Thursday, August 30, 2007


We have matter and anti-matter, now news and anti-news.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Heard two things on the radio today that offended me.

1) The guest host on the Rush Limbaugh show said "The envirnmentalists caused the Columbia shuttle crash by banning the use of Freon in the foam insulation."

2) A caller on the Glenn Beck show said "things are really bad here in Findlay, OH, because of the flood, but the folks aren't just standing around waiting for a FEMA check."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The trouble with psychology

Interesting story. It's interesting what happens when people challenge the ideas purported by the non-normal gender/sex advocacy community. We easily say someone is suffering from delusions when they say they're Napoleon or Jesus, but if someone believes they are a woman trapped in a man's body, we must accept that unchallenged? Isn't it ultimately unfair to these troubled people to blindly accept their possible delusions that we mutilate their genitals?

I don't doubt that folks believe they were really meant to be ladies, but belief doesn't necessarily make reality.

Monday, August 20, 2007

More slice, dice and complain.

From Cato's Letter, which I usually don't read. Sorry, it's nothing personal, just it never jumps out to me.

Three Key Challenges to Freedom

Neostatism[...]My first topic is connected to communism. The Czech Republic — as did all the other former communist countries — had to undergo a difficult transition. We came to understand very early on that the transition had to be homemade as it was impossible to import a system devised abroad. We also came to understand that such a fundamental change was not an exercise in applied economics but a man-made evolutionary process and that we had to find our own path, our "Czech way," toward an efficiently functioning society and economy.
Good point. Perhaps this is why Iraq is such a mess? They never asked to be invaded/liberated, and so they're not going to step up.

To understand my criticism requires knowledge of developments in the EU — its gradual metamorphosis from a community of cooperating nations to the union of nonsovereign nations — and of prevailing supranationalistic tendencies. Those developments are not well-known in the United States.
Yeah, the United States wouldn't understand how a collection of cooperating states turning into a monolithic nation? But less sarcastically, what's wrong with that on it's face?

I see the third main threat to individual freedom in environmentalism. To be specific, I do understand the concerns about eventual environmental degradation, but I also see a problem in environmentalism as an ideology.
Hmm. The windup?

Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people- and nature-friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior, and our values.

There is no doubt that it is our duty to rationally protect nature for future generations. The followers of the environmentalist ideology, however, keep presenting us with various catastrophic scenarios with the intention of persuading us to implement their ideas. That is not only unfair but also extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous, in my view, is the quasi-scientific guise that their oft-refuted forecasts have taken on.
Taking a lot of leaps here. He's not really talking about environmentalists, he's got it backwards. He means to criticize those who use environmentalism (or any other -ism they can misunderstand/subvert to their ends).

What are the beliefs and assumptions that form the basis of the environmentalist ideology?

* Disbelief in the power of the invisible hand of the free market and a belief in the omnipotence of state dirigisme.
* Disregard for the role of important and powerful economic mechanisms and institutions, primarily those of property rights and prices, in an effective protection of nature.
* Misunderstanding of the meaning of resources and of the difference between potential natural resources and real ones that can be used in the economy. Malthusian pessimism over technical progress.
* Belief in the dominance of externalities in human activities.
* Promotion of the so-called precautionary principle, which maximizes risk aversion without paying attention to the costs.
* Underestimation of long-term income growth and welfare improvements, which results in a fundamental shift of demand toward environmental protection and is demonstrated by the so-called environmental Kuznets Curve.
* Erroneous discounting of the future, demonstrated so clearly by the highly publicized Stern Report a few months ago.
Who's he talking about? Sounds like he's talking about the commies, not folks who are worried about not shitting up Lake Michigan? DON'T externalities dominate, whether we like it or not? Isn't Eastern Europe a filthy cesspool because the USSR externalized their pollution there? And we cannot count on the future. Just because we managed to solve some problems now, in yesterday's future, does not guarantee we'll be able to clean up your shit 50 years from now.

The hypothesis of global warming and the role of humanity in that process is the last and, to this day, the most powerful embodiment of the environmental ideology. It has brought many important "advantages" to the environmentalists:
He mixed in two huge different concepts there- that the world is heating (for the miniscule period of time we have records for), and that it's our fault. Who cares if it's our fault or not? CO2 seems to be rising, and it's getting hotter. We ought to investigate that without a bunch of clowns gumming up the works with manufactured doubt.

