Digital Cabinet

Polevaulter Donkeyman's rants, raves musings and flame wars

Archive for March 2012

Aditya Chakrabortty’s Half Baked Keynesianism

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    Remember all that about never wasting a good crisis? Well, we’ve managed to do just that: squander it. Me today. bit.ly/H4DRKd
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    @chakrabortty Your lament about austerity in a slump would have more resonance if you had bemoaned govt spending during the boom
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    @PolvolterDnkymn So what did I say? Give me examples.
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    @chakrabortty Exactly. You said — “the principal argument of the Keynesians that you don’t cut public spending amid a slump is as true now”
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    @chakrabortty Have you previously advocated that govt reduce its spending during the boom years?
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    @PolvolterDnkymn What is my position? Do enlighten me.
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    @chakrabortty As far as I can see, it is indistinguishable from Vivian Nicholson’s t.co/c3pg4wer am I right or amirite?
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    @PolvolterDnkymn So you have no evidence. Surprise! I shall now proceed to ignore you.
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    @chakrabortty Of course you will ignore me. Because you have no rebuttal. If you had one you would have given it

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 27, 2012 at 15:47

Posted in Flame Wars

Nightmare Scenarios

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Steven Landsburg blogs about some interesting nightmare scenarios

Q1. Which one of the two do you prefer?

Scenario A: An evil alien flips a coin. If it comes up heads, he destroys all human life; otherwise he goes home. Scenario B: The same evil alien flips 7 billion coins, one for each person on earth. He destroys anyone whose coin comes up heads.

I would choose Scenario B because:

  1. The probability of a significant number of humans surviving is greater in scenario B.
  2. I like the logic of the poster above who said that the utility of the last 1000 humans surviving is greater than that if subsequent 1000s (though due to network effects the 1000 should be revised upward to a million or 10s of millions)
  3. If the most likely outcome of scenario B is 3.5 B people, that takes us back to 1950-1970. That is still a pretty good era to live in.
  4. I like humans, I enjoy being around other humans and I am sure other humans like other humans and like to be around other humans.

Q2. Suppose you’re happily married. If forced to choose, which of these scenarios would you prefer?

Scenario A: An evil alien flips a coin. If it comes up heads, he kills you and your spouse; otherwise he goes home. Scenario B: The same evil alien flips a coin. If it comes up heads, he kills just you; if it comes up tails, he kills just your spouse.

I would choose scenario B irrespective of the age of spouses, or whether they have children or not. In fact it is a very simple choice. My question to those who choose A, those who cannot imagine living without their spouses is how many of them would commit suicide if their spouse predeceases them?

Q3. In front of you are two childless married couples. For some reason, it’s imperative that you kill two of the four people. Your choices are:

Scenario A. Kill one randomly chosen member from each couple. Scenario B: Kill both members of a randomly chosen couple.

All four people agree that if they die, they want to be well remembered. Therefore all four ask you, please, to choose A so that anyone who dies will be remembered by a loving spouse.

I choose A. For goodness’s sake, they’ve told me what to do.

  1. They’ve told me. Presumably all 4 people are better placed to evaluate the post-killing situation since they would be doing the dying, surviving and remembering

Assumptions:

  1. each couple has discussed it amongst themselves. I am not sure if it matters the two couples have discussed the matter with each other. Of course if one couple wants A and the other wants B, I would shoot the one which chose B (but that would not be random then, would it?)
  2. Alan Wexelblat’s assumptions
  3. No externalities imposed on anyone outside the 5 people involved (the 2 couples and the executioner)

As for Harold’s hypothetical I would still choose A (given everything else is the same).

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 26, 2012 at 15:24

Posted in Uncategorized

Once Is Enough

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How Sabu was taken down

It appears that just once, Sabu logged into his IRC chat service without using Tor. His IP address was revealed and the FBI traced him. That led to charges against other suspected hackers.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 9, 2012 at 02:25

Posted in Uncategorized

What Would Amnesty and Jezebel Make Of This?

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They don’t do propaganda like this anymore. From the Daily Mail

Then came a second wave of bombers, dropping fresh mail bags around the train. Operation Cornflakes had begun.

Each of the airdropped mail bags contained 300 propaganda letters, addressed to the homes of families of Wehrmacht soldiers killed in the fighting.

Clearing up the mess caused by the attack, German postal workers recovered the bags and delivered their contents – unaware of the seditious materials hidden within.

. . .

Meanwhile, in Rome, a group printed envelopes with more than two million names and addresses taken from the death notices of soldiers reported to have died in the fighting.

