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Signifyin(g)Monkey last won the day on August 1 2015

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  1. What I find most ironic in all this--aside from the idea that tariffs are going to do much to solve the country's problems-- is Trump's belief that the US's trade deficits are indicative of national weakness when they are actually a sign of the opposite. Make no mistake--the shortest path to diminishing the US's perennial trade deficits would be to demote the dollar from its status as the world reserve currency. The US can't consistently pull in more dollars than other countries take out when every country is either doing business in dollars, or using dollars to back their own currency. Our deficits reflect the massive depth and breadth of our economic might. What could be less anathema to nationalism, or less conducive to 'making America great again', than to subvert the key to your nation-state's outsized power on the global stage? The irony is hilarious, in a dark and sort of depressing way.
  2. Pope: It's better to be an atheist than a bad Christian

    More accurately, It *does* change minds, but only indirectly, as a result of being presented in a fashion that changes the emotional state of the person being convinced. But that is fundamentally about rhetoric, and it requires someone who is emotionally attached to the idea of being 'rational'. Someone who has no emotional attachment to the idea of being rational or logical argumentation is utterly immune to any logical argument whatsoever, no matter how irrefutable it seems.
  3. Pope: It's better to be an atheist than a bad Christian

    It's not speculative, it's neuroscience. The neural systems that are primarily responsible for supporting declarative knowledge and thence reason are built on top of those parts of the brain responsible for producing emotion--the latter systems are more basic and as a consequence production of emotion is prior to production of rationalization and declarative knowledge in the decision-making process. Indeed, it has been seen in patients with damage specific to those parts of the brain responsible for emotion that they become practically incapable of decision-making, even though they may retain the same level of IQ--most famously in the case of 'Elliot', a patient whose case is outlined here.
  4. Pope: It's better to be an atheist than a bad Christian

    People's rational faculty is subordinate to their irrational feelings and emotions--it's how our brains are constructed. If people change their minds, it's because their feelings changed first, thus creating a desire, conscious or subconscious--usually the latter--to find a rationale to justify their change in feelings. Developing discourse and argument must be an end in itself--it doesn't change minds. Rhetoric, on the other hand, is the key to changing minds, because it is not focused on argument, but on presentation and manipulating people's emotions so that their sentiments change. (But argument can't be used to strengthen rhetoric, so they are best developed in tandem) Do not underestimate the strict limits under which reason operates in the human brain. We are not rational animals--we are *rationalizing* animals in thrall to urges and sentiments we don't control, but must constantly provide reasons to justify in order to retain any semblance of self-esteem and belief in our own volition and self-determination. And, yes, that is my own rationalization.
  5. California rated worst in America

    It's #1 in one category only. The #1-ranked overall is a far superior place.
  6. California rated worst in America

    Iowa at #1--long live Hawkeye nation!
  7. Many companies are cutting ties with the NRA

    My point is that no matter *what* you do, progress is unlikely to be made, because the more 'progress' is made, the more the so-called 'enemies of progress' are empowered to undo 'progress' or turn it further to their own ends. I'm not necessarily saying you shouldn't 'rock the boat'; I'm just saying it won't really get you anywhere. I'd love to be wrong, but I don't think I am.
  8. Many companies are cutting ties with the NRA

    Honestly, this could easily end up helping the NRA. You see, both gun manufacturers and the NRA rely on fear of an entity or group bent on taking people's guns away to prop up their membership and their profit margins. Typically the government plays this role. That's why gun manufacturers' profits have tended to languish during Republican administrations relative to their performance under Democratic administrations ever since the Democrats became associated with gun control. Right now, since the Republicans control the gun policy levers, the NRA and gun manufacturers don't have this animating fear helping them out. But if they can point to a boycott like this and say "this kind of thing is going to pressure lawmakers to adopt oppositional attitudes towards liberal gun laws even if they are conservative; a grassroots movement to take your guns away is afoot!", then they may be able to conjure up this bogeyman even though they are in a conventionally favorable political environment. I hate to be the pessimist, but Don't be fooled by the outcry over these shootings --there are way too many people in this country who are into gun culture and/or sincerely believe strict gun control laws will lead to a totalitarian state or make our gun-related problems worse for the tide to ever 'turn' towards long-term stricter gun control within our lifetimes, if ever.
  9. I always tell people that if they're investing in a way that makes a stock market tumble a cause for anxiety, they're doing it wrong.
  10. The Stock Market is going bananas

    Over the long term, it will make the real economy increasingly fragile and ultimately induce another bout of deleveraging and another debt deflation-fueled downturn, since the income companies make will eventually be insufficient to service the debts they have accumulated. In the medium-term, it merely makes companies less productive, and diverts spending away from the purchase and production of goods and services towards interest payments, meaning a more sluggish, slower-growing economy--and as a by-product, sluggish wage growth. This means a lot of missed opportunity, since we're having the first case of synchronized global growth in a long time--it will not last, so we need to squeeze every last bit of production and healthy investment out of it before it's gone, and the continuation of this parasitic form of finance capitalism will prevent us from doing that. In the short-term, we may continue to see the stock market melt-up a bit more before it melts down; there is always the chance, of course, that we will experience a brief downturn due to some 'exogenous' shock, but bounce back for a bit before the next debt deflation (the cause of the *really* bad downturns). Unfortunately, there's not much for the average person with savings to spare to do but maintain a balanced portfolio that puts the proper hedges in place but catches a piece of the short-term upswing. In the current environment, unless you want to risk losing your shirt buying up unstable cryptocurrency, the stock market is the only game in town. Keeping all your savings in cash will make for negative returns. But that's far from a good thing, and the economic structure behind it is far from the healthy form of industrial capitalism that created the American middle class and postwar prosperity.
  11. The Stock Market is going bananas

    Don't forget low interest rates. With interest rates this low, and with a huge bout of deleveraging in the recent past, companies can pump up their stock price by releveraging like crazy and aggressively buying back stock. Unfortunately, that's much different than productive investment for the purpose of tangible capital formation and greater industrial production.
  12. The Stock Market is going bananas

    And there's that. But people with a portfolio might also look at their returns and mistakenly think the economy's growing by leaps and bounds, when it's moving too sluggishly to put consistent upward pressure on wages.
  13. The Stock Market is going bananas

    @Dodger Don't be suckered by Trump, Hillary, Obama or anyone else--juicing the stock market doesn't mean wage earners are benefiting. Median weekly real earnings declined significantly from 2009-2014 while the Dow Jones rose 10,000 points under Obama. Under Trump, wages have actually flatlined and declined a bit while the stock market is "going bananas". Corporate titans using windfalls to buy back stock and pay the rest out to dividends doesn't equal higher wages. Indeed, the stock market's performance over the past ten years has been used to paper over the abysmal performance of wages. Everybody is so dazzled by the returns on their portfolio that they hardly notice how badly they're getting paid.
  14. Gibbon's comment about how the Roman Republic became incapable of 'rational rule' comes to mind. The Democrats are saying exactly the same things Republicans were when they forced a government shutdown a few years back; the Republicans are saying the exact same things the Democrats were at that time. This is all on record, yet most people are too deranged from partisan chauvinism to call either group out on it. Right now Congress and the president epitomize irrational rule.
  15. Remember the whole you're guilty until proven innocent thing? Yeah that's, like, US law.