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The Murder of the Slave Women in the Odyssey

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Emily R.C. Wilson: "After one of my recent 'Conversation' interviews (in Sydney), someone asked me if the hanging of the slave women in the Odyssey is 'right'...

...Summarizing my answer here on the recommendation of a friend, because it brings up a key distinction for thinking about any literary text. Literature 101: There are 3 separate questions intertwined:

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Note to Self: Obama essentially turned monetary, fiscal, and housing policy over to two guys who were “calm down and hope for the best“ rather than “prepare for the worst“ guys: Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner. Those were, in retrospect, disastrous choices—not because of what they did but because of their opposition to thinking well outside the box and preparing to deal with the worst case scenario’s. So when the “green shoots” of a strong recovery that both saw were not there at all—when they claimed the strong recovery glass was mostly full but in fact there was no glass—their position kept others who would have been preparing for the worst, and who might have been able to do better at dealing with the situation, from being able to take any effective action...

Note to Self: References Relevant to the Kaiping Mines Story...

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George Washington's Conviction That Thomas Jefferson Was a French Puppet...


Note to Self: I have been looking for this for a while: Washington's judgment that Jefferson was, at best, not an American patriot but rather an agent of influence for the corrupt French Republic.

It is thought that "John Langhorne" was not Thomas Jefferson, but rather Jefferson's favored nephew Peter Carr. The extent to which Carr was acting on his own rather than for Jefferson is not clear to me. Carr was certainly a "Jeffersonian"—and thus distance between him and Jefferson (like distance between Freneau and Jefferson) seems to me much more like plausible deniability than true divergence: George Washington: To John Nicholas, 8 March 1798: "Nothing short of the Evidence you have adduced, corroborative of intimations which I had received long before, through another channel...

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Note to Self: Alexander Hamilton: America as "Grand Experiment": Ari Kelman: "The description of the United States as a Grand Experiment in democracy or sometimes as a lower-case grand experiment in democracy. I always assumed that one of the founders* said that, that it was a quote in other words. But no, it seems that’s not the case. Unless I’m missing something—which is entirely possible; no, really, it’s entirely possible—the whole thing is a charade..." How about this? Will it do?: Alexander Hamilton: "The advocates of despotism have... decried all free government as inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves in malicious exultation over its friends and partisans. Happily for mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which have flourished for ages, have, in a few glorious instances, refuted their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and solid foundation of other edifices, not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent monuments of their errors..."

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Well, Our Three Bridge View from the Graduate Student Lounge Is Not at Its Best This Morning, Is It?

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Well, our three bridge view from the Peixotto Graduate Student Lounge is not at its best this morning, is it?

That is a pity because the new first-year graduate students are arriving this morning...

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How Far Will Byron York Go to Defend Donald Trump?

Byron York is useful to Donald Trump for always giving the un- but semi-plausible defense of Trump on which those who want to see or profit from Trump's attempt to remake America into a neo-fascist country succeed around which they can coordinate their day-to-day attempts to strengthen Trump. Byron York will be useful to future historians as a marker of where those who wanted to see Trump succeed in his projects were thinking they could draw the line without losing all credibility. The current line, as of July 17, 2018, is that the investigation is a witch hunt because it has not yet proven that Trump personally colluded with Putin's attempts to disrupt the election: Byron York: Why Trump doesn't admit Russian election interference: "There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part... and the get-Trump part...

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Meredith Haggerty: Review: We Tried Casper’s “The Dreamery” Nap Pods: "Casper opened a pay-per-nap store in New York, where you can use nice skincare products and ponder capitalism until you fall asleep.... Casper’s announcement that the mattress brand had created a space where New York’s tired could take 45 minute naps for $25 was met with a range of reactions.... In my sleepiness I saw an opportunity: to zonk out during work hours and charge it to Vox Media. No one asked, but I volunteered to take an expensive, expensed nap..."

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I, on Behalf of the Economists Thinking Correct Economic Thought, Plead Not Guilty: Cedarbrook Notes


Cedar Brook Notes: We—at least my fraction of economists—plead “not guilty” to the indictment:

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Cedar Brook Notes: The principal use of “neoliberalism” as a word is to erase the difference between the Mussolini-love of Ludwig von Mises and center-left technocratic economists who want to get the incidence of policies right. Why? So you can then have more freedom to propose policies that do not make technocratic sense...

From Atrios: What A Strange Publication: "I really have a had time understanding the people who work at the NYT..."

He is noting what Vivian Wang and her editors say this morning:

  1. We are not very good at our jobs.
  2. "Millenials" and "females" are not proper audiences for a "national publication".