When all the materials were ready, loaded mail bags were handed over to the 15th Army Air Force, which was given the task of delivering them behind enemy lines.

. . .

Another letter allegedly originating from the ‘Verein Einsamer Kriegerfrauen’ (Association of Lonely War Women’), was sent to German soldiers implying that their wives and girlfriends were engaging in promiscuous casual sex while they were at the front.

More on Operation Cornflakes here

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 8, 2012 at 15:39

Posted in Uncategorized

“Diversity”

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Uwe Reinhardt hits the nail on the head when he describes what the “diversity” championed by the left-academic-congressional complex really means

To academics, “diversity” all too often means that people who may have grown up in the same socioeconomic strata, attended the same public or private high schools and have their eyes on the same career in, say, finance, business or law — or perform the same tasks at a university — have different gender, color of skin or ethnicity.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 8, 2012 at 15:18

Posted in Uncategorized

This Explains A Lot

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David Cannadine explains FDR’s antipathy to capitalism and the free-market

Like his earlier presidential cousin Theodore, Franklin D Roosevelt felt a strong patrician disdain for big business and upstart wealth. This was partly because the Roosevelt clan was never very rich but it was also because in terms of their lineage and their lands, they were about as close to being aristocracy as it’s possible to get in a country, which came into being by proclaiming that all men were created equal.

Audio here

This lends support to Deirdre McCloskey‘s thesis of Bourgeois Dignity

According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn’t grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 8, 2012 at 14:55

Luddism, sigh . . .

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In an article BBC travel writer Huw Cordey heralds new technology as a mixed blessing for travellers. He laments

It may be a cliche but there is no doubt that technology makes the world feel a smaller – and less interesting – place . . . You crave more of it but, deep down, you know you would be happier with a lot less.

I just wish he would realise how technology has been so important for Wilberth Matamoros and Jenny Neeve. Huw does write

Until the internet arrived, he talked to Jenny virtually every day from his mobile. Half the time she would call him, the other half he phoned her.

Unfortunately that sort of love did not come cheap. Wilberth was spending nearly half his $500 (£300) a month salary talking to Jenny.

Now with the internet and Skype, communication is free which means that they can talk for as long or as often as they like, and the money he saves he can spend on flights to actually see Jenny.

Does Huw think that Jenny and Wilberth would be happier with a lot less? Does he think that their relationship would last in the absence of technology?

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 8, 2012 at 14:38

Posted in Uncategorized

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History repeats itself, first as . . .

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This is not the first time Greece has destabilised monetary unions. David Cannadine reminds us of a time 100 years ago when Greece was expelled from another monetary union.

Ever since it gained its hard-fought independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, Greece has been plagued by recurrent budget crises, frequent state defaults and long periods during which it’s effectively been cut off from the international capital markets.

So while it was one of the earliest nations to join the Latin Monetary Union, its membership soon became more a cause of concern than celebration, for its chronically weak economy meant successive Greek governments responded by decreasing the amount of gold in their coins, thereby debasing their currency in relation to those of other nations in the union and in violation of the original agreement.

So irresponsible and unacceptable did Greece’s behaviour become that it was formally expelled from the Latin Monetary Union in 1908.

Audio here

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 3, 2012 at 17:33

Smokers to the rescue . . .

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. . . once again. The BBC reports that the currently running cigar festival in Havan, Cuba will conclude with a $500 per head dinner and auction of humidors. What happens to all the profit from the cigar sales?

The profits from the cigar sales are donated to Cuba’s health service.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 3, 2012 at 06:30

Posted in Uncategorized

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12 year old girls are shallow

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Or atleast Samantha Bee of the Daily Show thinks so. At around the 12′ 20” mark

Bee: Let’s say that I am a 12 year old girl and you are a 12 year old boy. Explain your idea about branding the Reublican party to me.
Norquist: OK. The goal is to make it easier for people … (interrupted)
Bee (speaking in the manner she presumably believes 12 year old girls do): Oh my God guys … there’s a like a nerd talking to me about something.
Norquist: If you want to know who you are voting for its helful if there is some sort of brand identification
Bee: Whaaat?
Norquist: One party wants to raise your taxes, one won’t. Makes it easier for you to choose … (interrupted)
Bee: I don’t even know what he’s saying. Oh my God guys, he has like a piece of fruit rollups stuck in his beard. Alright fine! I will make out with you, but nothing south of the equator.
(Bee moves towards Norquist with her eyes closed and mouth open)

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

March 2, 2012 at 03:06

Posted in Uncategorized

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