with him or his soldiers, for wishing to preserve their attachment to their general, Cneius Pompey. That they had now sufficiently discharged their duty to him, and had suffered punishment enough, in having endured the want of every necessary: but now, pent up almost like wild beasts, they were prevented from procuring water, and prevented from walking abroad; and were not able to bear the bodily pain or the mental disgrace: but confessed themselves vanquished: and begged and entreated, if there was any room left for mercy, that they should not be necessitated to suffer the most severe penalties.

These sentiments were delivered in the most submissive and humble language.

Caesar replied,

That either to complain or sue for mercy became no man less than him: for that every other person had done their duty: himself, in having declined to engage on favourable terms, in an advantageous situation and time, that all things tending to a peace might be totally unembarrassed: his army, in having preserved and protected the men whom they had in their power, notwithstanding the injuries which they had received, and the murder of their comrades; and even Afranius's soldiers, who of themselves treated about concluding a peace, by which they thought that they would secure the lives of all. Thus, that the parties on both sides inclined to mercy: that the generals only were averse to peace: that they paid no regard to the laws either of conference or truce; and had most inhumanly put to death ignorant persons, who were deceived by a conference: that therefore, they had met that fate which usually befalls men from excessive obstinacy and arrogance; and were obliged to have recourse, and most earnestly desire that which they had shortly before disdained.

That for his part, he would not avail himself of their present humiliation, or his present advantage, to require terms by which his power might be increased, but only that those armies, which they had maintained for so many years to oppose him, should be disbanded: for six legions had been sent into Spain, and a seventh raised there, and many and powerful fleets provided, and generals of great military experience sent to command them, for no other purpose than to oppose him; that none of these measures were adopted to keep the Spains in peace, or for the use of the province, which, from the length of the peace, stood in need of no such aid; that all these things were long since designed against him: that against him a new sort of government was established, that the same person should be at the gates of Rome, to direct the affairs of the city; and though absent, have the government of two most warlike provinces for so many years: that against him the laws of the magistrates had been altered; that the late praetors and consuls should not be sent to govern the provinces as had been the constant custom, but persons approved of and chosen by a faction.

That against him the excuse of age was not admitted: but persons of tried experience in former wars were called up to take the command of the armies, that with respect to him only, the routine was not observed which had been allowed to all generals, that, after a successful war, they should return home and disband their armies, if not with some mark of honour, at least without disgrace: that he had submitted to all these things patiently, and would still submit to them: nor did he now desire to take their army from them and keep it to himself (which, however, would not be a difficult matter), but only that they should not have it to employ against him: and therefore, as he said before, let them quit the provinces, and disband their army.

If this was complied with, he would injure no person; that these were the last and only conditions of peace.

It was very acceptable and agreeable to Afranius's soldiers, as might be easily known from their signs of joy, that they who expected some injury after this defeat, should obtain without solicitation the reward of a dismissal. For when a debate was introduced about the place and time of their dismissal, they all began to express, both by words and signs, from the rampart where they stood, that they should be discharged immediately: for although every security might be given that they would be disbanded, still the matter would be uncertain, if it was deferred to a future day.

After a short debate on either side, it was brought to this issue: that those who had any settlement or possession in Spain, should be immediately discharged: the rest at the river Var.

Caesar gave security that they should receive no damage, and that no person should be obliged against his inclination to take the military oath under him…  

.#history #livebloggingthefalloftheromanrepublic #politics #2020-08-18
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Foreshadowing from Gaius Sallustius Crispus A strongly unconventional high politician facing the expiration of his term of office. He knows that there is a very high probability that, because of his actions in office, his adversaries will try and convict him of crimes after he lays down his power. Let us start with some foreshadowing from Gaius Sallustius Crispus...

Pompey's Strategy and Domitius' Stand In his The Civil War Gaius Julius Caesar presented "just the facts" in a way that made Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus look like a cowardly and incompetent idiot. The attractive interpretation is that Ahenobarbus was just trying to do the job of defeating Caesar, but had failed to recognize that Pompey was not his ally but, rather, was somebody whose first goal was to gain the submission of Ahenobarbus and the other Optimates, and only after that submission was gained would he even think about fighting Caesar. Still an idiot, but not an incompetent or a cowardly one…

Marcus Tullius Cicero's Take on the First Three Months of -49 ‘We have another primary source... in addition to Gaius Julius Caesar's deceptively powerful plain-spoken "just the facts" narrative: Cicero. Caesar makes himself out to be reasonable, rational, decisive, and clever. Cicero... lets his hair down. He is writing to someone he trusts to love him without reservation. He is completely unconcerned with making himself appear to be less flawed than he appears. And the impression he leaves is absolutely dreadful: erratic, emotional, dithering, and idiotic…

Reflecting on the First Three Months of -49 ‘The key question for the first three months of the year -49 is: what did the factions anticipate would happen in that year? The Optimates seemed to think that they had Caesar cornered. My guess is that Pompey found himself allied with the Senate in January-February of -49, but not in command. So he retreated to Greece, where he was in undisputed command…

Caesar Offers a Compromise Solution (or So Caesar Says) The Beginning of Caesar's Commentaries on the Civil War, in which Caesar says that he had proposed a compromise solution, but the firebreathers had rejected it: 'Scipio... "if [the Senate] hesitated and showed weakness, then, should they want [Pompey's] help later, they would ask for it in vain…

The Optimate Faction Rejects Caesar's Compromise Caesar narrates the reasons that the leaders of the Optimate faction—Cato, Lentulus, Scipio, and Pompey—worked hard to set the stage for war, and how the majority of Senators in the timorous middle were robbed of the power to decide freely…

The Optimate Faction Arms for War, & Illegally Usurps Provincial Imperium Caesar narrates: Whatever norms he may or may not have broken during his consulate—in order to wrest land from the hands of corrupt plutocrats and grant it to the deserving—he says, the Optimate faction does much worse, beyond norm-breaking into outright illegality. And to that they add impiety…

Caesar Presents His Case to the 13th Legion, & Negotiates Unsucccessfully with Pompey Caesar presents his case to the 13th Legion, and wins its enthusiastic support. Caesar and Pompey negotiate, but Pompey refuses to give up his dominant position…

The Optimate Faction Panics and Abandons Rome Caesar narrates: The Optimate faction panics and flees. The towns of Italy support Caesar. And Pompey's attempts to reinforce his army by recruiting veterans who had obtained their farms through Caesar's legislative initiatives did not go well...