Vivian Wang: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A 28-Year-Old Democratic Giant Slayer: "Before Tuesday’s victory catapulted her to the front of the political conversation, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez seemed to find readier audiences with outlets such as Elite Daily, Mic or Refinery29—websites most often associated with millennial and female audiences—than with national publications..."

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Not since Henry VIII Tudor Have We Seen the Like!

Clowns (ICP)

Disappointment, surprise, bluster, promises he cannot keep, illogic, threats, a promise to destroy the company...

President Donald Trump writes:

(1) Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse-be patient! #MAGA

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Trump May Not Be the Least Balanced Person in the Trump Administration: Kevin Hassett Monday Smackdown

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This, from CEA Chair Kevin Hassett in 2010 has always seemed to me at if not over the edge of mental illness.

There are many tells. The reliance on a "brilliant review" by a UND law professor and on an Oxford philosopher with no particle physicists even named is one. The raising of "military action" as a response is a second. The plea for following his preferred course of action even though he does not understand the issues because "how can we know that things we do not understand will not kill us?" is a third.

Grandiosity and unmooring from rational inquiry to an extent that, it seemed and seems to me, might well clear the clinical diagnosis bar...

In its entirety:

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(Early) Monday (Self?) Smackdown: Baiae and LA as Causes of Republican Downfall? Seriously?

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The scary thing is that I do not know whether Tom Holland:

  1. did not notice that Niall Ferguson was misinterpreting his work...
  2. does not care that Niall Ferguson was misinterpreting his work on the grounds that "all publicity is good publicity", or whether...
  3. I am misinterpreting Tom Holland's work, and Holland really does agree with Ferguson—that it was the orgies of Baiae rather than, in Lucan's phrase, because "Caesar could brook no superior and Pompey could brook no rival...", and, as Plutarch put it, the right-wing decision to break the norms by which political clashes "though neither trifling nor raised for trifling objects, were settled by mutual concessions, the nobles yielding from fear of the multitude, and the people out of respect for the senate..."

A Twitter thread:

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IIRC, the last Republican President and his administration were guilty of large-scale torture. From that perspective, mere criminal perjury is a relief. Of course, Trump and his administration are also undertaking policies that will soon if they do not now amount to large-scale torture as well: Orin Kerr: "The NY complaint also more or less accuses Trump of criminal perjury... https://twitter.com/OrinKerr/status/1007300059291979777

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Is it worse than back in the day when Eduardo Porter was writing stories that counterposed you and Donald Luskin as equally authoritative figures equally likely to be right about the economy, or when Mickey Kaus had a career saying you were too shrill, and whether Bush was lying about his tax cuts was irrelevant to the debate in the public sphere? Paul Krugman: "I'm finding it really painful to read the IG report stuff. FBI malpractice, combined with major media malpractice, got us Trump. This was obvious in real time. And many media organizations are still doing it in their reporting today..." https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1007595490198937601

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Dan Nexon wrongly still thinks the media's crafting its headlines and first paragraphs so that they do not offend the Trumpists is a mistake on the part of the Washington Post, the New York Times, and so forth. It is not a mistake: it is a strategy: Dan Nexon: "The same media that carefully tracks Trump’s constant lying & gaslighting still crafts headlines that repeat his tweets and statements. Discussions of Trump all need to begin from—and be guided by—the proposition that everything he says is false until proven otherwise."

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The Nevilles, the Percys, and the Murdochs...

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Back in fifteenth century England the landholdings of nearly all nobles were parcelized—manors and such fairly widely scattered. That made it difficult for individual nobles to raise a large force from their affinity, or even to develop a strong affinity. There were, however two exceptions: the nobles watching the Welsh and watching the Scottish border had been allowed—encouraged—by the king to develop large contiguous landholdings. Hence the Percys: Earls of Northumberland. Hence the Beauchamp-Nevilles: Earls of Warwick. These "ouer myghtye subgettes", in the words of Lord Chief Justice John Fortescue's Laws and Governance of England, could and did raise affinities and could and did shake the realm. Richard Neville the 16th Earl of Warwick was, after all, called "Warwick the Kingmaker".

The extremely shrewd Charlie Stross wonders at the presslords of the right as our modern-day "overmighty subjects":

Charlie Stross: The Pivot: "Brexit requires no introduction.... Nor... the main UK media players... pro-Brexit to the extent of attacking national institutions seen as being soft on Brexit...

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Monday Smackdown: Finally We Find What Makes Clive Crook Stop Being an Anti-Anti-Trump Poseur!


