QuickReaction, Tuesday-1

A new housing bubble: The big increase in home prices, once again, is not justified by any connection to a rise in incomes. Alan Greenspan said it’s not possible to spot a bubble. Yes, it is. When prices of a very stable and well-understood product rise faster than incomes that’s a bubble. The speculators are already getting all fired up on this one. If these price increases persist then hopefully this time someone will do something about the bubble. About time for a rate increase, Ben?

Apple is back to “innovation”: In high prices that is. Clearly Apple has stalled. No new products and no more booming sales, no lines to get ho-hum products. So what does a monopoly do, raise prices to push up margins. How long before iPads crack $1000? Will Apple groupies (and I used to be one) continue to buy overpriced products for label alone?

Living things are amazing: They can go where no one has gone before (or more correctly where no one has looked before). The article details how unexpectedly large numbers of micro-organisms float around in the sky with a hint that a couple of the types might be quite comfortable there and actually thrive with metabolic pathways that could be active just suspended in the sky. This seems to make the prospects for finding some in the upper reaches of atmospheres of Jupiter or Saturn more likely.

Weight loss myths: Weight loss anecdotal “findings” are rampant and almost always wrong. All sorts of people claim timing of meals affects diets. That’s certainly possible IF (and a very big IF) the timing of the meals affects calorie intake. It’s an obvious truism that weight gain/loss is purely related to surplus/deficit of calories, end of story. Now maybe some secondary mechanisms might be at work, i.e. an empty GI tract is somehow more efficient at extracting calories, but then one would need to see a surplus ingestion of calories, inefficiently processed to then claim more efficient processing is possible. Now recently I discovered the International Journal of Obesity which certainly has some quality articles with real science and real biochemical pathways explored so I give the journal high credibility. But that doesn’t mean every paper, like this, presents well-founded conclusions (in fact, this paper, at least as reported in popular press, seems to take a cautious note since its findings are ambiguous at best). But a paper like this also tells you something else – all that “advice” you get about big breakfasts and meal timing is hokum, unsupported (as almost all nutritional advice is) by actual studies. Plus this paper indicates just how hard it is to do a study and generate meaningful results because when it comes to eating (plus exercise and other lifestyle issues) it is very very difficult to control the experimental conditions and thus any “conclusions” are difficult to make, much less connect with any factors of causation. Wow, the popular press sure messes with its reports of studies. The same study as I’m describing above is mentioned in this article under the headline, “Late-snacker? Watch what you eat, say researchers”. Baloney! The study has nothing in it about “snacking” or “late-night”. The article fairly faithfully explains the studies but stands by its sensationalist lede.

Body fat mysteries: Popular press will supply all sorts of “advice” from all sorts of self-appointed gurus about everything related to fat and often how/why fat accumulates in certain places. OTOH, a science article says this: “The factors that determine body fat distribution still remain unknown. The combinations of genetic, hormonal and nutritional factors that promote fat accumulation in some fat deposits relative to other deposits remain to be clarified in humans.” So all that “advice” is just a crock.

Absurd “solution” to air pollution: This is a silly article, describing how an “entrepreneur” has packaged up some Tibetan mountain air to sell to people in Beijing to take a few whiffs during the extreme pollution. Obviously cans of air accomplish nothing and as the article points out wastes resources and pollutes just shipping them. Nonetheless the author salutes the entrepreneur (rip-off artist, I’d say) for at least doing something. Sorry, this isn’t “doing something”. In fact, it’s worse than doing nothing because it creates the illusion of either a meaningful solution or that mitigation can magically deal with pollution 20x worse than the recommended limit. In another article it is described how flights in Beijing have been cancelled due to the pollution. The pollution Beijing is suffering is remarkable, even worse than I ever saw in LA. Presumably the people I met in Beijing that told me I wasn’t seeing pollution and only seeing dust storms from the Gobi are having a little trouble with that spin now.

JPMorgan bet against itself: The Wall Street sharks are so obsessed with bonuses and commissions that it’s no surprise JPMorgan traders bet against other JPMorgan traders. Why? Well obviously the traders who got it right get bonuses, the traders who get it wrong, well nothing happens (not even fired). So why not! Bet for your own pocket with somebody else’s money, esp. given if you lose too much of someone else’s money then you get taxpayer financed bailouts. In short there is no downside at all, no moral hazard, just pure unadulterated greed. Now for the traders to act like what they are, sociopaths, is no surprise; the surprise is that JPMorgan pretends otherwise and that JPMorgan can be managed (right, Jamie had no clue about any of this, despite the size clearly being within the purview of his pay grade). Or that JPMorgan (or any Wall Street bank) properly manages risk (when the positions the CIO was taking good too exposed, they merely changed the measurement of risk). Wall Street can not help itself. Its greed is so strong it will destroy itself (and unfortunately us along with it). The idea these guys don’t need a bunch of cheap polyester suit low-paid government regulators sitting on their head and watching everything they do is ludicrous, because those regulators will hate the traders and actually curtain their reckless gambling, if for no other reason than jealously that traders (who only play a zero-sum game and contribute nothing to the economy, not even the illusion of Repug trickle-down) will piss off the regulators and make them jealous and the regulators will show the traders that while they may make 100X more money the regulators have the traders by the balls.

Lindsay Graham is a nasty slimy skunk: He already proved how vicious he could be during the Clinton impeachment and now he’s trying character assassination on Hillary. OK, so he’s upset (just be grouch McCain is) about Benghazi and FauxNews got him all riled up that maybe there could be another impeachment. Hillary stood her ground and showed how stupid the Repugs are. So now Lindsay wants the last word and defames Hillary with “got away with murder”. Now murder is a serious charge, plus as a lawyer you know that in no way is there any grounds for that charge, so this is a purely scurrilous sour-grapes sad little inadequate man shooting his mouth off where he should keep it shut. No one is listening to you Lindsay and if you and Hillary stood toe-to-toe she’d wipe the floor with you, you little snot.

Are you surprised that a conservative PAC supports white supremacists? I’m not, I’m only surprised that somehow there are enough records they could get caught. You can’t mess around with hardcore racism, as the Repugs do, advocating racist policies, as Repugs do, and then actually see a slightly more extreme group for what they are.

Texans don’t think Perry should run again for governor, but of course when he does they will unquestioningly go to the polls and vote for him. Do you think Rick Perry cares about your opinion when he knows he has your vote as a sure thing? So get ready for another term.

How does David Frum stay a Repug? As I’ve seen him do before he really skewers the crazy right wing (without realizing that this is the Repug party and that about 11 “centrists” exists only to talk on TV or write). He points all the illogical and flaws. But of course he still loves his party and lives in the delusional state it will reform itself and banish the craziness. Who’s going to do the banishing, the powerless “moderates”. Give me a break, the Repug party sold its soul to the devil and no amount of complaining is going to get it back.

Predictions: The Repug nativists will win again: They’re pushed back on their heels for the moment but they have yet begun to fight. This will go like health care did, some enthusiasm in Congress early on but the nativists and racists will grind down one Repug vote at a time until it starts looking risky for the fence-sitters to continue to support it. The Senate will approve but the House won’t. Being fair to people of color is no more likely to pass this crowd than protecting people from gun violence. The glow of Nov2012 won’t last much longer once the knuckle-draggers get moving.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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