Amit's Planet

November 29, 2018

Memes Intertwingly:

April 01, 2018

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

April Fools: John Cochrane Obtrudes Himself on My Consciousness Again...

It's time to spin the Big Wheel for April Fools' Day! Who will it be this year? Cliff Asness? Doug Henwood? Niall Ferguson? Donald Luskin? David Graeber?... No! The Big Wheel stops on... John Cochrane!

Alas! The smart Martin Sandbu has been sold a pile of horseshit by the clown John Cochrane. (No: I don't know why John Cochrane decided to become a clown in 2007, and has remained a clown without interruption since. But we describe the world as it is, not as it ought to be.)

Martin Sandbu: Free Lunch: Can the US return to high growth?: "There has been much harrumphing about Jeb Bush's pledge to target a real economic growth rate of 4 per cent... so far beyond the realm of possibility as to be irresponsible.... John Cochrane begs to differ.... From the 1950s to 1973, growth fluctuated around, yes, a 4 per cent average annual rate. For the next three decades it averaged between 3 and 3.5 per cent except for the early 1980s.... Cochrane's conclusion... "avoiding a recession and returning to pre-2000 norms gets you pretty close".

Free Lunch Can the US return to high growth FT com

The scorn that the idea has received elsewhere is no doubt a reaction to its somewhat crank pedigree. But it also reflects a certain disregard for the historical record. Mother Jones claims no president since FDR has managed to sustain a 4 per cent average growth rate throughout his presidency. But this is just false. Truman, Kennedy and Johnson all did: Notice a pattern there: the best growth spurts all happened under Democrats. In fact, with two exceptions, every postwar Democratic president has overseen faster growth than every Republican one. The first exception is the second-worst performing Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who with 3.3 per cent was pipped to the post by Ronald Reagan, the best-performing Republican with 3.5 per cent. The second exception is Barack Obama, who was elected seven weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis since Harry Truman was a county court judge. This prompts two thoughts. The first is that 4 per cent may be hard, even unrealistic, but certainly not impossible. The second is that Democratic presidents - and by extension, Democratic policies - have been historically much more successful at making it a reality (Obama's record, shaped by the financial crisis, is hardly representative). And there is good reason to think this may still be true. Raising growth from its lacklustre rate means bringing output closer to its potential in the short term and raising the potential growth rate in the long run. The short-term imperative involves fiscal and monetary stimulus - ie worry less about the budget deficit and don't tie one arm behind the Federal Reserve’s back. These are positions more associated with Democrats than Republicans, to put it mildly. The long-term goal can only be achieved with contribution from all the components of GDP growth: faster productivity growth, faster population growth and greater labour force participation. That observation immediately invites more policy ideas to warm a liberal's heart: boosting public infrastructure, a more open immigration policy and copying the countries that are most successful at getting people into employment: Canada, Germany and the Scandis. Indeed getting the US employment rate to the Swedish level over 10 years would entail a 1 percentage point higher growth rate a year in that period, other things being equal. Why, then, are liberal economists and policy types so up in arms against a 4 per cent target? One possibility is the fear expressed in Carole Binder's intelligent blog: targeting the growth rate may favour short-termist stimulus to boost growth rather than a long-term measure. But that could be a whole lot better than the status quo - at least if it involves broad fiscal and monetary stimulus rather than Florida-style housing bubbles. A "high-pressure economy", which prominent centre-left economists call for, may well make longer-term structural policies easier, too. Another possibility is the fear that a Jeb Bush administration would use the 4 per cent target to push through policies, such as tax cuts for the rich, that they claim will raise growth but don't. If that's the reason, it reflects a sad lack of political confidence. A more inspiring response to Jeb Bush's growth target would be to match it and try to force the politics to be about which policies are most likely to achieve the goal. On the current state of US politics, that's a fight that the centre-left can and should win.

by J. Bradford DeLong at April 01, 2018 12:22 PM

November 02, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

har ek nazar idhar udhar... ik nayaa taraanaa

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

har ek nazar idhar udhar hai beqaraar mere li_e
mahafil kaa dil dha.Dak rahaa hai baar-baar mere li_e

huu.N mai.n 
ik nayaa taraanaa ik nayaa fasaanaa ik na_ii kahaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ek mast jawaanii huu.N mai.n

ruup kii raanii naam hai meraa dil ta.Dapaanaa kaam hai meraa
ko_ii kahe matavaalii koi kahe bholii bhaalii ko_ii kahe diiwaanii huu.N mai.n 
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

merii adaa_e.N mere bahaane ko_ii na samajhe ko_ii na jaane
ik pavan jhakolaa ek u.Dan khaTolaa ek yaad khaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:35 PM

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo a.Nkhiyaa.N do chaar kar lo
suno ye raat nahii.n hai ek tiin chaar kii
suno ye raat hai bas do dilo.n ke pyaar kii

dil hai diiwaanaa samaa suhaanaa 
uff ye jawaanii uff ye zamaanaa
jab tak hai.n jhuum sako jhuumate jaanaa haay re jhuumate jaanaa
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ra.ngii.n fizaaye.n mast hawaaye.n
kal kaun jaane aaye na aaye
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ulfat ke pyaale pii le pilaa le
kar de ye duniyaa dil ke hawaale
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 







Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:18 PM

ek raat kii ye priit

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

ek raat kii ye priit ek raat kaa hai giit
kahii.n to.D ke ye sapane ye raat na jaa_e biit

ai chaa.Nd na jaanaa so ai taaro na jaanaa kho
jo bhii ho so ho jag me.n ek bhor kabhii na ho

ye uu.Nchaa aasamaa.N ik baar jo kah de ho
to ye raat maa.Ng luu.N de ke dono.n jahaa.N



Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:06 PM

dil churaa luu.N

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

dil churaa luu.N churaa luu.N dil me.n chhupii baat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii rah jaa_e.N malate haath

subah kii a.Nga.Daa_ii huu.N mai.n raat kaa huu.N mai.n Kvaab
duniyaa kii mahafil me.n huu.N mai.n apanaa aap jawaab
mukh dekhe to, dekhe to chandaa khaa_e maat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

muskuraake jidhar dekhuu.N khilane lage phuul
aane jaane waale raahii rastaa jaa_e.N bhuul
mai.n chaahuu.N to, chaahuu.N to din ko karuu.N raat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

bhole-bhaale suurat waale matavaale diladaar
bachake rahanaa phir na kahanaa kiyaa na Khabaradaar
ba.Dii hai zaalim, hai zaalim in naino.n kii ghaat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 12:57 PM

October 06, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii

Album: Navrang

naa raajaa rahegaa naa raanii rahegii
ye duniyaa hai faanii aur faanii rahegii

na jab ek bhii zi.ndagaanii rahegii
to maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

dikhaayegii raaNaa ke raN kii nishaanii
kahegii shivaajii ke praN kii kahaanii
bataaegii muGhalo.n kii baate.n ajaanii
us Gaddaar jayacha.nd kii zi.ndagaanii
ye aapas kii sab badGumaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

jo the desh dushman Ghulaamii ke raahii
lage pherane is vatan par siyaahii
videsho.n kii karane lage vaah-vaahii
gayaa desh haatho.n se aayii tabaahii
ye bhar-bhar ke aa.Nkho.n me.n paanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

fir swaata.ntra kaa aisaa sa.ngraam aayaa
ki har aadamii desh ke kaam aayaa
la.Dii viir jhaa.Nsii kii raanii bhavaanii
hazaaro.n ne laakho.n ne Jauhar jalaayaa
ye kurbaaniyaa.N Khud zubaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

swaata.ntra kaa sa.ngraam nahii.n vo baGaavat thii,  yahii itihaas kahataa hai

(jalaa do)-2 ye itihaas jhooThe tumhaare
yahaa.n zarre-zarre pe sach hai likhaa re
zulam vo tumhaare sitam vo tumhaare
karo yaad uf kaaranaame vo kaare
ki patthar se aa.Nsuu kii dhaaraa bahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
ye maaTii hai tab se ki jab tum naa aaye
ye maaTii rahegii na jab tum rahoge
is maaTii ke niiche dabii hai.n kathaaye.n
jo Khud hii kahegii re tum kyaa kahoge
zamii.n aasamaa.N tharatharaa ke rahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
 

Contributed by Saket Jain

October 06, 2017 12:37 PM

August 20, 2017

The Undercover Economist

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Commercial revolution at the Atlantic coast: The emergence of impersonal markets

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The Undercover Economist

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he even goes ahead to put it in the kitchen where Delia does most of her work. delia tries to explain that her sweat has been feeding their family for fifteen years but he doers not listen to what she has to say. Delia gets her revenge on her husband, sykes does not seem to know who killed him as he calls for Delia to accurateessays.com review him. respond to the questions below.

This action is not only used to scare Delia but Sykes wants her to leave the house so that he can live with Bertha, the author uses her experiences to explain how oppression and physical abuse affected African American women of this period. He teases her by saying that he brought her a gift, Towards the end, delia continues living in the house while avoiding the place where the snake is kept. Sweat is one of Zora Neale Hurston’s world, sykes does not respect Delia’s work and goes on to do things that show this disrespect.

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by admin at August 20, 2017 04:43 AM

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

César de Cock

Cesar de Cock, Belgian landscape painter
César de Cock was a 19th century Belgian (Flemish) painter who spent much of his career in France. He initially studied at the School of Fine Arts in Ghent, where he was born, but in France became a pupil of Charles-François Daubigny,

Cesar de Cock, along with his elder brother, painter Xavier de Cock, became friends with Barbizon School painters Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Théodore Rousseau, and the influence of the French artists is evident in the work of both of the brothers.

César, in particular, had a wonderfully textural approach and an affinity for compositions with small streams.

Web resources for César de Cock are more scattered than for many artists, but a number of auction sites offer detailed zoomable images of his work.

 
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by Charley Parker at August 20, 2017 03:57 AM

The Big Picture

Documentary: Louis Armstrong – Satchmo

Late night palette cleanser: American jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong.  

The post Documentary: Louis Armstrong – Satchmo appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at August 20, 2017 03:30 AM

Zero Hedge

NASA Unveils Plan To Stop Yellowstone "Supervolcano" Eruption, There's Just One Catch

A NASA plan to stop the Yellowstone supervolcano from erupting, could actually cause it to blow... triggering a nuclear winter that would wipe out humanity.

As we have detailed recently, government officials have been closely monitoring the activity in the Yellowstone caldera.

However, as SHTFplan.com's Mac Slavo details, scientists at NASA have now come up with an incredibly risky plan to save the United States from the super volcano.

A NASA scientist has spoken out about the true threat of super volcanoes and the risky methods that could be used to prevent a devastating eruption. Lying beneath the tranquil and beautiful settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US lies an enormous magma chamber, called a caldera. It’s responsible for the geysers and hot springs that define the area, but for scientists at NASA, it’s also one of the greatest natural threats to human civilization as we know it.

Brian Wilcox, a former member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense, shared a report on the natural hazard that hadn’t been seen outside of the agency until now. Following an article published by BBC about super volcanoes last month, a group of NASA researchers got in touch with the media to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat Yellowstone poses, and what they hypothesize could possibly be done about it.

“I was a member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” explains Brian Wilcox of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology.  

 

“I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”

Yellowstone currently leaks about 60 to 70 percent of its heat into the atmosphere through stream water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks, while the rest of the heat builds up as magma and dissolves into volatile gasses. The heat and pressure will reach the threshold, meaning an explosion is inevitable. When NASA scientists considered the fact that a super volcano’s eruption would plunge the earth into a volcanic winter, destroying most sources of food, starvation would then become a real possibility.  Food reserves would only last about 74 days, according to the UN, after an eruption of a super volcano, like that under Yellowstone.  And they have devised a risky plan that could end up blowing up in their faces.  Literally.

Wilcox hypothesized that if enough heat was removed, and the temperature of the super volcano dropped, it would never erupt. But he wants to see a 35% decrease in temperature, and how to achieve that, is incredibly risky. One possibility is to simply increase the amount of water in the supervolcano. As it turns to steam. the water would release the heat into the atmosphere, making global warming alarmists tremble.

“Building a big aqueduct uphill into a mountainous region would be both costly and difficult, and people don’t want their water spent that way,” Wilcox says. “People are desperate for water all over the world and so a major infrastructure project, where the only way the water is used is to cool down a supervolcano, would be very controversial.”

So, NASA came up with an alternative plan. They believe the most viable solution could be to drill up to 10km down into the super volcano and pump down water at high pressure. The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F), thus slowly day by day extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46 billion, it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians (taxpayers) to make the investment.

“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”

Of course, drilling into a super volcano comes with its own risks, like the eruption that scientists are desperate to prevent. Triggering an eruption by drilling would be disastrous.

“The most important thing with this is to do no harm,” Wilcox says.

 

“If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”

The cooling of Yellowstone in this manner would also take tens of thousands of years, but it is a plan that scientists at NASA are considering for every super volcano on earth.

“When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,” Wilcox says.

 

“People thought, ‘As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.’ Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.

So what would happen?

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 03:20 AM

Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia's Role As A Global Game-Changer

Submitted by Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave of Gavekal Research

Carthago Est Delenda

Carthage must be destroyed”. Cato the elder would conclude his speeches in the Roman Senate with the admonition that salt should be spread on the ruins of Rome’s rival. Listening to the US media over these summer holidays from Grand Lake, Oklahoma, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the American media, and US congress, feels the same way about Russia. Which is odd given that the Cold War supposedly ended almost 30 years ago.

But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union.

The maritime advantage

Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously.

With this in mind, consider a mental map of the productive land masses in the world today. Very roughly put, the world currently has three important zones of production, with each accounting for about a third of world GDP.

  1. North and South America: This is a sort of island and is not reachable by land from the rest of the world. It constitutes the heart of what could be called the current “maritime” empire.
  2. Europe ex-Russia: This is an economic and technological power as large as the US but a military minnow. Its last two wars have been fought between the then dominant maritime power (the US), first against Germany, then the Soviet Union to gain the control of the so called “old continent”.
  3. A resurgent Asia: Here China is playing the role of the “land-based challenger” to the “maritime hegemon”.

A visiting Martian who knew little about our global geopolitical make-up, except for the above history books, would likely conclude that a new version of the age-old drama is being set up. This time, however the contest would be between a China-dominated “land-based empire” and a US controlled “maritime power”, with Europe (and to a lesser extent Africa) as the likely “prize.”

To have a chance in the fight, the continental empire would have to “keep” a massive land mass under its control. This would require building extensive lines of communication (rail, roads, telecoms, satellites…), linking its own land-mass to the other “productive” land masses, avoiding as much as possible the use of sea links to communicate with other nations. The land empire would need to develop an economy which would not need to trade through the seas.

This is what is happening today and why we gave carte blanche to Tom Miller, leaving him free to roam through Central Asia and Eastern Europe over a couple of years and report on the capital that China was pouring to build such links (readers who have not done so should pick up a copy of Tom’s book, China’s Asian Dream, available at all good bookstores and of course, through our website).

Now for China’s “dream of empire” to work, China would need to convince two important countries, and maybe three, to at least become “neutral”, instead of quasi-hostile, for these new communications lines to work. Those two countries are Russia and Germany. The 3rd is Saudi Arabia, which has an interesting hand to play.

1. Russia

Russia is the main land bridge between China and Europe. So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance, if only to control the movement of people and goods between China and Europe, and from Europe to China. However, in its immense wisdom, the US Senate and the entire US diplomatic corps have decided that America’s interests are best served by imposing sanctions on Russia for crimes—not even proven at the time of writing—that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely commits inside countries that are nominally allies of the US!

It seems that US policymakers have forgotten Lord Palmerston’s dictum that nations don’t have friends, just permanent interests. And instead of following policies to maximize its national interest, the US would rather cut off its nose to spite its face. The end result is that the US seems to be  working as hard as possible to make Russia join forces with China. But why would the US so consciously make an enemy out of Russia?

A starting point is that it is a little odd that a country that cannot conceivably be invaded spends more on defense then the next ten nations combined (see chart overleaf). It is also odd that the US has been involved in wars, somewhere around the globe, with very few interruptions, ever since President Dwight Eisenhower warned his countrymen about the growing clout of the “US military industrial complex”.

Of course, we fully realize that even mentioning the “US military industrial complex’ makes one sound like some kind of tin-potted, conspiracy-theorist prone loon. This is not our intention. But we do want to  highlight that, in order to justify a budget of US$622bn, soon heading to US$800bn, the US military industrial complex needs a bogey-man.

Now the natural bogey-man should logically be China. After all, China is now sporting the second biggest military budget in the world (US$192bn in 2016), is rapidly expanding its global presence (Belt and Road, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Silk Road Fund) and increasingly treats the South China Sea as a mare nostrum. Still, the past few months of broad US hysteria toward Russia make it fairly clear that US military interests would rather pick on Russia then China. Why so?

The first, and most obvious explanation, is simply institutional inertia. After all, Russia was the main enemy between 1945 and 1991 and entire institutions were built (NATO, OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) with either the stated, or unstated, goal of containing Russia’s influence. Such government-led institutions usually turn around as easily as a cruise ship captained by Francesco Schettino.

Predictable France

There are historical precedents for this. Take France as an example: from Cardinal Richelieu onward, the sole purpose of French diplomacy was to destroy the Austro-Hungarian empire. This left successive French rulers blind to the rise of Prussia; at least until 1870 and the pummeling of Paris. Still, even after losing Alsace and Lorraine, France continued its anti-Habsburg crusade until 1919, and the final destruction of the Austrian empire with the 1919 Versailles treaty. This treaty left France vulnerable should the Russians and Germans ever ally (a key policy goal of the Habsburgs was to prevent such an alliance) or the Brits decide that they’d rather head home (which duly occurred in 1940 at Dunkirk and is perhaps happening again today).

The bottom line is that the sheer force of institutional inertia means the “smartest people” are often incapable of adjusting to new realities. It happened in France, and it could easily be happening in the US today.

A second explanation is that there exists tremendous resistance within the broader US community to making China a scapegoat. US corporations have huge interests in China and relatively limited exposure to Russia. Thus attempts to cast China in too bad a light are habitually met with concerted lobbying efforts (Lenin did say that the “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”). As no-one in the US business community cares deeply about Russia, Moscow makes for a good, “compromise bogey man”?

