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Syria

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.07.17

So are we at war? What's going to happen?


 

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Guest post - In the black

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.06.17

Mossy Character writes: Ill-formed thoughts on stuff not fully understood: the US is a net borrower, hence the chronically-bewailed current-account deficit. However, the US pays less on its debt than it earns from its own investments overseas. This isn't reflected in headline economic numbers because much of that US income is never repatriated, being booked instead in low-tax jurisdictions abroad.

At the end of 2004, the US had $10 trillion in external assets, and in 2004 it received $376.5 billion on those assets. It had $12.5 trillion in liabilities, and paid $340 billion on it. That works out to an implied rate of return of 3.8% on US overseas assets, and an return of 2.7% on foreign assets in the US. [figures to 2015: "U.S. direct investment abroad earns about 6 percent. Foreign investment in the U.S. earns about 2.5 percent."]
[...]
What else might explain the difference between US profits abroad and foreign profits in the US, other than superior US know-how? Easy. Tax avoidance and transfer pricing.
The second link also talks about the effects of possible Republican tax amendments which might cause the repatriation of much of that dark money; but of course this would happen only if effective taxation dropped. It's striking how much of America's apparent non-greatness is simply rich people dodging taxes. Also, I should read Piketty one of these days.

Heebie's take: Trade deficits are confusing to me. I don't mean that to sound flip. I just mean that if American Company A buys a million dollars of widgets, the $1,000,000 contributes to the deficit but the value of the widgets shows up...where? I mean, company A is using the widgets, right? A purchase is a trade, and you get something of some value or you wouldn't have made the purchase. I mean, you wouldn't say that I run a deficit at the local grocery store, but they've never bought anything from me.

So if you're comparing dollar worth of the exports vs. the imports...why would those industries have anything to do with each other? Especially given that there is plenty of economy that is neither exports nor imports that can make your economy churn? Without considering the actual goods and the whole picture...I'm sure this means that I'm kind of an idiot who hasn't taken an econ class, in other words. At least I know what the school-to-prison pipeline is.


 

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Oogity-boogity

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.05.17

Relationship goals:

It is probably not actually as funny as I think it is.

Via Jammies


 

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Paleoburrows

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.03.17

This is a really cool article. Also the second picture reminds me of Labs.


 

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Long way to go. Short time to get there.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.03.17

I found myself in a conversation about CB radios, and mused to myself that they were the internet chat rooms of yore. Lonely people, connected by technology, just sharing their quotidian thoughts about the day. Not an original thought of course.

One of the old-timers in the conversation told the following joke:
A man - a real egghead type - walks into a psychologist's office and says, "Doc, I'm just too smart. I don't have any friends because I'm smarter than everyone. I can't connect with them. I'm so lonely."
The doctor says, "I've got the perfect thing. We're going to put this helmet on you, connect you to this computer, and it will shave just a couple IQ points off you. You won't notice the difference, but you'll be more able to relate to other people."
The patient agrees that it sounds great. They hook him up. The doctor turns it on.
"Ok, your current IQ reads to be 160...give it a few seconds...okay, it's dropped to 159....okay, now you're at 158..."
The nurse sticks her head in and says, "Doctor, there's an emergency!" and the doctor rushes out.
Ten minutes later he returns, and says in horror, "Let's get this helmet off you! You're at 70! How do you feel??"
The patient says, "10 4, good buddy!"

(That's the joke, you were supposed to laugh there.) Point being, I guess the contemporary perception of CBers was decidedly not the internet chatroom stereotype after all.

Also the IQ-sucking helmet seems vaguely Princess Bride-esque to me.


 

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More Reasons Why Twitter Is Garbage

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.03.17

Spike, in comments, pointed out this story, reported a number of places: apparently at least some of the Bernie-Bro anti-Clinton phenomenon was Russian-controlled twitter bots.

A couple of thoughts -- first, it makes sense to me. The Bernie-Bro phenomenon, to the extent it consisted of people being anti-Clinton in an aggressively, explicitly, sexist and abusive way, puzzled the hell out of me. People with left-wing politics aren't saints, and there are disagreements about which issues to prioritize: I do see people who complain in a way that I think is misguided about 'identity politics'. But I literally never interact with people I know to be real, who have any variety of left-wing politics, who don't at least pay lip service to feminism, anti-racism, and pro-queer politics -- they may bitch about 'identity politics', but they will universally say not that, e.g., feminism is wrong, but that focusing on class issues is the way to get to feminist goals. Some guys like that may be fairly sexist in their behavior, but they're not out there yelling about it as something they actually endorse.

So I did not understand the Bernie Bro thing at all. People who seemed perfectly reasonable and reliable were complaining about being abused by hostile Bernie supporters, so I believed them, but I couldn't come up with any coherent story about who the abusive Bernie supporters were (and I'm sure there were at least a few real ones -- it's a big country) so I gave up and didn't think about it much. If that was, as a phenomenon, mostly artificial, that explains a lot.

But second, it's all Twitter's fault. That kind of campaign--creating a apparently large group of people who hold some political position out of thin air--needs to be text-only (like, there wasn't any way to fill rallies with Bernie-Bros holding hostile signs, like the actual pro-Trump rallies), and needs to be in a medium where it's not conspicuous that a speaker is unresponsive to reply and doesn't make any sort of connected sense over time, which pretty much limits it to Twitter.

Not that I have any idea what to do about this, but Ogged's advice on limiting twitter-usage to following people who link to interesting stuff sounds right. Forming any kind of beliefs on the basis of things tweeted by people who you don't already know isn't going to do you any good at all.


 

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Small Numbers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.02.17

The entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby's. Gosh it's too bad that it hurts men's testicles to retrain for jobs in the service industry.

On a different note, you may know the law of large numbers. But do you know the law of small numbers? It's that there aren't that many of them.


 

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