10 Weekend Reads

Kick back, pour yourself some strong joe, and settle in for our longer for weekend reads, straight from the meanest part of Chicago:

• Even Michael Lewis Was Surprised Hollywood Bet on The Big Short (Vanity Fair)
• Department of Defense Head Ashton Carter Enlists Silicon Valley to Transform the Military (Wired)
• Bread Is Broken: Industrial production destroyed both the taste and the nutritional value of wheat. (NYT)
• There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS (Esquire)
• I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died. (Vox)
• Will Quantum Mechanics Swallow Relativity? (Nautilus) see also When was modern science invented? (New Humanist)
• Lunch with the FT: John Oliver. Over sushi in Manhattan, the satirical news anchor talks about failure in England, hosting his own US show and why he’s not practising comedy as activism (FT)
• Forensic Pseudoscience: The Unheralded Crisis of Criminal Justice (Boston Review)
• The Samoan Pipeline: How does a tiny island, 5,000 miles from the U.S. mainland, produce so many professional football players? (California Sunday) see also The Subsidy Gap: The $10 Billion Divide Between Elite Sports Programs And All The Rest (Huffington Post)
• Miami Is Sinking Into the Sea—But Not Without a Fight (New Republic)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments, who manages $68 billion dollars.


Chinese Investors Are Borrowing at a Record Pace to Buy Bonds

Source: WSJ


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  1. ilsm commented on Nov 28

    The Russians are all there are out to defeat ISIS.

    NATO serving as al Qaeda’s air force, navy and armorer assure perpetual war in the Middle East.

    To defeat ISIS means to neuter the Saudis, Emirs and Kuwaiti royals, that demands taking the oil money from their treasuries.


    While Ashton Carter who should have killed the F-35, cannot get a “clean audit” for the pentagon is going to silicon valley to make more waste?

    Shuttering the pentagon is a necessary part of defeating ISIS.

  2. RW commented on Nov 28

    Last Line of Antimicrobial Defense Is Falling: Colistin Resistance Transmission
    Actually, it’s sort of reached the rout stage. From China: …

    …The emergence of MCR-1 heralds the breach of the last group of antibiotics, polymyxins, by plasmid-mediated resistance. Although currently confined to China, MCR-1 is likely to emulate other global resistance mechanisms such as NDM-1. Our findings emphasise the urgent need for coordinated global action in the fight against pan-drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.

    …polymyxins, including polymyxin E also known as colistin, are the last line of defense against antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli, Klebsiella, and others. …

    Bacterial resistance to colistin has been seen, but its saving grace, such as it is, is that this resistance is not very transmissible. In other words, a colistin-resistant bacterial strain can spread, but it won’t transfer that resistance into another strain*.

    Until this paper. …

    NB: Largely due to over-prescription, gross overuse in agriculture coupled with normal biological evolution we have entered the era of post-antibiotics where increasing numbers of resistant bacterial strains capable of passing that resistance to other strains means getting a scratch or eating the wrong piece of fruit can now become just as lethal as it was in the good old days.

  3. rd commented on Nov 28

    Re: Miami is sinking

    Miami isn’t sinking (unlike much of Louisiana), instead the sea level is rising. They briefly mention it, but the really big issue for much of Florida is that the limestone is very recent geologically and is extremely porous. As a result, it is virtually impossible to prevent long-term sea level rise from raising the water levels in the limestone as water simply flows in the bedrock beneath barriers. In contrast, the NYS-NJ geology is generally very amenable to Dutch-types of barriers against sea level rise as the underlying soils and bedrock have fairly low permeability and so the water will not flow uncontrollably under the barriers. Seawalls and storm surge barriers in South Florida will only be effective at reducing the amount of storm surge flooding by slowing down the impact of very short storm surges. New Orleans is built on relatively low permeability clays and silts, so New Orleans style pumps for Miami could need to be orders of magnitude bigger to draw groundwater down.

    In the long run (half-century), probably the only way to save South Florida and other low areas in Florida is to dredge inland low areas, making lagoons and canals to hold and transport storm water while maintaining freshwater mounds to prevent saltwater intrusion. The dredging of these huge ponds would create sand fills that can be used to raise other areas to allow reconstruction on higher ground. The amount of usable land could easily be reduced by a third in that process. Desalination of water may be required to maintain adequate drinking water supplies.

    These costs should be largely borne by local taxpayers and property owners in those communities. They will be trying to transfer these costs to national taxpayers by claiming it is a national security issue to be addressed by USACE.

  4. WickedGreen commented on Nov 28

    From the wheat article: “For the sake of profit and expediency, we forfeited pleasure and health.”

  5. rd commented on Nov 28

    The FBI definition of “domestic terrorism” is:

    “Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
    ◾Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
    ◾Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
    ◾Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

    If the shooter turns out to have targeted Planned Parenthood based on propaganda, how could this attack (and other attacks on Planned Parenthood, including arson) not be regarded as “domestic terrorism”? We need to acknowledge these types of attacks as terrorism even though they are executed by white people incited by other white people. Islamic extremists have not cornered the market on terrorism. We have plenty that is home-grown.


  6. RW commented on Nov 28

    The Trouble With Interest Rates
    Of all the strange and novel economic doctrines propounded since the beginning of the global financial crisis, the one put forward by John Taylor, an economist at Stanford, has a good claim to being the oddest. In his view, the post-crisis economic policies being carried out in the United States, Europe, and Japan are putting a ceiling on long-term interest rates that is “much like the effect of a price ceiling in a rental market where landlords reduce the supply of rental housing.” The result of low interest rates, quantitative easing, and forward guidance, Taylor argues, is a “decline in credit availability [that] reduces aggregate demand, which tends to increase unemployment, a classic unintended consequence.” …

    So how does Taylor arrive at his analogy? My intuition is that his reasoning has become entangled with his beliefs about the free market. Taylor and others who share his view probably begin with a sense that current interest rates are too low. Given their belief that the free market cannot fail (it can only be failed), they naturally assume that some government action must be behind the unnaturally low rates. The goal then becomes to figure out what the government has done to make interest rates so wrong. And, because any argument that treats government action as appropriate can only be a red herring, the analogy to rent control emerges as one of the possible solutions.

    If my intuition is correct, Taylor and his fellow travelers will never be convinced that they are wrong. …

    NB: Assuming there is no such thing as market failure is like assuming there is no such thing as monopoly or economic rent; it can make some models more tractable and smooth otherwise contorted logic but it’s also unrealistic AKA real-world stupid.

    “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” –Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow)

  7. VennData commented on Nov 28

    Why one political scientist thinks Donald Trump might actually win

    “…It matters less who the nominee is now than it used to. The overwhelming majority of Republican voters will vote for the Republican nominee no matter who it is, and that’s true even if it’s Donald Trump. The dislike of Obama and Clinton and the Democrats is so strong that I don’t think you’ll see mass defections…”.


    They’d even vote for Obama if he ran as a Republican.  Screw the 22nd Amendment!

  8. Robert M commented on Nov 28

    Thank you Charles Pierce. It is a very good start to a comprehensive plan.

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