A third explanation is tied to a theme we have discussed in the past (see The Consequences of Trump’s Syrian Strike), namely the unfolding civil war in the Middle-East between Sunnis and Shias. On the Sunni side of the war sits Saudi Arabia. On the Shia side of the war is Iran. And behind Iran stands Russia, who would like nothing more than to see the Saudi regime implode. Indeed, a collapse of the House of Saud would be an immense boon for Russia. The price of oil would likely surge (which would be great for non-Arab producers like Russia) and Europe would find itself wholly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, thereby giving Moscow more geopolitical clout than it has enjoyed in decades.

At the same time, a collapse of the House of Saud would be terrible news for US, French and British arms suppliers (for whom the Middle-Eastern monarchies are big clients) and for all big oil companies which have huge contracts in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle-East to protect.

This brings us to the current make-up of the US administration which, to say the least, is somewhat skewed towards military officers (military men and the merchants of death tend to get along) and oil-men. Is it too much of a stretch to think that an administration loaded with oil and military men would, almost by default, fight Saudi Arabia’s corner? Now this may be unfair. After all, it’s not as if the first trip of the current US president was to Saudi Arabia, or as if that trip yielded many lucrative deals for US weapons manufacturers, US oil companies, and US financiers, was it?

Russia as a game-changer

Whatever the reason for the current anti-Russia hysteria in the US, it is now clearly in Russia’s interest for it to play a very active role in the coming Chinese efforts to reduce the power of the dominant “maritime empire”. This means that Chinese and European products will be able to travel through Russia for the foreseeable future, so avoiding possible threats created by the US navy should Washington ever act to disrupt trade between the two economic centers.

The reason that the US’s approach to Russia is so short-sighted is that Russia’s role in the coming clash between the two empires may go far beyond it facilitating communication and transport across its territory. Indeed, Russia (along with Qatar and Iran) could already be helping China break the monopoly that the US has on the payment of energy all over the world through the US dollar (see The Most Important Change  And Its Natural Hedge).

For the past 100 years, the US dollar has been the world’s major reserve and trading currency. Needless to say, having the ability to settle one’s (rather large) trade and budget deficits in one’s own currency is a competitive advantage of huge proportions. Greater than its edge in finance, tertiary education, technology, biotech, weapons manufacturing and agricultural productivity, this “exorbitant privilege” may be the US’s single biggest comparative advantage.

Now our starting point when looking at China is that the guys who run the show in Beijing are basically control freaks. After all, what else do you expect from career technocrats steeped in Marxist theory? So with that in mind, the question every investor should ask themselves is: why would control freaks yield control of their country’s exchange rate and interest rate structure? Why liberalize the bond and currency markets?

For let’s face it, there are few prices as important to an economy as the exchange rate and the interest rate. So if the politburo is willing to gradually lose control over them, it must be because it hopes to gain something better on the other side. And the something better is to transform the renminbi into Asia’s deutschemark; the “natural” trading (and eventually reserve) currency for Asia and even wider emerging markets. In fact, internationalizing the renminbi is the lynchpin on which the whole “Belt and Road” empire rollout rests. If this part fails, then China’s imperial ambitions will most likely crumble over time (for one cannot have an empire on somebody else’s dime).

The rise of the renminbi

Which brings us to a key change in our global monetary system that has received scant attention, namely, the recent announcement by the Hong Kong exchange that investors will soon be able to buy and settle gold contracts in renminbi (see release). This initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for the architecture of our global monetary system.

Imagine being Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Sudan, Uzbekistan or any other country liable to fall foul of US foreign policy, and thus susceptible to having Washington use the dollar as a “soft weapon” (see BNP, Big Brother And The US Dollar). Then China comes along and says: “Rather than trading in dollars, which leaves us both exposed to US sanctions, and US banks’ willingness to fund our trade, let’s deal in renminbi. I can guarantee that ICBC will never pull the rug from under your feet”.

If you are Russia, or Qatar (which have already signed renminbi deals for oil and natural gas), this may be an interesting proposition. However, the  question will quickly arise: “What will I do with my renminbi? Sure, I can buy goods in China, but I only need so much cheap clothing, tennis shoes, and plastic junk. What do I do with what is left over?”. And the answer to that question is that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency since the US offers the deepest and most liquid asset markets. From real estate (as shown by the Russia-Trump investigation), to equities, to bonds, there is no shortage of US assets that Americans will sell foreigners so that foreigners can park their hard earned dollars back into the US.

This brings us back to China and the main constraint to the renminbi’s rise as a reserve currency. Simply put, foreign investors do not trust the Chinese government enough to park their excess reserves in Chinese assets. This lack of trust was crystallized by the decision in the summer of 2015 to “shut down” the equity markets for a while and stop trading in any stock that looked like it was heading south. That decision confirmed foreign investors’ apprehension about China and in their eyes set back renminbi internationalization by several years, if not decades.

Until now, that is. For by creating a gold contract settled in renminbi, Russia may now sell oil to China for renminbi (already signed), then take whatever excess currency it earns to buy gold in Hong Kong. As a result, Russia does not have to buy Chinese assets or switch the proceeds into dollars (and so potentially fall under the thumb of the US Treasury). This new arrangement is good news for Russia, good news for China, good news for gold and horrible news for Saudi Arabia as it leaves the Middle-Eastern kingdom in between a rock and a hard place.

2. Saudi Arabia

The fact that China wants to buy oil with its own currency will increasingly present Saudi Arabia with a dilemma. It could acknowledge that China is now the world’s largest oil importer, and only major growth market, and accept renminbi payments for its oil. However, this would go down like a lead balloon in Washington where the US Treasury would (rightly) see this as a threat to the dollar’s hegemony. In such a  scenario, it is unlikely that the US would continue to approve modern weapon sales to Saudi and the embedded “protection” of the House of Saud that comes with them. And without this US protection, who knows  which way the Sunni-Shia civil war may tip (most likely in favor of the Iran-Russia axis).

Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the alternative is hardly attractive. Getting boxed out of the Chinese market will increasingly mean having to dump excess oil inventories on the global stage, thereby ensuring a sustained low price for oil. But with its budget deficit stuck at about 16% of GDP, with half its population below 27 and needing jobs, and with reserves shrinking by around US$10bn a month, just maintaining the current status quo is not a long-term viable option.

So which way will Saudi turn? Will Riyadh accept low oil prices forever and the associated costs on Saudi society? Or will it change horse and move to accept renminbi in order to ensure more access to the world’s largest oil importer, even at the risk of triggering Washington’s wrath? Investors who like to bet on form may wish to consider the second option. Indeed, King Ibn Saud (the current King Salman's father) was once a loyal British client as the Brits had helped suppress the Wahhabi brotherhood, so cementing his power. Yet in 1936, Ibn Saud's adviser Abdullah Philby (father of British traitor Kim Philby), persuaded the king to  switch his allegiance to the US, by offering Saudis exclusive oil concession to Chevron/Texaco rather than BP. This is why the Saudi oil company is called Aramco (the Arab-American oil company) rather than Arbroco.

Could the House of Saud pull off the same stunt again? One indication may be who lines up as cornerstone investors in the coming Aramco IPO. If those end up as China Investment Corporation, Petrochina and the PRC’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, than perhaps Aramco will be on its way to becoming Archoco. And with that, the pricing of Saudi oil could shift from US dollars to renminbi.

Incidentally, such a move would likely solve Saudi’s biggest macro hurdle; specifically, the defense of the Saudi Riyal peg to the US dollar. Indeed, with reserves shrinking so rapidly, the arrangement looks to be on a slow-moving death watch (admittedly, at the current pace of reserve depletion, Riyadh could hold out three years and possibly five). But should Saudi announce that Aramco (or Archoco!) will now accept renminbi for oil payments, the dollar would likely tank while oil prices would shoot up (as Saudi would have a willing buyer for its oil in China). A lower US dollar/ higher oil combination would, needless to say, make the Saudi peg that much easier to sustain.

Lastly, if you were King Salman and thought that the long-term sustainability of the House of Saud depended on dumping the US and engaging China, what would you be doing right now? Would you be buying as many top-end US weapons as you possibly could, knowing that, in the future, such purchases may no longer be as easy as they are today? But let us now move to the third major player in this many-part drama, namely Germany, where the situation is even more complex.

3. Germany

Unencumbered by its own “heavy” history, Germany— being at heart a “continental” nation—would probably have joined the “continental alliance” and left the maritime alliance (which may explain why the “maritime alliance” tapped Angela Merkel’s phone; arguably a greater intrusion then anything the US has accused Russia of). After all, consider the advantages for Germany of joining the “land-based empire”:

  • Politically, Germany could finally develop its own diplomacy and stop taking orders from Washington.
  • Economically, German industry would have unlimited access to develop not only Russia but also all the populations north of the Himalayas set to join the modern world through the creation of the “New Silk Road”.
  • Geopolitically, let us first state the obvious: a Middle-East ruled by the Sunnis under the control of the US diplomacy has not been a resounding success. Worse yet, the incredible mistakes made by the last two US administrations across the Middle-East have led to a very old religious war (Sunnis vs. Shiites) again erupting. As we write, it seems that the Russians and Iranian allies are gradually succeeding in taking the control of the Middle East. Now the return to some form of peace (under a Russia/Iranian yoke) would offer new markets for German industry, provided Germany immediately allied itself with Russia and broke away from the American sanctions imposed by the US Senate. Failing that, Germany could lose a Middle-Eastern market which has historically been important for its exporters.
  • Domestically: A German-Russian alliance would crimp Turkey’s resurgence as Ankara would find itself isolated due to Iran and China being on its eastern borders and Russia on its northern frontiers. As a result, Turkey would most likely stop rattling Europe’s cage, which would be a boon for Merkel as Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has been a significant thorn in her side. In other words, Merkel would outsource her “Turkey problem” to Russia.
  • Energetically, a Russian-dominated Middle East would still provide gas from Russia and oil from the Middle-East. The implication is that Germany would no longer need to have its energy imports “protected” by the maritime empire’s fleet (Merkel’s short-sightedness on the energy front, from the end of coal, to the banning of nuclear power, has fitted in the category of being “worse than a crime, it is a mistake”).

Many people in Germany—business people and public servants such as ex -chancellor Gerhard Schroeder—understand the above and have lobbied for such an outcome. The recent trend of US prosecutors trying to export the supremacy of the US legal system over local ones, and imposing egregious fines on all and sundry (Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen) can only push German business leaders further down that path.

Of course, as Frenchmen, we know that nothing good comes of:

  • Germany and Russia getting along like a house on fire.
  • Britain retreating back to its island.

And we would suggest that President Emmanuel Macron is also keenly aware of this. Which explains he is so far the only Western leader to have gone out of his way to be nice to President Trump; aside from the Polish President of course (more on that later).

Macron has bent over to accommodate Merkel. And let’s face it, his task is not easy. For as good as our president may be with the older ladies, he needs to convince Merkel to walk away from the above win-win and keep Germany committed to the greater European integration exercise, and Germany wedded to its role inside the broader “maritime empire”.

Germany as the sole paymaster

Now, to be fair, the German population has enthusiastically supported the European integration project, partly out of historical guilt (now abating as the share of the population alive in World War II fast shrinks) and partly because it has been a boon to German exporters. However, recent years have highlighted that the low hanging fruit of European integration has been harvested. And to stay afloat, the European project now needs Berlin to transfer 2%-6% of GDP to poorer, less productive, European Union countries (especially as the UK will soon stop paying into EU coffers). This is a hard sell, even for a politician as gifted as Macron. Soon, Germany may be the only meaningful contributor to French agricultural subsidies; and that is unlikely to go down well with the average Bavarian housewife.

Which brings us to the only other Western leader who has publicly embraced the current incumbent of the White House, namely Polish president, Andreszj Duda. After all, History suggests that France should not be the only country worried about a German rapprochement with the new “land-based empire”. Most Eastern European countries, in particular Poland, have similar reactions to such a hook-up. In fact, threat of a German-Russian rapprochement may already be creating the birth of a new, Austro-Hungarian empire, aka the Visegrad Group alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Historically, the role of the Austrian empire was to protect Europe from the Turks and also to stop an alliance between Prussia and Russia. For the time being the Visegrad group is negotiating (rather unsuccessfully) with Berlin about how to handle thousands of “Turks” (at least migrants entering Europe through Turkey, whether those migrants come from North Africa, the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Bangladesh or elsewhere is almost irrelevant). This Eastern grouping may have to address, sooner than they think, a German-Russian rapprochement.

Just as importantly, the re-emergence of the Austrian empire is incompatible with the “Europe as a Nation” project. In the world we are describing Poland, followed by Hungary and the Czech Republic, may be the next countries to leave the EU. Although in so doing, the Visegrad Group would almost guarantee the feared rapprochement between  Germany and Russia. Of course the Eastern European nations would only make such a move if they were militarily guaranteed by the US. And, by an amazing coincidence, this is exactly the promise that President Trump just delivered in Warsaw!

For the “maritime empire”, a loss of Germany would have to be rapidly compensated by an increased presence in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania and almost every country East of Berlin and West of Moscow. Of course, this is what France and England (the “maritime empires of the day”) did in the 1930s— with limited success.

Conclusion

History shows that maritime powers almost always have the upper hand in any clash; if only because moving goods by sea is cheaper, more efficient, easier to control, and often faster, than moving them by land. So there is little doubt that the US continues to have the advantage. Simple logic, suggests that goods should continue to be moved from Shanghai to Rotterdam by ship, rather than by rail.

Unless, of course, a rising continental power wants to avoid the sea lanes controlled by its rival. Such a rival would have little choice but developing land routes; which of course is what China is doing. The fact that these land routes may not be as efficient as the US controlled sealanes is almost as irrelevant as the constant cost over-run of any major US defense projects. Both are necessary to achieve imperial status.

As British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson highlighted in his mustread East And West, empires tend to expand naturally, not out of megalomania, but simple commercial interest: “The true explanation lies in the very nature of the trade route. Having gone to all expenses involved… the rule cannot be expected to leave the far terminus in the hands of another power.” And indeed, the power that controls the end points on the trading road, and the power that controls the road, is the power that makes the money. Clearly, this is what China is trying to achieve, but trying to do so without entering into open conflict with the United States; perhaps because China knows the poor track record of continental empires picking fights with the maritime power.

Still, by focusing almost myopically on Russia, the US risks having its current massive head-start gradually eroded. And obvious signs of this erosion may occur in the coming years if and when the following happens:

  • Saudi Arabia adopts the renminbi for oil payments
  • Germany changes its stripes and cozies up to Russia and pretty much gives up on the whole European integration charade in order to follow its own naked self-interest.

The latter two events may, of course, not happen. Still, a few years ago, we would have dismissed such talk as not even worthy of the craziest of conspiracy theories. Today, however, we are a lot less sure. And our concern is that either of the above events could end up having a dramatic impact on a number of asset classes and portfolios.

And the possible catalyst for these changes is China’s effort to create a renminbi-based gold market in Hong Kong. For while the key change to our global financial infrastructure (namely oil payments occurring in renminbi) has yet to fully arrive, the ability to transform renminbi into gold, without having to bring the currency back into China (assuming Hong Kong is not “really” part of China as it has its own supreme court and independent justice system… just about!) is a likely game-changer.

Clearly, China is erecting the financial architecture for the above to occur. This does not mean the initiative will be a success. China could easily be sitting on a dud. But still, we should give credit to Beijing’s policymakers for their sense of timing for has there ever been a better time to promote an alternative to the US dollar? If you are sitting in Russia, Qatar, Iran, or Venezuela and listening to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, would you feel that comfortable keeping your assets, and denominating your trade, in dollars? Or would you perhaps be looking for alternatives?

This is what makes today’s US policy hard to understand. Just when China is starting to offer an alternative—an alternative that the US should be trying to bury—the US is moving to “weaponize” the dollar and pound other nations—even those as geo-strategically vital as Russia—for simple domestic political reasons. It all seems so short-sighted.

* * *

And so, if any of the above sounds even remotely plausible, then some investments may be today grotesquely mispriced, including:

  • SELL US, British and French defense stocks: we may be reaching peak “military industrial complex”. In the coming years, the main foreign clients of Western weapons, namely Middle-Eastern monarchies may either (i) implode or (ii) take their business to China/ Russia. Meanwhile, Western defense stocks are priced for an ever growing order book.
  • SELL French bonds and (non-Russian) Eastern European bonds: There is little value in these bond markets and should Germany ever decide to rotate away from further European integration, they would crash. At this point, these bond markets represent “return-free risk”.
  • BUY Russian bonds: Russian bonds may well be among the world’s cheapest, yielding almost 8% for a real yield of above 4%. This for a country with almost no external debt to speak of, huge amounts of (Chinese) capital about to pour in, and a by-now established position as the first supplier into the world’s fastest growing market for oil imports.
  • BUY Russian energy stocks: One of two things will happen. If Saudi Arabia continues to refuse renminbi payments, Russian energy companies will end up owning the Chinese market. Alternatively, if Saudi starts to accept renminbi payments for its oil, the US dollar will take another leg-down and energy prices will rebound (ensuring a rebound in oil stocks everywhere).
  • BUY Renminbi bonds: As China moves to create both oil and gold contracts denominated in renminbi, and as more Asian and global trade starts to be denominated in renminbi, it is hard to think that total returns on renminbi bonds will not surpass those of most Western currencies. The returns may come from falling interest rates (as a growing number of market participants are forced to keep renminbi deposits to fund trade), or rising exchange rates. Or, most likely, a combination of both. But today, very few investors, and even fewer large institutions own any renminbi bonds. In five years’ time, the situation may be very different and it may make sense to buy renminbi bonds before Saudi Arabia confirms the currency shift as by that point a lot of the gains will likely have been harvested.
  • BUY Gold and precious metal miners: In an initial phase, most countries and market participants will likely stay skeptical of China. As such, the demand for gold, as settlement for renminbi trade, will likely pick-up. At the very least, at current valuations, gold miners can be considered an option on market participants doing more in renminbi (to please China), yet exchanging their renminbi for gold (out of a lack of trust for the new continental empire).

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 02:29 AM

Paul Craig Roberts Reminds America - "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand"

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

The liberal/progressive/left are enjoying their drunkfest of denunciation. I can’t say I have ever witnessed anything like it. These are the people who sat on their hands for 16 years while Washington destroyed in whole or part seven countries. Not being satisfied with this level of warmongering and crimes against humanity, Washington orchestrated a conflict situation with Russia. Americans elected a president who said he would defuse this dangerous conflict, and the liberal/progressive/left turned on him. In contrast, one person is killed after the hated Charlottesville protest event was over, and there is endless absurd outrage against the president of the US.

