Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

33 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Free trade can prevent hunger caused by climate change

    International trade can compensate for regional food shortages and reduce hunger

    Date:July 20, 2020
    Source:KU Leuven

    Researchers investigated the effects of trade on hunger in the world as a result of climate change. The conclusion is clear: international trade can compensate for regional food shortages and reduce hunger, particularly when protectionist measures and other barriers to trade are eliminated.

    “Countless complicated trade procedures can drive up the effective cost of trade. “A global food strategy must go hand in hand with improvements to trade infrastructure,” argues Charlotte Janssens.

    “60 Scenarios
    The international research team, consisting of scientists from KU Leuven, IIASA and RTI International, among others, are making their recommendations based on 60 scenarios.”…

    Charlotte Janssens, Petr Havlík, Tamás Krisztin, Justin Baker, Stefan Frank, Tomoko Hasegawa, David Leclère, Sara Ohrel, Shaun Ragnauth, Erwin Schmid, Hugo Valin, Nicole Van Lipzig, Miet Maertens. Global hunger and climate change adaptation through international trade. Nature Climate Change, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-0847-4


  2. Economis + physics – I liked the blood /body / corollary analogy.

    “Smoluchowski coagulation equation
    “Simultaneous coagulation (or aggregation) is encountered in processes involving polymerization,[2] coalescence of aerosols,[3]emulsication,[4] flocculation.[5]

    “Bank mergers as scale-free coagulation

    The asset size distribution of US banks is viewed as the result of a scale-free coagulation process. When two banks merge, the assets of the combined institution equals the sum of the assets of the constituent banks. Analysis of the Smoluchowski coagulation equation suggests the emergence of a steady state, power-law distribution with an exponent that only depends on the degree of homogeneity of the coagulation rate. Bank merger data satisfies such power-law scaling. 

    We develop an underlying theoretical framework for bank mergers quite different from prevailing ideas based on game theory on the one hand, and recent econophysical models on the other. As a corollary we show that in order to avoid the emergence of a mega-bank, the rate of return should decrease with the bank size. Finally, we suggest that stochastic coagulation may provide a unifying description of fast integration processes characteristic of globalization.”

    Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications

    Volume 336, Issues 3–4, 15 May 2004, Pages 571-584


  3. Politics IS a bloodsport.  Worthwhile read imo.

    Exhibit A – The Lincoln Project:
    ^A. – “Wilson: You know what? Biden’s campaign and a lot of other groups have tuned up their edge. And if we’re leading the way on that at all, I’m proud to say we don’t bring any dull knives to this fight.”(^LK)

    And “Instead, I grew a soul”.

    And serious skin in the game! 
    “We’ve burned our boats. There is no Republican Party for us to go home to.”

    Forget the night of the long knifes. This is political knifing all day every day. Zero sum game?

    Is anyone in Libnats in Australia doing a lincoln project? Just the reverse via newscorpse. No need here.

    The Lincoln Project – republican never trumpers – driving negative and gotcha and pysc-out 1 to 1 messaging for Trump himself. Here is why; 
    “Because the Republican Party in 2024, the nominee is going to be Donald Trump Jr. or Tucker Carlson or Josh Hawley or Tom Cotton.”(^A). 

    Yes. Scary. WWIII scary.

    Facebook is the gun. imo fb needs to be nationalised ala a german conglomerate – workers on the board and a large shareholding by each state it operates in, made transparent and used ala JQ’s Ein2L but in a social media frame. ‘Social Media in Two Lesson: why social media works so well and fails so badly’. [JQ, please consider a group at uq & global to study this]
    Or participative democracy as Nic Gruen sprukes (apologies NG if spruce is a poor term).

    Here is what  Rick Wilson who formed the Lincoln Project thinks of fbook;
    “because the devil machine that is Facebook” … “it doesn’t matter how verifiably false or ludicrous the message is. It doesn’t matter.”. (^A)

    So as with capitalism, democracy will eat itself, if this is how we do political campaigning.

    And this long article contains imo, an example of the ‘glass phase transition dynamics’ GPTD (^1) “Why Is Glass Rigid? Signs of Its Secret Structure Emerge”. The physics analogies for me are very close – seed pearl, phase trasition, saturation – but not quite right. So GPTD may one day be insightful if it is translated for understanding final dynamic of voter ‘crystalisation’ – choice: 
    “Most American voters have an amorphous thing in their head right now. So, yeah, It’s that Trump guy and that Biden guy. I don’t know yet.” …  “So that’s why you back-end your spending. That’s why you back-end your final messaging, your final litigation of the points.” (^A)

    ^A – “Wilson: I mean, the average person going to vote in this country is going to be about 56 years old.

