"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, October 26, 2013

NSA Spying

In Spy Uproar, ‘Everyone Does It’ Just Won’t Do
Diplomats at the United Nations on Friday said that Germany and Brazil, two of the countries whose leaders have been subjected to N.S.A. invasions of their communications, were drafting a General Assembly resolution that would seek to strengthen Internet privacy.

The diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the drafting is still in the early stages, said momentum for the measure, begun in the summer, had been invigorated by the most recent disclosures of American eavesdropping. A formal resolution could be ready for consideration next month in what would be the first internationally coordinated response to the N.S.A. spying. Word of the German-Brazilian initiative was first reported on the Web site of Foreign Policy.

In Europe, where Ms. Merkel and Mr. Hollande demanded Friday that the United States open negotiations on a “code of conduct” that would limit surveillance, there is a sense that the steady stream of revelations may give them an upper hand. Ms. Merkel keeps repeating the phrase that the Americans must “restore trust.” One way the French and Germans intend to do that is to seek some form of inclusion in the inner circle of American intelligence allies, or at least for a deeper intelligence alliance.

Right now that inner circle, called the “Five Eyes,” consists of the United States and four English-speaking partners: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Those partners agree not to spy on one another and to share in many of the United States’ deepest intelligence secrets, as the trove of highly classified documents made public by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, makes clear.

But Europe’s demands may go further than a stronger spying relationship with the United States. The European Union wants to require American companies, led by Internet powerhouses like Google and Yahoo, to get the approval of European officials before complying with warrants issued in the United States seeking information, e-mails or search histories about European citizens. The European Union would slap the technology companies with huge fines if they failed to agree to those rules, meaning that the companies would be caught between two masters and several legal systems.

Those kinds of demands would have been hard to imagine during the cold war, when European nations relied on the United States for protection from the Soviet Union, and American spying and rule-setting were tolerated.


AV Club reviews "One Man's Loss" from Borgen

Birgitte, not Brigitte, still.


Brad DeLong: Review of Alan Blinder's "After the Music Stopped": Foreign Affairs Version

DeLong goes soft on Democratic presidents. Johnson privatized Fannie and Freddie for a one-time boost to his budget numbers. Clinton "reformed" welfare which boosted poverty levels. Clinton and Carter deregulated. Clinton reappointed Greenspan who allowed a shadow banking system to arise, unregulated.

Macrofoundations (Wonkish) by Krugman

The macro foundations of microeconomics by John Quiggin

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

greatest show that ever was or will be

The Women and the Thrones by Daniel Mendelsohn

I disagree with Mendelsohn about Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke. Headey is compelling in an unsympathetic role and Clarke is wonderful. She was nominated for an Emmy this year.

Possibly he felt he needed to put something negative in his review since it's mostly positive.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Under the Dumb

Fox News says The Walking Dead is brainwashing Americans, without irony by Sean O'Neal
Always out to decry brainwashing in any form that doesn’t directly serve it, Fox News has exposed yet more TV making viewers witless and single-minded in the wrong way by arguing that The Walking Dead is “seriously hurting American society”—that bumbling assemblage of oafs who are always but one unsavory pop culture moment away from killing each other and having sex with the skulls. Fortunately, the more healthily paranoid Fox News audience have received early warning to don their protective anti-skull-sex helmets from Fox Health News senior managing editor Dr. Manny Alvarez, whose years of experience as an OB-GYN has made him expertly qualified to handle babies.

“Hate me all you want, or call me paranoid and misinformed,” says “Dr. Manny,” instantly predicting and therefore negating all criticism, “but there is one common theme that is pervasive in American pop culture today: violence. Even more specifically, zombie violence. The idea of a zombie-infested world inspires fantasies of monsters possessed by an uncontrollable rage to kill, and viewers get a thrill imagining what it would be like to participate in this new world order.” And, he argues, those daydreams of an ominous, monster-filled “new world order” only serve as distractions from the other, slightly less monstrous new world order Fox News would prefer you focus on.