Three New York Times presstitutes yesterday blamed the crisis on Trump, declaring him “increasingly isolated in a racial crisis of his own making.” Apparently, Trump is responsible for the crisis because he blamed both protest groups for the violence.

But isn’t that what happened? Wasn’t there violence on both sides? That was the impression I got from the news reporting. I’m not surprised that Trump got the same impression. Indeed, many readers have sent emails that they received the same impression of mutual violence.

So Trump is being damned for stating the truth.

Let’s assume that the impression Trump and many others got from the news is wrong. That would make Trump guilty of arriving at a mistaken conclusion. Yet, he is accused of instigating and supporting Nazi violence. How is it possible to transform a mistake into evil intent? A mistaken impression gained from news reporting does not constitute a “defense of white nationalist protesters.” An assertion by the New York Times cannot turn the absence of intent into intent. What the Establishment is trying to do is to push Trump into the arms of white supremacists, which is where they want him.

Clearly, there is no basis for this charge. It is a lie, an orchestration that is being used to delegitimize President Trump and those who elected him.

The question is: who is behind this orchestration?

The orchestration is causing people to run away from Trump or is being used as an excuse by them to further the plot to remove him from office.

Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum headed by Stephen A. Schwarzman ran away, just as members of the Carter Center’s board deserted President Jimmy Carter when he criticized Israel for its apartheid policy toward the Palestinians. The New York Times says that the armed services chiefs are running away. And the entire Republican Party.

The hypocrisy is stunning. For 16 years the armed services chiefs, the New York Times and the rest of the presstitute media, both political parties and the liberal/progressive/left have participated actively or passively in massive crimes against humanity. There are millions of dead, maimed, and displaced people. Yet one death in Charlottesville has produced a greater outpouring of protest.

I don’t believe it is sincere. I don’t believe that people who are insensitive to the deaths of millions at the hands of their government can be so upset over the death of one person. Assume that Trump is responsible for the death of the woman. How much blood is it compared to the blood on the hands of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama? It seems clear enough that the outpouring of grief is an orchestration designed to deligitimize the president and the people who elected him. We are now experiencing at home what the Obama regime inflicted on Ukraine, with the support of course of the liberal/progressive/left just as John Wight said in CounterPunch.

Just as the majority of the Maidan protesters had no idea they were being used, the same is the case for the majority of those protesting the false charge against Trump. For most of the liberal/progressive/left, the hatred of Trump and white nationalists that they are expressing is a reflexive result of the Identity Politics with which they are imbued.

Any objective reading of the situation has to conclude that the hate with which Trump and the “deplorables” who elected him are being covered far exceeds in amount the hate expressed by the white nationalists.

Members of the liberal/progressive/left are proclaiming that despicable people such as white nationalists should not be allowed to protest and should not be given a permit to protest. They forget that protest is a right.

The US Supreme Court settled the issue 40 years ago in 1977 by overturning an Illinois court order that blocked an extremist protest in Skokie, a Jewish suburb of Chicago. The Supreme Court ruled that protest is not limited by the fact that some people will be offended or by the chance that there will be violent reactions. Otherwise, whatever faction happens to be in charge can suppress dissent by everyone else.

For decades the liberal/progressive/left has invested heavily in driving people apart. Black studies, women’s studies, and Native American studies can easily cross into propaganda that generates hatred. As a man of peace said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Charlottesville has given us a debauchery of denunciation that proves that we are a divided nation. Does a nation so divided really want to be in conflict with Russia and China and Iran? If the US is the institutionalization of White Supremacy as the liberal/progressive/left says, how can it be that Americans are simultaneously the “exceptional, indispensable people” with the right to bomb other peoples into the stone age?

Obviously, there is a lot in this scenario that does not make sense.

My readers on my website are people capable of independent thought. They understand that an explanation of something is not an excuse for it. My explanations are explanations. They might be wrong, but they are not apologies. I find it necessary to say this, because my columns are reposted on many other websites where some of the audience wants to hear only what they already believe and are always looking for someone to denounce. It is a great disability for the United States that only a limited number of its citizens are capable of independent thought. Perhaps this is a problem for every country, but it most certainly is a problem for the United States.

The United States has another great disability, and that is that its intellectual class, or perhaps I should say its semi-intellectual class, has a large contingent of cowards who are too fearful to be truthful. Of course, considering the witchhunt mentality that Identity Politics has created, they have reasons to be fearful, but their cowardice leaves the burden of searching for and defending truth to a few.

*  *  *

Note: Virginia governor McAuliffe made false claims that were spread around the world by the presstitutes that the white nationalists had weapons caches and that the Virginia police were outgunned by the supremacists. Reason.com reports that the police have contradicted the moronic governor with the statement that no such weapons caches were found. 

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 02:20 AM

Lord Rothschild: "Share Prices Are At Unprecedented Levels, This Is Not A Time To Add Risk"

One year ago, the financial world was abuzz when the bond manager of what was once the world's biggest bond fund had a dire prediction about how "all of this" will end (spoiler: not well).

Two months later, it was the turn of another financial icon - if from a vastly different legacy and pedigree - that of Rothschild Investment Trust Chairman himself, Lord Jacob Rothschild, who echoed Bill Gross with an unexpectedly gloomy warning in his 2016 half-year financial report, saying that central bankers are continuing "what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We are therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30% of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale."

His outlook was just as gloomy: "the geo-political situation has deteriorated with the UK having voted to leave the European Union, the presidential election in the US  in November is likely to be unusually fraught, while the situation in China remains opaque and the slowing down of economic growth will surely lead to problems. Conflict in the Middle East continues and is unlikely to be resolved for many years. We have already felt the consequences of this in France, Germany and the USA in terrorist attacks."

One year later, the scion of the most (in)famous name in all of finance, is back and in his latest letter to RIT Capital Partners investors,  Lord Jacob Rotschild has released what is perhaps his gloomiest outlook ever; here are the highlights:

We do not believe this is an appropriate time to add to
risk. Share prices have in many cases risen to
unprecedented levels at a time when economic growth is
by no means assured. The S&P is selling at 25 times
trailing 12 months’ earnings, compared to a long-term
average of 15
, while the adjusted Shiller price earnings
ratio, which averages profits over 10 years, is
approximately 30 times.  

 

The period of monetary
accommodation may well be coming to an end.
Geopolitical problems remain widespread and are proving
increasingly difficult to resolve. We therefore retain a
moderate exposure to equity markets and have
diversified our asset allocation towards equity
investments where value creation is driven by some
identifiable catalyst or which are exposed to longer-term
positive structural trends.

Furthermore, Rothschild continued the shift away from US capital markets exposure announced one year ago, noting that "we have a particular interest in investments which will benefit from the impact of new technologies, and Far Eastern markets, influenced by the growing demand from Asian consumers." What is surprising is how aggressively Rothschild has cut its allocation to US-denominated assets in just the past 6 months.

Not surprisingly, RIT's investment portfolio continues do quite well, and has now returned over 2,200% since inception

Below is a snapshot of where every hedge fund wants to end up: the Rothschild investment portfolio.

Finally, for all those wondering where the Rothschild family fortune is hiding, here is the answer.

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 02:18 AM

Australia Cracks Down On Bitcoin Exchanges; Shrugs Off Banks' "Systemic" Money-Laundering Violations

Australian Government Is Cracking Down On The Nonexistent Bitcoin Money-Laundering Epidemic

Australia’s largest banks can’t seem to go six months without a new scandal. In April, regulators accused Commonwealth Bank, one of the country’s largest financial institutions, of “systemic” money laundering violations, sparking an investigation into the broader banking sector, and the promise of heavy-handing civil penalties.

But instead of pursuing penalties that could lead to lasting reforms, Australia's regulators are cracking down on bitcoin, creating a new set of guidelines that will make it more difficult for customers to trade on local cryptocurrency exchanges by mandating needless anti-money laundering controls. They're prioritizing bitcoin over banks even though all relevant data suggest that organized criminal enterprises and terrorist groups overwhelmingly prefer to transact in cash.

According to Bitcoin.com, Australia’s Coalition Government has introduced a bill that would regulate digital currency exchanges, introducing “reforms” that will “strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and increase the powers of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (Austrac).”  

Here’s Bitcoin.com with more:

"Among other proposals, the bill will “strengthen Austrac’s investigation and enforcement powers” as well as “close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of Austrac,” the announcement reads, adding that:

 

‘The bill provides a net regulatory relief to industry of $36 million annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements.’”

As Bitcoin.com explains, Australia’s new AML rules resemble regulations adopted by Japan and China over the past 18 months. In China, the crackdown on intraday high frequency trading triggered a decline in trading volume that caused the country to surrender its position as the bitcoin market leader.

“Earlier this year, following investigations by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), many Chinese bitcoin exchanges halted bitcoin withdrawals to extensively upgrade their systems for the purpose of AML and KYC compliance. Also the European Union has been discussing how to impose rules on bitcoin exchanges as part of its Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.”

Meanwhile, in what looks like an effort to compensate bitcoin traders for the overly stringent new regulations, Australia ended the double taxation treatment of bitcoin in July.

To be sure, some of the country’s lawmakers have come out as vociferously pro-bitcoin. Two senators issued a proposal to make bitcoin an official currency in Australia, something they say would boost the country’s financial competitiveness. Indeed, this legal maneuver would bring Australia one step closer to recognizing bitcoin’s value as a reserve asset. Recently, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin began building network of bitcoin miners with the aim of expanding the country’s hashing power to more than 30% of the network’s total. Any entity that controls more than 50% of the bitcoin network’s mining capabilities has de facto control of the network.

Here’s a quick summary of what the bill will do, courtesy of Australia’s Ministry of Justice:

Close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of AUSTRAC:

Strengthen AUSTRAC's investigation and enforcement powers.

Increase police and customs officers' search and seizure powers at the border.

Provide regulatory relief to industry through the deregulation of low-risk industry sectors.

The crackdown comes amid another big week for bitcoin: The digital currency climbed 16.5% to new record highs at around $4400. This is the 5th weekly rise in a row (and BTC is up 86% since the fork).

The full press release is available below:

* * *
The Coalition Government has today announced the first stage of reforms to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and increase the powers of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

The reforms implement the first phase of the recommendations of the Statutory Review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, following extensive consultation with industry and our national security agencies.

These reforms appropriately balance the threat of organised crime and terrorism financing to the Australian community with ensuring excessive regulation doesn't hinder our financial sectors.

The Bill provides net regulatory relief to industry of $36 million annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements.

The threat of serious financial crime is constantly evolving, as new technologies emerge and criminals seek to nefariously exploit them. These measures ensure there is nowhere for criminals to hide.

Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defences and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime. AUSTRAC has a strong track record in ensuring our financial institutions comply with the law.

The private sector is an essential partner in ensuring Australian businesses are not exploited by criminals, and I thank industry for their constructive engagement during the development of this Bill. Engagement with industry is the bedrock of our money-laundering and terrorism-financing deterrence.

The AUSTRAC-hosted Fintel Alliance, launched by Minister Keenan in March 2017, is a world-first private-public partnership to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Through the Fintel Alliance, industry and government agencies co-design solutions that will transform the fight against terrorism financing and organised crime.
 

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 01:50 AM

Android Developers Blog

Android Things Developer Preview 5

Posted by Wayne Piekarski, Developer Advocate for IoT

Today, we're releasing Developer Preview 5 (DP5) of Android Things, which includes the major change of being based on the upcoming Android O release. Android Things is Google's platform to enable Android Developers to create Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and seamlessly scale from prototype to production.

Android O

Android O is currently under Developer Preview for phones and tablets, and DP5 is now based on this upcoming release (previous releases were based on Android N). This means that your future Android Things applications should target API 26 to work correctly on the platform with our support libraries.

Hardware Changes

DP5 now adds support for the new NXP SprIoT i.MX6UL design, as listed in our developer kits documentation. With Intel discontinuing the Edison and Joule hardware designs, these platforms are moving to legacy support. They will not continue to receive the latest platform updates, but developers may continue to access the DP4.1 system images from the Android Things Console.

An important goal of Android Things is to help developers seamlessly scale from prototype to production. When we exit Developer Preview, we will differentiate between hardware platforms targeted for prototyping-only and hardware reference designs that can scale to production. Production-ready hardware will satisfy Google's security requirements and include long term support from the silicon manufacturers. We will have more to share later on.

Improvements

With the move to the Android O codebase, there are new API features from Android as well as specific features for Android Things. For those developers using UserDriver APIs, you will need to add new permissions to your AndroidManifest.xml. The documentation contains details about the permissions needed for each driver type. DP5 also now supports OpenGL ES 2.0 and WebView on the Raspberry Pi 3, which was a highly requested feature from developers. We have also implemented dynamic pin muxing for the Raspberry Pi 3, with pins being configured at runtime depending on what features are being used.

Android Studio

The samples for Android Things are now available directly in Android Studio for browsing and importing. You can now go to File, New, Import Samples, and search for Things to see everything that is available. We have a wide range of samples, demonstrating how to interact with buttons, sensors, LEDs, and displays, as well as implementing Google Assistant and TensorFlow.

Android Things Console

We recently launched the Android Things Console, which provides the ability to support over-the-air updates (OTA) to Android Things devices. We have recently made a number of UX improvements to the console to improve usability and functionality. DP5 is now available within the Android Things Console, but the DP5 update will not be pushed automatically to devices without your intervention. You will need to update your application for DP5, then create a new update and push it via the console yourself.

Feedback

With Android Things being updated to Android O, significant changes have been made to the platform. Please send us your feedback by filing bug reports and feature requests, and asking any questions on Stack Overflow. To start using DP5, use the Android Things Console to download system images and update existing devices. More information about the changes are available in the release notes. You can also join Google's IoT Developers Community on Google+, a great resource to get updates and discuss ideas. Also, we have our new hackster.io community, where everyone can share the amazing projects they have built!

by Android Developers (noreply@blogger.com) at August 20, 2017 01:47 AM

Zero Hedge

The Truth Will Not Be Googled

Authored by Claire Connelly via RenegadeInc.com,

Google has come under scrutiny by free-speech organisations for shutting down neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, seemingly too distracted to notice the tech giant has been waging a censorship campaign against news organisations that publish content which conflicts with the narrative of the Washington establishment, along with Facebook and Twitter on the grounds of ‘fake news’.

While web-hosting services have been criticised for cancelling the registration of neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, progressive left-leaning sites are losing Google ranking and traffic because of a deliberate move to censor “fake” news by the internet search giant.

New data released by World Socialist Websites (WSWS) revealed that sites such as Wikileaks, The Intercept, Electronic Frontiers Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Organisation, CounterPunch and many other organisations with the audacity to provide context about the activities of federal governments not reported in mainstream publications have experienced a significant drop in traffic after Google altered its algorithm.

(WSWS is an online news and information service founded by the International Committee of the Fourth International, the leadership of the world socialist movement).

Earlier this week, internet hosting provider, GoDaddy, announced it had cancelled US neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, for posting an attack on Heather Heyer, the protester who was murdered at the Klan rally in Charlottesville last week. Google and CloudFlare likewise cancelled its registration after the site tried to move its hosting over to their respective services.

But while these hosting services are being congratulated by some – and condemned by others on free-speech grounds – for ensuring that those looking to commit violence have to work slightly harder to get access to their like-minded Nazi communities, those who own the means of transmission – namely Google, Facebook and Twitter – are still preventing the rest of us from accessing information that allows people to make sense of the world around us.

Earlier this month, Google altered its algorithm – allegedly in an attempt to address the ‘fake news’ problem – and in doing so, a broad array of anti-establishment news organisations, whistleblower, civil-rights and anti-war websites were censored from its search listings. But most people were too distracted by the opinions of some low-level engineer on Google’s diversity hiring policies and its intolerance of conservative views in the workplace to take notice.

The data released by WSWS shows that since Google altered its algorithm, Wikileaks experienced a 30% decline in traffic from Google searches. Democracy Now fell by 36%. Truthout dropped by 25%. Its own traffic dropped by 67% percent over the same period. Alternet saw a 63% decline in traffic. Media Matters saw a 36% drop in traffic. Counterpunch.org fell by 21%. The Intercept fell by 19%.

In May, WSWS was ranked 5th in Google searches for the keyword ‘socialism’. Today the WSWS is nowhere to be found in the top 200 searches for the same keyword. In addition, Google blocked every one of WSW’s top 45 search terms.

Aaron Kaufman, director of development at progressive news outlet, Common Dreams said that Google Search as a percentage of total traffic to the Common Dreams website has decreased nearly 50 percent since May.

When human bias mistakes truth for bullshit

In a blog post published on April 25th, Google’s chief search engineer, Ben Gomez framed the issue as a change to the tech giant’s technical procedures in response to “the phenomenon of fake news”.

“The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information,” Gomez wrote.

 

“While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available. And while we may not always get it right, we’re making good progress in tackling the problem. But in order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes in Search are needed.”

Gomez revealed that Google had recruited more than 10,000 “evaluators” hired to judge the quality of various websites, “real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments,” though the chief search engineer did not identify the “evaluators” or explain the criteria against which websites are judged.

The ultimate irony: Google has seemingly allowed its evaluators to exercise their own biases when assessing the truth, accuracy and validity of these websites, and in doing so, are censoring essential information inconvenient to the narrative of the Washington establishment.

Illustration by Rachael Bolton

Corporate regulation and shadow-blocking

Google is not the only player in this censorship game. Earlier last year, anti-establishment information services – Renegade Inc included – experienced a 20% drop in traffic to its Facebook pages, after the social-network altered its algorithm, again, allegedly in an attempt to crack down on ‘fake news’.

And as some excellent reporting by Reveal News’ Aaron Sankin has demonstrated, Facebook’s moderator army is likewise using the social network’s reporting system to shut down dissenting voices, particularly activists, particularly activists of colour.

Likewise, Twitter is allegedly shadow-blocking those of the left and right who it perceives to be tweeting content that sits outside of the mainstream. Renegade Inc has not been immune from this sidelining.

While Twitter has formal mechanisms for trolls and those who post abusive content – in which case it will notify users they have been suspended and provide explanations as to why – shadow-blocking is a whole different ball game. ‘Shadow-blocking’ – or ‘shadow-banning’ – are terms used to describe a more informal mode of censorship whereby particular users will simply not show up when you search for their username. Certain tweets may disappear into the ether, and your content may only be visible to people who follow you but will not show up on any Twitter feed, even if after it is re-tweeted.