Caesar Besieges Domitius in Corfinum Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus concentrates 13000 soldiers in the town of Corfinum and decides to make a stand. Pompey calls him an idiot. He, Pompey, "cannot risk the whole war in a single battle, especially under the circumstances"…

Caesar Captures Corfinum Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus's deception that Pompey is coming to the Optimates' aid in Corfinum falls apart, Ahenobarbus tries to flee. Before Corfinum Caesar had had two legions in Italy to the Optimate and Pompeian six. After Corfinum Caesar has seven legions in Italy to the Pompeian three…

Pompey Refuses to Negotiate & Flees to Greece Pompey flees to the southern Adriatic port of Brundisium. Caesar catches up to him and begs him to negotiate. Pompey refuses and flees. Caesar decides not to follow, but to turn and first defeat the Pompeian armies in Spain...

Cementing Caesarian Control of the Center of the Empire: Late March -49 Caesar offers to share power with the dysfunctional Senate but, filibustered and vetoed by Optimate tribunes, he consolidates his hold and heads for Spain…

Treachery at Massilia: April-May -49 The Massiliotes profess neutrality—until Pompeian reinforcements arrive. Pompeians to whom Caesar had shown clemency at Corfinium have again taken up weapons against him again…

Rendezvous in Spain, at Ilerda Caesar moves to deal with the Pompeian forces in Spain to his west…

Caesar Begins His First Spanish Campaign Caesar has his men build a fortified camp close enough to the Pompeian base that the soldiers will inevitably start to fraternize...

Heavy But Inconclusive Skirmishing Between the Military Camps at Ilerda

Floods and Supply Lines Caesar faces logistical difficulties…

Caesar Turns the Tables on the Pompeian Skirmishers ‘Caesar overcomes his logistical difficulties…

The Caesarian Navy Led by Decimus Brutus Wins a Victory at Massilia

Afranius & Petreius Fear Caesar's Cavalry & Decide to Retreat ‘Logistics and diplomacy reverse the situation at Ilerda in northeast Spain, as Caesar gains an advantage in allied cavalry that makes Afranius and Petreius fear their position will soon become logistically untenable…

Caesar Pursues the Retreating Pompeians ‘Caesar learns that Afranius and Petreius have decided to retreat. So when they do, he sets his army in hot pursuit…

Caesar Steals a March on þe Pompeians ‘Caesar learns that Afranius and Petreius have decided to retreat, and pursues. These overly-cautious Pompeian generals begin to lose the war of maneuver…

Caesar Cuts the Pompeians Off from þe Ebro & þeir Line of Retreatþe-ebro-þeir-line-of-retreat-liveblogging-þe-fall-of-þe-roman-republic.html: ‘And he begins trying to woo the soldiers over to his side. The Pompeian generals Afranius and Petreius react badly—and so it becomes clementia vs. crudelitas…

Caesar's Army Traps the Pompeians ‘The Pompeians attempt to retreat, and then fortify themselves on unfavorable ground with neither water nor forage available…

Briefly Noted for 2020-08-19

The end of California’s “Mediterranean climate”? Nah. It’s still cooler in the summer than Greece, or Catalonia, or Sicily—by a lot:

Daniel Swain: ‘A very intense and prolonged heatwave now appears likely for a large portion of California over the next 7-10 days, and this event will likely have wide-ranging impacts from human health, wildfire, and electricity demand perspectives.... A strengthening ridge axis... from the southeast... a humid tropical airmass... from the southwest... remnants of former Hurricane Elida... locked in place for at least the next 7 days, and very possibly longer…


It now looks like there was enough of a bounceback in July to give us a 5% boost to third quarter GDP—that is a 20% reported annualized growth rate for Q3 –unless the economy is falling off a cliff now or does so in September. Unfortunately, the economy may well fall off a cliff this month or next. The renewed spread of the coronavirus plague, plus Trump's and McConnell‘s decision that they would rather have no fiscal stimulus at all then negotiate with Pelosi, are not pieces of good news for aggregate demand:

Tim Duy: Fiscal Follies Continue* ‘Incoming data still reflects the push-pull dynamics of the shutdown and reopening; we *don’t have a clear picture of the growth trajectory after those dynamics play out. Fiscal policy in the U.S. is a mess…


Duncan Black is depressed. And there is, admittedly, a lot to be depressed about. But I think that the elected politicians here are right. The best thing we can do is to vote in November and throw the fascist bastards out. The second best thing we can do is scare the fascist-enabling bastards today with the thought that they are going to be thrown out in November unless they frantically start blocking the idiocies of Trump’s goons:

Duncan Black: The Plan Is Hope ‘I was never a SUPER DC INSIDER, but I used to be a bit more connected.... Not so much anymore.... Members of Congress are tweeting, "nothing we can do, please vote." I am dumb and not important and nobody tells me anything anymore, but…


This is not coherent: If "those people“ are not going to use their Medicaid benefits because of their attitudes toward life—which the likely future senator from Kansas says he is “not judging”-then those Medicaid benefits are not a burden on the federal or the state treasury, hence not a problem:

Nancy LeTourneau: The Extremist Agenda of Establishment Republicans ‘It can be difficult to distinguish between candidates who are “establishment” and those who are “extreme.”... [Roger] Marshall is touting the fact that he is “trusted by Trump”... in the center of efforts to repeal Obamacare and oppose Medicaid expansion in Kansas... "even with unlimited access to health care [they] are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought [in]…”


Steve M.: Donald Trump, A Force for "Stability"? ‘One participant... really seemed to misread the country: "'The more demonstrations there were, the more demands for recounts, the more legal challenges there were, the more funerals for democracy were held, the more Trump came across as the candidate of stability', said Edward Luce, the US editor of the _Financial Times, who played the role of a mainstream media reporter during one of the simulations." Donald Trump has many weapons at his disposal if he wants to try to cling to power after an election loss, but the general impression that he's a figure of stability is not one of them...

Julian E. Zelizer with Rick Perlstein: _ A discussion of Zelizer's latest book, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party

Zack Budryk: 'Pastor who urged people not to "cower in fear" tests positive for coronavirus…

Jo Walton: Designing People & Societies: C.J. Cherryh’s "Cyteen" "Cherryh chose to show us Union society first from outside in Downbelow Station, where they are the implacable enemy. I didn’t want to read Cyteen when it was first published because I didn’t want to spend that much time in Union. It becomes clear that Alliance don’t understand Union. Close up it’s… both better and worse than it seemed from outside.... If you were an ordinary CIT in Union, your life would be much nicer and more free than I would have imagined. But for an azi or somebody who isn’t ordinary, it’s much worse.... We also know, because Cherryh had written books set later in the history of this universe, that it doesn’t ultimately work.... I’ve probably read Cyteen forty times, but it always grabs me and won’t let go, and I always see more in it...

