Amit's Planet

December 05, 2016

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Current Links

Most-Recent Must-Reads:

Most-Recent Should-Reads:

  • Richard Mayhew: The Core of the Fight: "Actuarial value and subsidy level is the core element of the coming fight on Medicare...

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by J. Bradford DeLong at December 05, 2016 01:47 AM

December 04, 2016

Abnormal Returns

Sunday links: the prosaic reality

by abnormalreturns at December 04, 2016 01:38 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

10 Businesses That Had to Pivot Before They Became Successful

Change to some is hard. But when the writing’s on the wall, sticking to what you’ve always done can spell the end of your business forever. Don’t be like that; instead, emulate these 10 successful business that first had to pivot in a big way before they became the giant companies we know them as today.


When you think of Nintendo, you probably think of the insanely popular Pokémon Go app, or maybe the NES Classic that nobody can get anywhere this week unless they’re willing to pay hundreds or even thousands on the black market. But once upon a time — and by that I do mean 1889 – Nintendo was a playing card manufacturer. Throughout the years, it tried on various concepts like becoming a taxi service and even a sketchy chain of motels before it finally found its place in the toy industry in the 1950s. It wasn’t until the 1970s it entered the video gaming industry and its path to fame and fortune. Success always starts somewhere.


Ever heard of Game Neverending? It was an online role-playing game from gaming startup Ludicorp where its users would interact with each other by buying, building, and selling within the framework of a digital map. Its most popular feature was a photo-sharing tool, which became the impetus for scrapping further development of the game and pivoting to become Flickr, the simple photo sharing site we all know and love and one of Yahoo’s most successful acquisitions ever.


Want free Wrigley gum? Take a time machine to 1890s Chicago and hunt down William Wrigley Jr., a salesman hawking soap and baking powder who offered free chewing gum with every purchase. When the gum become more popular with customers than his actual products, he started his own company and went on to give the world Juicy Fruit, Spearmint and Doublemint gum. The insanely recognizable Wrigley’s still grosses billions today.


You’ve got money! But when PayPal first began, you wouldn’t have – unless you had a Palm Pilot, the device for which it was originally invented. Peter Thiel saw the potential for expanding the company to allow anyone to exchange money online. In 2002, Ebay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion – a good deal for eBay, since PayPal was handling over 40% of eBay’s transactions. Today, PayPal has over 100 million active accounts (guess how many it would have if it hadn’t thought beyond Palm Pilots).


When Metallica nabbed Napster for making its entire studio catalog (and a previously unreleased track) available for free download, a German media giant, Bertelsmann, bought it for $85 million. Their mission? To create a new, commercial business model for a service that was once free. It wasn’t easy, but in 2008 they sold the now totally legit and above-board Napster to Best Buy for $121 million; its catalog, available by subscription, includes more than nine million songs today.


If pivots inspire you, you know about Twitter’s amazing transformation from Odeo, a podcast subscription network, to the social media mainstay it is today. When iTunes made Odeo obsolete, the company solicited suggestions from its employees for two weeks. Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone came up with the idea of a micro-blogging, status-updating platform that we now know as Twitter, and Odeo went full steam ahead. Today, Twitter is worth $10 billion.


Haven’t heard of Igniter? It’s because you don’t live in India. Igniter, a dating site for groups that began in 2008, only got 50,000 people to sign up in the United States. In India, where dating, especially alone, can still be taboo the same number of users signed up in a single week. In 2010, one of the founders officially announced that Igniter was an Indian dating site, and the pivot was official.


Though it’s hard to imagine a time where Starbucks wasn’t synonymous with fancy lattes, even your neighborhood coffee shop had to reinvent itself. In 1971, they began selling coffee beans and espresso makers. The current CEO and president, Howard Schultz, loved the coffee, and he transformed the company so everyone could easily taste European-style coffee. If it weren’t for his discovery and the company’s pivot, you’d have to go to Seattle at hope for a free sample if you wanted to get your Starbucks fix.


Once there was a website called The Point. Andrew Mason founded it in 2007 for the purpose of using “tipping point” principles to encourage users to donate to fundraisers for good causes. Groupon was just a side project in which a critical number of users agreeing to do an activity would release a discount to all of them. When it eclipsed The Point in popularity, it began its journey to fame and fortune.


When Yelp first began, it wasn’t full of amusing recommendations for quirky taco places in Austin and don’t-go-here rants about bad sushi in Oakland. In 2004, Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons started an automated system for emailing recommendation requests to friends. It turned out that what people liked most was the “Real Reviews” feature; instead of responding to requests, they most enjoyed writing unsolicited reviews on local businesses, just for kicks. The founders changed up their plan and went forward with the new idea, which now has more than 17 million reviews published online. Sometimes, it’s good to compare yourself to others.

The post 10 Businesses That Had to Pivot Before They Became Successful appeared first on Due.

by Will Lipovsky at December 04, 2016 01:00 PM

The Big Picture

10 Sunday Reads

My easy like Sunday morning reads: • The Great Rebuilding: Trump should champion a 10-year, $1 trillion program, with much of the money raised by cities and states using Build America Bonds (Barron’s) • You Would Have Missed 780% In Gains Using The CAPE Ratio, And That’s A Good Thing (Meb Faber) • Europe’s Collateral Crunch (Gadfly) • How Google Is…

Read More

The post 10 Sunday Reads appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at December 04, 2016 01:00 PM

Seth's Blog

On demand vs. in stock

"You can have any color car you want as long as it's black."

Henry Ford made cars in black because black paint dried four hours faster than any other color. That fast drying meant that the line worked faster, which made them cheaper. Just as important, he didn't have stockouts--with only one color, the color you wanted was the color he had.

Ever since then, there's been a move to on-demand, built to order and custom work. In everything we do. Freelance work, shoes, baked goods, kitchen cabinets, software, travel plans. And it seems like a cost-free progression. The thing is, it's not.

Most of the cost of everything we buy is in the risk, the starting, the stopping, the waste, the breakage, the planning.

A pair of mass produced shoes can be made for $3. A pair of custom shoes might cost $200 once you count all the associated costs.

McDonald's hit a peak moment of productivity by getting to a mythical scale, with a limited menu and little in the way of customization. They could deliver a burger for a fraction of what it might take a diner to do it on demand.

McDonald's now challenges the idea that custom has to cost more, because they've invested in mass customization.

Things that are made on demand by algorithmic systems and robots cost more to set up, but once they do, the magic is that the incremental cost of one more unit is really low. If you're organized to be in the mass customization business, then the wind of custom everything is at your back.

The future clearly belongs to these mass customization opportunities, situations where there is little cost associated with stop and start, little risk of not meeting expectations, where a robot and software are happily shifting gears all day long.

But if you're not set up for this, if you're hustling your coders or your production line or your painters or whomever to go faster and cheaper, you're fighting the wrong side of the productivity curve. It's like the diner that sought to be a friendly, custom-order place but also promised to be as cheap or as profitable as a fast food place.

These traditional businesses, the small ones, the non-automated ones, can sell custom, sure, but not at the price they used to sell the thing they make in bulk. And too often, organizations undercharge for the custom work and find themselves trapped between the productivity of doing things in batches and the challenge of delighting each customer, who carries his or her own dreams of what perfect looks like.


by Seth Godin at December 04, 2016 12:52 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Summers on the Carrier Deal

Interesting observations from Larry. A tidbit: 
Some of the worst abuses of power are not those that leaders inflict on their people. They are the acts that the people demand from their leaders.

by Greg Mankiw ( at December 04, 2016 12:46 PM

3G and 4G Wireless Blog

5G, Hacking & Security

It looks like devices that are not manufactures with security and privacy in mind are going to be the weakest link in future network security problems. I am sure you have probably read about how hacked cameras and routers enabled a Mirai botnet to take out major websites in October. Since then, there has been no shortage of how IoT devices could be hacked. In fact the one I really liked was 'Researchers hack Philips Hue lights via a drone; IoT worm could cause city blackout' 😏.

Enter 5G and the problem could be be made much worse. With high speed data transfer and signalling, these devices can create an instantaneous attack on a very large scale and generating signalling storm that can take a network down in no time.

Giuseppe TARGIA, Nokia presented an excellent summary of some of these issues at the iDate Digiworld Summit 2016. His talk is embedded below:

You can check out many interesting presentations from the iDate Digiworld Summit 2016 on Youtube and Slideshare.

Related posts:

by Zahid Ghadialy ( at December 04, 2016 12:36 PM

Abnormal Returns

Wired Top Stories

The Mysterious Machinery of Creatures That Glow in the Deep

The Mysterious Machinery of Creatures That Glow in the Deep
Bioluminescent organisms have evolved dozens of times over the course of life's history. Recent studies are narrowing in on the complicated biochemistry needed to illuminate the dark. The post The Mysterious Machinery of Creatures That Glow in the Deep appeared first on WIRED.

by Steph Yin at December 04, 2016 12:00 PM

Never Ever (Ever) Download Android Apps Outside of Google Play

Never Ever (Ever) Download Android Apps Outside of Google Play
Tricking people into downloading malicious mobile apps is a con as old as time itself (or at least as old as smartphones). Don't fall for it. The post Never Ever (Ever) Download Android Apps Outside of Google Play appeared first on WIRED.

by Lily Hay Newman at December 04, 2016 12:00 PM

The Simple Dollar

Cutting the Cord? How to Find Cheap High-Speed Internet That Can Handle Streaming Video

By Chris Brantner

One of the things that nearly everyone can agree on is cable and internet packages are way too expensive. That’s why it’s incredibly important to figure out a way to get a great deal on a reliable high-speed internet service.

If you’re a cable cutter who needs a fast connection to handle your live streaming needs, there are a few things you should know in order to get the best deal.

Shop Around

One of the best methods is to look around at all of the offers and options out there. This can be a little daunting, but this tool helps sort through all your options and will help you narrow it down.

By comparing competing offers like that, you can then use the offers as bargaining chips against other providers to hopefully reduce your actual cost. A lot of the time, internet providers will match other deals or try and meet halfway. Even if it’s only a year-long introductory deal, you can always cancel and choose another plan after the deal expires.

Find Out About Download Speeds

One of the key things you should get from the internet provider is what type of download speeds you can expect. Upload speeds are helpful too, but download speed is what will make the difference in streaming quality. Quicker download speeds mean less buffering time when watching YouTube, Netflix, Sling TV, Hulu, or any other streaming service.

The recommended minimum speed for streaming standard-definition video is usually about 5 Mbps (megabytes per second). That means if it’s just you streaming from Netflix, you can probably get by with pretty low-speed internet. But if you’re streaming high-definition video or have multiple people in your home using different services at once, you should basically add an additional 5 Mbps per streaming device.

For reference, the average internet speed throughout the U.S. is about 12 Mbps. But for the 46% of people across the world with internet access, the average is only about 5 Mbps.

Of course, if you want to stream in Ultra High Def 4K, then you’re going to need a much faster connection. For that, Netflix has you covered with its monthly ISP Speed Index rankings. (Spoiler alert: Verizon FiOS is consistently at the top.)

Check for Any Data Caps

Data caps, common on smartphone plans, are now being adopted by cable and internet providers. They’re often used to combat cord cutting, which has eroded the growth in cable subscribers, or to charge people extra if they’re downloading a large amount of content.

Basically, with a data cap, when you go over the limit you have to pay a fee for whatever you download beyond the cap.

This means if you get sucked in one weekend binge-watching every season of “Breaking Bad,” you could get to the point where you actually have to pay an additional fee on top of your monthly bill. Who wants that? Nobody. I highly recommend staying far away from any internet provider with a data cap (we’re looking at you, Comcast).

To Bundle, or Not To Bundle

One reason many people have cable is because it might seem more reasonable for them to just get the bundled internet and cable TV package. They might think it’s worth the extra money, or just don’t want to deal with what they see as the complexity of cutting the cable portion.

This is a decent option for some, but the big thing to remember is that cable cutting really isn’t that expensive or difficult nowadays. Plus, that great introductory bundle price usually shoots through the roof after the initial rate expires. So, what might seem like a decent deal today could be a really bad deal six or 12 months from now.

A lot of times if you choose to avoid the bundle, the cable companies will try to spike up internet prices. But, that’s where the internet comparison tool I mentioned earlier comes into play. You can use it to find better deals or even use it to bargain down your existing provider to a much more reasonable number. In many cases, you’ll certainly be saving money.

Should Customer Service Be a Factor in Choosing Internet for Streaming?

Maybe. But honestly, you’ll be hard pressed to find any ISP that is known for offering stellar customer service.

That being said, some are worse than others. For example, Comcast is well-known for its nightmarish customer service stories. When it comes to customer service, you may end up making a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Cutting cable is a great budgeting decision, especially with all the great options on the market that make it so much easier. But all that money saved won’t do much good if you’re blowing it on an expensive internet package. Hopefully, you’ve got a better idea now on how to search around for the best internet deal and not get taken advantage of by the cable companies.

For more info on choosing an internet service provider, check out our complete guide here.

Related Articles

The post Cutting the Cord? How to Find Cheap High-Speed Internet That Can Handle Streaming Video appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

by TSD Contributor at December 04, 2016 12:00 PM

Planet Python

Brett Cannon: What to look for in a new TV

I'm kind of an A/V nerd. Now I'm not hardcore enough to have a vinyl collection or have an amp for my TV, but all my headphones cost over $100 and I have a Sonos Playbar so I don't have to put up with crappy TV speakers. What I'm trying to say is that I care about the A/V equipment I use, but not to the extent that money is no object when it comes to my enjoyment of a movie (I'm not that rich and my wife would kill me if I spent that kind of money on electronics). That means I tend to research extensively before making a major A/V purchase since I don't do it very often and I want quality within reason which does not lend itself to impulse buying.

Prior to September 1, 2016, I had a 2011 Vizio television. It was 47", did 1080p, and had passive 3D. When I purchased the TV I was fresh out of UBC having just finished my Ph.D. so it wasn't top-of-the-line, but it was considered very good for the price. I was happy with the picture, but admittedly it wasn't amazing; the screen had almost a matte finish which led to horrible glare. I also rarely used the 3D in the television as 3D Blu-Ray discs always cost extra and so few movies took the time to actually film in 3D to begin with, instead choosing to do it in post-production (basically animated films and TRON: Legacy were all that we ever watched in 3D). And to top it all off, the TV took a while to turn on. I don't know what kind of LCB bulbs were in it, but they took forever to warm up and just annoyed me (yes, very much a first-world problem).

So when UHD came into existence I started to keep an eye on the technology and what television manufacturers were doing to incorporate the technology to entice people like me to upgrade. After two years of watching this space and one of the TVs I was considering having a one-day sale that knock 23% off the price, I ended up buying a 55" Samsung KS8000 yesterday. Since I spent so much time considering this purchase I figured I would try and distill what knowledge I have picked up over the years into a blog post so that when you decide to upgrade to UHD you don't have to start from zero knowledge like I did.

What to care about

First, you don't care about the resolution of the TV. All UHD televisions are 4K, so that's just taken care of for you. It also doesn't generally make a difference in the picture because most people sit too far away from their TV to make the higher resolution matter.

No, the one thing you're going to care about is HDR and everything that comes with it. And of course it can't be a simple thing to measure like size or resolution. Oh no, HDR has a bunch of parts to it that go into the quality of the picture: brightness, colour gamut, and format (yes, there's a format war; HD-DVD/Blu-Ray didn't teach the TV manufacturers a big enough lesson).


A key part of HDR is the range of brightness to show what you frequently hear referred to as "inky blacks" and "bright whites". The way you get deep blacks and bright whites is by supporting a huge range of brightness. What you will hear about TVs is what their maximum nit is. Basically you're aiming for 1000 nits or higher for a maximum and as close to 0 as possible for a minimum.

Now of course this isn't as simple as it sounds as there's different technology being used to try and solve this problem.


Thanks to our computers I'm sure everyone reading this is familiar with LCD displays. But what you might not realize is how they exactly work. In a nutshell there are LED lightbulbs behind your screen that provides white light, and then the LCD pixels turn on and off the red/green/blue parts of themselves to filter out certain colours. So yeah, there are lightbulbs in your screen and how strong they are dictates how bright your TV screen will be.

Now the thing that comes into play here for brightness is how those LED bulbs are oriented in order to get towards that 0 nits for inky blacks. Typical screens are edge-list, which means there is basically a strip of LEDs on the edges of the TV that shine light towards the middle of the screen. This is fine and it's what screens have been working with for a while, but it does mean there's always some light behind the pixels so it's kind of hard to keep it from leaking out a little bit.

This is where local dimming comes in. Some manufacturers are now laying out the LED bulbs in an array/grid behind the screen instead of at the edges. What this allows is for the TV to switch dim an LED bulb if it isn't needed at full strength to illuminate a certain quadrant of the screen (potentially even switching off entirely). Obviously the denser the array, the more local dimming zones and thus the greater chance a picture with some black in it will be able to switch off an LED to truly get a dark black for that part of the screen. As for how often something you're watching is going to allow you to take advantage of such local dimming due to a dark area lining up within a zone is going to vary so this is going to be a personal call as to whether this makes a difference to you.


If I didn't have a budget and wanted the ultimate solution for getting the best blacks in a picture, I would probably have an OLED TV from LG. What makes these TVs so great is the fact that OLEDs are essentially pixels that provide their own light. What that means is if you want an OLED pixel to be black, you simply switch it off. Or to compare it to local dimming, it's as if every pixel was its own local dimming zone. So if you want truly dark blacks, OLED are the way to go. It also leads to better colours since the intensity of the pixel is consistent compared to an LCD where the brightness is affected by how far the pixel is from the LED bulb that's providing light to the pixel.

But the drawback is that OLED TVs only get so bright. Since each pixel has to generate its own light they can't reach really four-digit nit levels like the LCD TVs can. It's still much brighter than any HD TV, but OLED TVs don't match the maximum brightness of the higher-end LCD TVs.

So currently it's a race to see if LCDs can get their blacks down or if OLEDs can get their brightness up. But from what I have read, in 2016 your best bet is OLED if you can justify the cost to yourself (they are very expensive televisions).

Colour gamut

While having inky blacks and bright whites are nice, not everyone is waiting for Mad Max: Fury Road in black and white. That means you actually care about the rest of the rainbow, which means you care about the colour gamut of the TV for a specific colour space. TVs are currently trying to cover as much of the DCI-P3 colour space as possible right now. Maybe in a few years TVs will fully cover that colour space, at which point they will start worrying about Rec. 2020 (also called BT.2020), but there's still room in covering DCI-P3 before that's something to care about.

In the end colour gamut is probably not going to be something you explicitly shop for, but more of something to be aware of that you will possibly gain by going up in price on your television.


So you have your brightness and you have your colours, now you have to care about what format all of this information is stored in. Yes my friends, there's a new format war and it's HDR10 versus Dolby Vision. Now if you buy a TV from Vizio or LG then you don't have to care because they are supporting both formats. But if you consider any other manufacturer you need to decide on whether you care about Dolby Vision because everyone supports HDR10 these days but no one supports Dolby Vision at the moment except those two manufacturers.

There is one key reason that HRD10 is supported by all television makers: it's an open specification. By being free it doesn't cut into profits of TVs which obviously every manufacturer likes and is probably why HDR10 is the required HDR standard for Ultra Blu-Ray discs (Dolby Vision is supported on Ultra Blu-Ray, but not required). Dolby Vision, on the other hand, requires licensing fees paid to Dolby. Articles also consistently suggest that Dolby Vision requires new hardware which would also drive up costs of supporting Dolby Vision (best I can come up with is that since Dolby Vision is 12-bit and HDR10 is 10-bit that TVs typically use a separate chip for Dolby Vision processing).

Dolby Vision does currently have two things going for it over HDR10. One is that Dolby Vision is dynamic per frame while HDR10 is static. This is most likely a temporary perk, though, because HDR10 is gaining dynamic support sometime in the future.

Two is that Dolby Vision is part of an end-to-end solution from image capture to projection in the theatres. By making Dolby Vision then also work at home it allows for directors and editors to get the results they want for the cinema and then just pass those results along to your TV without extra work.

All of this is to say that Dolby Vision seems to be the better technology, but the overhead/cost of adding it to a TV along with demand will ultimately dictate whether it catches on. Luckily all TV manufacturers has agreed on the minimum standard of HDR10 so you won't be completely left out if you buy a TV from someone other than LG or Vizio.

Where to go for advice

When it comes time to buy a TV, I recommend for advice. They have a very nice battery of tests they put the TV through and give you nice level of detail on how they reached their scores for each test. They even provide the settings they used for their tests so you can replicate them at home.

You can also read what the Wirecutter is currently recommending. For me, though, I prefer and use the Wirecutter as a confirmation check if their latest TV round-up isn't too out-of-date.

Ultra HD Premium

If you want a very simple way to help choose a television, you can simply consider ones that are listed as Ultra HD Premium. That way you know the TV roughly meets a minimum set of specifications that are reasonable to want if you're spending a lot of money on a TV. The certification is new in 2016 and so there are not a ton of TVs yet that have the certification, but since TV manufacturers like having stamps on their televisions I suspect it will start to become a thing.

One thing to be aware of is that Vizio doesn't like the certification. Basically they have complained that the lack of standards around how to actually measure what the certification requires makes it somewhat of a moot point. That's a totally reasonable criticism and why using the certification as a filter for TVs consider is good, but to not blindly buy a TV just because it has Ultra HD Premium stamp of approval.

Why I chose my TV

Much like when I bought a soundbar, I had some restrictions placed upon me when considering what television I wanted. One, the TV couldn't be any larger than 55" (to prevent the TV from taking over the living room even though we should have a 65" based on the minimum distance people might sit from the TV). This immediately put certain limits on me as some model lines don't start until 65" like the Vizio Reference series. I also wasn't willing to spend CAD 4,000 on an LG, so that eliminated OLED from consideration. I also wanted HDR, so that eliminated an OLED that was only HD.

In the end it was between the 55" Samsung KS8000, 55" Vizio P-series, and the 50" Vizio P-series. The reason for the same Vizio model at different sizes is the fact that they use different display technology; the 50" has a VA display while the 55" has an IPS display. The former will have better colours but the latter has better viewing angles. Unfortunately I couldn't find either model on display here in Vancouver to see what kind of difference it made.

One other knock against the Vizio -- at least at 55" -- was that it wasn't very good in a bright room. That's a problem for us as our living room is north facing with a big window and the TV is perpendicular to those windows, so we have plenty of glare on the screen as the sun goes down. The Samsung, on the other hand, was rated to do better in a glare-heavy room. And thanks to a one-day sale it brought the price of the Samsung to within striking distance of the Vizio. So in the end with the price difference no longer a factor I decided to go with the TV that worked best with glare and maximized the size I could go with.

My only worry with my purchase is if Dolby Vision ends up taking hold and I get left in the cold somehow. But thanks to the HDR10 support being what Ultra Blu-Ray mandates I'm not terribly worried of being shut out entirely from HDR content. There's also hope that I might be able to upgrade my television in the future thanks to it using a Mini One Connect which breaks out the connections from the television. In other TVs the box is much bigger as it contains all of the smarts of the television, allowing future upgrades. There's a chance I will be able to upgrade the box to get Dolby Vision in the future, but that's just a guess at this point that it's even possible, let alone whether Samsung choose to add Do

It's been 48 hours with the TV and both Andrea and I are happy with the purchase; me because the picture is great, Andrea because I will now shut up about television technology in regards to a new TV purchase.

December 04, 2016 11:56 AM

Brett Cannon: Introducing Which Film

What I'm announcing

Today I'm happy to announce the public unveiling of Which Film! I'll discuss how the site came about and what drives it, but I thought I would first explain what it does: it's a website to help you choose what movie you and your family/friends should watch together. What you do is you go to the site, enter in the usernames of everyone who wants to watch a film together (so you need at least two people and kept data like your watchlist and ratings on Trakt), and then Which Film cross-references everyone's watchlists and ratings to create a list of movies that people may want to watch together.

The list of movies is ranked based on a simple point scale. If a movie is on someone's watchlist it gets 4 points, movies rated 10 ⭐ get 3 points, 9 ⭐ get 2 points, and 8 ⭐ get 1 point. Everyone who participates contributes points and the movies are sorted from highest score to lowest. The reason for the point values is the assumption that watching a movie most people have not seen is the best, followed by a movies people rate very highly. In the case of ties, the movie seen longest ago (if ever) by anyone in the group is ranked higher than movies seen more recently by someone. That way there's a bigger chance someone will be willing to watch a movie again when everyone else wants to see it for the first time.

None of this is very fancy or revolutionary, but it's useful any time you get together with a group of friends to watch a film and you end up having a hard time choosing to watch. It can help even between spouses as it will identify movies both people want to watch, removing that particular point of contention.

The story behind Which Film

Now normally launching a new website wouldn't cause for any backstory, but this project has been under development for about six years, so there's a bit of history to it.

One fateful night ...

The inspiration for Which Film stemmed from one night when my co-creator Karl, his wife, my wife, and I got together and decided we wanted to watch a movie. This turned out to be quite an ordeal due to disparate tastes among all four of us. Karl and I thought that there had to be a better way to figure out a film we could all happily watch together. It didn't need to necessarily be something none of us had seen (although that was preferred), but it did need to be something that had a chance of making all of us happy if we chose to watch it.

This is when I realized that at least for me I had all of the relevant data to make such a decision on IMDb. I had been keeping my watchlist and ratings up-to-date on the site for years, to the point of amassing a watchlist over of 400 movies. Karl and I realized that had all four of us done that we could have cross-referenced the data and easily have found a film we all liked. Yes, it would require convincing everyone involved to keep track of what movies they wanted to see and rating movies that had seen, but we figured that wasn't an insurmountable problem. And so we decided we should code up a solution since we're both software developers.

You need an API, IMDb

But there was trouble with this project from the beginning. It turns out that while IMDb is happy for you to store your data on their servers, they don't exactly make it easy to get the data out. For instance, when I started looking into this they had two ways of getting to your data in some programmatic way: RSS and CSV files. The problem with RSS is that it was capped at (I believe) 200 entries, so I couldn't use it to access my entire data set. The issue with CSV was that you had to be logged in to download it. And the issue with both approaches was they were constantly broken for for different things simultaneously; when I looked into this last RSS was busted for one kind of list while CSV was broken for another. To top it all off the brokenness wasn't temporary, but lasted for lengths of time measured in months. That obviously doesn't work if you want to rely on the data and there's no official API (and IMDb at least used to aggressively go after anyone who use their name in a project).

Luckily I found Trakt. It has an API, it was accessible on a phone, and it wasn't ugly. The trick, though, was getting my data from IMDb to Trakt. Luckily there was a magical point when CSV exporting on IMDb worked for all of my lists, and so I downloaded the data and hacked together csv2trakt to migrate my data over (there is TraktRater for importing into Trakt as well, but at the time I had issues getting it to run on macOS).

What platform?

With my data moved over, we then had to choose what platform to have Which Film on. We toyed with the idea of doing a mobile app, but I'm an Android user and Karl is on iOS (and the same split for our wives), so that would have meant two apps. That didn't really appeal to either of us so we decided to do a website. We also consciously chose to do a single-page app to avoid maintaining a backend where would have to worry about uptime, potential server costs, etc. It also helps that there's a local company in Vancouver called Surge that does really nice static page hosting with a very reasonable free tier (when they get Let's Encrypt support I'll probably bump up to their paid tier if people actually end up using Which Film).

Choosing a programming language is never easy for me

Since we had found a website we were willing to ask people to use to store data, I had solved my data import problem, and we had decided on doing a website solution, next was what technology stack to use. The simple answer would have been Python, but for me that's somewhat boring since I obviously know Python. To make sure we both maximized our learning from this project we endeavoured to find a programming language neither of us had extensive experience in.