    “Swisher: So, I look at these ads and I go, “Great job. You’re getting Trump.” Then I think, Oh, no, they’re going to turn these weapons onto more progressive people.

    “Wilson: I’ll tell you why some of our critics on the left are pushing this: because Democratic media consultants are getting the shit kicked out of them by their bosses. They’re hearing, “Why aren’t you making ads as fast as the Lincoln Project?” The average Democratic consultant — they get 20,000 views on a YouTube video and they pop the Champagne. Whereas if we don’t get a million views, we’re like, “What the fuck went wrong?”

    “The simplest thing in the world for me to have done, way back in 2016, would have been to shut up. I would have still made a whole lot more money than I did on two best-selling books if I had just shut my mouth. Instead, I grew a soul. So we’re in this fight. Now, the second part of this equation, criticism from the right, that’s very simple: We’ve burned our boats. There is no Republican Party for us to go home to. There’s no Burkey and conservative movement left in this country. The party has been so thoroughly, utterly compromised and destroyed by Donald Trump. If tomorrow Donald Trump and Mike Pence got eaten by wolves and you said, “Hey, Rick, reconstitute the Republican Party.” I’d say no.”

    “Because the Republican Party in 2024, the nominee is going to be Donald Trump Jr. or Tucker Carlson or Josh Hawley or Tom Cotton. Trump is a terrifying figure. He would be an apocalyptically terrifying figure if he didn’t have ADD and he was actually organized and could think about a project for longer than 15 minutes. Tom Cotton or Tucker Carlson as president should scare the shit out of people. So we’ve committed. We’re going to stay in this fight because we laid out a mission at the very beginning. And our mission was to eliminate Donald Trump, to drive him from office.”…

    Numbers! Calculus. Large numbers, small numbers, medium numbers! … using math as a political weapon and act;
    …” but we’re going to be active in a bunch of other places because it’s a game of very small numbers…”

    ^A – How the Lincoln Project Gets Into Trump’s Head – July 21, 2020

    Via –

    ^1. I thought when I posted this it was way outside in possible land. I know believe it has moved into probable land –

    1a. “In condensed matter physics and materials science, an amorphous (from the Greek a, without, morphé, shape, form) or non-crystalline solid is a solid that lacks the long-range order that is characteristic of a crystal. In some older books, the term has been used synonymously with glass. Nowadays, “glassy solid” or “amorphous solid” is considered to be the overarching concept, and glass the more special case: Glass is an amorphous solid that exhibits a glass transition.[1]”

    Wonkish- Maybe with all these competing economists positions, we should vote on the range of models,  to collapse them into a crystal to operate from one pov for a term – ‘the governing economic paradigm’.

    ^LK. Release notes: the Long Knife

    And, as Tex Perkins & The Cruel Sea didn’t say ‘Better get a physisist son, better get a real good one’. Insert dot…
    youtube com/watch?v=Fmtq_QCZNCg

  4. KT2,

    Sorry, I will have to disagree. Capitalist “free trade” causes more hunger problems than it solves.

    “FAO: More Free Trade, More Hunger”

    See also “World hunger on the rise as 820m at risk, UN report finds.” – The Guardian online, over 1 year ago, i.e. before the COVID-19 crisis.

    The link is clear. Rising neoliberalism, rising free trade (so-called) and rising domination of trade by large capitalist corporations has decreased access to food in the global south. Corporate and monopoly capitalism are directly to blame. Capitalism causes problems like climate change and food access issues and then claims to be the solution to the problems it causes. It’s absurd. It is well past time to roll back and end capitalism.

  5. Ikon, I posted it as a way of saying we need to supply food especially for climate change food effects under current conditions. If no , no capitalism worries?

    But we have to stop starvation under existing conditions and these 2 phrases are appropriate;
    “particularly when protectionist measures and other barriers to trade are eliminated.”… must go hand in hand with improvements to trade infrastructure,” argues Charlotte Janssens.” 

    Replace ‘free trade’ with ‘seemless supply’. And economics in 2 lessons. 

    Ikon, how long will it take to as you say “to roll back and end capitalism”? 

