A member, and hoping to stay that way, of the reality-based community

26 July 2013

Not until the Queen herself...

Reading this, my immediate reaction is: Not until the Queen herself stands before Parliament and proclaims both the debt owed by her and her Empire to the work of Alan Turing, and an abject apology for the manner in which he was treated, pardoning all persons convicted under this abomination, will even a modicum of the necessary prostration before Turing's contributions and accomplishments have been achieved.

Turing may have saved the Empire in leading the effort to break the code the Nazis were using, nevermind the uncounted lives saved in shortening the war.

Given how he was treated despite this fact, there is no way to apologize sufficiently. But an apology is definitely necessary.

23 July 2013

Rent-seeking as the new normal, and lawyerly arbitrage as the agent of change

The story followed a Reuters article reporting that the Fed was now “reviewing” a landmark 2003 decision that first allowed regulated banks to trade in physical commodity markets. It was this, we always noted, that allowed for the emergence of a so-called physical loophole for a number of top Wall Street institutions active in commodity markets. The fact that they were swap dealers with physical exposures ensured they were eligible for exemptions (on such things as position limits) whilst other financial institutions were not.
When 2008 hit, and most commodity curves went into super-contango, this allowed those banks with commodity businesses to very profitably enter the warehousing space — which was now a securitised path towards yield enhancement, exploiting the fact that passive commodity speculators were prepared to pay the industry to store commodities no-one else wanted.
Gosh, that sure sounds like something we'd rather they didn't do.

"Libertarian Populism"

"This is what actually-existing right-wing libertarian populism looks like, and that's what it needs to look like if it is to remain popular, or right-wing. "

No. Really.

Sean Murphy v. Rolling Stone

Sean Murphy's behavior bothers me.

It's not that I care that he's made the case against Dzokhar Tsarnaev any harder or less likely to result in a conviction, because I doubt that is meaningfully the case. It's that the emotions of it and reasons for doing it belie a certain view of the world I find distasteful. To all appearances, Sean Murphy is the kind of guy that reads magazines for the pictures.

What else to make of his interpretation of this story?

If he cannot grasp the use of the photo— it's iconic, it was instantly memefied, and so is guaranteed to grab your attention, and you're told in the subhead that it's about, "How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster") and the way it serves as counterpoint to the story, how can we trust his judgement on the stand? Why was he permitted to serve on the police force in the first place? That he thinks that the photographs he released tell the whole truth, or even more truth, about Dzokhar Tsarnaev (or at least the only truth that matters in the court of public opinion) is disturbing. The correct result for such behavior is the loss of his job.

If your entire argument relies on interpreting the photo absent its 11000-word context, you have weak sauce. Furthermore, the notion that this photo "glorifies terrorism" is patently absurd. It cannot be understood without the headline and accompanying article, and if you cannot manage to absorb all of it before reacting, then I feel comfortable dismissing your opinion.

If you would prefer to retreat to the argument that the wounds are too raw a mere four months on, I'll have to ask when is it OK?  Go back and review the 9/11 coverage. There were seemingly endless words written in its wake that were probably too soon. And promoting a war on false pretenses using it as a justification? I was a supporter of the Iraq War (should have listened to Scott Ritter). Even I knew that the link to bin Laden was tenuous at best (The other lesson of the Iraq War? Never permit the seller to pretend that secret information that isn't independently verified is casus belli.).

Sean: you have PTSD. Seek counseling. It works.