From the comments

The authors of an article entitled “Mysticism in Literature” (by H.C. Gardiner and E. Larkin) were surprisingly dismissive of Blake, an “I-It” enthusiast (like Wordsworth and fantasy novel world-builders); apparently the real success in the “Mysticism in Literature” world is in the “I-Thou” (Carmelite poets, very generous people, that sort of thing) area. I have long thought that JM Keynes – whose General Theory is in places as well written as Finnegans Wake, as I once read somewhere on this blog – was to his brother Geoffrey (the Blake specialist) what the fictional Sherlock was to Mycroft; a very bright sibling but clearly the exponentially less capable of the two. Economics, though, is often just common sense reiterated and refined with the mistakes thrown out; it seems almost comical to associate something that takes such a long time with young students. I read my first economics book, with a banana-yellow cover, in high school (bought at a Waldenbooks at a Bay Area shopping mall, long vanished; at the same mall, I was in line behind a young woman, now in her 70s, who bought a cassette recording of Rachmaninoff’s 24 variations on a theme of some long-forgotten fiddler. I still remember the shy happy smile on her face – the money she spent must have meant something to her – and how well she was dressed, as if she believed one had to dress elegantly to buy a Rachmaninoff cassette. Writing a comment on this almost (or completely) male-only comment thread, all I can say is she was as likely to be right about the necessity of elegance as me, if not more so. If she is reading this, I don’t remember the town, but it was somewhere just north of Pleasanton).

It doesn’t matter what the post was, that is from another vote another time zone, if only E. Harding were so eloquent…


The town he refers to is probably San Ramon.

Also, um, Make America Great Again!

Or Concord.

As of now , he's just grating on America.

Sunvalley Mall, in Concord/Pleasant Hill?

or, Walnut Creek...?

Doesn't this belong in "missed connections" on Craig's list? I also wonder about the gender of the commenters here ; how significantly male is the group ? Other than a few who use feminine names or handles , are there more here ? dearieme ?

dearieme is English, which is honorary homosexual which is honorary female, so I can see the confusion.

dearieme is neither female nor English.

" you’re an 80-ish year old grannie "

JARMRC, just go ahead and ask dearieme out already.

Nor is he one of these strange new American sexes.

Oh thank god because those new American sexes might take advantage of my patheticness and cuck me just like the Republican party did! I can't take another humiliation but I keep coming back for more! WINK!

You comment so actively on the English . British but not English , perhaps then ?

Probably Welsh from Cwmairpwllyngwyllmman or some such thing.

Cwmairpwllyngwyllmman watch your language!

People who meet me have a hard time believing I'm female as well.

Female, here every day, almost never comment. I'm not an economist, so am not in a position to add to the value I find

Disagree . I think often some of the best value in the comments comes from many who probably are not economists. As a polymath may say : "What do they know of economics, who only economics know?"

An anecdote from a non economist. Over the decades I have been working in my industry, a high skilled service trade, there have been times when the phone simply stops ringing. It is unusual, almost as if the number stopped working. Dead. It lasts for about two weeks. We usually have a bunch of stuff we are behind on, so not a big problem, but it is noticeable. I ask around; our suppliers and other trades. They all say the same thing. Then the phone starts ringing again, and away we go.

A month or two later I hear on the news that the country slipped into recession.

This happened in July, a month ago. Very unusual, July is our busy season. I actually had a couple days off in July, a rare privilege, thoroughly enjoyed.

Already July showed job losses and increase in unemployment in Canada. June showed a slight drop in GDP. The statistics come quicker now.

I've predicted a much higher deficit in Canada than forecast. I expect $70 billion. Harper had forecast balanced, the Liberals promised to spend like crazy and a $10 billion, then revised to $30 or $40 billion. The country has slipped into recession and the full extent will become apparent in another couple months.

There are economists. And then there is the economy.

Stops ringing? Surely you mean doesn't ring as often? Stops ringing implies a technical glitch. But I will calendar to look for a Canadian recession in a few again if you're right!

Some days no calls. July usually sees 30-40 calls per day. I staff up to handle them.

There are lots of things. I think the Chinese money has slowed down, real estate numbers in Vancouver have peaked. San Francisco did as well. Canadian banks have been lending money really cheaply for very high priced homes for a while now, and I think either they or their regulators are getting nervous. It seems like lending has tightened up. Alberta has actively tried to tide over the slump, but it seems to be catching up to them. The year's worth of severance is now running out and people are forced to do something. There were a couple of small tax increases as well.