Russell Bentley, a former American soldier fighting fascism in the Ukraine under the Donetsk People’s Republic – a self-declared, Russian backed separatist state – had his Twitter account shut down two days ago after a sustained campaign of targeted harassment and death threats (prohibited by Twitter’s terms of service) by pro-nazi propagandists.

Most notably, Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic, recently fell victim to a shadow-ban by Twitter, allegedly for his views on Trump.

So too was Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee who told Renegade Inc that for weeks his own Twitter username does not show up when he searched for it from other accounts. Likewise his tweets disappeared, and were not visible to those outside of his network.

Meanwhile, those on the right claim their web traffic is also being restricted. Alt-right website Breitbart claimed both Google and Facebook had attempted to defund its site and those like it by altering Google Adsense and Facebook Audience Network.

Corporate regulation means never having to explain yourself

It is difficult to know whether these instances of censorship are a deliberate, or unintended side-effect of a fake-news crackdown because, unlike governments who have some semblance of an obligation to explain themselves, companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are under no obligation to be transparent about their reasoning or methods, claiming intellectual property rights over proprietary information, (their algorithms).

The result is a corporate regulation of the internet by companies with no obligation to explain how or why it changes its feeds or search listings.

Dr Monique Mann, researcher at Queensland University of Technology’s Crime and Justice Research Centre, and Director of Australian Privacy Foundation told Renegade Inc that these issues of censorship relate to broader issues around bias in computer systems.

“These decisions aren’t being made by formal enforcement bodies, or any kind of body with authorised legal powers,” she said.

 

“This process is occurring by transnational companies and platforms, these tech giants are acting like big regulators.”

Dr Mann says these instances of censorship by algorithm raises questions over trade secrets and proprietary rights.

“These trade secrets and algorithms are how they operate,” she said. “But they introduce additional challenges and barriers to transparency and accountability of algorithms, themselves protected under international property law.”

Hypothetically Google is applying a colour blind algorithm. Dr Mann says the question is over what happens when algorithms are built by “digital duopolies” to match societal expectations.

“Google is deciding what is an acceptable story, and what is unacceptable, whose views and voices are preferenced, and whose are silenced,” she said.

 

“There is no transparency and accountability. These companies are protected by very serious financial investments and fields of law.”

Dr Monique Mann told Renegade Inc that there has been a suggestion that some tweets made by President Trump violate Twitter’s terms of service, because they contain hate-speech that targets certain groups and minority populations: particularly Muslims and the LGBTQI community given his recent attempt to enact a Muslim ban and deny health care to LGBTQI servicemen, women and those who identify as neither, or have them thrown out of the service altogether.

“But are Twitter likely to block Trump for violating its terms of service?,” she asked. “These are all very loaded and difficult decisions around what constitutes hate speech vs political expression. These are very contested issues and I do not think there are any easy answers here.”

A battle for the heart and soul of the web

Dr Matthew Rimmer, Professor of IP and Innovation Law and Queensland University of Technology told Renegade Inc that how these companies manage information is becoming increasingly important.

“Their duties and responsibilities are becoming quite significant,” he said. “There is a battle for the heart and soul of the internet in many ways.”

Tim Berners Lee, (computer scientist and inventor of the World Wide Web), commented recently that the open system he helped create has come under threat from various corporate players who have enacted site blocking and surveillance. He said it is important to address the balance away from big IT companies and other corporations and national governments. He wants to recover the emancipatory potential of the internet and World Wide Web. There are some larger questions involved in terms of the future evolution of the regime.

Dr Mann said that automation through algorithm is ‘falling into a trap’ that is not going to find us any easy answers.

“These processes and the way they operate create a range of additional problems,” she said. “I don’t think technology in this situation is going to be the panacea for social issues.”

Don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

It is worth mentioning here that nothing Renegade Inc publishes is anything close to ‘fake news’ and we take exception at being treated as such. Rather we, and other like-minded publications that sit outside of the mainstream, are committed to providing much needed context that you won’t find in the New York Times or Washington Post, for example, publications that are far too cozy with intelligence communities.

You won’t find the Post or the Times reporting on the fact that the US and its allies are funding terror groups like ISIS, al-qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Nor will you find them reporting on the American interests at play in Venezuela, or Syria, Iraq, Iran or Libya. Or how freedom is a concept that has been co-opted by right-wing ideology.

Censoring access to sites like ours is what allows people to continue believing that America is fighting a war on terrorism, when in reality, it is funding, arming and training terrorist organisations to fight a proxy war on Middle East Socialism.

You won’t find corporate media reporting on how the economy really works, or the countries, governments, companies and individuals involved in the financialisation of the economy, or the role of central banking in the Global Financial Crisis.

Moreover, there would be no need for any of these services if establishment media could be trusted to provide readers with enough information, background and context to make rational decisions.

But when you accept the claims of the intelligence community as lore, when you accept that market freedom is the same as actual freedom and not a tool used to trick people into accepting permanent financial insecurity, the entire narrative for understanding the world and how we came to find ourselves on the sidelines of history, powerless to the whims of the new economic order, becomes a fiction. The system that took 35-years to build has worked perfectly, according to the rules upon which it has been set, and now it is being defended. So long as sites like these continue to be censored, we will never know the real terms of our enslavement, or how we let it happen.

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 01:20 AM

OpenBSD Journal

RETGUARD, the OpenBSD next level in exploit mitigation, is about to debut

In a message to the tech mailling list, Theo de Raadt(deraadt@) offered a preview of the next big thing in exploit mitigation, dubbed RETGUARD:

This year I went to BSDCAN in Ottawa. I spent much of it in the 'hallway track', and had an extended conversation with various people regarding our existing security mitigations and hopes for new ones in the future. I spoke a lot with Todd Mortimer(mortimer@). Apparently I told him that I felt return-address protection was impossible, so a few weeks later he sent a clang diff to address that issue...
Read more...

August 20, 2017 12:56 AM

Piggington's Econo-Almanac

Zero Hedge

And The Best State To Grow Old In Is...

Elder-care company Caring.com recently conducted a study to determine the best US states to grow old in. And the winner is…

Utah.

That's right: In addition to being one of the top 5 fiscally responsible states in the Union, the home of Mormonism is also the most friendly state for elderly Americans to grow old and retire in. Earlier this year, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University compiled a comprehensive study, based on a number of objective financial metrics, ranking the 50 US states according to their overall fiscal condition. Utah came in third behind Alaska and Florida.

But Utah handily bested both those states on a ranking based on 13 categories including quality, cost, and availability of health care for seniors, as well as factors that speak to the state’s overall quality of life.

Here’s a breakdown of the data, courtesy of Bloomberg:

Best states:
Utah/$2,950
Iowa/$3,518
South Carolina/$3,000
Washington/$4,500
Nebraska/$3,510

Worst states:
Wyoming/$3,995
North Dakota/$3,340
New York/$4,136
Indiana/$3,528
West Virginia/$3,263

New York, one of the worst states for retirees, was singled out because of the extreme disparity between health-care cost and quality, as Bloomberg explains…

“New York, No. 33 in the well-being ranking, was singled out by Caring.com for its extremes. The very high cost of the state’s health care doesn’t produce results close to commensurate with that spending, according to the report. While New York ranked 46th in cost (the lower the rank, the higher the cost), its life/health care quality rank was 34 (the lower the rank, the worse the quality). Massachusetts had a similar pattern; it ranked 49th in cost and 18th in quality. That’s reflective of a larger trend in the U.S.—high spending on health care isn’t translating into longer lives, as this interactive graphic demonstrates.”

Washington State and California do a better job of translating higher costs to better-quality care…

“Higher costs show more of a payoff in Washington state and California. Washington is 38th for cost and is the top state for quality of life and health care. California has a cost ranking of 36 and quality ranking of 3 (it’s tied with Oregon for quality).”

According to Bloomberg, the lighter the color, the higher the overall ranking of the state as a place to grow old.

The study was conducted by Caring.com, which ranked states on 13 categories, including quality, cost, and availability of health care for seniors. The study’s authors used a range of data sets, including Census data and proprietary data sets from AARP.

“The ranking, which drew on data from the U.S. Census, the insurer Genworth, AARP, the Commonwealth Fund, and Gallup-Healthways, among others, also factored in 150,000 consumer reviews from Caring.com’s database of facilities and care providers for seniors. The availability, quality, and cost of care for the elderly got greater attention in the report than some of the common measures used in retirement destination rankings.”

As Tim Sullivan, vice president at Caring.com, explains, the author’s decision to name the study “The Best States To Grow Old In” instead of “The Best States To Retire In” was meant to highlight an important distinction...

“One reason we call this report the best states to grow old, versus best states to retire, is because it’s really important for people to plan out their 60s, 70s, and 80s with as much care as they plan their retirement in their 30s, 40s, and 50s,” said Tim Sullivan, vice president at Caring.com. “Your needs change as you age, and they are not always going to be driven by the sort of leisure or amenities or weather considerations that are what a lot of people think about retirement.”

The report’s greatest utility, according to Bloomberg, is helping to spark a discussion about where millennials should plan on settling down for the long haul. Unfortunately, Utah is largely devoid of the amenities – like comprehensive public transportation and quality night life – that millennials covet. But affordable health care, low taxes and the state’s overall low cost of living make a compelling case for going without.

by Tyler Durden at August 20, 2017 12:50 AM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

Boston’s reenactment of the Nuremberg Rally

Some folks a scheduled “Free Speech” rally in Boston today. This was characterized by “counter-protesters” (not sure the term is apt, given that the Free Speechers may not have been “protesting”) as Nazi-oriented, hate-oriented, racism-oriented, and/or white supremacist. Here’s my IM exchange with a friend who attended:

  • How was the rally? How many Nazis showed up?
  • dunno. i think just a few dozen people showed up for the whole rally (vs. about 10,000 counter-protesters), but i never saw them. being in a large crowd is not necessarily the best way to know what’s happening at an event

In other words, my friend was protesting people whom he never saw and opposing ideas that he never heard expressed.

As a reenactment of the Nuremberg Rally, it seems as though Boston was a bit short on Nazis.

It is interesting to me that nobody seems to care what the purported Nazis had to say. A New York Times article on the rally provides detail on the “counter-protesters”. There were about 40,000 of them in Boston and their mission was “to denounce racism, white supremacy and Nazism.” They “shouted down their opponents.” But there was no reporting on the number of Nazis and no detail on what they said before they were shouted down.

Shiva Ayyadurai, the inventor of email, was quoted briefly, but no other speaker is even mention. (Ayyadurai is running for U.S. Senate against Elizabeth Warren, a race that an MIT friend characterizes as “Indian v. Indian.)

Readers: Did you find a source of information about the speeches that the “protesters” gave? If so, please share!

[Separately, I’m wondering if we run short of Nazis whether some of the counter-protesters will step in to handle both sides of the altercations. Otherwise how can counter-protesters say “We fought against Nazis like those brave souls depicted in the Dunkirk movie”? Related phenomenon: In The Elements of Style, the authors noted that “another segment of society that has constructed a language of its own is business. … Its portentous nouns and verbs invest ordinary events with high adventure, executives walk among toner cartridges, caparisoned like knights. We should tolerate them–every person of spirit wants to ride a white horse. … A good many of the special words of business seem designed more to express the user’s dreams than to express a precise meaning.”]

by philg at August 20, 2017 12:41 AM

PT Money

5 Tax Breaks for First Time Homebuyers

Ready to jump into homeownership? Is owning a home a financial milestone that you have been dreaming about your entire life?

Many people dream of becoming homeowners. They dream their entire lives of getting the keys to their first home. But it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to handle all the costs of purchasing a home. Things like,

  • saving up the down payment,
  • handling closing costs, and
  • dealing with the necessary incidental costs of new homeownership that can quickly add up.

Luckily for anyone looking to take the plunge into buying a home, Uncle Sam has several tax breaks in place to help homeownership a reality for first-time homebuyers. These tax breaks may be the motivation you need to achieve your dream of purchasing your first home.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

This can be one of the biggest tax breaks of home ownership. It covers interest on loans up to $1 million or $500,000 for married couples filing separately. This deduction can be even more beneficial for new borrowers because the interest on their mortgage is a lot higher in the earlier years of the loan.

When filing your taxes, your interest amount will be itemized on a Schedule A form. All of your other deductions will be added on this form. This will save you tax dollars if your itemized deductions are higher than your standard deductions. Each year you will receive a 1098 form your loan provider. Be on the lookout for this form so you can claim your interest.

Property Tax Deduction

Another deduction you can put on your Schedule A form is your property tax amount. You can only deduct taxes on your primary residence.

Mortgage Interest Credit

The federal government’s mortgage interest credit is another great way to save money on your tax bill. The mortgage interest deduction lowers your taxable income, while the mortgage interest credit counts directly against your tax bill. In order to see if you qualify for this credit, you will need to fill out the IRS Form 8396.

Let’s say that you owe $500 to the government in taxes and you are approved for a $500 mortgage tax credit. This means your credit would cover your tax bill, and you can do a jig on Tax Day while everyone else is paying their taxes.

In order to qualify, you would receive a Mortgage Credit Certificate at the time of purchase. This certificate will tell you how much interest you can claim for a credit. Unfortunately, you cannot claim the mortgage interest deduction and mortgage interest credit at the same time. Consider working with a CPA to evaluate which would be the best option and save you the most money.

Tax Breaks for First Time Homebuyers

Home Enhancement Breaks

Does your home need a little work? This may have some tax benefits if you use a home equity loan or another loan secured by your mortgage. Your home improvement amount will qualify as a mortgage interest deduction.

Your home improvements could also have a big benefit when selling your home. If your house sells for more than you bought it for, the additional amount you receive can incur a capital gains tax. But your improvements can lower your taxes and tax basis, saving you money.

Energy Tax Credit

Being environmentally conscious is the way of the future, it seems. The government will even reward you for being saving energy through the energy tax credit. This energy tax credit covers 30% of the cost (with no upper limit) of an energy-efficient appliance or product for your home. This credit is only available for purchases made in 2017. ENERGY STAR is the recommended company to use. They have over 70 categories of products to choose from.

Not only will energy efficiency save you money on your tax bill but it will help with your energy bill over time.

The Bottom Line

There are many tax benefits to homeownership. Purchasing a home is a big decision and you need to understand everything that comes along with owning a home, good and bad. Be sure not to let the tax “tail wag the dog” though: these tax breaks are here if and when you need them. Don't allow them to push you into a decision you wouldn't make otherwise.

Are you a first-time home buyer? Which of these tax breaks will you be taking advantage of?

The post 5 Tax Breaks for First Time Homebuyers appeared first on PT Money.

by Ashley Chorpenning at August 20, 2017 12:35 AM

Study Hacks

Are We Going to Allow Smartphones to Destroy a Generation?

The iGen Problem

Many people recently sent me the same article from the current issue of The Atlantic. It’s titled, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”, and it’s written by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.

The article describes Twenge’s research on iGen, her name for kids born between 1995 and 2012 — the first generation to grow up with smartphones. Here’s a short summary of her alarming conclusions:

“It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”

I won’t bother describing all of Twenge’s findings here. If you’re interested, read the original article, or her new book on the topic, which comes out this week.

The point I want to make instead is that in my position as someone who researches and writes on related topics,  I’ve started to hear this same note of serious alarm from multiple different reputable sources — including the head of a well-known university’s mental health program, and a reporter currently bird-dogging the topic for a major national publication.

In other words, I don’t think this growing concern about the mental health impact of smartphones on young people is simply nostalgia-tinged, inter-generational ribbing.

Something really scary is probably going on.

My prediction is that we’re going to see a change in the next 2 – 5 years surrounding how parents think about the role of smartphones in their kids’ lives. There will be a shift from shrugging our shoulders and saying “what can we do?”, to squaring our shoulders and asking with more authority, “what are we going to do?”

(Photo by Pabak Sarkar)

by Study Hacks at August 20, 2017 12:35 AM

Scenes from the ‘Boston Free Speech’ rally and counterprotest



Thousands of counterprotesters march down Tremont Street towards the “Boston Free Speech” rally on the Boston Common. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)

August 20, 2017 12:09 AM

August 19, 2017

Zero Hedge

Ann Coulter Rips into Trump For Bannon Firing, Favoring 'Fake News Media' Over Conservative

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

Ann Coulter, the conservative firebrand who predicted Trump would win, much to the cackling laughter of the Bill Maher audience and panel, railed against Trump in an interview with Mark Simone.

Sounding despondent and admittedly 'depressed' over the recent firing of Steve Bannon, Coulter lashed out at the President, saying 'it's not a good idea to let the media know to manipulate him as President.' Coulter was referencing Trump's defensive posture and annoyance that Bannon had been credited with Trump's election win. Over the past half year, the media, including comedy outlets, had lampooned Trump and Bannon -- painting Bannon as the true, yet sinister, mastermind behind Trump's success.

Coulter almost pined for the campaign era days of Trump, reflectively saying 'finally, after 30 years, we're gonna get a President not controlled by Goldman Sachs,' making reference to the Goldman alumni stacking Trump's cabinet.

Coulter threw down the gauntlet to Trump, saying,  "if you really want to prove to us that Bannon had nothing to do with winning the nomination and then winning the Presidency, what you really want to do now is pedal to the metal on raising taxes on Wall Street (carried interest loophole), start deporting illegals, end NAFTA, bring the jobs back and build the wall."

Ann furthered, "and if he does all those things, okay, I'll say 'My gosh Mr. President you're right. Steve Bannon had nothing to do with your success.'"

The reason why she's depressed over Bannon's departure likely stems from the fact that all loyalists from inside the campaign, save Conway and Miller, have been purged from the White House.

"People like us should be a little depressed today because there's no one on the President's side in the White House anymore. "

She summed up Trump's isolation succinctly, 'it's just you in the White House surrounded by the people you hired from Goldman Sachs. Don't you want to have one guy in the White House on your side?'

Ann then ripped Trump to shreds for calling out 'fake news media' and then giving them exclusive access to him, saying 'he's calling Maggie Haberman (NY Times) everyday.'

"Why isn't he giving all his interviews to Breitbart, Daily Caller? Why isn't he directing his communications director, or press secretary, to call on the conservative media. No, the conservative media is totally dissed in the press briefing room."

In short...

