this week i

like tonies, listening tour of the dead.  should epidemiologists combat conspiracy theories?  nothing convincingly rhymes with the word "else"

watched portrait of a lady on fire.  heiress in seaside napoleonic exile, too much to think about, not enough to do, paradise through and through

praise simple days.  can't quite wrap my head around the fact that most of history recorded, catalogued before the invention of microsoft excel

prefer pinched with four aces.  global south and local south both sans perfection

wrapped up the economics of money and banking.

we had a mature funding system and an immature risk transfer system

this is what happens in payments crises.  i'm really worried that i'm not going to get paid, and therefore i'm not going to pay you.  well, everyone has to make these payments, it's a circle.  and if somebody stops, everything stops


liquidity vs. solvency

* key players in market-based credit system are dealers, not shadow banks per se

* key backstop for matched book dealers is liquidity, not capital

* key backstop for speculative dealers is capital, not liquidity

* survival constraint is about collateral flows, not just payment flows

the finance view is that the future determines the present, or rather our ideas about the future, our expectations about the future.  so, for example, the price of capital, not the physical quantity of capital, is the key variable in finance.  and where does the price of capital come from?  it does not come from the hard labor of all the people who built that capital in the past, not at all.  the price of capital comes from the future..this is a radically subversive point of view..i don't care how hard you worked on that, if this capital stock is not productive, it is worthless.  it is worth zero.  so this is sort of the mentality of the tech bubble..imagine it, and suddenly you can capitalize it, and by capitalizing it, you get access to enormous amounts of purchasing power today without doing anything, without actually producing anything.  it's just the idea that maybe you'll be producing something that gives you power today to be spending, and you can use that power to try to make your dreams come true

economics and finance are mirror images of each other

in order for capital markets to clear, in order for people to allocate their wealth between risky and risk-free securities, freely and in an efficient market, it has to be so that the money supply is endogenous.  when prices goes up, the money supply goes up



(1) occidentalising inoculation

by the time british doctors encountered turkish smallpox practices, inoculation was neither new nor did it belong to western science.  for centuries the chinese had been blowing dried, ground-up smallpox material up the nose, and arabs had been introducing pus under the skin.  inoculation had long been widespread in north and sub-saharan africa.  in boston, inoculation was introduced during a smallpox outbreak in 1721, promoted by the puritan minister cotton mather, who learned of the practice from his recently acquired slave - 'my negro-man onesimus, who is a pretty intelligent fellow'.  onesimus had been inoculated himself and told mather that it was common practice in his african homeland - possibly the area that is now ghana..the brahmins in india had used inoculation for hundreds of years, maybe longer

tuto, celeriter, et jucunde - safely, quickly, and pleasantly

anxiety about being cowified

(2) obsessed chemists, cold-hearted spymasters, grim torturers, hypnotists, electro-shockers, and nazi doctors

conducting drug experiments on unknowing subjects in brothels or at cia safehouses

filmed the effects through a mirror

he paid an american pharmaceutical company, eli lilly, to devise a way of synthesising lsd from scratch.  that was part of subproject 6.  it took longer than a year, but by the end of 1954 eli lilly was in a position to produce the drug in 'tonnage quantities'.  the cia..'was its main customer'

using an aerosol to lace the air with lsd in the havana studio where fidel castro made his radio broadcasts, sprinkling castro's boots with thallium salts to make his beard fall out and contaminating his cigars with botulinum.  at one point gottlieb turned up in congo with a poison kit, ready for use in a cia plot to kill patrice lumumba

ken kesey and allen ginsberg first took lsd in cia-funded experiments

(3) only so many options for a single-crop economy of seven million people ninety miles from the florida coast

che guevara, the central banker of the new government

within six months of recognizing his government, the eisenhower administration drew up plans to undermine it.  it banned trade with cuba in 1960, and the cia began to assist cuban exiles who were using biplanes to bomb cuban sugar refineries

it was a sensitive moment for all concerned: castro's revolution was just starting to establish itself, the un was digesting seventeen new members - the 'year of africa' - and was mired in the congo crisis, while eisenhower showed no sign of being able to handle the civil rights protests taking place across the us