Eventually we settled on Dart. At the time we made this decision I worked at Google which is where Dart comes from, so I knew if I got really stuck with something I had internal resources to lean on. Karl liked the idea of using Dart because his game developer background appreciated the fact that Dart was looking into things like SIMD for performance. I also knew that Dart had been chosen by the ads product division at Google which meant it wasn't going anywhere. That also meant choosing Angular 2 was a simple decision since Google was using Dart with Angular 2 for products and so it would have solid Dart support.

But why six years?!?

As I have said, the site isn't complicated as you can tell from its source code, so you may be wondering why it took us six years before we could finish it. Well, since coming up with this idea I at least finished my Ph.D., moved five times between two countries,and worked for two different employers (if you don't count my Ph.D.). Karl had a similar busy life over the same timespan. And having me spend a majority of those six years in a different timezone didn't help facilitate discussions. At least we had plenty of time to think through various UX and design problems. ☺

If you give Which Film a try do let Karl and/or me know on Twitter (if you just want to see how the website works and you don't have a Trakt account you can use our usernames: brettcannon and kschmidt).

December 04, 2016 11:56 AM

naked capitalism

Wired Top Stories

Review: Ozobot Evo

Review: Ozobot Evo
This user-programmable bot for children makes playtime educational. The post Review: Ozobot Evo appeared first on WIRED.

by Christopher Null at December 04, 2016 11:31 AM

The Big Picture

Vote with Your Dolllars!

If you don’t believe in global warming, well, then beachfront property in Florida is on sale — you should go buy some! This is the counterpoint to empty rhetoric — challenging “skeptics” to substitute cash for empty rhetoric — the real life version of Wanna Bet? Don’t stick your head in the (eroding) sand    …

Read More

The post Vote with Your Dolllars! appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at December 04, 2016 11:00 AM

naked capitalism

Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers

Link-rich summary of backgrounds, connections and biases of ten possible picks for Trump's climate and energy team, collected in one post.

by Jerri-Lynn Scofield at December 04, 2016 10:55 AM

Planet Python

Lintel Technologies: Asynchronous HTTP Responses using twisted.web

In Twisted web, Resources may generate it’s response asynchronously rather than immediately upon the call to its render method. This is different from other synchronous python frameworks like django, flask etc. In those frameworks response has to be returned at the end of view function execution.

I used NOT_DONE_YET method to return response asynchronously. Also, used resource and render method to implement.

Conceptual Overview:


from twisted.web.resource import Resource
from twisted.web.server import NOT_DONE_YET,Site
from twisted.internet import reactor

class ShowResource(Resource):
    isLeaf =  True
    def printRequest(self,request):
        request.write('Hi, Your response are ready.')

    def render_GET(self,request):
        req = request
        return NOT_DONE_YET

root = ShowResource()
factory = Site(root)
reactor.listenTCP(8082, factory)


I used request.write() method for resource to respond instead of returning string.
This method can be called repeatedly. Each call appends another string to the response body. Once response body has been passed to request.write, the application must call request.finish . request.finish, ends the response. To generate response asynchronously, render method must return NOT_DONE_YET. If you do not call request.finish() you will get awaiting response mode. Meaning, browser still waits for full response, twisted won’t end the request until request.finish() is called.

To run this, save a file and run as a python script.
Then, open web browser and enter url “localhost:8082”.
You will see awaiting response for 10 seconds and then response arrives.

The post Asynchronous HTTP Responses using twisted.web appeared first on Lintel Technologies Blog.

December 04, 2016 10:37 AM

naked capitalism

Thanks SO MUCH For a Speedy and Very Successful Emergency Fundraiser to Fight Independent News Site Blacklists

A big thanks for making our emergency fundraiser such a success, and a quick update on what is coming.

by Yves Smith at December 04, 2016 10:08 AM


«80-chars lines» Rails template

If you use linters like rubocop, they usually check for maximum line length. Fresh-baked rails app contains several files with very long lines which trigger linter warnings. This rails template wraps all long lines in the new app at 80 chars.

December 04, 2016 09:55 AM

Blogical Conclusion

Guest Post: How Manikandan has revived an ancient art

Continuing the series of posts written by others (see here), here’s one by Shyam Rahul, on the link between the religious epics and message movies. Reading Baradwaj Rangan’s take on Aandavan Kattalai, I was struck by this line …. “Entertainment that is about something, that says something – it’s the elusive grail Tamil filmmakers keep chasing. […]

by brangan at December 04, 2016 09:52 AM

Seth's Blog


Deliberate, focused, generous, confident, thoughtful, these are all good things. Being pushy isn't.

Imagine you had a check for $100,000 made out to someone else. Someone you don't know but can reach out to. How hard would it be for you to cajole this person to take the check from you and cash it?

We call someone pushy when they are trying harder for forward motion than we are. We call them pushy when they have more at stake, or more to gain, than we think we do.

It's easy to rationalize your pushiness, imagining that the other person really wants to do this project. And it's just as easy to minimize the value you add, hiding in a corner instead of bringing your value forward.

Pushiness is in the eye of the beholder. Generosity requires that we be aware of how the other person is feeling about the forward motion we're trying to make. 


by Seth Godin at December 04, 2016 09:49 AM


Kirik Party (Music review), Kannada – Ajaneesh Loknath

Vijay Prakash’s superb vocals and Ajaneesh’s playful chorus parts add to Belageddu‘s frothy, likeable feel. In Katheyonda helide and Thirboki jeevana, Rakshit’s nostalgic lyrics stand out; the former has a mostly predictable rock-infused tune, but the latter’s bouyant jazz feel is solid fun. For Neenire saniha, Ajaneesh layers lovely interludes and a really tuneful anupallavi, while Shreya Ghoshal rocks, as usual. Last Bench Party‘s foot-tapping, street-smart tune and sing-along’ish lyrics work smoothly. The soundtrack’s best is Hey Who Are You?, a joyous and funky ode to Hamsalekha’s music from the 90s; immensely catchy, and nostalgic! Ajaneesh hits bullseye, mostly, again!

Keywords: Kirik Party, Ajaneesh Loknath

PS: The soundtrack is supposed to have 10 songs, but the remaining four are likely to be released only after the film’s release.

Listen to the songs:

by Karthik at December 04, 2016 09:43 AM


Find where the method lies : source_location

While checking out some Rails magic happening or even while rollercoasting into a very large codebase, it would be really super duper helpful if there could be something that would help to find where the method was defined. [MORE INSIDE]

December 04, 2016 09:25 AM

Blogical Conclusion

“Kahaani 2.”… Despite a few slips, a first-rate piece of genre cinema

Spoilers ahead… Who is Durga Rani Singh? The name forms the subtitle of Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2, and it belongs to the character played by Vidya Balan – but who is she? Is she a construct from the last scenes of the earlier film, where the Balan character literally turned into an avenging Durga? Is she […]

by brangan at December 04, 2016 09:06 AM


Barry's news

Xdelta3 compiled statically in Pi3

Yesterday I tried to compile Xdelta3 statically against dietlibc, running Quirky on my Raspberry Pi3. Gave up.

Quirky, and the pup before, uses an old version of xdelta, "30p". This, and later versions, are described on the developer's website:

There is a "30q" which has fixes for Windows, then there was a major version jump. The old 30p works fine, so I will stay with it. It also looks simpler to compile.

Previously, I have compiled it in a Landley x86 and x86_64 uClibc chrootable filesystems, so I know that it does link against uClibc OK.

Well, I have buildroot. using uClibc, where I have already been compiling packages statically, so far, busybox, e2fsprogs and coreutils. The problem is, buildroot does not have xdelta3.

Fortunately, I found someone else has added xdelta3, version 30q, to buildroot:

I modified that a bit, and put it into buildroot. I created folder package/xdelta3, with three files '', 'xdelta3.hash' and ''.

bool "xdelta3 binary file difference"
default y
The xdelta3 patch tool. Allows incremental update of binary files.

Note that the indents are tab character for first indent, second indent is two space characters.

sha1 988f8d8f884aee31b5a0de0a4067575cb452543f xdelta30p.tar.bz2

# xdelta3
-DXD3_MAIN=1 \


xdelta3-source: $(DL_DIR)/$(XDELTA3_SOURCE)

# build xdelta3 for use on the target system
$(XDELTA3_DIR)/.unpacked: $(DL_DIR)/$(XDELTA3_SOURCE)
touch $(XDELTA3_DIR)/.unpacked

$(XDELTA3_DIR)/.configured: $(XDELTA3_DIR)/.unpacked
touch $(XDELTA3_DIR)/.configured

$(XDELTA3_DIR)/$(XDELTA3_BINARY): $(XDELTA3_DIR)/.configured


xdelta3: uclibc $(TARGET_DIR)/$(XDELTA3_TARGET_BINARY)

$(MAKE) -C $(XDELTA3_DIR) clean

rm -rf $(XDELTA3_DIR)

# Toplevel Makefile options
ifeq ($(strip $(BR2_PACKAGE_XDELTA3)),y)

Then, and entry has to be made in package/

Finally, compile it:
# make xdelta3

December 04, 2016 07:43 AM




Brigadoon The Time Machine

Brigadoon isn't a love story -- I mean, it is, of course, because it's a musical, but it really shouldn't be. It's a horror movie, a grotesquerie, a terrifying sci-fi cautionary tale with extraordinarily threatening religious undertones. It shouldn't be a lushly produced, Vincente Minelli-directed Cinemascope tentpole with an iconic Lerner-and-Loewe book and score (respectively), it should be a deeply chilling, very special episode of the Twilight Zone. [...]

First: Effectively, the residents of Brigadoon are experiencing a normal, continuous life, going to bed and then waking up, except that when they wake up, it's 100 years later than when they fell asleep. Where the village goes when it disappears, and whether the residents literally sleep for 100 years without aging or whether they in fact are in a Brigadoon-effect bubble of time dilation and sleep for just one night is unclear, but since the source of the village's magic in this world is actually, literally, Yaweh the Judeo-Christian god, let's just wave away the question and file it under "omnipotence, idk." Functionally, when you go to sleep in Brigadoon, you wake up a century in the future.

Second: If the village was cursed blessed with its time-dilation bubble 200 years ago, and it's on a century cycle, that means that this is only the second time ever that the village has reappeared. More to the point, because the Brigadoonians experience time continuously, it's only two days later for them. The priest prayed his magic wish-prayer and it was granted by apparently Loki-Yahweh or someone and the entire town is trapped in a time-dilation bubble and it's ONLY BEEN TWO DAYS and they are all SHOCKINGLY CALM ABOUT THIS which is ABSOLUTELY INSANE. [...]

More to the point, though, how is this nightmare reality in which they now live not the entire focus of the story? [...] It seems to me that a foundational allure of creating a world in which magic/weird science/God-induced miracles exists would be sitting down and seeing what the logical consequences are of your authorial tweak to the fabric of reality. (For example, I am constantly annoyed whenever characters in stories encounter ghosts or the spirits of dead people, and don't immediately reassess their metaphysical understanding of reality, particularly their own corporeal forms, and also just completely recalibrate their own fear of death. Wouldn't you?)

But seriously. If you're going to create a world where an entire town of Puritanical eighteenth-century Scots(wo)men have their town converted into a forward-motion-only time machine that will, in the span of just one year in their eyes, deposit them in the year 38235 -- that's thirty-eight thousand two hundred thirty five -- in what frickin universe does it make any sense whatsoever to make your story about a guy one of the village girls develops a crush on, on day goddamn two!?!

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

by jwz at December 04, 2016 05:34 AM

Ajay Shah's blog

Watching markets work: The dramatic events of 8 November 2016

by Anurag Dutt, Sargam Jain, Ajay Shah, Susan Thomas.

On November 9th, 2016, Indian financial markets were asked to digest two major events. At 8:30 PM on 8th evening, the announcement had come out about de-monetisation of the 500/1000 rupee notes. And, by late night on the 8th, there was news of Donald Trump's early gains in the U.S. presidential elections. At 9:28 a.m. IST on the 9th, Donald Trump won Florida. At this point in time, for Hillary Clinton to win, she had to win the states of Wisconsin and Michigan, where Trump was already leading. At 1:00 p.m. IST, Clinton conceded.

The two events contain an interesting contrast. With the US presidential election, the betting markets were reporting a 20% chance of a Trump win. But de-monetisation was on nobody's radar. It was not part of our distribution.

In this article, we go back to those events and look at how the Indian financial markets responded to the major events.


Figure 1: Prices

All the graphs in this article show physical time from the morning of 7 November to the end of 11 November. The top panel shows the equity market, with Nifty spot in blue and Nifty futures in grey. On 8th evening, Nifty rose slightly, which suggests that there was no insider trading based on the de-monetisation, and nobody had a sense that Trump would win. On 9th morning, Nifty opened sharply down, reflecting both elements of news. By the time Nifty trading stopped, Nifty had remarkably come back to 8,432. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that the market was too quick in reconciling itself to the news. By the end of the week, Nifty had fallen further. On 2 December, Nifty closed at 8086, showing that the de-monetisation news had not been fully understood even by 11 November.

We may speculate that in the Indian equity market, there is a lot of focus on information production about individual stocks, but low capabilities in macroeconomics. In many previous events also, we have seen the market being relatively slow in understanding far-reaching macroeconomic developments.

The middle panel is the USD/INR. The blue line is USD/INR futures (which trade 09:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m.) and the grey line is the spot market, which can trade for 24 hours a day. Let's think about the evening of 8th. At 8:30 PM, there was the de-monetisation announcement. Remarkably, the spot market showed an appreciation of 40 paisa. This shows that the currency traders of 8th evening did not understand the de-monetisation. In the late night, news of Trump's success started trickling in. In the morning of 9th, INR depreciated reflecting both elements of news. In the Indian afternoon, the USD moved sharply when Clinton conceded, which gave an appreciation.

For the rest of the week, INR depreciated as the bad news sank in. One element that was at work was the huge demand in India to convert 500/1000 rupee notes into US dollars. Anecdotal reports suggest that by 10th, the entire inventory of US dollars in the Indian black market had been exhausted. This would have triggered off demand for dollars, and fueled the depreciation. To the credit of RBI, they let the market do its job; they did not interfere with a large INR depreciation.

The bottom panel is gold. The blue line is MCX gold futures and the grey line is the CME gold futures. MCX gold trading enjoys long hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. In the late hours of 8th November, gold prices became very volatile when the de-monetisation announcement came in. Trump's lead in the U.S elections inflated gold prices when the market opened on 9th.

There were two distinct things going on. Worldwide, buying gold is a vote of no-confidence in civilisation and paper money. The Trump win would have encouraged many people worldwide to shift their holdings in favour of more gold. In India, the de-monetisation announcement had an abstract implication (mistrust of the Indian rupee, mistrust of the Indian State) which would have encouraged a higher weightage of gold in the portfolio, but there was also an immediate and practical dimension. Thousands of people flocked to Sarafa bazaars to exchange their high denomination notes for gold in the morning of 9th November.

These extremes were somewhat unwound in the rest of the week. Perhaps there was a premium on physical gold available in India on the 9th. Within a few hours, gold bars could be flown in from Dubai and Singapore, through which the Indian spot price would come back to the world price. But on the day of the 9th, there was extreme demand for gold and the Indian price deviated from the world price.


Figure 2: Turnover

Turnover on equity derivatives -- Nifty futures and Nifty ATM options -- is a critical element of Indian price discovery. On the 9th, markets opened with very high trading intensity in both Nifty futures and options. The turnover in near month at-the-money options surged again when Trump's victory was confirmed. There is an interesting pattern thereafter: On 10th and 11th, the futures activity was larger. This runs against the normal pattern in India, where options trading is favoured owing to the high securities transaction tax (STT) on futures trading. This is worth exploring further. Perhaps this odd behaviour is being induced by errors in the rules for initial margin calculation.

In the currency market, futures trading dominates as there is no STT-related distortion. Here, we see we got a big surge of trading on 9th morning, a smaller surge in the afternoon when Clinton conceded, and then a fading away of excess turnover through the rest of the week.

MCX was open for business when the de-monetisation announcement came out, and reaped a bonanza with a massive increase in turnover on 8th evening. For most financial traders in India, on 8th evening, MCX was the only game in town as NSE and BSE were closed. From 9th onwards, the patterns in turnover are similar to those seen with the other two markets: a surge on 9th morning, a surge when Clinton conceded, and a gradual phaseout of extraordinary turnover through the week.

Market efficiency

Figure 3: Violations of no-arbitrage on the futures market

On 9th morning, when NSE opened for trading, there was a huge mispricing between the Nifty spot and the Nifty futures. Once that was corrected, for the rest of the week, pricing errors were comparable to those seen before the news, but the basis risk was higher.

The pricing errors on USD/INR futures are surprisingly small when compared with those seen on the equity market. This suggests there is ample capital in currency futures arbitrage, relative to the small size of the market.

With gold, what we are reporting is the pricing error between the MCX gold futures and the CME gold futures. As emphasised earlier, there was a large dislocation on the Indian gold spot market on 9th, as many people were buying gold. The Indian gold spot price fell out of sync with the world gold price. This is showing up as large pricing errors in the bottom panel, and normalcy is attained as enough planes land in India bearing physical gold.

Figure 4: Violations of put-call parity on the options market

Put-call parity held up pretty well through these events, for both Nifty and USD/INR. A brief large error was found on the morning of the 9th, on the Nifty options market. Apart from that, the deviations on both markets are small. The readings of deviation from put-call parity on the USD/INR options market are relatively sketchy as this market is often illiquid.

Realised volatility

Figure 5: Realised volatility

By 8th evening, realised vol on the Nifty futures market was showing some large values. Extreme realised volatility was found on the morning of the 9th: rvol was 6 times larger the pre-event mean value, as the market digested the two events. The price discovery was largely completed by 9th evening, and then realised vol was only slightly higher than the values seen in peacetime.

On the USD/INR futures, realised vol on the morning of the 9th was roughly 11 times larger than the normal values. The morning of 10th also shows a significant spike in realised vol.  While large price fluctuations were not evident on 10th, we observe a significant rise in variations on 11th.

Ruminating on methodology

Ordinarily, economists obsess on the question of identification. How do you know that event $x$ caused the outcome $y$? Could it be that there were other things going on which were impacting upon the observed change? We normally struggle to find plausible control units which can be juxtaposed against treatment units where both kinds of units are alike. The game is about rising beyond simple comparisons of means (or regressions), and look for plausible quasi-experimental designs. There are two tricks through which we are allowed to read the world and learn about how it works, without requiring the discipline of a matched sample of treatments and controls.

The first trick is when there are very big events. Ordinarily, we'd be worrying about whether the observed change in the treatment unit was caused by the event; what about other things that might be going on? But when big events happen, they dominate everything else. In the week under examination, we don't need to think about macroeconomic or firm news. The market was absorbed in doing price discovery in figuring out these two events; they drowned out all the other news flow.

The second trick is high frequency data. When we zoom into high frequency data, we have an opportunity to see the impact of the event alone, as it is unlikely that other confounding events have unfolded in that very short time.


  • Prices: These are traded prices of a security reported at minute-level frequency.
  • Traded volumes: These are number of units of underlying security traded at five-minute frequency.
  • No arbitrage violations: These are measured in terms of difference between the price of underlying security and price of near-month futures contract based on it. We do this for Nifty and for USD/INR but for gold, we just focus on the gap between MCX Gold futures and CME Gold futures.
  • Violations in put-call parity: According to put-call parity, S + P = C + X(1+r)-T i.e. a spot investment that is risk-managed using an at-the-money put option is tantamount to a combination of a bond and an at-the-money call option. Thus, violations in put-call parity are measured as the difference between the two investments.
  • Realised volatility: It is constructed by computing intra-day returns at 5-second frequency. Thus, for every 5 minute-interval, realised volatility is computed as standard deviation across 60 readings of returns in the interval. We have very high frequency data and there are ample transactions within 5s, thus permitting differencing at such a high frequency.

Anurag Dutt, Sargam Jain and Susan Thomas are researchers at the IGIDR Finance Research Group. Ajay Shah is a researcher at the National Institute for Public Finance and Policy.

by Ajay Shah ( at December 04, 2016 05:33 AM

Zero Hedge

Democrat Strategist on CNN Said ‘We Don’t Need White People Leading Democrats Now’

When asked by two CNN shills who she thought should be the next Chair of the DNC, democrat statagist, and former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman, Symone Sanders said 'we don't need white people leading the democrats now.' Instead, she felt someone of a darker persuasion should lead them, in order to best represent 'diversity.' Apparently, diversity doesn't include all races -- just the ones that aren't white -- according to Symone. If you recall, Symone mocked the Trump supporter that was viciously beaten by thugs -- saying 'oh my god poor white people,' when asked about the harrowing event. The problem isn't Symone. There are lots of racists pigs like her, traversing the globe spreading their demented version of hatred. The issue that I take with these comments is the platform from which she's allotted to make them, the global network of CNN. Notice how the two cucks next to her didn't even bother to call out her bullshit, with the flaccid male sitting there just nodding his head? The good news is, these people are weak. Their ideas and schemes crumble very easily; because at the heart of progressive ideologies is a sickness whose columns and tenets fall one by one after just a very small amount of inspection. Populism is on the rise and the culture wars will be won by people wholly interested in freedom -- rejecting the superstate and all of its trimmings. The perversion and the lies will not last the test of time and history will remember them as fleeting symbols that result when corruption intermingles with zeal -- the deadliest of concoctions, which stands at the precipice, right now, of erasing the democratic party from existence.

Content originally generated at

by The_Real_Fly at December 04, 2016 05:14 AM

Redneck Investin Part 4 - Free on the Fringe

Seems yall didn’t quite get the gist of our series – and why it should even be bothered to appear.  Well, a few reasons.  One, not everyone has the means of investing in ‘decent’ strategies that may only be eligible for accredited investors or QEPs.  Two, those who don’t have the means to invest in $1 M minimum programs also don’t have the means of educating themselves to the level that they can do it themselves successfully.  Three, this analysis can shift your thinking and help improve your existing investing strategy.  Rednecks survive on inspiration as well as perspiration (although, most don’t shower daily).  


1) Free Money Claims

The class action industry produces thousands of settlements each year.  Many of them are consumer settlements.  And many consumers don’t even know about claims they may be entitled to.  Every case is different, but in almost all cases only a small fraction of potential claimants register with the settlement administrator.  Legally, once a settlement is reached, funds must be distributed to injured consumers by a certain date.  If all claimants do not complete the paperwork by the deadline, funds will be distributed on a pro rata basis to the claimants that do.  Here’s one site that lists consumer claims:

2) Give plasma, get paid

This is a known goto when you need money for the hobo class and college students.  However, many think ‘giving blood’ makes you dizzy, and it’s possible to get diseases.  Well, now they need the ‘plasma’ from the blood, which is a little different – and well, what free stuff doesn’t involve a little risk?  No it’s probably completely safe, although check the clinic before you go!

3) Start a charity

In most states, 501(c)(3) corporations can be filed without fee, or for a nominal fee such as $25.  In many states, there are no annual filing fees, and no annual taxes!  Donations made to your charity are tax deductible.  Plus – you’re doing a good deed for your chosen cause.  Pick a good one, nothing dubious like ‘helping my neighbor’ that won’t fly.  Scientific and Technological development is always good.  Pay yourself a hefty administration salary (you’ll have to pay taxes on your income, for this) and the charity will have some reasonable expenses.  You can literally go door to door and raise money for your charity.  Special fundraising rules apply for example you CAN SPAM as long as you follow the CAN SPAM rules, and you can telemarket to people on the DNC (Do Not Call) list so long as you are raising money for your charity and not your business.  

4) Go to food banks – get free food

Food banks exist everywhere, at churches, schools, and privately funded too.  They’re all over America, and there’s no requirements to get food.  Just show up, and provide an ID.  If you don’t have ID, that’s ok.  They just don’t want people ‘abusing’ the system.  Beware that some of the dates of the food may be a little ‘over’ the due date.  Don’t let that scare you – it’s good for digestion.

When all else fails - revert to the freeloader in you - checkout

With Trump in office being a Redneck can be FUN and PROFITABLE don’t let your preconceived notions or visions of trailer parks cloud your path toward Redneck Nirvana.

"Everyone has a Redneck cousin" -Jimmy Buffet (redneck paraphrase "everybody has a cousin in Miami")

by globalintelhub at December 04, 2016 05:02 AM

"Meanwhile In Europe..." - The Big Day Arrives

Less than a month after the "shocking" election of Donald Trump as US president, the world prepares for another day of political shockwaves, this time out of Europe, when on Sunday all eyes will be on Italy and, to a slightly lesser extent, Austria.

Or, as Bank of America puts it "Meanwhile in Europe..."

As we have previewed on various occasions (most recently in Friday's extensive "Everything You Need To Know About The Italian Referendum & Should Be Afraid To Ask"), in a few short hours, Italy will vote on a constitutional reform referendum. While we urge readers to skim the in depth "walk thru", here is a simplified version of what happens after the likely "No" vote tomorrow.

The main concern in the markets - which has manifested itself in both the European currency, its vol structure, as well as Italian bond yields - is that a strong “No” vote will cause Prime Minister Renzi to resign, leading to political instability in Italy. Furthermore, a "No" vote is expected to kill a long-running attempt to rescue Italy's third largest and oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi, which has been desperate for a private sector bailout ever since it failed this summer's ECB stress test to avoid broader banking sector contagion; a failure of Monte Paschi will likely spark a fresh eurozone banking crisis, and prompt the ECB to get involved again (as it warned it would do), in a redux of what happened after the Brexit vote.

Also on Sunday, there is also a presidential election in Austria. A victory by the right-wing candidate, Norbert Hofer, would raise concerns about EU fragmentation because his party has advocated a referendum on EU membership. His victory would also raise concerns about a similar outcome in the French elections in May, and many other upcoming European elections as shown in the calendar at the bottom of this page:

However, while the Austrian vote will again be down to the wire - and since this time there won't be any Brussels-endorsed "widespread voting fraud", Norbert Hofer is assured to win - the key event will be the Italian vote. Here is what to expect in terms of timing:

  • Provisional turnout results from 7pm GMT (2pm ET)
  • Exit polls then expected around 10pm GMT on Sunday night (5pm ET)
  • First projections by Italian pollsters based on counted votes at around 10.45pm GMT (5:45pm ET)
  • Final result will come in around 2am on Monday (9:00pm ET)

In the highly improbably event the "Yes" vote wins, Deutsche Bank analysts write that a rebound in the Italian equity market should be largely restricted to financial stocks. Although the FTSE MIB is trading at a 15% discount relative to its 10-year average vs. Europe, valuations look substantially less attractive once banks are excluded from the index. The relative P/E of the FTSE MIB ex banks is trading in line with its long-term average vs. Europe ex banks. Several Italian sectors are even trading at a premium vs. their European peers, showing no signs yet of a spillover of banking sector risks.

That may change in just a few hours.

The biggest question from tomorrow's vote, is what happens to Italian PM Renzi should he lose the vote, and as France 24 reports, if voters reject Renzi's plan to streamline parliament, the centre-left leader has said he will step down.

The self-styled outsider in a hurry to shake up Italy finds himself on the inside, a target for those who say he has not been quick enough in fixing long-standing problems. For those unfamiliar, here is a brief snapshot of Renzi's approach, and political options:

After rapid rise, Italy's Renzi braced for fall


Renzi was just 39 when he came to power via an internal party coup in February 2014. With his penchant for retro sunglasses, open-necked shirts and jeans, the former mayor of Florence was hailed at the time as a premier for the smartphone generation. But the breath of fresh air is now in danger of being blown away by rival young Turks from populist and far right opposition parties trying to force him out.


After 1,000 days in office, Renzi, now 41, boasted last month of having steered the economy out of recession, got Italians spending again and improved public finances. He has also had significant political victories: a controversial Jobs Act passed, election rules rewritten and his candidate, Sergio Mattarella, installed as president.