"He's surrounded himself with the ruling class." -- Ann Coulter

If it acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

by The_Real_Fly at August 19, 2017 11:59 PM

Polish Minister Rages At Spanish Attacks: Europeans Must "Wake Up" To This "Clash Of Civilizations"

Europe must "wake up," urges Poland initerior minister Mariusz Blaszczak, telling state TV that "we are dealing with a clash of civilazations," where Muslim enclaves form “support bases” for terrorists.

The official, a member of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice Party (PiS), said he asked his country’s security services what they were doing to prevent similar incidents and noted that Poland is safe because “we do not have Muslim communities which are enclaves, which are a natural support base for Islamic terrorists.”

A “possibility” to prevent terrorism is closing in Europe, according to the minister. As RT reports, Blaszczak also lashed out at the refugee resettling scheme in the EU, claiming it's “encouraging millions of people to come to Europe,” and that would effectively have tragic consequences.

The blunt outburst comes a day after the deadly attack on a tourist area in Barcelona which left 13 people dead and more than 100 others injured.

The politician voiced his anti-immigration stance earlier this year when he suggested that Muslim settlements in Western Europe started from small numbers with Brussels now trying to shift responsibility.

Warsaw has been vehemently opposed to resettling migrants under a scheme advocated by Brussels and approved by the majority of European countries.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the Law and Justice leader, accused migrants in October 2015 of bringing cholera and dysentery as well as “all sorts of parasites and protozoa, which… while not dangerous in the organisms of these people, could be dangerous here.”

 

The xenophobic remarks caused controversy inside the government. Marek Sawicki, agriculture minister with the Polish People’s Party, the junior member of the ruling coalition, said this was “a reference to old, dangerous and dishonest sentiments from the time of the [Second World] war,”according to Politico.

Poland, along with Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia have firmly rejected the so-called refugee quotas, deepening East-West cracks in the 28-member bloc.

With every new terrorist attack carried out by non-EU nationals, the European public and politicians are showing growing discontent and unease.

Brussels has threatened legal action against the dissenting countries, filing a formal “infringement procedure” in June which could result in financial penalties imposed by the European Court of Justice.

by Tyler Durden at August 19, 2017 11:50 PM

Boston "Free Speech Rally" Concludes Without Major Incidents, 27 Arrested

In the end, fears that today's "Free Speech Rally" would devolve into another Charlottesville, proved unfounded.

Boston had braced itself with hundreds of police officers to ensure that the day didn't have the same deadly outcome of the Charlottesville protests last week.  However, opponents of the right-wing took over the rally, chanting anti-Nazi slogans and waving signs condemning white nationalism.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters on Saturday that police had made 27 arrests for disorderly conduct, with some for assault and battery during scuffles between police and counterprotesters, even as the original conservative rallygoers had largely dispersed earlier in the day.

Dozens of conservative rallygoers had gathered on the Boston Common, but then left less than an hour after the event was getting underway as tens of thousands of counterprotesters swarmed the "free speech" rally. Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday morning on downtown Boston, dwarfing the smaller group of conservatives staging their own "free speech rally."

The small right-wing group who came for the rally huddled in a circle at the park as barricades fenced them off from the thousands upon thousands of counter-protesters who came to drown out their event. The conservatives left the rally around 1 p.m., shortly after their arrival. One of the planned speakers of a conservative activist rally said the event "fell apart" according to the AP.

Many of the counterprotesters remained in the area late on Saturday afternoon including a few who were among people chanting "Black Lives Matter" who burned a confederate flag.

Meanwhile, the "Free Speech Rally" organizers had issued a press release publicly distanced themselves from the white supremacists in Charlottesville on Aug. 12.

Organizers of the 'Free Speech' rally denounced the violence and racist chants of the Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' protest.

'We are a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents and we welcome all individuals and organizations from any political affiliations that are willing to peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties,' the group said on Facebook. The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said that it's not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way. 'We are not associated with any alt-right or white supremacist groups,' it said this week, insisting: 'We are strictly about free speech.'

Heading into the Saturday rally, Boston authorities and citizens were concerned that it would be another violent day and sent at least 500 police officers to man the streets to keep the peace between thousands of tense people. The police hoped to deter violence at the 'free speech' rally, which had right-wing speakers, by closing streets to avert car attacks like the deadly one carried out last week. Boston also outlawed weapons of any kind - including sticks used to hold signs - in the protest area and ordered food vendors out of Boston Common, the nation's oldest park.  

However, tensions began to arise around 12:30pm, when a group of boisterous counter-protesters were filmed chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him. Other counter-protesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence to where the conservative rally was to be staged. A black-clad counter-protester also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman's hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.

Some members of the Antifa group spoke out, including member Shane Terry, 22, who says she covers her face so that 'Nazis can't find me on social media'.  There are uniformed officers from all over the state along with Boston firefighters from the rapid response team standing among the crowd.

Joe Fusco, 43, from New Hampshire says the entire event is ludicrous. 'Aren't we still the United States? So the counter protests are to stop the protest? Doesn't make sense.'  Some counter-protesters did throw bottles of urine, rocks and other 'hurtful projectiles' at police.

As the counterprotest went on, president Donald Trump complimented the Boston police on Twitter for their handling of the rallies minutes before the police department tweeted asking people to stop throwing items at them. Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon, "Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you." Trump also complimented Boston's Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh.

Trump also praised the crowd of up to 40,000 anti-fascist protesters who marched through the streets of Boston in protest against right-wing activists hosting a 'free speech' rally on Saturday.  The President tweeted: 'I want to applaud the many protesters in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one! 'Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!'

Trump quickly deleted two tweets that misspelled the word heal as 'heel' and an hour earlier he had tweeted to condemn 'anti-police agitators'. But the president's tone was mostly conciliatory after a week of outrage over his response to the violence in Charlottesville last weekend. 

Boston Police Department tweeted shortly after Trump's tweets that out of the thousands in attendance, several dozen people were arrested for throwing bottles of urine and rocks at the police and after some some burned a Confederate flag and pounded on the sides of a police vehicle at Boston Common.

Boston mayor Marty Walsh thanked the thousands of counterprotesters that took over the the city's streets Saturday in opposition to a conservative rally.  "I want to thank all the people that came out to there that message of love, not hate," Mayor Marty Walsh said. "To fight back on racism, to fight back on anti-Semitism, to fight back on the supremacists that were coming to our city, on the Nazis that were coming to our city"

"I want to thank everyone that came here and expressed themselves in such a positive, great manner today," he added.

Some antifa counterprotesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandannas over their faces. They chanted anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, and waved signs that said: 'Make Nazis Afraid Again,' 'Love your neighbor,' 'Resist fascism' and 'Hate never made U.S. great' even as others, ironically, carried a large banner that read: 'SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.'

Dating to 1634, Boston Common is the nation's oldest city park. The leafy downtown park is popular with locals and tourists and has been the scene of numerous rallies and protests for centuries.  Beyond the Boston rally and counter-march, protests were held on Saturday in Texas, with the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matter holding a rally to remove a 'Spirit of the Confederacy' monument from a park and civil rights activists in Dallas had a rally against white supremacy. Removing Confederate-themed or era statues has recently gained momentum in the aftermath of Charlottesville.

by Tyler Durden at August 19, 2017 11:43 PM

Daring Fireball

Outlier

My thanks to Outlier for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Outlier makes radical quality clothing, with obsessively sourced raw materials. Their clothes are designed for performance, durability, and movement. They are, simply, excellent.

As I wrote when they first sponsored DF a few months ago, I have a few of their shirts, pants, shorts, and socks. The first thing I checked out were the pockets on the pants and shorts. The pockets on most shorts I’ve owned are shitty. There’s no other way to say it. The pockets on Outlier shorts are exquisite. They’re the best shorts I’ve ever owned. This is a company that pays attention to the details — all of the details.

What other company sells a bomber jacket with a description that begins “They say ‘don’t fuck with a classic’”? No one. Check them out.

by John Gruber at August 19, 2017 11:40 PM

The India Uncut Blog

The Wheel Turns

This is the 47th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India edit page.

THE WHEEL TURNS

Sikka is great, everyone chanted.
They hailed Mistry, and then recanted.
Whoever is to blame,
The lesson is the same:
Never take anything for granted.

EK PREM KATHA

I said to my love, “How do you do?
I will build a toilet just for you.”
She gave me one tight slap,
And said, “Bro, cut the crap.
First get swachh yourself. Until then, boo!”

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

by Amit Varma at August 19, 2017 11:03 PM

From age 3 to 80, Barcelona victims represent a wide world

From age 3 to 80, Barcelona victims represent a wide worldAn Italian father who saved his children's lives but lost his own. An American celebrating his first wedding anniversary. A Portuguese woman celebrating her birthday with her granddaughter. These were ...


August 19, 2017 10:47 PM

Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program

Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards programBRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.


August 19, 2017 09:59 PM

Planet Python

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Claudia Sahm on Twitter: "And yes, Marginal Revolution commenters have got EJMR'ers back ... https://t.co/SlEez07BK9 https://t.co/OSLoRZW1Ol"

Should-Read: Claudia Sahm: On Twitter: "And yes, Marginal Revolution commenters have got EJMR'ers back... I used to comment on @MargRev and it would really piss me off... https://twitter.com/Claudia_Sahm/status/898620250287030272

...if my attempts to talk about research ended up me being called a female body part. In a discussion of economics it's not that hard to set gender (or race or sexual orientation) aside and debate merits of an argument. I certainly never called the guys there such gendered names... stuck to why their logic stunk :-). And of course, my tweets got some pushback at MR... an example:

NewImage

But I've got a nice story about why I don't reply (or "fight" as this says). After one awful blowup, I decided to get some advice, thankfully @mathbabedotorg had an advice column Aunt Pythia then. So I wrote in: on left is snippet of my question and right a bit of her advice,

Preview of Claudia Sahm on Twitter and yes Marginal Revolution commenters have got EJMR ers back

Full exchange here: https://mathbabe.org/2013/12/28/aunt-pythias-advice-32/

by J. Bradford DeLong at August 19, 2017 08:47 PM

Sr Bachchan

DAY 3431

Jalsa, Mumbai                  Aug 19/20,  2017               Sat/Sun 12:57 AM





they submit .. these hands .. to them that give us and to the world truth of life .. their livelihood, their challenges .. their discomforts, limitations and restrictions .. and yet their submission to fate and condition, is beyond expression and doubt ..

any other may have demanded consideration and a condemnation of their state by them that remain in charge .. but no .. they smile it all through .. laugh at destiny .. sit up and make effort .. ceaselessly they continue year after year in a realm of no submission .. their strength and commitment an example for all .. but for me a lesson .. 

their simplicity, an admirable ornament about them .. their wants and desires meagre and within dimension .. feelings, temperament and an emotion is what they carry with pride, disguised in their companions that accompany them .. 

they are my guests yes .. but they are yours before mine .. they are us .. they are we .. they are about us and glorified, thank the Lord .. for they themselves would seek none of this .. for them their Lord has spoken and delivered to them .. content and in humbled condition that they expound without any contortion !!

my link is my deliverance , my creative, my attention and wish  .. for they are deserving of all and more .. much more ..

i think often of them .. of their mind and their countenance .. their terms of endearment .. their options in life .. their existence, their very existence .. i attempt to compare theirs with mine .. it is unfair i do recognise, but it is a compulsion to do so .. and the answers i need, never do come by in an instant .. they dissolve, they flash by in the visions of the night, in the darkness of myriad dreams .. and wake me in the disturbed morn of the day following, in a perspired mess about ..

…. and then in a sudden time worn bubble it all disappears .. vanishes from all the pressured conditions that brought them on ..

why .. ?

because the next worry .. the next expected .. the coming issue of any form, overtakes all discussion in the head and batters all else about it into an empty drum, readied by our own to be set upon with fire and flames ..

inside this crucible of luminosity rests the fortune of many .. many that shall never be in state of accepting until it occurs .. the light of accomplished victory .. the breaking away of the puzzle .. the light, the clenched fists, the pray the dedication to the divine .. and finally the smile of success, is what i wait for ..

.. and wish them the glory of achievement and that life changing experience ..

amid all the chatter and speak .. it is, quite frankly, the stillness and silence of the solitude that follows .. the drive on rain slashed roadways .. the gentle hum of the treadmill .. those rapid moving imagery on the mechanism of the workout destination .. all there to distract .. but no .. they are dumb images .. versatile and vociferous, albeit .. but not enough in its distraction to invade that restlessness of the gone by ..

… we search the best and the most .. we need to look beside us and see the truth .. for, they that need the best and the most, are indeed least affected or interested in it .. 

i am but a dummy .. a falsetto .. a strain of that note which echoes discomfort and delusion .. 

a light is needed .. a beat of the resonating feel is required .. a search .. 

and I must find it .. soon 



Amitabh Bachchan  

August 19, 2017 08:03 PM

Trump adviser resigned ahead of negative magazine story

Trump adviser resigned ahead of negative magazine storyWASHINGTON (AP) — Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who resigned Friday from an unpaid post as President Donald Trump's adviser on deregulation efforts, stepped down as The New Yorker was preparing to publish a lengthy article detailing Icahn's potential conflicts of interest and questioning the legality of his actions.


August 19, 2017 08:01 PM

FBI employee survey contradicts Trump's claim that the agency had lost trust in James Comey

FBI employee survey contradicts Trump's claim that the agency had lost trust in James ComeyThe FBI released employee survey data earlier this week after employees were questioned about how...


August 19, 2017 07:25 PM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

tshark 2.4 New Feature - Command Line Export Objects, (Fri, Aug 18th)

There is nothing new about Wireshark releasing an update; however, the new 2.4 branch has new feature that is quite useful that I have been waiting to be able to use for a while. In case you missed it, tshark now has the ability to Export Objects. I have tested the export using large pcap files with multiple objects and tshark does a good job "dumping" all the files in the specified directory (i.e. destdir).

To extract HTTP or SMB objects from the command-line, run the following command:

tshark -nr file.pcap --export-objects http,destdir
tshark -nr file.pcap --export-objects smb,destdir


[1] https://www.wireshark.org/#download

-----------
Guy Bruneau IPSS Inc.
Twitter: GuyBruneau
gbruneau at isc dot sans dot edu

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. https://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

August 19, 2017 07:20 PM

Boy Genius Report

Watch a motorcyclist fly over 250 feet off a cliff and live to tell the tale

motorcycle cliff crash

There's nothing remotely cool about accidentally flying 250 feet off of a cliff — that is, unless you survive and your motorcycle's camera records the entire thing. A motorcyclist named Matthew Murray found himself in these unfortunate and painful circumstances after he accidentally veered off a mountain road and was unable to stop on the gravel shoulder before literally flying off the edge of the cliff. His GoPro captured the entire thing.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. Check out the new phone that just made the iPhone 8 look like it’s from the stone age
  2. T-Mobile has a huge sale on two LG flagship phones
  3. Federal commission wants AT&T to pay $4 billion in fines for misleading DirecTV ads

by Mike Wehner at August 19, 2017 07:02 PM

Here's exactly how much of the solar eclipse you’ll see where you live

Here's exactly how much of the solar eclipse you’ll see where you liveOn August 21st, the US is getting a total solar eclipse — when the moon crosses...


August 19, 2017 07:00 PM

Scott H Young

I’m 29

Every year, on my birthday, I write an update on what happened in my life in the preceding twelve months. I’ve done this since my eighteenth birthday, so if you’re interested you can see how my life and views have changed over the last decade.

Of course, if you’re not interested, I’ll be back to my normal articles which are less self-indulgent next week.

In this post, I’ll go over what has happened in my life this last year, plans for the future and how my views on life have changed.

My Life Last Year

In terms of public projects, this last year was relatively quiet. No new languages learned. No racing through MIT exams.

My only public project was a small one: trying to level-up my Korean on five hours per week. I’m now in the middle of the final month of this project. I’ll save a full write-up for later, but it has been a mixed success. I’ve definitely improved my Korean language abilities, but it hasn’t reached the level of spontaneous engagement I have in Chinese or Spanish.

Professionally, most of the year was spent mixed between unsexy business development and preparation for writing a new book. The book, if all goes well, will be my full-time project next year.

From a public-blogging standpoint, there hasn’t been too much to say.

Personally, however, this year has been a pretty important one. I got engaged to my girlfriend of three years (and close friend of eleven years), Zoey. We now live together in Vancouver. Previously, I had been going to stay with her in Winnipeg, for a few months at a time, before she was able to move here.

I don’t write about my intimate relationships much on this blog. Part of that is the desire to maintain some separation between my public and private persona. Contrary to the share-everything-authenticity crowd, I do think those are two different things and trying to merge them completely is itself a weird kind of inauthenticity.

It suffices to say that getting engaged to my best friend has been one of the happiest moments of my life.

My Plans for Next Year

My next year, if all goes well, will be devoted full-time to writing a book. I hesitate to share too much on that point, if only because writing a book through a traditional publisher is such a long process, that it often disappoints audiences when the book itself won’t be available for a couple years.

That said, writing a traditionally-published book is new territory for me. In the past, I’ve self-published everything. This affords a lot of flexibility and control, but it also allow for a certain amount of complacency. I’m hoping that by pushing myself I can get to a new standard in my writing and understanding of the topics I talk about.

With a book project taking on most of my time next year, I won’t be taking on any other large professional projects. I’ve found taking on multiple goals simultaneously is the easiest way to not make much progress on any of them. Focus, however difficult, is powerful.

Long-Term Plans for the Future

Although I only have one project planned to try to accomplish for next year, I do have large visions of what I’d like to accomplish in the bigger picture. Some of these plans are still in the idea phase, and will need to wait until my current projects wrap up before I can work on them. Others require longer incubation, so I might have someone on my team work on them as I work on my writing.

Here are a few of those ideas:

1. Setting up a Chinese-language presence.

One of the more interesting developments in this blog’s history has been the explosion of interest in my books, particularly Learn More, Study Less, in China. This, combined with my interest in learning Chinese, has made me more interested in the possibility of trying to establish more business in China.

This is a lot easier said than done. China is very restrictive on the internet, so getting set up is a lot trickier than simply hiring a translator. However, I’m hopeful that if the obstacles can be overcome, I might be able to write more directly to the people who enjoy my work in China.

2. Working on next-generation courses.

I’m proud of the work my team and I have been able to do in Rapid Learner and Top Performer. I think they teach important skills and many people have used them to get impressive results in their career, academics and personal life.