the only white person i have really liked

 by sending ernest hemingway to havana as a sympathetic cultural observer

history will absolve me



this week i

published on health inequities among the elderly and disabled.  meps has a bruce springsteen variable.  nchs copes with pandemic response rates

the census bureau made extensive efforts to match telephone numbers to the addresses in the nhis sample; however, collecting data by telephone rather than personal visit resulted in a reduction in the household response rate from 60.0% in quarter 1 (q1) to 42.7% in q2

drove past a license plate of sevens, twos, and zees: impossible to remember.  conquer the world as an afterthought, retain laughter as the goal 

watched the cameraman, eminently relatable


(1) the garbagemen of the sea

camden by the sea, rockland by the smell

it is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you

 tanks of live lobster, from which you can pick out your supper while it watches you point

is it significant that "lobster," "fish," and "chicken" are our culture's words for both the animal and the meat, whereas most mammals seem to require euphemisms like "beef" and "pork" that help us separate the meat we eat from the living creature the meat once was?  is this evidence that some kind of deep unease about eating higher animals is endemic enough to show up in english usage, but that the unease diminishes as we move out of the mammalian order? (and is "lamb"/"lamb" the counterexample that sinks the whole theory, or are there special, biblico-historical reasons for the equivalence?)

(2) population ethics

if our species does destroy will be a death in the cradle-a case of infant mortality

the meaning and value of our own lives depend on their being situated in an ongoing flow of generations

(3) the avian brain

crows and parrots perform as well as dogs in tests of reasoning and learning

birds can see ultraviolet light.  some birds that look plain to us probably shine and sparkle to other birds.  birds can also detect the earth's magnetic field, a sense that humans lack entirely

bar-tailed godwits - pigeon-sized long-legged shorebirds - travel nonstop each fall from alaska to new zealand, a distance of over seven thousand miles.  lacking waterproof plumage, they cannot rest on the water.  seven or more days of uninterrupted flight requires a radical marshaling of the body's energy sources, during which the godwit loses half its weight

hummingbirds have a sophisticated internal map that permits them to keep track of which flowers in a vast field they have already drained of nectar and which ones remain untapped

 scientific consensus that traces migration as an evolutionary adaptation to the end of the last ice age, when new territory became available, with abundant food and little competition but a harsh winter


(4) hajji malcolm

sanded down for safe handling

instead of striving toward a respectability of dubious value, malcolm turned service work in jazz clubs and as a porter on the new haven railroad into a set of lucrative hustles that he plied from harlem to roxbury.  dodging the world war ii draft, he dealt drugs, ran numbers, robbed, and steered clients to sex workers.  wearing zoot suits louder than the swing bands he sold reefer to, malcolm adopted the name "red," in reference to his naturally red hair, which he flamboyantly wore "conked," or chemically straightened with lye

 the klan, assuming mutual interest in the defeat of racial integration, asked the noi to assist in murdering king


(5) the digital tulip

imagine if keeping your car idling 24/7 produced solved sudokus you could trade for heroin


(6) algeria always in the air

we push some out of helicopters above their villages

it's not even a war, it's a nightmare

resettle a people that live everywhere yet nowhere

 the daughter of one appele..walked into the bathroom one day to find her father waterboarding her younger brother

the gaullist myth of france's unity against the german occupation


this week i

mailed lamps to dhaka, magic beans, el amor en los tiempos del colera.  michelle taste tested (medium!) et michael wrote me dueling poems

A Tanzanian
Street dog won't pee in the snow
Deer seem delicious

A street dog from Dar es Salaam
Won't come, sit or stay and be calm
When there's deer so nearby
Or the mean FedEx guy
Brings boxes from

criticized guilherme's comma decimal separator but otherwise cowabunga.  be advised, (Q-CA), nancy pelosi walks on water


tire of defending cargo pants.  cargo pants, the light and the way.  (spoken as if herding thundercats)  cargo, cargo, cargo, cargo pants, go!


watched ikiru (to live) with section chief watanabe  be greedy about living  about a hospice bender in 1950s japan  today will never return