The surest sign that all hell is going to break loose is when the Ontario Liberal premier told the province that things were going so well that their deficit was going to disappear, just disappear in a few years. Some Greek God of something or other chuckled.

chuckled...ha-HA I thought you said cuckold and panicked because I always think people are talking about me! WINK!

Well, I am always trying to get you to notice me.

If the U.S. goes into recession in another month, that means Trump is the next President.

@hmmmmmm adding value is the least of anyone's worries here

With your support of Trump, you are almost there.

"With your support of Trump"


For matters of academic economics, this is an understandable. Though note, questions often add value more value than theorycrafting.

However, come on, 70-90% of what is on this blog is clearly not really academic economics. Rather TC's shitposting and his letting off steam. Not something you would need either economics qualification or career to respond to.

"...not in a position to add to the value I find here."

A pretty low bar, no need to be shy.

I assumed she meant "not in a position to add to the value" in an ironic way exactly because of the quality of some comments...

No, no irony. This is a valuable site.

Very valuable, for some people.

For those with even the slightest bit of familiarity of how PR works at GMU, this site is fairly transparent.

I miss the Obama trolls. They were eager and fresh, and great fun. The Hillary trolls are plodding, boring and old.

Come on Democrats. If you are going to install a crook, at least make it entertaining.

Obama was never a bad candidate, nor has he been a bad President. There was contention from those claiming he was a good President when he wasn't and those claiming the opposite. In reality, he was pretty middle of the road.

If I were to rank him out of the last 5 Presidents, I'd rank him behind Reagan and Clinton, but ahead of both Bush's.

Hillary's best recommendation, on the other hand, is that she might be better than Trump. And I don't necessarily believe that. Her track record isn't good.

@JWatts: I think I agree with those ratings of the last 5, but look closely. The 2 good ones were president when the economy was booming, the middle one had a middling economy, and the Bushes had fairly lousy economies. We tend to judge a president on that primary metric, when they don't really have control over it. It's a matter of luck.

It seems reasonable that whomever is in charge next will preside over our next recession, and be considered a bad president and be a one-termer no matter what they do.

"..., and the Bushes had fairly lousy economies. "

There's little doubt that Bush I lost because of a mild recession that was largely out of his control. But still it would be hard to rank him higher than any of the two term Presidents. If you only have one term, you won't leave the same accomplishment. As to Bush 2, certainly the recession wasn't completely his fault however Iraq was entirely his.

As too Reagan, his tenure wasn't entirely 'good' economy, it was just clearly an economy that got a lot better. But it's not just a 'good' economy that Reagan and Clinton share. It's also an ability to work across the aisle and get things done with a hostile Congress. Both of them succeeded despite the opposition and by making alliances with 'enemies'. Contrast that with Obama who hasn't been involved in a major peace of legislation outside of a budget bill since Democrats controlled the Congress.

nor has he been a bad President. There was contention from those claiming he was a good President when he wasn’t and those claiming the opposite. In reality, he was pretty middle of the road.

1. By what accounts have been published, BO receives memos from his staff with multiple choice options. He checks the options and writes in inane marginalia.

2. The IRS business, Benghazi

3. The auto industry bailout and the rape of bondholders to service the UAW clientele.

4. Massive deficits + porkulus

5. Botched revision of medical care finance. Not one good thing about it.

6. Botched revision of financial sector regulation

7. Corrupt clientelistic arrangements in other sectors (Solyndra &c).

8. Serial foreign policy catastrophes and foreign policy assigned to cretins like Ben Rhodes.

9. Weaponized Department of Justice

10. Alinskyite campaigns against local police

11. Wretched performance as chief of state.

What's intersting about the above is that they manifest either the default tendencies of the Washington Democratic Party (which is a criminal organization) or contingent decisions by BO himself.

He's 'not a bad president' if you ignore everything he's done.

Although I only rank that his 12th worst offense because I've learned to embrace the cuck-life! Wink!

What about the Rothschilds?

...says the guy who thinks George W. Bush was a good, perhaps even model, president.

You have no credibility on this subject. Stop embarrassing yourself.

His only mistake was to not play golf 8 hours a day. The days he didn't things went to hell.

I still think anyone who purposely raises costs in the US economy, for no matter what reason, when large swathes of it are uncompetitive already, should be tarred and feathered. Pour les autres.

The NYT article describes how he did it with regulation. Bush did it as well, but usually by getting things passed in Congress.

And I rank him ahead of Carter. Carter was a good and moral man -- possibly the best to hold that office -- but the economy was crap and he could be called the father of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was his order to the CIA to stop paying bribes to the mullahs which is blamed by some with causing the revolution. Sometimes being moral isn't what you need in a President.

