Next week I'll be out in Regina, Saskatchewan, visiting with friends and relatives, performing with the Saskatchewan Roughrider Pep Band, and giving seminar in the economics department, "Property Rights and Contract Enforcement in the Post-Zombie Apocalypse". I'll also likely be doing some Pokemon hunting.
Life is good.
Now to get to work on the paper. And practice the trumpet.
Recently someone in a local Facebook group asked members to post their ages. In the twelve or so hours since that posting, these are the ages of the people playing Pokemon Go and who are members of the group and who responded (a selective non-representative sample, for sure). Here are the results, grouped unscientifically. They wouldn't be much different with other groupings.
Total number responding:
As it was easy to observe while out in the parks, meeting the Pokemon Go players, the bulk of them are in their 20s. But I also met many others who are older (none as old as I am) but who are likely not members of the local Facebook group and/or who aren't willing to post their age. [I listed mine as "under 90" of course; see this].
I've been having fun, catching Pokemon, meeting new people, getting exercise. Ms Eclectic would say it's an obsession now, if not an addiction for me. I expect it all to fade, though.
I just read this piece on the Daily Alert.
- Iran: Israel's Annihilation Is Imminent
Speaking in Tehran on July 1, Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said: "Today, more than ever, there is fertile ground - with the grace of God - for the annihilation, the wiping out, and the collapse of the Zionist regime. In Lebanon alone, over 100,000 missiles are ready to be launched....These missiles will pierce through space, and will strike at the heart of the Zionist regime. They will prepare the ground for its great collapse in the new era."
"Tens of thousands of other high-precision, long-range missiles, with the necessary destructive capabilities, have been placed in various places throughout the Islamic world. They are just waiting for the command, so that when the trigger is pulled, the accursed bla! ck dot will be wiped off the geopolitical map of the world, once and for all."
"Today, unlike in the past, the potential exists to destroy this regime and to make it collapse. The Zionist regime does not have strategic depth on the ground for defense purposes. In some places, the regime has a depth of only 14-24 kilometers. In a single ground attack, its back will be broken." (MEMRI)
I generally find the material from MEMRI to be quite reliable.
I'm doing some research for a paper on "Property Rights and Contract Enforcement in the Post-Zombie Apocalypse." Seriously.
In the process of trying to learn more about zombies, I ran across this interview with Max Brooks, in which he says,
Today's NYTimes has an article about the battle over bridge sites in Windsor, Ontario. The article seems pretty one-sided to me.
A different take on the situation is that an (albeit aggressive) private entrepreneur wants to build a six-lane bridge parallel to the current bridge and has amassed most of the resources necessary to do so. But he is being blocked by gubmnt officials who want the bridge located elsewhere despite the fact that it might cost the taxpayers maybe twice or three times as much to put a second bridge in a different location. And despite the fact that it would require destroying other areas not mentioned in the NYTimes article. Some have wondered if certain politicians are in the pockets of certain other landowners and developers who want this private initiative blocked.
As one friend from Windsor wrote,
Wow, everything is wrong with this article. A scary example of abuse of power and government cronyism abetted by bad, linked-in media. The Times needs to do better.
Last night I was at a social event with some theatre friends. One person there is widely respected as by far the best tech person in theatre throughout the region -- knowledgeable, creative, industrious, and pleasant to work with. He is also quite possibly a better actor than I might ever hope to be.
I laughed that the only reason I have a role in the upcoming play "Mr. Richardson Was Jesse James,"* was because my friend is such a good tech person and will be doing tech work through the two-week period of the London Fringe Festival.
It's a clear example of what economists call "comparative advantage". He's a better actor and a better tech person than I am, but he can't do everything, so I get some opportunities. He's absolutely better than I am at both (economists call this an absolute advantage) but comparatively he's better at doing tech work. That's his comparative advantage. And my comparative advantage is at acting, even though he could well be a better actor than I am.
Scarcity of his time, means he must choose how to use his time; he can't do both acting and tech work. So he chooses to do the one at which he has a comparative advantage. And so do I.
I know I'm not the best economist in the world, not the best writer, not the best actor, not the best horn player, not the best sportscaster, etc. But I have had comparative advantages in some of these things at various times in my life, meaning I've always been able to enjoy doing them. And as I age some more, it seems altogether reasonable that my comparative advantage will shift to something else.
And that's what trade and exchange are all about -- exploring and adapting to shifting comparative advantages.
