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When not in real life, I spend my time here.

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I feel like NASA needs to temper their "WE HAVE THE GREATEST ANNOUNCEMENT IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND TOMORROW AT 2:00PM" kind of press releases. This is exciting, if incremental, work on exoplanet discovery. If they discovered liquid water, or O2/CO2 in the atmosphere of a planet, then make that press release. I'm constantly disappointed by what should be really exciting news, due to their overexuberant hype.

b_b  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 22, 2017

Greatest. Tag. Ever.

To clarify, I have nothing against debt. I've taken on housing and business debt, made money on the former and plan to on the latter. Debt is neither good nor bad in its own. What's bad is artificially derisking debt in such a way that a few people make a lot of money off of it, while the risk is spread across the US taxpayer. Caveat emptor doesn't quite describe that situation, because debt is being foisted on you and I through no consent of our own, with little chance of reaping any of the benefits. My two specific examples, the 30yr fixed and the interest deduction are both cases that encourage people to take on way more debt (risk) than they probably should. I could finance an $800,000 house if wanted to, according to Fannie Mae's guidelines. The taxpayer would be paying for my foreclosure within a couple years if I actually did that.

I enjoyed this read, but don't have much to add. I was, however, blown away that America First came from an NYT reporter. I assumed based on the media reports I heard that his team resurrected AF slyly as a nod to its history. I had no idea of its real origin story as a question from a reporter. That shows the better than anything I've seen of the superficiality with which Trump operates. We see all these loosely correlated ravings emanating from him and his inner circle , and assume that there has to be a 'there' there, but there isn't. There's a guy of below average intelligence and above average self worth reacting without hesitation or embarrassment to the shit the world flings at him. he world view we want to ascribe to him at least has an internal logic (and that's probably why we need it to be true), but I'm not sure it exists. I think he's just a political lamprey.

b_b  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 22, 2017

Did you know that it's nigh impossible to get a blood lead level test without a prescription? Go figure. Can't even pay out of pocket for it at Quest or where ever. Medical system definitely does not favor consumer empowerment.

    It's almost as if Republicans have been pushing homeownership as if it were some sort of investment rather than a potential anchor to hang around your neck when you need to move to where the work is.

"Pushing homeownership" is of course a proxy for "pushing mortgages." They could give a fuck whether or not the home even exists, so long as you're borrowing as much as you can for it.

The gift wrapped presents that our government gives the mortgage industry (30 year fixed mortgage and mortgage interest deduction, e.g.) probably should be rescinded. Both of those were instituted to ostensibly help consumers purchase homes, but the real effect is to shovel money away from the government and into the industry's coffers. Every dime I get to deduct from my taxes due to my interest payments is a dime that some poor bastard needs to get taxed to make up for it. Considering on the top 1/3 of mortgagees even qualify for this deduction, it's clearly not a help-the-poor-get-homes type of policy.

It would be really difficult to phase it out at this point (because so many people mortgage all the way to their borrowing limit), but I'm all for it. It's regressive, and benefits one particular industry at the expense of everyone else. There are many good reasons to buy a house at a particular time and place in life, but we should stop peddling the fantasy that home ownership should be striven for as soon as possible.

b_b  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Untold Story of Obama’s Lost Army

I think the Senate map favors republicans in 2018. Several democrats from conservative states who were elected either in 2006 or 2012, which were big democrat years, are up for reelection. I personally think it's too early to tell. Obviously the GOP has a gigantic structural advantage across the entire federal government, but mid-terms almost always cost the president's party seats. And we haven't yet seen how much people hate this president. Even with their gerrymandering advantage in the House, and their structural advantage in the House and Senate, history predicts the GOP will lose seats. Trump is kind of ahistorical however, so who the hell knows what could happen.

This is a classic lolbrooks, observing the problem and blaming the victim.

I think I'm the last person left in America who thinks that our problems are not all that hard to solve. The majority of our economic struggles correlate very closely with banking deregulation and tax policy changes, both of which have redistributed money upward.

To be entrepreneurial requires dynamism. Much like combustion requiring both fuel and oxygen, starting a business requires people (fuel) and money (oxygen). The banks have no incentive to create easy money for businesses, because they can make a fuckload doing dumb shit like using your deposit to buy securitzed debt. So business owners have to go to venture capitalists for money, and for those of you who don't know what a venture capitalist is, it's what you call a loan shark who wears really expensive suits and has friends in Congress.

People, being immutable in their desire for a better life, will always be entrepreneurial, if we let them. This is just as true today as it was when someone invented the wheel. When the number of people doing this decreases dramatically, we can ask, as Brooke does, "What's the matter with people?" (Who haven't changed in millenia until, according to Brooks, 1985.) Or we can ask, as we should, "What's the matter with the current climate?"

Policy changes that once again deny banks the ability to gamble with deposits, and tax changes that encourage investments in small business would break this cycle tomorrow. As long as it's more profitable for banks to make risky bets on financial instruments that don't actually correlate to anything manufactured or any real service rendered, then they are going to continue to do that.

b_b  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Free Will ≈ Determinism, F.A.P.P.

    I was mentally strained by a kid who barely two months earlier didn't know what exactly is a solution concentration.

I've found that one of the best things about teaching is that in order to do it coherently, you're forced to learn concepts in ways that you hadn't considered before. You can get a perfect score on an exam, and read 100 books on a topic, but until you have to make some else understand it, you can't really comprehend the limits of your own understanding. This is fantastically true in math, physics and chemistry, where bullshit rises to the surface almost immediately.

We hemorrhaged educated people from the mid-90s until very recently. It seems like the tide is turning, but we have a long way to go to get back to respectability. The auto industry is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it made MI a fantastic place to live and work for decades. On the other, it discouraged leaders from investing in higher ed, because union guys could make $80k on a high school education. Our current governor is that rarest of endangered species, the moderate republican, and he is trying his best to improve retention of college educated people. That combined with Detroit's resurgence has stemmed the tide of net population loss. Unfortunately, our legislature is made up of a bunch of Jason Chaffetz wannabes, and they just voted to eliminate our income tax without replacement. So if the republican governor has his way, MI will finally join the 21st century, or if the republican legislature has its way, we'll join Kansas in their great experiment in failure.

Our state sure as fuck has, however. Just two short years ago democrat Gary Peters beat the hell out of republican Terry Lynn Land for Levin's open Senate seat in a year when GOP won the governor and a majority of state seats. Land is a moron, and was exposed as such. It was therefore concluded, apparently incorrectly, that although the voters of Michigan have been leaning GOP more and more, they were still smart enough to reject an incompetent moron. Not so much anymore. That Kid Rock's name is in the ring is a testament to the statewide regression. He is not a smart or a good person, and he wouldn't be a good addition to the Senate.

b_b  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 15, 2017

I agree, but mainly I'm just pissed off that they actually had a conversation with management on this that started: "Here's how we handle this: first offer store credit. If they balk, often a refund." The callous indifference is more what I'm reacting to. How about a refund with interest to start. And an apology. With all the negative press that the state of Michigan has received, you'd think they'd be more sensitive. Possible I'm overreacting, but they started it.

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