A correspondent who wishes me ill writes and asks me what I think of Niall Ferguson and Clive Crook these days. I won't rise to the bait for Niall, but I will note that trade issues have made Clive Crook forget that back in November 2016 he decided to swim with what he saw as the tide carrying him to his niche as an anti-anti-Trump poseur. The talk about how we must be measured in our response—must listen carefully and respectfully to those with "the intelligible and legitimate opinions of that large minority" who will, after they have been marinated in Fox News, applaud Trump's actions—is gone, 100% gone:

Clive Crook: Congress Must Blunt Trump’s Assault on Trade: "What Trump did last week matters...

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The big problem China will face in a decade is this: an aging near-absolute monarch who does not dare dismount is itself a huge source of instability.

The problem is worse than the standard historical pattern that imperial succession has never delivered more than five good emperors in a row. The problem is the aging of an emperor. Before modern medicine one could hope that the time of chaos between when the grip on the reins of the old emperor loosened and the grip of the new emperor tightened would be short. But in the age of modern medicine that is certainly not the way to bet.

Thus monarchy looks no more attractive than demagoguery today.

We can help to build or restore or remember our “republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government“. An autocracy faced with the succession and the dotage problems does not have this option. Once they abandon collective aristocratic leadership in order to manage the succession problem, I see little possibility of a solution.

And this brings me to Martin Wolf. China's current trajectory is not designed to generate durable political stability: Martin Wolf: How the west should judge the claim sof a rising China: “Chinese political stability is fragile...

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Note to Self: I wouldn't call Thrush-Watkins etc. a "mistake" by the New York Times as much as a strategic decision. I always thought that Harris, VandeHei, Allen & co. worked for their sources first, their bosses second, and their readers not at all—and that's how thy shaped Politico. Hiring a politics team from Politico got them what they paid for. And that is what the New York Times wanted to do...

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Rick Petree: "He was more cogent, more linear: I suspect this is, again, a sign of mental deterioration. There have been many instances of him not knowing the words to our most common songs. I recall a Pentagon ceremony where he gave up singing entirely & waved his hands in time with the music. It's not at all funny...

...You don't unlearn the words to the national anthem. If you knew them in high school (a military academy, in this case), you know them for the rest of your life, unless your brain starts to deteriorate.... I agree on his basic level of intelligence. Never stellar. However, having been around him a bit over the years in NYC, he's way off his own mark of 10-20 years ago. He was more cogent, more linear. He could follow a discussion, make multi-part points over a period of minutes. He had greater concentration and focus. His vocabulary was notably larger. IMO, he's no better than 50-60% of what he was 20 years ago..."


Paul says: "hyperinflation is coming any day now" and "minimum wages at their current levels are killing millions of jobs" are joining "there is no such thing as global warming" and "evolution is false" as destroyers of "conservatives" in academia: *Paul Krugman: "Today's column has nothing directly to do with... the puzzling failure of wages to grow faster despite what look like tight labor markets https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/04/opinion/conservative-free-speech.html...

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The wise and thoughtful Dan Nexon gets this, I think, exactly right. The question is: Why is conservatism intellectually irrelevant in many academic departments and disciplines? The propensity of prominent conservatives to try to ratf--- 20 year olds is certainly part of the problem: Dan Nexon: "This reads like an excuse for publishing an intemperate opinion-editorial in the student newspaper, not an attempt by a world-famous academic to rationalize conspiring to ratf--- an undergrad at an institution with which he is affiliated:"

Niall Ferguson: "I need to grow up and keep out of student politics, no question. But the context is important. Conservatism is on the brink of extinction in much of academia, especially in history. This isn't healthy."

I endorse this: the Vichy French did not behave materially worse than other countries conquered by the Nazis. Britain was very lucky to be an island: #JeSuisSchlossberg: "Probably not fair to talk about Vichy Republicans and Vichy media. After all, the French faced real threats, including to their very lives, after their defeat in WWII, whereas GOP Congress and anti-anti-Trump media types are perfectly safe, just trying to make an extra buck..."

Noah Smith: "OOOOOOOOOOOOOPS! Trump's tariffs made steel more expensive, which made U.S. manufacturing harder, which pushed consumers to buy more imported goods. WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS WOULD HAPPEN?

Erik Brynjolfsson: "Economics 101 can be a harsh teacher: 'U.S. firms say some customers are opting to import finished goods rather than absorb price increases; "a nightmare for steel consumers"'—@WSJ..."

Note to Self: My cousin Phil Lord and his partner Chris Miller are geniuses for casting Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. And we will never see what they wanted to do with the script. But looking at the financials I do not see how this thing is supposed to make any money...