Polling expert makes good on promise to eat bug

❝ A Princeton University polling expert who said he would eat a bug if Donald Trump got more than 240 electoral votes has followed through on his promise.

Sam Wang, of the Princeton Election Consortium, made good on his Twitter word on CNN Saturday.

He ate from a can of gourmet-style crickets and added in some honey.

He said John the Baptist ate locusts and honey in the wilderness, and he considers himself to be in the wilderness as well.

❝ Wang says on the consortium’s website that polls failed, but that his analysis “amplified” that failure. He apologized for “underestimating the possibility” of Trump winning.

Wang is a data scientist and neuroscientist at Princeton.

Biblical rationales are always good for bets. Folks may not know that many researchers consider “manna from heaven” to be nothing more than tree lice. Mmm. Crunchy.

Modeling mythical macroeconomics in the Trump government

Actually, I hesitate to call what’s roaring downslope at the American taxpayer an administration. “Government” will have to do for a while.

brendan-greeley
Click to run – click full screen or run the version at the top of the linked article

In the James Room of the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, Erick Sager is demonstrating what happens when you admit that people die. Half-lit by PowerPoint, he explains that a seminal 1998 paper on the ideal level of government debt relies on an infinitely lived agent — it assumes that people are immortal.

This isn’t as crazy it sounds. A lot of macroeconomic predictions still rest on this assumption. It makes the math easier

When Washington argues about fiscal policy, it’s really fighting over models. By the time the White House produces its budget, its Office of Management and Budget has already modeled what it hopes that budget will do. Majorities in Congress send their budget resolutions to their own preferred think tanks for modeling, too. Then, by statute, bills that come out of most committees must receive a “score” — a modeled result — from the Congressional Budget Office and, for revenue bills, the Joint Committee on Taxation. The CBO and the JCT have a reputation for straight-backed probity, but congressional staffers quietly haggle with both institutions over footnotes.

So Republican economists model against Democratic economists, with some referee economists in the middle. You say your tax cuts can be offset by economic growth. Oh, I ask? Well, are your agents life-cycle or infinitely lived? This is the knife fight in the kitchen, and it’s how the presumed mortality of imaginary people determines the size of your tax bill.

…Structural models of fiscal policy effects have sudden relevance. A single party now controls the White House and both houses of Congress, which means a revenue bill is coming soon, with the first significant tax cuts since 2003. It’s likely to pass, and an appropriations bill will likely follow hard upon. Anyone who cares about taxes, spending, and the debt owed by the U.S. Treasury is going to have to start caring about the details of models.

Dynamic scoring arrived in Congress in 1994 under the “leadership” of smug ruling class loyalists like Newt Gingrich. They invited the sober, conservative economist in his 8th year in charge of the Fed to respond to their version of dynamic modeling. essentially saying, “Look what we can achieve with tax cuts for the wealthy – but, don’t concern yourself about how we pay for everything else we need to run the country…”

Alan Greenspan said he wasn’t convinced – in 1995. Brendan Greeley checked back with the now-retired economist before he rolled out this article – and Greenspan replied [yesterday] “Though he wishes it were otherwise, Dr. Greenspan has not changed his views.”

RTFA. Watch the video interview with Tom Keene and Francine Lacqua – and Brendan Greeley, this morning. Read the article, again. You may as well know what sort of an experiment Republicans, Trumpkins and Tea Party fools are about to try out on American taxpayers.

Firings, discord, ego trips, leave Trump Transition Team in turmoil


Trump Transition Team Model

❝ President-elect Trump’s transition was in disarray on Tuesday, marked by firings, infighting and revelations that American allies were blindly dialing in to Trump Tower to try to reach the soon-to-be-leader of the free world.

One week after Mr. Trump scored an upset victory that took him by surprise, his team was improvising the most basic traditions of assuming power. That included working without official State Department briefing materials in his first conversations with foreign leaders.

❝ Two officials who had been handling national security for the transition, former Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan and Matthew Freedman, a lobbyist who consults with corporations and foreign governments, were fired. Both were part of what officials described as a purge orchestrated by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser.

The dismissals followed the abrupt firing on Friday of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was replaced as chief of the transition by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Mr. Kushner, a transition official said, was systematically dismissing people like Mr. Rogers who had ties with Mr. Christie. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Christie had sent Mr. Kushner’s father to jail.

❝ Prominent American allies were in the meantime scrambling to figure out how and when to contact Mr. Trump. At times, they have been patched through to him in his luxury office tower with little warning, according to a Western diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity…

He doesn’t want to end up before a metaphorical firing squad. RTFA for the latest update to this reality soap opera.

Alaska Airlines flew a 737 across the country using wood chips

❝ On Monday morning, Washington state-based Alaska Airlines started the week off right. It sent a Boeing 737 jet on the first commercial flight partially fueled by tree limbs and waste wood from forests.

❝ The alternative jet fuel used on the flight from Seattle to Washington D.C. was produced through the efforts of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) and Gevo Inc., a private renewable technology company…

❝ Like corn, trees also produce sugars through the process of photosynthesis. These sugars can be converted into alcohol and then into kerosene or jet fuel. Wood is more expensive to convert, but it can be made into isobutanol, a particular type of alcohol that gives fuel more suited for aircraft engines.

The wood-based blend also brings some additional advantages. It doesn’t compete with food crops or the land used to grow them. Instead, it uses forest clippings that are typically gathered into a pile and burned. And if the conversion process gains more support, it could create new employment in areas that have lost timber industry jobs.

❝ Renewable jet fuel must compete on cost with petroleum-based fuels before airlines consider it for anything but the occasional stunt, but biofuel technology is fast catching up. And several airlines around the globe have committed to keeping the net carbon emissions from aviation neutral starting in 2020. That’s significant because jet fuel remains a huge source of carbon pollution.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Remember that song. Our politicians serenade us with it every few years when elections roll around. Most especially re-election, eh? Still seems to me our intelligentsia and outsiders with higher-than-a-6th-grade social pass are doing a better job at trying to fill the gap between quality jobs and minimum wage…than our bought-and-paid-for Congress.