“With this country heading towards a socialized system of government, in which officials don’t want you to think or focus on what is important for your own personal growth, I’m sure they’re more than happy to let you obsess over something as stupid as zombies. And in turn you ultimately become the zombie,” said Alvarez of this nefarious attempt to cloud a dulled and impressionable public’s thinking with nightmares of imaginary bogeymen coming for their very lives, which only draws attention away from worrying about how Obamacare will end freedom.

Alvarez implicates everything from zombie video games to "Zombie Runs" to the National Institute of Health’s “how-to guide on dealing with a zombie outbreak”—a guide that was actually
created by the Center for Disease Control, as a successfully publicity-grabbing way of getting otherwise-disinterested Americans to learn about disaster preparedness—as part of this system shamelessly indoctrinating the public with imagination and useful information. 
“Give me a break. As a doctor and scientist, I know one thing for sure: When you’re dead, you’re dead,” writes Dr. Manny, providing the kind of blunt, tell-it-like-it-is truth Fox is known for, and which can only be achieved after a career of studying vaginas, then correctly identifying which one belongs to a dead person. “Our brains should be less focused on imaginary zombie hordes and more focused on harnessing the tools that we need in order to enhance our lives, whether it be music, education, science or the classics. Entertainment should help us soothe our brains so that we can ease our minds of some of the stress from our daily lives,” he concludes.

Alvarez then returned to work at the one channel entirely devoted to stoking panic about faceless groups of enemies, in between spreading fear and disaste for culture, education, and science.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

what a fucking joke

Binyamin Applebaum Gives a More-Polite-Version-of-Pearlstein's Review of ‘The Map and the Territory’ by Alan Greenspan:Noted
The most provocative part of the book is Mr. Greenspan’s assertion that government spending on Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs is the reason that the American economy has grown more slowly in recent decades…. Yet it is not obvious that the American economy has been suffering from a lack of financing. While Americans saved less, the rest of the world was only too happy to shovel money into the United States. Mr. Greenspan in this same book subscribes to the view that the housing crash was caused in part by an overabundance of foreign investment in the American economy.
Alan Greenspan's Bad Memory by Dean Baker
It is more than a bit silly to compare the bursting of the stock bubble (not dot-com, the market in general was hugely over-valued) and the housing bubble to the 1987 crash. The market had gained a great deal of value in the year of 1987. After the crash in October it quickly began to make back lost ground and by the end of the year the market was at virtually the same level as the beginning of the year. No one thinks that the economy is affected in any significant way by short-terms movements in the market, so there was really nothing to clean up in this story.

The picture was very different following the 2001 crash which resulted in the elimination of roughly $10 trillion in stock bubble wealth, an amount approximately to the economy's GDP. The economy did not recovery quickly following this crash. While the recession was officially short and mild, ending in 2001, the economy did not begin to create jobs again until the fall of 2003, almost two years after the recession was over. It did not get back the jobs lost in the recession until January of 2005. At the time, this was the longest period without job growth since the Great Depression.

The Fed seemed to take notice of the weakness of the economy keeping the federal funds rate at just 1.0 percent until the summer of 2004. This can be seen as effectively the zero lower bound. No one thinks that there is any great stimulatory effect from dropping the rate from 1.0 percent to zero, which is why people routinely talked about the European Central Bank as being at its zero lower bound even when its overnight interest rate was 1.0 percent.

Charles Evans

Yglesias tweet:
Charlie Evans, hero of good sense:  

Fed’s Evans: Bad Idea to Use Monetary Policy to Burst Bubbles by Michael S. Derby 
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said those who would prefer to tighten monetary policy to reduce the threat of new financial bubbles are barking up the wrong tree.

The central banker, who has been a strong supporter of the Fed taking aggressive actions to aid the economy, said that instead of using monetary policy actions to bolster stability in markets, the central bank should use its expanding portfolio of regulatory powers to target imbalances.

“Without adequate safeguards, excessive and persistently low interest rates could lead to excessive risk-taking by some investors,” Mr. Evans said in the text of a speech to be given in Chicago before the Financial Management Association Annual Meeting Luncheon. But those safeguards now exist: “Regulatory efforts can effectively minimize the risks of another crisis and increase the resiliency of the financial system,” the official said.