Wednesday assorted links

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2. I was a little surprised when we went to a Amazon wedding gift list recently to see a weighted blanket. Trendy. But only a little surprised. We started sleeping under two comforters a while back. I sleep better. So much that I'm kind of disappointed in the summertime when it is too hot for both of them.

(Our family tradition was always down comforters, but washable, polyester fill, are much more convenient.)

Kinda surprised you didn't link Douthat today .. or maybe not. His bit on the basic incompetence of populism is inflammatory - but not really contrarian. It might even be nascent conventional wisdom, the path by which populism dies a Carter-like, one term, failure.

Here ya go: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/opinion/meritocracy-populism-political-stalemate.html

I liked this bit:

"In the United States the populists theoretically hold the White House, under a president who promised to be a traitor to his class. Except that these promises were mostly just a con job, the Trump inner circle is a parliament of opportunists, and his administration’s policy agenda has been steered by the Republican Party’s business elite rather than by the voters who elected him."

Also what followed that.

I liked the column too but I think it is a bit too simplistic. I think there are two separate situations here that need to be distinguished. First, sometimes populists are right and even though they might be inefficient at bringing total change, they do bring about some change that is still important. One good example of this situation is Trump's approach to trade. You might say the impact is not going to be what he promised, but there is a valid case to be made that global trade will be different and that the motivation behind that addresses the populist concern. On the other hand, there are cases where populists are simply wrong and politicians know it. Another easy example here is coal in the US. Trump knew from the start that all his promises around coal are simply false, and there is nothing to be done in that area that can address the populist cry. But this is not a "technocrat mistake" - it is simply the reality of our current world, which is not all based in politics. So yeah, there is always this tension between these two sides but it is not as black and white as described in the column. At the end of the day, this is one of the reasons why Democracy is still the best of all bad options we have for governing ourselves.

Well said.

The populists are wrong on trade, and everything else. I have a hard time thinking of anything they are right about. Maybe about how people shouldn't be so rude to them just because they are losers who are wrong about everything, but that's not actually a consciously held policy position for most of them.

Well, I shouldn't have said right or wrong. It's more about "possible or impossible". I am in favor of free trade so looking at my perspective, they might be wrong but their complaints are real and change is possible... on the coal front, there's nothing to be done.

I see your point. The populists aren't completely ineffective, unfortunately. They are actually capable of destroying the political consensus on trade liberalization and reversing several decades of painstaking progress on the issue.

To be fair, though I have argued before that there needs to be a mechanism to compensate the losers from trade, aside from lower prices at Walmart. I'd almost suggest some sort of Coasian bargaining - if it were possible to buy votes, then steel-importing industries could just write checks to unemployed steel workers in exchange for not voting for Trump.

I suspect that the current push back on trade is an attempt (alas using the wrong tools) to implement some sort of compensation for these folks impacted negatively. I think there's probably some sort of political equilibrium where prices rise some but job losses in certain industries stabilize (even if for a short time). I am really not sure if this is possible but I guess that is the best case scenario.

But that equilibrium is not the global optimum. I want to get society to the global optimum of maximum productivity and welfare. I don't want to pay these guys off by letting them keep their sub-optimal jobs and forcing everyone to pay higher prices. I would prefer to just buy them out in exchange for taking lower-paying jobs elsewhere.

Sure the populists have shifted the consensus on free trade.

It’s gone from a Republican elite issue to an across the spectrum full bore support for free trade issue.

In a brilliantly stupid move by protectionist morons, free trade is now associated with a buffoonish unpopular President and his movement of uneducated NEET 4chan posters.

Trump is the best thing that’s happened for free trade in years. Dems can now fully associate protectionism with low status working class incel white males (complete with Confederate flags, scary black rifles, obesity, and drug addiction). As they shed this useless demographic going forward, they can be staunchly neoliberal when it comes to trade.

Minorities + unmarried educated white women + white men with degrees earning medianish wages = electoral dominance.