As his Twitter follower numbers rose, so too did his international profile. Renzi was feted for his reform efforts by US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "Matteo has the right approach and it is beginning to show results," Obama said just before treating Renzi and his school teacher wife Agnese to the last official White House dinner of his administration in October.

But many Italian voters do not share Obama's optimism. As the recovery has struggled to gain traction -- leaving unemployment stubbornly high, particularly among young people -- Renzi's ratings have slipped.


The Jobs Act, which eased hiring and firing, made him business friends but alienated trade unions and the left. A bullish style that was once seen as energetic has come to be viewed by some as high-handed, including by some grandees of his own party. Former Prime Minister Massimo d'Alema, a fervent critic of Renzi's constitutional proposals, described his successor to the New York Times as a Twitter-obsessed "oaf". The decline in Renzi's popularity is relative however. Polls suggest the Democratic Party, under his leadership, would top an election held tomorrow, albeit only just.


Born on January 11, 1975 in Florence, Renzi studied law and took his first steps in politics as a teenage campaign volunteer for future prime minister and European Commission chief Romano Prodi. By 26 he was a full-time organiser for La Margherita (The Daisy), a short-lived centre-left party.


He was only 29 when he became the leader of the province of Florence in 2004, establishing a power base that enabled him to go on to become mayor in 2009 and prime minister five years later. But for a brief spell in his early 20s working for the family advertising business, politics is all he has done and friends say he would be loath to give it up, despite his protestations to the contrary.

Even if has to make way as premier, he is not expected to give up the party leadership.

In short, Renzi is still very young, and a failure tomorrow followed by a resignation, means merely a detour for the career politican, not an end. The bigger question, however, is whether Italy is stable enough and its banks solid enough to survive a politidal vacuum wthout a "technocratic" government ready to step in and fill the void. The answer may be revealed as soon as Sunday night when the Euro opens for trading.

* * *

There is more to come.

As Bank of America notes, the common thread in all of these stories is that politics is driving economic outcomes. This dynamic will not change anytime soon, and BofA notes that it is "particularly concerned about the  drift toward protectionism." The bank notes that the number of trade restrictions globally has already picked up. Data from Global Trade Alert, a group of academic economists, shows an increase in the number of protectionist measures starting in 2012 and accelerating sharply in 2015. These include not just tariffs and quotas, but a range of policies that give  preference to domestic over foreign products.

An Italian "No" vote simply accelerate the global backlash against globalization, and lead to even more trade protectionist measures. But what is the most likely outcome, is that when the "No" vote wins (despite the endorsement of The Economist, which has gotten the outcome of every major political event this year wrong), it will only push the case for the anti-establishment vote in more European countries, until eventually Europe's populist forces stretch the European experiment so thin, that the Eurozone itself - an experiment which from day one catered to corporate interests and an established political oligarchy - will collapse under the weight of its own discontents.

For now, we await the surge in volatility that will emerge tomorrow afternoon, only to mysteriously disappear as every central bank around the globe engages in another BTFD orgy, sending risk assets higher even as the rapidly "isolating" world teeters on the verge of globalized collapse.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 04:59 AM

This Is The "Most Dangerous Moment In Human History," Stephen Hawking Warns

The majority of people are sick of the status quo and feel they have been "abandoned by their leaders," writes renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in a recent Guardian op-ed warning that the rise of Donald Trump and Britain's Brexit vote come at "the most dangerous time in the history of the human race."

Having previously referred to the president-elect as "a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator," Hawking appears to blame the ignorance of the people for Trump's victory...

“It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.


“For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together,” he added.

As RT notes, Hawking says the world is facing crippling challenges, including climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease and acidification of the oceans.

“Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity.


“We can do this [overcome the challenges], I am an enormous optimist for my species; but it will require the elites, from London to Harvard, from Cambridge to Hollywood, to learn the lessons of the past year. To learn above all a measure of humanity.


"We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.


“Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

And finally, Hawking also warned that artificial intelligence and increasing automation is going to decimate middle class jobs and worsen inequality, and risks creating significant political upheaval.

The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.


“With not only jobs but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so,” he added.

Still there is some good news. Hawking notes "we could find aliens within a generation"...

Which as we previously noted would be a boom for the global economy according to Krugman.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 04:50 AM


Electoral College

Electoral College must reject Trump unless he sells his business, top lawyers for Bush and Obama say:

Eisen's conclusions are shared by Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe, one of the nation's preeminent constitutional scholars. Tribe told ThinkProgress that, after extensive research, he concluded that "Trump's ongoing business dealings around the world would make him the recipient of constitutionally prohibited 'Emoluments' from 'any King, Prince, or foreign State'  --  in the original sense of payments and not necessarily presents or gifts  --  from the very moment he takes the oath."

The only solution would be to divest completely from his businesses. Failing that, Tribe elaborated on the consequences:

Trump would be knowingly breaking his oath of exclusive fealty (under Art. II, Sec.1) to a Constitution whose very first Article (Art. I, Sec. 9)  --  an Article deliberately designed to prevent any U.S. official,especially the Chief Executive, from being indebted to, or otherwise the recipient of financial remuneration from, any foreign power or entity answerable to such a power  --  he would be violating as he repeated the words recited by the Chief Justice.

Tribe said the violation would qualify as one of the "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" that would require Trump to be "removed from Office."

This is where the Electoral College comes in. Tribe notes that the Electoral College was "originally conceived by Framers like Alexander Hamilton as a vital safeguard against the assumption of the Presidency by an 'unfit character' or one incapable of serving faithfully to 'execute the Office of President of the United States [and] preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

"[T]o vote for Trump in the absence of such complete divestment... would represent an abdication of the solemn duties of the 538 Electors," Tribe said.

Lawrence Lessig: The Constitution lets the electoral college choose the winner. They should choose Clinton.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president. That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions  -- most important, the electors themselves. [...]

Only twice in our past has the electoral college selected a president against the will of the people -- once in the 19th century and once on the cusp of the 21st. [...] In both cases, the result violated what has become one of the most important principles governing our democracy  -- one person, one vote. In both cases, the votes of some weighed much more heavily than the votes of others. Today, the vote of a citizen in Wyoming is four times as powerful as the vote of a citizen in Michigan. The vote of a citizen in Vermont is three times as powerful as a vote in Missouri. This denies Americans the fundamental value of a representative democracy -- equal citizenship. Yet nothing in our Constitution compels this result.

Instead, if the electoral college is to control who becomes our president, we should take it seriously by understanding its purpose precisely. It is not meant to deny a reasonable judgment by the people. It is meant to be a circuit breaker -- just in case the people go crazy.

In this election, the people did not go crazy. The winner, by far, of the popular vote is the most qualified candidate for president in more than a generation. Like her or not, no elector could have a good-faith reason to vote against her because of her qualifications. Choosing her is thus plainly within the bounds of a reasonable judgment by the people.

Yet that is not the question the electors must weigh as they decide how to cast their ballots. Instead, the question they must ask themselves is whether there is any good reason to veto the people's choice.

There is not. And indeed, there is an especially good reason for them not to nullify what the people have said  -- the fundamental principle of one person, one vote. We are all citizens equally. Our votes should count equally. And since nothing in our Constitution compels a decision otherwise, the electors should respect the equal vote by the people by ratifying it on Dec. 19.

Make the Electoral College great again: let "conscientious electors" do their jobs.

First, let's retire the nomenclature of "faithless electors" once and for all. Let's call electors who refuse to rubber-stamp the popular vote conscientious electors, and let's give them the resources and the protection to investigate and deliberate -- in short, to do their jobs.

Constitutional history makes clear that the founders had three main purposes in designing the Electoral College.

The first was to stop a demagogue from becoming president. At the Constitutional Convention, arguing in support of the Electoral College, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said he was "against a popular election" for president because the people would be "misled by a few designing men." In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electors would prevent those with "Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity" from becoming president. They would also stop anyone who would "convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements."

The second goal was to stop foreign interference in election. In the founding period, the framers were extremely concerned about infiltration by rivals including Great Britain. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that one major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the "desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils." He said that the college would "Guard against all danger of this sort ... with the most provident and judicious attention" from the electors.

The third goal was to prevent poor administration of government. This is a less well-known purpose of the Electoral College, but it is again expressly discussed in Federalist No. 68. Hamilton wrote that "the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration," and for that reason, he said, the electors should be "able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration."

The People Chose Hillary Clinton. Now We Need To Stop Donald Trump From Trashing Our Democracy.

Let's review: We have a president-elect who:

  1. Will end up having received around 2.5 million fewer votes than his main opponent.

  2. Whose campaign benefited, almost no one now disputes, from the help provided him by Russian intelligence agencies and other even more shadowy Russian actors -- which is to say that foreign agents, whether Russian or any nationality, sought to influence this election to an unprecedented degree.

  3. Who is so tied up in compromises and conflicts because of his business dealings that past White House ethics lawyers, including at least one Republican one, say he will be in violation of the Constitution from his first day in office and argue that the Electoral College must not seat him.

  4. Has already told the American people that, with respect to number 3, his attitude is precisely that of Richard Nixon, back when Nixon declared the president to be by the very nature of the office above the law. Trump said that the president "can't have a conflict of interest" -- meaning, presumably, that it can't happen simply because he's the president.

And it's going great so far:

"Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China's perceptions of Trump's strategic intentions for the negative," he said. "With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations." [...]

Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary under George W. Bush, tweeted on Friday that he "wasn't even allowed to refer" to the government "of" Taiwan when serving in the Bush administration. "I could say government 'on' Taiwan," he noted. "China will go nuts."

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, tweeted that while "it's Trump's right to shift policy, alliances, strategy ... what has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That's how wars start. And if they aren't pivots -- just radical temporary deviations -- allies will walk if they have no clue what we stand for. Just as bad."

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

by jwz at December 04, 2016 04:24 AM

The India Uncut Blog

There Is Nothing As Unpatriotic In A Free Country As Coercion

This is a guest column published today in the Sunday Times of India edit page.

Last Tuesday, I went to watch ‘Dear Zindagi’ at a movie theatre near me. Before the film started, two old men came and sat in front of me. One was a short bald man with John Lennon glasses who looked like Ben Kingsley, and was wearing a hoodie over what appeared to be a dhoti. The other was a white-haired man with a flowing white beard and a flowing white robe. The bearded man nodded to me as he sat down, and then turned and said to his companion, “Mohan, I’m really looking forward to seeing Alia today. Such a good actress. Almost as if she was trained in Shantiniketan.”

“Yes, Robida,” said Mohan. “I can think of all kinds of non-violent acts she and I could do together.” Both men chuckled.

Just then, the national anthem started playing. I stood up, as did everyone else in the hall – except these two men.

It was the morning show and the hall was half empty, which I suppose was good, otherwise some macho self-righteous fool would have wanted to display his patriotism by asking these two men to stand up. But no one said anything. The anthem got over and the screen went blank. As I sat down, the bearded man turned around and caught my eye. I couldn’t help asking him, “Hey, I don’t mean to intrude, but why didn’t you guys stand for the anthem? Aren’t you proud of being Indian?”

Mohan turned around and gave me a kindly look through his Lennon glasses. “It was an act of civil disobedience,” he said. “And we were showing our love for this country, and our patriotism, by sitting.”

“I’m sorry?” I said. “The patriotic thing to do is to stand. We must honour our country.”

“And what does it mean to honour our country, young man? First of all, ask yourself, what is our country? Is India equal to the national anthem? Or the national flag? Or are there certain values that our country stands for that are more important than these symbols?”

I didn’t know what to say, so like any young person in these times, I said something random. “Freedom. We would never had the chance to stand for a national anthem before 1947. So I stand today to celebrate freedom.”

Mohan giggled, as if the gorgeous Alia had just landed up beside him in a slinky leotard and started tickling him. “Freedom! And how do you define freedom? We did not become a free country when the British left. Yes, we got political independence, but that isn’t freedom. Oh no, the freedom we fought for was the freedom of individuals to live their lives without oppression. Basically, to not be forced to do anything. The Supreme Court has made it compulsory to stand, which is why Robida and I kept sitting just now. There is nothing as unpatriotic in a free country as coercion.”

I gaped at him as he continued: “All we did in 1947 was replace a British empire with an Indian empire. We retained most of the laws in the archaic Indian Penal Code which the British had framed to subjugate us, including laws against free speech, homosexuality and even women’s rights. The state censors films, bans books, as if we are infants and not adults. I have a friend who started a university in British times without needing a license,” – he glanced at Robida – “and today, to start or run a business, we need to beg or bribe brown babus. Robida once told me that the British occupation of India was the ‘political symptom of our social disease’. That disease is now terminal.”

“What is that disease?” I asked.

Robida gave me a sad smile. “That disease is having the mentality of subjects. What does a democracy mean? It means that the people are the rulers, and the government is there to serve us. But our governments rule us instead of serving us, and we are happy to be ruled. If we are going to play ‘choose your ruler’, what is the point of being free?”

“Look around you,” said Mohan, “and think of all the different kinds of coercion in your life. These days, I am told, you even have to queue up to withdraw your own money. You are even being forced into a cashless society, which will be the end of freedom, for the government will control all your money and can shut you down anytime. That would have been such a wet dream for the British.”

“Ouch” said Robida, “here comes the part of the film I really hate.” The censor certificate flashed on the screen.

“Alia!” exclaimed Mohan, and turned around. The film began, and I lost myself in the anaesthetic comfort of everyday pleasures.


Also read these earlier pieces by me:

The Anthem and the Flag (April 26, 2007)
The Real Issue Regarding The National Anthem (November 30, 2015)
The Republic of Apathy (August 11, 2007)

The India Uncut Blog © 2010 Amit Varma. All rights reserved.
Follow me on Twitter.

by Amit Varma at December 04, 2016 04:08 AM

Zero Hedge

Tomorrow's Vote In Italy Will Be A "Wide-Ranging F**k Off", And It's Just The Start...

Submitted by Nick Giambruno via,

Tomorrow, December 4, Italy is holding a referendum that will determine the fate of the entire European Union.

Donald Trump’s victory—which shocked Europe’s political and media elite—gives the populists backing the “No” side of Italy’s referendum the political rocket fuel they need for a virtually guaranteed win.

That momentum will be all but impossible to reverse. Anti-elite sentiment is rising on both sides of the Atlantic. And I bet the global populist revolution will continue.

If Italians buck the establishment—and it looks like they will—it will clear a path for a populist party to take power and for Italy to exit the euro.

If that happens, the fallout will be catastrophic for global markets. The Financial Times recently put it this way:

An Italian exit from the single currency would trigger the total collapse of the eurozone within a very short period.

It would probably lead to the most violent economic shock in history, dwarfing the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 and the 1929 Wall Street crash.

If the FT is even partially right, we’re looking at a possible stock market crash of historic proportions. This is why we’re watching the December 4 referendum so closely.

The referendum is meant to concentrate more power in Italy’s central government. On that point alone, everyone should oppose it. The centralization of power never leads to good things.

A “Yes” vote is effectively a vote of confidence in the current pro-EU Italian establishment. This is what the global elite wants.

A “No” vote is how the average Italian can give the finger to the faceless EU bureaucrats in Brussels, whom many blame—quite correctly—for their problems.

Trump’s win has been a double whammy for Italy’s pro-EU establishment.

First, it emboldens the populist forces fighting the referendum.

Second, it humiliates and politically castrates Matteo Renzi, the current Italian prime minister. Renzi took a rare step when he openly endorsed Hillary Clinton. He was the only European leader to do so.

As one of Renzi’s rivals said after Trump’s victory, “Matteo Renzi is politically finished from today, he’s a dead man walking.”

Other Italian politicians are furious that he weakened Italy’s standing with the new Trump administration.

It’s hard to see how Renzi could get himself out of the hole he’s dug.

It Started as a Joke

In 2007, Beppe Grillo, an Italian actor and comedian, launched Vaffanculo Day. “Vaffanculo” is Italian for “f*** off.”

Grillo and his followers used V-Day to bluntly express their displeasure with Italian establishment politicians, using imagery from the movie V for Vendetta.

Now, what started out as a joke has become Italy’s most popular political party…

V-Day helped organize Italians frustrated with their political system. It gave birth to the Five Star Movement, Italy’s new populist political party.

Grillo’s Five Star Movement—or M5S, its Italian acronym—is anti-globalist, anti-euro, and anti-establishment. It doesn’t neatly fall into the left–right political paradigm.

According to the latest polls, M5S is now the most popular party in Italy. It won mayoral elections in Rome and Turin earlier this year.

M5S is riding a wave of populist anger at entrenched political elites over economic stagnation. Italy has had virtually no productive growth since joining the eurozone in 1999.

M5S blames Italy’s chronic lack of growth on the euro. A large plurality of Italians agrees.

M5S has promised to hold a vote to leave the euro and return to Italy’s old currency, the lira, as soon as it’s in power. Under the current circumstances, it would probably pass.

After the Brexit vote and Trump’s win, M5S has joyfully predicted that Renzi will be the next casualty in the global populist revolution.

Grillo recently wrote:

It's crazy. This is the explosion of an era. It's the apocalypse of the media, TV, the big newspapers, the intellectuals, the journalists… This is a wide-ranging F*** off. Trump has pulled off an incredible V-Day… There are similarities between this American story and the Movement.

A “No” vote in the December 4 referendum means M5S could come to power in a matter of months.

Melting Like a Gelato in the August Sun

A populist tsunami is about to wash through Europe. It will drastically change the Continent’s political landscape in a way not seen since before World War II.

This wave will flush away traditional “mainstream” parties and usher in anti-establishment populists who want to leave the European Union.

It’s already hit the UK in the form of Brexit, killing David Cameron’s pro-EU government in the process.

Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and Greece already have populist, Eurosceptic—or “non-mainstream”—parties in power.

Italy is the next flashpoint.

A “No” vote in Italy is virtually assured at this point.

But it won’t be the end of the anti-elite surge. Voters in Europe’s biggest countries could soon throw out their “mainstream” parties in favor of populist and Eurosceptic alternatives.

Here’s the rundown…


Austria is holding a presidential election, also on December 4. It’s actually a redo of an election held in May, where a populist candidate, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party, barely lost.

Austrian courts found irregularities in the results and ordered a prompt new election. But when opinion polls showed the populist candidate in the lead, the government delayed the vote until December 4, giving a lame excuse about faulty adhesive on absentee ballots. Despite the foot-dragging, Mr. Hofer looks set to win the December 4 vote.


France has a presidential election next spring. There’s a chance that Marine Le Pen, leader of the Eurosceptic National Front party, will do better than many expect. After more than a decade of disappointment under presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, French voters are clamoring for something different.


Spain recently re-elected incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. However, Spanish voters fled traditional political parties en masse for new populist upstarts Podemos and Ciudadanos. So Rajoy was unable to form a majority government.

Rajoy now leads a severely weak minority government. The political power of the Spanish populist parties is only expected to grow.


Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, embodies the European establishment more than any other politician. Her party suffered a series of stinging defeats in regional elections this year, mostly because of her signature lax immigration policies, which have flooded Germany with migrants.

Merkel’s troubles have only helped the Alternative for Germany, a new populist party surging in popularity. The party could pose a real problem for Merkel in the 2017 federal elections.

The Netherlands

As the Netherlands approaches elections in March, Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom, which advocates leaving the EU, is basically tied in opinion polls with the establishment parties.

How to Profit from the Tsunami…

As populist, Eurosceptic parties surge, the entire European Union is looking shakier by the day.

One Italian politician correctly put it this way: “The euro is melting away like a gelato left out in the August sun.”

Our thesis for the collapse of the EU not only stands… it’s getting stronger and stronger.

There are potentially severe consequences in the currency and stock markets. We are approaching a global financial meltdown of historical proportions. It could strike America on December 4, 2016, as Italian voters decide the fate of the European Union itself.

It could either wipe out a big part of your savings... or be the fortune-building opportunity of a lifetime.

New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and I just released an urgent video with all the details. Click here to watch it now.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 03:55 AM

A Very Concise Explanation Of Why The Democrats Lost (And Will Keep Losing)

Via Jesse's Cafe Americain blog,

"This whole 'red scare' thing has become so thoroughly ridiculous, so blatantly propagandist and overblown, so pervasively passed around by mainstream media outlets without serious investigation, so obviously picked up off a shelf in ad hoc convenience, and so completely hypocritical by the professional elite, that I am tempted to write it off and forget about it. But I should probably be deeply troubled for other reasons.


It is a sign of the establishment going further off the deep end, and further dropping its pretenses. It is a sign of a desperate elite that will say anything, do anything, and risk everything to control the narrative and protect itself.


We are descending into farce. Deeply dangerous farce."


Reader M. M.

This is a short video from Thomas Frank.  (I have included two more short videos that are optional.)

Every pundit who is grinding their axes about the various forces that unjustly took the election from Hillary needs to listen to this.

Thomas Frank is absolutely right. Everyone who had their eyes open could see this loss by the Democrats coming, or at the least a much closer race than expected.   Donald Trump certainly saw it, and used it for his advantage.

And even now, the core political and entertainment establishment clearly is not accepting this, does not care in their cozy complacency.

A good part of this is because of the credibility trap, and their sense of entitled superiority.

If you don't believe this, watch the Democratic establishment mouthpiece channels like MSNBC almost any evening.

I hate to bother you with yet another posting on this subject, but the context of the situation shows that the message needs to be repeated, and driven home in order to penetrate the echo chamber of the Beltway Bubble.

The widely accepted attitude of the Wall Street Democrats was that the working middle class had 'no where else to go,' and so their interests could be sacrificed, time and again. They chose consciously to spend their energy in the pursuit of specialized big money interests.

And they were richly rewarded with huge sums of campaign donations, personal speaking 'repayments,' and sinecures during the out-of-office periods that the big money donors could provide.

The courtiers in the media and big money donors around the world are very put out that their claim checks for the spoils of a Hillary victory were invalidated.  Their outrage and disappointment is remarkable, as if they have somehow been cheated of their due, their turn at the pig sty of public looting.

They blame racism, the Russians, sexism, Bernie bros, hackers, the 'deplorables' in a bit of an ironic twist on the Romney moment, the electoral college, and even the roots of democratic process itself.

They and their strategy failed. Spectacularly.

But they cannot fail, because they are so exceptional. And there is the work to return to the real world for them, in overcoming themselves and their selfish disappointment and cognitive dissonance.

I have been very clear that I was no supporter of Trump, and could not vote for him in good conscience under almost any circumstances I could imagine.

But like so many others I could not in good conscience comfortably pick the 'lesser of two evils' in this case, especially after the serial betrayals of the reforms, the reforms he promised and for which he was elected, that we had at the hands of Obama and his party.   The nomination of Hillary was an 'in your face' gesture to the people by the worst of the embedded and outdated elements of a inwardly focused party in its decline.

The same and worse could be said of the Republicans, but that is another story.  They just were not able to ruthlessly suppress their insurgents as had the DNC.  And if you do not realize that they did so, then you are blinded by your ambitions and should step aside.

If anything, the antics of the DNC during these primaries showed that their callous disregard for the broader economic interests the people, and the hypocrisy which their self interests enabled, knew no bounds.

Think of the arrogance of their mindset— vote for our candidate because she is not good, but less bad than the other fellow, and once again you really have no other choice.

And they wonder why they were so soundly rejected.

The final refuge of the exceptionally arrogant is to dismiss those who have rejected them, and expect them to come crawling back, asking for another chance.

This is certainly preferable to admitting that they had the choice of the people and the winning candidate in their own ranks, and defeated him because they could, because it felt good to exercise power and influence once again, especially when it served their own selfish ambitions.

And in doing so, they defeated themselves.

But perhaps the people will not submit again, and choose whatever is offered, the less worse of a bad deal.

Perhaps the political class will have to eventually let go of their delusory arrogance, and face the work, and the pain, of remaking themselves into what they and their party had once represented:  a real constructive and progressive choice, and not just another flavor of less abusive but equally audacious oligarchy.

For in truth, it is still just another form of arrogant oligarchy that serves itself, albeit under the fig leaf of a rationale of 'public service' in constructing a false moral high ground, that is an inch above the swamp.

And if they have the time for it, here are two more short videos that need to penetrate the collective consciousness of the party in order for meaningful progress to occur.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 03:40 AM


Great bike lights

I've been using these bike lights for a bit over a year and I highly recommend them -- primarily because they are really not kidding about the anti-theft guarantee! Since I live in San Francisco, where we can't have nice things, they've now sent me three replacement lights for free, so that has definitely been money well spent.

Fortified Bicycle Aviator & Afterburner

These lightweight aluminum lights lock to your handlebars and seat post with custom security bolts, and are guaranteed to last forever - If they're ever stolen, broken or water damaged, Fortified will replace 'em! Swap batteries on the go with removable, rechargeable USB batteries. 150 lumens in the front perfectly illuminates city streets, while 30 lumens in the rear keeps drivers alert. If you're looking to fully illuminate the darkest suburban paths and urban alleyways, try the Boost version with 300 lumens in the front and 60 lumens in the rear to keep drivers at a distance.

They're relatively difficult to steal... The screws are pentalobe with a post: obscure but not unheard of. After the first theft, I "fixed" that by filling up the screw head with superglue. The most recent crackhead managed to steal half of the light, which isn't really going to work out so well for them.

They're bright and the batteries last a pretty long time. My only real complaint is that they turn on with a single tap, so often passing strangers using the same bike rack as me manage to turn them on accidentally, and I regularly come out to discover a dead battery.

by jwz at December 04, 2016 03:31 AM

Scott Hanselman

NoSQL .NET Core development using an local Azure DocumentDB Emulator

I was hanging out with Miguel de Icaza in New York a few weeks ago and he was sharing with me his ongoing love affair with a NoSQL Database called Azure DocumentDB. I've looked at it a few times over the last year or so and though it was cool but I didn't feel like using it for a few reasons:

  • Can't develop locally - I'm often in low-bandwidth or airplane situations
  • No MongoDB support - I have existing apps written in Node that use Mongo
  • No .NET Core support - I'm doing mostly cross-platform .NET Core apps

Miguel told me to take a closer look. Looks like things have changed! DocumentDB now has:

  • Free local DocumentDB Emulator - I asked and this is the SAME code that runs in Azure with just changes like using the local file system for persistence, etc. It's an "emulator" but it's really the essential same core engine code. There is no cost and no sign in for the local DocumentDB emulator.
  • MongoDB protocol support - This is amazing. I literally took an existing Node app, downloaded MongoChef and copied my collection over into Azure using a standard MongoDB connection string, then pointed my app at DocumentDB and it just worked. It's using DocumentDB for storage though, which gives me
    • Better Latency
    • Turnkey global geo-replication (like literally a few clicks)
    • A performance SLA with <10ms read and <15ms write (Service Level Agreement)
    • Metrics and Resource Management like every Azure Service
  • DocumentDB .NET Core Preview SDK that has feature parity with the .NET Framework SDK.

There's also Node, .NET, Python, Java, and C++ SDKs for DocumentDB so it's nice for gaming on Unity, Web Apps, or any .NET App...including Xamarin mobile apps on iOS and Android which is why Miguel is so hype on it.

Azure DocumentDB Local Quick Start

I wanted to see how quickly I could get started. I spoke with the PM for the project on Azure Friday and downloaded and installed the local emulator. The lead on the project said it's Windows for now but they are looking for cross-platform solutions. After it was installed it popped up my web browser with a local web page - I wish more development tools would have such clean Quick Starts. There's also a nice quick start on using DocumentDB with ASP.NET MVC.

