Professor at large

Spartacus swore he would never do it again.  He took an oath before his almighty that he would stop reading and listening to Peter Van Onselen.  But like reformed drug addict at a dance party, Spartacus has dipped into the well again.

Writing in the Australian, in what he probably considers a defence of Tony Abbott, Van Onselen offers this:

True conservatives protect institutions, they don’t tear them down. They mitigate for the risks of climate change, rather than rail against the science. True conservatives defend freedoms from vile speech every bit as much as they seek to preserve from of speech.

Really.  Do they Professor Van Onselen?

One only hopes that his students at Griffith and the Uni of WA have available a money back guarantee.  But rather than writing his assessment of Van Onselen’s commentary, Spartacus has done a video review.  Available here.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Monetary bleg

Send me money bitcoin. Oh wait …

More seriously, send me information.

I’m sure Cats recall a story explaining liquidity traps. The story goes along the lines of a businessman paying a cash deposit to an innkeeper in a small town. The innkeeper then uses the cash  to pay his debts. The innkeepers creditor then uses the cash to offset his debts, and so on. Eventually the entire town has paid their debts and the cash is back in the hands of the innkeeper. At this point the businessman changes his mind and the deposit is refunded. The point being that an injection of cash would be a good thing.

I seem to recall that Paul Krugman originally told this story. But … I can’t find it anywhere. Krugman uses a story about a babysitting co-op to illustrate the liquidity trap.

So my question is: can anyone tell me who first told the story and were I can find it?

Many thanks.

Posted in Economics and economy | 16 Comments

Justinian the Great: The Liberal Party’s Problem with Women

The Liberal Party does have a problem with women. None are any good!

At least going by those who have served in either the Cabinet or Outer Ministry under the Abbott and Turnbull governments.

This is the list of women to have served in the Cabinet or Outer Minister over the past 5 years:

  • Julie Bishop (Foreign Affairs)
  • Marise Payne (Human Services, Defence, Foreign Affairs)
  • Michaelia Cash (Employment and Women)
  • Sussan Ley (Education, Health)
  • Kelly O’Dwyer (Small Business, Assistant Treasurer, Revenue and Financial Services)
  • Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (International Development and the Pacific)

Can anyone think of a single accomplishment or policy contribution of substance any of these women have made?

If these women represent the cream of the crop, then the Liberal’s do indeed have a huge problem!

Chief among them being conservative women with above average intelligence and success would rather a career in anything else other than Liberal Party politics.

No quota will fix that!

Which is hardly surprising considering they would have to endure mind numbing hour upon hour of political drivel from such dull intellects as Christopher Pyne and Simon Birmingham to name but a few.

Only to discover they signed up not to a conservative party after all, but a big tax, big spend, nanny state party where the spoils of office is what the whole game is ultimately about.

Lets be honest, the Liberal Party is gradually morphing into a Gentleman’s Club of the vacuous Left. It’s where soft in head College / Grammar boy Lefties go to get into parliament because they forgot to join a union (or were too afraid).

The Liberal Party’s problem with women is that it has become a poor man’s Labor Party but without any balls.

In short, it’s a turn off!

Self-respecting, strong, independent, intelligent, successful women typically do not choose to partner with dull, impotent, spineless, sheep of men. So why would they want to join the Liberal Party?

If the Liberal Party wants to attract more women, best it man up to its man problem.

This means it needs a quota of bona fides Liberal warriors before a quota of anything else!

Posted in Guest Post | 26 Comments

Today’s news: nothing happened

I’m not sure I understand why it would matter even if it had happened, but in any case it is a certainly that nothing of the kind ever took place. And for any of you who ask, how can you know for sure, common sense cannot be counted as among your most important personal characteristics. Might as well accept the truth of alien abductions.

American politics remains the oddest place in the world. Donald Trump is a small dot of sanity in the midst of it all. It is his common sense and willingness to fight things out that makes him so formidable. Meanwhile….


'Other man in room' won't testify...
Senator Wants Men to 'Just Shut Up'...
Soros-Backed Activists Slip Cash to Protesters... 



Posted in American politics | 47 Comments

Keeping it brief – Alex Jones

There has been a lot of sound and fury of late about the role of the internet platform providers (eg Google, Facebook and Twitter) in censoring content.  It came to a particular head with the banning/blocking/expelling of Alex Jones.

Spartacus is a free speech near absolutist.  He believes that the best remedy for bad and offensive speech is more speech and not less speech.

It is however a sad reflection that an al-foil hat wearing loon like Jones has an audience and not to mention an income from that audience.  Consider for example the following fish people performance.

Jones clearly missed his calling.  He should have been a Greens Senator from South Australia rather than an internet whatever he is.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 84 Comments

New England bookshops to visit in the fall.

The stores. Enjoy!

Wind and Other doing 7.5% of demand before breakfast.

Posted in Books and writing, Rafe | 2 Comments

Doesn’t anyone notice this. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Last week, 3 of the 4 major Australian banks increased their mortgage interest rates.

The media and the political class, with their standard deep analysis and understanding of the business models and funding of banks did the predictable thing.  They criticised the 3 that increased rates (ANZ, CBA, WBC) and praised the 1 that made no change (NAB).

The whole “out of cycle” interest rate change blah blah was brought out, as if domestic savings are the principle source of funds for the banks.

Did anyone bother to actually look at what the rates were or was the movement just the story.  The answer is no obviously because notwithstanding the increases, the standard variable rate for ANZ (5.20%) and CBA (5.22%) are still less than NAB (5.24%) and the Westpac rate (5.24%) is now the same as NAB .