Brian Resnick & Umair Irfan: Covid-19 Antibodies, Herd Immunity, & Vaccines, Explained ‘While there is no guarantee that a successful Covid-19 vaccine will be made, some scientists are optimistic that one or more will be available in record time. One big reason: Most people survive the infection on their own, showing that the immune system can be coached to fend off the pathogen.... Our first line of defense against the virus is the cells within us, but stopping the outbreaks will depend on the whole world working together…

Cicero: Pro Balbo: ‘It has been imputed to [Balbus] also that he has become one of the tribe Clustumina, a privilege which he obtained by means of the law concerning bribery, and which is less invidious than the advantages acquired by those men who, by the assistance of the laws, obtain the power of delivering their opinion as praetor, and of and of wearing the purple-striped toga...

Cicero: Pro Roscio: 'I come now to that point to which my desire does not lead me, but good faith towards my client. For if I wished to accuse men, I should accuse those men rather by accusing whom I might become more important, which I have determined not to do, as long as the alternatives of accusing and defending are both open to me. For that man appears to me the most honourable who arrives at a higher rank by his own virtue, not he who rises by the distress and misfortunes of another...

Herodian: Commodus

Google: Google One



Follower of Hieronymus Bosch: Christ in Limbo:

Bosch school christ in limbo

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Brief Procrastinatory Thoughts on American Slavery, Power & Economists' Rhetoric—Highlighted

When the very sharp Eric Hilt writes of "Fogel and Engerman’s analysis of slavery as...brutal but efficient", I wince. "Efficiency" is an engineering term, meaning: achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. A steam boiler powering the lifting of ore out of a mine that converts only 55% of the stored chemical energy in the coal burned into the extra gravitational potential energy of the ore is 55% efficient. The other 45% of the energy is waste heat. An efficient process is one that produced little waste. In striking contrast with an efficient engine that produces little in the way of waste products, slavery produced enormous amounts of waste: death, family separation, pain, overwork, imprisonment, unfreedom. You can call slavery "brutal, but effective in producing profits for the slavelords", and I will not quarrel: that is very true. But please don't call slavery "efficient". To do so makes a normal person think that you are an empathyless moron, or neo-Confederate-adjacent.

OK. So why does Eric Hilt, who is neither an empathyless moron nor Neo-Confederate-adjacent approvingly cite Fogel and Engerman for their "analysis of slavery as... brutal but efficient"? Because economists redefined "efficient" in a particular way. Economists called a situation "efficient" in which there were no uncompleted win-win market exchanges of commodities for money. And, indeed in slavery, there were no uncompleted win-win market exchanges of commodities for money. American slaves (in contrast to at least some Roman slaves) had no chance or opportunity to buy their freedom. So it was efficient. American slavery would only have been inefficient if masters could have (a) freed their slaves, (b) charged them a market rent for their farms, and (c) collected more in rent than they had previously extracted at the point of the lash.

Now Adam Smith thought that that was in fact the case:

The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen.... The profits of a sugar plantation... are generally much greater than those of any other... and the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior to those of sugar, are superior to those of corn.... Both can afford the expense of slave cultivation but sugar can afford it still better than tobacco...

I always thought that Fogel and Engerman, in arguing that American slavery was "efficient", were in fact arguing against neo-Confederate-adjacents who lamented the "tragedy" of the Civil War. Their adversaries had thought that what the South needed was not Sherman commanding Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland, Schofield and his Army of the Ohio, and McPherson and his Army of the Tennessee, but rather forebearance and persuasion. That would, in the minds of these adversaries, lead to the diffusion of commercial values into the south, and then the slavelords would realize that they could make more money by going full-throttle toward the market economy, freeing their slaves, and becoming normal landlords than by the continuation of their neo-feudal fantasies.

Adam Smith (and those who followed him in seeing slavery as an expensive luxury chosen only by a ruling class in love with its image of itself as made up of dominating masters) were, I think, wrong—and the work done in Time on the Cross is a good part of what, I think, demonstrates that they were wrong.

But there is still this problem with the word "efficiency". It would be innocuous if you were talking only to economists. It would be innocuous if you wrote, instead "efficiency-in-economese". But writing that slavery is "efficient" when your audience includes any people who are in any way not full-fledged economists expecting you to speak in economese conveys the false message that American slavery was not very wasteful. And yet what is the destruction of humans' autonomous lives that is the core of slavery as an institution and practice but immense waste?

Eric Hilt: Slavery, Power and Cliometrics: A Brief Comment on Rosenthal ‘Rather than attempt to comment on all of Rosenthal’s paper, here I would like discuss some insights from the literature on Time on the Cross that relate to some parts of it.... Fogel and Engerman’s analysis of slavery as a brutal but efficient labor system clearly has echoes in some of the new books by historians on slavery...

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Loomis: American Fascism: þis Is þe Real Thing—Noted

I agree with Erik here. The Trump administration isn't "creeping fascism" any more. This is the real thing. Their plan is to have Breitbart, Fox, Sinclair, & QAnon come out hard Wednesday after the election saying "nobody can really tell who won", and then see what happens on the streets: Erik Loomis: American Fascism ‘Anyone who sees this as bluster and doesn’t take it seriously are equivalent to those who didn’t really take Hitler or Mussolini seriously early on: Reporter: "Is the President saying if he doesn't win this election that he will not accept the results unless he wins?" Kayleigh McEnany: "The President has always said he'll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath"… .#fascism #highlighted #moral responsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility #2020-08-19

Caesar's Army Traps the Pompeians: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

The Pompeians attempt to retreat, and then fortify themselves on unfavorable ground with neither water nor forage available:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘Afranius's men were distressed in foraging, and procured water with difficulty. The legionary soldiers had a tolerable supply of corn, because they had been ordered to bring from Ilerda sufficient to last twenty-two days; the Spanish and auxiliary forces had none, for they had but few opportunities of procuring any, and their bodies were not accustomed to bear burdens; and therefore a great number of them came over to Caesar every day...

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Caesar Cuts the Pompeians Off from þe Ebro & þeir Line of Retreat: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

Caesar cuts the Pompeians off from the Ebro River, and begins trying to woo tghe soldiers over to his side. The Pompeian generals Afranius and Petreius react badly—and so it becomes clementia vs. crudelitas:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘The contest depended entirely on despatch, which should first get possession of the defile and the mountain. The difficulty of the roads delayed Caesar's army, but his cavalry pursuing Afranius's forces, retarded their march. However, the affair was necessarily reduced to this point, with respect to Afranius's men, that if they first gained the mountains, which they desired, they would themselves avoid all danger, but could not save the baggage of their whole army, nor the cohorts which they had left behind in the camps, to which, being intercepted by Caesar's army, by no means could assistance be given...