*"Mr. Richardson was Jesse James", a play about the summer Jesse James may have spent in Princeton, Ontario.
London Fringe Festival
SHOW DATES AT THE PALACE THEATRE:
Wed June 1st: 6:30pm
Fri June 3rd: 8:00pm
Sun June 5th: 1:30pm
Tues June 7th: 9:30pm
Thurs June 9th: 6:30pm
Sat June 11th: 2:00pm
We recently had a meeting with the people who manage our pension funds. It was this meeting that spurred me to write this post.
I was told that if our portfolio earns 3.8% per year, we'll be in excellent shape. They went on to tell us that 3.8% seemed like a reasonable expectation for a conservative portfolio like ours.
First of all, I'm not convinced that 3.8% is a reasonable expectation. I'm not sure interest rates will go that high again for quite some time.
More important though is that if rates of return on very conservative portfolios do go up to 3.8%/yr, it will be because of inflation and inflationary expectations.
Interest rates are and have been low for the past few years because people don't expect much inflation. If and when inflationary expectations increase, then interest rates will rise: lenders will demand higher rates to compensate for the lost purchasing power of the money being repaid, and borrowers will be willing to pay higher rates because they want to borrow to buy now to beat expected price increases.
The impact of inflationary expectations on interest rates has been known for a long time. It was probably first made clear by Irving Fisher with the following equation. In words,
The nominal (or actual, stated) rate of interest = the expected rate of inflation plus the real rate of interest (which is what the nominal interest rate would be in the absence of any inflation):
iN = E(%ΔP) + iR
It looks as if the real rate of interest these days is somewhere between 1.5% and 2%, meaning that a rate of return of 3.8% would be consistent with an expected rate of inflation around 1.5-2% as well.
If so, then to say we'll be okay must also take into account the rate of inflation. To say our monthly withdrawals of $X will last Y years at 3.8% without accounting for inflation would be a mistake.
Either expected inflation must be used to adjust the $X withdrawals, or the calculations should use a lower rate of return, more in keeping with the expected real interest rate, say down around 2%/yr.
I'm old enough to have experienced major paradigm shifts in many areas. And so I wonder, which theoretical models make predictions most in line with future events?
Climate Change Models?
And for each model, there have been people who claim "It's settled science!"
Authoritarianism, always latent in progressivism, is becoming explicit. Progressivism’s determination to regulate thought by regulating speech is apparent in the campaign by 16 states’ attorneys general and those of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, none Republican, to criminalize skepticism about the supposedly “settled” conclusions of climate science. ...
“The debate is settled,” says Obama. “Climate change is a fact.” Indeed. The epithet “climate change deniers,” obviously coined to stigmatize skeptics as akin to Holocaust deniers, is designed to obscure something obvious: Of course the climate is changing; it never is not changing — neither before nor after theMedieval Warm Period (end of the 9th century to the 13th century) and the Little Ice Age (1640s to 1690s), neither of which was caused by fossil fuels. ...
And of course, it's all for own good.
Fair-use of someone's published works means that it's okay to quote sections for review or research purposes. It does not mean it is okay to copy their works holus bolus.
My experience with Google Books and with Amazon has always been that that is precisely what they provide. In other words, they were making snippets or brief sections available for review or research purposes.
Finally, today the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this finding (from WaPo):
When the case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last year, a panel of three judges sided with Google -- finding that the tech giant's efforts amounted to a "transformative" use of the material and that snippets from searching the database don't amount to a "substantial substitute" for an original book.
I generally like plastic bags for many uses, and I have written about them before.
But it disturbs me that so many people are so careless and/or thoughtless about using and disposing of plastic bags.
Today Ms Eclectic and I walked down to listen to the birds along the river and had a delightful stroll. One jarring note, though, was all the plastic bags that had been trapped by the weeds and bushes as the river subsided after its spring highs:
Quoted from the Elder of Ziyon [EE: emphasis added]:
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Erasing Christian HistoryFor Palestinian Christians, the destruction of the ancient Byzantine church ruins is yet a further attempt by Palestinian Muslim leaders to efface both Christian history and signs of any Christian presence in the West Bank and Gaza, under the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. A growing number of Christians feel they are being systematically targeted by both the PA and Hamas for being Christians.
Bulldozers were used to destroy some of the church artifacts; some Palestinian Christians accused both Hamas and the PA of copying ISIS tactics to demolish historic sites.