This wasn’t a fully Trump thing, a la Tolstoy this is less a great (idiot) man theory of history and more of a shifting foundation of coalitions thing.

What we should look forward to in the future is the Republican Party becoming solely a party of obese white men without degrees or partners.

You all get it wrong. Do you not see Trumps rallies? Any politicians would kill for that kind of numbers and support. Yet all you can do is make grade school insults to somehow support your dreams.

he still made more points than you tho.

They are all fools. Trump is a symptom, though he is in the feeling loop.

There is so much more to the story than coal, unemployment, global trade and comparative advantage, and the impact of technology (AI and automation).

If they read Tyler's book "Average is Over" and think it has merit, then they might consider that there are going to be many "losers". Yet these a**holes speak of them with unfeeling contempt.

I hope they get what's coming to them.

I meant to write "Trump ... in the feedback loop ...".

I suspect if you put a referendum to the US people on defense spending, the populist response would be to cut a couple hundred billion out of the Pentagon budget and knock off the around-the-clock, around-the-world adventurism we have been at this century.

Obama tried and was defeated. Trump at least paid lip-service to the idea and I'm guessing he picked up some votes for his pandering, but I don't think he really cares.

I think this is a good and populist idea that just can't get any traction.

We spend less as a percentage of gdp on the military than we ever have.

Just for a reality check for your obvious stupidity.

We should disband the whole enterprise , I agree. I believe the fear is that will just turn into cash for votes for unmarried women with children.

"We spend less as a percentage of gdp on the military than we ever have."

Maybe that's why our wars now last longer then they ever have.

I don't think this invalidates Brian's point about the popular enthusiasm for giving foreign countries makeovers.

Trade, eh?

That one where we tax intermediate goods, including Canadian steel, because the President thinks every import is a loss? That one?

Where we are on our second bailout for farmers damaged by a trade war? That one?

Backfilling that "it's all about IP" doesn't do it for me. If so Canada (and BMW) would not be in the crosshairs.

Handwaving by people wishing really really hard that this did make sense.

annual trillion dollar deficits for the last ten years are not exactly
evidence of competence in the ruling class
and then there is Iraq and
17 years in Afghanistan,

Of course, the biggest problem the NYT has is their loyalty to boast: "Woher dein Recht. in jeglichem Kostume.
in ieder Maske wahr zu sein?
-Ich rühme"
https://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/11/national/mcveigh-is-executed-for-oklahoma-city-bombing.html

hablando como mujer,
se llama auto-identifiing o posicionalidad
mcveigh era un bastardo toxico rata

#1 I consider "dogmatic intolerance" to be the primary feature of any radical position, so "smaller confidence shifts" makes complete sense. I also consider the boundary for insanity to be preponderance of "disconfirmatory evidence" failing to yield large "confidence shifts".

That was my thought exactly! The study result is a tautology disguised as a research finding.

That article on weighted blankets is amazing, decrying the loss of business to early manufacturers while worried about appropriating autism culture, or whatever.

People have always made being overly exquisitely sensitive about things, but it was never normal. Now the performance is practically mandatory.

Autism culture? What?

Weighted blankets are made specifically for autitists. It helps them calm down.

What their popularity says about modern America....

If appropriate their culture, what will they do? Stare the wall?!

Yes, the implicit shaming of a broader weighted blanket market base seems to hide the reasons for optimism in this story. More blankets of better quality are now even more accessible to all buyers: Instagrammers and need-based customers alike! I appreciate Tyler's "elasticity" question; it's the right one to ask here.

“Content” by Ashley Fetters:

https://www.theatlantic.com/author/ashley-fetters/

Uniformly horrible. How a person with such weak analytical skills is employed is a mystery.

Stop thinking of people who write for opinion mags as "analysts", "experts", or "intellectuals" and instead think of them as "authors" and the mystery is solved. Just write whatever fictions you want, so long as it sounds good and people (preferably ones with money) can relate to it on a sensory level.

