#commentoftheday Feed

To stop the New Zealand gunman Abdul Aziz needed a weapon He picked up the first thing he found Los Angeles Times

Comment of the Day: DilbertDogbert: Anyone Can Wear the Mask. You Can Wear the Maskk: "The good prof has an 'I'm with her' image. I propose he have an 'I'm with him' image of this man: https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-new-zealand-hero-20190317-story.html. Funny how white nationalists are hero's in their own minds when armed but are sheep when confronted without one.

AP: To stop the New Zealand gunman, Abdul Aziz needed a weapon. He picked up the first thing he found: "'"I realized this is something else. This is a killer', he said.... Aziz said as he ran outside screaming, he was hoping to distract the attacker. He said the gunman ran back to his car to get another gun, and Aziz hurled the credit card machine at him.... Aziz spotted a gun the gunman had abandoned and picked it up, pointed it and squeezed the trigger. It was empty.... 'He gets into his car and I just got the gun and threw it on his window like an arrow and blasted his window', he said. The windshield shattered: 'That's why he got scared'...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: What a Politics Based on Lies Looks Like: "Y'all are making something simple complicated. There's a Murdoch quote out there about why Murdoch supported leave; when he goes to Number 10, they do what he says. When he goes to Brussels, they don't know or care who he is. Basic primate status is defined by who can tell you what to do. The British upper class are raised in environments which make this really, really obvious, and also which make norm violation especially intolerable. (Yes, this is an imperial hangover.)... The driver is to make damn sure no one can tell them what to do. The Tory support for the whole thing derives from norm-violation; the norms of their childhood have changed, and they're having a coping failure. It's all aligned, from the money on down. People like predictable, and this particular predictable is Those People Can't Tell ME What To Do. Laws, the economy, good sense, or the basic tenet of civilization—indirect benefit beats direct gain from exercising power—all have nothing to do with it. It's impossible to tolerate existing in some other hierarchy...

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Comment of the Day: JEC: "This sentence: 'This high-stakes approach was much criticised by liberals, who feared nuclear Armageddon more than they feared the consequences of appeasing the Soviet Union...' It tells you everything you need to know about Niall Ferguson. Well, that and the fact that Ferguson imagines this to be a sick burn on the 'liberals', rather than an acknowledgment of their obviously superior wisdom, prudence, and foresight...

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Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "I will NOT give Elaine Kamarck credit for going after Obama for not going after Wall Street. This is the same Elaine Kamarck who wrote a paper advocating for Fannie Mae shareholders:

Take the paper by Shapiro and Elaine Kamarck, touted as the independent views of officials from both the Obama and Clinton administrations, that comes to the conclusion that the hedge funds ought to be paid dollars for the shares of Fannie Mae they bought for pennies... https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/vulture-fund-lobbying_us_57350001e4b077d4d6f2a374

Now after serving as a hack and one of the vultures' vultures she is utterly shameless enough to accuse Obama of going easy on Wall Street. This woman has no integrity and not useful role in any discussion. Her dismal record of advocating welfare reform for purely partisan political reasons might not be enough to earn exclusion from polite society, but the gross, monstrous, appalling hypocrisy she recently displayed is too much. The Niskanen Center tainted itself by offering her a platform. If hacks who sell out can keep their ill gotten gains and their reputation, then the debate will continue to be contaminated by mercenaries...

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Comment of the Day: Kansas Jack: The Jesus Landing Pad: "It's more than foreign policy. Because the 2nd coming is imminent, Global Warming is not a threat either. And that is a lot of people in this country who believe Revelation has shown how the Earth ends and cite Genesis that God has promised never to again flood the world...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: "I am pretty sure that the theoretical case—that there's secure encryption—has been, in practical terms, backdoored out of existence at the hardware level. It is difficult to find out, one way or the other. So it's "no one is secure" AND "no one knows how secure they're not against which adversary" AND "humans aren't actually generally capable of doing secure things", all together...

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Comment of the Day: JEC: "I think we should place more emphasis on the fact that the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis depended critically on the asymmetry between the American and Soviet political systems. A win-win outcome was possible only because Kennedy needed to 'win' in public, but could 'lose' in secret, while Khrushchev could tolerate a public 'loss' provided he could show CPSU insiders a secret 'win'. As a side note, I think this piece officially qualifies Niall as the 'Eugene Fama of historians', someone who's public polemic demonstrates a deep and profound ignorance of the body of knowledge created by his own discipline. Seriously, the Cuban Missile Crisis has been the subject of intense historical research since the collapse of the Soviet Union, approximately none of which supports Ferguson's 'take'...