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Jefferson: Notes on Virginia—Noted

Thomas Jefferson: Notes on þe State of Virginia ‘Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made... will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.... Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.... We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America… .#noted #2020-08-16

Coaston: Sen. Tim Scott on Police Reform—Noted

Tim Scott, the only African-American senator in the United States republican party, is playing a very difficult political hand with great skill given who his allies and who his constituents are. This is very much worth reading as a window. It is a window into, if not his mind, at least his public presentation of self:

Jane Coaston: Sen. Tim Scott on Police Reform & Why Ending Qualified Immunity Is a Nonstarter for the GOP ‘Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican serving in the US Senate, has an additional, unenviable task beyond his usual legislative portfolio: talking to his colleagues, and Republicans in general, about the issues of race and policing with which he has an intimate familiarity. “I, like many other Black Americans, have found myself choking on my own fears and disbelief when faced with the realities of an encounter with law enforcement,” he wrote in an op-ed in USA Today earlier this year, detailing experiences that began when he was 21 and have continued into his time in Congress.... Sen. Scott and I talked about police reform, qualified immunity for officers and why eliminating it is a “poison pill” for Republicans, race and racism, and our own family experiences of bad policing. He told me Floyd’s death had launched a “tectonic shift on the underlying issue” of police brutality. “I hope that we don’t miss this opportunity” to address it, he said…

.#noted #2020-08-16

Briefly Noted for 2020-08-16

FRED: Continued Claims (Insured Unemployment) (CCSA)


Once again: suppress the virus so that nobody who comes into close contact with an elderly or comorbid relative has great reason for fear, and the economy will then recover. Fail to suppress the virus to that extent, and the economy will remain in depression:

Anne O. Krueger: The Open Secret to Reopening the Economy ‘Areas that eased their initial COVID-19 lockdowns and now have surging infection rates are a testament to all that has gone wrong in the pandemic. The lesson from day one still holds: until the virus is defeated, there can be no return to normal...


One of the best attempts I have ever seen to think through the mobilization of consent for right-wing anti-democracy in the modern age:

Sergei Guriev & Daniel Treisman: Informational Autocracy: Theory and Empirics of Modern Authoritarianism ‘In recent decades, dictatorships based on mass repression have largely given way to a new model based on the manipulation of information... convincing the public they are competent... propaganda and silence informed members of the elite by co-optation or censorship... a rhetoric of performance rather than one aimed at inspiring fear…


The Bloomberg editorial board says, with respect to the Judy Shelton Federal Reserve nomination, that water is wet:

Bloomberg Editorial Board: Judy Shelton Nomination: The Fed Doesn’t Need This Disruption ‘Shelton... was long an ardent supporter of a return to the gold standard, a defunct system that entailed making the dollar convertible into a stable.... More recently, before the pandemic hit and as her nomination was in train, she did an about-face, aligning herself with Trump’s demands for the Fed to stimulate growth by lowering interest rates. Either way, Shelton is unlikely to be a reliably stabilizing force at a time when stability is needed most...


The hope was that a small increase in the share of people with college degrees would, if demand curves had the right slopes, have a large effect on the only-high-school wage discount. It looks as though this hope was in vain:

Kathryn Zickuhr: A College Degree Is Not the Solution to U.S. Wage Inequality ‘The skills gap... fails to account for declining worker power and... monopsony.... Policymakers need to improve the underlying labor market conditions for all workers, instead of shifting responsibility…


The hard truth is that we need another month-long lockdown, but that a month-long lockdown is only worth doing if it is properly followed up. And—given the grifters, ghouls, and easily-grifted gulls on the Republican side of at the aisle—I see no prospect of a proper follow-up until January 21, 2021 at the earliest:

Heather Boushey: 'In another world, a sharp drop in activity would have been just a good, necessary blip while we addressed the virus.... We did not get the virus under control


Techopia: Why China Does Have an Advantage in the Fourth Industrial Revolution ‘We see no reason why the lessons of The Innovator's Dilemma can't apply to nations. China has been investing in new specialisms while the rest of the world watches on.... The first stage of a technology evolution is proving it and evolving it to be adoptable. The second phase is its fuller adoption, disruption of incumbents and productivity benefits. The markets are not always good at funding technologies before these benefits have set in, particularly when these require significant capital expenditure...

Wikipedia: Scipio Aemilianus

Wikipedia: Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio

MAD Gaze: _ GLOW: Stylish MR Smart Glasses by MAD Gaze_



Randall Munroe: xkcd: Git

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What Does Hanging wiþ þhe New York Times Staff Do to People, Anyway?—Highlighted

Why this is hell bosch

Still mulling this over...

The insightful and usually highly reliable Michelle Goldberg makes, I think, a big mistake here.

& something bad does seem to happen often to many people when they start hanging around the New York Times newsroom. They lose their moral compass, and some (not Goldberg) forget that they are supposed to work for their readers and not for their insider sources and their bosses...

Ok, that ends the throad-clearing:

Here Goldberg half-defends Bennet and Sulzburger's decision to publish Senator Cotton's call for massive violence against demonstrating American citizens by the security services—even William F. Buckley would not go quite so far half a century ago, when all he was willing to say was that white supremacists in the south had the right to defend white supremacy against protesters "by any means necessary"—on the grounds that New York Times readers are ignorant of what people like Cotton think, "readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing... because it is being taken seriously" and "the very qualities that make Cotton's Op-Ed revolting...make him an important figure in Trump's Republican Party".

But to publish the thing without surrounding context—that's just to give Cotton a megaphone.

Yes, you can argue that the cure for speech is more speech. But you are wrong. The "more speech" has to appear in the appropriate time, place, and manner.

At some level, I think, Michelle Goldberg knows this. Near the end of her piece is one sentence: "The paper could convey his views by reporting on them, but for the Opinion section, letting him express them himself is more direct." Not "more effective" or "more informative" or "more useful". Why did she choose "direct"?

I think because she knew she could not use any of those other words:

Michelle Goldberg: Tom Cotton's Fascist Op-Ed 'I figured he'd helpfully revealed himself as a dangerous authoritarian.... I can sort of appreciate my bosses' decision.... The Times Opinion section wants to include the views of people who support Trump... the very qualities that make Cotton's Op-Ed revolting—his strongman pretensions, his sneering apocalypticism—make him... important...

...Trump's Republican Party. (He might someday come to lead it.) Readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing, not because it's worth taking seriously but because it is being taken seriously, particularly by our mad and decomposing president.... The paper could convey his views by reporting on them, but for the Opinion section, letting him express them himself is more direct...