Any of the things he can be criticized for, it seems unlikely to me that many (any?) likely alternatives in his position would have made any particularly better choices.

The stickiest one is probably the decision to wind down in Iraq and increase troops in Afghanistan. I have only one point. The government of Iraq wanted the US out, and had Obama not left (he obtained extensions of several months a few times), the US would have gone from government-supporting helper to imperial occupier. It is unlikely that the situation would have progressed more peacefully (or with fewer US deaths - the other deaths not generally being viewed as relevant to Americans) had Obama refused to remove troops on the timeline devised and insisted upon by the authorities elected under the installed system.

For his signature policies, I support his motivations, but for the fact of the realities of political terrain in the USA, his only options were to pursue policies which I believe to be highly suboptimal, perhaps even not much of an improvement over the status quo.

I think he got dealt a supremely crap hand and did not that bad of a job with it. But I do not see that he pulled of anything particularly special for the history books.

I think the entry in the history books excluding highly partisan stuff) will be something like "first black president, gets dealt bad hand for economy and military stuff, doesn't screw up anything very badly with the economy or military despite the bad hand."

Maybe, with the benefit of hindsight, it will eventually become obvious to more on the right that supremely racist 10-20% in their midst was the primary source of narratives about Obama's huge incompetence, etc., and that in fact very little justifies the HUGE animosity towards him. Because 20 years down the road, when someone points out that all the things you hate him for, he's actually less in that direction than most president's in the period, I think they will mostly be able to make use of hindsight (depending on how enduring the quasi-brainwashing).

(P.S - this "dictator" has issued fewer executive order than any president in nearly 100 years. None of which involved restricting guns (au contraire). None of which involved loosening up immigration (au contraire). Perhaps, eventually, partians will realize that, some decades past, nearly everything they were fed about Monkeyman Obama was so short on truth as to be essentially outrageous lies.

"(P.S – this “dictator” has issued fewer executive order than any president in nearly 100 years. None of which involved restricting guns (au contraire). None of which involved loosening up immigration (au contraire). "

Huh? This is a headline from just last month:
"President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning The Sale Of Assault Weapons"

"Obama made his latest appeal after the nation’s highest court failed to support his order protecting up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation."

And here's where the Supreme Court struck down an Executive order on illegal immigration.

Also: Once Skeptical of Executive Power, Obama Has Come to Embrace It

That was elegant, but the best comment in that post was the top post, mine, though off-topic. In it I verified that in the post: that government Military spending does seem to crowd out non-government private spending. However, digging deeper (as I mentioned to prior_test2) this 'crowding out' is in fact a misnomer, since all it shows is during recession years military spending is not cut, while civilian spending is cut, hence the 'percent of GDP' shoots up for the former and drops for the latter. This is not really 'crowding out' which is a term reserved for boom times,not displacement during bust times. You can verify this on Fig. 3 yourself. Note: YES=DURING THIS RECESSION PRIVATE SHARE SECTOR DROPPED (and military share went up) AS % OF GDP, while NO=CONTRA): 1980-1982 Recession (YES);1973-1975 Recession (YES);1970 Recession (mild, 11 months)(UNCLEAR);1960 Recession (YES);Recession of 1957 (eight months (August 1957-April 1958)(YES);Recession of 1953 (Beginning July 1953, this recession lasted 10 months, a result of the end of the Korean War.)(NOTE: KOREAN WAR FROM 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953)(YES)

Now that's a worthy comment, not some musing about long-forgotten random childhood events. I could go on about how rabbits used to routinely jump through the streets of northern VA in broad daylight, now you'll see nothing but squirrels, deer, possum, and an occasional coyote or two. And the frogs have been decimated; they used to croak so loud they would keep you up at night, especially in the Springfield and Burke areas. Fertilizers and detergents decimated them.

"the frogs have been decimated; they used to croak so loud they would keep you up at night, especially in the Springfield and Burke areas. Fertilizers and detergents decimated them."

Is that really true? The frogs do croak so loudly outside my windows that they'll keep you up if the windows are down. Granted, I live in middle TN in a suburban area. But I wouldn't think that the VA environment is so much worse that all the frogs have died off.

In my coastal California neighborhood frogs could be as loud as a helicopter all together, I have not heard that in decades.

I haven't heard that since spring.

But since it's California, it doesn't really surprise me. The southern part of the state always looks like a chunk of civilization was dropped onto Mars.

Well, California is pretty dramatic on everything water related right now. On our last drive to the Sierras we went through valleys where fully half the trees were standing dead (drought and beetles). Perhaps a few wet years would bring them back, but right now ..