    Because if it is tomorrow, you and I will probably starve to death. So we need to make a frictionless food supply especially with climate change with existing infrastructure. 

    We have to get food to all, all the time to prevent -at some places at some times,  chaos from generating continual outbreaks of disaster. And what of water?

    Yet we have 2 lessons now – thanks JQ- , instant comms, and if we localised pull factors we wouldn’t need to call it free trade. Just food.

    I will comment here on your Alice Cooper link.

    Schools Out was my 2nd album.
    Young teen with my own money by working from 9 in family biz. (Looxury!)

    Went to Grace Bros. Carefully wended my way towards it as I knew I wasn’t going to be playing with mum & dad around and had a sinister edge. Tame now.

    As I got to the rack, picked it up, I held it with it’s unique school desk cover and relalised it opened as a flap to reveal… a pair of paper panties – and I closed it quick, paid and home asap to play it before parents arrived back.

    Turns out they were amused at the packaging, but not amused at Alice Cooper.

    “The vinyl record inside was wrapped in a pair of panties, though this was later discontinued as the paper panties were found to be flammable ”'s_Out_(album)

    To buy Yes double albumn I had to go halves with a mate. And weasels ripped my flesh by frank z.

    I had all early beatles albums compliments of my older siblings leaving home. All stolen unfortunately.  And my tastes changed but fond memories.

    I will play to my child  tomorrow. Thanks.

  6. Thanks JQ for posting…

    “The Commission has been active since December 2019 and has produced two key reports:  Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century and Food is at the Heart of our Future. This July, we have published a Letter to all Australians which has the support of 200 public figures (listed below) as well as 1,926 concerned citizens who have indicated their support. You are invited to add your support here.”
    I have signed. Have you?


    Letter and form;

  7. Gee, anyone else?

    Ikonoclast, I try to get other perspectives. I will add “Hunger and Public Action” coauthored with Sen, to my infinitely long reading list.

    “Noted economist-activist Jean Dreze detained in Jharkhand

    “Reacting on the report of Dreze’s detention, farm activist and political leader Yogendra Yadav tweeted: “Shocking beyond words! Jean Dreze is a saint-economist, a potential Nobel awardee who lived in slums, written and done more for the poor than any economist, shunned all power and glory, took up Indian citizenship, is a pacifist. Nothing can be more shameful than arresting him.”

    ” The Belgian-born development economist co-authored Hunger and Public Action, which focussed on the problem of hunger in the modern world. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was the other author of the book.

    Cultural Aphasia

    “He is often described as an economist activist. The oxymoron speaks for itself.”

  8. KT2, I see the Lincoln Project as the next iteration of the tea party, an attempt by Republican faithful to cleanse their brand after the Trump debacle, just as they used the tea party to cleanse their brand after the Bush debacle. Yes this time their attempt to rebrand is more useful and productive than the last time, but only because the people involved had previously supported an outright fascist and helped him to ruin their nation, and anyone walking back from that is helpful. But in the end they are going to try to save the GOP from itself (again) and we shouldn’t let them: once Trump is out they should be held accountable. And we should also not overestimate their influence: the main thing destroying the GOP right now is its own incompetence and inability to manage a pandemic, which anyone with half a brain could have expected given the leader they selected. Compared to 1,000 dead a day the Lincoln Project is a rounding error.

    Also, I don’t think focusing on Facebook is helpful. People were stupid before Facebook, politicians and racists used targeted ads before Facebook. The difference is that Facebook enables ordinary people to communicate with each other without the medium of journalism. It’s a radically transformative technology, which is why journalistic and political elites hate it and/or are trying to get control of it. But it isn’t the problem: my dad was a victim of every vicious racist lie the Daily mail put out long before Facebook existed, and nothing is happening on facebook that wasn’t happening on tv and radio (including “vox populi” through hate radio call-ins) long before Facebook. As I wrote a while back, the problem isn’t Facebook, the problem is you. Focusing on the pointing finger will cause you to miss all the glory of the heavens.

  9. And here is my post on why we should be very distrustful of these big note politicians and media types trying to tell us Facebook is the cause of our problems. It’s not Facebook, it’s Fox News and the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. Johnson was a columnist for the Telegraph who wrote lies about the EU for years, and now he is the PM presiding over Brexit. Zuckerberg isn’t president, and there is no pipeline from tech villain to political leader. It’s the journalists at the Telegraph and their shady bosses who are the threat to democracy, not your aunt spreading dumb memes on Facebook.