And Goldberg's conclusion? "Opinions of shape of earth differ". She won't say that Bennet's decision to publish was wrong. But she won't say that is right either. It is just as "crisis for our understandings of... marketplace[s] of ideas..."

It’s important to understand what the people around the president are thinking. But if they’re honest about what they’re thinking, it’s usually too disgusting to engage with. This creates a crisis for traditional understandings of how the so-called marketplace of ideas functions. It’s a subsidiary of the crisis that has the country on fire.

#highighted #journamalism #orangehairedbaboons #pubicsphere #moralresponsibility #2020-08-16
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Caesar Steals a March on þe Pompeians: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

Caesar learns that Afranius and Petreius have decided to retreat, and pursues. These overly-cautious Pompeian generals begin to lose the war of maneuver:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘There was a debate in the council between Afranius and Petreius, and the time of marching was the subject...

...The majority were of opinion that they should begin their march at night, "for they might reach the defiles before they should be discovered."

Others, because a shout had been raised the night before in Caesar's camp, used this as an argument that they could not leave the camp unnoticed:

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Thomson-DeVeaux: What Economists Fear Will Happen Wiþout More Unemployment Aid—Noted

It was a supply shock. Now—with the expiry of income support—it is a supply shock an a demand shock. And—if we continue to make no progress in stomping the virus—it will become not just a transitory supply shock but a major reallocation shock as well, as the economy transforms itself painfully into a permanently socially-distanced one.

I am on this panel:

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux: What Economists Fear Will Happen Wiþout More Unemployment Aid ‘A sudden uptick in food insecurity. A wave of evictions. People spending less money at shops and restaurants. More job losses.... Our regular survey... conducted in partnership with the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.... The economists also said we’re more likely to see job losses than workers returning to the workforce if Congress decides not to extend the unemployment supplement in any form. That might seem counterintuitive—how could a policy that seems likely to encourage more people to return to work actually result in more job losses? But recent research has indicated that the 600-per-week payment has been allowing jobless workers to continue to spend money as they would normally, at a moment when hiring still isn’t back to normal.... Asked... which were most likely to bring about their nightmares. As a group, they said a lack of fiscal stimulus loomed almost as large as a bad second wave of COVID-19 infections...

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Farr & Gao: How Taiwan Beat þe Coronavirus—Noted

Yes, the coronavirus can be beaten. Schools are reopening and the economy is back to normal in Taiwan. We could beat it too with a nationwide, no more than one month lockdown. But it would have to be nationwide, and it would have to be enforced. Whether a country is able to figure out how to do this is, as Paul Krugman has said, an example fo the marshmellow test:

Christina Farr & Michelle Gao: How Taiwan Beat þe Coronavirus ‘Taiwan has been praised for its highly effective Covid-19 response. Taiwan, which has nearly 24 million citizens, has had only 451 cases and seven deaths. Taiwan had a plan in place for years, which involved quarantines, contact tracing and wide availability of masks, among other things...

...When Catherine Chou arrived in Taipei after flying from Los Angeles, authorities told her she would need to quarantine for two weeks. For Chou, a citizen, that meant booking herself into a hotel at her own expense, although subsidies are available and the government has paid stipends for some stays. When she first arrived, she got a welcome package including dish soap, nail clippers and laundry detergent. Food was delivered to her doorstep. Several times a day, a representative of the local district’s office phoned her to check in and thank her for doing her part. She’s now almost wrapped up her hotel room stay. Once she’s officially cleared of Covid-19, she’ll be free to go.

After living in the U.S., which is still partially closed in various states, she’s looking forward to simple pleasures like visiting her family at home or sitting in a coffee shop with a good book. Taiwan allowed many of its restaurants and bars to reopen in May. “We have this phrase in Taiwan that roughly translates to, ‘This is your country, and it’s up to you to save it,’” she said. “I’m really glad that they’re taking this quarantine seriously”...

.#noted #2020-08-15

Resnick: US Covid-19 Testing & Surveillance Is Still in þe Dark_

I confess that back in March I was flummoxed by the fact that the American government and the American health sector could not scale-up to test people for coronavirus at the needed scalr. Today I am even more flummoxed by Americas continuing testing deficit. It makes it impossible to even figure out where we are with the virus, let alone plan how to try to fight it successfully at reasonable cost:

Brian Resnick: US Covid-19 Testing & Surveillance Is Still in þe Dark ‘“It’s like we’re flying blind”: The US has a Covid-19 data problem: And fall is fast approaching...

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Caesar Pursues the Retreating Pompeians: Liveblogging the Fall of the Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

Caesar learns that Afranius and Petreius have decided to retreat. So when they do, he sets his army in hot pursuit:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘Notice of this being given by the scouts, Caesar continued his work day and night, with very great fatigue to the soldiers, to drain the river, and so far effected his purpose, that the horse were both able and bold enough, though with some difficulty and danger, to pass the river; but the foot had only their shoulders and upper part of their breast above the water, so that their fording it was retarded, not only by the depth of the water, but also by the rapidity of the current. However, almost at the same instant, news was received of the bridge being nearly completed over the Ebro, and a ford was found in the Segre...

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Steve M.: But Giving People þe Opposite of What þey Want Has Worked so Well for Republicans Until Now!—Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Since the mid-1800s, the primary way conservatives have won elections has been to mobilize fear of strangers and of the strange to trump the majority economic interest in a less unequal society. But while fear can trump interest, can fear Trump fear? Perhaps not:

Steve M.: But Giving People þe Opposite of What þey Want Has Worked so Well for Republicans Until Now! ‘Shockingly, it appears that trying to kill constituents is bad for your poll numbers if you're an elected official.... Since the Reagan era, corporatist Republicanism has weakened the middle class, increased inequality, gutted regulations on corporations, and, in this century, crashed the economy twice. But because Republicans distract their base with culture-war talk and other forms of lib-owning, none of the harm GOP politicians do to their voters has ever seemed to cause them trouble at the polls...