But actually looking at the details requires some level of journalistic and analytical sophistication.

Spartacus is not suggesting that these are appropriate rates or competitive rates, but NAB should not be complimented for having the equal highest standard variable mortgage rate of the big 4.

Spartacus hopes that a similar level of sophistication would be applied to the analysis of government expenditures (ie looking at the total spent and not the incemental variance), but somehow doubts that that will happen.  Spartacus feels like he is taking crazy pills.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

EEO unintended consequences

Do Equal Employment Opportunity Statements Backfire? Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment On Job-Entry Decisions
Andreas Leibbrandt, John A. List
NBER Working Paper No. 25035
Issued in September 2018

NBER Program(s):Law and Economics, Labor Studies

Labor force composition and the allocation of talent remain of vital import to modern economies. For their part, governments and companies around the globe have implemented equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations to influence labor market flows. Even though such regulations are pervasive, surprisingly little is known about their impacts. We use a natural field experiment conducted across 10 U.S. cities to investigate if EEO statements in job advertisements affect the first step in the employment process, application rates. Making use of data from nearly 2,500 job seekers, we find considerable policy effects, but in an unexpected direction: the presence of an EEO statement dampens rather than encourages racial minorities’ willingness to apply for jobs. Importantly, the effects are particularly pronounced for educated job seekers and in cities with white majority populations. Complementary survey evidence suggests the underlying mechanism at work is “tokenism”, revealing that EEO statements backfire because racial minorities avoid environments in which they are perceived as regulatory, or symbolic, hires rather than being hired on their own merits. Beyond their practical and theoretical importance, our results highlight how field experiments can significantly improve policymaking. In this case, if one goal of EEO regulations is to enhance the pool of minority applicants, then it is not working.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Posted in Market Economy, Rafe | 12 Comments

Critical problems in the integrated power grid

Recycling a comment from RobK in a previous thread on the renewable road to ruin. He reports a talk by an electrical engineer, Kate Summers of Pacific Hydro. She has excessive enthusiasm for renewable energy, especially hydro (which is cheating), but the most important take-home that I can understand is the massive spinning turbines are under huge mechanical stresses due to fluctuating voltage that is not being controlled properly in the integrated system. This will increase downtime and unscheduled outages and shorten their working lives.

Comments and further explanation are invited from qualified Cats, I took several pages of notes but will not take the time to listen again or attempt to improve on RobK and any others who are prepared to help.

Part of the problem that will appeal to students of catallaxies is her claim that the centralised control and monitoring in the integrated system fails compared with the decentralised controls in stand-alone systems.

Another vital take-home from the first or second question was the observation that among the 33 senior managers of the four regulatory agencies there are 3 with science or engineering qualifications.

Kate Summers “Power system control or market control of a power system: Is there a fundamental loss of power system control?”

On Wednesday 15th August 2018 I was happy to speak at University of Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College about a topic that I see as a very important one to the ongoing stability of the electricity grid (and hence to the continuation of the energy transition).

As I note during my presentation, it seems to me that we have moved from centralised planning but distributed control, to a market with decentralised planning but centralised control. This is apparent, for instance, in market provisions for ancillary services. I am not sure that we all understand the implications of this.

This is the commentary by RobK.

An interesting 60min presentation looking at an aspect of FCAS dealing with hunting of frequency control partially caused by poor integration of digital and rotory manchine control. Some interesting comments on the lack of engineering input to system design.

Presented by a power engineer with RE background. There are many other issues than mentioned here but interesting insights into the systems workings.

It seems worse than I expected.

At 6am Wind and Other were delivering 13% of the 20GW demand.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 42 Comments

Dealing with the highest standards of political madness

This is the accusation: that the nominee for the Supreme Court, when he was 17, which is thirty or so years ago, did the following:

One summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.

On Sunday, the White House sent The Post a statement Kavanaugh issued last week, when the outlines of Ford’s account became public: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Through a White House spokesman, Kavanaugh declined to comment further on Ford’s allegation and did not respond to questions about whether he knew her during high school. The White House had no additional comment.

It’s from the Washington Post so you cannot get more authoritative than that. More here.

'I thought he might inadvertently kill me'...
Anti-Trump Activist?
Lawyer History of Dismissing Claims Against Liberals, Defended Franken...
Dems call on Senate to postpone vote...
Republicans join...
Feinstein urges FBI probe...

What truly gets me is that everyone takes it seriously. These are the people we are depending on to defend our way of life. Is there really anyone based on this story who would change their vote if Kavanaugh were confirmed without further investigation? There truly are idiots everywhere.

AND FURTHERMORE: Much on the web about these events, but this one is the only one I agree with totally since he starts from the premise that the woman is a weaponised liar. It is Victor Davis Hanson on The New Refuge of Scoundrels. I thought this went to the heart of it. No one else seems to say this which is unambiguously true.

What is left unsaid is that we will no longer have a free country or enjoy civil liberties and the safety of a Bill of Rights, if any American, at any time, can be ruined by an allegation of unproven sexual assault of some 36 years past, when the accused was a 17-year-old teenager, by an accuser who initially trafficked anonymously in such allegations, came forward only as part of a wider, more intensified and collective last-ditch effort to destroy the reputation of the accused, and yet has no clear memory of exactly where she was at 15, or the approximate date, when she claims that she was assaulted, or why she made no such accusation for 30 years—or when she raised the issue some six years ago privately during counseling, why her therapist’s notes of such revelations do not now match her current version of the incident.

As in, any lie will do if it achieves its end.

Posted in American politics | 59 Comments