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Comment of the Day: Kansas Jack: A Very Nice Twitter Rant from Tom Nichols: "Let me rant. I agree with Nichols, it isn't about anything of substance it is about being pissed off. Period. About what? Doesn't matter. In Kansas you could explain to dimwits all you want that tax cuts will not raise revenues. It wasn't that it fell on deaf ears because they couldn't understand, they simply didn't care. And the more it mattered to you, the happier they were. Taxes go to "those people" so screw em. In Iowa there is now legislation in the senate to take away tenure. Why? Because the sponsor is "philosophically opposed to a job for life." But, you nicely explain, tenure doesn't give anyone a job for life. So what? That's not really the reason he wants to take it away. He's just pissed off that taxes again are going to the undeserving, which he can't codify in any real way. I'm like Nichols, I really don't care why these people want to do things to hurt other people and I'm tired of reading editorials about how we need to understand their views...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: "Anyone who can put off investing is going to do so; there's Brexit, there's 'Ok, yeah, there isn't an adult anywhere in the Trump administration', plus there's the complete lack of statistics. Uncertainty is high and rising. Incompetence has real costs. The US has been using its favoured position as hegemon to disguise the costs of management incompetence since 1970 or so. (You can make arguments for pre-1900, and different values of 'favoured position'.) It's surpassingly unlikely the current US political norms can deliver competent management. (Those norms exist to reward specific forms of bad management.) So the choices (for the US) in a regular time would be between a long slow post-imperial slump, like Spain's, or a major social convulsion to get to some other economic system...

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Comment of the Day: Cervantes: Yes, There Are Individual Economists Worth Paying Respect to. But Is Economics Worth Paying Respect to?: "When I took the introductory economics course—and it was actually a graduate course, required for an interdisciplinary social science degree—the procedure was: 1) Propound a list of assumptions which are not true; 2) Develop an elaborate theory of how the world would be were the assumptions true; 3) Forget that the assumptions are false and carry on describing an alternate reality. I saw immediately that this was complete bullshit but the instructor was adamant...

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Comment of the Day: Donald Pretari: "Libertarians have always been divided on inheritance. If you think that freedom is important because it lets humans express their free wills, then why respect the non-existent wills of dead people? Jim Buchanan, the public choice theorist who suffered at the hands of Nancy Maclean and supposedly ties the whole libertarian right together, advocated an 100% inheritance tax. Robert Nozick switched towards one later in his life. Thomas Jefferson thought similarly. 'Even' Adam Smith was against unlimited rights of bequest...

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Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels: In Australia we'd just say Lewis CK is an arsehole: "We don't have school shootings in Australia for 2 reasons: (1) It is much harder to obtain firearms. But this is only part of it. (2) The second reason is when people say shit about children who saw their friends die like Louis CK did, people say, 'You're a fuckwit, mate'. And then those people don't get gigs and they don't get paid. If you're a 'ha ha' fuckwit maybe you can find work, but not if you're a fuckwit fuckwit. Less access to firearms definitely helps, but so does a culture that encourages people to ask themselves, 'Am I a fuckwit?' before a mass shooting gets past its initial planning stage...

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Davie: "0, 179, 465, 654—what is the next number in this series? Stephen Moore claims it is obvious, and gestures at it with an 'and so on'": "Davie's master is also blocked by paywall, but given the quote about 'compounding', Davie would diffidently suggest that the mathematical error is more basic: The sequence should read 179, 365, 554. That is, from the second number in the sequence on, Mr. Moore accidentally added 100 to the total. Davie has seen his master make similar errors while not recognizing them, under the influence of Alzheimer's-type dementia. Davie would therefore gently suggest that Mr. Moore be checked for dementia...

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Comment of the Day: BruceJ: "Honestly, when you look back at Brooks' history, where he 'just happens' to reference ideas out of the 'dark, dank silos of the far right' I see less laziness, than an ongoing subtle injection of those very ideas into so-called 'respectable' conservative commentary. If it IS all happenstance and laziness, Brooks is the luckiest damned blind squirrel in the universe...

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PGL: Keynesian Economics vs. Normal Economics: "I wonder what the negative supply-side event was back in 1982 when we had a massive decline in real GDP? Was it those lower tax rates from the 1981 tax cut? Or the Republican led reductions in transfer payments? Oh wait—wrong sign. Or maybe the dollar appreciation except for the fact that in Barro's world we ignore the aggregate demand effects and focus on the increase in wages relative to the prices of imported goods. Oh dear-wrong sign again!...

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The remarkable thing about Robert Barro—and all the other Lucases and Famas and Boldrins and Cochranes who, back in 2008-2012, said it was logically impossible for expansionary fiscal policy to work—and his question "Where was the market failure that allowed the government to improve things just by borrowing money and giving it to people?" is that the answer had been well-known and on the table since at least 1829. The answer was given by John Stuart Mill The market failure is that the economy is out-of-equiilibrium, in a "general glut", with an excess demand for money and an excess supply of pretty much every currently-produced good and services.

Normally the existence of excess supplies and excess demands in an economy is a good thing: The entrepreneurial profits imbalances create set in motion the migration of resources to higher-value uses. But private-sector entities cannot migrate labor and capital into the business of creating money, for money is liquid trust and can only be created by institutions that are trusted to be, well, good for the money. So the solution is not to move resources out of creating currently-produced goods and services but to move demand into buying currently-produced goods and services. And—as long as it is good for the money—the government's borrowing-and-spending or printing-and-dropping works just fine:

Comment of the Day: JEC: Keynesian Economics vs. Regular Economics: "'Unlike the trade-off in regular economics, that extra $1 billion is the ultimate free lunch. How can it be right? Where was the market failure that allowed the government to improve things just by borrowing money and giving it to people?' The funny thing here is that Barro imagines this to be a killer rhetorical question, when it is in fact a crucial and open research question (and one that Keynesian macroeconomists have done far too little to answer, in my opinion). What makes it a research question rather than a damning rhetorical one is the empirical fact that, under certain circumstances, multipliers greater than one are well-documented. (In fairness, better documented today than in 2011)...

