"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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


DeLong tweets
.@cstross (1/2) a vote for “yes” is a vote to abandon the progressives of England to a state where UKIP & Tories command 60% of the vote!” 
.@cstross (2/2) progressive internationalism requires a “no” vote! (Also that Canada agree to its annexation by Merka)…
Ugh Niall Ferguson pushed me towards Yes, but now DeLong has pushed me back towards No.

Obama and education

Want to Fix Obama's Bad Education Policy? Start With These Two New Books: The problem with the Left's embrace of center-Right policies by Richard D. Kahlenberg

What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics updated by Libby Nelson

economic debate

Influencing the Debate from Outside the Mainstream: Keep it Simple by Dean Baker
Ultimately what killed the Boskin Commission report was the refusal of Richard Gephardt, the leader of the Democrats in the House to go along with the plan.[6] His opposition was key, because Gephardt was the most credible challenger at the time to then Vice-President Al Gore for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2000. There was no better issue that Gephardt could have been given in the Democratic primaries than a cut in Social Security benefits. Gephardt could point to Gore as the person who cut your Social Security benefits, while he was the guy who tried to stop him. 
Without Gephardt’s buy in, Clinton was not about to go forward. It also helped that the stock bubble and faster than projected growth led the deficit to fall much more than had been projected. It is worth noting that in spite of the near unanimity of the leading lights in the economics profession on the existence of a large bias in the CPI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not take steps to correct most of the bias identified by the Boskin Commission. The Government Accountability Office surveyed the four surviving members of the Boskin Commission in 2000. (Zvi Grilliches had died the prior year.) In their assessment, more than 0.8 percentage points of the bias they identified in the CPI remained even after BLS had made a series of changes in the index.[7] Yet few economists take account of this bias in their work or in discussions of economics policy.
This was a simple way to show the 7.0 percent assumption was nonsense. Either price to earnings ratios would have to rise into the hundreds or it would be necessary to have stories of the whole corporate sector paying out more than their 100 percent of their after-tax profits in dividends. No self-respecting economist wanted to be associated with either of these positions. 
We first posted this challenge on our website, however we were already in the early days of the blogosphere. Many progressive econ bloggers soon picked it up. This led to howls of anguish and outrage by conservatives. Some threw in the towel and acknowledged that it could not be done. Others wanted to change the assumptions so that we had more rapid GDP growth or a shift in income from wages to profits. 
Finally Paul Krugman blasted the test into the national debate with a column in early February.[11] This exposed the fact that the privatizers were essentially just making up numbers. By showing there was no pot of gold in the private accounts, we were able to take the money out of it for typical workers. This drove home the point that there was no real potential for gain with privatization along the lines being proposed, just additional risk. This helped prevent the privatization plan from gaining any momentum. By the spring, most Republican members of Congress were running away from privatization as fast as they could.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stross on Scotland

Charlie Stross on the Scottish referendum.
In the long term I favour a Europe—indeed, a world—of much smaller states. I don't just favour breaking up the UK; I favour breaking up the United States, India, and China. Break up the Westphalian system. We live today in a world dominated by two types of group entity; the nation-states with defined borders and treaty obligations that emerged after the end of the 30 Years War, and the transnational corporate entities which thrive atop the free trade framework provided by the treaty organizations binding those Westphalian states together.
One final note: what about left-internationalism? Isn't nationalism the enemy of the working class? (And to the extent that all of us who aren't in the 0.1% are "working class"—if you have to work to earn a living, you're working class, even if you're a brain surgeon or an accountant—the enemy of all of us?) Well yes: but the kind of nationalism that brought us the Great European War (for the Second World War may best be viewed with the perspective of long-term history as simply a flare-up of the war that began in 1914, after the combatants time out to breed a new generation of cannon-fodder) is pretty much dead. As dead as the Westphalian states that had territorial integrity they could defend, because getting from one to the other still took days or weeks by railway or steam ship, and invading another from the one took days or weeks of marching infantry divisions. Nor is the working "class" still obviously an entity you can point at, with which people share a strong sense of solidarity: where is the solidarity between lawyer and street-sweeper, nursing home care worker and robot designer? Yes, capitalism and the crisis of capitalism is still with us: but the continuing and ongoing recomplication of the world around us makes the traditional movement of masses one of questionable relevance. We need better structures, it's true. But I don't see them emerging from the kind of monolithic, territorially hegemonic state that thinks its place in the world is best secured by building bigger aircraft carriers. Firepower doesn't build external stability, as the past decade in Iraq demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt. We need consensus, and we need a finer granularity of constitutional decision making. Hence smaller nation-states.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Arya Stark talks with Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion

Youtube link, ebedding disabled by request

Scotland and TV

AV Club reviews Outlander: “The Garrison Commander”

AV Club reviews Doctor Who: “Listen”

Capaldi is Scottish.
But “Listen” suggests something even scarier: Lurking underneath that daffy curiosity and sense of adventure that so animated his immediate predecessors is an obsessive need to know everything, to take the unknown and the unknowable and bring it all to heel. As Clara suggests toward the end of this episode, it’s okay for the Doctor to be scared. What’s not okay—and what’s absolutely, captivatingly terrifying in the hands of Capaldi—is that he won’t admit that he’s just afraid for no good reason.