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þe Deplorable Steve Calebresi Finally Sees How Deplorable He Has Been—Noted

And another Trump enabler looks around and says “what have I been doing?” It is, frankly, deplorable that it is not until now that Steve Calabresi has decided that Trump is a fascist: Matt Shuham: Federalist Society Co-Founder Calls Trump Bid To Change Election Day ‘Fascistic,’ Impeachable ‘The co-founder of the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society said Thursday that Trump’s bid to move Election Day was “fascistic” and worthy of impeachment. Steven Calabresi wrote in a [New York Times op-ed that he’d voted for Trump, protested the Mueller investigation and opposed the President’s impeachment over the Ukraine pressure campaign. But, Calabresi wrote, “I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist,” he said. “But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.” Calabrisi, whose organization has been hugely influential in Trump’s massive record of judicial appointments, emphasized… [that] the decision isn’t his to make, and besides, the United States voted on the appointed date even during the Civil War and the Great Depression. “President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election,” Calabresi said. “Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again”… #noted #2020-08-15

Black: Always Worth Reading—Noted

Always worth reading: Duncan Black: Monster Trucks ‘Just pedestrian killing machines: "Furthermore, the specific design trend of the massive hood sticking way out in front of the driver, with a cliff-face front grille obstructing the view several feet out in front of the wheels, is entirely a marketing gimmick.... Take it from the guy who designed the latest GM Sierra HD: "The front end was always the focal point... we spent a lot of time making sure that when you stand in front of this thing it looks like it's going to come get you. It's got that pissed-off feel," he told Muscle Cars & Trucks. "The face of these trucks is where the action is," marketing expert Mark Schirmer told the Wall Street Journal's Dan Neil.... And as Neil discovered when he was nearly run down in a Costco parking lot, that massive grille creates a massive blind spot…

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Drum: Underground Cost of Health Care—Noted

The last time I went into my children’s pediatricians’ office, they had two doctors, three nurses, and four papers shufflers there—and the paper shufflers were mirrored by four more paper shufflers at the insurance companies, all trying to keep whatever the pediatricians were deciding to do from being covered by insurance. But, as Kevin Drum rightly points out, that is not the only overhead of our insane healthcare financing system. We patients spend a lot of time working for the insurance companies for free as well: Kevin Drum: How Big Is the Underground Cost of Health Care? ‘the health care system... massively inefficient and prone to errors, most of which end up falling on patients to fix... on hold making appointments... medication errors... arguing with insurance companies... back-and-forth... telling doctors what some other doctor said... miscommunications caused by the fact that doctors typically know nothing about the actual operation of their own industry. Etc.... elements of the health care system that are outsourced to patients themselves. It never gets accounted for, but for all practical purposes the health care system relies on the unpaid labor of patients... I have never seen a study that tries to compare this underground cost among countries... .#noted #2020-08-15

Briefly Noted for 2020-08-15

Briefly Noted:

Hamilton Project: Black Households & COVID-19: Impediments to Economic Security ‘how COVID-19 has exacerbated racial economic inequality... Maya Rockeymoore Cummings... Jevay Grooms... Bradley Hardy... Trevon Logan... Stephanie Rawlings-Blake... & Danyelle Solomon…

Philip Stephens: An Election to Decide America’s Place in þe World ‘November’s contest will be as consequential for the world as any since Franklin D Roosevelt…

Ashley Nunes: Ride-hailing’s Collapsing House of Cards ‘Ride-hailing’s profitability aspirations ultimately conflict with its desire to upend the global auto market. These companies have a choice. By the virtue of raising or lowering fares they can either excite investors or thrill consumers. But they can’t do both…

Jim Sleeper: The Inevitability of Defending Henry Kissinger ‘Kissinger’s and Nixon’s bloody maneuvers—in Cambodia, in Vietnam—weren’t as necessary or inevitable as their admirers and apologists assert. Gewen cites the condemnations not so much to engage with them as to give his own assessments an aura of truth-seeking candor…

Andrew J.Jalil & al.: Eating to Save þe Planet: Evidence From A Randomized Controlled Trial Using Individual-Level Food Purchase Data ‘Climate change-health educational intervention reduces meat consumption.... "Win-win" message (EAT-Lancet Commission) leads to sustainable dietary change.... International food policy debate on interventions to meet global climate change goals…

Cecile Gaubert & Oleg Itskhoki: Superstar firms & þe Comparative Advantage of Countries ‘We find that large individual firms appear to be a quantitatively important force in driving the comparative advantage of countries and its evolution over time. The granular structure of the world economy arguably offers incentives for governments to adopt trade and industrial policies targeted at individual firms…

Lacedaemonia as tourist trap: Plutarch: Life of Lycurgus*.html: 'The boys make such a serious matter of their stealing, that one of them, as the story goes, who was carrying concealed under his cloak a young fox which he had stolen, suffered the animal to tear out his bowels with its teeth and claws, and died rather than have his theft detected. And even this story gains credence from what their youths now endure, many of whom I have seen expiring under the lash at the altar of Artemis Orthia...



Joel E. Cohen: How to Count Humans ‘the global population is likely to peak in 2064 at 9.7 billion, before declining to 8.8 billion by 2100.... 23 countries... at most half their 2017 size by 2100.... By contrast, Nigeria’s population is expected to grow 3.8-fold between 2017 and 2100: Stein Emil Vollset & al.: Fertility, Mortality, Migration, & Population Scenarios For 195 Countries & Territories From 2017 To 2100

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Quiggin: Intangibles = Monopoly—Noted

We kinda-sorta understood the economies of the past: the agrarian-age economy based on agriculture in handicrafts, the succeeding commercial-age economy to which was added commerce, the industrial-revolution economy based more on manufacturing and non-animal power sources, and then modern economic growth based on mass production and engineering communities. But now we have a problem. Our problem now is that, increasingly, our computer age information and attention economy works differently. And we do not understand it terribly well:

John Quiggin: Intangibles = Monopoly ‘The fact that the most profitable companies, particularly tech companies, don’t have all that much in the way of capital assets compared to their market value. What they have is monopoly power, which has been increasing steadily over time...

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Stone: Russia, America, and the American Press—Noted

I.F. Stone (1954): On Russia, America, and the American Press ‘If there is indeed a monstrous and diabolic conspiracy against world peace and stability, then isn't McCarthy right? If "subversives" are at work like termites... are they not likely to be found in the most unlikely places and under the most unlikely disguises?... To doubt the power of the devil... is... to incur suspicion of being oneself in league with the powers of evil. So all the fighters against McCarthyism are impelled to adopt its premises.... Nowhere in American politics is there evidence of any important figure (even Stevenson) prepared to talk in sober, mature, and realistic terms of the real problems which arise in a real world where national rivalries, mass aspirations, and ideas clash as naturally as waves of the sea. The premises of free society and of liberalism find no one to voice them, yet McCarthyisms will not be ended until someone has the nerve to make this kind of fundamental attack on it… .#noted #1954-01-01