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Comment of the Day: Cervantes: British Produce: "I didn't know that British produce comes into season at the end of March, actually. You learn something every day...

Phil Koop: Also, according to this tweet by Sam Coates, 63% of Tory party members say they would be "delighted/pleased/relieved by no deal", whereas 18% of the electorate says the same. Seems like a collision course with destiny, then.

Matt: “It’s not like we won’t be able to eat”. Ferinstance, there are all these useless Tories that happen to be made of meat.

JEC: I actually expected this. In the future, look for rhetoric linking Brexit with the Blitz and U-boat warfare: lots of "Britons have always been willing to endure privation if that's the price of sovereignty!"

howard: what a bleedin' cockup, and what a fantastic misreading of reality.

Graydon: It doesn't. March through May are colloquially "the hungry months" if you ask an allotment gardener or similar; stored winter produce consumed, nothing new available yet. Somebody elsenet had list of where the UK's supermarket carrots come from; in March and April, it's Spain. (then it switches to France)...

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Comment of the Day: I had always thought that the "male variability" hypothesis was really a "male skewed lower tail" hypothesis, and has nothing to say about the upper tail of males. It's the small Y-chromosome—the missing genes that make males overwhelmingly susceptible to color-blindness, hemophilia, the autism spectrum, may play a role in reduced life expectancy, and other things. But that male variability is greater because males are genetically weak says little or nothing about a possible genetic upper tail: Paul Reber: Patriarchy & Gender: "On Patriarchy & Gender... it's worth noting that a consequence of the Y-chromosome bottleneck 5000 years ago is that the 'fat tails' hypothesis that Pinker and Baumeister suckered Larry Summers with is obviously wrong. That is, the hypothesis that men exhibit genetically-dependent higher IQ variability, leading to more men on the upper tail of the distribution (and lower) which leads to over-representation in highly IQ-selective subsets such as professors at Harvard/MIT/etc....

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Comment of the Day: Pinkybum:: What Is Going on This Morning Over at "National Review"? Is It Worth Reading? No.: "I feel like Louis CK's Parkland joke is not funny because fundamentally the premise is not true. What he posits is (a) the kids who are getting the media attention (b) don't deserve it because (c) why does surviving a mass shooting make you (d) an expert in gun control? But really the fundamental truth of the issue is that they are experts because it doesn't really take much intellectual brain power to see that gun regulation could be much more comprehensive and effective if possession of guns took as least as much trouble as obtaining a driver's license...

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Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels: Strong AI: "Just so you know, once we get something that can accurately transcribe podcasts that will be strong AI. It'll be some mightily powerful strong I. I'm not saying podcast transcribers are going to take over the world, but I am saying that we fix this one little annoying thing and we change the world beyond recognition...

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Comment of the Day: I deleted a an anti-anti-Trump trollish comment, but this reply to it seems worth keeping: JEC: There is something deeply mentally, morally, and psychologically wrong here—with Glenn Kessler, with his bosses, and with his colleagues: "'He makes it very clear that he is responding to a reader's question about a part of O'Rourke's quote, to which he posts a video link. I simply fail to see how responding to a reader question about a statement made internally in a quote is the same as making something up and attributing it to the candidate.'...

...Well, you just did exactly the same thing. Did you notice?

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Comment of the Day I have noticed this a lot over the past fifteen years. Journalists are very, very bad at citing their sources—it is one minor reason why they have a low reputation. That and their overaddiction to beat sweeteners, when not playing opinions-of-the-shape-of-the-earth-differ: Kansas Jack: The New York Times Has a Serious Quality Control Problem: "Has anyone else noticed that interesting, novel observations at Vox.com, especially by Matt Yglesias, come out a week later, slightly altered in the NYT? Is it just me who thinks that?...

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Comment of the Day: JEC: The Uses of a University: "It's worth expanding on this a bit. Brad is advocating for a particular view of the purpose(s) of a university—a view I happen to share. But to understand the debate, we need to bear in mind that this view isn't the only one with a substantial following...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: Jacob Levy: I don’t think there’s anything—anything—on which I’ve gotten so much disbelief-that-becomes-near-anger as when I contradict the post-2014 Fox narrative about campus life...: "The campus narrative is a way to assign moral wrong because they can't assign factual wrong back to the institutions and processes which are assigning factual error to them...

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Comment of the Day: Tracy Lightcap: Jacob Levy: I don’t think there’s anything—anything—on which I’ve gotten so much disbelief-that-becomes-near-anger as when I contradict the post-2014 Fox narrative about campus life...: "This is it, but I think the process is a bit more complicated. People who have made up their minds on a topic and committed themselves to it are still susceptible to arguments that work through repetition to undermine authority figures...

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