There's a paper on those frog disappearances (by Brad Shaffer at UCLA I think, among others) that tied some of that to pesticides in the Central Valley and to a chytrid fungus that's decimated frogs around the world. I hadn't heard of detergents contributing to it, but it doesn't seem unbelievable.

Semi-permeable skin makes amphibians a canary in the coal mine, of sorts.

Back when I was a kid, many moons ago in the central valley of California, we'd hunt pheasant on an accommodating farmer's acres. It was an unusual day when we wouldn't bag at least a few to take home to mom to use in her sauce for Sunday pasta.

I hear there are no longer pheasant in the central valley. Could be the type of farming done now, could be the pesticides. Nobody seems to know, but mom's sauce is worse off for it.

I'm glad frogs and peasants are going away because they've both cucked me in the past. Ha-HA I'm so pathetic that I get cuckcolded by frogs, wild birds, congressional Republicans and black Presidents but that's what living the cucklife is all about! WINK!

There are artful, humorous sock puppets ... and then there's this guy. Wink on, wanker.

Frogs hang out near access to pools of water, no?

The loudest frog places I know have no shortage of fertilizers and detergents, but have lots of reserve water ponds, the cause of all the frogs.

There was a big frog die-off in Pennsylvania/Maryland (and maybe elsewhere in the eastern US?) about ten years ago and for a couple of summers, they were very few and far between, but the population has since rebounded. Never heard anything about it having to do with fertilizers or detergents.

I liked it better when mulp's posts were being done by a sock puppet and they were supposed to be parody. The same content just doesn't carry the comedic impulse when it's serious.

If you google MR on any recurring topic you find many of the same names (pseudo names) with the same positions, 1, 3, 5 years ago. I can see a good side and a bad side to that. On the one hand, old guys have a right to share what they've learned in their decades on earth. On the other hand, a little motion would say something better about the human species, sub-category, old guy.

Crystallization of belief has a good side and a bad side.

Semi-biological explanation: when man lived in nature, getting to be an old guy was a pretty good proof that what you believed about the world was correct. It would be really bad for a 60 year old hunter-gatherer to say "wait a minute, maybe this longstanding belief is wrong!" You'd give up on ideas that kept you alive, and lose status. You could die.

The "problem" in a modern society is that everyone gets old, and their actual understanding of the world does not have that much to do with it. Think "The Office." Nonetheless, their conviction hardens, as if they did survive by their savvy.

Buyer beware.

But as you say innovation is usually death in a paleo world? So what makes it different this time? In fact, given today's patent laws, if you innovate, you risk bankruptcy, divorce, and in extreme cases suicide. Just read about the pioneers like Armstrong (TV) and others (Goodrich, rubber), Eli Whitney (cotton gin) who risked everything....and lost. Others reaped their benefits. In short, as I've harped upon before, innovation does NOT pay. It pays to be a gatekeeper, not an innovator, unless your name is Banerjee Gupta and you're looking for a O-1 merit visa to immigrate to the USA. Even then you'll work for sweatshop wages (low 100k, enough to impress the villagers back home but hardly enough to get rich unless you invest in the right industries).

No sir, anon, things have not changed enough to say "caveat emptor". It's in fact 'same as it ever was' as the Talking Heads sang.

@anon - not only do you lose status in the paleo world if you disputed a long standing tribal rule, but often, there was a good reason for this rule and you risked death from disease or hunger. Your point about this semi-biological explanation has been made before by anthropologists. Innovation usually fails, and not just in the cute Silicon Valley way of "your must fail six times before you succeed" but fails utterly. What society needs is a better safety net for innovators, even ex post rewards like Tim Berners Lee got for inventing the internet (hyperlinks). But Lee got this reward from the private sector; what is needed is public sector money and rewards. TC and AlexT and others should be pounding the table on this issue but all they talk about is making everything that's proprietary a commodity. Economists are good at espousing that theme.

I respect your 7:22 pm answer as probably the best defense possible for a very bad idea - that all old guy beliefs are self-beneficial and therefore valid.

To trot out my hobby horse, Fama would lose standing and admirers if he actually grasped and admitted Shiller's victory. And from my perspective (still young enough of mind to prefer adaptation to objective reality) that's the tragedy.

Yes, society is steadied by old men believing old things, but it is held back as well.

Group selection argument: maybe it's optimal for generation n+1 to know the beliefs of generation n (e.g. for Bayesian reasons, or maybe to instill some healthy self-doubt in generation n+1), and the only way this can happen is for generation n to continue to hold their outdated beliefs.


