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I Took Some More Pictures May 21, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.



Brewer’s Blackbird May 12, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.


I just want to state for the record that this is not a little chirpy bird. That is all.

Oh, and my super clingy kids were super clingy today, and absolutely did not want me to paint this guy. Nevertheless, I persisted.

Ex-Hamster May 11, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.


Killdeer Faking It May 11, 2018

Posted by Retired Geezer in Ducks.

Killdeer are one of my favorite Idaho birds. Can you spot her nest in this picture?




It’s below the bag that I tied onto the fence.

Close up:


Here’s a video when I got too close to her nest (shot from the other side of the fence).



Untilted May 10, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.


The Top-Ranked Websites in the US May 9, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

The top 20 websites in the US:

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. YouTube
  4. Amazon
  5. Yahoo
  6. XVideos
  7. PornHub
  8. XNXX
  9. eBay
  10. Wikipedia
  11. Twitter
  12. Reddit
  13. Craigslist
  14. Instagram
  15. Bing
  16. Live
  17. Netflix
  18. xHamster
  19. Pinterest
  20. Walmart

Tallying it all up, we have 5 social media sites, 4 porn sites, 3 search engines, 3 shopping sites, a couple of entertainment sites, and a few extras.

All 4 porn sites are doing better than Walmart. Three are doing better than eBay, Wikipedia, Twitter, and Netflix (which I thought was responsible for a significant fraction of internet activity in the US).

The other two surprises are that Yahoo is doing that well (thought they were dying), and that IB couldn’t even beat Pinterest.


Manufacturing Job Growth Getting Freakishly Good May 7, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

I mean, look at these numbers:



May 2018 Employment Situation Summary May 5, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Once again there was a lot of noise about the BLS’s Employment Situation Summary, which came out yesterday. 3.9% was the official unemployment number, which is nice, but not particularly meaningful (IMHO). The meaningful number is our IB measure of employment health: full-time jobs divided by the civilian non-institutional population. And that number was only slightly improved over the previous month:


The number of employed people barely changed from last month (Household Survey), but 175K part-time jobs turned into full-time jobs. So yay.

Still, a long way to go to get back to 0.51.

I Took Some Pictures May 1, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.




Reason vs. Rock and Roll April 23, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.
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I’ve been following Ace for, I don’t know, 14 years? But I think Ace is completely missed the mark with his latest post:

Jonah Goldberg: I Don’t Love Rock n Roll

First, George Will told us that jeans were The Devil.

Now, Jonah Goldberg tells us rock n roll is a tool of the pagan gnostic neo-Marxist conspiracy, and he cites lyrics from up-and-coming indie band Jethro Tull to prove this.

Like Ben Shapiro, Goldberg argues that part of the trouble with modern life is the elevation of feelings over facts. This is tied to Romanticism, which Goldberg describes as an “emphasis on emotion and the irrational, the significance of that which cannot be seen or explained through science but can be felt intuitively, is the tribal mind’s way of fighting its way back into the centrality of our lives.”

Now, Goldberg may be unfair to rock and roll, but the thing he does not say is that emotions are unimportant or that they can be completely isolated from rational thinking.

Since he doesn’t say those things, you can skip most of Ace’s post. But here are a few more excerpts in case you still care:

Reason is most useful to help figure out how to get more of something you’ve decided is valuable and good, or less of something you’ve decided is worthless and bad. But the initial assignment of value to things or ideals is famously non-rational — not exactly arbitrary, but extremely hard to explain by recourse to reason alone.

Aaaaannnnddd…that’s complete nonsense. Reason may not be responsible for the “initial assessment of value,” but that’s only when it hasn’t been used to previously build up a rational framework on a particular topic. Reason is “most useful” in all planning and decision making, in self-evaluation, in tempering emotional responses, and in writing posts about reason that aren’t knee-jerk emotive pieces of claptrap.

Goldberg’s ultimate (and anodyne) point, I’m pretty sure (didn’t read the book, just the quotes from Ace and the Daily Caller), is that elevating feelings over facts generally leads to very poor policy making and personal decision making. This doesn’t mean that rational people lead an emotionless existence, merely that they make sensible judgments about topics like budgets, welfare, immigration, defense, etc.

If he’s gonna yammer about reason, maybe he could pick up a pop science book on the science of cognition.

One should never pick up a pop science book and claim that they understand anything about science.

Raising the Bar for Excel Users April 19, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

I’ve used Excel a lot – even on this very site. But I’ve never done this:

Revised Exports Data Shows Clearer Trend April 19, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.
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The BEA made major revisions to the trade data this month, slightly improving the trend in export data. This is the chart I showed in January:


…and here’s the current version:


The new data looks a little cleaner, showing a smooth rise in exports from January 2017 to the present. Unfortunately the rise hasn’t been terribly impressive, amounting to only $24.5 billion over that time period.

At the same time one has to acknowledge that President Trump may be suppressing exports with his talk of tariffs and renegotiating trade deals. The slower growth may reflect an investment in downstream growth, i.e., we take a hit in growth now while he cleans up the trade situation. Then we can enjoy higher growth later.

Whatevs. I’ll just keep plotting along…