5. So, Friedman took a taxi in Paris?

I came for the taxi comment.

#5 President Captain Bolsonaro has officially declared he will never allow Brasil to become France. He has officially repudiated the Climate Aggredment and the Migration Pacto.

There is no fapping whatsoever.

#2: "Live simply, so that others can simply live" is what my parents' hippy friends' bumper sticker advised us back in the '80's. They lived on a horse farm, as I recall.

#5 "Both of these centers of free markets, free people and free ideas are being shaken today by rural and beyond-the-suburbs insurgencies of largely white working-poor and anxious middle classes..." He can't even get past the 2nd paragraph without disparaging the people fueling the advantages of the society he describes in the 2nd half of that very sentence, nor get by without describing them in the same way you could describe their largely imported replacements.

The liberal democracys' attempt to replace their constituent middle-classes is a crime of epic proportions. One that people have woken up to, and that their traitorous institutions should pay dearly for. If liberal democracy is to survive at all into the next century, middle-class disenfranchisement and replacement should absolutely be the line in the sand.

Very fitting that it's starting in both France and America.

Lulz. Linking Tom Friedman columns. What is this, 2004?

How does a nation of immigrants have a line in the sand?

I presume you are not an Iroquois.

It's rather easy actually. Have a few generations, make investments in a certain way of life, pass a few laws and insist newcomers abide by them. Walls are helpful, say for instance China's or Israel's. Depending on who you talk to, they're nations of immigrants too. They also have lines in the sand.

Nope, and thankfully not. I don't want to have anything to do with them, not after what they did to the Huron of the Lakes during the Beaver Wars. They took all their land, and after all this time still haven't issued so much as a half-hearted apology. For shame.

It sounds like your line in the sand is just the post-WWII American status quo. Immigration and naturalization based on shared identity.

In other words we never actually had a reason to panic.

Whoa let's not get carried away here. My immigration views are extremely hybridized - think pre-WWII/pre-Hart-Cellar with my own unique spin. And the West, France and we do have reason to panic. We have reason to panic anytime the concerns of the naturalized, legal, tax paying and invested constituent population are not priority #1.

Especially considering things like this:
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/census-confirms-63-percent-of-non-citizens-on-welfare-4-6-million-households

It's probably much much worse in France. I'd be blocking streets too.

That is exactly why Brazil will leave the Migration Pact. Brazil for Brazilians. It is the same reason why Brazil was the first country to leave the League of Nations in the 1920s.

There are studies that say once you account for their kids, you break even. Something to return to ..

Lol, listen (obviously white male) dude:

It doesn’t matter what you want or think. We will not let you change immigration law de facto. We have the courts. We have the businesses. We have the narrative in media and journalism.

Every flutter of racist idiocy that Trump does is immediately rejected by the courts. And will always be. We own the process. And we’re not negotiating with 4chan racist incels.

End DACA: Rejected
Zero tolerance policy: Rejected
Asylum DOJ policy change: Rejected
Deny asylum for illegal crossing: Rejected
Evicting temporary disaster relief immigrants (who have been here 30 years): Rejected

You guys don’t get to change reality.

We get to decide. We don’t care how many votes you get. We don’t care how hard you scream on 4chan and Reddit. We are the deciders. So rage on the interwebs all you want. Won’t change a thing.

+1 Either excellent parody of a progressive, or toxic honesty! in either case, sad and sobering, Venezuela (worst case) or Brazil (best case), here we come.

It really is amazing how hard it is to distinguish a modern progressive from a veritable cumsock for the US Chamber of Commerce. I suppose if fashioning your entire worldview to accommodate the preferences of the corporations that donate to your preferred politicians is something to be proud of, Zz needs to get his chin up even higher.

