29 September 2011

The Polar Bare Club

In today's news, is this piece on melting Canada ice. While not all that surprising in and of itself (Arctic ice has been diminishing during summer for decades), it reminds me of reports from a few years back. That reporting, here for example, concludes that with sufficient cold fresh water injected into the North Atlantic (remember, sea ice is nearly salt free), the Gulf Stream (also known as the heat conveyor) movement of equatorial heat to the north, particularly Europe, would slow or cease. Hello Siberia.

"... this is the way the world ends: not with bang but a whimper."

Pretty as a Picture

Along with an interest in stats and graphs comes a level of responsibility. Kind of, guns don't kill people, people kill people. The canonical text is "How to Lie With Statistics", which was first published in 1954. Legend has it, it's never been out of print. Likely so.

It so happens that I've found a couple of blogs/sites which both deal with graphing stat data in non-disinterested ways. I'll note once again that a stat/quant/analyst/foobar is supposed to be disinterested. S/he's just an impartial judge of the data, trying to scope out the real relationships in the data; if there are any, there may not be. Data associated with politics is particularly susceptible to bias. But others face the same pressure. Worker stat bees (having been there) are often encouraged to slant the presentation in a way to make the nappie marketing Suits look like geniuses. It's a problem everywhere; all worker bees are expected to behave as attorneys; staunch defenders of whatever the Suits have done.

Watching the response to drug clinical trials is particularly amusing. Rather often, the sponsor will be shocked (shocked, I say) that its new FooBar Resolver didn't blast the .05 requirement out of the water. There'll be "unexpected placebo levels" or "unbalanced randomization" or "the FooBar Resolver patients were sicker than placebo". And so on.

Be that as it may, here are a couple of sites worth grazing:
The R Graph Gallery, from Romain François
The Gallery of Data Visualization, from Michael Friendly

27 September 2011

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure

I just found this link, which says it all (well, most all) about lying, stats, and graphs. It's only a bit beyond 5 minutes. Time well spent.

Who's Hiding Under that Rock?

Lots of folks, humble self included, have been despondent with Fetchit since he caved on the stimulus. Yes, since nearly the beginning of his term; he then demonstrated that endearing quality of giving up before the first punch is thrown, nay before the bell rings. It's been quite irritating.

Today brings news that Axelrod gets it. Which begs the question: which one of the two, Fetchit or Axelrod, has been living under a rock? Reagan spent his time on the throne blaming Carter and Democrats, while taking credit for ending the Soviet Union (he had nothing to do with it by the way, it was successive crop failures that did in the Kremlin). Fetchit really is beyond naive'. Has Fetchit been ignoring Axelrod all this time, or has Axelrod done a Punxsutawney Phil and declaimed six more years of winter? Either way, D'Oh!!!!!!!

22 September 2011

Yellow Journalism

So, here's the latest on the Market from Yahoo! Finance:

God futures shed an additional ~10 points to fresh lows

Where's Richard Dawkins when you need him? It's quite clear that the Tea Baggers are pulling out the stops to crash the economy again, and try to pin it on Fetchit. They likely will succeed in both respects. Hilaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

20 September 2011

Not My Ox, You Don't

I had been meaning to write a short piece on the whole deficit reduction and austerity magic elixir. The story being, of course, that lots of rich folks got, and stay, rich by sucking at the Federal teat. The money milk they get is, of course, not only fully justified but necessary to the commmonweal and all that. Reality is, they just don't want to have to get their money from that mythical competitive economy they propose for everybody else, particularly those who work for wages.

Well, here it is. Read it and get angry.

18 September 2011

Fire up the Barby

Put some shrimp on the barby, mate; Charlie's here. Darwin, capital of North Australia, really was named for that passenger on "The Beagle". As I have mused in the past (most recently) and earliest, the Tea Baggers are misanthropic, myiopic Social Darwinists. Today's NY Times, in the Business Section no less, carries an article by Robert Frank (derived from his book) which denies the notion that either Darwin or Adam Smith was a Social Darwinist. Give it a read, and buy his book. I'd ask for percentage, but I'm hardly the only one who's made the case.

A quote from Frank:
Close reading of Smith's work shows that his position was very similar to the modern liberal's.

A quote of Smith by Frank:
In "The Wealth of Nations," he wrote, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

But, since the Tea Baggers take Cheney's point of view, that only the left engages in reality based policy, I suppose they'll not be fazed. Frank's solution is not so far fetched, but fails, I think, to provide a mechanism in either fiscal or monetary policy when things go bad (or, less often, good). On the other hand, he's saying what I've quoted My Mother (and yours, if she were smart) as saying: "what would be world be like if everybody acted like you?" He touches on the sore spot of Right Wingnut capitalism, which is that it is inherently wasteful. Or put another way, that there is an infinite supply of natural resources. Why an infinite supply? Because of the notion of creative destruction of capital and multiple capitalists consuming capital to produce a Certain Widget. In time, capitalists conspire to choose a monopolist, but not necessarily the one who's most efficient in the production of the Certain Widget. And even if it is, there's no reason that there'll be enough resources left.