  10. Almost two decades ago, even up to half a decade ago, I was poo-pooed on this site by just about everyone when I said we were on a catastrophic course and the global situation was a developing emergency.

    Now, all the signatories on humanfuture say in their words what I have been saying for two decades:

    “The catastrophic risks we face, the policy pathways we must consider and some of the solutions to individual risks are described in the report “Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century” by the Commission for the Human Future.”

    I don’t expect any apologies of course for being pilloried for two decades and told to nick off because I was too pessimistic. Turns out I was the most realistic of all or most and I did know what I was talking about.

    I’ll add something new. The longer we stick to capitalism, the further and faster we will collapse. Capitalism is a social, economic, competence and existential disaster on all fronts. As neoliberal capitalism, it has very likely degraded our political economy and technical competence to such low levels that we cannot even maintain our own economy and society at the current levels of complexity. This is particularly the case as new catastrophic challenges arrive in quick succession.

    Our society and economy show serious signs of being terminally incompetent relative to the levels of complexity attained and the levels of catastrophic challenges arriving in series or even on top of each other. We can’t even build the serious stuff needed to run our economy anymore. We can’t build institutions that hold up. We can’t build large buildings that don’t crack and need to be vacated. We can’t clad safely. We can’t lay an adequate broadband network. I can’t even find anyone competent and trustworthy to complete works around my home. As a nation we have become dangerously incompetent and are failing on almost all fronts. This is directly due to neoliberal capitalism and our ignoring of planetary limits for too long.

  11. Fusion power, someday

    The ITER nuclear fusion project ($14 bn so far) inches forward, with the start of assembly of the tokamak. If all goes well, the reactor will be commissioned in 2025.

    ITER won’t generate net or even gross power, it is intended to hit a notional net zero output. The first prototype power reactor will be called DEMO, but little more is firmly agreed. Possible timeline:
    – engineering design complete by 2030, decision to build
    – start of construction 2031
    – first operation 2044
    – first electrical generation 2048

    For comparison, Biden has committed to a zero-carbon US grid by 2035, the least compatible with Paris goals. The EU goal of overall net zero by 2050 implies a similar grid timeline. Either we fix the electric grid supply without the aid of fusion, or we are screwed.

  12. Still 30 years from now eh? Same progrnosis as in any other yearduring the last 50 years.

  13. James Wimberley,

    Harness-able fusion power is a fantasy. Sustainable capitalism is another fantasy. Renewable energy on the other hand is workable. However, in the context of climate change and neoliberal capitalism, our changeover to renewable energy is far too slow: a case of too little, too late. Comprehensive collapse of capitalism and civilization is already baked into the cake. This is a matter of economic system momentum (we fail to change course fast enough) plus overshoot and tipping points already being triggered or imminent.

    In terms of neoliberal capitalism, it is systemically dishonest, corrupt and incompetent; irreparably and terminally so. This malaise extends right through firms, governments and the institutional structures of all neoliberal capitalist countries.

    Australia is riddled with corruption. This is not yet seen on the corruption perceptions index and it is interesting to consider why. Without going too deep into it as this stage, I suspect there is a lag where it takes time for perceptions to catch up with reality. here is also the issue of falling from a high base. It takes a while to see the tentacles of corruption coming through and affecting most people. Finally, corruption is probably viewed relatively, so if one’s country is not as bad as Syria, Somalia or Mexico one tends to say, phew! my country is alright.

    The Transparency site says: “This year’s analysis shows corruption is more pervasive in countries where big money can flow freely into electoral campaigns and where governments listen only to the voices of wealthy or well-connected individuals.”

    This statement perfectly describes Australia these days. Corporate money, especially fossil fuel money, freely fills the campaign coffers of the major parties in Australia. Our country and our major parties are such small beer that large corporations can buy them with what are risible sums compared to the financial resources of corporates. Public policy is for sale in Australia for prices that are cheaper than chips.

    If one wanted to list the signs and proofs of corruption in Australia, the list would be very long. Royal Commissions and other investigation in the last two decades or so have revealed systemic and endemic corruption, “grey gifts” and incomptence throughout Australia in (to name a few):

    Building and Construction;
    Aged Care;

    Wage theft and exploitation is remarkably common throughout Australia in retail, rural industries and services like cleaning and among part time work. People don’t see it yet but Australia is sinking into a mire of declining standards and endemic corruption all thanks to the free reign (and free reins) of neoliberal capitalist theory.