The good news is that the progressive fetish for ignoring immigration law at the behest of its corporate masters is almost certainly like the progressive insistence for closing Guantanamo, once the political value of the pose vanishes, so to will the faux concern.

Still fun to watch and listen to though.

The USA is not a nation of immigrants. Though the percentage of foreign born US residents is at the highest level in over a century, it is still less than 14%.

But you can still repeat moronic slogans if you like. Facts have never been your thing.

The guillotines are coming ...

Friedman and his set have written this column so many times: (1) We must admit these angry hicks have some legitimate gripes; (2) but we must never fail to point gripes are bound up with racism and xenophobia; (3) no policy concessions to improve their lot are even fit for debate; (4) so let’s double down on the status quo.

Those angry hicks got their farm bailout though. I'm not too happy about that as a taxpayer.

Most "angry Hicks" are not farmers.

Did you vote for Reagan, Bush, or Clinton? Then you are part of the problem.

I got so excited when I saw the link to the new Robert Caro book, thinking it was volume 5. A quick google search notes it's still "several years away".

Me too! This is starting to feel like Game of Thrones, where George R. R. Martin keeps coming out with supporting materials, but not the next book.

Exactly. My first thought after opening the link was "isn't there something else you should be working on, Mr. Caro?"

He did have a reply to that:
“Why am I publishing these random recollections toward a memoir while I’m still working on the last volume of the Johnson biography, when I haven’t finished it, while I’m still — at the age of 83 — several years from finishing it?” he writes. “The answer is, I’m afraid, quite obvious, and if I forget it for a few days, I am frequently reminded of it, by journalists who, in writing about me and my hopes of finishing, often express their doubts of that happening in a sarcastic phrase: ‘Do the math.’...

2. OMG, I have to have one. I've always like having a heavy blanket on top of me at night, but I also like to be cool. A blanket that was weighted but not too thick and warm sounds amazing.

You’re really not helping the libertarian as autist meme.

Well, if they're going to appropriate autism culture, I await the day when they move on to appropriating libertarian culture.

So of course we eventually get to the line that more people need weighted blankets because Trump

That was the point where I knew I needed to finish the whole article.

#5: I stopped at "after watching Britain become paralyzed over how to commit economic suicide by leaving the E.U.;". It's amazing to me how reasonable people become unreasonable when they combat what they see as unreasonable opposition.

He should have used Economic Decimation. In it's original meaning, a loss of 1 in 10, it is more arguable than Suicide.

(Total costs, direct, attention related, and versus a more productive counterfactual .. with more tech investment etc.)

#5 is an example of #1

#3. Robert Caro

... yeah, surprising how little media traction Caro's epic LBJ biography achieved.

LBJ makes Trump look like a choir boy -- dictatorial, cunning, destructive, and disgustingly rude & crude personally. But the media overlooks those things if one is a progressive Democrat.

How many felonies did LBJ ever face? Trump doesn't look like a choir boy. More like the priest that molests choir boys.

The best chapter in the most recent Caro book is that where he takes us through November 22, 1963 from the moment-to-moment point of view of Johnson. It makes the familiar riveting. It humanizes him. And it begins: "... the day began for Johnson with the belief—the fear—that he might not be on the ticket with J.F.K. in the coming election. That very day, back in Washington, a witness was providing Senate Rules Committee staffers with evidence that he said linked Johnson to Robert G. (Bobby) Baker, the subject of a scandal that had been exploding in the capital, and … Life magazine was mapping out an investigation into the sources of Johnson’s wealth."

I'm pretty sure Trump's no choir boy - I don't think the Atlantic City casino business, for one, selects for honest brokers - but it doesn't really matter. It's the attempt to cover up stuff, more than the sins themselves, that always gets you in trouble: have we a more infallible rule in American politics?

The ability to escape legal scrutiny is more nefarious than facing it.

I have no knowledge of LBJ's felonious activities, but a husband and wife team of felons comes to mind.

#2 I just want to comment on how stupid the perspective of the article is.