"Where are the heads of the churches in Jerusalem and the world?... Where are the Vatican and UNESCO? Where are the leaders and politicians who talk, talk, talk about national unity and the preservation of holy sites? Or is this a collective conspiracy to end our existence and history in the East?" — Sami Khalil, a Christian from the West Bank city of Nablus.
The plight of Palestinian Christians does not interest the international community. That is because Israel cannot be blamed for demolishing the antiquities. If the current policy against Christians persists, the day will come when no Christians will be left in Bethlehem.
Everyone thinks I'm upset because it snowed here again today.
I'm upset because the forecast says it's going to rain tonight and my latest snow stomp art will be washed away soon.
Links to most of my previous snow-stomp art (in reverse chronological order):
Special Weather Statement (this post)
Yesterday Jack sent me this piece. Everyone who holds up Scandinavian countries as some sort of big-gubmnt ideal needs to think about these points.
I have written before that if you care about the potentially poor of the future as well as the poor of today, you tend to favour economic policies that promote economic growth. As Tyler Cowen once opined, "Economic growth is the best anti-poverty programme there is."
There is a long-standing story in Princeton, Ontario (yes, there is such a town), that after the failed Northfield Minnesota bank robbery, Jesse James found his way to Princeton, Ontario.
Jason Rip has written a play about what might have happened while he was there, "Mr. Richardson Was Jesse James."
The play will be performed as one of the productions during the 2016 London Fringe Festival.
At the Palace Theatre:
Wed June 1 6:30
Fri June 3 8:00
Sun June 5 1:30
Tues June 7 9:30
Thurs June 9 6:30
Sat June 11 2:00
It stars Rob Faust and Chris McAuley, along with Sarah Abbott and Matthew Stewart. Also I'm in it (a small role).
There are LOTS of plays to see during the Fringe Festival, but this one will be worth seeing.
I woke up to see snow on the ground this morning! Yea!!!!! More opportunities for snow-stomp art!
This one was far less complex than my previous work (Qubix) but somehow seemed appropriate:
Rum! Palms! A hammock! No wonder it also looks like a stylized happy face!
Links to most of my previous snow-stomp art:
My granddaughter and I are going to see Titus Andronicus tomorrow evening at The Arts Project in London. If I didn't know the producer/director, and if I didn't know and respect the actors playing the leading roles, and if I didn't enjoy supporting local theatre, I probably wouldn't go to see this play.
Murder, rape, dismemberment, mutilation, torture, fratricide, sacrificial death -- you name it. This play has all that gruesome stuff. I'm not keen on it. From Wikipaedia,
In his 1998 book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom attacked the play on numerous occasions, calling it "a howler", "a poetic atrocity", "an exploitative parody, with the inner purpose of destroying the ghost of Christopher Marlowe" and "a blowup, an explosion of rancid irony." Bloom summates his views by declaring "I can concede no intrinsic value to Titus Andronicus." Citing the 1955 Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production, directed by Peter Brook and starring Laurence Olivier, which is generally agreed to have provided the impetus for the 20th century revaluation of the play, Bloom said that the audience laughed several times in scenes which were supposed to be tragic, and he sees this as evidence for its failure as Tragedy. He particularly focuses his criticism on the line when Lavinia is told to carry Titus' severed hand in her mouth (3.1.281), arguing that no play which contains such a scene could possibly be serious. He thus concludes the best director to tackle the play would be Mel Brooks.
Say, now there's an idea! I'm going to laugh all the way through the play. Maybe I'll have a few glasses of wine before I go, too.
If not prepared properly, red kidney beans (and many other members of the lentil family) can cause food poisoning. Or at least might contain some toxins. [via Jack]
Causes of red kidney bean poisoning
Symptoms of red kidney bean poisoning
I was so excited by the snow we had last night, I had trouble sleeping! I wanted to get out on the lawn this morning to try my latest snow-stomp art idea.
If I'd walk straighter, it would look better, but I'm pretty happy with it anyway.
By mid-afternoon, there had been some melting and the sun was shining. The contrast made the patterns much more striking:
Previous examples of my snow stomp art:
I have no idea how reliable this source is, but I love the examples posted there, most likely as humour submissions.
My own three stupid stories from interviews. They're nowhere near as funny as the ones in the link though.
Unfortunately the great, brief questions and answers at the Buzzfeed site are screen captures from tweets, so you'll have to follow the link to see them. Believe me, it's worth it. They're funny.