Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to Last Men and OverMen Readers

Also happy Kwanzaa, happy Hanukkah, happy Festivus, or whatever other holiday you might celebrate. A lot of folks like a respite from politics and the world, etc. 

Tom Brown worries that politics is now dominating our lives:

"good politics is boring-as-shit politics, and it shouldn't dominate our lives. I do yearn for less exciting days on the political front."

However, as a political junkie, this year has been a great fix. Indeed, what I hate about holidays like Christmas is that there's not much new news. I hate when there's no new news. I have to totally concur with Chris Cillizza. 

"Politics is the best. Mock me if you will (and you will!), but this past year has proven, again, that politics is the least predictable, most entertaining, most totally fascinating place to spend your time. I truly believe that 20 years from now, we will still be trying to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon — no matter how it ends. The drama in Hillary Clinton trying, again, to claim the nation's top political job — with all the water under the Clinton bridge — is a script you simply couldn't write any better. Ben Carson. Bernie Sanders. Chris Christie. Jeb(!) Bush. Any one of them makes for a fascinating window into who we are as a people and what we want to be. Add them all together — along with Trump, Clinton and the rest —- and now you've got something really special."

"Sure, social media and the changing business realities of journalism mean that how we cover the campaign — and how candidates react to us covering the campaign — is changing. Access — real access — is getting harder and harder to come by. Candidates are more scripted, paranoid and quick to blame the media for their own mistakes than ever before. And the pace of the Internet, and the demand for content, means less fully-formed reporting (and more errors) make their way onto the digital page."

"But still. Covering this whole thing is one hell of a great gig. Every time I threaten to forget that most basic of facts, something ridiculous or amazing or amazingly ridiculous happens on the campaign trail and I am thankful all over again for the chance to commit journalism for a living."

A lot of people will mock him, but not me. Politics is the best. Ok, now for an assessment of the year of 2015, let's give it over to I guess political comic, David Barry who thinks that 2015 was the worse year ever. Hm-sounds like Tom Brown.

"Sometimes we are accused — believe it or not — of being overly negative in our annual Year in Review. Critics say we ignore the many positive events in a given year and focus instead on the stupid, the tragic, the evil, the disgusting, the Kardashians."

"OK, critics: We have heard you. This year, instead of dwelling on the negatives, we’re going to start our annual review with a List of the Top 10 Good Things That Happened in 2015. Ready? Here we go:

1. We didn’t hear that much about Honey Boo Boo.


"OK, we’ll have to get back to you on Good Things 2 through 10. We apologize, but 2015 had so many negatives that we’re having trouble seeing the positives. It’s like we’re on the Titanic, and it’s tilting at an 85-degree angle with its propellers way up in the air, and we’re dangling over the cold Atlantic trying to tell ourselves: “At least there’s no waiting for the shuffleboard courts!”

"Are we saying that 2015 was the worst year ever? Are we saying it was worse than, for example, 1347, the year when the Bubonic Plague killed a large part of humanity?"

"Yes, we are saying that. Because at least the remainder of humanity was not exposed to a solid week in which the news media focused intensively on the question of whether a leading candidate for president of the United States had, or had not, made an explicit reference to a prominent female TV journalist’s biological lady cycle."

So what about it Tom? Would you rather live through the Bubonic Plauge or Trumpist politics? LOL.

"Krugman, interestingly, as he's not necesarily a cock-eyed optimist has some reason for hope as we end 2015:"In Star Wars, Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs; in real life, all the Falcon 9 has done so far is land at Cape Canaveral without falling over or exploding. Yet I, like many nerds, was thrilled by that achievement, in part because it reinforced my growing optimism about the direction technology seems to be taking — a direction that may end up saving the world."

"O.K., if you have no idea what I’m talking about, the Falcon 9 is Elon Musk’s reusable rocket, which is supposed to boost a payload into space, then return to where it can be launched again. If the concept works, it could drastically reduce the cost of putting stuff into orbit. And that successful landing was a milestone. We’re still a very long way from space colonies and zero-gravity hotels, let alone galactic empires. But space technology is moving forward after decades of stagnation"

And to my amateur eye, this seems to be part of a broader trend, which is making me more hopeful for the future than I’ve been in a while."