However, I’m fascinated with the future possibilities of the intersection between technology, education and self-improvement, and I don’t at all think we’re at the limit of that frontier. In particular, I think there’s room for improvement in terms of:

  • Evidence-based practice. Right now I lack the abilities and budget to do the kind of evidence-based assessments that would meet the criteria of scientific authority. However, inching closer to more direct experimentation on what works, in what situations and for whom, would be a big leap over the status-quo.
  • Entertainment and follow-through. The biggest challenge facing self-improvement is that it’s hard to do. I don’t suspect I can fix this problem on my own, but I think technology might be able to make courses work on multiple levels, so that serious students can get the real advice they need, but those more interested in passive consumption aren’t left behind.
  • Customization. Unlike books, technology has the possibility to deliver a more tailored message and advice, depending on the student. One of the biggest weaknesses I’ve seen with current offerings is that students who lack ability often also lack the introspective sense of which advice actually applies to them. An ideal system would be able to deliver the exact advice a student needs to solve their current problem, something only currently viable with one-on-one coaching.

Many of these are still outside of the current skills and scale of my business. But I hope if we can continue to increase revenue and hire more smart people, that we’ll be able to start solving some of these issues.

3. Long-Term Learning Goals

I have a number of things that I’m currently learning. Although, aside from Korean at the moment, none of them reaches the threshold of a formal project, I still have my sights on improvement in the long-term.

Here’s a few of the things I’m striving to get better at:

  • Chinese. Although in many of my past pursuits, I’ve lost interest once I’ve reached an adequate level, Chinese continues to fascinate me well past a thousand hours of practice. Some things I’d like to be able to do that I find difficult or impossible currently: read a book without any dictionary help, write articles similar to those I write in English and give speeches in Mandarin.
  • Cognitive Science. Given my upcoming book will be about learning, I’m using this as an excuse to dig deeper into much of the research that straddles the cognitive science learning project I’ve been working on.
  • Buddhism and non-Western philosophy. I hope to do a 10-day meditation retreat in the upcoming year. I’m currently reading the Majjhima Nikaya. There’s a lot of ideas in these veins that haven’t coalesced yet into a clear picture, but I think there’s a lot of fruitful concepts for rethinking some of the assumptions I have.
  • Art. In addition to my portrait drawing challenge, I’ve been working on painting, mostly in acrylic. I’m still very much at an amateur level, but with patience I’ll keep getting better. Given much of my regular work is highly on the analytical/verbal direction, I think working on artistic skills gives me a broader base of thinking.

Changes in Outlook

Since I’ve been writing this blog since I was seventeen, my views on life have grown as I have. I think this can sometimes be confusing, in part because writing is a static thing. Someone can read an article or ebook I wrote a decade ago today, and thus get the impression that they were both written by the same person, when in reality there’s a huge gulf between nineteen and twenty-nine year-old Scott.

Sometimes my opinions on things change dramatically, switching from one opinion to its opposite. When that happens, I do my best to document it, as I did with speed reading and other issues here.

However, most of the time the changes are more subtle, and harder to articulate in an essay.

The biggest change in my outlook is simply that many things which seemed crystal clear to me when I was younger, no longer do today. Ironically, this isn’t because I’ve learned less, but because I’ve learned more. When you’ve heard a few good arguments in a single direction, you can become convinced in them strongly. When you’ve heard many good arguments in many directions, including many that you never would have considered before, it becomes clear how difficult it is to know things, and how many possible explanations or ideas there are to fit the patterns of life and reality.

This softening of my views, also perhaps ironically, has also come with greater effectiveness. I’m better at accomplishing my goals in most domains than I used to be. Part of this is just the accumulation of practical knowledge. I understand business, relationships, health, life and habits more deeply now, so I make fewer mistakes. Part of it is the accumulation of past successes creates richer opportunities.

So, on the one hand, I’m less convinced in the rightness of my ideas, while also seeming to have more evidence for their rightness, personally. Life is weird that way.

I guess the biggest description I could offer for my change in beliefs is a bigger belief in plurality. The idea that there’s more than one right way to see things, more than one strategy that will be effective. This is challenging for a writer, because people like me to have strong opinions and advice that says “do X and not Y”, rather than the probably more true that, “X works for me, Y might also work, and there’s this complex list of trade-offs you’re not considering.”

Maybe all this is just the result of growing up.

Nonetheless, I’ll continue to do my best to share what I find with you. It may not be the only answer, or even maybe the right one, but I’m not sure we can ask for more from the people we want to learn from. Regardless of where I go, I hope you’ll continue the journey with me. Thanks again for being my reader.

by Scott Young at August 19, 2017 06:37 PM

The Big Picture

Protest Playlist

spoti.fi/2i45KLh “We Can’t Make It Here” James McMurtry 2006 My favorite track of the century, although I do prefer the acoustic take rushed out for the election that is now hard to find, it’s my most played song in my iTunes library with an indelible hook that is undeniable, the words are just an accessory,…

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The post Protest Playlist appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Bob Lefsetz at August 19, 2017 06:00 PM

datameet Google Group

Re: [datameet] Need some Guidence on Parsing Electoral Roles.

Hi Devdatta, I had run into the same issue, and indeed the only workaround is OCR. Its not just a different encoding than unicode - its actually garbled CMaps, which is much worse (ie not recoverable). See my comments here for starters (and the badly written scripts): https://github.com/raph

by Raphael Susewind at August 19, 2017 05:52 PM

GOP doubts and anxieties about Trump burst into the open

GOP doubts and anxieties about Trump burst into the openPresident Donald Trump's racially fraught comments about a deadly neo-Nazi rally have thrust into the open some Republicans' deeply held doubts about his competency and temperament, in an extraordinary ...


August 19, 2017 04:36 PM

Daring Fireball

Tina Fey on Donny Johnny and the Chinless Turds in Charlottesville

Tina Fey’s segment on SNL’s Weekend Update this week was so good I’ve watched it three times already. It’s just amazing.

Yet, remarkably, it has drawn criticism from people on the left. Exhibits A, B, and C. If you’re claiming to be offended by Tina Fey’s segment this week, you’re either utterly humorless or willfully obtuse, and either way, you are part of the problem. The only people to be offended by this week are fucking Nazis, and Tina Fey just skewered them.

I remember being a kid learning that Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal was controversial in its time, because some sanctimonious shitheads thought Swift literally wanted people to eat Irish children. I just couldn’t believe there were people who were incapable of understanding satire. But here we are today, with people thinking Tina Fey literally wants us to stay home and eat cake. If that’s what you think, let me break it to you: your heart might be in the right place, but you’re an idiot.

by John Gruber at August 19, 2017 04:31 PM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

Export market for Confederate-themed statues?

“Subway Tiles That Look Like Confederate Flags to Be Altered” (nytimes) and “Confederate Monuments Are Coming Down Across the United States. Here’s a List.” (nytimes) suggest that there will soon be a lot of used statutes available.

Plainly we don’t want cities to sell them to private citizens to put up in front yards (also need a law to make possession and display of replicas illegal?).

We don’t want to destroy statues due to the effort put in by the artists and, in the case of equestrian statutes, the fact that the horses depicted were not guilty of secessionist or pro-slavery sympathies.

What about an export market? This would help cities with their pension deficits and also ensure that the hated statues are eliminated from the U.S.

The British were fond of pointing out American hypocrisy back in the 18th century, e.g., “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” (Samuel Johnson) Soviets took over this task in the 20th century.

How about a theme park at the end of one of the Moscow subway lines? Visitors would be assured of trains running to the park every minute on weekdays and every two minutes on weekends. Moscow tends to be rather spread out so there should be plenty of space for all of the statues and monuments that we are discarding.

Within the park, a Museum of Empty Words:

  • Room 1: Public school classroom. Animatronic schoolteacher explains to mannequin children (eyes glazed; staring into space) that seceding from Britain was noble while seceding from the Union was traitorous. Countdown clock shows days, hours, and minutes remaining before teacher can retire. Countup clock shows taxpayer pension obligation for the teacher growing (calculated using cost of TIPS).
  • Room 2: Silicon Valley. 1/3-scale three-bedroom house with $3 million pricetag next to the front door. Living room contains pussy hat knitting tools. Sign in front yard advocating for the suburb to be made a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. Tableau of childless worker-slave couple turning away immigrant family seeking sanctuary in their spare bedrooms.
  • Room 3: Sundar Pichai declaring Google’s commitment to hearing diverse points of view while simultaneously shoving James Damore into the parking lot.
  • Room 4: FBO. Al Gore and Hillary Clinton on the stairs of their respective chartered Gulfstreams talking about how Americans need to trim CO2 emissions.

Readers: Ideas for additional rooms of the Museum of Empty Words?

by philg at August 19, 2017 04:25 PM

Dilbert.com Blog

Do We Really Need “Moral Leadership” from the White House?

After the horrors of Charlottesville, and President Trump’s morally ambiguous initial statement, pundits, politicians and citizens complained that we weren’t getting the moral leadership we need.

I have one question: Why do we need moral leadership?

Moral leadership probably made sense in pre-Internet days. But today we get rapid moral clarity from social media, whether we want it or not. That doesn’t mean every person agrees. But social media usually produces a dominant moral opinion, and rapidly. No need for our “moral leaders” to get involved. We got this.

Do you know anyone who watched the news about Charlottesville and thought the White Supremacists might be the ones on the right side of this issue? Well, maybe, but those people would be white supremacists, and not likely to change because a president gave a tearful speech full of moral leadership.

So why did we need moral leadership when no one in the country wanted to be led anywhere? We all had our moral opinions and they weren’t going to change because of anyone’s moral leadership. And no one suggested that one group or another should be exempt from the law. We were all on the same page on that.

It seems to me that people didn’t really need moral leadership after Charlottesville. They just wanted it. What they really wanted was a cry-point. They wanted a leader to share the emotions they were feeling and to put a voice to their concerns. But only because it would feel good, in the same way people inexplicably enjoy sad movies that make you cry. Obviously we want to know our leader is on our side. But that just takes a simple statement. 

In 2017, social media is all the moral leadership society needs. It’s messy and brutal, but it generally gets the right answer, and quickly. I have literally never heard anyone ask for moral guidance on events in the news. Most of us recognize evil when we see it. And those who can’t recognize evil on their own will not be cured by a leader who shares a good cry with us.

It is entirely fair to wonder if your leader shares your priorities. And we certainly want to know our leaders view all of us as equal under the law. But we don’t really need a leader to tell us Nazis are bad. Social media has that covered.

President Trump never promised us moral leadership when he ran for office, and he has been consistent in avoiding it. For example, he prefers leaving abortion decisions to the states. He is anti-drug, but he doesn’t lecture us about it. He says he owns a Bible, but he doesn’t wave it in our faces. He told us he was “no angel,” and the evidence supported him. President Trump’s moral leadership seems to be limited to creating jobs, keeping citizens safe, and other practical matters. We’re on our own for the philosophical determinations of good and evil.

Is that a good thing?

I remind you again that Charlottesville was a weirdly unifying event. No serious person on the left or the right disagreed on the moral dimension. Political opportunists on the left tried to frame mainstream Republicans as soft on Nazis, but that was nothing but transparent political manipulation, and clearly immoral. (See how easy it was to spot immorality? No leadership required!)

When critics of President Trump say he did not provide moral leadership on Charlottesville, I agree. His initial statement was tone deaf and politically radioactive. But ask yourself who needed moral clarity on Nazis. You don’t need a leader to take you where you already are.

I won’t go so far as to say social media is the best moral conscience for the country. I’m simply saying it is our moral conscience, and no future politician is likely to take its job. You can demand moral leadership from your president, but what you are asking for is no longer a thing. We already took moral responsibility from our leaders and invested it in social media. If the unified condemnation of Nazis and other racists in Charlottesville is any guide, we’re in good hands. 


Tim Ferriss just named my book in his top 5 picks that every entrepreneur should read. If you are not familiar with Tim, being on his top-5 list is like having Warren Buffett say you’re good at investing. 

August 19, 2017 04:01 PM

Boy Genius Report

Watch Tina Fey blast Trump in hilarious cameo on ‘Weekend Update’

SNL Tina Fey

If one were to put together a list of the funniest and most influential Saturday Night Live cast members in history, there's no denying that Tina Fey would not only make the cut, but that she would be close to the top of the list. Since leaving SNL in 2006, Fey has been busy with a host of other projects, including 30 Rock and Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Despite her busy schedule, Fey has routinely made time for cameo spots on SNL whenever a major political issue happens to be in the news.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. Check out the new phone that just made the iPhone 8 look like it’s from the stone age
  2. T-Mobile has a huge sale on two LG flagship phones
  3. Federal commission wants AT&T to pay $4 billion in fines for misleading DirecTV ads

by Yoni Heisler at August 19, 2017 04:00 PM

Milliblog!

Lucknow Central (Music review), Hindi – Arjunna Harjaie, Rochak Kohli, Tanishk Bagchi and Mychael Danna

Kaavaan kaavaan, Arjunna Harjaie’s rearranged version of Mychael Danna’s Monsoon Wedding number, Aj mera jee karda, retains the original’s heady dhol-based Punjabi mix, with Divya Kumar rocking the lively rendition. The remix is a re-mess. Arjunna’s Teen kabootar, that jail-band-jam song seems situational, given the melange’ish sound. His best is Rangdaari, with Arijit shedding his Qaidi-Band-Amit-Trivedi impersonation and acing the earthy semi-classical melody. Rochak Kohli’s Meer-e-kaarwan has a charming Indipop sound that Amit Mishra and Neeti Mohan handle really well. Item-specialist Tanishk Bagchi’s Baaki Rab pe is a punchy ending, with its racy dance-mix. Lucknow Central’s soundtrack is consistently enjoyable.

Keywords: Lucknow Central, Arjunna Harjaie, Rochak Kohli, Tanishk Bagchi, Mychael Danna

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

by Karthik at August 19, 2017 03:44 PM

Boy Genius Report

7 different iPhone 7 and 7 Plus cases are discounted in this big Amazon sale

iPhone 7 Plus Case Amazon

Is your iPhone lacking in the protection department? You’re so close to Apple’s next-generation iPhone launch, so it would really be a shame to drop your phone now and break it. After all, you’re going to need its full trade-in value to go toward the pricey iPhone 8. Lucky for you, Amazon has a big sale going right now on seven different Yesgo iPhone cases for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The company's Clear Rugged Case provides best-in-class protection, and it’s 20% off for either the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus using the coupon code IINS8PW3. Then there are five other Yesgo cases that are all on sale for 40% if you use the coupon code 9CSBRVA4 at checkout. Check out all the details below.

iPhone 7 Case, [Slim Clear iPhone 7 Case Black] W/ Protective UV Scratch Resistant Transparent…: 20% off (use code IINS8PW3)

iPhone 7 Plus Case, [Slim Clear iPhone 7 Plus Case Black] W/ Protective UV Scratch Resistant T…: 20% off (use code IINS8PW3)

iPhone 7 Case, Yesgo Military Heavy Duty Hybrid Rugged Protective Case for Apple iPhone 7 Non-s…: 40% off (use code 9CSBRVA4)

iPhone 7 Plus Case, Yesgo Military Heavy Duty Hybrid Rugged Protective Case for Apple iPhone 7…: 40% off (use code 9CSBRVA4)

iPhone 7 Case, Shockproof Slim Anti-Scratch Protective Kit with [Tempered Glass Screen Protecto…: 40% off (use code 9CSBRVA4)

iPhone 7 Plus Case, Slim Anti-Scratch Protective Case Cover Shockproof Heavy Duty Dual layer Ru…: 40% off (use code 9CSBRVA4)

iPhone 7 Case Shockproof, Slim Anti-Scratch Protective Kit with [Tempered Glass Screen Protecto…: 40% off (use code 9CSBRVA4)

Trending right now:

  1. Check out the new phone that just made the iPhone 8 look like it’s from the stone age
  2. T-Mobile has a huge sale on two LG flagship phones
  3. Federal commission wants AT&T to pay $4 billion in fines for misleading DirecTV ads

by Maren Estrada at August 19, 2017 02:30 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

Two Things to Make Your Business As a Digital Nomad Easier

Working from anywhere in the world, choosing a new city as your workplace each week- the life of a digital nomad. Digital nomads have ben on the rise for the last few years and it’s no wonder why. It’s a romantic way to live, but it can make growing a business difficult.

When your office is constantly ‘elsewhere’, you need to have foolproof systems that you can access with ease if you don’t want to go bust. It’s not easy to build a business and always be packing your bag.

Here are two ways to make your life as a digital nomad easier, and to help make sure your business sustains itself while you’re on the road.

Move All Your Systems Online

This may sound simple, especially since we’re in the height of the digital age. Using online payment systems like Due is a no-brainer, but but about the other aspects of your business?

Break your business down into it’s relative parts and move all of it online. This goes beyond setting up a website and sending out some email pitches. You’ll want to do things like:

-Make sure all your equipment can access wi-fi. For example, photographers should invest in a DSLR that connects to wi-fi.

-Make sure you can access your bank account from anywhere in the world.

-Get credit cards that can be used in foreign countries.

Living an all digital lifestyle means that you need to be connected to the internet everywhere you go. You’ll need to be able to access your content, your money, and get in touch with your clients. Moving everything online, and creating multiple ways to access it all, means that no matter where you go you’ll be able to work. 

Diversify Your Work

Digital nomads are living in the time of plenty right now. Social media influencers can charge high rates when they have a large and engaged base. Content creators can sell work that appeals to an international audience.

All good things come to an end though. That’s why it’s important to diversify your skill set. Having multiple things to offer clients means that you’ll always have a bargaining chip.

For travelers in particular, it’s easy to keep a pulse on many things. You can offer photography services from all the places you’ve been. You can cover the emerging music scene in a city you’ve landed in for a month. Use the fact that you are everywhere at once to your advantage. Work it into what you can offer to your clients to stay sharp.

The life of a digital nomad is glamorous at times. By taking care to protect your business, and make it as smooth as possible you can add to the glamour. There may not be anything you can do when you miss a flight, but you can control how you earn your money.

 

The post Two Things to Make Your Business As a Digital Nomad Easier appeared first on Due.

by Kara Perez at August 19, 2017 02:30 PM

Signal vs. Noise

Highrise — Three Years Later…

Three years ago today, Basecamp announced Highrise was spinning off as our own company. We knew we had a good tool on our hands that was already well loved by tens of thousands of users (some of whom are celebrating 10 year anniversaries every day!). So we had to make sure any changes we made simplified people’s work or gave them powerful new tools instead of ruin their current workflows.