NOTE: This is a 0.1.0 release. Definitely Alpha level. For example, the sample included looks like it had the package name changed at some point so it didn't line up. I had to change "Microsoft.Azure.Documents.Client": "0.1.0" to "Microsoft.Azure.DocumentDB.Core": "0.1.0-preview" so a little attention to detail issue there. I believe the intent is for stuff to Just Work. ;)

Nice DocumentDB Quick Start

The sample app is a pretty standard "ToDo" app:

ASP.NET MVC ToDo App using Azure Document DB local emulator

The local Emulator also includes a web-based local Data Explorer:


A Todo Item is really just a POCO (Plain Old CLR Object) like this:

namespace todo.Models
    using Newtonsoft.Json;
    public class Item
        [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "id")]
        public string Id { get; set; }
        [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "name")]
        public string Name { get; set; }
        [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "description")]
        public string Description { get; set; }
        [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "isComplete")]
        public bool Completed { get; set; }

The MVC Controller in the sample uses an underlying repository pattern so the code is super simple at that layer - as an example:


public async Task<IActionResult> Index()
var items = await DocumentDBRepository<Item>.GetItemsAsync(d => !d.Completed);
return View(items);

public async Task<ActionResult> CreateAsync([Bind("Id,Name,Description,Completed")] Item item)
if (ModelState.IsValid)
await DocumentDBRepository<Item>.CreateItemAsync(item);
return RedirectToAction("Index");

return View(item);

The Repository itself that's abstracting away the complexities is itself not that complex. It's like 120 lines of code, and really more like 60 when you remove whitespace and curly braces. And half of that is just initialization and setup. It's also DocumentDBRepository<T> so it's a generic you can change to meet your tastes and use it however you'd like.

The only thing that stands out to me in this sample is the loopp in GetItemsAsync that's hiding potential paging/chunking. It's nice you can pass in a predicate but I'll want to go and put in some paging logic for large collections.

public static async Task<T> GetItemAsync(string id)
        Document document = await client.ReadDocumentAsync(UriFactory.CreateDocumentUri(DatabaseId, CollectionId, id));
        return (T)(dynamic)document;
    catch (DocumentClientException e)
        if (e.StatusCode == System.Net.HttpStatusCode.NotFound){
            return null;
        else {
public static async Task<IEnumerable<T>> GetItemsAsync(Expression<Func<T, bool>> predicate)
    IDocumentQuery<T> query = client.CreateDocumentQuery<T>(
        UriFactory.CreateDocumentCollectionUri(DatabaseId, CollectionId),
        new FeedOptions { MaxItemCount = -1 })
    List<T> results = new List<T>();
    while (query.HasMoreResults){
        results.AddRange(await query.ExecuteNextAsync<T>());
    return results;
public static async Task<Document> CreateItemAsync(T item)
    return await client.CreateDocumentAsync(UriFactory.CreateDocumentCollectionUri(DatabaseId, CollectionId), item);
public static async Task<Document> UpdateItemAsync(string id, T item)
    return await client.ReplaceDocumentAsync(UriFactory.CreateDocumentUri(DatabaseId, CollectionId, id), item);
public static async Task DeleteItemAsync(string id)
    await client.DeleteDocumentAsync(UriFactory.CreateDocumentUri(DatabaseId, CollectionId, id));

I'm going to keep playing with this but so far I'm pretty happy I can get this far while on an airplane. It's really easy (given I'm preferring NoSQL over SQL lately) to just through objects at it and store them.

In another post I'm going to look at RavenDB, another great NoSQL Document Database that works on .NET Core that s also Open Source.

Sponsor: Big thanks to Octopus Deploy! Do you deploy the same application multiple times for each of your end customers? The team at Octopus have taken the pain out of multi-tenant deployments. Check out their latest 3.4 release

© 2016 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.

by Scott Hanselman at December 04, 2016 03:07 AM

Zero Hedge

Trump's Appointments - What Do They Mean?

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

Before I give an explanation, let’s be sure we all know what an explanation is. An explanation is not a justification. The collapse of education in the US is so severe that many Americans, especially younger ones, cannot tell the difference between an explanation and a defense, justification, or apology for what they regard as a guilty person or party. If an explanation is not damning or sufficiently damning of what they want damned, the explanation is interpreted as an excuse for the object of their scorn. In America, reason and objective analysis have taken a backseat to emotion.

We do not know what the appointments mean except, as Trump discovered once he confronted the task of forming a government, that there is no one but insiders to appoint. For the most part that is correct. Outsiders are a poor match for insiders who tend to eat them alive. Ronald Reagan’s California crew were a poor match for George H.W. Bush’s insiders. The Reagan part of the government had a hell of a time delivering results that Reagan wanted.

Another limit on a president’s ability to form a government is Senate confirmation of presidential appointees. Whereas Congress is in Republican hands, Congress remains in the hands of special interests who will protect their agendas from hostile potential appointees. Therefore, although Trump does not face partisan opposition from Congress, he faces the power of special interests that fund congressional political campaigns.

When the White House announced my appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Republican Senator Bob Dole put a hold on my appointment. Why? Dole had presidential ambitions, and he saw the rising star of Republican Representative Jack Kemp as a potential obstacle. As I had written the Kemp-Roth bill that had become Reagan’s economic policy, Dole regarded me in the Treasury as a one-up for Kemp. So, you see, all sorts of motives can plague a president’s ability to form a government.

With Trump under heavy attack prior to his inauguration, he cannot afford drawn out confirmation fights and defeats.

Does Trump’s choice of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary mean that Goldman Sachs will again be in charge of US economic policy? Possibly, but we do not know. We will have to wait and see. Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs 14 years ago. He has been making movies in Hollywood and started his own investment firm. Many people have worked for Goldman Sachs and the New York Banks who have become devastating critics of the banks. Read Nomi Prins’ books and visit Pam Martens website, Wall Street on Parade. My sometimes coauthor Dave Kranzler is a former Wall Streeter.

Commentators are jumping to conclusions based on appointees past associations. Mnuchin was an early Trump supporter and chairman of Trump’s finance campaign. He has Wall Street and investment experience. He should be an easy confirmation. For a president-elect under attack this is important.

Will Mnuchin suppport Trump’s goal of bringing middle class jobs back to America? Is Trump himself sincere? We do not know.

What we do know is that Trump attacked the fake “free trade” agreements that have stripped America of middle class jobs just as did Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot. We know that the Clintons made their fortune as agents of the One Percent, the only ones who have profited from the offshoring of American jobs. Trump’s fortune is not based on jobs offshoring.

Not every billionaire is an oligarch. Trump’s relation to the financial sector is one as a debtor. No doubt Trump and the banks have had unsatisfactory relationships. And Trump says he is a person who enjoys revenge.

What about the hot-headed generals announced as National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defense? Both seem to be death on Iran, which is stupid and unfortunate. However, keep in mind that Gen. Flynn is the one who blew the whistle on the Obama regime for rejecting the advice of the DIA and sending ISIS to overthrow Assad. Flynn said that ISIS was a “willful decision” of the Obama administration, not some unexpected event.

And keep in mind that Gen. Mattis is the one who told Trump that torture does not work, which caused Trump to back off his endorsement of torture.

So both of these generals, as bad as they may be, are an improvement on what came before. Both have shown independence from the neoconservative line that supports ISIS and torture.

Keep in mind also that there are two kinds of insiders. Some represent the agendas of special interests; others go with the flow because they enjoy participating in the affairs of the nation. Those who don’t go with the flow are eliminated from participating.

Goldman Sachs is a good place to get rich. That Mnuchin left 14 years ago could mean that he was not a good match for Goldman Sachs, that they did not like him or he did not like them. That Flynn and Mattis have taken independent positions on ISIS and torture suggests that they are mavericks. All three of these appointees seem to be strong and confident individuals who know the terrain, which is the kind of people a president needs if he is to accomplish anything.

The problem with beating up on an administration before it exists and has a record is that the result can be that the administration becomes deaf to all criticism. It is much better to give the new president a chance and to hold his feet to the fire on the main issues.

Trump alone among all the presidential candidates said that he saw no point in fomenting conflict with Russia. Trump alone questioned NATO’s continued existence 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Trump alone said that he would work to bring middle class jobs back to America.

And Trump said that he would enforce immigration laws. Is this racism or is this a defense of citizenship? How is the US a country if there is no difference between illegal aliens and citizens?

Commentators of all stripes are making a mistake to damn in advance the only government that campaigned on peace with Russia, restoring middle class jobs, and respect for the country’s borders. We should seize on these promises and hold the Trump administration to them. We should also work to make Trump aware of the serious adverse consequences of environmental degradation.

Who is blowing these opportunities? Trump? Mnuchin? Flynn? Mattis?

Or us?

The more Trump is criticized, the easier it is for the neoconservatives to offer their support and enter the administration. To date he has not appointed one, but you can bet your life that Israel is lobbying hard for the neocons. The neocons still reign in the media, the think tanks, university departments of foreign affairs, and the foreign policy community. They are an ever present danger.

Trump’s personality means that he is likely to see more reward in being the president who reverses American decline than in using the presidency to augment his personal fortune. Therefore, there is some hope for change occuring from the top rather than originating in the streets of bloody revolution. By the time Americans reach the revolutionary stage of awareness the police state is likely to be too strong for them.

So let’s give the Trump administration a chance. We can turn on him after he sells us out.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 03:00 AM


City Attorney Spraying Anti-Trump Graffiti While Drinking Wine Is All We Have Left

For the liberal elites, it's come to this. We've been reduced to this. We are all Duncan Lloyd, an assistant city solicitor in Philadelphia.

Lloyd was busted by surveillance cameras videoing a buddy spraying "Fuck Trump" on the side of a newly opened Fresh Grocer. Lloyd is pictured below in his civil disobedience uniform.

Yes. That's a man, wearing an ascot, holding a glass of wine, who tagged an upscale supermarket.

This is our life now, hyper-educated coastal elites. We're not going to stock up on guns and insta-waffles. We're not going to hop in a Prius and ethanol-roll motorists we disagree with. We're not going to burn an American flag, because we don't own an American flag, because what kind of jingoistic prick can find space for a freaking flag in a one-bedroom apartment? [...]

"If the image of an upper-middle-class city attorney clad in a blazer and sipping wine while vandalizing an upscale grocery store with an anti-Trump message strikes you as perhaps the most bourgeois sight imaginable, that's because it is," said Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Philadelphia Republican Party.

by jwz at December 04, 2016 02:57 AM

Cum Rags for Congress

Satanists Protest Texas Abortion Law with Semen Socks

Having mailed a ejaculate-covered sock to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, along with a handwritten note that says, "These r babies. Plz bury," Blackmore is publicly encouraging others to send Governor Abbott semen-encrusted materials of their own.

"The concept of the state mandating a non-medical ritual as part of the abortion procedure is offensive and crude, essentially demanding that all citizens adopt the moral, philosophical opinion that fetal tissue is comparable to a living human," she tells Broadly. "Fetal tissue has the 'potential' to become a human, but is not a human yet, does not have consciousness, and cannot exist without the mother host." She points out that semen and ova have the potential to become human life, yet "we do not mourn every ejaculation."

When asked to elaborate on the symbolic significance of the action, Blackmore responds, "It's crass, humiliating, disgusting, a waste of resources, and absurd, just like this regulation."

Previously, previously, previously.

by jwz at December 04, 2016 02:52 AM

Zero Hedge

A Visual History Of Population In America

You’ve likely seen the population density map of the United States in one form or another. A lot of people per square mile reside in big cities, fewer people reside in suburban areas, and a lot fewer people reside in rural areas.

But as's Nathan Yau explains, cities weren’t always cities though. Rural wasn’t always rural. If you look at people per square mile over a couple of centuries, you get a better idea of how the country developed.

The animated map above shows population density by decade, going back to 1790 and up to recent estimates for 2015. The time in between each time period represents a smoothed transition. This is approximate, but it gives a better idea of how the distribution of population changed.

As you watch, keep in mind that the map is based on data that was available and that it only represents the United States population.

This is especially notable during the first century. No data shows in much of the country, the estimates are spotty in many territories, and there were people who lived in the blanked out areas before newcomers settled.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 02:30 AM

lines and colors :: a blog about drawing, painting, illustration, comics, concept art and other visual arts

Painting with casein paint

Painting with casein, Samuel Coleman, John Molnar, unknown ancient Egyptian artist, Harry Anderson, Gustav Klimt, Jane Fisher, Len Guggenberger, John Berkey, Walker Moore, David S. Costanzo, Anthony Martino, James Gurney, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alan Bray, George Mclean, Colin Campbell Cooper
Casein (pronounced “kay’ seen”) is a water based paint in which the binder is the milk protein of the same name.

Casein is one of the least familiar of the water based painting mediums available to contemporary painters, even though it’s one of the oldest painting mediums known. Casein’s use can be reliably traced back over 9,000 years, with evidence of the formulation in cave paintings, and examples have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs from several thousand years ago.

There is new evidence that casein as a binder for paints may have been present in the oldest known examples of human use of painting materials, recently analyzed traces preserved in caves in South Africa from 49,000 years ago. (For reference, the oldest known examples of human writing — i.e. language, not just numbers — are only about 5,000 years old.)

Casein has a varied history, frequently used as an underpainting for oils and achieving its greatest modern popularity as a stand-alone medium in the mid 20th century, when it was popular with illustrators for its quick drying time, workability and easy-to-photograph matte surface. Like it’s gum arabic based cousin, gouache, the use of casein by illustrators was largely eclipsed by acrylic, which quickly dries impervious to water and subsequent applications of paint layers.

Casein has been in use as a decorative paint for furniture and other items, where is is generally referred to as “milk-based paint”; I’m not sure if the formulation is different from the artists’ paint. Casein has also been used as a ground for oil paints and for silverpoint drawing; the binder itself is a glue, used in undiluted form to glue furniture.

Casein has an interesting place in the spectrum of artists’ paints. It most closely resembles gouache as an opaque water based medium that dries to a beautiful matte finish. Like gouache, it changes value somewhat — generally lightening — as it dries. This can take a little getting used to and it can take multiple layers to produce satisfactory darks, but I find that more than offset by casein’s other qualities.

Casein is more full-bodied than gouache, and can be used a bit more thickly (though not in heavy impastos like oil). This makes it a little more like oil in terms of scumbling and creating interesting surface textures, and it can be particularly appealing to oil painters who want the speed and convenience of an alternative water based medium.

Casein also has a particularly nice characteristic of flowing off the brush, and can be applied to a smoother and more even flat color surface than gouache.

Some have said they’re not fond of the scent of casein paint, but others, including myself, find it quite pleasant. Your mileage may vary.

Unlike gouache and watercolor, which can always be reactivated with water (either an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the artist’s needs), casein eventually dries to a surface more resistant to water.

Varnish can be applied to paintings that have dried for two weeks or so, either matte or glossy, the latter application bringing out the darks and giving the painting a look closer to oils. Care must be taken, though, not to disturb the surface when applying the varnish; you’ll find more detailed information on some of the sites I’ll list below.

Like gouache, casein is being “rediscovered” by contemporary artists, and appreciated for its unique characteristics. It is particularly suited, I think, for plein air painting.

“True” casein must be made up frequently by the artist, as it goes off in a day, or 4 or 5 if refrigerated.

Modern adoption has been greatly boosted by the availability of casein emulsion, a formulation of casein and drying oil that does not readily spoil and is available in tubes.

To make “true” casein, vinegar is used to separate out the liquid whey, leaving the curdled milk protein — essentially cottage cheese. This is dried and ground to a powder for future use or used immediately, and usually mixed with water and ammonium carbonate or clear liquid ammonia (though there are other formulations using lime or borax). The result is a milky fluid into which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint.

Already extracted and dried casein powder can be purchased from suppliers like Sinopia, Kama Pigments or Earth Pigments (recipe here).

The tube casein seems to have most of the wonderful working qualities and beautiful surface appearance of the fresh made version, and is certainly an easier approach to the medium.

Casein emulsion tube paint

Jack Richeson & Co. is the most prominent provider of commercial casein paints, having bought the “Shiva” line and name from the previous manufacturer. Their casein emulsion paints are available through most online art supply houses, though I understand that they may be difficult to find outside the U.S.

Plaka, by Pelican, is another brand of casein based paint, that I know is at least available in the UK, though it may be aimed somewhat more at decorative artists than painters.

Casein is generally less expensive that gouache, perhaps because the binder and formulation of pigment is less costly, I don’t know. It comes in large tubes of 37ml, similar to oil, as opposed to the small tubes favored for watercolor and gouache.

Casein, even more than gouache, is brittle when it dries, and if used thickly, should be used on a heavy watercolor paper, or ideally on illustration board or panel. Ampersand, which makes familiar painting panels for plein air artists, makes a line of Claybord, that they promote as being ideal for casein and gouache, largely because the clay infused primer is absorbent, rather than non-absorbent as is favored in surfaces for oil painting. I haven’t tried it yet, I’ve been working successfully so far on 140lb watercolor blocks and hot press Bainbridge Board (I use hot press because I prefer a smooth surface).

To a point, casein washes up like watercolor or gouache, but because it hardens to a water resistant form over time, more care must be taken to wash out brushes after painting, or keep them suspended overnight in a brush washer. Casein is also a little rougher on brushes than watercolor or gouache, and it might be considered preferable to use synthetics. Because of the thickness of the paint compared with watercolor, casein painters often use brushes labeled for acrylic, somewhere in between stiffer oil brushes and softer watercolor brushes.

It can also be a little more difficult to get brushes clean, I use a little Murphy’s Oil Soap, I’ve also heard Greek olive oil soap recommended.

Casein is well suited to be used with gouache, the former giving body and texture, and the latter being even better for fine detail and sharp lines (though casein does well on its own in that respect).

Casein is often used with other paints, notably acrylic, in which acrylic plays the role of thin, transparent application and casein provides the ability to easily create thick, opaque passages — similar to the way watercolor and gouache are often used together.

There is a National Society for Painters in Casein and Acrylic, which sounds promising, but the navigation in their online galleries of competition winners is so terrible as to be almost unusable. You have to click to enlarge an image in a pop-up just to see the artist’s name, and even then there is no indication of the medium. You have to either look up each artist in Google and go to their own sites to look for the medium, or look for the winners of the “Richeson/Shiva Award For Casein Painting” as you wearily pop-up and close, pop-up and close, pop-up and close, in an attempt to find the few casein painters among the predominant majority of acrylic artists. Unfortunate; it might otherwise be a good resource.

Also unfortunate, and similar to gouache, is the dearth of information on casein use and painting techniques compared to other painting mediums. The Richeson site provides some information, and you can find casein mentioned in art materials compendiums, like Mark David Gottsegen’s The Painter’s Handbook, as well as in older books on illustration materials, like Rob Howard’s The Illustrator’s Bible.

A number of artists who work in casein feature short informational pages about the medium on their websites, and I’ll list some in my links, below. By far the best source I know of is James Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey.

Gurney has for several years been working with casein, as well as gouache and other mediums, and has been sharing his experience and findings in the form of articles and short videos.

He has just released a new full-length instructional video, Casein Painting in the Wild, which I cover in a separate post.

One of the segments of his video demonstrates painting in a very limited palette of four colors, and artists who are curious about casein may want to try a similar approach to simply try out the medium.

Personally, I find casein to be a genuine pleasure to work with. I like the way it flows and handles, the textural possibilities and the appealing color and matte surface in finished paintings.

Artists who try it may be surprised at how nice it can be to work with.

Cave walls optional.

(Images above, links to my posts: Samuel Coleman, John Molnar, unknown ancient Egyptian artist, Harry Anderson, Gustav Klimt, Jane Fisher, Len Guggenberger, John Berkey, Larry Seiler, Walker Moore, David S. Costanzo, Anthony Martino, James Gurney, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alan Bray, George Mclean, Colin Campbell Cooper)


by Charley Parker at December 04, 2016 02:11 AM

Zero Hedge

Jill Stein Drops PA Recount, Blames Lack Of Funds, Slams System That's "Stacked Against Voters"

Following disappointing results from the initial recount efforts in Pennsylvania, CBS reports Jill Stein's Green Party is dropping its court case seeking a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election, blaming a lack of funds.

As we noted earlier, according to Philly Voice, an updated count Friday by state election officials shows Trump’s lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton has shrunk from 71,000 to 49,000. If this new number is accurate, Trump’s lead is at 0.8 percent, down from more than 1 percent. That is still shy of Pennsylvania’s 0.5 percent trigger for an automatic statewide recount.

On Monday, Jill Stein of the Green Party filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania seeking a statewide recount of presidential votes in a continuation of her mission to contest the election results in three key voting states.

But now, wanted to explore whether voting machines and systems had been hacked and the election result manipulated, as CBS reports, The Green Party is dropping its case...

The decision came Saturday, two days before a court hearing in the case.


Lawyers for the Green Party-backed voters who filed the case say they can’t afford the $1 million bond ordered by the court by Monday at 5 p.m.


However, Green Party-backed efforts to analyze election software in scattered precincts are continuing.

Full statement...

According to a statement, Stein plans to hold a news conference about the recount effort Monday morning outside Trump Tower in New York City.

"The judge's outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation,"


"This is yet another sign that Pennsylvania's antiquated election law is stacked against voters."

A statement from the Pennsylvania GOP sent Saturday night read, in part:

“The filing of a discontinuance of the Election Contest by Jill Stein’s petitioners tonight is a recognition that their Election Contest was completely without merit, and meant solely for purposes to delay the Electoral College vote in Pennsylvania for President-Elect Trump


Candidate Jill Stein’s allegations created the false allusion that some unidentified foreign government hacked our state’s voting systems when absolutely no such proof existed.  We believe that she always knew that she had no such proof.”

So did Stein really spend all the $6 million-plus she raised or was the decision made to save the scammed millions instead of pressing ahead with a futile unwarranted recount? (or did Soros run out of cash?)

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 02:10 AM

Did The Market Just Flash A Hindenburg Omen Warning?

Amid the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in the stock, bond, and commodity markets this week, a few 'rotten' things began to emerge. With major indices diverging notably, new highs and new lows soaring, and breadth deteriorating, analysts noted the re-awakening of The Hindenburg Omen signal...

As John Hussman previously wrote, when we think of market “internals,” the number of new highs and new lows can contribute useful information. To expand on the vocabulary we use to talk about internals, “leadership” typically refers to the number of stocks achieving new highs and new lows; “breadth” typically refers to the number of stocks advancing versus declining in a given day or week; and “participation” typically refers to the percentage of stocks that are advancing or declining in tandem with the major indices.

The original basis for the Hindenburg signal traces back to the “high-low logic index” that Norm Fosback created in the 1970’s. Jim Miekka introduced the Hindenburg as a daily rather than weekly measure, Kennedy Gammage gave it the ominous name, and Peter Eliades later added several criteria to reduce the noise of one-off signals, requiring additional confirmation that amounts to a requirement that more than one signal must emerge in the context of an advancing market with weakening breadth.

And this week saw renowned technician Tom McClellan declare a Hindenburg Omen had struck...


As we discussed over 6 years ago, the dreaded Hindenburg Omen is easily the most feared technical pattern in all of chartism (for the bullishly inclined). Those who know what it is, tend to have an atavistic reaction to its mere mention. Those who do not, can catch up on its implications courtesy of Wikipedia, but in a nutshell: "The Hindenburg Omen is a technical analysis that attempts to predict a forthcoming stock market crash. It is named after the Hindenburg disaster of May 6th 1937, during which the German zeppelin was destroyed in a sudden conflagration." Granted, the Hindenburg Omen is not a guarantee of a crash, and the five criteria that must be met for a Hindenburg trigger typically need to reoccur within 36 days for reconfirmation. Yet the statistics are startling: "Looking back at historical data, the probability of a move greater than 5% to the downside after a confirmed Hindenburg Omen was 77%, and usually takes place within the next forty-days."

As a reminder, the 5 criteria of the Omen are as follows:

  1. That the daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.
  2. That the smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.
  3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
  4. That the McClellan Oscillator is negative on that same day.
  5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs). This condition is absolutely mandatory.

The last Hindenburg Omen occurred as the markets began to roll over in June 2015 (and did not end well) although that had followed a series of false alerts in the 2013 QE-enthused melt-up.


However, while McClellan called the Hindenburg, it appears it may have fallen just short...

Checking the rules:

1: YES - see chart above (red and green lines BOTH above the blue)

2: YES - 74 > 69

3: YES - 10628 to 10631 (rising)

4: YES - McClellan Oscillator -5.85 (below 0)

5: NO - 236 New Highs is more than double the 74 New Lows

And so from the most strict definition, The Hindenburg Omen did not strike this week...

But it's close and as a reminder, while no Hindenburg flashed, Dana Lyons noted both the number of New Highs and New Lows set 3-month highs just over a week ago. If that sounds odd, it is. In fact, it was only the 2nd day ever in which each set a 3-month high. And since 1970, only 18 prior days saw New Highs and New Lows set as much as a 1-month high.



Something which has not boded well in the past...


As the table shows, the return in the S&P 500 has been negative 2 months after all 11 occurrences. And it wasn’t just the 2-month period that was poor. Median returns are negative across nearly all time frames from 1 week to 2 years. The 2-year result is perhaps the most eye-opening after the 2-month. The market is not typically down over a 2-year period so to see 7 of the 8 instances lower is a rare result.

What causes the elevated numbers of New Highs and New Lows? And why would it necessarily be a negative for the stock market? We’re not sure, and we don’t really care. We’re never too concerned with the “why’s” when it comes to the markets. All we care about is what is happening. And for whatever reason, the market has been especially weak – and consistently so – following the occurrence of lots of New Highs and Lows. That is a legitimate red flag currently, in our view.

by Tyler Durden at December 04, 2016 01:30 AM

The Big Picture

Ghost in the Shell

  Ghost in the Shell Official Trailer 1 (2017) – Scarlett Johansson Movie  

The post Ghost in the Shell appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at December 04, 2016 01:00 AM

Planet Android

Moto Z and Moto Z Force Updated to Nougat

The Android Nougat update has recently been pushed to the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. Surprisingly, the Verizon variants were the first models to receive this update. That’s a bit unheard of considering Verizon’s  record of being a little late in the update game. This video shows some of the new features you can expect when running Nougat on the Moto Z.

As a side note, you can get an unlocked Moto Z for $200 off from Amazon right now.

by Roni at December 04, 2016 12:46 AM


Things about re:Invent

The AWSpalooza took me to Vegas for four nights, with thirty thousand or so other cloud-heads. Herewith notes and sparkly Vegas pictures.


The numbers tell the story: from 12K to 19K to 32K, and I don’t see any reason it’ll slow down. While the organization and logistics were formidable, obviously the work of seasoned pros, we’re getting close to the limit of what those venues can bear. I’m pretty relaxed about life, but had a couple of little claustrophobia flashes, when the crowds overfilled those huge hallways.

Fountain, Achromat rendition

I took along the Achromat lens because
it’s good at sparkly things and Vegas has lots of those.

There are upsides: I ate like a horse and drank like a fish, but I bet I lost weight from the miles and miles (not a figure of speech) of walking from hotel to venue to venue. 24 hours away from the show, my feet are starting to feel less like undercooked hamburger.


There are two big tribes: First, the cloud natives, tiny to huge, who’ve never really thought of any other way to do computing. Then the much larger tribe just getting their toes in the water and figuring out what they’re going to have to change to get the public cloud’s upsides in cost and security and availability and durability.

The second group is bigger. I was talking to a guy from a British bank that sent fifty people for a crash course in the future. But he told me there was still a strong No-Cloud-Here faction, some in corner offices. “I can out-wait them” he said, “but in the meantime we have to get ready.”

Evil flower horse

Evil flower horse.


I like to start the customer meetings (many every day) with a question: “What’s not working? Tell us about your pain points.” And they laugh but then the ice is broken and you get a good talk going right away about the things that matter.

So we sat down with this one big insurance company (you’d recognize the name) and I asked the question; they looked surprised and started talking about the problems with monolithic legacy Java and lingering RPG and DB2 in corners of the business. I’d mixed up my briefing docs and hadn’t realized they were just starting the cloud migration, didn’t really have much in production yet. So I was embarrassed and apologized, but they said “No, this good, let’s keep going.” And actually it was, we learned things that they were going to have to watch out for and also some low-hanging fruit they can win with in the short term.