(1) citizen-science habit-formation

this asymmetrical participation aligns with previous research on adults and young people in cs activities, highlighting that a few volunteers make the majority of contributions in cs, while the majority of them contribute only once or twice.  this finding has different implications for scientific research goals of the cs project, whereby recruiting and fostering those super-users might be the best strategy, as compared to the outreach goals of a project, whereby engaging a large number of people over time is a success

(2) good old fashioned artificial intelligence

 the islands in georgian bay in ontario with an aerial photograph showing the islands along with the underwater topography.  on the map, the islands were clearly delineated; in the photograph it's much harder to say where each island ends and the sea begins, or even exactly how many islands are there.  there is a difference between the world as we perceive it, divided into separate objects, and the messier reality.  we can use logic to reason about the world as described on the map, but the challenge for ai is how to build the map from the information in the photograph

the carbon dioxide emitted in training transformer is equivalent to 288 transatlantic flights

one of the most heroic endeavors of the gofai era was a project called 'cyc', which set out to express the entirety of this kind of common sense in a computable form.  a paper from 2006 explaining its approach to ontology uses the example of martin luther's burning of a papal bull, and shows how information about this would be represented.  it would be necessary to make a distinction between the social event, attended by luther and his followers, and the combustion event, which involved the destruction not just of a physical object - the papal bull - but also of a conceptual formation, papal authority.  the meticulous conceptual engineering involved seems both insanely complicated and hopelessly inadequate


(3) the classic conclusion

the ancient greek word apokalypsis means 'revelation'.  it's the first word in the koine greek translation of the book of revelation and provides its english title.  it's also a distinct category among the stories we've told ourselves about the end of the world.  god, or gods, step out from behind the curtain; there's a showdown between good and evil, an armageddon - in greek harmagedon, transliterating the hebrew har megiddo, the place where armies would gather, according to revelation - and we are judged.  one reason these stories are oddly comforting, for all their horror, is that they clear up the issue of what we're doing here and who's responsible.  you may be doomed to burn in hell for all eternity, but at least you know why

zombies have been used many times as a metaphor for the 'mindless consumerism' of humans under late capitalism, most famously in the mall scene from george romero's dawn of the dead (1978), which resembles the news footage they used to show, pre-covid, of the black friday sales (it's cool how one kind of apocalypse prevented us from acting out another)

pod-life, the morphine drip, the gruel straw


(4) maradona

no doubt butcher couldn't help it, though twenty and even thirty years later he was still talking about wanting to punch or throttle maradona for the goal he'd scored unapologetically with his fist four minutes earlier.  the british tabloids couldn't let it go even after maradona's death last month, several of them declaring that he was now 'in the hands of god'

'here in the havana night, while i learn to savour cuban cigars, i begin to remember,' turning his mind back to villa fiorito, the 'poor neighborhood on the outskirts of buenos aires' where he grew up, in a house 'where it rained more inside than out'

(5) neanderthals: a distorted reflection

archaeologists investigating the movement of humans from asia to australia found a nearly intact small skeleton of what turned out to be an entirely new kind of human being

denisova cave in siberia - named after a former inhabitant, the 18th-century old believer hermit denis - found bones which, when dna tested, turned out to be yet another entirely new branch of human: homo denisova

the prints were 850,000 years old, the oldest human footprints outside africa and by far the earliest mark of human presence in britain

more than twenty different types of human, much of the time coexisting, h. habilis, h. rudolfensis and h. ergaster are hominin species from the deep african past.  h. antecessor, who left those footprints on that beach in norfolk, might well be the ancestor of h. sapiens, h. neanderthalensis and h. denisova; homo erectus, the longest-lasting of all human species, and the dominant type of human in asia for almost a million years, is a separate branch; there's also h. naledi in africa, h. floresiensis and h. luzonesis in south-east asia, and possibly a kind of archaic human in china, which at the moment all seem to be separate branches on the tree.  as wragg sykes puts it, 'until incredibly recently, the earth was sparkling with hominins'

they used bone tools as well, often for retouching, to resharpen high quality stone so that it would keep its edge.  any butcher or keen cook can confirm the wisdom of this: the more you use knives, the more you come to value resharpenability.  they were capable of making wooden tools too, and compound tools featuring both wood and stone.  they could make birch tar, which involves low-oxygen smoking over an extended period, and presumably used it as a form of glue.  they knew how to process hides and even how to make leather

they knew how to make liquid ochre

it is sometimes argued that the oldest surviving human languages are those of the khoisan peoples in southern africa, which make extensive use of clicks and glottal noises.  if the oldest h. sapiens languages were like that, perhaps neanderthal languages were too

