Adjusting the Clock at Avebury Stone Circle


Click to enlarge

❝ National Trust Rangers…very carefully moving one of the famous standing stones at the ancient Avebury World Heritage Site.

“Obviously Stone Age man didn’t have daylight saving, so twice a year we have to move one of the stones.” said Hilary Makins, National Trust Head Ranger.

❝ “Avebury is an astonishing monument to the Neolithic people’s ingenuity. We want to make sure the stones are as accurate as they were back when they were put up. Each one weighs several tonnes. It’s a huge effort, but it’s worth it.”

Honestly, I thought this was THE ONION posting this. It still may turn out to be a more-than-fey faction inside the National Trust. Either way, it is funny.

Trump wants Tax “Reforms” like Kansas — Huh? Wha?

❝ Earlier this year, Kansas’ GOP-controlled legislature voted to effectively end a five-year push to slash taxes on individuals and businesses after revenues plummeted and forced deep cuts and tax hikes elsewhere. In doing so, they overturned a veto by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who drew national attention in conservative circles when he launched his ambitious tax-cut program in 2012.

❝ For Democrats, Kansas has become Exhibit A in their prosecution of the Trump tax cuts. It’s routinely cited as evidence the new GOP proposal won’t grow the economy or pay for itself, and that proposed business tax reduction similar to Brownback’s will create a new loophole for wealthy individuals to exploit.

“It was a real-life experiment in a Republican state, similar to what President Trump announced,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. “It added so much money to their deficit over four years that they have had to figure out ways to raise taxes now, just as Ronald Reagan did in 1986.”

The chart is revealing:

The results were not as promised:

❝ “Over the next five years, state and local governments battled over a dwindling revenue supply, including a roughly $700 million drop-off in the first year. Job growth, meanwhile, lagged behind the national average and neighboring states.

Republicans will go to their metaphorical grave swearing that dribble-down economics will save America’s workers, middle-class, you name it. Failure after failure for decades doesn’t sink into heads billiard ball-clean of experience or recorded economic history.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Record-Melting Fall Heat Wave Bakes Southern California — and More


Tuesday, 24th, 1PM PDT

❝ It’s not every October 23 or 24 that millions of Americans are swathed in temperatures above 100°F. This week has done just that, bringing some of the toastiest weather ever observed in the United States during late October, and more pre-Halloween heat is on the way. By far the most scorching weather has been in Southern California, although it’s also been exceptionally mild this month in settings as far-flung as Michigan, Florida, and New England…

The first three weeks of October were remarkably mild for most of the United States east of the Rockies. Overnight lows across most of the Northeast on Monday night were in the 50-70°F range—warmer than the average highs for this time of year! Albany, NY, “dipped” to 68°F early Tuesday, compared to its average high and low for the date of 57°F and 37°F. If the temperature stays above 64°F through midnight, it’ll be Albany’s highest daily minimum ever recorded this late in the year, in data going back to 1874.

Don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the prairie; but here in northern New Mexico we used to plan for the first fire in our living room stove on October 15th. Not in a number of years. In fact we stockpiled the usual amount of firewood the last 2 autumns – and didn’t bring in any, this year. We have enough leftover for a full-sized old-fashioned winter, stacked and waiting. No fire in the stove, yet.

Penny Ante Shake-Up at Democratic National Committee

A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

The ousters come ahead of the DNC’s first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge this year to unite a party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary race…

The Democratic Party concept of unity is thoroughly mired in personalities and individual histories – as I would expect from a party scared witless of more than lip service opposition to bigotry, absolutely unwilling to confront foreign policy dedicated to replacing the Brits as imperial ruler of the world all the way back to Harry Truman. A party that thinks useful education is determined by classroom size.

❝ The DNC denied any retaliation, saying that the changes were an effort to diversify and freshen the party’s leadership and that all the party’s officers had a chance to offer input…”This year’s slate of at-large DNC member nominees reflects the unprecedented diversity of our party’s coalition,” said DNC spokesperson Michael Tyler.

And if they “behave themselves” and don’t rock the boat, they’ll get their turn to lead in another decade or so. If the Dems believe in one thing, it’s that you will get your turn – if you just wait while the folks at the head of the line are served. Qualified, capable or not.

Excerpts From Remarks By John McCain At The 2017 Liberty Medal Ceremony

❝ …I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful…

❝ To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

Lots more in the article. Especially for those who may lapse unfortunately, occasionally, into the sophistry of believing the truth must lie only between two extremes. Sometimes the truth is best defined by one of those extremes. Correctly so.

Bloomberg: — An Economics Heathen Wins the Economics Nobel

Given how many psychologists and economists have already won the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences 1 — Daniel Kahneman (2002), Robert Shiller, Eugene Fama (2013) 2 — it seems contradictory to suggest that the Nobel Committee is finally recognizing the impact of behavioral psychology on economic decision-making by handing its 2017 award to Richard H. Thaler.

Counterintuitive as that history may make this proposal, it is consistent with the history of the Nobel Prize. It is, after all, funded by money made in dynamite. If any group wants its legacy to be that organizations, governments and companies need to pay more attention to how humans operate in the real world, it’s this one.

Officially, the Riksbank prize was for Thaler’s work on “the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, [showing] how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes.”

Unofficially, Thaler, perhaps more than anyone else, is best described as the father of behavioral economics. The repercussions of his work in helping organizations better understand human behaviors — and why traditional economics has failed so badly at this — are hard to overstate.

RTFA. Go read Thaler. If you’re anywhere near Dartmouth, try to find where Professor Danny Blanchflower is drinking tonight!

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

America is a Gun

❝ England is a cup of tea.
France, a wheel of ripened brie.
Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
America is a gun.

❝ Brazil is football on the sand.
Argentina, Maradona’s hand.
Germany, an oompah band.
America is a gun.

❝ Holland is a wooden shoe.
Hungary, a goulash stew.
Australia, a kangaroo.
America is a gun.

❝ Japan is a thermal spring.
Scotland is a highland fling.
Oh, better to be anything
than America as a gun.”

Brian Bilston

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Distant India in a Distant Time


Muslim refugees on a train from Delhi to Lahore, 1947 — Click to enlarge

Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the most well-known photographer in India, or rather—an important distinction—the photographer whose work is most well-known. He first visited India in the fall of 1947. One of only two Western photographers granted access to Gandhi, Cartier-Bresson shot a series of portraits of the ailing leader the week before he was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu chauvinist, in January 1948. Cartier-Bresson then covered Gandhi’s funeral and the national mourning that followed.

First published in Life magazine, these photos brought Cartier-Bresson worldwide recognition. They were also widely reproduced in India, and are today so familiar there that his authorship is usually forgotten. The same is true of many quieter, more tableaux-like photos he took on subsequent visits in 1950, 1966, and 1980. In “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame,” the Rubin Museum brings together selections from each of these trips.

Whether the Rubin Museum is an easy trip – or not likely – this article is worth the read. History comes alive. The photographer’s eye is well understood. We learn, we learn more.