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    • Exchange Rates 101
      In light of the collapse of the Ruble I think it’s worth revisiting what controls exchange rates. Supply and Demand. Yeah, if you know something about the subject you’re probably shaking your head. Supply and Demand doesn’t set prices in many cases in the way that an Economics 101 course tells you. Such texts will [...]
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Beat me! Beat me! Make me write bad checks!

Brian Fischer asks why Republicans allow themselves to be branded as stupid:

Why indeed.

Let me think.  No, no, don’t tell me.  Could it be because of something like *this*?:

Senate Republicans on Friday pledged to block President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the consumer finance watchdog until Democrats agree to restructure it, ramping up an expected fight this year over the controversial new bureau.

The group of 43 Republicans, led by minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mike Crapo, an Idaho senator who is the top Republican on the banking committee, said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lacks congressional oversight.

Yes, the Republicans are threatening to filibuster the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee until the Democrats agree to weaken the agency’s powers.  And what is the CFPB, in case you haven’t been paying attention since, oh, 2008, and the whole reason why Elizabeth Warren ran for the Senate?  The agency is a watchdog for all those vexing problems that get average consumers into trouble.  Like credit card rates and mortgage rates and financial industry “products” that are sold to the little people who don’t know that the financiers have rigged the game.  The CFPB is supposed to be on the side of the average consumer, protecting your right to not be exploited.  What’s not to love?

“As presently organized, the CFPB is insulated from congressional oversight of its actions and its budget,” the Republicans said. “Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances.”

The consumer bureau, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law to oversee mortgage lending and other sectors that played a role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, was controversial before it even opened its doors.

Republicans and business groups have criticized the bureau’s broad authority over a wide range of financial products, and they want it to be funded by congressional appropriations rather than through the Federal Reserve.

Oh, dear, it seems that Senator Warren knew what she was doing when she put this agency together and now, it appears to have a bit more bite in it than our financial industry overlords like.    Apparently, the finance version of the FDA, checking things out for us and sticking warning labels on dangerous products, means a little too much transparency for the finance flim-flam guys.  Therefore, it must be defanged.

Of course, the Fox News cohort will swing into action and tell the fanbase that this is just another intrusion of government into their lives and if you want to take risks with your money and lose every penny of it, by golly, that’s your right  living in god fearing America where at least you know you’re free.  If the financial industry so-called “jahb creators” are to continue to be successful, they have to be able to take advantage of people.  That’s how you get the big bucks.  And anyway, if this government agency does its job right, all the other agencies might feel inspired to do good stuff too and we can’t have that.  I mean, it’s bad enough that the Social Security administration is so efficient with such low overhead.  It’s obscene, I tell you.  Speaking of obscene, gay people who aren’t married have sex using various and sundry orifices.  And women are having consensual sex!  Consensually!  Let’s obsess on that for awhile, shall we?

If you are a Republican and you aren’t super rich, you’re as dumb as a doorknob.  I see some of you out there saying, “I’m not a registered Republican.  I’m a registered Democrat. It’s none of your business who I vote for”.  That’s worse than being a conservative Republican because you *know* that there’s something unsavory and stupid about being a conservative Republican and you don’t want the label but you feel entitled to vote stupid. So, not only are you voting stupid, you’re a coward.  I’d feel much more respect for people who at least owned their stupidity instead of hiding behind their false party affiliation. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.  Why anyone would want to take pride in today’s definition of the word “conservative” is beyond me.  It just screams stupidity to the rest of us.

Revulsion

This is why more and more people are turning away from religion:

Any god that leaves little children to die because their government said their teachers couldn’t lead them in what would be overwhelmingly Christian prayers is an evil god. Or non-existent.

Yeah, I said it.  That god bystander who shrugs his shoulders at the bloody death of innocents when he could intervene and stop it?  That’s evil.

As one of the commenters to this video said:

so god is a petty, sulking baby because we dont kiss his butt?

stay classy god

God 2.0 needs a major rewrite and a better PR apparatus. (Hint: don’t hire this guy)

***************************
Update on the NPR “expert” and patterns:

This morning on Weekend Edition, it sounded like a different expert was on to tell us that, sure, we can find “patterns” but those patterns are not “profiles” and are therefore useless. It is only with “profiles” that we are able to predict the future and we can’t predict the future so that’s that.

Bullshit. Any dark skinned man passing through an airport or thrown off a plane by a bunch of hysterical passengers will tell you this isn’t true. Oddly enough, none of the recent shooters, with the exception of the psychiatrist at Fort Hood, were dark skinned or middle eastern looking dudes.

Any “profile” you develop is only as good as the data you have. You can’t predict with absolute certainty which compounds in a library of millions is going to be THE next PERFECT drug. All you can do is identify the potential drugs that you can work on. During the discovery phase, we add to our knowledge of the drug-target interaction and we get better at predicting future drugs but we’re never going to be able to just look at the structures of all of the compounds and pick out the blockbuster on the first, second or third go around.

What we can do is eliminate the non-starters and focus in on the potential winners. That investigation is still worth a lot of money because the potential winners still exhibit significant activity even if they are not perfect. We’re never going to get to the stage where we can identify them just by looking at them without any additional testing and that’s the case with people too.

So, it is still worth screening and testing even if you end up with a lot of first round hits that you have to narrow down later. I think most Americans would agree that we don’t want to take away the guns from every person who fits a pattern. What we want to do is take away the guns of people who can’t be eliminated. We don’t have to predict the future. We just need to find the pool of most likely shooters and take away their guns, if only temporarily.

The alternative is to treat all 300 million of us as false positives and force all of us to undergo ritual bodyscanning and metal detecting before we can pick up our kids from school for their dental appointments. While I’m sure the security industry is going to LOVE that idea, it’s another burden of time and frustration for busy parents and others who do not fit any pattern at all except that they’re human. Are “experts” suggesting that we are all potential shooters because they refuse to come up with a set of criteria that eliminates the vast majority of us? Is the second amendment so precious that a whole country has to be constantly inconvenienced to take off our shoes and be exposed to radiation on a regular basis? There isn’t any set of patterns that we could use to prevent that?

Right now, insurance companies can charge you a fortune based on your record and your peer group. Marketing companies can profile you and target ads to you based on your purchases, demographics and other behavior. But for some reason, the “experts” say that it will not be possible for the ATF to reduce the number of mass shooters from killing people because “we can’t predict the future”. There’s something very wrong with that picture aside from it being completely unbelievable. Normally, I’d be a freak about privacy but owning a lethal firearm puts things in a different light. Should you be able to own a gun for hunting purposes or to defend yourself against intruders or a potentially tyrannical government? Yep. Should you be able to own a gun if you’ve got the makings of a mass shooter? Probably not, at least not until you’ve been thoroughly checked out.

Today, we learn that the mother of the shooter was the registered owner of the guns. Leaving aside the fact that looking through patterns probably wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy, I have to wonder why she felt she needed these guns and how they came to be at her house. That’s a lot of firepower for a Kindergarten teacher. It was probably not to protect herself from 20 five year olds.

On the other hand, when your auto insurance representative asks you whether there are any permitted drivers or kids of a certain age living with you, they are recognizing the fact that cars can be dangerous in the hands of inexperienced or recklessly young drivers and presumably, their statistics back that up. So, gun buyers should be asked similar questions. Do you have any young males living at home with a history of behavioral or mental problems? Has your family undergone any significant changes lately? Divorce, loss of job, bankruptcy, relocation? This is not an insurmountable problem.

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