    “Australia among 21 nations where perceived corruption has worsened

    Transparency International says the ‘corrosive’ influence of money in politics is undermining Australian government integrity.” – Guardian.

    This is 100% correct. Australia is in a parlous state. An empty woodpile about to collapse. The USA and UK of course are even worse. I know less about the rest of the West but I have great doubts that any of it is much better. The same goes for Asia. I don’t know much about it but I suspect corruption is endemic there too. The world is about to sink under terminal corruption and incompetence. Mix that with unsustainability and that is a completely deadly brew.

  14. Hi John,

    I have one question. I was recently reading the big report published by the international panel on social progress. In the chapter on inequality, it had a graph showing the relationship between inequality and social mobility. The pattern the authors say is established is that where there is high inequality there is usually low social mobility. However, for Australia this didn’t hold. According to the graph, in Aus there is high inequality and relatively strong social mobility. I am wondering, why might this be the case? What is particular about Australia that there might be both mobility and inequality?

    Thanks very much,

    Michael Immerman

  15. faustusnotes – Easy to rebrand gop when stark relief against ” becauase as you said ” the people involved had previously supported an outright fascist “. And yes they need to be held to account. Good luck with that!

    I fully agree the problem is ‘you’. 

    “‘As I wrote a while back, the problem isn’t Facebook, the problem is you.”. But fb engagement in article 5 to 1 for repubs against dems. The Lincolm project cares not for the dead, just messing w Trump and his rump. For their own gain imo.

    Every news outlet you mentioned is amplified by…Fbook, twit, snapc, insta blah blah social media sites  = megaphone imo.
    (I do not put full names as this post then will not be indexed as referencing them).

    ‘No talk of religion politics or sex at the dinner table’ yet all day every day in your stated news outlets – boosted by network effects of social media.

    You are obviously able to make assessments across the spectrum. Many working families, educated or not, just cannot, and so do not have the time headspace nor desire to ever analyse anything. Or hold a mirror.
    And this annoys me… “and yet they continue to access such networks on a daily basis. “(^1.)

    So I agree and hope you can also see also why your ‘correct’ ‘it is me’ is correct but not happening as you’d would like to see. See…

    ^1. ‘Social media as a news source worldwide 2020
    Published by Amy Watson, Jun 23, 2020
     “During a 2020 survey, more than 70 percent of respondents from Kenya, South Africa, Chile, Bulgaria, Greece, and Argentina stated that they used social media as a source of news. Conversely, less than 40 pecent of adults in France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan aid the same. Large portions of social media users around the world admit that they do not trust social platforms either as media sources or as a way to get news, and yet they continue to access such networks on a daily basis. ”

  16. James Wimberley says “Fusion power, someday”. And ‘. Either we fix the electric grid supply without the aid of fusion, or we are screwed.” Yes +1

    Ikonoclast says: “Harness-able fusion power is a fantasy.”

    I hope this lot go renewable / grid / storage / fusion research tho… what other technologies are they suited for?

    “90 Chinese nuclear scientists resigned; investigation underway

    “The State Council, China’s Cabinet, has sent an investigative team with other government agencies to look into the recent resignation of over 90 nuclear security scientists at an institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the academy said on Tuesday.

    “The mystery surrounding the resignation of half of the employees in that research institute became one of the most talked-about topics in China.

    “With a monthly income of 10,000 Yuan ($1430 US dollar), these government employees with Ph.D. degrees get the same pay as some food deliverers. But their salaries can go up ten times if they work in the private sector.

    “Without research projects and the funding that comes with the project, there is no prospect for promotions or career advancements.

    “The timing of their resignation also made the Chinese netizens wonder if the scientists wanted to break their ties with the Chinese Communist Party before its imminent demise.”

  17. Who knew?
    Financial, environmental, legal, and now too… On the ground control of humans.

    “Fossil Fuel Industry Pollutes Black & Brown Communities While Propping Up Racist Policing
    by Gin Armstrong and Derek Seidman
    JULY 27, 2020

    “Oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels are all big backers of police foundations, which privately raise money to buy weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for police departments, bypassing already outsized public police budgets. These corporate actors – from Chevron and Shell to Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase – can be found serving as directors and funders of police foundations nationwide. Furthermore, these companies sponsor events and galas that celebrate the police and remind the public that police power is backed up by corporate power.

