There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'oppression!'
And the oaks, just shake their heads

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Linkee-poo knows that diamonds mean money for this art, but that's not the shape of my heart

Rip Torn, and so it goes. In my head, Rip Torn and Rip Taylor are cross wired, and I think my life is a little better for that.

So, there are now news stories (and a book) about how everything we thought we knew about economics and central banking is wrong. You know, because things just aren't lining up. We have low unemployment, but relatively low inflation. Those two things are supposed to work in opposite directions. We have high deficits, but low interest rates. The market doesn't seem to be stoppable. All of this combined makes us question our basic assumptions… Okay, stop it. I'm here to tell you I've been through this 4 times. The last three times (I was 14 the first time, so I don't remember that well) every recession is proceeded by the stories about "It's All New Rules! Everything We Thought Was Right Is Wrong!" It's more reliable than the Treasury Curve Inversion (cough). This cycle is invariably followed by the stories, "Whelp, I guess all these things were right and the rules still apply" about 2 to 3 years later. The economy is sluggish. It is a slow ship to turn. It can take years for trailing indicators to catch up to leading indicators.

"When Disney announced that Halle Bailey, a teen actress and one-half of the singing group Chloe x Halle, had landed the role of Ariel in the forthcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, some people on social media went bonkers." Waits for Laura Ingraham to pontificate on how, of course, mermaids are all white (I'm sure she already has, I don't even need to look).

"Today, LyricFind resells rights to many companies, including Amazon, Pandora, MetroLyrics and Google. If you’ve ever searched Google for lyrics and they’ve popped up so you don’t have to visit another site to get them, chances are they come from LyricFind." The business of licensing music lyrics. The interesting part, and one I've realized through actually using lyric searches, is that even through these companies are paying licensing fees to publish lyrics, they aren't actually provided the lyrics from the publishers. Those are crowd sourced with all the inherent quality issues that surround crowd sourcing projects.

"For 25 years, the federal Violence Against Women Act has required any state that wants to be eligible for certain federal grants to certify that the state covers the cost of medical forensic exams for people who have been sexually assaulted… nor do they have to pay anything out-of-pocket for that exam at any point (not even if they would be reimbursed later)… And yet for some people who have been raped, the bills keep coming — despite this long-standing federal prohibition and other state laws that provide additional financial protections in many places." Because of course they do.

"A new rule was scheduled to kick in that would require drug companies to disclose the price of prescription drugs in most television ads… Hours before the rule was to be implemented, however, a federal judge in the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. blocked it, saying that the Department of Health and Human Services did not have the authority to force drug companies to disclose prices." Fancy that.

"California has become the first state in the country to offer government-subsidized health benefits to young adults living in the U.S. illegally." Because it's the right thing to do, and probably in the long run it'll save money.

"A panel of federal appeals judges aggressively questioned whether Obamacare can survive during Tuesday afternoon oral arguments in a case that could upend the 2010 health care law." When the conservatives pursuing this case first started they were roundly laughed at in legal circles because of their ridiculous argument, that because the fine for not buying insurance was "$0", that it was no longer really a part of the law (thereby misunderstanding what advanced civilizations all realized that 0 is an actual number) and since Chief Justice Roberts based his defense of the law on the Congressional power of taxation with the mandate, that the entire law was invalid. But conservative justices don't concern themselves with actual law, rationality, precedence, or even logic.

"A mysterious disease marked by muscle weakness or paralysis struck 233 people in 2018, most of them children — marking the worst year since the federal government started tracking the illness in 2014." Whispers, "It's still here and we still don't know hardly anything about it."

"Hummus is having a heyday with American consumers, and that could be as good for the soil as it is for our health." Well, I'm glad my choices are good for the planet. At the hospital they make fun of my choice of meal; a yogurt, an apple, and a sandwich of pickle and humus. It's good, good for you, and easy to make. To quote George Clooney on Friends, "God bless a chickpea."

"France plans to put an 'ecotax' on nearly all airline flights starting in 2020, French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday. The new tax could bring in some $200 million that would support modes of travel that pollute less — such as trains." Oh sure, do that as I'm planning a trip to France.

"Here's a quick breakdown of the fight for equal pay in American soccer." Pay them at least the same bonus given to the men because, well, they actually fucking placed in the World Cup and they fucking won.

Get the tea leaves ready. "All eyes are on Jerome Powell as the Federal Reserve chair begins two days of testimony before Congress."

"European powers accused Iran on Tuesday of 'pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments' under a 2015 nuclear deal and called for an urgent meeting of the parties to the agreement to discuss Tehran’s compliance."

"The Seth Rich conspiracy traces back to an SVR operation, reports Yahoo News today. Huge if true, and possibly the Russian military's biggest coup yet, not counting the one that landed Trump in the White House." Waves to my Russian friends. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The six men — three Russians, three Italians — gathered beneath the spectacular painted glass ceiling in the hotel lobby last October had their eyes on history too. Their nominal purpose was an oil deal; their real goal was to undermine liberal democracies and shape a new, nationalist Europe aligned with Moscow." Russia's goal is to destabilize the West. Their support for ultra-right wing groups and politicians are part of that goal. And they're breaking laws that they have little to fear of retaliation. And once they have their knives in, they will twist. Or to those far-right wingers who are getting help, Russia will burn you once the calculus says that doing so will destroy faith in domestic politics. They will trout before the world your complicity (or whatever leverage they have). Russia doesn't need to colonize the West to gain the benefits. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"A federal appeals court in Manhattan says President Trump cannot block critics from his Twitter account, calling it 'unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.'" It is to my great disgrace the president has not blocked me. Just WTF do I have to do?

"Facing a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats who are issuing document demands and subpoenas, President Trump's White House counsel's office grew its payroll by nearly a third, newly released records reveal." Well, at least there is one part of government growing.

"Alexander Acosta, the US labor secretary under fire for having granted Jeffrey Epstein immunity from federal prosecution in 2008, after the billionaire was investigated for having run a child sex trafficking ring, is proposing 80% funding cuts for the government agency that combats child sex trafficking." Only the best people. Or criminals protecting criminals. They'll cut the programs that cause them grief, first. But make no mistake, except for Defense, they want to cut everything else. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night in support of Home Depot after social media calls to boycott the home improvement retailer… Shoppers have been taking to Twitter and other social media platforms to call for the boycott following news that co-founder Bernie Marcus plans to back Trump's re-election bid." This is actually illegal. The president can't endorse individual businesses or products, and it especially smacks of quid-pro-quo. Especially since Marcus, while a large shareholder, is no longer involved with the company. Also just a reminder that the president, in his tweets, lambasts the "boycott", a tactic he often employs (to little effect I might add).

"Sir Kim Darroch, 65, said he was resigning to put an end to speculation surrounding how long he would stay on as Britain's envoy in Washington after diplomatic cables he sent back to London described the Trump administration as 'inept' and 'chaotic.'" Telling the truth is dangerous in these times.

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