When I was at Google, we couldn’t keep any — by the time IO rolled around every year, the press and bloggers knew pretty well what we were going to release. I’m not sure it did any damage, but it was irritating as hell.

Trump tower

Dark towers are so 20th-century; these days, evil wears gold.

AWS is a tight ship, relatively; we managed to surprise the audience with a couple of things, this year and every year. I totally don’t know why; if you listen to the AWS announcements, it’s obvious that customers have been looking at the new products, so the number of people who know is not small.

The Launch

I helped launch the new AWS Step Functions product. My role was small — flipping a couple of GitHub repos public, pushing a Ruby gem, publishing a spec — but enough to get me into the Launch War Room in a hidden corner of the conference.

Getting all the service pieces live on the net in sync with their keynote debut is not unlike a ten-player eight-dimensional chess match; I’ve never seen anything like it. I guess I have to be careful of giving away secrets here; suffice it to say, it was pretty groovy.


I gave a session to an audience of a thousand and change; my first public appearance as an Amazonian, on my second anniversary here. It wasn’t as much fun as I had berating audiences about privacy in the time between Google and Amazon, but I do like speechifying.

re:Invent is speaker-friendly. At Java One, your talk was ripped out of your hands and edited by “professionals” who didn’t understand the difference between 1010 and 1,010. At Google IO, you got to keep your own talk, but you had to rehearse with, and get it approved by, Developer Relations people (like me) who ruthlessly stamped out bullet lists.

For re:Invent, they had professional editors, who were smart and helpful about style and branding correctness, but otherwise got out of the way. If there’s a re:Invent in your future, I strongly recommend getting a talk accepted; the Speaker Work Room is a haven of quiet conversation, free food, and strong Internet.

Next year?

If I still have this job, it’ll be hard to not go. I think people who are building into the cloud — even if, like me, they don’t like Vegas and don’t like crowds — should too.

December 04, 2016 12:31 AM


flexible_permissions gem is out for flexible Ruby APIs!

For building APIs (and not only) I have been using Pundit gem for years. It’s an awesome gem. However there is a tiny issue: Pundit has a black and white policy whereas in APIs usually you need a grayscale. The user might have access to a specific resource/action, but only in certain attributes of that resource. That’s why flexible_permissions was born: a successful pattern I have been using for a couple years now is wrapped in a gem! Checkout the github page for more info!

December 04, 2016 12:15 AM

December 03, 2016

Wired Top Stories


How to Detect Things in Images from Ruby with Amazon Rekognition

Yep, Amazon now has an image recognition service - it’s called Rekognition (great name, right?) and I’ve found the official AWS SDK for Ruby already has support and makes it dead simple to detect things in photos from Ruby. Like, in less time than you might take for a toilet break.

December 03, 2016 11:41 PM

Planet Python

Python Insider: Python 2.7.13 release candidate 1 available

A release candidate for Python 2.7.13, a bug fix release in the Python 2.7 series, is now available for download on

December 03, 2016 10:54 PM


Daring Fireball

Prop ’n Go Tote

My thanks to Padded Spaces for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They’ve just released the new Prop ’n Go Tote, a convertible multi-angle lap desk and messenger bag. Made for every lap, it’s perfect for keeping gadgets at just the right angle. When it’s time to go, the hidable handle and shoulder strap transform Prop ’n Go Tote into a stylish, versatile messenger bag.

iBedside is an elegant bedside caddy for storing and charging iPad and iPhone. A magnetic shelf flips down with a flick, and three full-sized pockets store gadgets or gizmos. Clever cable management keeps everything tidy and charged. These are great holiday gifts.

Prop ’n Go and iBedside ship for free with Amazon Prime in the US, CA, and EU. Padded Spaces products are made in Seattle by crafters making honest wages.

by John Gruber at December 03, 2016 10:49 PM

DreamHost Blog

Why Techies, Developers, and Designers Should Be Bulking Up Their Writing Skills


Some time ago during a tech writing gig, I was chatting with that company’s only social media specialist. As the result of an organizational shift, we tech writers were becoming increasingly responsible for blog content. To put it simply, there was a 10-blog-post quota, and we were on the docket for all 10. But when I approached him to ask for a hand, the gist of his response was, “Dude, I don’t write.”

As it turned out, dozens of posts on their blog had been Chimp Rewritten. No offense, Chimp Rewriter, but the blog wasn’t pretty. And unsurprisingly, the entire blog and most of its social media presence are now managed by a third party.

Saying that you “don’t write” can be a perverse point of pride for people on the tech/design side of things. But why? Writing, after all, is a great way to prove your “attention to detail” and to make you appear more professional overall. It’s the easiest way to diversify your skillset. It keeps your résumé and cover letter immaculate. And solid writing skills mean that your social media presence will reinforce your identity as a thought leader (or at least as someone who knows how to spell).

The dark side of being “indispensable”

The attitude that leads people to declare they “don’t write” is closely linked to the attitude that makes people say they’re indispensable. Both can be a mistake. Hear me out:

In rapidly growing companies, a false sense of the value of seniority can rear its head. “I was here when we built this thing, and I was the only [insert job title here]. That makes me indispensable.” For example, at one gig, I was chatting with a software developer who was being forced to completely revamp a proprietary e-commerce platform—because the creator of the platform hadn’t made his code collaboration-friendly. The creator had always worked independently and thus had made something that was too specialized and that could only function when he was around. It ended up being very inefficient for everyone else.

Instead of striving to be indispensable, striving to be the “only one” who knows something, you should strive to be diversified and, quite frankly, completely replaceable. The benefits: If you teach others your highly developed skills, your team leaders will re-assign the tasks you began with and assign you more challenging work that can help develop you. If you’re transparent about what you do and how you manage your time, “important” folks can more easily track your value. And anyway, feeling “indispensable” can nestle you into a comfort zone. Employers see comfort zones as the death of ambition.

In short, it’s important to stay on your toes and diversify your skillset instead of sticking your head in the sand and only completing one sort of task while patting yourself on the back for being an expert.

Make writing part of your everyday

Speaking of diversifying your skillset, let’s get back to writing. Don’t be a one-trick pony who can’t create content to save his life—work on those writing skills. You can start right now. For free. And no, you don’t have to go buy a typewriter and set it down in front of a multicolored sunrise. There are easier ways to start integrating better writing into your work. Here are a couple of out-of-the-box ideas:

  • Practice better email writing by staying cognizant of best practices. This is a real way to see your progress, stand out from the crowd who treats Outlook like it’s Facebook Messenger, and hone your focus on communicating ideas via word economy. Though it may slow your response speeds down a little bit at first, once it becomes second nature, you’ll see how much more articulate your other writing becomes.
  • Holding stand up meetings with yourself. Not only do these help you focus on goals and identify your strongest skills, they can keep track of your trends, what kind of phases you go through, and other personal metrics. And, as a bonus, you’ll be able to track down some of your previous processes, similar to how people use GitHub to save their best snippets.
  • Draft stream-of-consciousness rants… in a very secret place, lest your Burn Book be discovered by the wrong snooper. Not only can you let off some steam in a safe space, but you can also look back, in embarrassment, at some of your venting, and perhaps identify your pet peeves or triggers, learning to handle them better in the future. And while you do that, you’ll be practicing that whole writing thing.

What happens when you learn to write better

Once your writing becomes clearer and the writing process becomes a bit easier, you can start upping the ante in a variety of ways. Trust me, people will notice.

At work, you’ll be able to better document your milestones and processes, sharing them with others on your team or in other departments, creating better company cultural habits and increasing your value. And as a bonus, tech writers will love you! They’d probably be inclined to help you out with other favors if you packaged source material so nicely that it only requires a little polish on their end…

When you look at your application packet, you’ll start to notice opportunities to clean up your resume and other documents now that you have a new toolbox of great writer habits to work with.

When you hit a plateau at your job and need a new challenge in a new place, start blogging about your innovations at work. You’ll enhance your portfolio with copy that both illustrates and explains your professional achievements. This may even demonstrate UX expertise to potential employers.

If you’re a developer or even web admin, you’ll start to realize that writing uses variables and arrays to execute on ideas. You’ll create a mutually beneficial relationship between two of your skill sets, easing collaboration and documentation for you or your team.

To sum things up, writing is just like any other skilled work set, in which we strive for great ideas with equally great execution. A well-executed idea, as you know, is not one hoarded by its conceiver. Documenting your ideas is a form of execution, whether it’s an accepted UI comp your director approves, or a few scribbles on a notepad. When you polish your writing and start underscoring your work by documenting it, no matter how casually you may do so, you’ll not only exude value and professionalism, but you’ll start to sense the value, or lack thereof, in every way you burn the clock. And you’ll course correct not for the sake of your employment, but for your own self-worth.

By Carlos Herbert Hernandez of the Hippo Thinks research network

The post Why Techies, Developers, and Designers Should Be Bulking Up Their Writing Skills appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

by Guest Author at December 03, 2016 10:49 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

5 Ways to Overcome Obstacles and Hurdles in your Startup

Both startup founders and employees should be familiar with overcoming adversity. The startup life is a never-ending battle of establishing yourself as a new player in a market. The battle starts with being able to clearly and succinctly describe your product or service. You have to capture the attention of co- founders, teams, vendors, customers, industry to gain success in today’s busy society. Quickly state your value proposition, hold the fluff. No one cares about your idea. No one cares that you want to save the world. People only truly care about what’s in it for them.

As if trying to cut through the noise to have your voice heard is not hard enough, entrepreneurs and business owners also have to navigate  the feeling of never having enough money. The revenue coming in feels like it can barely cover the expense of the myriad of services new businesses need. Floundering founders may unintentionally do things that are unproductive, or worse not focus on sales. Empowered business owners focus on mastering their pitch and supporting their arguments with detailed facts. This provides confidence to execute with focus. It is this focused execution that allows successful startups to last beyond the 4 year mark.  are five ways to overcome obstacles and hurdles in your startup

Create brand guidelines before launching

Some of the most popular brands have one attribute in common. They are consistent. Their professional personas encompass the quality of their work, their presentation, and their consistency. So to, customers want to rely and trust your startup. Knowing that your business is capable of delivering a high quality product every time is integral to brand perception and staying in business for the long term. An easy strategy for projecting a professional and consistent brand is to create brand guidelines before launching.

Brand guidelines serve as your visual rulebook. If you haven’t done this previously, no worries! Think about the feeling and emotions you want to convey with your brand and select elements of a brand that resonate with that image. Consider if you want your brand to be thought of as sleek and sophisticated or whimsical and playful. In the first case you may want to use black text with slim white font. In the latter example, using primary colors may resonate better with your target audience. It may be helpful to draw inspiration from iconic brands who deliver a vibe that is similar to what you want to create.

To round out your vision, you may want a logo or graphic designed. Open source platforms such as Canva allow you to become a graphic designer with zero experience!  The platform is useful for creating the business basics such as business cards, logos and marketing presentations. Finally, services such a Vistaprint make quality low cost printing accessible.

Thoroughly do your research

Transforming data into actionable insights is powerful. Potential investors and partners will want to understand market size and revenue potential. Small markets don’t make good investments for venture capital. Understanding your total available market allows you to understand market size. CB Insights a robust resource for acquiring data and market information. You want to determine how many potential customers exist within your niche, a reasonable price point and the total potential revenue that could be generated by addressing that marketplace need.

An example:

There are estimated 22 million landlords in the United States.

If I am able to sell them each my software for $100 each, I have the potential to make $ 2.2 Billion

Research is also important to flesh out a business model and understand product market fit. This means you should be collecting primary data. Simply put, talk to your customers frequently and survey them to find out their pains and needs. The benefit of this work is that it allows you to create a buyer persona. This is a model of your target customer that includes unique identifying factors such as age, location, income, hobbies, worries, and habits. Done well, this persona allows you to speak your customer’s language and address their needs effectively.  ESRI’s market tapestry is an excellent resource to start developing your buyer’s persona.

Have you ever wondered how the brands you love are able to resonate with you so clearly? Maybe you’ve wondered how McDonalds or Target selects a new site location. Well, it’s all strategic of course! These business decisions are largely influenced by local insights and economic indicators. Market research empowers business decisions. Although your business can be national or international, think locally for a moment. What zip code in your town or city do you believe your product or service can thrive in? Now use this zip code to research the demographics and lifestyle of these residents. This will help you identify key traits and characteristics that will help you find similar people in other locations.

Develop processes and systems in advance

Startup founders usually have trouble delegating responsibilities to others and on-boarding new talent. While we all understand that your business is your baby, a company cannot thrive when one person is the linchpin for all the work that has to get done. In short this internal struggle is attributed to lack of strategic planning and systems building.

Sounds simple, but the practice of implementing is much harder. I was lucky enough to read E-myth Revisited  3 years after I started my company. A close friend and successful entrepreneur suggested I give it a read after I confided in him with some issues I was having in my business. Now I recommend it as the first step someone should complete before taking the leap into entrepreneurship. This book will save you time, headache and help you set yourself up for success.  Most people don’t fully understand the dynamics of what it means to transition from an employee (technician) to entrepreneur/business owner. This book will get you there as painlessly as possible.

This book is fundamental to changing your mindset and put your emotions aside in favor of owning a system instead of creating a job for yourself. If you’ve read The Cashflow Quadrant, you understand the importance of owning a system. Take it to the next level with the E-myth. It’s all about stepping up processes from the beginning. This simply means to document the steps and activities that allow you to be successful in the company.

Focus on selling your MVP

“Traction gives you credibility. Credibility gets you meetings. Meetings are where the magic happens.” Paul Singh – Former Partner 500 Startups

There is a saying in the startup community which states, if you are not embarrassed by your MVP, you waited too long to ship it! This is absolutely true. I’m not advocating for being unprofessional, however I am saying you should capture the fundamental essence of what you are trying to accomplish and build out the most basic version of your product or service that people are willing to pay for. That threshold is likely a lot lower than you think.

Cover your bases (backside…)

Imagine only paying $30 -$50 per month for your own personal lawyer. A world-renowned one that is at your service to answer any questions you have and provide council on moves you are thinking of making – too good to be true? That is what prepaid legal services offers you! Think of it like you would a health insurance plan, only with legal services. You are paying a monthly premium for access to service should you need it. The idea is that the monthly fee subsidizes the true cost of the service. With one phone call, your lawyer provide consultation for you, review documents, make calls, send emails, write letter for your company and in some cases trial defense. Just like a health insurance plan, should you require services outside of the normal level, you simply pay the difference for another above your “allotment”.

According to the American Bar Association, “group and Prepaid Legal Services plans provide an efficient mechanism for matching clients in need of services with lawyers. Group Legal Plans create panels of lawyers with expertise in various areas and match them with plan members/clients.”

LegalShield founded in 1972 is an examples of prepaid legal services with a network of more than 6,900 independent provider attorneys across the U.S. and Canada. LegalShield has over 1.5 million members already.

Another household name is LegalZoom which has been around for 15 years. Of course, do your research to determine if the service is right for you.

It’s easy to make excuses as new entrepreneurs and startups. Being proactive and resourceful are to key skill sets.  Failure is not bad but necessary. Not pivoting is bad!

The post 5 Ways to Overcome Obstacles and Hurdles in your Startup appeared first on Due.

by John Delia at December 03, 2016 10:00 PM

Musings on Markets

Myth 5.2: As g-> r...To Infinity and Beyond!

In my last post, I started off by providing a rationale for a terminal value and presented alternatives to the perpetual growth model. That said, most DCFs are built with the the perpetual growth equation, setting up for a potential valuation disaster. Mathematically, the denominator is a powder keg waiting to blow, since as you increase g, holding the cash flow and r constant, your value will approach infinity before turning negative, leading to what I call “Buzz Lightyear” valuations.

The Growth Cap
If you want to draw on the perpetual growth equation, either because you believe your business will last forever or for convenience, the growth rate that you can use in it is constrained to be less than or equal to the growth rate of the economy in which you operate. This is not a debatable assumption, since it is mathematical, not one that owes its presence to economic theory. Within this statement, though, there are estimation choices that you will have to face about how to define the growth cap.
  1. Domestic versus Global: As a cap, you can use the growth in the domestic economy (if your company will remain a purely domestic operator) or growth in the global economy, and the economy’s growth rate has to be computed in the same terms that you are using for the rest of your valuation. That may seem to give you license to use high growth rates for emerging market companies but I would suggest caution, since emerging market economies as they get bigger will tend to see their growth rates move towards a global growth rate. Thus, while it is true that the Indian and Chinese economies have higher real growth rates than the global economy in the near term (5-10 years), they will see their growth rates converge on the global average (closer to 2%) sooner rather than later. 
  2. Real versus Nominal: In an earlier post, I argued that one of the hallmarks of a well-done DCF is consistency in how cash flows are defined and discount rates are computed. Specifically, you can choose to estimate your cash flows in real terms or nominal terms, with the former reflecting growth without the helping hand of inflation and the latter inclusive of it. If your valuation is in real terms, the cap on your growth rate will be the real growth rate in the economy, and if in nominal terms, it will be the nominal growth rate. 
  3. Currency: If you choose to do your valuation in nominal terms, you have to pick a currency to denominate your cash flows in, and that currency will have an expected inflation component attached to it. The nominal growth rate cap will have to be defined consistently, with the same expected inflation built into it as well. Thus, if you are valuing your company in a high-inflation currency, your nominal growth rate forever can be much higher than if you value it in a low-inflation currency.
What if your company is in a high growth sector or a high growth market? The answer lies in the "forever", since no sector or market, no matter how high its growth is right now, can continue to grow at a rate faster than the overall economy forever. One of the greatest perils in valuation is ignoring the growth cap, either because you forget the mathematical basis for why it exists in the first place or because you have mismatched your cash flows and your discount rate, perhaps estimating the former in a high inflation currency and the latter in a low-inflation one or vice versa.

A Risk Free Rate Proxy?
If you accept the rationale that growth is capped at the growth rate of the economy, you are now confronted with a daunting and perhaps impossible task, i.e., to value an individual company, you will now have to estimate expected growth rate in the economy (domestic or global) and expected inflation in the currency of your choice. I, for one, want no part of this estimation challenge, for two reasons. The first is that I find long term macroeconomic forecasting to be a futile exercise and have absolutely no faith in either myself or the institutional entities that claim to be good at this task. The second is that any time I spend on these macroeconomic forecasts is time that I am not spending on understanding my company and its business, key to valuing that company. Consequently, I use a simpler and more easily observable number as a cap on stable growth: the risk free rate that I have used in the valuation. Not only does this take into account the currency automatically (since higher inflation currencies have higher risk free rates) but it is reasonable to argue that it is a good proxy for the nominal growth rate in the economy.  Since it is the component of my valuations that I am taken to task most frequently about, I have three arguments to offer and while none standing alone may be persuasive, you may perhaps accept a combination of them.

1. An Empirical Argument:
To understand the link between the risk free rate (a nominal interest rate) and nominal economic growth rates, consider the following decompositions of both:
Risk free rate = Expected Inflation + Expected real interest rate
Nominal economic growth = Expected Inflation + Expected real growth rate
The table below the risk free rate in US dollars (measured with a ten-year treasury bond rate) and nominal economic growth (the sum of expected inflation and real GDP growth) from 1954 to 2015 in the United States, broken into two sub-periods.

Period10-Year T.Bond RateInflation RateReal GDP GrowthNominal GDP growth rateNominal GDP - T.Bond Rate
The nominal GDP growth rate was about 0.74% higher than the risk free rate over the entire period (1954-2015), but it has lagged the risk free rate by 0.58% since 1981. I know this table, by itself,  proves nothing, but there is reason to heed to the link. In the last sixty years in the United States,  nominal interest rates and nominal growth have been closely tied to each other, with an increase in one tied to an increase in the other. It is true that there is evidence in the data, especially in the 1954-1980 time period, that real growth can exceed real interest rates for extended periods, and economic intuition provides a rationale for why. If those who take no risk earn the riskfree rate, the economy, at least on average and over long time periods, has to deliver a little bit more to reward the risk takers. However, not only can that differential not be a large number but it is also worth remembering that the nominal growth rate is the growth rate in the entire economy, composed of both mature and growth companies. If you allow every mature company to grow at the rate at which the economy is growing, where does the growth come to sustain the growth companies in the economies? Put differently, setting the growth rate for mature companies below the growth rate of the economy cannot hurt you but setting it above that of the economy can cause valuations to implode. I'll take my chances on the former!

2. A Consistency Rationale 
If you are not convinced by this reasoning, I will offer another reason for tying the two numbers together. When you use a riskfree rate in a valuation, you are implicitly making assumptions about economic growth and inflation in the future and if you want your valuation to be consistent, you should make similar assumptions in estimating your cash flows. Thus, if you believe, the risk free rate today is too low or even negative (because the central banks have kept it so), and you use that risk free rate to come up with your discount rates, you have to keep your growth rate in perpetuity very low or negative to keep your valuation from imploding. That is the point that I was making in my post on negative interest rates. In the last decade, as interest rates have hit historic lows, the danger of this mismatch has become greater. Analysts have been quick to shift to using lower risk free rates (to 2% or lower) in their discount rate calculations while continuing to use nominal growth in the US economy (5-6%) as the cap on their growth rates. That is a recipe for disaster!

3. A Self-Control Basis
There is a third and final reason and this may reflect my personal weaknesses. When I value companies, I know that I fight my preconceptions and the urges I feel to tweak the numbers to deliver the result that I want to see. There is no number that can have more consequence for value than the growth rate in the terminal value and having a cap on that number removes the most potent vehicle for bias in valuation.

In sum, you may or may not be convinced by my arguments for capping the perpetual growth rate at the risk free rate, but I would strongly recommend that you create your own cap on growth and tie that cap to the risk free rate in your valuation. Thus, you may decide a looser version of my cap, allowing your perpetual growth rate to be as much as (but not more than) one percent higher than the risk free rate.

The perpetual growth model is a powerful device for applying closure in a discounted cash flow valuation but it is a mathematical honey trap, with the growth rate in the denominator acting as the lure for analysts who are inclined by bias or ignorance to play with it. If you are tempted, it is worth also remembering that it is the first place that that people who are well versed in valuation look to check for valuation ineptitude, since there are far more subtle ways to bias your valuations than playing with the growth rate.

YouTube Video

DCF Myth Posts
  1. If you have a D(discount rate) and a CF (cash flow), you have a DCF.  
  2. A DCF is an exercise in modeling & number crunching. 
  3. You cannot do a DCF when there is too much uncertainty.
  4. It's all about D in the DCF (Myths & 4.5)
  5. The Terminal Value: Elephant in the Room! (Myths 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 & 5.5)
  6. A DCF requires too many assumptions and can be manipulated to yield any value you want.
  7. A DCF cannot value brand name or other intangibles. 
  8. A DCF yields a conservative estimate of value. 
  9. If your DCF value changes significantly over time, there is something wrong with your valuation.
  10. A DCF is an academic exercise.

by Aswath Damodaran ( at December 03, 2016 09:33 PM

Daring Fireball

How to Fight iCloud Calendar Spam

David Sparks:

Most of the calendar spam I’ve seen has originated from China. Somebody has a big list of email addresses and sends out calendar invites with spammy links embedded. By default, the Mac looks at these invites and gives them to you via the calendar app along with a notification.

Historically, I’ve really liked this feature. My family uses multiple calendars and we routinely send each other invites. If I need to drive my daughter to a particular event, she sets the event in her calendar and sends me an invite. (We also have a shared family calendar but that includes everyone and in this case it would just be me and my daughter.)

This is what makes me so pissed about calendar spam. It’s taking something I use often and corrupting it. My guess is this is only going to get worse and I really hope Apple intervenes. In the meantime, there are a few steps you can take.

I started getting these last week. Same as a lot of you, I’ll bet: spam for Ray-Ban sunglasses and Ugg boots. Knock on wood, but I haven’t gotten one in about three days as I write this, so maybe Apple figured out a way to stop this? If you’re still getting them, let me know.

Update: A large number of readers report being hit by this spam yesterday and today, so I must just be lucky that it has (temporarily?) subsided for me. The most interesting thing about this is that it’s a way to send completely unauthenticated spam, and it has been just sitting around unexploited until now. This feature has been around for years, but the spammers seemingly didn’t find it until very recently.

Update 2: Apple is “actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent.”

by John Gruber at December 03, 2016 09:16 PM

The Talk Show: ‘Election Escape Key’

Joanna Stern returns to the show to talk about the new MacBook Pros (and their keyboards), stockpiling old MacBook Airs, dongles, Touch ID, SnapChat Spectacles, and more.

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by John Gruber at December 03, 2016 09:11 PM

Political Moneyball: America’s Unfair Elections and the Republicans’ Art of Winning Them

Jason Kottke:

Nothing in politics gets my blood boiling faster than gerrymandering… it is so grossly and obviously unfair. I bet you don’t even need to guess which of the two US political parties has pushed unfair redistricting in recent years.

More than anything for me, this is the story of politics in America right now: a shrinking and increasingly extremist underdog party has punched above its weight over the past few election cycles by methodically exploiting the weaknesses in our current political system. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, the passing of voter ID laws, and spreading propaganda via conservative and social media channels has led to disproportionate Republican representation in many areas of the country which they then use to gerrymander and pass more restrictive voter ID laws. They’ve limited potential conservative third party candidates (like Trump!) by incorporating them and their views into the main party. I would not be surprised if Republican donors strategically support left-of-center third-party candidates as spoilers — it’s a good tactic, underhanded but effective. They increasingly ignore political norms and practices to stymie Democratic efforts, like the general inaction of the Republican-led Congress over the past few years and the Senate’s refusal to consider Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Don’t skip the two videos from CGP Grey — they’re excellent.

by John Gruber at December 03, 2016 08:56 PM

News You Can Bruise

November Book Roundup

Please join me in writing a long-overdue Crummy feature, Book Roundup. Hmm, I'm being informed I have to write this myself. Please join other NYCB readers in reading a long over-due Crummy feature, Book Roundup. This is part of my up-ramping effort to post to NYCB more often and to control more of the information I put on the Internet.

It works like Film Roundup, but with less detail. At one point I pledged less detail on Film Roundup and it hasn't really worked, but here I'm serious. I'm just going to mention the books I read that I liked or that I need to remember I read. I'm reading most of these books on NYPL's SimplyE reader, and since libraries don't keep track of which books you read, this is a great way of remembering what I've read.

  • Carnegie by Peter Krass. Read for work research. The true story of a poor radical who became a rich reactionary who convinced himself he was still a radical.
  • The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner. A history of Bell Labs that does a good job explaining the relationship between the Labs and the AT&T monopoly. It's always awkward to see UNIX called a programming language. I don't think this impeaches the overall accuracy of the book, but there are probably similar technical errors I couldn't catch.
  • Speer: Hitler's Architect by Martin Kitchen. A well-deserved hit job on a man who successfully cultivated an image as The Guy Who Didn't Know. It's petty of me but I really liked the architectural criticism aspect of the hit job, which always ended with Kitchen mentioning that the site of Speer's Eternal Palace of the Volk (or whatever) now holds a parking garage (or whatever).
  • Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley. The Idea Factory reminded me that I'd checked out this book a long time ago and wasn't able to finish it before my DRM license expired. It's the same story as The Idea Factory, where the phone system is a big time-share computer, but from the perspective of the computer's unauthorized users.
  • Comic trade paperbacks! Sumana and Leonard agree: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3 is the best! Leonard agrees: Gwenpool Vol. 1 is fourth wall fun. It got a little gory but not as bad as your average Deadpool. I'm assuming there's a connection between the two? But it didn't actually happen in the book. I don't think I'm ever going to like low fantasy but Rat Queens volumes 2 and 3 are pretty nice.

December 03, 2016 08:54 PM

Sr Bachchan

DAY 3171

Hotel of Marriage , Portuguese territory   Dec ¾, 2016      Sat/Sun 1:32 am

Birthday : Ef Mansi .. the Chul Buli .. greetings to you dear one and may you ever be filled with happiness and joy .. love from us all ..