    …”BlackRock’s Larry Fink is a big supporter of the one of the most powerful police foundations in the US, the NYC Police Foundation. Not only is Fink a donor to the foundation, but he has also co-chaired its annual gala from 2016 to 2019. Color of Change, which calls itself “the nation’s largest online racial justice organization,” is currently demanding that Fink and BlackRock stop supporting the foundation.”

    I clipped names… or should I say ‘usual suapects’!

    “Morgan Stanley, BlackRock Bank of America Wells Fargo JPMorgan Chase  Duke Energy Georgia Power i Entergy is a publicly-traded, Fortune 500 company  Exelon is a publicly-traded energy company headquartered in Chicago and the largest utility in the country with eight subsidiaries Detroit Edison  Aramco, Cabot Oil & Gas, Energy Transfer Partners, one of the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, Hilcorp, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is one of the largest privately-held oil drillers Valero is the second biggest oil refining company in the US Marathon Petroleum, the nation’s largest oil refining company,  Shell Chevron”

  18. The other filibuster…

    “The Threat of State Preemption
        “Preemption is a tool, like the filibuster, that can and has been used by both political parties. In the past, preemption was used to ensure uniform state regulation or protect against conflicts between local governments. Preemption has also been used to advance well-being and equity.”…

    The Challenge of the New Preemption
     …” Particularly striking are punitive measures that do not just preempt local ordinances but hit local officials or governments with criminal or civil fines, state aid cut-offs, or liability for damages, and broad preemption proposals that would virtually end local initiative over a wide range of subjects. The rise of the new preemption is closely linked to the partisan and ideological polarization between red states (or purple states with red governments) and their blue cities.”…

    Richard Briffault, 
    The Challenge of the New Preemption, 
    Stanford Law Review, Vol. 70, p. 1995, 2018; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-580 (2018).

  19. As shown by #kt2 comments – schools in!

    Ikonoclast (and others) I think you will like this blog. I have subscribed.

    Imperfect Cognitions

    Blog on delusions, memory distortions, confabulations, biased beliefs, and other imperfect cognitions.

    The blog was founded by Lisa Bortolotti in May 2013, after receiving the happy news that she had been awarded an AHRC Fellowship for a project entitled “The Epistemic Innocence of Imperfect Cognitions”. The core idea of the project was to see whether a variety of cognitions (beliefs primarily, but also memories, narratives and explanations) could enhance knowledge even when they were inaccurate or ill-grounded.

    The main audience for the blog was then (and still is) people interested in themes at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry, and contributors have ranged from masters students to distinguished professors, from all over the world, who are doing research that is relevant to the investigation of the epistemic benefits of inaccurate cognitions. Lisa’s expertise at the time was mainly in delusions, and the first posts reflect this, being often contributions to the philosophical debates concerning delusions (the very first post was by Kengo Miyazono, talking about delusions as malfunctioning beliefs).

    An article. Like this line “should voters be considered irrational?”

    Ignorance and Irrationality in Politics
    “To what extent should citizens be informed about the issues on which they vote for democracy to function? When ideology, biases and motivational processes drive political belief formation, should voters be considered irrational?”

    I look fwd to a comment from you Ikin, with a ref from Imperfect Cognitions, of which I have many.

  20. I think it’s ironic that on a thread where KT2 worries about Facebook distorting political debate he/she posts a link to “Gnews”, a super dodgy influence operation that doesn’t reveal anything about itself but has as its header “Bring down the CCP; Bring truth to the world”. This site has adverts for the “Rule of Law Foundation”, a dodgy organization run by J Kyle Bass, a hedge fund manager who made a fortune betting against subprime mortgage instruments and routinely (and possibly illegally) runs influence operations against groups he has short positions on through Hayman Capital. He’s also a Trump supporter. Gnews is apparently funded by Guo Wengui, on the run from China for multiple crimes and linked to Steve Bannon. It’s obviously a dodgy website.

    As you can see, we don’t need facebook to undermine our public discourse: rich people are setting up whole news organizations and fake foundations to do it, and people like KT2 are uncritically accepting the misinformation these rich people broadcast.

