Friday, November 30, 2012

I Think Most Actual Smart People Know This

Rich people are not really the best and brightest by a long-shot.  Particularly when their wealth is related to high finance.  Yes, they are well educated (going to Harvard is more qualification to get into that circle of "elites" than actually knowing/understanding anything), and yes, many are smart at some level.  But they are not nearly as smart as many people (particularly themselves and beltway media) give them credit for.  I think David Atkins take on them is pretty on the money:
They're good at making deals. They know the right people. They have a good knack for social intelligence and little compunction about skimming a lot of money off the top of the labor of others.
That combined with a good dollop of luck and/or a phenomenal amount of greed is about it.

Please note that while it is possible to be ridiculously wealthy without being astonishingly greedy, it is not very common.  In particular any wealthy individual who is complaining about taxes/the deficit/socialism or who supported Romney is definitely greedy.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Video Gaming

The thing about console gaming for me isn't related to overall consoles and sales, but the rush out for the latest thing.  If the number of titles available on the PS3 was limited, then there would be a decent chance that I would shell out $60 for the latest game.  It isn't, though, and there are plenty of 1-2 yr old titles available new for $20, and lots, even fairly recent ones, available used for under $15. 

Part of it is I'm cheap, and part is that I'm not spending 80 hrs a week playing games so I can't exactly clear 1-10 games/week, but there are way more titles available right now than I will ever be able to play.  Being a year behind the curve doesn't really phase me.


I'm not sure I can stress how terrifying this piece is:
But it wasn't until the polls closed that concern turned into alarm. They expected North Carolina to be called early. It wasn't. They expected Pennsylvania to be up in the air all night; it went early for the President.

After Ohio went for Mr. Obama, it was over, but senior advisers say no one could process it.

"We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory," said one senior adviser. "I don't think there was one person who saw this coming."

They just couldn't believe they had been so wrong...

...But then came Colorado for the president and Florida also was looking tougher than anyone had imagined...

...Romney was stoic as he talked to the president, an aide said, but his wife Ann cried. Running mate Paul Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, the adviser said. Ryan's wife Janna also was shaken and cried softly.

"There's nothing worse than when you think you're going to win, and you don't," said another adviser. "It was like a sucker punch."

Their emotion was visible on their faces when they walked on stage after Romney finished his remarks, which Romney had hastily composed, knowing he had to say something.

Both wives looked stricken, and Ryan himself seemed grim. They all were thrust on that stage without understanding what had just happened.

"He was shellshocked," one adviser said of Romney.
They had no reason whatsoever to be surprised by this, even if they were confident in victory.  To be shocked by the defeat they must have been living in the reality impaired world of Fox News.  While I expect that of a sizable fraction of those who vote for Republicans, I had always just assumed that the party higher-ups were aware that that was a warped, fact deprived world.  That Romney and numbers man Ryan would be so sure of victory that this left them shell shocked indicates a frightening separation from reality for those at the top of the GOP.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Price "Gouging"

Further the gas line discussion earlier, I have seen a few people saying that restrictions on "price gouging" are part of the problem in Jersey.  The best pro-gouging (overall) piece I've seen is probably Yglesias', the only sort of detailed anti- bit I've seen so far was on Digby's blog. I don't really completely agree with either.

While my policy preferences would change things, right now, gasoline is a necessity for a large swath of this country, a luxury for a subset and totally useless for yet a third group.  Letting the market dictate prices benefits the luxury segment at the expense of the high need.  Restrictions in price changes that lead to huge lines disadvantage both, but, again, this falls more heavily on those that need gas than the others.  Straight up rationing works, but maybe not the easiest thing to implement, particularly in a crisis, and it may not prevent the lines anyway.

So what's the solution in these cases?  Some form of hybrid rationing would probably be best.  Everyone can get up to maybe 2 gallons at the normal price, then anything over is $$$.  The total volume locked in a the low price must be small enough to prevent lines but high enough to let people get somewhere.

Update: Really good read on this subject from Mark Thoma.


People don't understand them.  The crap coming out against Nate Silver is mostly just people trying to change the narrative, but there is some element of it (and probably a large fraction among those who believe it) that is just not understanding what polling is or how statistics work.

A 76% (or, now an 86%) chance for an Obama victory actually indicates a pretty close election, not a landslide or a sure thing by any stretch.  If Obama had a 5% lead nationally his odds of winning would likely be well over 95% at this close date.  One day away and less than 90% indicates, to me, that the race is very close.  Just because the safer bet is with Obama doesn't mean it's not still a gamble.

Friday, November 02, 2012

In a Nutshel

This is my frustration:
We don't have a functioning federal system. We have one group half composed of progressives and half of centrists, up against an obstructionist group of lying, moronic connivers who believe in confidence fairies, tax cuts that magically pay for themselves, self-aware uteri, and an earth that is 6,000 years old. It's not exactly a surprise that they would scuttle an inconvenient economic report.
I'm not sure I believe Democrats are half progressives--maybe from a person standpoint, but the policy they have pushed/enacted has been 100% centrist.  Or as Venn Diagram:

Clinton was kind of on the right wing of the Democratic party when he was first elected.  Though to me, the really scary thing is that Regan was on the right wing of the Republican party when he won in 1980.

The lunatic left ("9/11 was an inside job") and the radical right are about equally bonkers, though the radical right is much larger and pretty much the center of the Republican party whereas the lunatic left is completely ignored by the Democratic party.  Bat-shit insane doesn't really exist on a right left continuum but it has found a home among Republicans. 

Moderates and centrists in real policy terms are the defining element of the Democratic party.  Important to note for this group, though, is that the self-proclaimed variant that is found largely among the pundit class are largely idiots whose stated policy preferences are almost exactly Obama's stated positions, but who--again, because they are idiots--don't want to admit or even think that so they pretend that Obama is actually liberal and that Romney2012 is actually the same as Romney2008.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Gas Lines

The entire state of NJ is less than 2 hrs from me, and less than 1 hr from an open gas station without a mile long line.  So why are people waiting 2 hrs in miles long gas lines? (Yes, I realize that 2 hrs to me then 2 hrs back is 4 hrs, but there are closer stations that are open without ridiculines, probably some in Western Jersey.)