Opulence of disastrous sound mind and spirit .. the voice of millions .. their sounds ; different and liked .. yet there is need to come away from that ..

Glad that I did as I did .. those sounds can be nerve racking exaggerated experiences .. happily they did not last long for the reason to be at the wedding .. but now that it is decided .. we go with it …

Hosts dedicated and loving .. guests selfie obsessed strong .. mood indigo, with some very early associations and desire to escape .. quiet controlled dinner and host care .. and now to bed ..

The flying takes its toll .. tomorrow again at it .. and tomorrow the Screen Awards, to which there is nomination I believe .. heaven knows ..

I am in one .. in many and in many many more .. I am blessed and prayed for, this I do know, but my response and meets are not linked to the gesture .. gestures come and go .. togetherness lasts .. and how ?


Amitabh Bachchan 

December 03, 2016 08:15 PM

Planet Python

Holger Peters: Fixing Python-only feeds

I moved this blog to a new blog software and had lost the ability to build custom feeds on tags. This should at least work now for the Python tag again and so your feed readers should be able to load Python feed again. Let me know if this is not working.

The IDs of posts in that feed are probably not the same as in the static site generator I used before, so your feed reader might show some old posts as unread, although you have read them already.

December 03, 2016 08:08 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

3 Ways to Motivate Your Sales Team

Here’s the bottom line, the more motivated your sales team the more deals they will close. That being said, if you want to keep your cash flow in the green you need to build and maintain a motivated sales organization. High sales rep turnovers, resentment towards other sales reps, bad attitudes towards management, and poor camaraderie are all signs of a failing sales team. If you’re seeing any of those signs, use these 3 ways to motivate your sales team and close more deals.

Foster Healthy Competition 

In any sales organization competition is natural. Since sales is mostly performance based, reps will often compare their performance to their colleagues. A great way to stir up some healthy competition is to introduce various contests for your salesforce. Keep the stakes high, but not so high that the team will resent whomever wins. Here are a few great contest ideas to get the juices flowing:

  • Raffle Prizes: Set weekly or monthly sales targets and raffle off prizes to every sales rep who meets the target. This doesn’t restrict the prize to a single winner, that way every rep is working towards a personal goal.
  • Executive Privileges: Whether its an executive parking spot or bathroom stall, you can offer access to these amenities as a prize.
  • Customer Surveys: The customer always comes first, well kind of. Let your sales teams know you’ll be interviewing customers on a monthly basis. Sales teams with the highest customer satisfaction will win a team reward.

We’re all human in the end of the day, so it’s difficult to completely remove all negative sentiments from competition. Use these contests and tips to keep negative feelings at bay when fostering competition in your sales organization.

Automate Commission Payouts

In the end of the day, cash is king. The main motivation behind any salesman is their commission. Automating commission payouts is a great way to motivate your team, not to mention saves time and money in the long run. Instead of writing commission checks, look for a payments platform that offers automated payouts in the form of an eCheck. Whether its a one-time payout or a recurring payment, utilizing an electronic payment system will streamline your payments process and save tons of accounting work. In addition, your sales team can be confident that any deal closed will result in an automated payout. The quicker the cash comes in, the quicker they’ll be out to close more deals.

Recruit Strategically

For fast growing companies, it’s a very common practice to hire lots of salespeople and churn out the bad eggs. A huge downside to this is that it kills your overall sales culture. It’s very hard to motivate your sales team when you give the impression that you’re willing to replace them at anytime. That’s not to say you shouldn’t look to find top talent but it’s definitely important to hire your team strategically.

Build a persona of your ideal salesperson. Give them all the attributes and qualifications required to work at a high level in your sales organization. Be very specific and only hire the candidates that truly meet those requirements. Once hired, you absolutely need to spend time educating and training your team. Your job as a leader is to provide a dynamic learning environment for your teams. Host weekly training sessions during the work day or take your teams to keynote speeches and workshops. If you become a role model to your salesforce you’ll gain their loyalty. Your sales organization will be motivated to work hard crush their quotas if they have a respectable mentor watching over them.

Sales is very tough. While salespeople are usually some of the top earners in a company, they are also the most replaceable. Use these three tips to keep your sales team motivated and close more deals!


The post 3 Ways to Motivate Your Sales Team appeared first on Due.

by Renzo Costarella at December 03, 2016 08:05 PM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

Paul Krugman

Columnists: tavleensingh

Fifth column: Plastic patriotism

Nationalism and patriotism come naturally when they are not decreed by people arrogant enough to believe they have a right to dictate such things.

December 03, 2016 06:31 PM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

$400 million divorce lawsuit where the lawyers get almost all of it

This New York Times story is supposed to be about the use of offshore trusts and other exotic structures to shelter assets from tax collectors, lawsuit plaintiffs, etc. A woman discovers her husband cheating (“[husband] Oesterlund’s money and his boat attracted hangers-on and women, [wife] Pursglove says”) and he sues her for divorce in Canada while she sues him for divorce in Florida (see this chapter for more on venue litigation in divorce cases). It wasn’t obvious where one spouse should have sued the other:

For Pursglove and her husband, as for many members of the global 1 percent, “residency” was an elusive and easily manipulated concept. Pursglove was a British citizen with a United States green card who now lived in Boca Raton. Oesterlund was a citizen of Finland who had also obtained a passport from Dominica. They had homes in at least four countries and spent a year living on their yacht. “These parties are global citizens of substantial means,” Judge Gillen mused from the bench. “Their situation is a blessing and a privilege for them, but for this court, their lifestyle creates a challenge.”

Before the divorce litigation, the business-owning couple had been moving profits offshore, including into Cook Islands trusts:

trusts organized in the Cook Islands, a self-governing state associated with New Zealand, are particularly difficult to investigate. Cook courts typically do not recognize American court orders, including divorce judgments. To sue a Cook trust, you have to actually fly to the Cook Islands, in the middle of the South Pacific, roughly 6,000 miles southwest of Florida. “It’s like Switzerland used to be, but squared,” Fisher told me. Once assets were hidden inside a Cook trust, he had learned, it was almost impossible to get them out.

The wife “was now receiving alimony and child support” but needed to have her lawyers unwind these offshore structures to get ready access to the $400 million. How much were the professionals getting?

[the wife’s lawyers] Fisher and Potter estimated that Oesterlund was burning through about a million dollars a month, much of it going to pay the lawyers and accountants keeping his maze of trusts and shell companies in working order.

When I spoke with Fisher by phone in February, he sounded confident. Oesterlund appeared to be running out of cash, Fisher told me; he was missing payments on the loan from C1 Bank.

In other words, the article can also be summarized as “A couple had $400 million and, by the time a divorce court could allocate the joint assets, the lawyers had obtained most of them.”

by philg at December 03, 2016 06:22 PM


jsonapi-rb – Efficiently produce and consume JSON API documents.

jsonapi-rb is a ruby library for producing and consuming JSON API documents. It is not tied to any framework (but comes with Rails and Hanami integrations in separate gems), favors clarity and efficiency.

December 03, 2016 05:44 PM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

History of Stealth Aircraft: Russian Science and American Engineering

From Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Ben Rich)…

The stealth story actually began in July 1975, about six months after I took over the Skunk Works. … The U.S. had only two defensive ground-to-air missile systems deployed to protect bases—the Patriot and the Hawk, both only so-so in comparison to the Soviet weapons. By contrast, the Russians deployed fifteen different missile systems to defend their cities and vital strategic interests. … Their early-warning radar systems, with 200-foot-long antennas, could pick up an intruding aircraft from hundreds of miles away. Those long-range systems couldn’t tell altitude or the type of airplane invading their airspace, but passed along the intruder to systems that could. Their SAM ground-to-air missile batteries were able to engage both low-flying attack fighters and cruise missiles at the same time. Their fighters were armed with warning radars and air-to-air missiles capable of distinguishing between low-flying aircraft and ground clutter with disarming effectiveness. The Soviet SAM-5, a defensive surface-to-air missile of tremendous thrust, could reach heights of 125,000 feet and could be tipped with small nuclear warheads. At that height, the Soviets didn’t worry about impacting the ground below with the heat or shock wave from a very small megaton atomic blast and estimated that upper stratospheric winds would carry the radiation fallout over Finland or Sweden. An atomic explosion by an air defense missile could bring down any high-flying enemy bomber within a vicinity of probably a hundred miles with its shock wave and explosive power.

we were subjected to a chilling analysis of the 1973 Yom Kippur War involving Israel, Syria, and Egypt. … Although the Israelis flew our latest and most advanced jet attack aircraft and their combat pilots were equal to our own, they suffered tremendous losses against an estimated arsenal of 30,000 Soviet-supplied missiles to the Arab forces. The Israelis lost 109 airplanes in 18 days, mostly to radar-guided ground-to-air missiles and antiaircraft batteries, manned by undertrained and often undisciplined Egyptian and Syrian personnel. What really rattled our Air Force planners was that the evasive maneuvering by Israeli pilots to avoid missiles—the same tactics used by our own pilots—proved to be a disaster. All the turning and twisting calculated to slow down an incoming missile made the Israeli aircraft vulnerable to conventional ground fire.

The truth is that an exceptional thirty-six-year-old Skunk Works mathematician and radar specialist named Denys Overholser decided to drop by my office one April afternoon and presented me with the Rosetta Stone breakthrough for stealth technology. The gift he handed to me over a cup of decaf instant coffee would make an attack airplane so difficult to detect that it would be invulnerable against the most advanced radar systems yet invented, and survivable even against the most heavily defended targets in the world. Denys had discovered this nugget deep inside a long, dense technical paper on radar written by one of Russia’s leading experts and published in Moscow nine years earlier. That paper was a sleeper in more ways than one: called “Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction,” it had only recently been translated by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division from the original Russian language. The author was Pyotr Ufimtsev, chief scientist at the Moscow Institute of Radio Engineering.

“Ben, this guy has shown us how to accurately calculate radar cross sections across the surface of the wing and at the edge of the wing and put together these two calculations for an accurate total.”

More: Read the book.


by philg at December 03, 2016 05:36 PM

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

Subramanian Swamy: Finance ministry was not prepared for ... - Times of India

Times of India

Subramanian Swamy: Finance ministry was not prepared for ...
Times of India
PATNA: BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Saturday assailed West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee for opposing demonetisation and questioning an Army exrcise ...

and more »

December 03, 2016 05:31 PM

Boy Genius Report

Watch the PlayStation Experience 2016 keynote live stream right here

PlayStation Experience 2016 Live Stream

Two years ago, Sony decided that E3 wasn't enough.

Rather than wait a year to showcase its games to the world, the company behind the PlayStation decided to host its own event in Las Vegas — an event that anyone could attend — and thus the annual PlayStation Experience was born.

Two years later, the third PSX, which will run from December 3rd-4th, is about to begin. Although we know the schedule of the two-day event and the panels that will be held, we still don't know what surprises the keynote has in store.

Continue reading...

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by Jacob Siegal at December 03, 2016 05:30 PM

Cops steal iPhone to get around encryption problem

iPhone Encryption

February 2016 might seem like a long-ago date, before the dark times really began. But if you cast your mind back that far, you'll remember that the news was dominated with a fight between the FBI and Apple over iPhone encryption.

It pitted vast teams of lawyers, politicians and bloggers against each other in an impassionated argument (which all eventually fizzled out). So rather than going down the same path, the UK's Metropolitan Police worked out that they could just mug unsuspecting criminals and search their iPhones before they ever had a chance to lock them.

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by Chris Mills at December 03, 2016 05:00 PM


Here Are The Crime Stats You Need To See Before Claiming Violence Is Up

Image via The Real Art of Street Art

Since 2008, violent crimes in the United States have decreased dramatically. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, between 2008 and 2015, violent crimes and property crimes both saw decreases of 19 and 23 percent, respectively. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ annual crime report showed even better numbers, with a 26 percent decrease in violent crime and a 22 percent decrease in property crime.

Despite overwhelming evidence that crime rates are on a downward trend, a Pew Research Center survey recently showed that a majority of Americans think crime has gotten worse—an alarming 57 percent, to be precise. What’s worse, a staggering 78 percent of Trump supporters and 37 percent of Clinton supporters say crime has gotten worse over the past eight years.

As unnerving as this disconnect may be, it isn’t exactly news. Americans have consistently overestimated crime rates, despite the downward trend that has prevailed over the past three decades (though one reason for the mismatched data may have to do with the lag time of national surveys). The FBI and BJS didn’t release their 2015 crime rate findings until this past fall, meaning they don’t capture the most up-to-date data. The widely reported instances of violent crime that characterized this past year may inflate public perception of an overall increase.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice’s preliminary analysis of crime in 2016, it’s unlikely you’ve experienced a real increase of violent crime, unless you live in Chicago. As the authors explain,

“Nationally, crime remains at an all-time low … These findings undercut media reports referring to crime as ‘out of control,’ or heralding a new nationwide crime wave. But the data do call attention to specific cities, especially Chicago, and an urgent need to address violence there.”

They add that while the reasons behind Chicago’s short-term spike in crime need further investigation, this recent trend is likely a result of the socioeconomic problems that plague the city including “high poverty, unemployment, and racial segregation.”

There’s the other factor that Donald Trump’s fear-baiting rhetoric likely aggravated common misconceptions. During his campaign, he depicted Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, while his son compared Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles. Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Trump’s election night win has caused a surge in hate crimes carried out in the president-elect’s name. The very people who have an inflated sense of crime rates may be the ones to actualize them. If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that irony knows no bounds. 

by Kate Ryan at December 03, 2016 05:00 PM

Fidel Castro: polarizing icon

People mourned and celebrated the death of the controversial and revolutionary leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Portraits of Castro appeared everywhere this week: in Cuban homes and streets, and in the hands of people around the world.

A man shows his poster of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in his home in Havana on Nov. 29, as tributes to the former president are being held across the country. Castro died late November 25 in Havana at age 90. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

December 03, 2016 04:55 PM

Planet Python

Kushal Das: Communication tools and submitting weekly reports

I work for Fedora Engineering team. There are around 17 people in my team, and we cover Australia to USA geographically. Most of us are remote, only a hand few members go to the local offices. I did a blog post around 3 years back just after I started working remotely. In this post, I am trying to write down my thoughts about our communication styles.

Communication Tools

IRC is our primary communication medium. I am in around 42 channels dedicated to various sub-projects inside Fedora. We have a few dedicated meeting channels. As all meetings involve community members, the meeting timings are based on the availability of many other people. This is the only thing which is difficult as I have many meetings which go after midnight. Any other discussion where we need more participation and also to keep a record, we use our mailing lists.

A few of us also use various video chat systems regularly. It is always nice to see the faces. As a team, we mostly meet once during Flock, and some get a chance to meet each other during devconf.

Weekly reports

All of our team members send weekly work status updates to the internal mailing list. Sometimes I lag behind in this particular task. I tried various different approaches. I do maintain a text file on my laptop where I write down all the tasks I do. A Python script converts it into a proper email (with dates etc.) and sends it to the mailing list. The problem of using just a plain text file is that if I miss one day, I generally miss the next day too. The saga continues in the same way. Many of my teammates use taskwarrior as TODO application. I used it for around 6 months. As a TODO tool it is amazing, I have a script written by Ralph, which creates a very detailed weekly report. I was filling in my text file by copy/pasting from the taskwarrior report. Annotations were my main problem with taskwarrior. I like updating any TODO note on a GUI (web/desktop) much more, than any command line tool. In taskwarrior, I was adding, and ending tasks nicely, but was not doing any updates to the tasks.

I used Wunderlist few years back. It has very a nice WEB UI, and also a handy mobile application. The missing part is the power of creating reports. I found they have nice open source libraries to interact with the API services, both in Python and also in golang. I have forked wunderpy2, which has a patch for getting comments for any given task (I will submit a PR later). Yesterday I started writing a small tool using this library. It prints the report on STDOUT in Markdown format. There is no code for customization of the report yet, I will be adding them slowly. My idea is to run this tool, pipe the output to my report text file. Edit manually if I want to. Finally, I execute my Python script to send out the report. In the coming weeks I will be able to say how good is this method.

December 03, 2016 04:47 PM

Experienced Django: Exploring with Cookiecutter

After reading Two Scoops of Django, I decided to explore the cookiecutter app that they recommend.  If you haven’t used it, cookiecutter is ” A command-line utility that creates projects from cookiecutters (project templates). E.g. Python package projects, jQuery plugin projects.”

In particular I explored some of the Django-specific cookiecutter templates (though I did peek at a few other languages, too).  I started with the cookiecutter-django template as it was written by one of the authors of the book and it was at the top of the list I was looking at.


Cookiecutter-Django is a full-on professional level template for producing enterprise-level Django apps.  As such, it comes with a LOT of bells and whistles.  Celery support?  Yep.  Docker? Yep.  Custom windows and pycharm setups?  Yep.  The list goes on.  This is pretty cool, but, at 134 files, many of which I do not know the use of, this is clearly not aimed at me, the hobbyist learning Django in his spare time.

It does, however, have some interesting project layout ideas that I think ARE useful and sound.  Among these are having separate doc and requirements directories and having the requirements files broken into separate environments (local, production, test) to codify and simplify the set up for the job you’re doing.

Lots of good stuff here to dig into in the future, but this is a bit over my head at the moment. Fortunately, there are a myriad of other templates to play with.  I found a good list of them at readthedocs.


The next one I ventured into was django-crud.  This is different from the others I looked at in that it was not a full django project, rather just the webapp portion of it.

It is pretty cool in that it gives a really detailed example of how to write a simple model (performing the CRUD database operations, of course) with full unit tests and simple templates.  At 16 files, it’s not so overwhelming and has a pretty clear intent.  I’m sure the author uses it as a starting point for webapps, but I’m finding it as useful learning tool and will likely be the basis as I start down the unit testing road (coming soon!).


I also took a quick tour through Django-paas. which is billed as a “Django template ready to use in SAAS platforms like Heroku, OpenShift, etc..”.

While this isn’t likely one I’m ready to use just yet (I’m still hosting locally on my private machine for use inside my network).  It’s definitely got a few features that are worth looking at.  Of note was the use of waitress (instead of gnuicorn) which might be an interesting alternative.  It also provided a procfile for heroku, which I can see being handy in the future.

Simple Django

My final stop of this tour was Simple-Django.  This is a very trimmed down version of the full cookiecutter-django template I started with.  It still has separate requirements and docs directories, but does not pull in nearly the number of third-party packages that its full-blown antecedent does.

This looks like a good start place for my level of development and interest.  It will likely be the basis I use if and when I create a django template for my own use.


While none of these cookie-cutter templates are exactly what I’m looking for at the moment, I found exploring them a good way to learn about different tools, directory layouts and general best practices in the django world.  I’d encourage you to explore some of these, even if they’re not something you need at the moment.

I’d like to thank the authors of each of these templates for the work they put into them and for sharing them with us, and, in particular, Audrey Roy Greenfeld and Danny Roy Greenfeld for creating cookiecutter and the cookiecutter-django template.


December 03, 2016 04:34 PM

The Big Picture

Do You Need a Financial Adviser? A Guide to Help You Decide

Do you need a financial adviser? Barry Ritholtz Washington Post, November 22         Do you need a financial adviser? It is a simple question, but many investors are not sure about it. New changes in law (the fiduciary standard) and technology (robo-advisers) have added layers of complication to the answer. To know,…

Read More

The post Do You Need a Financial Adviser? A Guide to Help You Decide appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at December 03, 2016 04:00 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Weekend Reading: Debating What's Wrong With Macroeconomics

Sanzio 01 The School of Athens Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Mark Buchanan and Noah Smith: Debating What's Wrong With Macroeconomics: "*It wasn't very long ago that macroeconomics was being hailed for answering some of the big, perplexing questions about the workings of the economy...

..."The state of macro is good," one highly respected economist wrote in August 2008, just before much of the developed world came close to economic disaster. The failure to foresee the financial crisis now is considered one glaring sign of the field's limitations. Bloomberg View columnists Mark Buchanan and Noah Smith met online to debate how macroeconomics needs to change.* 

Buchanan: I do think that much of modern macroeconomics -- and I mean theory, not empirical work -- is a pretty spectacular failure. Research in this area doesn't look like science to me. It treats an economy as if each household and each firm make optimal decisions, thereby excluding most of the richness and heterogeneity of a real economy.

Indeed, there's something strange going on in this field. In 20-plus years writing about science, I've studied research in physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, anthropology and always found, after looking closely enough, that the models people use in these fields are usually well-motivated, make basic logical sense and get rejected if they don't fit the facts very well. Macroeconomics has been the one exception. 

I do like some macroeconomics research, just not the stuff in the mainstream. But Noah, I know you've criticized macroeconomics on many occasions. What do you think is right and wrong about the field? 

Smith: I certainly think there are lots of problems with macro. But criticizing it based on specific elements -- for example, assuming everyone’s perfectly rational -- won’t change much.

See, I think the biggest problem with macro is that models never get thrown in the trash. Researchers pump out theory paper after theory paper, most of which contradict each other. Sometimes we see a big, spectacular event like the 2008 crisis, which just couldn't happen in any of the popular, dominant, or Nobel-winning models. But then macroeconomists just pull some obscure 20-year-old paper off the shelf and say "Of course macro can explain this." Macro theory is sort of like a big collective effort to cover all the bases, not to find which models really work and which don't. 

So if people criticize macro by saying to add this or that feature, they’ll do what you ask. But the papers will just sit on the shelves, and when it comes time to make policy, people pick and choose the theories that suit their preconceptions.

Sure, that's unscientific. But what's the alternative? A macroeconomy is a big, complex system and no model will explain all of it at once. So how do we know when to toss out a theory? Suppose you write down a model that does a good job describing how job vacancies get created and filled, but does a poor job explaining trends in productivity. Do you toss it, or do you keep it? This is a question macroeconomists have never really made themselves answer. But I don't think anyone, including physicists or biologists, or macro critics for that matter, has a definitive answer to this question.

Buchanan: I like what you say: "Macro theory is sort of like a big collective effort to cover all the bases, not to find which models really work and which don't." That's more or less what some economists argued a couple of years ago, and they seemed to think it is OK. I think it's certainly a way to fill libraries with models, but that it's too safe, unambitious and not the way to make useful macroeconomics. 

Of course, models shouldn't aim to include everything, which is in any case impossible. A useful model is a simplified analogue of reality that neatly captures some important aspects of how something works, while leaving lots of less important detail aside. Economists should have lots of models attuned to different situations and problems.

But in trying to separate useful from non-useful models, macroeconomics could benefit by doing some things that are common in the rest of science. One big thing: empirical tests of macro theories could be much more severe, not only comparing model predictions to aggregate economic data, but also checking on the empirical plausibility of how the model works internally. Do the individuals and firms, for example, look and behave much as they do in the real world? It's the absurdity of so many macro models at this level that really gets macro critics going. Today's climate models, while far from perfect, are much more accurate than they were several decades ago,  because they've been tested not only at the level of their aggregate predictions, but also at the level of thousands of other details -- do they get atmospheric flows right, do they get heat transfer between ocean and atmosphere right, etc. In this way, less accurate elements have been eliminated and replaced with improved ones, gradually and systematically over time.

Surely something similar should be possible in macroeconomics.

Smith: You're right. This is what I call "getting the pieces right." Traditionally, going back to Milton Friedman, there has been this idea in macro that you don't have to worry about making the pieces of a model realistic -- you just take a bunch of assumptions, throw them in a bag, shake them up, and if the model that comes out kinda-sorta looks like it matches some parts of the overall economy, you get published, you get respected. 

But there are signs this is beginning to change. Recently, more top macroeconomists are taking a hard look at the data to figure out how consumers and companies really behave -- for example, how businesses make decisions about setting prices and hiring or firing workers. More people are trying to explain inequality. There's a recognition that consumers don't look infinitely far into the future. A lot of models have added finance. Partly this is a response to the availability of a lot more data, and part of it is the development of more sophisticated math techniques that can handle more features at once. And I think partly it’s in response to the criticism of macro in the wake of the crisis.

Note that this is the opposite of what a lot of macro critics are suggesting. Some, like Paul Krugman, advocate the use of very simple, old models, which are easy to use and interpret (especially in times of crisis). Others suggest tossing out the idea of individual decision-making as the foundation of macro models. Still others want to get rid of mathematical modeling. Compared to what these people are recommending, the approach of "getting the pieces right" seems pretty conservative. 

Buchanan: Recognizing that consumers don't look infinitely far into the future? That is a major advance! No, seriously, that's all good to hear. Perhaps my criticism is more conservative than I had thought. I'm certainly not in favor of getting rid of mathematics or of ignoring individual behavior. 

Another dreadful aspect of macro is economists' unreasonable fixation on general equilibrium models, which they rarely subject to the getting-the-pieces-right principle that you mentioned. The real macroeconomy comes about as people and firms and governments take actions of a zillion kinds, leading to aggregate outcomes, which then feed back to alter everyone's behavior. The general equilibrium approach builds a theory of this by turning away from this feedback, and instead looking to find sets of actions and expectations that are consistent with the overall aggregate patterns. In these nice equilibria, no one has further incentives to change their behavior or strategy.

Given the difficulty of the problem, this is OK as an initial crude stab at learning something. But it certainly shouldn't be the end of the road for macroeconomics. The obvious alternative is to explore the richer world of models in which the actions of individuals, firms and governments lead to aggregate outcomes, which may then demand new action and adjustment, creating further new outcomes and so on. This is not equilibrium, and it's a lot messier mathematically, but also looks a lot more like the real world, which make this kind of more open modelling and exploration possible. I'd like to see more economists start doing this kind of work, but many seem very hostile to the approach.

Smith: The biggest challenge right now for macro is to move toward more realistic micro, using data as a guide. And I also think there needs to be a culture change -- macro people need to be a lot more willing to just throw models out. That would lead to a shift in research from theory to empirics, at least for a while. And I think these two changes would go a very long way toward making macro look more like a typical science. I think instead of telling macro people which things to put in their models, we should focus more on pushing them to make this cultural change.

by J. Bradford DeLong at December 03, 2016 04:00 PM

Weekend Reading: Abraham Lincoln: State of the Union Address (December 3, 1861)

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Abraham Lincoln: State of the Union Address: "Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives...

In the midst of unprecedented political troubles we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests.

You will not be surprised to learn that in the peculiar exigencies of the times our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefly turning upon our own domestic affairs.

A disloyal portion of the American people have during the whole year been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic division is exposed to disrespect abroad, and one party, if not both, is sure sooner or later to invoke foreign intervention.

Nations thus tempted to interfere are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.

The disloyal citizens of the United States who have offered the ruin of our country in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected. If it were just to suppose, as the insurgents have seemed to assume, that foreign nations in this case, discarding all moral, social, and treaty obligations, would act solely and selfishly for the most speedy restoration of commerce, including especially the acquisition of cotton, those nations appear as yet not to have seen their way to their object more directly or clearly through the destruction than through the preservation of the Union. If we could dare to believe that foreign nations are actuated by no higher principle than this, I am quite sure a sound argument could be made to show them that they can reach their aim more readily and easily by aiding to crush this rebellion than by giving encouragement to it.

The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us, as already intimated, is the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably saw from the first that it was the Union which made as well our foreign as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produces the existing difficulty, and that one strong nation promises more durable peace and a more extensive, valuable, and reliable commerce than can the same nation broken into hostile fragments.

It is not my purpose to review our discussions with foreign states, because, whatever might be their wishes or dispositions, the integrity of our country and the stability of our Government mainly depend not upon them, but on the loyalty, virtue, patriotism, and intelligence of the American people. The correspondence itself, with the usual reservations, is herewith submitted.

I venture to hope it will appear that we have practiced prudence and liberality toward foreign powers, averting causes of irritation and with firmness maintaining our own rights and honor.