"You see, I got my Ph.D. in 1977, the year of the first Star Wars movie, which means that I have basically spent my whole professional life in an era of technological disappointment."

"Until the 1970s, almost everyone believed that advancing technology would do in the future what it had done in the past: produce rapid, unmistakable improvement in just about every aspect of life. But it didn’t. And while social factors — above all, soaring inequality — have played an important role in that disappointment, it’s also true that in most respects technology has fallen short of expectations."

"The most obvious example is travel, where cars and planes are no faster than they were when I was a student, and actual travel times have gone up thanks to congestion and security lines. More generally, there has just been less progress in our command over the physical world — our ability to produce and deliver things — than almost anyone expected."

"Now, there has been striking progress in our ability to process and transmit information. But while I like cat and concert videos as much as anyone, we’re still talking about a limited slice of life: We are still living in a material world, and pushing information around can do only so much. The famous gibe by the investor Peter Thiel (“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”) is unfair, but contains a large kernel of truth."
This is something I disagree with him totally on-that the data revolution is only about a limited slice of life. The Internet has been revolutionary in its impact. For goodness sake, 25 percent of those who got married met on the Internet. 
Krugman himself has been facilitated in his writing by the blogosphere-as have I, of course. If not for the blogosphere, a guy like me would have no voice at all beyond writing a letter to the NY Times that they probably don't print. 
Krugman sounds like Sumner-and Tyler Cowen here. They all discount the rise of the Internet-yet they all have facilitated the Internet mightily. Sumner's Market Monetarism never would have taken off without the Internet-certainly it wouldn't have via economic journals. 
I have to say I'm more with Morgan Warstler with his technophilia here. Maybe it's a generational thing. Krugman, Sumner, and Cowen are all economists born in the 50s, whereas Morgan and I are younger. 
"Ok, but Star Wars has made Krugman an optimist again. "
"Over the past five or six years, however — or at least this is how it seems to me — technology has been getting physical again; once again, we’re making progress in the world of things, not just information. And that’s important."

"Progress in rocketry is fun to watch, but the really big news is on energy, a field of truly immense disappointment until recently. For decades, unconventional energy technologies kept falling short of expectations, and it seemed as if nothing could end our dependence on oil and coal — bad news in the short run because of the prominence it gave to the Middle East; worse news in the long run because of global warming."
"But now we’re witnessing a revolution on multiple fronts. The biggest effects so far have come from fracking, which has ended fears about peak oil and could, if properly regulated, be some help on climate change: Fracked gas is still fossil fuel, but burning it generates a lot less greenhouse emissions than burning coal. The bigger revolution looking forward, however, is in renewable energy, where costs of wind and especially solar have dropped incredibly fast."

"But now we can see the shape of a sustainable, low-emission future quite clearly — basically an electrified economy with, yes, nuclear power playing some role, but sun and wind front and center. Of course, it doesn’t have to happen. But if it doesn’t, the problem will be politics, not technology."

"True, I’m still waiting for flying cars, not to mention hyperdrive. But we have made enough progress in the technology of things that saving the world has suddenly become much more plausible. And that’s reason to celebrate."

There we go. Krugman ends the year on a positive note. Let's hope he's right. These days what Marxists still hand their hats on is that we can't solve the global warming problem as lone as we have the capitalist economic system.

So you have those who are on the Right who say doing something about global warming will destroy grown and those on the Left who want to destroy growth.

Read more here:


  1. Merry Christmas Mike!

    I have to say I agree with Tom about politics for the most part. I hate the way America does it probably because I hate the way a significant slice of my fellow Americans think.

    American politics has become like a creationist/evolutionist debate 24/7.

    1. Cheers Greg! ... and Cheers to you too Mike.

  2. Well yes but that is about fundamental differences in opinion among Americans, not just that we have a nasty tone that needs to get better.

    The tone will only get better through politics. I know a lot of folks would like politics to be less disagreeable but this would be the case if Americans disagreed with each other less.

    In 1860 people might have wished we could get along more and fight less but there was the social question of slavery that couldn't be solved through 'statesmanship' or 'bipartisanship' etc.

    I'm not so much disagreeing with you here as an illusion of the Beltway that people should simply decide to stop being mean to each other