Farrell: Charles Rowley Was Never All There...—Noted

Henry Farrell (2009): Death to the Keynesian Insect That Preys on the Life of the People! ‘It’s super-duper awesome! Charles Rowley, familiar to long time CT readers for his ruminations on the corruption of the profession of political science... and his bizarre attack on Avner Greif... now has his own blog. It’s everything that one might possibly hope for. My favorite so far is the bit telling us that: "the massive fist of free market ideas once again will smash through the false consciousness of Keynesian dreams, and voters will rush to elect leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan..." ‘cos it’s a level of rhetorical styling that I haven’t seen since I used to pick up the newsletter of the Maoist International Movement.... But the Obama=Sykes, Larry Summers=Fagin “post” runs a very close second... #noted 2020-08-12

Meyer: þe Right-Wing-o-Sphere Will Fight a Cold Civil War—Comment of þe Day

William Meyer: All Hands on Deck Time ‘What to say about these people? Even if there is a major political win in November for the Democrats, the entire right-wing-o-sphere, now all-in on despicable behavior, will still be out there, raring for revenge and almost certainly trying to make the pandemic and the economic damage worse with an eye on the 2022 midterms. Of course they hope to repeat their successful strategy of 2010. (That certainly looks to be what McConnell is aiming for, at a minimum—he is the smartest guy they've got.) I guess there is no alternative, but what we have ahead of us is—literally—a Cold Civil War. We better be prepared to fight it… .#commentoftheday #2020-08-14

Sabelhaus: Restoring þe Federal Estate Tax Is a Proven Way to Raise Revenue & Address Wealth Inequality—Noted from Equitable Growth

An excellent and brand-new working paper by John Sabelhaus: John Sabelhaus: Restoring þe Federal Estate Tax Is a Proven Way to Raise Revenue & Address Wealth Inequality ‘There are four principal reasons why expanding the estate tax could well be the most effective and efficient way.... First, policymakers have repeatedly cut the estate tax over the past 20 years, without regard for the true economic and distributional consequences.... Second... the estate tax, in practice, is better described as an effective backstop to the federal income tax.... Third, the very failure to collect taxes on the true incomes of the very wealthy increases wealth inequality within generations and amplifies the inequality due to intergenerational wealth transfers.... Fourth... reviv[ing] the estate tax—doing so would greatly improve the overall fiscal outlook of the federal government, and in a highly progressive way… .#equitablegrowth #noted #2020-08-14

Hardy & Logan: Race & þe Lack of Intergenerational Economic Mobility in þe United States—Noted from Equitable Growth

I have talked about this before. But now it is back on the agenda in a much more salient way for a large number of reasons, of which perhaps the largest is the police murder of George Floyd:

Bradley Hardy & Trevon Logan: Race & þe Lack of Intergenerational Economic Mobility in þe United States ‘Geographic and racial differences in economic mobility are particularly important from a policy perspective for three reasons. First, racial differences in mobility can exacerbate racial differences in other areas.... Second, inequalities in opportunity are antithetical to our nation’s creed.... Third, structural differences in mobility limit the potential for overall U.S. economic growth.... The historic links between intergenerational economic mobility and race and income inequality.... The known policy remedies for persistently low intergenerational economic mobility among African Americans.... A mix of policies to promote more equitable housing and educational opportunities alongside moves to boost income security and wealth accumulation… .#equitablegrowth #noted #2020-08-14

Equitable Growth: Unemployment Insurance Claims—Noted from Equitable Growth

Better news from the labor market than I was expecting: while the coronavirus plague is still on the increase nationwide, that has not spilled over to further depress the economy—at least not yet. However, to the extent that we could suppress the virus cheaply and easily by accepting a deepening of the recession, we would be fools to be pleased that we are not doing so:

Equitable Growth: 'Regular continued claims, or the number of workers who are now insured, fell to 15.2 million the week ending August 1... 10.4 percent For the week ending August 8, 831,856 workers filed for regular unemployment benefits.... States reported that another 488,622 workers filed for initial PUA, the program that extended eligibility to some workers, such as caretakers, the self-employed, and those without enough earnings history, who are not eligible for regular jobless benefits.... Experts warn that President Trump’s presidential memorandum on UI is regressive (it excludes those receiving less than $100 in unemployment benefits) and extremely difficult to implement (states might have to set up entirely new delivery systems)… .#noted #2020-08-14

Husak: Uber‘s CEO Says Uber Is a Value-Subtracting Firm—Noted from Equitable Growth

If Uber cannot be profitable if the government requires it to pay its workers enough that they make at least minimum wage, than Uber is not a value-adding firm. It is, rather, a value-destroying firm—like the state-owned enterprises of behind the Iron Curtain. Capital should flow to something that can be profitable when it pays workers minimum wage. Workers should take up better-paying options. If Uber needs a playing field especially tilted towards it to survive, it is a net negative for the economy. That's just Econ 1:

Corey Husak: 'Uber‘s CEO... [is] asking for a complete re-shaping of labor law just to fit their profit scheme.... Their real innovation was finding tricks to pay drivers less than their competitors... [by] making workers contractors instead of employees.... Larry Mishel at EPI found that after deducting expenses, Uber fees, taxes, and the benefits they’d make as employees, Uber drivers take home only $9.21/hr, of the $22/hr they generate in fares.... A lack of benefits makes them among the most exposed to the effects of the #coronavirus recession. A normal person looks at this and thinks “Drivers need support. Uber should follow minimum wage laws.”... However, paying workers more would hurt profits, so Uber claims they couldn’t possibly provide their drivers the same rights and benefits as most other employers…

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538: Minnesota as þe Most Likely Battleground—Noted

Minnesota as the most likely tipping-point state. Democratic edge (in order): Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Michigan. Republican edge (in order): Florida, Arizona, Nebraska (2), North Carolina, Ohio: 538: 2020 Election Forecast… .#highlighted #noted #politics #2020-08-13

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þe Ghouls Who Ran Herman Cain's Twitter Feed While He Fought for His Life & þen Drowned in His Hospital Bed Continue þe Grift—Noted

The ghouls who ran Herman Cain's twitter feed while he fought for his life & then drowned in his hospital bed continue the grift: Rob Beschizza: Herman Cain Tweets From Beyond Þe Grave ‘Herman Cain... banal pro-Trump propaganda... a grim month-long spectacle seemingly pumped out by political handlers willing to speak with Cain's voice even as that voice ceased to exist. I speculated that the tweets would continue after his death, a melding of Trumpian incompetence, obscenity and indifference. I was asked to stop posting on grounds of "Rob, He Just Died", but sadly that exortation was not made to whoever is wearing Cain's corpse today on Twitter… .#noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-08-13

Briefly Noted for 2020-08-13

Reporters without Borders: The Uncensored Library

Wikipedia: Adalbert von Bredow ‘Von Bredow married Dr. Elise Cäcilie Friederike Kühne in 1849. It took a lot of convincing to get her to go out with him... [a] known and respected academic and long head of university departments…