We took great effort to roll changes out gradually. But over time you can see how far we’ve come:

Three years ago vs Today

icons defined below from top to bottom and left to right across the image… icons not part of Highrise, though emojis definitely are available :)

🐷 — Latest activity filters so you can get to what matters to you quickly whether it’s notes, emails, files or team stats.

🐶 — Good Morning (or Evening), our Group Inbox, so whether it’s your incoming leads, your existing customers or even incoming job candidates, you can collaborate as a team to address, assign, and prioritize inquiries as needed.

🐱 — So much on contact filters… a whole new UI:

Three years ago vs Today

Your ability to filter down to the exact data you need is so much more powerful with everything from combining field filters with tags, to NOT tags and Company tags, to new view filters that allow you to find contacts without tags or notes or emails in a certain period of time… and more.

🐭 — Recurring tasks remind you to follow up with your most important customers on a regular basis.

🐹 — Deal custom fields, filtering and exports allow you to track and report on the data you need at a whole new level.

🐰 — Broadcast is simple bulk email so you can stay top of mind with your leads and customers whether through drip campaigns, newsletters, or onboarding emails without the hassle of another complex tool.

🦊 — Recency search allows you to return results based on recency rather than relevancy when you’re looking for that note from the other day.

🐨 — Filters allow you to drill down to a contacts activity and find information quickly.

🐻 — Auto populated avatars so you can spend time following up instead of updating everyone’s profile.

🐯 — Threaded comments so you can tell who said what when about whom. But also what it was related to :).

🐼 — Email integrations with Gmail and Outlook so you can send email directly from Highrise without having to go back and forth between apps.

🐮 — Predefined values on custom fields so your team won’t end up with twelve different variations of ‘Active’.

🦁 — Additional settings like our Slack integration so you can work more efficiently between Slack and Highrise, email templates that allow you to store common messages for reuse, and a referral program where you can give AND get credit for sharing Highrise.

In the last year alone we launched a brand new Android app, iOS 3.0 (rewritten from scratch), reporting and stats, autoforwarding for everyone, and even the ability to turn off features your team doesn’t use.

And all that work has not been in vain:

The content for the FrontRunners quadrant is derived from actual end-user reviews and ratings as well as vendor-supplied and publicly available product and company information that gets applied against a documented methodology. The results neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Gartner or any of its affiliates.
Awesome CRM for a small business on a budget, or a start up like mine. Highly recommended to those who just need simple, easy-to-use, intuitive CRM. — Thomas Lyon
So easy and intuative! I use it with my network marketing company and it helps me keep my tasks in order as well as remind me what and why my customers purchased before. — Kari Larned
Perfect CRM for our business. We can’t imagine our business without it! — Chris Sands
Our organization relies greatly on Highrise, this CRM is superior to many we have tried in the past. There are so many great customizations that allow it to work perfectly for our business. It is very clear that the development team here is very active and always rolling out amazing and useful new features. Absolutely ecstatic about our choice to be organizing our customer relationships with Highrise. — Trevor Howard

But what we’re most proud of is that even with all our improvement Highrise is even closer to our vision of the Simplest CRM. Our customers can focus on what matters, rather than learning and mastering another tool or trying to figure out a useless piece of eye candy and what it means.

We’re proud that Highrise allows our customers to connect and build relationships with their leads and customers. Because business should be about people NOT tools.

Want to know more? Read about how Ken Jansen uses Highrise for his real estate business.

Simple Gets the Job Done

Check it out for yourself. Sign up for a Free 30 day trial.

Highrise — Three Years Later… was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

by Nathan Kontny at August 19, 2017 02:23 PM

The Simple Dollar

10 New (to Me) Finance, Frugality, and Life Books Worth Reading

If you spend much time at the Ames Public Library, you’ve probably seen me there at some point. I can often be found on the second floor, either at a table or in a study room, surrounded by a pile of personal finance magazines and books and other assorted materials, usually with my laptop open or with a notebook and pen open before me.

Why? To come up with the content for this site and to constantly expose myself to new ideas, I read. A lot. I spend at least a day a week at the library going through their personal finance and investing section and also nabbing books from the business section and the psychology section. I grab the latest issues of many different magazines when they come out as well.

While I don’t do thorough reviews of personal finance books as I once did – honestly, because most personal finance books are pretty similar to one another and I mostly read them to reinforce key concepts and look for new angles – I do sometimes stumble across books that really make me see the challenges of personal finance, careers, psychology, or other related matters in a whole different way.

Here are 10 of these books. All of them are (relatively) new to me and (I believe) all have been published in the last few years. I’ve mentioned a few of them in passing in other articles. Every single one of them deserves your time and attention if you find the topic relevant.

Let’s dig in to what’s new on the bookshelf!

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown

This is a cookbook that is solely focused on using low-cost staples to prepare meals for your family. The goal of the cookbook is to enable families to prepare a full day’s worth of meals at a cost of $4 per day per person, which is a very reasonable target.

Brown does this by focusing on staple foods such as rice and beans and pasta, supplementing them with fresh vegetables that are often inexpensive (such as zucchini) and some inexpensive meats used in reasonable amounts.

Many of these recipes are designed to be flexible, meaning that they are really easy to modify based on what you have on hand or what’s on sale. Many recipes include an “additions” section, which consists of ways to modify recipes by adding other ingredients to the mix.

This is easily my favorite frugal cookbook. Anyone who is truly interested in cutting their food spending by cooking at home is well-served by putting this book on their shelf right next to a really good instructional cookbook like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

Good and Cheap is actually available completely for free in PDF form on Leanne’s website, but you can get a very nice book version for $8 on Amazon, which is likely cheaper than printing it yourself if you want a paper version.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

The entire premise of this book can be boiled down to a single sentence: Orient your life toward worthy goals that are meaningful to you and get rid of everything else in your life – including possessions – that aren’t related to those goals. What’s meaningful to you? Center your life around it and drop the rest.

What ends up coming out of that core idea is a mix of minimalism and frugality and living a meaningful life, something that I think a lot of people are seeking these days. I know I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in possessions, pieces of projects that I was once passionate about or would like to tackle someday, and I often find myself buying into more and more “someday” projects.

These feelings and responses are natural outgrowths of being a curious and passionate person in the modern world. The challenge is to figure out how to channel those healthy tendencies in a healthy and meaningful direction rather than in a cluttered and expensive direction.

The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness by Bari Tessler

I have a close friend who is a brilliant and creative person. She generates fresh ideas like a fire hose generates water, cares deeply about the people in her life, and always seems to be there when you need her. She’s an amazing writer with this perfect comedic self-deprecating touch. She’s also terrifically bad at math and prefers never to think about money unless it’s hanging around her neck.

This book was written for her. Again, this is the money book for my friend.

Here’s the thing: Many personal finance books are written for particular audiences. There are ones written for Christians. There are ones written for philosophical types. There are ones written for number-crunchers. There are ones written for environmentalists. There are ones written for conservatives. There are ones written for liberals. There are ones written for college students. There are ones written for the elderly. You get the idea.

Those books really don’t differ in their core advice. Where they differ is in their presentation of that advice. Here, the advice targets what I would call “artistic” people, as it intentionally de-emphasizes the math and focuses instead on the meaning of personal finance choices, treating frugality as much as a form of expression as a tool for saving money. It’s an interesting perspective, indeed, one that I think would click with a lot of people (my friend being one of them, of course).

The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More – More or Less by Emrys Westacott

This book is really a philosophical look at frugality, written by a philosophy professor. The book tackles one seemingly simple question: why do people perceive frugality as a virtue, and why do people equate it with good living and happiness? That’s a thread that has appeared in writings for thousands of years and almost always taken as a given, but why? Even more interesting, why do people rarely follow that advice? Why is simple living and frugality often perceived as being outside the norm?

Westacott digs into those questions with rigor and insight, coming up with a lot of interesting conclusions. He digs into the difference between happiness and contentment, asks whether or not extravagance is really a path to lasting joy, and what the impact of frugality is on the broader world as compared to contentment.

As any good philosophical work does, the book steps carefully through the thought process that leads to a reasonable conclusion, but you’re supposed to question it and think about it. This isn’t a book of answers. This is a book intended to feed thinking. It’s a book that’s supposed to make you ponder the connection between frugality and good living – does it really exist? Why?

If that appeals to you, this is a must-read book. This book bridges the gap between the practical realities of frugality and the larger world of philosophy and manages to do it in a very readable and clear way. If you like turning ideas over in your head, this is well worth your time.

The Debt Escape Plan: How to Free Yourself From Credit Card Balances, Boost Your Credit Score, and Live Debt-Free by Beverly Herzog

Most of the time, when personal finance books attempt to adopt a sense of humor, it comes off as really corny and unrealistic. I often walk away not laughing, but thinking the person is rather… odd. The humor just falls flat.

This is perhaps the only book I’ve ever read on personal finance that employed humor on any level that actually works. It manages to successfully weave a light humorous tone together with solid personal finance advice in a way that doesn’t really undermine either one, something that really is a trick.

The book doesn’t really strike any new ground in personal finance thinking. Instead, it’s on this list for successfully bringing a fresh direction in writing about the usual strong base of personal finance advice. It blends humor and personal finance writing incredibly well, and that makes it a very good “overview of personal finance” book for someone who likes humor in what they read.

You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life by Jason Vitug

This is a very goal-focused personal finance book. Most personal finance books talk about goal setting but then end up essentially guiding people down a financial path toward goals that the writer already has in mind (often, those are either goals that are loved by the writer or goals that match the “average American family”).

Jason Vitug goes against that process here. His entire focus is on setting personal goals. The entire book is oriented around thinking about where you want your life to be in the future and then orienting the tools of personal finance to serve those goals. Everything is explicitly oriented toward the personal goals that the reader sets for himself or herself.

I really dug the goal-oriented approach of this book and how it treated personal finance as a set of tools to achieve goals rather than this standalone process that you must follow to achieve “success.” Many personal finance books fall short of treating personal finance as a tool for achieving goals and instead end up making personal finance feel like a goal to its own ends.

If you’re a goal-setting kind of person and mostly want to consider personal finance as a series of tools for achieving your own life goals that aren’t strictly finance-oriented, this is going to be a very good read for you.

The Recovering Spender: How to Live a Happy, Fulfilled, Debt-Free Life by Lauren Greutman

As I said earlier, most personal finance books are written for a specific audience. The person loaded with debt. The young person. The philosophically minded person. And so on.

The specific audience here is an interesting one. I would call the audience here the “recovering materialistic person.” This is a person who, at some point in the past, was heavily focused on material things but at some point became at least partially disenchanted with it. That person might still find some attraction in some material things, but their desires are pulling them down a different path at the same time, one that’s oriented toward building a strong financial foundation.

That change can be triggered by many things: personal growth, having a child, getting married, starting a tough career. Whatever that change is, Greutman speaks to that person in transition, a person changing from a materially-focused person to a person focused on other life areas, and she does it with a truly kind and gentle and non-judgmental touch.

It’s not easy to undergo that kind of sea change, and the author is really aware of that. Usually, such a drastic change in underlying life philosophy has ripples throughout all areas of life, and the book does deal with those changes while still focusing on debt repayment as a central theme. I think it’s perfect for someone who’s struggling to radically change their spending behavior and trying to deal with all of the ripples that such changes bring.

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha

This is another book where the core premise is really straightforward: Contentment and freedom are the foundations of a life that produces consistent happiness. This is a theme I’ve reflected in my own posts as of late – you can’t really achieve lasting happiness, but you can achieve lasting contentment, which is a fertile ground for happiness.

Pasricha does a great job of delving into the nuts and bolts of this idea, transforming it into a series of seven actionable “secrets” to push us toward a contented life:

1. Walk at least 30 minutes, three times a week
2. Write in a journal at least 20 minutes a day, usually about a positive experience
3. Do five random acts of kindness each week
4. Completely unplug to recharge as often as possible
5. Find the “flow state” as often as possible (“flow state” being when you’re so engaged that you lose track of time and place)
6. Meditate each day (he suggests for two minutes at a bare minimum)
7. Identify five things you’re thankful for each day

That’s a pretty solid life checklist, but what does it have to do with finances? The reality is that most reckless spending is driven by an underlying sense of discontentment, which means that it’s not easy to find a life that’s in full bloom with natural sources of happiness. We crave that feeling of happiness and we often find bursts of it through spending. That’s a mistake. Finding contentment is a better way through this.

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

Holiday has written a trilogy of books in recent years on applying stoicism to modern life. I found The Obstacle Is the Way to be the most powerful of the three.

The core idea of this book is that life presents us with a series of obstacles, and many of them seem incredibly unfair. I am deaf in one ear, for example, which makes it extremely challenging to carry on conversations in noisy rooms or to place where someone is at when they call out to me.

When faced with a challenge like this, you can either break down at the unfairness of the challenge and complain about the unfair advantages that everyone else has, or you can simply let go of the things you cannot control, take hold of the things you can control, and find a way around it.

In that, an obstacle actually brings out the best in us. It enables us to see the strengths that we have and helps us to understand what parts of our lives we truly control, which prepares us for further challenges in life.

This mode of thinking prepares people quite well for life’s challenges – and, yes, personal finance is one of those challenges. The things you learn about yourself as you tackle an overwhelming debt load are things that you can apply in many other areas of your life. The key is to learn how to separate what you can control from what you can’t, and that’s what this book focuses on. It’s a great interpretation of ancient Stoic philosophy applied to the modern world.

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich

This book is probably the furthest from typical personal finance of any of the ones listed here, but it really hones in well on a particular thread of frugality that’s worth discussing – the idea of making stuff from scratch.

Quite often, stuff you make yourself from scratch – things like pasta, for example, or bread or sauerkraut – are of incredibly high quality compared to what you can get in the store, plus they’re usually really low financial cost. However, they come with an additional cost – they take time – and a bit of additional risk – they can go bad if you make a mistake.

That’s why, in my view, the idea of making stuff from scratch is something of a bridge between frugal practice and hobby. I can make some of the best pasta I’ve ever had from a bit of flour and a few eggs, but it takes time and practice to be able to do it efficiently, and to devote that time and practice when it’s not that much more expensive to buy a box of Barilla at the store means that if you respect the time value of money, this is mostly a hobby that happens to save you a few bucks and produces some pretty tasty results.

Having said that, making stuff from scratch is a wonderful type of hobby for a frugal person to have. It’s a way for a frugal person to actually spend a little less while doing something that they enjoy and ending up with some very high quality results.

It’s that wonderful balancing act that Woginrich talks about in this book. It really focuses in on the many pleasures of making stuff from scratch – the time and craftsmanship that goes into making things rather than just buying them. There’s great joy there, but it has to be an expression from within. Making stuff from scratch purely for frugality’s sake usually isn’t worth it.

Some Final Thoughts

For me, the best books related to personal finance and frugality these days are the ones that take on new angles on the classic principles or else focus intensely on one particular aspect of personal finance. Books that just write about the same old ideas without any fresh perspectives don’t hold an interest.

That’s why these 10 books stand out to me. Some of them take on all of the classic ideas, but do so from a new place – the philosopher, or the artist. Others dig into some specific principle – finding contentment, for example, or making stuff from scratch.

All of them are like strokes on a canvas, gradually filling in a picture of personal finance as part of a healthy and hopeful life, where financial strategies help people live the kind of low-stress and joyful life that most of us dream of.

Good luck, and happy reading.

Related Articles:

The post 10 New (to Me) Finance, Frugality, and Life Books Worth Reading appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

by Trent Hamm at August 19, 2017 02:00 PM

The Big Picture

MiB: Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley

Ellen Zentner, the chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley. She explains why Texas came through the financial crisis so well, courtesy of its rainy day fund. Her career took her from the Texas Comptroller’s office to Morgan Stanley, where she leads the North American Economics group. She said starting in government gave her time to…

Read More

The post MiB: Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at August 19, 2017 02:00 PM

There are only 3 things you need to focus on if you want to retire early

There are only 3 things you need to focus on if you want to retire earlyMany people want to retire early, but few are taking the steps to get there. Early retirement...


August 19, 2017 02:00 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

Reasons to be Wary of Cryptocurrency as a Small Business Owner

A new form of digital currency has emerged in the past several years called cryptocurrency. Those who use it believe it makes their monetary transactions safer by utilizing encryption.

Because of the encryption, the process of exchanging cryptocurrency is not easy to fake. In fact, not a single bank has to be involved to do it. But even with these positives there are still reasons to be wary of cryptocurrency.

1. Cyber Theft

One possible threat that could cause some people to turn away from using cryptocurrency is cyber theft. In fact, just last month a hacker made off with $7M of digital currency during an initial coin offering.

If someone were to hack your bank account, for instance, your bank will likely cover it. In addition, you may be able to press charges if you are able to catch the thief. At the very least, you will probably get your money back.

Cyber theft crimes involving cryptocurrency are much harder to solve. To make matters worse, because of the way digital currency is exchanged without oversight there’s no one you can turn to who will cover your losses.

2. Tax Avoidance

There are cases where large corporations have avoided taxes through the use of digital currency. Since the IRS doesn’t see cryptocurrency as money it can’t be taxed in the same way.

IRS guidelines require revenue from the buying and selling of cryptocurrency to be reported and taxed as capital gains. Instead of reporting in that way, some companies choose to label them as other things instead. As a result, the IRS is working to change this.

3. Be Wary of Cryptocurrency Because of Legality

Virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, is not illegal in and of itself. However, there have been cases when cryptocurrency has been used for criminal activity. For example, a few years ago an illegal drug operation that involved Bitcoins was shut down by the FBI.

Even though cryptocurrency isn’t illegal, it isn’t used in every country, nor is it a form of legal tender in the U.S. Only time will tell whether or not digital currency will become legal in the future.

4. Changes in Value

Changes in the value of cryptocurrency make it a gamble to hold onto. The past several years have seen wild swings in the value making some people millionaires overnight and causing others to lose thousands.

Our national currency, by comparison, does not change nearly as much in value as Bitcoin, one form of cryptocurrency. These crazy swings in value make it hard to set a price and conduct business with cryptocurrency.

5. Lack of Backing

U.S. legal tender is no longer backed by gold. But that does not mean the dollar itself has changed very much. Our government backs its paper money by fiat instead. This means it has value because the government declares it to.

No government or bank, however, is backing cryptocurrency. Instead, it only has value because we have given it value.

