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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.
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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…

Unification of Thought April 18, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.
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Too many news stories about information filtering & suppression of conservatives to enumerate, though the GoogleFacebookTwitterYouTube stories float to the top. And the college campus malarkey. And David Hogg’s boycotts/walkouts. And…

You get the point.

It reminded me of this infamous speech:

“My friends, each of you is a single cell in the great body of the State. And today, that great body has purged itself of parasites. We have triumphed over the unprincipled dissemination of facts. The thugs and wreckers have been cast out. And the poisonous weeds of disinformation have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Let each and every cell rejoice! For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive! We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth! We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion! We shall prevail!”

[Emphasis mine]

Manufacturing Jobs Continue Strong Growth April 12, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.
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This is a week late, but the numbers make it worth the wait. The very impressive growth in manufacturing jobs continued through March, with another 22K jobs added. The sudden reversal in manufacturing’s fortunes, which coincides with the election/inauguration, is striking, isn’t it?


Another way to think about it:

  • In his last 4 years, President Obama added 376K manufacturing jobs
  • In the past 14 months, President Trump added 277K manufacturing jobs


Board Stretcher Machine April 7, 2018

Posted by Retired Geezer in Man Laws.
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You thought it was a joke, didn’t you?

Employment Fails to Impress April 6, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.
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The BLS put out its monthly employment numbers, which show a slight decline in the IB employment metric (full-time employment/civilian non-institutional population).


At least it’s still above 0.5.