"Yes, society is steadied by old men believing old things, but it is held back as well."

Funnily enough, and I'm not sure how much there is in it, we speak of "old wives' tales", witches' brews, and we (broadly?) assume that women knew most about herbs and medicinals and potions and salves -- as repositories of technical/practical knowledge.

My point is, wouldn't old women have stabilized society at least as much? We can assume that women lived longer then men, and we can assume that old(er) women played a significant role in the socialization of children.

Ostensibly (old) men held the reins of power, but we all know there's power and there's power.

"I respect your 7:22 pm answer as probably the best defense possible for a very bad idea – that all old guy beliefs are self-beneficial and therefore valid." - no, you are, old boy, misreading me. I'm saying that innovation does not pay, due to historical reasons. It's time for you, young fellow, to break the mold and promote "hard IP" laws! Write your congressperson today...

I'm not so sure. I think prehistoric longevity is partly genetic lottery (and the absence of known carcinogens and diabetes producing foodstuffs in prehistory) and partly "cave man" welfare state: do you know how many deadbeats a tribe or clan could support?

Besides, the women did most of the hard work. Men roused themselves to kill a large mammal occasionally while teens caught the small mammals that gave the group their regular stew meat.

You could easily make it to 60 provided you survived childbirth and didn't pull any sabre tooth tigers by the tail. Their stock of beliefs were probably animist as well as shamanistic.

You made me look. My "story" may be flawed, but "changing beliefs" is apparently harder:

Excellent. I will read it now.

So I sit down with a retired guy today. His background doesn't include a lot of science, but over the years he has pondered many things and come to many conclusions.

With his experience, he has practical solutions to many things. With his lack of education, his scientific understanding of most of them is poor or even extremely wrong.

So i do not talk to him about science. Were he 20 years old, he might like to learn about all the science stuff involved. But by his age, he's quite content with his explanations for various things - no matter that he is well aware that he might be wrong about a lot of these things, he is sufficiently satisfied with his explanations, in general. He knows he doesn't have all the answers, or even the right ones, but doesn't seem terribly troubled about the matter...

A subtext on the Trump phenom and his over-60 supporters (high and low) is that some old guys didn't know when it was time to just get a truck, and a dog, and go fishing.

All those old people were sure handy for Pol Pot when he wanted to murder his opponents. Willing and eager to please, would kill for the most trivial reason.


If you liked that set of words, I recommend _Debt_to_Pleasure_ (there's at least a 30% chance the commenter's style is a deliberate shadow of it).

Given his recent work there's a decent chance it's actually the author. (Or maybe _you_ are; shamelessly flogging your older books...)

Thanks for reading my comment - Whatever pastiche there may have been in my comment (and yes I have read some of Lanchester's writings, although only while standing in an aisle at a Barnes and Noble), I really hope that not only the actual young music-loving woman in that 1974 mall in either San Ramon or Concord (thanks to the commenters at 3:10 to 4:31 PM who clarified "north of Pleasanton" for me, although I still really really like the sound of "north of Pleasanton", God knows why), but also every other kind person - elegant or non-elegant - who I have not been perceptive enough to remember from that difficult time in my life so long ago, has had many good years during the last 42 years or so. (The Keynes/Finnegans Wake and Sherlock/Mycroft comparisons were references to posts on this blog, either from this year or some earlier year. There was a little bit of a pastiche of Mark Helprin in the last sentences - the philosophical device of (seemingly at random) pointing out that there just simply cannot be "peripheral" humans in any real story or theory. The idea of associating Blake with fantasy novelists who like to build worlds was indirectly borrowed from English blogger Bruce Charlton).

'there just simply cannot be “peripheral” humans in any real story or theory'

Well, as long as they aren't ZMP workers, of course.

Timing. If you get to a post early you see a bunch of them. Then they disappear.

Nah he stopped (for now) at Money Illusion too, where he's not banned

For the benefit of those who like me had not heard of Lanchester

A restaurant critics gets .................?

I have no clue exactly what the OP is trying to say or the purpose and goal of his comment, but references to:

low brow fantasy and detective fiction avidly consumed by nerdish young males
bridging analogies to high literature and art
shy, happy, elegant, sensitive young women consuming high art (and to the theoretical inclusion and presence of such people in discussions with crusty economists)
references to the lives and times of ye-olde-20th-century people via gentle personal experience
something something mentions economics

I give this a 9 out of 10 on both signalling for Tyler Cowen's attention and careful signalling of non-brutishness.

Sentences too long. Clumsy writing. 2/10.

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