But what happens if tomorrow it is decided that digital currency has no value? The amount of money some people stand to lose if that happens is staggering.

In conclusion, of course there may still be money to be made in cryptocurrency. But with all of the reasons to be wary of cryptocurrency it may not be worth the risk.

The post Reasons to be Wary of Cryptocurrency as a Small Business Owner appeared first on Due.

by Kayla Sloan at August 19, 2017 01:45 PM

Apple hid a job listing on its website that you need serious computer skills to find

Apple hid a job listing on its website that you need serious computer skills to find  One way to get your foot in the door at Apple is to know where to look to find...


August 19, 2017 01:45 PM

Boy Genius Report

8 new movie trailers you need to watch from this past week

Movies 2017 New Trailers

It’s that time of the week when we look at the many, many sides of cinematography. We’ve got a fine selection of new movie trailers for you, as well as a reminder that The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Logan Lucky are in theaters this week. On top of that, the second-to-last episode in Game of Thrones season 7 airs on Sunday. You know, if you haven’t watched it already.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. Check out the new phone that just made the iPhone 8 look like it’s from the stone age
  2. T-Mobile has a huge sale on two LG flagship phones
  3. Federal commission wants AT&T to pay $4 billion in fines for misleading DirecTV ads

by Chris Smith at August 19, 2017 01:00 PM

Wired Top Stories

Charlottesville, HBO Hacks, and More Security News This Week

Charlottesville, HBO hacks, and more of the week's top security news.

by WIRED Security at August 19, 2017 01:00 PM

Would It Be Better If Men Couldn't Vote?

John Kessel's latest novel imagines a world where men are given everything—except suffrage.

by Geek's Guide to the Galaxy at August 19, 2017 01:00 PM

Planet Python

Catalin George Festila: The Google Cloud SDK - part 002 .

The next part of my tutorials about the Google Cloud SDK come with some infos about the project.
As you know I used the default sample appengine hello word standard application.
The goal is to understand how it works by working with Google's documentation and examples.
Into this project folder we have this files:
08/17/2017  11:12 PM                98 app.yaml
08/17/2017 11:12 PM 854 main.py
08/17/2017 11:12 PM 817 main_test.py
Let's see what these files contain:
First is app.yaml and come with:
runtime: python27
api_version: 1
threadsafe: true

handlers:
- url: /.*
script: main.app
The next is main.py file:
# Copyright 2016 Google Inc.
#
# Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
# you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
# You may obtain a copy of the License at
#
# http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0
#
# Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
# distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
# WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.
# See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
# limitations under the License.

import webapp2


class MainPage(webapp2.RequestHandler):
def get(self):
self.response.headers['Content-Type'] = 'text/plain'
self.response.write('Hello, World!')


app = webapp2.WSGIApplication([
('/', MainPage),
], debug=True)
The last from this folder is main_test.py :
# Copyright 2016 Google Inc. All rights reserved.
#
# Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
# you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
# You may obtain a copy of the License at
#
# http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0
#
# Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
# distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
# WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.
# See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
# limitations under the License.

import webtest

import main


def test_get():
app = webtest.TestApp(main.app)

response = app.get('/')

assert response.status_int == 200
assert response.body == 'Hello, World!'
The app.yaml file is used to configure your App Engine application's settings of the project.
You can have many application-level configuration files (dispatch.yaml, cron.yaml, index.yaml, and queue.yaml).
This all type of configuration files are included in the top level app directory ( in this case : hello_world).
Let's see some common gcloud commands:
  • gcloud app deploy  --project XXXXXX - deploy your project;
  • gcloud app browse - show your project running into your browser;
  • gcloud components list - show all all available components;
  • gcloud components update - update all gcloud components;
  • gcloud projects list --limit=10 - show all projects with a limit number;
Let's test some changes:
First , change the text from main.py file with something else:
self.response.write('Hello, World!')
Now use this commands:
C:\Python27\python-docs-samples\appengine\standard\hello_world>gcloud app deploy
C:\Python27\python-docs-samples\appengine\standard\hello_world>gcloud app browse
The result is show into your browser.
You can read about this files into google documentation page - here.
Also some gcloud commands and reference you can read here.

August 19, 2017 12:47 PM

Calculated Risk

Schedule for Week of Aug 20, 2017

The key economic reports this week are New and Existing Home sales for July.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen will speak at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium on Friday.

----- Monday, Aug 21st -----

8:30 AM ET: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for July. This is a composite index of other data.

----- Tuesday, Aug 22nd -----

9:00 AM ET: FHFA House Price Index for June 2017. This was originally a GSE only repeat sales, however there is also an expanded index.

10:00 AM: Richmond Fed Survey of Manufacturing Activity for August.

10:00 AM, Expected: Q2 MBA National Delinquency Survey.

----- Wednesday, Aug 23rd -----

7:00 AM ET: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

New Home Sales10:00 AM ET: New Home Sales for July from the Census Bureau.

This graph shows New Home Sales since 1963. The dashed line is the May sales rate.

The consensus is for 610 thousand SAAR, unchanged from 610 thousand in June.

During the day: The AIA's Architecture Billings Index for July (a leading indicator for commercial real estate).

----- Thursday, Aug 24th -----

8:30 AM ET: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for 236 thousand initial claims, up from 232 thousand the previous week.

Existing Home Sales10:00 AM: Existing Home Sales for July from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The consensus is for 5.57 million SAAR, up from 5.52 million in June.

The graph shows existing home sales from 1994 through the report last month.

Housing economist Tom Lawler expects the NAR to report sales of 5.38 million SAAR for July.

Three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday): The 2017 Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, "Fostering a Dynamic Global Economy, will take place Aug. 24-26, 2017.  (The program will be available at 6 p.m., MT, Aug. 24, 2017)."

11:00 AM: the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey for August.

----- Friday, Aug 25th -----

8:30 AM: Durable Goods Orders for July from the Census Bureau. The consensus is for a 5.7% decrease in durable goods orders.

10:00 AM, Speech by Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen, Financial Stability, At the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

by Bill McBride (noreply@blogger.com) at August 19, 2017 12:09 PM

Wired Top Stories

Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Power Electric Cars of the Future

With car manufacturers and technology companies making more battery-powered devices, lithium is becoming an ever-more precious metal.

by Hannah Osborne at August 19, 2017 12:00 PM

Bang & Olufsen's Beosound Shape Speakers Create a Beautiful Wall of Sound

The BeoSound Shape is assembled from three flavors of hexagonal tiles, all of them covered in pretty fabric.

by Henri Gendreau at August 19, 2017 12:00 PM

A VC

Video Of The Week: Who Has The Right To Police The Internet?

This week our portfolio company Cloudflare made news when they made an exception to their long-standing policy of not terminating customers for hate speech and terminated The Daily Stormer.

In this interview with Bloomberg, Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince explains why he made that decision and why it bothers him so much that he and other CEOs have that power.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — August 18, 2017
Taking a Break

by Fred Wilson at August 19, 2017 11:37 AM

The Big Picture

10 Weekend Reads

The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of Kicking Horse coffee, grab a seat by the pool, and get ready for our longer form weekend reads: • Inside The Partisan Political Fight For Your Facebook News Feed (Buzzfeed) see also You Are the Product (London Review of Books) • Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington Was President Trump’s richest adviser…

Read More

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

by Barry Ritholtz at August 19, 2017 11:30 AM

Dan Ariely

Ask Ariely: On Helping Hands, Popular Posts, and Mischievous Motivators

Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.

___________________________________________________

Dear Dan,

I’m struggling financially, and I’m considering asking some friends for help—perhaps seeing if they could offer a small amount every month until things get better. Is this a good strategy, or should I ask for more money upfront?

—Jordan 

Mixing finances and personal relationships is always risky. But if you have the right friends—understanding, compassionate and generous of spirit—and are determined to go this route, I would ask them for all the money upfront.

The issue here isn’t just asking them for help; it is their having to think about your request. When a friendship gets tangled up with personal finances, the best you can hope for is that all involved won’t have it in mind when they spend time together and will be able just to enjoy one another’s company. But if you have to keep asking your friends for more installments, everyone is more likely to be thinking about it. That will lead to more uncomfortable conversations, strain the friendships and add to your financial stress.

So the simplest route is to ask just once, for the full amount that you need, thank your friends sincerely—and not mention it again until you can pay them back.

___________________________________________________

Dear Dan,

Why would people rather believe a viral social-media post over credible scientific information?

—Efrat 

Because we are cognitively lazy and want simple answers.

A fuller explanation would also concede that academics and scientists bear some responsibility for the difficulty that some feel in taking our research at face value. We tend to write in technical jargon, to add endless qualifications to our findings and to insist that every topic needs to be studied further—all of which makes it hard for nonspecialists to take guidance from us.

As for posts on social media, their believability has to do with what psychologists call “social proof.” That is, we instinctively follow the herd, without realizing that we are doing it. The algorithms that social networks use are designed to exploit social proof and to get people to spend more time online. When a post becomes popular, the social networks promote it even more heavily, targeting users who are likely to be sympathetic, with the goal of maximizing their use of the network. Of course, that means that more people will see the popular post, pushing the chance of something going viral even higher.

___________________________________________________

Dear Dan,

My son, a fourth-grader, recently had another child’s progress report placed in his box by accident. That made me wonder: If children were “accidentally” sent a fake report card, along with their own, for another kid who was making slightly better progress in school, would it motivate them to work harder?

—Paula 

I like the way you think—slightly devious but very creative. You’re also right. Giving people (children included) the sense that another person is doing better increases their motivation—so long as it’s only slightly better. Setting unattainable goals doesn’t work well, but offering a reachable one can be a useful goad.

See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


by danariely at August 19, 2017 11:30 AM

How Far Away Is A Bear Market For The Dow Jones Industrial Average?

How Far Away Is A Bear Market For The Dow Jones Industrial Average?From Corey Rosenbloom: How far have the “Big Three” US Equity Indexex pulled back, what level tips them into a “Correction,” and what level throws us into a new Bear Market? Here’s a new Reference Grid for you to determine… Read more ›


August 19, 2017 11:27 AM

Abnormal Returns

Saturday links: grim statistics

by abnormalreturns at August 19, 2017 11:15 AM

Wired Top Stories

Space Photos of the Week: Neighboring Galaxies Got a Star Factory Going

A jellyfish galaxy with a supermassive black hole, Jupiter's many clouds, and stunning views of Titan this week in space.

by WIRED Photo Department at August 19, 2017 11:00 AM

Trump Administration Elevates US Cyber Command

By elevating Cyber Command, the Trump administration signals just how important cyber warfare has become.

by Lily Hay Newman at August 19, 2017 11:00 AM

Yes, Expose the Neo-Nazis. Then Recruit Them Back to Humanity

Opinion: White supremacists should be stopped with education, not doxxing.

by Dave Algoso at August 19, 2017 11:00 AM

Bacteria May Rig Their DNA to Speed Up Evolution

If DNA repair makes useful mutations more likely, it could accelerate cells’ adaptations to harsh environments.

by Jordana Cepelewicz at August 19, 2017 11:00 AM

"Change is Good" Book Excerpt: WIRED Cofounder Louis Rossetto’s New Novel Parties Like It’s 1998

WIRED cofounder Louis Rossetto has written a novel, "Change Is Good," that captures the optimism, greed, fervor, and madness of the dotcom era. An excerpt.

by Louis Rossetto at August 19, 2017 11:00 AM

The Solar Eclipse Is Coming—Here's Exactly When It'll Happen

In advance of next week's solar eclipse, Stephen Wolfram explains how many millennia of computation have led us exactly to this point.

by Stephen Wolfram at August 19, 2017 11:00 AM

naked capitalism

Trump and the Infrastructure of Fascism

How Trump's infrastructure plan is a thinly-disguised privatization and deregulation scam.

by Yves Smith at August 19, 2017 10:07 AM

Why Explaining US Internal Strife Through “Russian Influence” Is Lazy and Unhelpful

Debunking the latest Twitterverse fever-swamp claims about Russian influence, this time regarding "ties" to Charlottesville.

by Yves Smith at August 19, 2017 09:16 AM

Plain Chex

The jugaad of ownership

The other day as I was walking my 5 km in the evening (ahem – fitness plug!) I saw this tiny stall selling sandwiches and fruit-juice and milkshakes. I must have seen this stall and similar kinds hundreds of times before, but that day for some reason it stayed in my memory – maybe subconsciously, in light of my recent cribbing about the hundred (and seventeen) mundane and boring things I have to do as an entrepreneur that takes away time and focus from doing what I most want to do – build a great product, make tons of money, and eventually retire to a beachfront shack in a Naxalite area (I kid about the last one, a little).

The stall was a typical makeshift one with a grimy sandwich-maker, its chrome plating all but scraped off and its electric lead wire chipped in places (wrapped with semi-sticky insulation tape to avoid electrocution), the two bare tips haphazardly shoved into a dangling socket and held in place with matchsticks, a cracked mixer-grinder kept from falling apart by a strip of black rubber tubing wound around the base, a set of fingerprinted glasses that were repeatedly being washed/rinsed in a single tub of water, and one naked overhead bulb hanging from a rope to light the stall up. And there were a few people crowded around to buy sandwiches or juice or whatever from the young man sitting behind the counter, so it was making some money at least.

Yes, it is likely that he was running the stall out of necessity, not choice, that he would have taken a secure government job if one had been available and he had been eligible for it. And I don’t want to romanticize or glorify his everyday struggle but the thing that struck me was what I now like to think of as the jugaad of ownership. I don’t mean ownership as in mixer or sandwich-maker ownership, but more like work ownership. He didn’t use a broken mixer-grinder because he liked it. He used it because he needed to make a living and there was no one to crib to about its brokenness. No matter how much he wished for a shiny new one he didn’t have the money for it and therefore he just had to bloody well fix the old one the best way he knew how, and get on with his work. Because if he didn’t, he and his family wouldn’t eat that night.

In the past eight years, there have been many times when I’ve wished that I didn’t have to do the mundane and the boring tasks – taxation, invoicing, payments, budgeting and cash-flow planning, following-up with vendors, fielding irate customer complaints, dealing with broken broadband, MSEB woes (until I got an inverter), uncooperative printer, overheating laptop, failing motherboard, leaking windows, and so so many others (as I’m writing this, I’m struggling to load the login page of the GST portal when tomorrow is the last day to file) – and each of those times, while I’ve done what was required, I have often resented having to do so. And while I’m not saying that the chap didn’t necessarily resent having to fix the mixer or that in future I will never resent my own mundane tasks (I have no way to know either), I do see how it can be made a little easier to handle if I think of it as my own work. Something I must own and do because no one else will do it for me. (Leave aside for the sake of argument outsourcing or hiring someone to do it for you. If he  – or I – could afford to do that, he wouldn’t be sitting in that small cubbyhole of a stall and I wouldn’t be writing this post.)

When I had quit my job, what had eventually pushed me over the edge to make that unknown leap had been the sight of a roadside flower-seller with her young son sitting beside her, diligently doing his homework in the fading light of evening. And what gives me continued perspective into my everyday problems is the sight of these kinds of small businesses that dot the local landscape by the millions. Ramen sustainable or cockroach startups, call them what you will, they manage to survive against all odds. And with little to no help from the government or anyone else. Because they just have no choice but to do so.

The word jugaad is used in many ways – more often than not it is used in a derogatory sense to mean finding ingenious loopholes/detours/workarounds to designed processes/rules to get some sort of unfair/undue advantage and while this use is often accurate, it can also mean (and this is how I like to think of it) –

Making the best use of available resources in order to maximize output, either out of choice or compulsion.

And whether you are a small sandwich/juice seller or a software entrepreneur, ultimately this boils down to ownership. And it need not be just of your work. It could be of your health and fitness, of your relationships, of your finances, or of any of the million and eleven other things that you wish were in your control, or at least way better than they currently are in your life. Enough and more self-help books and advice tell us to take ownership of our own destiny and I am never really sure what that means in practical terms. But I do know (or so I think) what taking ownership of work means – fixing a cracked mixer to churn out just enough juice to help you live and fight another day, until eventually you can afford that shiny new mixer and also someone to run it.

The jugaad of ownership – take that, and let your destiny take its own.


by Chetan Mehendale at August 19, 2017 09:07 AM

Seth's Blog

The problem with direct experience

"I'll know it when I see it," or perhaps, "I'll see it when I know it..."

We're hardwired to believe and understand the things we can actually experience. That's why no one argues about Newton's laws, but most people panic or shrug when confronted with dark matter, Heisenberg or quarks.

We're often good at accepting what's in front of us, but bad at things that are very far away or very very close. We have trouble with things that are too big and too small, with numbers with lots of zeroes or too many decimal places. And most of all, we fail when trying to predict things that are too far in the future.

Almost nothing in our civilization is merely the result of direct experience. We rely on scouts and technologists and journalists to tell us what it's like over there, to give us a hint about what to expect next, and most of all, to bring the insights and experiences of the larger world to bear on our particular situation.

The peril of roll-your-own science, in which you pick and choose which outcomes of the scientific method to believe is that you're almost certainly going to endanger yourself and others. Anecdotal evidence about placebos, vaccines and the weather outside is fun to talk about, but it's not relevant to what's actually going to pay off in the long run.

78.45% of humans tend to hate statistics because we have no direct experience with the larger picture. It's easier to make things up based on direct experience instead.

The solar eclipse is going to happen whether or not you believe it will, whether or not you have direct experience with previous eclipses.

When we reserve direct experience for the places where it matters—how we feel about the people in our lives, or the music we're listening to or the painting we're seeing, we have the priceless opportunity to become a better version of ourselves.

The rest of the time, standing on a higher ladder and seeing a bit farther is precisely what we ought to seek out.

       

by Seth Godin at August 19, 2017 08:39 AM

Nigerian President Buhari Returns After Prolonged Sick Leave

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jwz

Boy Genius Report

Scientists remotely hacked a brain, controlling body movements

brain hack

Imagine someone remotely controlling your brain, forcing your body's central processing organ to send messages to your muscles that you didn't authorize. It's an incredibly scary thought, but scientists have managed to accomplish this science fiction nightmare for real, albeit on a much small scale, and they were even able to prompt their test subject to run, freeze in place, or even completely lose control over their limbs. Thankfully, the research will be used for good rather than evil... for now.

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Steve Bannon's Rise to the White House Comes to an End

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August 19, 2017 01:50 AM

Paul Krugman