Since, however, it is apparent that here, as in every other state, foreign dangers necessarily attend domestic difficulties, I recommend that adequate and ample measures be adopted for maintaining the public defenses on every side. While under this general recommendation provision for defending our seacoast line readily occurs to the mind, I also in the same connection ask the attention of Congress to our great lakes and rivers. It is believed that some fortifications and depots of arms and munitions, with harbor and navigation improvements, all at well-selected points upon these, would be of great importance to the national defense and preservation. I ask attention to the views of the Secretary of War, expressed in his report, upon the same general subject.

I deem it of importance that the loyal regions of east Tennessee and western North Carolina should be connected with Kentucky and other faithful parts of the Union by railroad. I therefore recommend, as a military measure, that Congress provide for the construction of such road as speedily as possible. Kentucky no doubt will cooperate, and through her legislature make the most judicious selection of a line. The northern terminus must connect with some existing railroad, and whether the route shall be from Lexington or Nicholasville to the Cumberland Gap, or from Lebanon to the Tennessee line, in the direction of Knoxville, or on some still different line, can easily be determined.

Kentucky and the General Government cooperating, the work can be completed in a very short time, and when done it will be not only of vast present usefulness, but also a valuable permanent improvement, worth its cost in all the future.

Some treaties, designed chiefly for the interests of commerce, and having no grave political importance, have been negotiated, and will be submitted to the Senate for their consideration.

Although we have failed to induce some of the commercial powers to adopt a desirable melioration of the rigor of maritime war, we have removed all obstructions from the way of this humane reform except such as are merely of temporary and accidental occurrence.

I invite your attention to the correspondence between Her Britannic Majesty's minister accredited to this Government and the Secretary of State relative to the detention of the British ship Perthshire in June last by the United States steamer Massachusetts for a supposed breach of the blockade. As this detention was occasioned by an obvious misapprehension of the facts, and as justice requires that we should commit no belligerent act not rounded in strict right as sanctioned by public law, I recommend that an appropriation be made to satisfy the reasonable demand of the owners of the vessel for her detention.

I repeat the recommendation of my predecessor in his annual message to Congress in December last in regard to the disposition of the surplus which will probably remain after satisfying the claims of American citizens against China, pursuant to the awards of the commissioners under the act of the 3d of March, 1859. If, however, it should not be deemed advisable to carry that recommendation into effect, I would suggest that authority be given for investing the principal, over the proceeds of the surplus referred to, in good securities, with a view to the satisfaction of such other just claims of our citizens against China as are not unlikely to arise hereafter in the course of our extensive trade with that Empire.

By the act of the 5th of August last Congress authorized the President to instruct the commanders of suitable vessels to defend themselves against and to capture pirates. This authority has been exercised in a single instance only. For the more effectual protection of our extensive and valuable commerce in the Eastern seas especially, it seems to me that it would also be advisable to authorize the commanders of sailing vessels to recapture any prizes which pirates may make of United States vessels and their cargoes, and the consular courts now established by law in Eastern countries to adjudicate the cases in the event that this should not be objected to by the local authorities.

If any good reason exists why we should persevere longer in withholding our recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Hayti and Liberia, I am unable to discern it. Unwilling, however, to inaugurate a novel policy in regard to them without the approbation of Congress, I submit for your consideration the expediency of an appropriation for maintaining a charge d'affaires near each of those new States. It does not admit of doubt that important commercial advantages might be secured by favorable treaties with them.

The operations of the Treasury during the period which has elapsed since your adjournment have been conducted with signal success. The patriotism of the people has placed at the disposal of the Government the large means demanded by the public exigencies. Much of the national loan has been taken by citizens of the industrial classes, whose confidence in their country's faith and zeal for their country's deliverance from present peril have induced them to contribute to the support of the Government the whole of their limited acquisitions. This fact imposes peculiar obligations to economy in disbursement and energy in action.

The revenue from all sources, including loans, for the financial year ending on the 30th of June, 1861, was $86,835,900.27, and the expenditures for the same period, including payments on account of the public debt, were $84,578,834.47, leaving a balance in the Treasury on the 1st of July of 52,257,065.80. For the first quarter of the financial year ending on the 30th of September, 1861, the receipts from all sources, including the balance of the 1st of July, were $102,532,509.27, and the expenses $98,239,733.09, leaving a balance on the 1st of October, 1861, of $4,292,776.18.

Estimates for the remaining three quarters of the year and for the financial year 1863, together with his views of ways and means for meeting the demands contemplated by them, will be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury. It is gratifying to know that the expenditures made necessary by the rebellion are not beyond the resources of the loyal people, and to believe that the same patriotism which has thus far sustained the Government will continue to sustain it till peace and union shall again bless the land.

I respectfully refer to the report of the Secretary of War for information respecting the numerical strength of the Army and for recommendations having in view an increase of its efficiency and the well-being of the various branches of the service intrusted to his care. It is gratifying to know that the patriotism of the people has proved equal to the occasion, and that the number of troops tendered greatly exceeds the force which Congress authorized me to call into the field.

I refer with pleasure to those portions of his report which make allusion to the creditable degree of discipline already attained by our troops and to the excellent sanitary condition of the entire Army.

The recommendation of the Secretary for an organization of the militia upon a uniform basis is a subject of vital importance to the future safety of the country, and is commended to the serious attention of Congress.

The large addition to the Regular Army, in connection with the defection that has so considerably diminished the number of its officers, gives peculiar importance to his recommendation for increasing the corps of cadets to the greatest capacity of the Military Academy.

By mere omission, I presume, Congress has failed to provide chaplains for hospitals occupied by volunteers. This subject was brought to my notice, and I was induced to draw up the form of a letter, one copy of which, properly addressed, has been delivered to each of the persons, and at the dates respectively named and stated in a schedule, containing also the form of the letter marked A, and herewith transmitted.

These gentlemen, I understand, entered upon the duties designated at the times respectively stated in the schedule, and have labored faithfully therein ever since. I therefore recommend that they be compensated at the same rate as chaplains in the Army. I further suggest that general provision be made for chaplains to serve at hospitals, as well as with regiments.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy presents in detail the operations of that branch of the service, the activity and energy which have characterized its administration, and the results of measures to increase its efficiency and power. Such have been the additions, by construction and purchase, that it may almost be said a navy has been created and brought into service since our difficulties commenced.

Besides blockading our extensive coast, squadrons larger than ever before assembled under our flag have been put afloat and performed deeds which have increased our naval renown.

I would invite special attention to the recommendation of the Secretary for a more perfect organization of the Navy by introducing additional grades in the service.

The present organization is defective and unsatisfactory, and the suggestions submitted by the Department will, it is believed, if adopted, obviate the difficulties alluded to, promote harmony, and increase the efficiency of the Navy.

There are three vacancies on the bench of the Supreme Court--two by the decease of Justices Daniel and McLean and one by the resignation of Justice Campbell. I have so far forborne making nominations to fill these vacancies for reasons which I will now state. Two of the outgoing judges resided within the States now overrun by revolt, so that if successors were appointed in the same localities they could not now serve upon their circuits; and many of the most competent men there probably would not take the personal hazard of accepting to serve, even here, upon the Supreme bench. I have been unwilling to throw all the appointments northward, thus disabling myself from doing justice to the South on the return of peace; although I may remark that to transfer to the North one which has heretofore been in the South would not, with reference to territory and population, be unjust.

During the long and brilliant judicial career of Judge McLean his circuit grew into an empire altogether too large for any one judge to give the courts therein more than a nominal attendance--rising in population from 1,470,018 in 1830 to 6,151,405 in 1860.

Besides this, the country generally has outgrown our present judicial system. If uniformity was at all intended, the system requires that all the States shall be accommodated with circuit courts, attended by Supreme judges, while, in fact, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, Texas, California, and Oregon have never had any such courts. Nor can this well be remedied without a change in the system, because the adding of judges to the Supreme Court, enough for the accommodation of all parts of the country with circuit courts, would create a court altogether too numerous for a judicial body of any sort. And the evil, if it be one, will increase as new States come into the Union. Circuit courts are useful or they are not useful. If useful, no State should be denied them; if not useful, no State should have them. Let them be provided for all or abolished as to all.

Three modifications occur to me, either of which, I think, would be an improvement upon our present system. Let the Supreme Court be of convenient number in every event; then, first, let the whole country be divided into circuits of convenient size, the Supreme judges to serve in a number of them corresponding to their own number, and independent circuit judges be provided for all the rest; or, secondly, let the Supreme judges be relieved from circuit duties and circuit judges provided for all the circuits; or, thirdly, dispense with circuit courts altogether, leaving the judicial functions wholly to the district courts and an independent Supreme Court.

I respectfully recommend to the consideration of Congress the present condition of the statute laws, with the hope that Congress will be able to find an easy remedy for many of the inconveniences and evils which constantly embarrass those engaged in the practical administration of them. Since the organization of the Government Congress has enacted some 5,000 acts and joint resolutions, which fill more than 6,000 closely printed pages and are scattered through many volumes. Many of these acts have been drawn in haste and without sufficient caution, so that their provisions are often obscure in themselves or in conflict with each other, or at least so doubtful as to render it very difficult for even the best-informed persons to ascertain precisely what the statute law really is.

It seems to me very important that the statute laws should be made as plain and intelligible as possible, and be reduced to as small a compass as may consist with the fullness and precision of the will of the Legislature and the perspicuity of its language. This well done would, I think, greatly facilitate the labors of those whose duty it is to assist in the administration of the laws, and would be a lasting benefit to the people, by placing before them in a more accessible and intelligible form the laws which so deeply concern their interests and their duties.

I am informed by some whose opinions I respect that all the acts of Congress now in force and of a permanent and general nature might be revised and rewritten so as to be embraced in one volume (or at most two volumes) of ordinary and convenient size; and I respectfully recommend to Congress to consider of the subject, and if my suggestion be approved to devise such plan as to their wisdom shall seem most proper for the attainment of the end proposed.

One of the unavoidable consequences of the present insurrection is the entire suppression in many places of all the ordinary means of administering civil justice by the officers and in the forms of existing law. This is the case, in whole or in part, in all the insurgent States; and as our armies advance upon and take possession of parts of those States the practical evil becomes more apparent. There are no courts nor officers to whom the citizens of other States may apply for the enforcement of their lawful claims against citizens of the insurgent States, and there is a vast amount of debt constituting such claims. Some have estimated it as high as $200,000,000, due in large part from insurgents in open rebellion to loyal citizens who are even now making great sacrifices in the discharge of their patriotic duty to support the Government.

Under these circumstances I have been urgently solicited to establish by military power courts to administer summary justice in such cases I have thus far declined to do it, not because I had any doubt that the end proposed--the collection of the debts--was just and right in itself, but because I have been unwilling to go beyond the pressure of necessity in the unusual exercise of power. But the powers of Congress, I suppose, are equal to the anomalous occasion, and therefore I refer the whole matter to Congress, with the hope that a plan may be devised for the administration of justice in all such parts of the insurgent States and Territories as may be under the control of this Government, whether by a voluntary return to allegiance and order or by the power of our arms; this, however, not to be a permanent institution, but a temporary substitute, and to cease as soon as the ordinary courts can be reestablished in peace.

It is important that some more convenient means should be provided, if possible, for the adjustment of claims against the Government, especially in view of their increased number by reason of the war. It is as much the duty of Government to render prompt justice against itself in favor of citizens as it is to administer the same between private individuals. The investigation and adjudication of claims in their nature belong to the judicial department. Besides, it is apparent that the attention of Congress will be more than usually engaged for some time to come with great national questions. It was intended by the organization of the Court of Claims mainly to remove this branch of business from the halls of Congress: but while the court has proved to be an effective and valuable means of investigation, it in great degree fails to effect the object of its creation for want of power to make its judgments final.

Fully aware of the delicacy, not to say the danger, of the subject, I commend to your careful consideration whether this power of making judgments final may not properly be given to the court, reserving the right of appeal on questions of law to the Supreme Court, with such other provisions as experience may have shown to be necessary.

I ask attention to the report of the Postmaster-General, the following being a summary statement of the condition of the Department:

The revenue from all sources during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1861, including the annual permanent appropriation of $700,000 for the transportation of 'free mail matter,' was $9,049,296.40, being about 2 per cent less than the revenue for 1860.

The expenditures were $13,606,759.11, showing a decrease of more than 8 per cent as compared with those of the previous year and leaving an excess of expenditure over the revenue for the last fiscal year of $4,557,462.71.

The gross revenue for the year ending June 30, 1863, is estimated at an increase of 4 per cent on that of 1861, making $8,683,000, to which should be added the earnings of the Department in carrying free matter, viz, $700,000, making $9,383,000.

The total expenditures for 1863 are estimated at $12,528,000, leaving an estimated deficiency of $3,145,000 to be supplied from the Treasury in addition to the permanent appropriation.

The present insurrection shows, I think, that the extension of this District across the Potomac River at the time of establishing the capital here was eminently wise, and consequently that the relinquishment of that portion of it which lies within the State of Virginia was unwise and dangerous. I submit for your consideration the expediency of regaining that part of the District and the restoration of the original boundaries thereof through negotiations with the State of Virginia.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior, with the accompanying documents, exhibits the condition of the several branches of the public business pertaining to that Department. The depressing influences of the insurrection have been specially felt in the operations of the Patent and General Land Offices. The cash receipts from the sales of public lands during the past year have exceeded the expenses of our land system only about $200,000. The sales have been entirely suspended in the Southern States, while the interruptions to the business of the country and the diversion of large numbers of men from labor to military service have obstructed settlements in the new States and Territories of the Northwest.

The receipts of the Patent Office have declined in nine months about $100,000, rendering a large reduction of the force employed necessary to make it self-sustaining.

The demands upon the Pension Office will be largely increased by the insurrection. Numerous applications for pensions, based upon the casualties of the existing war, have already been made. There is reason to believe that many who are now upon the pension rolls and in receipt of the bounty of the Government are in the ranks of the insurgent army or giving them aid and comfort. The Secretary of the Interior has directed a suspension of the payment of the pensions of such persons upon proof of their disloyalty. I recommend that Congress authorize that officer to cause the names of such persons to be stricken from the pension rolls.

The relations of the Government with the Indian tribes have been greatly disturbed by the insurrection, especially in the southern superintendency and in that of New Mexico. The Indian country south of Kansas is in the possession of insurgents from Texas and Arkansas. The agents of the United States appointed since the 4th of March for this superintendency have been unable to reach their posts, while the most of those who were in office before that time have espoused the insurrectionary cause, and assume to exercise the powers of agents by virtue of commissions from the insurrectionists. It has been stated in the public press that a portion of those Indians have been organized as a military force and are attached to the army of the insurgents. Although the Government has no official information upon this subject, letters have been written to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs by several prominent chiefs giving assurance of their loyalty to the United States and expressing a wish for the presence of Federal troops to protect them. It is believed that upon the repossession of the country by the Federal forces the Indians will readily cease all hostile demonstrations and resume their former relations to the Government.

Agriculture, confessedly the largest interest of the nation, has not a department nor a bureau, but a clerkship only, assigned to it in the Government. While it is fortunate that this great interest is so independent in its nature as to not have demanded and extorted more from the Government, I respectfully ask Congress to consider whether something more can not be given voluntarily with general advantage.

Annual reports exhibiting the condition of our agriculture, commerce, and manufactures would present a fund of information of great practical value to the country. While I make no suggestion as to details, I venture the opinion that an agricultural and statistical bureau might profitably be organized.

The execution of the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade has been confided to the Department of the Interior. It is a subject of gratulation that the efforts which have been made for the suppression of this inhuman traffic have been recently attended with unusual success. Five vessels being fitted out for the slave trade have been seized and condemned. Two mates of vessels engaged in the trade and one person in equipping a vessel as a slaver have been convicted and subjected to the penalty of fine and imprisonment, and one captain, taken with a cargo of Africans on board his vessel, has been convicted of the highest grade of offense under our laws, the punishment of which is death.

The Territories of Colorado, Dakota, and Nevada, created by the last Congress, have been organized, and civil administration has been inaugurated therein under auspices especially gratifying when it is considered that the leaven of treason was found existing in some of these new countries when the Federal officers arrived there.

The abundant natural resources of these Territories, with the security and protection afforded by organized government, will doubtless invite to them a large immigration when peace shall restore the business of the country to its accustomed channels. I submit the resolutions of the legislature of Colorado, which evidence the patriotic spirit of the people of the Territory. So far the authority of the United States has been upheld in all the Territories, as it is hoped it will be in the future. I commend their interests and defense to the enlightened and generous care of Congress.

I recommend to the favorable consideration of Congress the interests of the District of Columbia. The insurrection has been the cause of much suffering and sacrifice to its inhabitants, and as they have no representative in Congress that body should not overlook their just claims upon the Government.

At your late session a joint resolution was adopted authorizing the President to take measures for facilitating a proper representation of the industrial interests of the United States at the exhibition of the industry of all nations to be holden at London in the year 1862. I regret to say I have been unable to give personal attention to this subject--a subject at once so interesting in itself and so extensively and intimately connected with the material prosperity of the world. Through the Secretaries of State and of the Interior a plan or system has been devised and partly matured, and which will be laid before you.

Under and by virtue of the act of Congress entitled 'An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes,' approved August 6, 1861, the legal claims of certain persons to the labor and service of certain other persons have become forfeited, and numbers of the latter thus liberated are already dependent on the United States and must be provided for in some way. Besides this, it is not impossible that some of the States will pass similar enactments for their own benefit respectively, and by operation of which persons of the same class will be thrown upon them for disposal. In such case I recommend that Congress provide for accepting such persons from such States, according to some mode of valuation, in lieu, pro tanto, of direct taxes, or upon some other plan to be agreed on with such States respectively; that such persons, on such acceptance by the General Government, be at once deemed free, and that in any event steps be taken for colonizing both classes (or the one first mentioned if the other shall not be brought into existence) at some place or places in a climate congenial to them. It might be well to consider, too, whether the free colored people already in the United States could not, so far as individuals may desire, be included in such colonization.

To carry out the plan of colonization may involve the acquiring of territory, and also the appropriation of money beyond that to be expended in the territorial acquisition. Having practiced the acquisition of territory for nearly sixty years, the question of constitutional power to do so is no longer an open one with us. The power was questioned at first by Mr. Jefferson, who, however, in the purchase of Louisiana, yielded his scruples on the plea of great expediency. If it be said that the only legitimate object of acquiring territory is to furnish homes for white men, this measure effects that object, for the emigration of colored men leaves additional room for white men remaining or coming here. Mr. Jefferson, however, placed the importance of procuring Louisiana more on political and commercial grounds than on providing room for population.

On this whole proposition, including the appropriation of money with the acquisition of territory, does not the expediency amount to absolute necessity--that without which the Government itself can not be perpetuated?

The war continues. In considering the policy to be adopted for suppressing the insurrection I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. I have therefore in every case thought it proper to keep the integrity of the Union prominent as the primary object of the contest on our pan, leaving all questions which are not of vital military importance to the more deliberate action of the Legislature.

In the exercise of my best discretion I have adhered to the blockade of the ports held by the insurgents, instead of putting in force by proclamation the law of Congress enacted .at the late session for closing those ports.

So also, obeying the dictates of prudence, as well as the obligations of law, instead of transcending I have adhered to the act of Congress to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes. If a new law upon the same subject shall be proposed, its propriety will be duly considered. The Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed. We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable.

The inaugural address at the beginning of the Administration and the message to Congress at the late special session were both mainly devoted to the domestic controversy out of which the insurrection and consequent war have sprung. Nothing now occurs to add or subtract to or from the principles or general purposes stated and expressed in those documents.

The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at the assault upon Fort Sumter, and a general review of what has occurred since may not be unprofitable. What was painfully uncertain then is much better defined and more distinct now, and the progress of events is plainly in the right direction. The insurgents confidently claimed a strong support from north of Mason and Dixon's line, and the friends of the Union were not free from apprehension on the point. This, however, was soon settled definitely, and on the right side. South of the line noble little Delaware led off right from the first. Maryland was made to seem against the Union. Our soldiers were assaulted, bridges were burned, and railroads torn up within her limits, and we were many days at one time without the ability to bring a single regiment over her soil to the capital. Now her bridges and railroads are repaired and open to the Government; she already gives seven regiments to the cause of the Union, and none to the enemy; and her people, at a regular election, have sustained the Union by a larger majority and a larger aggregate vote than they ever before gave to any candidate or any question. Kentucky, too, for some time in doubt, is now decidedly and, I think, unchangeably ranged on the side of the Union. Missouri is comparatively quiet, and, I believe, can not again be overrun by the insurrectionists. These three States of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, neither of which would promise a single soldier at first, have now an aggregate of not less than 40,000 in the field for the Union, while of their citizens certainly not more than a third of that number, and they of doubtful whereabouts and doubtful existence, are in arms against us. After a somewhat bloody struggle of months, winter closes on the Union people of western Virginia, leaving them masters of their own country.

An insurgent force of about 1,500, for months dominating the narrow peninsular region constituting the counties of Accomac and Northampton, and known as Eastern Shore of Virginia, together with some contiguous parts of Maryland, have laid down their arms, and the people there have renewed their allegiance to and accepted the protection of the old flag. This leaves no armed insurrectionist north of the Potomac or east of the Chesapeake.

Also we have obtained a footing at each of the isolated points on the southern coast of Hatteras, Port Royal, Tybee Island (near Savannah), and Ship Island; and we likewise have some general accounts of popular movements in behalf of the Union in North Carolina and Tennessee.

These things demonstrate that the cause of the Union is advancing steadily and certainly southward.

Since your last adjournment Lieutenant-General Scott has retired from the head of the Army. During his long life the nation has not been unmindful of his merit; yet on calling to mind how faithfully, ably, and brilliantly he has served the country, from a time far back in our history, when few of the now living had been born, and thenceforward continually, I can not but think we are still his debtors. I submit, therefore, for your consideration what further mark of recognition is due to him, and to ourselves as a grateful people.

With the retirement of General Scott came the Executive duty of appointing in his stead a General in Chief of the Army. It is a fortunate circumstance that neither in council nor country was there, so far as I know, any difference of opinion as to the proper person to be selected. The retiring chief repeatedly expressed his judgment in favor of General McClellan for the position, and in this the nation seemed to give a unanimous concurrence. The designation of General McClellan is therefore in considerable degree the selection of the country as well as of the Executive, and hence there is better reason to hope there will be given him the confidence and cordial support thus by fair implication promised, and without which he can not with so full efficiency serve the country.

It has been said that one bad general is better than two good ones, and the saying is true if taken to mean no more than that an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior ones at variance and cross-purposes with each other.

And the same is true in all joint operations wherein those engaged can have none but a common end in view and can differ only as to the choice of means. In a storm at sea no one on board can wish the ship to sink, and yet not unfrequently all go down together because too many will direct and no single mind can be allowed to control.

It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government--the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers except the legislative boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people.

In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.

It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class--neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families--wives, sons, and daughters--work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

From the first taking of our national census to the last are seventy years, and we find our population at the end of the period eight times as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of those other things which men deem desirable has been even greater. We thus have at one view what the popular principle, applied to Government through the machinery, of the States and the Union, has produced in a given time, and also what if firmly maintained it promises for the future. There are already among us those who if the Union be preserved will live to see it contain 250,000,000. The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day; it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.

by J. Bradford DeLong at December 03, 2016 03:55 PM

Must-Read: Edward Hastings Chamberlain wrote his Theory of Monopolistic Competition and Joan Robinson wrote her Economics of Imperfect Competition back in 1933. The enterprise of building the tools to help us understand such markets is now 84 years old. And yet...

Noah Smith: An Econ Theory, Falsified: "Almost every theory is falsifiable to some degree... since almost every theory is just an approximation...

...What falsification really means... is that a theory is shown to not work as well as we'd like it to under a well-known set of conditions.... There are some pretty clear-cut cases. One of them is the "Econ 101" theory of the labor market... one labor supply curve and one labor demand curve, one undifferentiated type of labor and one single wage.... Here are two stylized facts...

  1. A surge of immigration does not have a big immediate negative impact on wages.
  2. Modest minimum wage hikes do not have a big immediate negative impact on employment.

George Borjas disputes the first of these, but he's just wrong. A few economists (and MANY pundits dispute the second, but the consensus among academic economists is pretty solid.

The first... alone does not falsify... Econ 101.... It could... that short-run labor demand is simply very elastic.... BUT, this is impossible to reconcile with the second stylized fact. If labor demand is very elastic, minimum wage should have big noticeable negative effects on employment. By the same token, if you try to explain the second stylized fact by making both labor supply and demand very inelastic, then you contradict the first stylized fact. You just can't explain both of these facts at the same time with this theory. It cannot be done. So the Econ 101 theory of labor supply and labor demand has been falsified. It's just not a useful theory... in the short term... not a good approximation... doesn't give good qualitative intuition... is especially bad for explaining the market for low-wage labor....

If econ pundits, policy advisors, and other public-facing econ folks were scientifically minded, we'd stop using this model in our discussions of labor markets. We'd stop casually throwing out terms like "labor demand" without first thinking very carefully.... We'd stop using this framework to think about other policies.... Sadly, though... we will continue using this falsified theory to "organize our thoughts"--i.e., we'll keep treating it as if it were true... [and] continue to make highly questionable policy recommendations....

That's what James Kwak calls "economism", and I call "101ism". Whatever it's called, it's not very scientific.

by J. Bradford DeLong at December 03, 2016 03:40 PM Blog

Trump and the Taiwan Call

By now you know that President Elect Trump took a call from the President of Taiwan and simultaneously lit on fire the underpants of the mainstream media and maybe the leadership of China too. 

Apparently taking a phone call from the president of Taiwan is a major diplomatic change from the so-called “One China Policy” that imagines Taiwan as a rogue province of China, not its own country. Reports are saying this call was planned, not a mistake on the Trump team’s side.

Was this a mistake by Trump?

If you look at this call through the filter of normal politics it is clearly a mistake. It provokes the Chinese leadership and gains nothing obvious in return. The media is reporting this event as exactly the sort of thing that leads to nuclear annihilation. This is the same mainstream media that got everything wrong about Trump for the past year.

But if you look at this situation through the filter of a Master Persuader, it makes perfect sense. Trump is “setting the table” for future negotiations with China. He just subtracted something from China’s brand that they value, and later he will negotiate with them to maybe give it back in some fashion. Probably in return for some trade concessions.

But what about the risk? Does it ever make sense to poke a nuclear power? In this case, probably yes. As I have said in this blog before, China’s leadership is both mature and competent. Many of them have engineering degrees. They understand what Trump is doing, and none of it is a path to war because neither side has any interest in war. None. Zero. 

I can imagine some scenarios in which China and the U.S. might dangerously escalate toward war, but one friendly call to a major trading partner isn’t one of the scenarios.

But why take that call now? Shouldn’t Trump have cleared this with Obama, or waited until he was President?

No. Because the Obama administration would have advised him not to do it. And waiting until January is the way old politics is done. This sort of bold, rapid action is evidently what Trump wants you to think is his brand as president. The Taiwan call is consistent with the New CEO Play that I described in this post. He’s setting the tone as bold, effective, and not waiting for red tape to slow him down.

Don’t worry about China going to war over a phone call. They understand Trump, in part because they read my blog too. And look at the brilliance of China’s diplomatic response. Their Foreign Minister labelled the phone call, "a shenanigan by the Taiwan side.“ That is exquisite diplomatic framing, Master Persuader-style. You can see why China and Trump respect each other; they both earned it.

Mutual respect is a safe place to be. Relax. Adults are in charge.

You might like reading my book because I won’t take a call from the President of Taiwan no matter how often she asks.

