STUMP » Articles » Friday Ephemera: While Things Go By » 16 September 2016, 02:58

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Friday Ephemera: While Things Go By  


16 September 2016, 02:58

No, no pension material for today. No public finance. I’m a little burned out with the beginning of the school year (and I haven’t finished my first cashflow mock-up).

Thanks to my referrers this week:

Oh student, you can tell everybody else about the below.


So I see some profs at UChicago are asking students to speak up for safe spaces and trigger warnings.

Well, you can ask for it, but you won’t necessarily give it.

The students who showed up to class early on Wednesday got treated to a bit of Mozart. At least there’s no murder or rape in this opera (Cosi fan tutte), but I’m not giving any trigger warnings for opera. If you don’t know what happens in classic operas, that’s not problem. Go look up the opera. There are summaries everywhere. Also, you can wait til class begins to sit down and you can avoid the opera. Of course it means you’ll be in the worst seats in our cramped room.

Anyway, this is the production I was playing: a 1996 Vienna production, Muti conducting. Acts 1 and 2 are in separate videos below:

The class is on learning Excel, Access, and VBA for Excel. So I don’t play opera during class. Just while we wait for class to begin.


I get quoted in this piece on superforecasters:

The good news is that for some people, intuition is trainable. One participant in the IARPA contest, insurance researcher and former math major Mary Pat Campbell, says mathematicians see intuition as the unconscious mastery of information. This applies to competitive forecasters, too. They need intuition to decide which statistics to consider, and how often to update information without being distracted by noise.

It’s not the most accurate description of me, but then, I do lots of stuff. I just don’t really care. Just quote me properly.

And then I recently had a letter to the editor run in the Wall Street Journal:

When I got to the end of The Sinister Side of Cash (Review, Aug. 27), I felt like I was in a Scooby-Doo episode, with the demasked villain proclaiming, “I would have been able to get monetary policy to work if it weren’t for those pesky kids and their cash!” It is farcical watching various central bankers persist in their failed strategies regarding negative interest rates without the subsequent desired results. As with Marxists claiming that true communism has never been tried, it looks like the current excuse for these bankers is that their strategy won’t work until cash is obliterated.

Mary Pat Campbell

Croton Falls, N.Y.

Writing snarky letters to the WSJ used to be a hobby, but I kind of left it off when they didn’t print my serious letters.

But I can work with snarky now. I have so many outlets for my serious writing.


I’m going through my old paperbacks, as a way to clear out my library. I am reading Vamps and Tramps by Camille Paglia… the copy is in poor condition, so I’m pulling out pages and recycling as I go.

A few things caught my attention: two bits called Kind of a Bitch: Why I like Hillary Clinton and Hillary in the Spotlight.

A few excerpts:

From April 1993:

I am very uneasy when feminists and journalists overpraise Hillary and hail her as the supreme feminist woman, the supremely gifted one who will soon be running for president herself.

Well, in some time scales, 23 years is “soon”. Or 15 years, I suppose, as that’s when she ran.

From March 1994 – this was from a Crossfire episode, with Michael Kinsley, Pat Buchanan (hosts) and Ann Lewis (Democratic party operative) and Paglia.

I loved Hillary during the campaign… but I have been bitterly disappointed in her performance ever since they took office…. She just hides from accountability. I find her arrogant. I find her cold. I think that there was too much unctuous genuflection in front of her, that the liberal media had only one image of her for the last year, and they’re starting to wake up to reality, seeing her in action here. I think she has fumbled and bumbled and shown a kind of lack of character.


PAGLIA: They want special standards for women! That’s what you’re asking!

ANN LEWIS: Camille, I’m asking for common standards of decency and human dignity.

PAGLIA: Decency?!

PAGLIA: No, no, no. I feel there’s a kind of secretiveness about her, even the way they handled the health-care thing. I have not been impressed with her performance over the last year, and it’s taken people a long time to catch up with it.
PAGLIA: I’m sorry, no, no. They dug a hole for themselves, because when they started out, I was behind the Clintons — the idea of universal coverage and so on. As the year has gone on, I have systematically lost confidence in her and in him. I no longer believe anything they say. I believe nothing that comes out of that White House. They have a teribble staff. George Stephanopoulos is a complete incompetent. I don’t know why he wasn’t kicked out of there ages ago….
PAGLIA: There’s been a year, okay, of this lily-white reputation of her, wild overpraise =, even of her performance on the Hill. People have been afraid to be called sexist and so on. So inside the Beltway, everybody’s very accustomed to thinking of her as a kind of — you know, as Saint Hillary… This is a woman who’s out of her depth, a person who’s out of her depth in the present position that she has.

Well, 22 years later… I think nobody is afraid of being called sexist, currently. So yay us.

Something from Paglia in April of this year.

And what about that persistent cough? “Allergy season,” the hacking Hillary claimed on a New York radio show this week. (“You all right? Any mouth to mouth CPR?” joked a host.) I’m just a Ph.D., not an M.D., but I’ll put my Miss Marple hat on here. Am I the only one who noticed Hillary’s high-wrap collar, pallid, puffy face, and bulging eyes during her choleric New Hampshire primary concession speech in February? (Another unusually high collar followed the next morning.)

My tentative theory is that Hillary may have sporadic flare-ups of goiter, worsened under stress. Coughing is a symptom. High collars mask a swollen throat. In serious cases, an operation may be necessary. Is this chronic thyroid condition disqualifying in a presidential candidate? Certainly not in my view, but I don’t like being lied to—by candidates, campaign staffs, or their media sycophants.

Mmmm, I doubt it’s goiter. But everybody is an amateur doctor nowadays.

I bet Camille has new theories now. Goiter generally doesn’t make one lose total bodily control, as far as I know.

While I do not agree with Paglia on much, as with the late Chris Hitchens, she never bores me and gives me plenty to think about. Check out her books.


A few more books I’ve been reading recently:

Washington’s Monument: And the Fascinating History of the Obelisk, which is about 50/50 on the Washington Monument (which isn’t an obelisk, but is obelisk-shaped) and all about obelisks… the obelisk portion, especially in how said obelisks were transported from Egypt to Rome, London, and New York City (an obelisk I’ve looked at often). The engineering problems that were solved are fascinating…you know they were solved, because those obelisks are still standing there, but you would not realize how much effort went into getting them there.

And that’s part of the point. Also, the author lives in my town and did a lot of his research at my local library. Yay North Salem!

The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-heroes of Ancient Greece – great book that explains why Sparta is basically gone while Athens still persists. Athens gets too much of the focus, excepting Thermopylae, of course. Lots more focus on the wars between the city-states of Greece before the Macedonians, and then the Romans, swept in and took it all over.

The Mote in God’s Eye – a scifi novel by Niven and Pournelle. I had read this one before, but it’s been over a decade since I picked it up. I forgot the ending (it’s the first of a series and I had remembered something that happens in a later book.) It’s a first contact story with some interesting twists. Niven and Pournelle know how to set up a scenario and let it play out… plenty of action and problems to be figured out.

Enjoy your weekend! For me, I need to get some sleep.