URLs du Jour

2019-02-16

[Amazon Link]

  • P.J. O'Rourke writes with wit and insight (as usual) at his American Consequences gig: Learning to Love Our Emotions.

    It’s an old Wall Street saying: “Markets are driven by greed and fear.”

    If so, markets are a sort of one-man full-court basketball game where you dribble acquisitively down the floorboards to sink an Avarice basket, only to find that the Worry side is down by two points, and then, panic-stricken, you have to pass the ball to yourself back across the center line and make a Safe Haven layup.

    This is a ridiculous metaphor for investing.

    Warren Buffett, in his 2004 Annual Shareholder Letter, famously said, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.”

    Good advice, if you can assume that everybody’s wrong all the time.

    [But if you do assume that, you might want to get today's Amazon Product du Jour.]

    Also in P.J.'s crosshairs: John Maynard Keynes, Oliver Stone, FDR. Heros: Gordon Gekko, Dave Barry ("America’s most profound philosopher"),


  • At Reason, Michael J. Socolow has a timely article about a In a State of Emergency, the President Can Control Your Phone, Your TV, and Even Your Light Switches.

    December 11, 1941, is not nearly as memorable a date as the one that lives in infamy. But that Thursday after Pearl Harbor is still an important moment in American history, because it's the day that Germany declared war on the United States and the U.S. immediately reciprocated. And it was on that date that President Franklin Roosevelt told his press secretary, Stephen T. Early, that the government should take over one of the national broadcast networks.

    Early informed James L. Fly, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and director of the newly created Defense Communications Board (DCB), that Roosevelt had personally directed Fly to acquire a national broadcast network for the government. The DCB had been created for just such a national emergency: Its mandate was to coordinate all communications (both military and civilian) in case of war or another national emergency. Both the FCC and the DCB were empowered by Section 606 of the 1934 Communications Act, which expressly gave the president full control over electronic transmissions in such circumstances.

    The light switches thing is kind of a stretch, but it's kind of disquieting to know that this is just one example of the kind of power a president can legally exert.


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week is on DJT and The Failure of the Deal.

    I had my say on the emergency declaration yesterday, and I’m sure I’ll have to say it all again not very far down the road.

    But there is a point that I think needs to be made. The reason President Trump finds it necessary to declare a national emergency stems from the fact that he is not the world’s greatest dealmaker.

    If President Trump had signed the budget deal last December, he would have gotten more wall funding than he did after forcing a government shutdown. For two years, Republicans controlled Congress, and no wall was built. If you want to blame the congressional GOP for that, be my guest. But then don’t give sole credit to the president for everything Congress did pass.

    Jonah also has a great discussion (based on an interview about Venezuela on his podcast) about "Gangsterism and Socialism". The lack of differences… may surprise you! Or not.


  • [Amazon Link]
    And Wired has an interview with Gregory Benford. His new novel (a sequel to Timescape) is out, in which it is revealed: Sci-Fi Author Robert Heinlein Was Basically MacGyver.

    Heinlein appears as a character in Benford’s new novel, a time travel thriller called Rewrite. The novel depicts Heinlein as a MacGyver-esque man of action who dispatches his enemies with the aid of improvised traps. Benford, who met Heinlein in the late 1960s and knew him throughout his life, says this is an extremely accurate portrayal.

    “He had a degree in engineering from Annapolis, and he liked doing things himself,” Benford says. “You can certainly see it in his novels, which are full of people rigging stuff up and making it work. He loved that kind of thing.”

    Heinlein’s DIY attitude even extended to his houses, which he designed himself and which also displayed his technical flair. “He over-pressured this circular house he built in Santa Cruz so that when you open the doors, dust doesn’t blow in, it blows out,” Benford says. “Plus the fact that over-pressuring your house gives you a little more oxygen to run on.”

    Another addition to the things-to-read list. It's not getting any shorter!


Last Modified 2019-03-02 11:19 AM EST