  21. KT2 at 12.56pm above… I said in reply to faustusnotes;
    “You [faustusnotes] are obviously able to make assessments across the spectrum. Many working families, educated or not, just cannot, and so do not have the time headspace nor desire to ever analyse anything. ”

    Just to back up my assertions re humans not having time, energy nor inclination to evaluate best choice for voting…

    “Combined model-free and model-sensitive reinforcement learning in non-human primates

    Bruno Miranda et al. PLoS Comput Biol.2020.

    Contemporary reinforcement learning (RL) theory suggests that potential choices can be evaluated by strategies that may or may not be sensitive to the computational structure of tasks. A paradigmatic model-free (MF) strategy simply repeats actions that have been rewarded in the past; by contrast, model-sensitive (MS) strategies exploit richer information associated with knowledge of task dynamics. MF and MS strategies should typically be combined, because they have complementary statistical and computational strengths; however, this tradeoff between MF/MS RL has mostly only been demonstrated in humans, often with only modest numbers of trials. We trained rhesus monkeys to perform a two-stage decision task designed to elicit and discriminate the use of MF and MS methods. A descriptive analysis of choice behaviour revealed directly that the structure of the task (of MS importance) and the reward history (of MF and MS importance) significantly influenced both choice and response vigour. A detailed, trial-by-trial computational analysis confirmed that choices were made according to a combination of strategies, with a dominant influence of a particular form of model sensitivity that persisted over weeks of testing. The residuals from this model necessitated development of a new combined RL model which incorporates a particular credit assignment weighting procedure. Finally, response vigor exhibited a subtly different collection of MF and MS influences. These results provide new illumination onto RL behavioural processes in non-human primates.”


  22. faistusnootes – dodgy or not, rather than slagging me off, is the article correct?

    You do work in China – correct?

    I am going to post soon about the McKell Institute. My opinion of the McKell Institute is now the same as your opinion (which I do not diapute nor disagree with), of gnews.

    And I am rapidly approaching Ikonoclast’s level of disdain for all of this. Ironic you are slagging me and didn’t bother to say ask nor same about Lincoln Project

    So, in the interst of this blog, and as you are the only one challenging me, miisquoting me, and making false assertions of me, what’s say from now on we only comment in sanndpit on our comments? Agreed?

  23. After watching 4 corners last night re workers comp, iCare & Safework, I did a bit of digging, as the board is the real vipers nest. And libtards nsw.

    As you say Ikon ” Turns out I was the most realistic of all or most and I did know what I was talking about.” (it is always lonely out front, until the crowd catches up and pats you on the back – keep on keeping on Ikon).

    I know of one of these cases personally.

    Just one of iCare’s board, Mark Lennon, who is also on McKell Institute board and a proud ‘unionist’ who has “work in the areas of railways, electricity, health, industrial legislation, occupational health and safety, forestry and superannuation”.

    There is another -ist or -ism I loathe. And no wonder JQ’s research has a hard time being implemented.

    Left, right, neo, social, union – when it comes to money and power, all morals and ethics go out the window.

    “Mark Lennon

    “Mark Lennon is a board member of the McKell Institute.

    “Mark has been Secretary of Unions NSW since October 2008, having served as Assistant Secretary since June 2001. Mark joined Unions NSW in 1988 and has held a number of positions in the organisation including Training Officer, Industrial Officer and Executive Officer.

    “His responsibilities over the years at Unions NSW have included industrial and political work in the areas of railways, electricity, health, industrial legislation, occupational health and safety, forestry and superannuation.

    “In addition to the McKell Institute, Mark is also a board member of First State Super, Health Super Financial Services Pty Ltd, Safety, Return to Work & Support Board, Trade Union Education Foundation and the Trades Hall Association.”

    Signed – disgusted.

    Can’t find study, (I will) but read of bankers in Switzerland being on all sorts of ngo boards doing great social work. When in boardroom making billion dollar decisions, ethics fell by the wayside. 

    P.S. I will be asking for his resignation from McKell – for a start. Anyone else?

  24. It’s important to remember how the West got where it is.

    Then for America we can read “The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean” – by Gerald Horne.

    All of the West’s wealth is stolen – ALL of it. Right down the the last penny. We would do well to remember that, even we who are the descendants of thieves and slavers rather than the primary thieves and slavers ourselves.

    It’s confronting to have to admit that we are the bad guys of history. But that is what is required. This is not to say that all other peoples and nations were simon-pure. Of course they were not. But we, the West, were the worst of the worst, and by a long margin, at least since Genghis Khan.