Environmentalists' argumentation is based not on simple empirical measurements or laboratory experiments but on sophisticated model experiments working with a range of ill-founded assumptions that are usually hidden and not sufficiently understood.
I think that's simply untrue. No, we don't have another Earth or another 6 billion people to experiment upon. But we do have thermometers.

The opponents of the global warming hypothesis have to accept the fact that in this case we are in a world pervaded by externalities.
Didn't he just say that environmentalists believe too much in externalities? And I think we checked, the sun isn't any closer. That's the only relevant externality in the realm of global warming.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Commenting on this now

Take last week’s tumbles in world stock markets. These raise four puzzles. First, why should the threat of default on some US sub-prime mortgages – loans to high-risk, poorer customers – be such a big deal? Conventional economics says risk should be split up into small bits and sold off to those people most willing and able to take it; all that jargon about collateralised debt obligations describes how this is done. Spread over trillions of dollars of assets, losses of even billions of dollars should be little problem. As recently as March, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said: “The impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the sub-prime market seems likely to be contained.” Last week at least, stock markets thought he was wrong. Why?
Because they weren't following so-called conventional economics- they took the risk and packaged it up into larger chunks. Secondly, the stock market is (or appears to be) generally more volatile than reality.

Secondly, there’s a timing problem: why should stock markets worry about the problem now? The risks of sub-prime lending have been known for months; stock markets fell (albeit temporarily) in February for just this reason. Basic economics – the idea that the market is efficient – says that information should be immediately embodied in share prices. It shouldn’t take so long for sub-prime problems to hit prices.
I suspect human psychology has more to do with this than the sum-prime "meltdown". If I, investor, see trouble on the horizon, I am going to dump some of my riskier assets regardless of their exposure to sub-prime. On a macro scale, bad stocks get worse, good stocks get better (note the 12 month S&P500, still nicely up, but showing a lot of volatility). Skittish investors dump their bad stocks, lowering the price, making those an attractive buy for other investors. The market IS efficient, but neither perfectly efficient nor instantaneously efficient. News is released/discovered in dribs and drabs, and the investor has to work on extrapolation/instinct/fear/arrogance in the interim periods of information vacuum.

The third puzzle came on Thursday, in the market’s reaction to the injection of €95 billion into the banking system by the European Central Bank. Investors could have thought: “There’s more money around. This is great for shares.” But they didn’t. They thought: “The ECB’s bailing out banks – things must be even worse than we knew” and shares fell as a result. Why did the latter reaction dominate?
Because the stock market is irrational? Because the banks don't really need cash, they are merely suffering from lowered returns on their investments and higher costs from foreclosures? Because it takes time for the cash to have its intended effect? Similarly, the rate lowering at the Fed's discount window wasn't really the story, it was a change in rules that made it impactful. The fed is letting borrower banks keep money for 30 days instead of the overnight timeframe. The rate change injects money, but the rule change allows companies more borrowing options meaning they can operate more efficiently. So well managed, strong companies can be better.

The fourth puzzle, deepened by yesterday’s recovery in prices, is: why are shares so volatile? The past few weeks have reminded us of what Robert Shiller, of Yale University, established back in 1981, that shares move much more than their “value” – the discounted present value of future dividends – would warrant.
Bear market(s) in some sectors, bull markets in others. There is more to the market than chart reading and p/e ratios.

From the comments:
The reason for weird reactions to behavior of the media and central banks is not a product of the market but a product of intervention in the market. Evil central banks are in a dizzying process of attempting to adjust the economic behavior of billions of people through the mechanism of creating more or less money. (Note that they are always creating money.)
If that's true, why did the addition of 90 billion euros have no effect? If the actions of the central bank were in fact all-powerful (and as legend has it, distortive), /something/ would have happened.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thank God for Fox News

Finally, some good news.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Separated at Birth?

or, Why Some People Irrationally Like George W. Bush, Part II

Monday, August 06, 2007


A reasoned argument...