There's nothing '''problematic''' about making weighted blankets cheaper, better, and more available.

For the love of god, why do you need to talk about Trump when you're talking about blankets.

Since when are autistic people marginalized? I thought they were just suffering from a disability. Now I find out apparently the entire apparatus of the patriarchy (or the neurotypical-archy?) has come down to bear on them. To steal -- er I mean '''appropriate''' their blankets. I think?

Which brings me to the rank stupidity of the general use of 'appropriation' in this context.

Appropriation: the taking of something for someone's use without the owner's permission.

Who owns the idea of heavy blankets? Autistic people? Or is making a blanket heavier than usual just like... an idea?

So to get at the title of the article -- what's the problem with weighted blankets? This one group of people liked them before they were cool, and now it's totally uncool that more people like them too.

What a miserly attitude.

The only way to write that article is to start with a burning hatred for normal people. So weird.

pretty sure the toxic sociologists call it "positionality"

Please please please conversation with Robert Caro who is the greatest historian of our time, and up there with the likes of Thucydides Gibbon and Polybius.

...more like Thrasymachus, am I right?

I've given it a Long time, but that one's still not scanning for me, RP.

It wasn't really all that funny. I just started chuckling at the idea of calling a great mind something like the "Thrasymachus of our time."

All that talk of "appropriation" in #2 got a chuckle out of me. If non-diabetic people suddenly started buying lots of glucometers, I frankly wouldn't care. In fact, I've recommended that very thing to lots of people as preventative health measure.

Of course, my preferred solution to this problem is not weighted blankets but rather sleeping partners. Or kids! Mine work like a charm.

#3...Johnson, like, Nixon, was a flawed giant. Trump is a flawed pygmy. Eisenhower was the real deal. I don't remember him ever boasting about his accomplishments which, unlike Trump's adduced list, were real and significant.

Eisenhower was great. Much like President Captain Bolsonaro (who has recently been awarded Brazil's higest prize for military heroism for his actions in 1978), Eisenhower was a military hero.

" his accomplishments which, unlike Trump's adduced list, were real and significant."

As soldier or president? Ending the war in Korea was about it as president.

Well, he presided over a booming economy, does that count for him and Obama or only Trump?

And beginning the civil right movement, with anti-segregation federal laws. That's a great achievement.

Also he reinforced Nato with the doctrine of massive nuclear retaliation against any attacker of a Nato country, which protected Western European Countries both from an attack from Soviet Union, and from any tentation to make war among themselves, thus allowing trust to grow among these countries, leading to the birth and development of the European Union. If 65 years later this great chance has become a failure, Europeans have only themselves to blame.

5. He contradicts himself. A nation can't enable and empower the purported solution of nimble, adaptive cities when its hands are ties by an accumulation of mandates issuing from the very suprenational entities he insists they remain obligated to enforce.

The US is in theory politically decentralized but local government is a bad joke as the range for innovative policy action has been reduced to small scraps.

#6: do they try to trick other dolphins into sitting through multi-hour sales pitches?

#1- My most left-wing friend on Facebook posted this article.

Radicals all think the article is about the other guy.

“Radicals showed smaller confidence shifts in response to disconfirmatory evidence.”

That is why we call them radicals

2: Swaddling has been recommended for several years; the article mentions swaddling in passing but if there's something real going on with these blankets the research should tie into the research on swaddling.

But how can a heavy blanket cost $249, even when made in China? Are they weighting those blankets with gold?

6: The article doesn't mention what the dolphins are eating. Maybe the one group is eating sea creatures that get disturbed by or accompany the fishing boats, while the second group is eating some other kind of creatures that are more common in the afternoon.

Orca pods in Puget Sound specialize in different kinds of animals; the local resident pods eat salmon while the transient ones eat seals, sea lions, and other large sea mammals. Maybe the dolphins in the article are eating different sea creatures and that's why they arrive at different times of day?

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