    The first steps to recovery, moral rehabilitation and realistic reparation is to admit your faults – all of them. This is as true for atheists as it is for religious people. That is the only way out of the moral pit the West lives in. I’m a Westerner so I point to the sins of the West and have a right and a duty to do so. It’s not for me to point at other cultures. They must examine themselves. We must begin by making reparations to the indigenous peoples from whom we stole whole continents. At the same time, the descendants of black, brown and other peoples who were brought to the West as slaves, must be fully freed, made equal and made whole after generations of oppression, poverty and misery. That would be a start.

  25. Faustusnotes and KT2. Could you move this discussion to the Sandpit, and from now on comment only there, unless you are responding directly to an OP, please.

  26. JQ – I agree. Thanks.

    I have a problem with philanthropy in general yet ymmv…

    MacKenzie Bezos’s  now Scott – gets it –  “and a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions.”. 

    And gulp! BIG!
    “Racial Equity: $586,700,000”. 

    Maybe she will make it in JQ’s next book?

    * “116 Organizations Driving Change
    MacKenzie Scott
    Jul 28 · 5 min read

    “Last year I pledged to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty. There’s no question in my mind that anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others.

    …with the belief that my life had yielded two assets that could be of particular value to others: the money these systems helped deliver to me, and a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions.”…

    Total given to date:

    Racial Equity: $ 586,700,000

    LGBTQ+ Equity: $ 46,000,000

    Gender Equity: $ 133,000,000

    Economic Mobility: $ 399,500,000

    Empathy & Bridging Divides: $ 55,000,000

    Functional Democracy: $ 72,000,000

    Public Health: $ 128,300,000

    Global Development: $ 130,000,000

    Climate Change: $ 125,000,000

    “On this list, 91% of the racial equity organizations are run by leaders of color, 100% of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders, and 83% of the gender equity organizations are run by women, bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems.”

    View at

    * Just in case, I have not verified every donation nor grantee.

  27. The problem with professional sport is not so much that it is wastefull as such – the problem is that the level of enjoyment does not increase with increases in overall gameplay level. As much as people care about gameplay level at all, we would still be impressed by 2nd or 3rd league level if we did not know the alternative. The type of sport is also pretty arbitrary. What matters to most is what everyone else is talking about. So we could get as much enjoyment out of sport without all the billions and ruined childhoods invested in producing a handfull of overpaid new stars and by doing away with sports that are particular unhealthy sports on a competitive level like american football or cycling. A special aspect are many olympic medal producing disciplines no one cares about otherwise: No one should do those professionally. Subsidies for those exceed a billion in Germany alone. Negative health effects should be a multible of the direct financial waste. One obvious non specific solution to this are steep progressive tax rates that are good against any kind of winner takes it all superstar markets. Particular popular sports like football would also deserve specific taxes on top since professionall sport is a particular bad zero sum environment – but there is no chance in hell that will happen. In reality even sports that are doing very well without governemnt money like football also get lots of extra money thrown after them for example in a zero sum competition among cities for 2nd or 1th league teams.

  28. Big Oil and floating solar

    Shell, in partnership with Mitsubishi, have won an auction for a very large but superficially routine 739 MW offshore wind farm off the Dutch coast.

    The main take is that this is a significant shift in investment from an oil major. The planned investment has not been released, but must be of the order of $2.5 bn. This is not mere greenwashing.

    A subsidiarypoint is that the Dutch government, not offering subsidies, designed the auction to reward innovation. So the consortium threw in a large hydrogen electrolysis plant, not surprising as hydrogen is flavour(less) of the month. More curiously, they added a floating solar demonstration. Until very recently, marine floating solar was blue-sky stuff confined to a handful of risk-taking enthusiasts. It has moved remarkably quickly to a serious technical option, like floating wind. I assume seabirds will love the convenient free roosts, and Shell will soon find themselves in the markets for waterproof robot cleaners as buyers, and for premium guano fertiliser as sellers.

  29. akarog: Good that AEMO put pumped hydro at the head of the list of despatchable firming resources. It really is the baseline no-risk solution. The other shinier solutions can replace PUHS if they (a) work and (b) come out cheaper. Butt the denialist’s question “what if the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?” has been answered.

  30. hix said at 12:31 am…
    “Negative health effects should be a multible of the direct financial waste.” +1. Excellent idea.

    But how do we meaaure waste. And by whom please?

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