Aliette de Bodard: The Inaccessibility of Heaven ‘Night. A night like any other in Starhollow: the headlights of cars, small and lost between the skyscrapers; the smell of hydromel and wine wafting from those few bars still open; and above me, the distant light of the stars, a constant reminder of the inaccessibility of Heaven…

Julie E. Czerneda: The Big Idea ‘Alien Squabbles? Worlds in Conflict? Come to the Web Shifter’s Library! The library in question is the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture. It began, quite simply, as a way for trouble to find my characters: Esen-alit-Quar, the semi-immortal shapeshifting Web-being, and her Human friend, Paul Ragem…

Rob Beschizza: Ilhan Omar Thrashes Well-Funded Primary Challenger ‘Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar fended off a well-funded challenger in yesterday's primary election and is and is now all but certain to retain her seat in November's general. Antone Melton-Meaux raised millions in the 5th district race but conceded…

Elizabeth Choe & al.: Becoming the Next Bill Nye: Writing and Hosting the Educational Show

Williams-Sonoma Taste: Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

Naked Wines

Mark Frauenfelder: "Phoenix Checklist": The Plan 'The "Phoenix Checklist" is a set of questions developed by the CIA to define and think about a problem, and how to develop a solution...



Kirby Ferguson: QAnon, Conspiracy Theories, and the Rise of Magical Thinking ‘1. Obsession with symbols and codes (e.g. pizza as a “deep state” code for child trafficking). 2. Dot connecting (e.g. linking 5G with Covid-19). 3. Behind every event is a plan concocted by a person (e.g. Soros and the “deep state” conspiracy). 4. Purity (e.g. the Satanic panic and heavy metal music). 5. Apocalypse is nigh (e.g. the “deep state” again). 6. Preoccupation with good and evil (e.g. liberals are not only wrong but evil)…

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All Hands on Deck Time—Note to Self

All the kings men strip

Want to insult a man in America today, call him a woman—as, for example, the New York Times allows and encourages Maureen Dowd to do, albeit only for Democratic and not for Republican male politicians, who somehow seem to always be Manly Men. Want to insult a woman in America today, and you can follow Dowd and call her a man, but it is more effective to call her a whore.

It's time for all hands on deck: "hell among the yearlings and the Charge of the Light Brigade and Saturday night in the back room of Casey's saloon rolled into one". It is time for Sadie Burke and Hugh Miller.

And we haven't even gotten to the mass vote suppression and miscount part or the potential Rubicon moment part of this election:

Steve M.: 'Here's what right-wingers call Harris when they think we're not listening "Mattress Kamala" is what your right-wing relatives will be calling her soon, if they aren't already. We'll see whether Trump or any of his surrogates try to take the nickname mainstream…

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Briefly Noted for 2020-08-11

Plato: The Republic ‘Come, then, and I will tell you the story of Er...

Bob Pozen: Proactive Indexing: Index Funds & IPOs ‘Index funds could generate excess returns if they bought IPO stocks when they were initially offered.... There is risk…

Raghuram G. Rajan: Should Governments Spend Away? ‘Painful reminders of what happens when countries cannot service their debts.... The notion that anyone should be made whole because the pandemic “wasn’t their fault” immediately becomes untenable…

Sean Guynes: The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread

Matt Mikalatos: The Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Duncan Black: Down Up ‘I'd like to ask some of the people who spun out their fantasies of how to open schools safely if any of them actually believed anything they suggested was possible, or if it was just a propaganda effort…

David Corn: The Republican Party Is Racist and Soulless. Just Ask This Veteran GOP Strategist. ‘Stuart Stevens says he now realizes the hatred and bigotry of Trumpism were always at the heart of the GOP…

Josh Tyler: Star Trek: Lower Decks Review: The Best Trek Since DS9 ‘That the people making [it]... actually know something... is a much bigger deal than it might seem.... JJ Abrams... loudly declared he didn’t like Star Trek.... Abrams handed... over to his acolyte Alex Kurtzman... [who] wouldn’t know a Tholian from a Gorn if they were standing right in front of him…



Scott Lemieuxc: Real Americans ‘Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically…. That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out”.... For you young people out there, it’s almost impossible to convey how long the idea that Democrats are snooty elitists who don’t care about anyone outside coastal urban areas was taken as a given in mainstream political coverage.... John Kerry was disciplined enough not to make a gaffe so… Maureen Dowd… [made] up a quote about NASCAR…. But when reactionaries from Wallace to Palin to Trump talk about REAL AMERICA, they mean it—it structures their entire worldview. Jared’s belief that the lives of people in blue states (who are less affluent than he is) are worth nothing is just a blunter statement about the ethos that governs Republican politics. It’s no different when Wisconsin Republicans declare they have the permanent right to minority rule because cities shouldn’t really count and the Republicans on the Supreme Court wink at multiple provisions of the Constitution to agree with them. They’re completely straightforward about it, and yet it gets much less attention than John Kerry ordering Swiss cheese on a cheesesteak...

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Afranius & Petreius Fear Caesar's Cavalry & Decide to Retreat: Liveblogging the Fall of the Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

Caesar faces Pompeian forces split in two: an army without a leader in Spain, and a leader without an army in Greece. Logistics and diplomacy reverse the situation at Ilerda in northeast Spain, as Caesar gains an advantage in allied cavalry that makes Afranius and Petreius fear their position will soon become logistically untenable. They decide to retreat:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘When news of this battle was brought to Caesar at Ilerda, the bridge being completed at the same time, fortune soon took a turn. The enemy, daunted by the courage of our horse, did not scour the country as freely or as boldly as before: but sometimes advancing a small distance from the camp, that they might have a ready retreat, they foraged within narrower bounds...

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Plato: Myth of Er—Noted

Not much of a dialogue. But it is a story. Sokrates is speaking:

Plato: The Republic: 'Come, then, and I will tell you the story of Er, the son of Armenius, a valiant man. He was supposed to have died in battle, but ten days afterwards his body was found untouched by corruption and sent home for burial. On the twelfth day he was placed on the funeral pyre and there he came to life again, and told what he had seen in the world below...

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Fall 2020: Virtual Economic History Seminar—Noted

Virtual Economic History Seminar 'Following the Spring 2020 seminars co-organised by Petra Moser, Katherine Eriksson and Melissa Thomasson, we will continue meeting on Mondays 11-noon Vancouver / 2-3pm Washington DC / 7-8pm London.... Co-organised with Bitsy Perlman and Felipe Valencia Caicedo… .#economichistory #noted #remoteinstruction #2020-08-11