Never forget: there are *twice* as many Americans today as 1950. While there were enough resources to support a middle class which really was most of the middle when there were 150 million of us, that's not true today. The shrinking of the Western middle class (and the dramatic slowing of its birth in the East) as a proportion of the population can't be avoided. Sorry.

14 September 2011

The A Team

As Hannibal used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together". Just got back from reading my dead trees NYT, and there on the front page (with circles and arrows on the back) are the numbers I've been reminding folks about since I started this endeavor. The Right Wingnuts *do* want most folks most poor. And most of them are just too stupid, and religulous, to admit they've been gulled.

Dee Feat is in Dee Flation, Part 14

[Nothing much has changed since the last Flation piece, so here it is again! Only slightly updated.]

Along with a lackluster initial claims, which rose some, we also got the PPI (Producer Price Index), which was up a tad, although nothing major. Moreover, the "core" number was downright laggard.

Here's the briefing.com description:
Separately, the Producre Price Index for was flat in August, as had been generally expected. Core producer prices increased by a mere 0.1%, though. A 0.2% increase had been expected.

This time, briefing.com's note didn't mention that PPI (whole) was 0, 0, 0.

Despite what the Right Wingnuts have been braying for what is now *years*, the stimulus and TARP and all that other money has been funnelled to the 1%-ers, who don't spend much, if any, of this largess slathered over largess. Regular folks, who the Tea Baggers should be supporting (but don't, since Tea Baggers are the pawns of the .1%-ers), aren't getting the $$$, so the $$$ doesn't make it to the spending stream.

What the Usual Class of Pundits is ignoring: the inflation inherent in food and fuel is *Cost Push* (i.e., shortage) and their knee jerk "raise interest rates before the sky falls" will only hasten the fall, and make it that much worse. Figure out how to increase supply of shortages, morons. There was a story in a recent NY Times about farmers switching from useful crops (well, useful as food, anyway) to fuel crops. D'oh!!!

Obambi is such a waste of time. If I were Biden, and had to sit through his speech, I'd have fallen asleep, too.

13 September 2011

Batshit, Ponzi, and Little Ricky

Rick "Batshit Boy" Perry has had fun labeling Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. The dim bulb Red Staters applaud. They are dumb. As I wrote back in July, Social Security is not, never has been, nor should ever be, an investment scheme. That's just a waste of money. It's a current account program, just like most of what the Federal government does. To do otherwise wastes money in administrative overhead (moving, and accounting for, money from one pocket to another), and leaves government in an untenable position; can it prosecute malfeasance in the market if doing so diminishes its "return"? And the survey says: government's proper role is to protect the citizens from malfeasance. End of story.

12 September 2011

Nouriel, Karl, and Me

Not so surprisingly, I don't read the Wall Street Journal; I suppose I should, if only for the opposition research value of doing so. But the batshit Tea Baggers lie so fulsomely, that I can no longer abide it. I do, however, dabble with Mr. Market, and today was a link on one of those sort of pages to a write up of Roubini's recent WSJ interview. Here's the version that was linked to.

Near as I can tell, Roubini was and is a capitalist fanatic. Yet, here he is making the same argument I (and others, I'll acknowledge) have been making from the start of this endeavor: "It's the Distribution, Stupid". I shudder to think what it means to have Dr. Doom on my side of the coin.

04 September 2011

Rave Reviews

I admit it: I always gloat a bit when the mainstream pundit class finally catches up. Today's NYT Sunday Review section has the Reich piece, which digs into the data to demonstrate the thesis that you don't grow an economy by making the middle class (and those below) yet poorer. My only quibble is that he didn't j'accuse to Reagan and the Bush Boys. Stop being so prissy.

The second piece, which shares the full double page center spread with Reich, is a similar take to the urbanization thesis. Not so surprisingly, the author is at "The Economist". Europeans, having lived on that piece of ground for millennia, get it. The Tea Baggers insist on the impossible, that the USofA can conduct itself as it did in the 18th and 19th centuries, when there was this whole fresh continent full of natural resources to squander. Those times are long gone, and we're all European now. If my thesis is correct, either the Tea Baggers stage a coup, a la 2000, and we descend into urban/civil warfare (as Uruguay did in the 60s and 70s, propelled by the same de-industrialization fervor), or the electoral process remains intact, and the Tea Baggers are relegated to the dunce corner.