— WhenHub App —

Have you seen my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend as you approach your meeting spot? It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple:

WhenHub app for Android:

The perfect gift for a reader of this blog is the Dilbert calendar, the #1 Best Seller on Amazon. Get it here:


December 03, 2016 03:38 PM

Boy Genius Report

This is the best-selling iPhone 7 case on Amazon

Best Protective Case iPhone 7

No matter how careful you are, you need a case to protect your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. The aluminum Apple uses for the phone’s housing is just so slippery that there’s no way to avoid the occasional drop without adding a layer of grip and protection. Clear cases are great because they don’t ruin the phone’s sleek design, but the downside is that they don’t really protect from big drops. Meanwhile, rugged cases will preserve your phone much better, but they’re far to big and bulky. Isn’t there a happy medium?

Why yes, there is, and it’s called the SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle Style Premium Hybrid Case for the iPhone 7. It’s so popular that it’s the best-selling case for both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and it’s worth every penny of the $15 Amazon charges for the standard version, or the $17 it’ll cost you for the iPhone 7 Plus model.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. 7 new movie trailers you need to watch from this past week
  2. This incredible gadget lets you draw physical 3D objects in mid-air
  3. You get one last chance to buy a NES Classic Edition before Christmas

by Maren Estrada at December 03, 2016 03:30 PM

The Big Picture

MIB: James Gleick, Science Author

This week, we speak with James Gleick, author of numerous award winning books, including The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, and most recently, Time Travel: A History. 5 years ago, Boing Boing described James Gleick’s The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood as “a jaw-dropping tour de force history of information theory… The…

Read More

The post MIB: James Gleick, Science Author appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at December 03, 2016 03:00 PM

naked capitalism

Can Trump Fire CFPB’s Cordray on Day One?

Republicans have been hostile to the CFPB since its inception. Will Trump fire Cordray quickly-- relying on an October court ruling?

by Jerri-Lynn Scofield at December 03, 2016 02:55 PM

Martin Fowler's Bliki

photostream 104

Regents Park, London, England

December 03, 2016 02:55 PM

Signal vs. Noise

Don’t overlook the quiet voices and contributions

A few years ago I worked at a mega corporation. I had just finished up a brutal week of all-day meetings with 20 people. My boss and I sat down to catch up. Eventually, she warned:

“Dan, you need to speak up more. You need to participate and contribute during these meetings.”

I was livid.

She felt that others had “contributed” far more than me.

It didn’t matter that people were talking just for the sake of it — repeating things that were already said and adding no value. It didn’t matter that very little was accomplished from all that talking. It didn’t matter that the week was a huge waste of time. It only mattered that people were speaking loudly and frequently.

All of my quiet contributions — selectively speaking, listening, thinking, writing, leading small group discussions — were being completely ignored.

Suffice to say, I didn’t last very long at that company.

But the sad part is that given the right environment, I could have. I had plenty of energy, ideas, and good work in me. But because I wasn’t always a loud voice, all of it was being overlooked.

If you’re a leader in a company, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open for all types of contributions. The quiet members of your team have a wealth of insights everyone can benefit from.

While it’s easy to hear the loud voices, they might be drowning out the quiet ones. To tap into the potential of those quiet voices, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Encourage writing as the preferred medium to share ideas. Writing has a wonderful way of leveling the playing field. No single voice can physically drown out or interrupt another. Not to mention it’s far more efficient than huge meetings.
  • Don’t correlate being quiet in meetings with a lack of participation. It’s likely that people are thinking about conversation at hand before responding. This is a good thing. Instant reactions aren’t what you want anyway.
  • Give people time and space to think. Don’t fret if written responses come in slower than you’re used to. Reviewing ideas, thinking, and building thorough contributions takes time and focus. These responses will be far better in quality than the speedy ones.
  • Judge contributions by quality, not quantity. Not everyone needs to chime in on everything — there’s already too much noise and commentary. Look for depth and breadth of contributions, not volume.
  • Don’t assume you’re privy to every bit of collaboration that’s happening. People share and discuss all over the place — in small groups, individually, in public, in private. Just because you don’t see collaboration, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
  • Ask for opinions individually. Sometimes the quiet voices just need a tiny bit of encouragement. Find the medium they prefer (IM, Hangout, face to face) and talk to them individually about a particular topic they’re interested in. You might strike gold and it will help them find their voice in the long run.
  • Avoid large group-think sessions. They’re insanely ineffective. Short bursts of collaboration in small groups is great. Huge ideas spread across hours and hours? Not so much.

I really believe in quiet voices. They’ve taught me the most and positively influenced my career — far more than the big talkers.

I hope you’ll give them a chance.

If this article was helpful to you, please do hit the 💚 button below. Thanks!

We’re hard at work making Basecamp 3 and its companion Android app better every day. Check ’em out!

Don’t overlook the quiet voices and contributions was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

by Dan Kim at December 03, 2016 02:36 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Weekend Reading: Betty Cracker: Update on Faces vs. Leopards

Betty Cracker: Update on Faces vs. Leopards: "This is one of my favorite tweets from the post-election period:

Update on Faces vs Leopards Balloon Juice

...Via TPM, we now have a (metaphorically eaten) face and name to attach to that sentiment:

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Donald Trump named his Treasury secretary, Teena Colebrook felt her heart sink.

She had voted for the president-elect on the belief that he would knock the moneyed elites from their perch in Washington, D.C. And she knew Trump’s pick for Treasury—Steven Mnuchin—all too well.

OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.

“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59.

Me too, Ms. Colebrook. Me too.

by J. Bradford DeLong at December 03, 2016 02:22 PM

Weekend Reading: Jonathan Chait: David Brooks and the Intellectual Collapse of the Center

Preview of strike No strike Few Enemies on the Left

The unwillingness of David Brooks of the New York Times) and his ilk to tell their readers that Barack Obama was the centrist president they were looking for is one of the reasons we are in this mess--and one reason why, I think, David Brooks's career is now over:

Jonathan Chait: David Brooks and the Intellectual Collapse of the Center: "Of all the failures that have led to the historical disaster of the Trump presidency, perhaps the least-remarked-upon is the abdication of responsibility of the American center.

Those of us with moderate inclinations need an effective center as a brake against extremism. When one party veers too far from the center, the center joins the opposing party, until the extreme one can be coaxed back into the mainstream. David Brooks calls for a rejuvenation of the center under the Trump presidency. But Brooks himself is the perfect encapsulation of why the center has proven so hapless, allowing itself to enable extremism rather than prevent it.

The premise of Brooks’s column is that there needs to be space “between the alt-right and the alt-left, between Trumpian authoritarianism and Sanders socialism.” This is a terrible way to conceptualize the political map. First, it distorts the ideas of the two sides, equating a small-d democrat like Sanders (who merely proposes more regulation, taxes, and spending) with Trump, who — as Brooks concedes — is authoritarian. And second, it distorts their power. Sanders remains a left-wing outlier among his party, while Trump is the dominant force within his.

But even if you accept this very strange notion of the political alignment in Trump’s Washington, it raises a question Brooks is not prepared to answer. If his objection on the left lies with the “Sanders socialism,” then isn’t there an appealing centrist lying to the right of that? A moderate who favors market-oriented solutions that bring together business and labor, who welcomes empiricism, and is willing to compromise? A politician who has led the Democratic Party for the last eight years and, in fact, is still the sitting president of the United States right now?

One might think so. But Brooks spent the last eight years defining the center as something Obama was not. It didn’t matter that Obama supported a health-care plan first devised by Mitt Romney, or a cap-and-trade plan endorsed by John McCain. Brooks nestled himself into the territory between Obama and the angry, no-compromise Republicans who were shutting down government and boycotting all negotiations with the president. If Obama endorsed the policies Brooks preferred, he would simply pretend that Obama had not proposed them. Indeed, one of the most common genres of David Brooks column was a sad lament that neither party would endorse policies that in fact Obama had explicitly and publicly called for.

If Obama offered a deal to raise taxes through tax reform while reducing entitlements, Brooks would write a sad column about how nobody was willing to raise taxes through tax reform while reducing entitlements. If Obama favored education reform, an infrastructure bank, and more high-skill immigration, Brooks would write a sad column about how nobody favored those things. When Obama supported market-oriented health-care reform, Brooks opposed it as an extravagant government takeover. Then later he wrote a sad column about how “we’d have had a very different debate if we knew the law was going to be a discrete government effort to subsidize health care for more poor people” rather than “an extravagant government grab to take over the nation’s health-care system.”

The effect of all this commentary was not to empower the moderate ideas Brooks favored, but to disempower them. Brooks was emblematic of the way the entire bipartisan centrist industry conducted itself throughout the Obama years. It was neither possible for Obama to co-opt the center, nor for Republicans to abandon it, because official centrists would simply relocate themselves to the midpoint of wherever the parties happened to stand. The well-documented reality that the parties were undergoing asymmetric polarization was one they refused to accept, because their jobs was to be bipartisan, and it is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon not understanding it.

The centrists could have played a role in braking the growing extremism of the Republican Party. It would have meant telling the country that there was now one moderate, governing party and one extremist faction, and parking themselves with the moderate party until such time as the dynamic changed. They could not do it. If there’s not much of a center left to stop Trump from trampling democratic norms, it is because the centrists abdicated their responsibility and destroyed themselves.

by J. Bradford DeLong at December 03, 2016 02:10 PM

The Simple Dollar

Inspiration from Galileo, John McWhorter, Robert Louis Stevenson, and More

Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life.

1. Galileo on learning

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” – Galileo

At first, I thought this quote was silly. How can you expect someone to have knowledge of a topic inherently within themselves?

That’s not what Galileo is talking about here, though. Galileo is talking about the willingness to learn and other foundational elements of character. A person with poor character and habits can’t be taught to have better character and habits. All you can do is lay the information at that person’s door; it’s up to them to do something with it, and that willingness comes from within.

I am close friends with quite a few public school teachers and they all more or less say the same thing: there comes a point where it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into teaching, the student is either going to make the effort to meet you in the middle and absorb some knowledge or that student will refuse and probably fail. Some students are chomping at the bit to learn; others learn a ton on their own and barely need instruction at all. Almost universally, they feel that the biggest (and best) part of their job is reaching the people who put forth that basic effort to learn but struggle to get there.

The number one biggest thing that you can do to succeed as a person is to put forth genuine effort in whatever it is that you’re doing. That simple step alone puts you ahead of a lot of people.

2. John McWhorter on why you should learn a new language

From the description:

English is fast becoming the world’s universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue.

I summarized his reasons for those who don’t want to watch the video.

Reason one: if you want to really understand and absorb the culture, you need to learn the language that it’s spoken in, because without that you miss almost all of the nuance of communication.

Reason two: if you speak two languages, you’re less likely to suffer from dementia and you’re more likely to be a decent multitasker.

Reason three: learning and using languages is simply fun.

Reason four: we live in an era where it has never been easier to learn a language, especially with tools like Duolingo out there.

I’ve found that learning someone else’s language – or at least trying to – is one of the most effective ways there is to build a bond with someone from a different culture. It’s almost always a fun experience, particularly when you’re also helping them to learn your language at the same time.

I once worked at a shared desk with an individual from China. He was new to the United States and spoke very halting English, though he could read it fairly well. I made it a point to have several conversations with him in English every single day, but our relationship didn’t start clicking until he started teaching me how to converse in Cantonese – his native tongue. I was awful at it and he thought this was positively hilarious. Apparently, every other sentence out of my mouth was an unintentional obscenity. It helped us to bond, it helped me to learn just a little bit of Cantonese, and it also helped me to understand him a little better.

3. Robert Louis Stevenson on judging each day

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Over the past few months, I’ve been focusing quite a lot on planting seeds for the future. I’m not talking about literal seeds, of course, but metaphorical ones: things that won’t pay off in any real way today or tomorrow, but something that will pay off way down the road.

For me, the biggest seeds I am planting are my children. I’ve been dwelling heavily on the question of what I can do as a parent to help them to become functional, independent, successful adults. I want them to not only be able to handle adult and professional life on their own, but to want to do it. Not that they’ll forget about ol’ dad, but that they won’t need me to help them manage their daily life and that they’re making good choices on their own.

I’m also planting a ton of career and community seeds by trying to build relationships with people and break through my own natural introversion. This is hard for me – I’m just not naturally the kind of person that dives into conversations.

4. The Avett Brothers – No Hard Feelings

The Avett Brothers are my favorite musical act of the last fifteen years or so (along with Old Crow Medicine Show – maybe). I absolutely love their harmonization, their soulful Americana musical choices, and their laid back style. So, whenever they have new stuff out, I’m going to be sharing it here because their music has brought so much value to my life.

Although I absolutely adore this newest song, I almost always point people to the two brothers singing an acoustic duet of their great Salvation Song in a park on a cold day. You’re going to be struck right off the bat by the fact that it’s bluegrass-y to the core, but listen to the lyrics and how their voices harmonize and don’t be surprised if it hooks you hard.

Bluegrass music works for me because it takes concerns of the modern world and makes them timeless, or, depending on how you look at it, it’s about timeless concerns. It makes me realize that my grandparents and great-grandparents and their grandparents felt heartache and love and worries about the world, and my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will feel those same things, too, and it’s done entirely with the instruments they each could have used. It’s eternal. It’s the human experience. And it can be beautiful, even when it hurts.

5. Tom Bodett on the keys to happiness

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett

Quotes like this that just break through the layers of modern life and cut things down to the basics really hit home for me.

Something to do. Someone to love. Something to hope for. That’s pretty much the definition of a good life. I put that right up next to Jim Valvano’s definition of a great day: you learn something, you laugh, and you cry.

Really, what else do you need in life? What else do you even want out of life? If you’re able to learn, laugh, and cry every day, and you have someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for… what else is there, really?

6. Ellen Goodman on normal

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman

This is a life cycle that many, many Americans find themselves in. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it occurs – people are chasing their dreams. I just can’t help but wonder at times whether those dreams really come from within or whether they’re delivered from outside.

In my own life, I’ve found that the greatest joy – even when I’m working hard on something challenging – comes about when I’m working toward my own dream. My own dream is financial independence. It is not a beautiful house. It is not a shiny car. It is not a $1,000 suit. It’s the ability to wake up some morning in the near future knowing that all of my basic needs are taken care of for pretty much the rest of my life and then deciding what the day is going to hold.

However, along the way to that dream, I want to be an involved father and husband and I want enough space so that I can recharge that creativity that I use to fuel my work.

That dream sometimes leads to different choices than others might make, and that’s okay. Just make sure that the things you’re working for are the things that you really want, not just what someone else tells you that you should want.

7. Time’s 100 Most Influential Images of All Time

Earthrise - Apollo 8

A friend shared this image gallery with me a few days ago and I spent far longer than I should have browsing through this gallery.

Most of the images were familiar, but not all. Some shared iconic moments in history, while others simply showed everyday life. I thought of a couple that I might have included that weren’t there, but I think that feeling would be true of any such collection.

In the end, it’s a wonderful retrospective of the world over the last hundred and fifty years or so. It has a Western slant, of course, as it’s where photography was born and where it exploded in popularity so there’s much more to draw from, but these images do cover the whole world, from rich to poor, from West to East, from the variety of human experience.

Spend some time browsing through it. You’ll be glad you did.

'Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California'

8. Eckhart Tolle on unhappiness

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle

I’ve learned over the years that whenever I have an emotional response to something – meaning that something makes me sad or angry or overjoyed – that emotion is almost always useless and often dangerous. Whenever I dwell on something with negative thoughts, it’s almost always useless and often dangerous.

The reality is that I have a lot of control over my emotions and thoughts. Yes, sure, sometimes emotions flood out, but most of the time, I get to actually decide whether I’m happy about something or whether I’m sad about something or whether I’m angry about something. I get to choose whether I think about things in a positive light or a negative light. It’s my choice, and when I make that choice, I end up shading how I feel about and how I respond to things in my life.

Take a person in your life. Any person. If you spend a moment thinking about that person’s positive traits – their humor, perhaps, or their honesty – you’re going to end up feeling a bit more positive about that person. If you spend a moment thinking about that person’s negative traits – their public outbursts, perhaps – you’re going to end up feeling a bit more negative about that person.

The thing is, you get to choose what you think about. You get to decide whether you’re going to dwell on their negative traits or their positive traits, and what you dwell on shapes how you feel toward that thing and how you respond to that thing. That’s your choice.

9. Dropbox Paper

I’m involved with a few different collaborative projects of different kinds. Most of them heavily revolve around sharing information and ideas – ideas for podcast episodes, ideas for visual designs, ideas for video storyboards, ideas for code structures, and so on.

These different projects have used different tools to share ideas. A couple just use email chains. A couple others use Google Docs. One seems to rely on an endless group Facebook message.

One of them, however, recently switched to using Dropbox Paper and it’s been a godsend.

Dropbox Paper is basically like a digital version of a giant piece of scratch paper where you can basically cut and paste and write anything you want. Everyone else (with a Dropbox account) can see it and edit it and it tracks the changes effortlessly.

It just works. There are other collaborative tools that are kind of like this, but this just works effortlessly for group brainstorming.

I’m trying to get some of my other projects to move to Dropbox Paper for idea sharing and brainstorming. I hope it sticks.

10. Seneca on aim

“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca

Whenever I don’t have a big goal in life, I flounder. Badly.

I’ll fall back on just going through a daily cycle that just repeats the same things over and over without meaning, without heart. As hard as I try, my thoughts eventually turn negative.

I need something big to be working on. Without that big thing, I just regress.

It’s a deep truth about who I am, and it’s something that I think is true for a lot of people (though not everyone). If I have a direction, I get enthusiastic about building plans and executing them and working my tail off. I do everything I can to move toward that destination. Without it… I just idle in place and eventually I grow unhappy.

11. Casey Neistat’s final vlog

For about a year and a half, filmmaker Casey Neistat made a daily video that served as something of a record of his life. He experimented with all kinds of different things throughout the series, trying different things and using different filmmaking techniques to make them interesting and look great.

He’s choosing to end that series, and his reasoning is great. He basically doesn’t feel that it’s challenging him any more. He’s found a formula and a routine that makes it so he can just churn out videos, and for him, the joy in doing it is in discovering, not pumping things out. So he’s moving on.

This is basically a perfect example of why financial independence is so valuable. It’s impossible to do things in that way if you’re not financially independent or at least close to it. If you need that next paycheck, it becomes very hard to move on to the next challenge in life. You’re stuck with what you have.

That’s why creative freedom often rests on the back of either poverty or financial independence. Both enable you to take risks that you can’t take if you need that next paycheck to sustain your life.

12. Mark Twain on good cheer

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” – Mark Twain

Try this. It works surprisingly well.

Go to a public event of some kind and just make yourself be social. Make it your goal to put a smile on the face of each and every person in the room, one on one. Just make that your intent when you go there.

Go around and talk to each person. Be as positive as you can, especially if they’re down. Look for positive things to say and try to lighten the mood with a bit of humor if you can muster it.

Do this with each and every person in the entire room. See if you can raise a smile.

Do you want to know a secret? When you leave that room, even if you’re really introverted and socially worn out, you’re going to feel really upbeat. You’re going to have collected a lot of smiles and a lot of good little moments and it’s going to lift your sense of well being.

Even better, over the long run, if you do it again and again, you’re going to start establishing some great relationships. People are going to be happy to see you walking into the room. They’re going to start reaching out to you on their own and including you in things and in ways you never expected.

Make it your goal to bring good cheer to everyone. You’ll be surprised how much it does for you.

The post Inspiration from Galileo, John McWhorter, Robert Louis Stevenson, and More appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

by Trent Hamm at December 03, 2016 02:00 PM

Boy Genius Report

7 new movie trailers you need to watch from this past week

New Movie Trailers Dec. 2

It’s December already which means we’re two weeks away from the premiere of the film every Star Wars fan out there will want to watch. Rogue One launches on December 16th, and tickets are already on sale online. But until then, we’ve plenty of other trailers to check out, including Tom Cruise’s The Mummy.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. You get one last chance to buy a NES Classic Edition before Christmas
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  3. After the iPhone 8, analyst suggests Apple will face a 10-year period of volatility

by Chris Smith at December 03, 2016 02:00 PM

Dark Reading: Dark Reading Column

Where Cybercriminals Go To Buy Your Stolen Data

What malicious sites provide both free and paid access to stolen credit cards, company databases, malware and more?

by Sean Martin at December 03, 2016 02:00 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

How to Turn One-Time Shoppers into Repeat Customers

With the holidays upon us, we enter into the most frenzied event ever: holiday shopping. Retailers and businesses all over are gunning to make those holiday sales that will lead to a successful business year. But one problem every retailer has, not matter what kind of business they run, is how to generate repeat customers.

How do you get turn them from first-time or one-time shopping into repeat customers? Here are some methods you can use to help your business turn one-time shopping into repeat customers.

Provide Quality Customer Service

This is a must have! One of the top reasons people leave a business or choose not to return in the future is because of poor customer service. This applies to every business and is an important factor to consider. Here are some ways to make sure your customer service game is on point.

  • Make sure they know you care. This is so important, especially in today’s connected and conversation driven world. If the customer has a complaint, they want to know you care and that you want to make it better. They like to know that you care about them and that you have their best interest in mind.
  • Listen to their problems and find a solution. This mimics the above point, but listen to their complaint. A lot of customers just want to know they are heard and that you are working toward a solution. Be sure to follow through and tell them when you have a solution or work-around.
  • Make them feel welcome. Saying hello when people come in the door, asking if you can help them, etc. are good business practices to implement and teach employees. The more you interact positively with everyone that enters your business, the better you can develop genuine conversation that will lead to a second and third sale.
  • Customer experience has to be great! Not only does service have to be important, but their overall experience has to be as well. There are companies whose only focus is user experience. These companies know if customers don’t have a pleasant experience, they won’t return. Pay attention and look at what you can do to improve both their experience and your customer service.

Consider a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a great way to bring shoppers back for more. Here are three ideas to start your own loyalty program.

  • Provide discounts or special offers. Everyone loves a discount, especially if it make their next purchase cheaper. They might even spend more than they were planning to because they got a discount. Special offers also draw return customers as people get excited about your deal, but then you hook them with your culture and awesome customer service.
  • Punch cards. These work great for eateries and coffee shops. They can be actual punch cards, or they can be rewards cards that calculate how many purchases are needed to provide rewards. People can’t resist the word “free”, so providing them with a free product after several purchases will keep them coming back.

Offer Quality Products or Services

This should be a no-brainer, but you would be amazed at how many businesses provide low-quality products and services. Having a sound product and providing quality service speaks volumes. Offering quality products and services includes everything from the product itself, to the employees you hire, and the fine details like packaging and shipping. Let the customer know they are getting what they are paying for and that it is high quality.

Of course there are other ways to go about retaining customers, but these are the basics that work well if done properly. Remember, without customers you won’t have a business. Treat your customers well and they’ll be sure to return the favor by shopping or purchasing your goods and services again and again.

The post How to Turn One-Time Shoppers into Repeat Customers appeared first on Due.

by Kayla Sloan at December 03, 2016 01:45 PM


Video Of The Week: Jeff Lawson on Having Conviction

I came across this talk by Jeff Lawson, Founder/CEO of our portfolio company Twilio. It is about having conviction and not relying completely on things like A/B testing to make decisions. It’s very good (and only 18 mins long).

by Fred Wilson at December 03, 2016 01:28 PM

Calculated Risk

Schedule for Week of Dec 4, 2016

This will be a light week for economic data.

The key reports are the ISM non-manufacturing index, Job Openings, and the October trade deficit.

The Q3 Quarterly Services and the Fed's Q3 Flow of Funds reports will be released this week.

----- Monday, Dec 4th -----

10:00 AM ET: The Fed will release the monthly Labor Market Conditions Index (LMCI).

10:00 AM: the ISM non-Manufacturing Index for November. The consensus is for index to increase to 55.5 from 54.8 in October.

----- Tuesday, Dec 5th-----

U.S. Trade Deficit8:30 AM: Trade Balance report for October from the Census Bureau.

This graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum, through September. The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

The consensus is for the U.S. trade deficit to be at $42.0 billion in October from $36.4 billion in September.

10:00 AM: Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders (Factory Orders) for October. The consensus is a 2.7% increase in orders.

----- Wednesday, Dec 6th -----

7:00 AM ET: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey10:00 AM: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for October from the BLS.

This graph shows job openings (yellow line), hires (purple), Layoff, Discharges and other (red column), and Quits (light blue column) from the JOLTS.

Jobs openings decreased in September to 5.486 million from 5.453 million in August.

The number of job openings (yellow) were up 2% year-over-year, and Quits were up 12% year-over-year.

3:00 PM: Consumer credit from the Federal Reserve.  The consensus is for a $19.0 billion increase in credit.

----- Thursday, Dec 7th -----

8:30 AM ET: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released.  The consensus is for 255 thousand initial claims, down from 268 thousand the previous week.

10:00 AM: The Q3 Quarterly Services Report from the Census Bureau.

----- Friday, Dec 8th -----

10:00 AM: University of Michigan's Consumer sentiment index (preliminary for December). The consensus is for a reading of 94.1, up from 93.8 in November.

10:00 AM: Monthly Wholesale Trade: Sales and Inventories for October. The consensus is for a 0.4% decrease in inventories.

12:00 PM: Q3 Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States from the Federal Reserve.

by Bill McBride ( at December 03, 2016 01:11 PM

Deposit Accounts

Dayton Firefighters FCU (OH) Hikes Long-Term CD Rates

Dayton Firefighters FCU (OH) has raised the rates on its 48-month CD (2.14% APY) and 60-month CD (2.33% APY). Minimum deposit is $2k, with no stated balance cap.

December 03, 2016 01:10 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

6 Small Things that Make a Big Improvement on Your Productivity

You don’t have to purchase an expensive planner or learn some complicated software program in order to increase your productivity. Take the next 15 minutes to go down this list and make a plan to implement these 6 small things. You’ll amaze yourself with everything you’ve suddenly found time to accomplish.

Do the Worst First

There’s always that one task that just looms over your head like a stormcloud. It makes you feel slightly nauseated to even think about it, so you keep avoiding it in favor of more pleasant tasks. Next time you’ve got one of those nasty blighters hanging about, tackle it head-on, before you do anything else. It probably won’t take nearly as long or be half as painful as you thought it would be, and everything else will seem delightfully easy in comparison. Plus, you’ll feel fifty pounds lighter with the weight off your mind. Just do it.

Create To-Do Lists

Deciding what to do can take longer than accomplishing an actual task. Each week, I sit down and write a list of what I want to accomplish each day of the week. This hybrid between a to-do list and a planner eliminates any decision anxiety I might otherwise feel about what to accomplish next. I simply look at the day and start checking off tasks.

Take a Short Break

There are so many studies to suggest that you’ll be far more effective when you’re not staring at a screen for hours. It’s usually a good idea to take a 15-20 minutes break for every 50-90 minutes of work for maximum productivity. Plan these into your day and then stick to them.

Uninstall Social Media Apps

I love Facebook too. So many baby photos! So many clickbait “news” articles to peruse! So many angry trolling comments to read! All of that distraction can absolutely kill your productivity. If you can’t keep your hands off your phone, delete the apps that keep drawing you in. You can always re-download them later; you can’t get back the lost time wasted on reading your mom’s cousin’s neighbor’s political rant.

Get Enough Sleep

Who needs sleep? YOU. You need sleep. And so does everyone else, at least if they want to be a healthy, effective human being and not a zombie. When you’ve rested enough, your brain functions properly and you can sit up straight instead of hunching over your third cup of coffee. Be a grownup and make yourself go to bed at a decent hour. Do it for your business!

Keep Your Goals Where You Can See Them

Want to remember why you got into this in the first place – why you started that business, why you finally had the courage to embark on a freelance career, why you finally quit your job to create a startup with your best friend? Put it on paper. Write those big, crazy, beautiful goals down on a notecard (or make them the background on your phone or laptop). Look at them often. Visualize them. You’ll be far more motivated to get in there and work hard every day when you remember what it’s all for.

The post 6 Small Things that Make a Big Improvement on Your Productivity appeared first on Due.

by Will Lipovsky at December 03, 2016 01:00 PM