(6) ccpeasement

for decades us administrations have been naive about the ccp, and they see trump as the first us president to stand up to it.  his tariffs on chinese goods, imposed in mid-2018 in retaliation for what he saw as unfair trade practices, appear to have sprung from a blunt "america first" impulse, not from an intention to weaken the ccp domestically, as dissidents would have preferred.  still, he imposed them, which marks a clear contrast to george h.w. bush's tolerance of the tianamen massacre of june 4, 1989, for the sake of "the relationship"; bill clinton's about-face in separating trade from human rights; george w. bush's ushering china into the world trade organization; barack obama's launch of his china policy with the assurance that human rights would not "interfere" with trade, climate change, or security; and other examples of us government indulgence of the ccp.  standing up to the chinese government for any reason seemed to dissidents a long-awaited turn of events, and enough to outweigh all the drawbacks of trump's character and other policies


three departures in china policy that the trump state department had launched.  one was to stop using "ccp" and "china" as synonyms.  the point was not to stick fingers in beijing's eyes at a linguistic level; it was to wean americans from the bad habit of thinking of china and the ccp as the same thing.  only when the distinction is clear can one begin to understand the damage that the ccp has done to china.  a second change concerned "engagement" in commerce, education, tourism, and other areas would induce the ccp to adopt international norms, but the result was considerable influence began flowing in the opposite direction.  the ccp has made inroads in western media, industry, finance, research, education, personal data collection, and other areas, and that sort of engagement had to be opposed.  third, agreements with the ccp needed to be "results oriented."  for many years, the ccp had been using the negotiating tactic of shelving urgent questions, like north korean denuclearization or iran sanctions by saying they needed more study

will things be different now that the ccp is shifting its power grabs outward?


(7) persistent medical bias

the fda deemed this ad misleading and deceptive and forced bayer not only to pull it but to run corrective advertising - a rare step

the american cure is tort

32 percent of the large-scale consolidated mass tort lawsuits pending in the federal courts in 2018 involved products that either exclusively or primarily injured women and menstruating and pregnant persons, and that 27.7 percent of such consolidations involved products that exclusively affected women or menstruating and pregnant persons, because they concerned controlling reproductive health, birth defects, or ovarian cancer



this week i

learned semitic writing systems literally named by the first four characters, similar to english speakers calling ours "abc-ees" rather than "alphabet"

believe putin's warnings on big tech: perhaps more dangerous than nuclear-armed kleptocracy.  noise daily once, google knows if it rounds up to twice.  navalny heart signed the kangaroo court plexiglass, "american empire has no gag reflex" and "black seaside dance dance revolution shark tank"

do my best to stay young, understand the direction of this earth and its inhabitantssometimes you all are too much

photographed a holiday card for solo decedents.  "we're like licorice. not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice"

watched perry mehrling weeks eight nine ten

there are two par relationships that we are concerned with here. one is the mint par here, and the other is the deposit par here. by maintaining this par, you sacrifice this one. meaning that the banks were unable to keep their deposits at par with currency and so they closed. there's a run on the bank, that's what that means. people would rather hold currency than deposits. there's a run on the bank and the banking system closes. alternatively you could have abandoned that par. and say we're not going to pay in gold anymore, we're going to maintain this par okay. and we're going to support the banks by being a lender of last resort to them. but you can't do both. you can either be a lender of last resort to your domestic banks or you can defend the dollar's value in world markets. not both, those are opposite policies

the abstraction from liquidity that is so characteristic of economists. economists of all political stripes by the way, this is not a left wing argument or a right wing argument, everyone abstracts from liquidity, everyone..but liquidity doesn't abstract from them. the survival constraint is a real thing and people have to solve this problem every day

find something that doesn't seem right and just keep worrying at it until you can figure it out. just keep worrying at it and eventually, you'll figure it out, or not. but certainly you won't figure it out if you don't keep worrying at it. so, that's a strategy for intellectual production