Modern Sophistry

One of the things you always see with reformers and left-wing critics is the phenomenon of Chesterton’s fence. That’s the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood. The reformer and liberal critic never bothers to understand why the current state of affairs. They just want it gone and have no interest in why it exists. The reformer and radical is always the jury of one, where their whims trump all evidence to the contrary.

Homosexual marriage is the most obvious example. The advocates never asked why marriage has been boy-girl for ten thousand years. Instead they mutter some nonsense about religion, but that’s as far as they go. Libertarians are the worst offenders. When they start ranting about the state licensing marriage, they act like it sprung from nothingness. Their own ignorance is held up as if it were a mirror, reflecting a newly discovered hole in conventional wisdom. A good example is in this post.

I have a question that has only provoked a lot of confused righteous indignation in other forums, and I wonder if TBQ readers might have more thoughtful responses, if we phrase it as a logic puzzle.

My question: I don’t see why it’s good policy to give criminal defendants a Fifth Amendment right to silence in their own trial, as opposed to giving them the same rights and obligations as third-party witnesses (who can be subpoenaed and required to answer questions).

Notice how his ignorance of civics and the history behind this priovision in the law is treated as an asset in his argument. That would be fine if it were just an admission and a plea for help. Instead, it is wrapped in indignation, as if it is the fault of the rest of us that this guy does not know basic civics. The implication is that the Fifth Amendment is illogical because the author does not understand why it exists. The burden is now on everyone else to alleviate him of his ignorance.

This is a common trick from radicals pushing some cause. They frame their own ignorance as a sort of universal ignorance that they have just stumbled upon. Having discovered this hitherto unobserved irrationality, they offer up an alternative and then challenge everyone else to 1) justify the current arrangements or 2) offer an alternative to their proposal that they think is better. It’s rhetorical base stealing that turns their novel idea into the default, while convention is the novelty.

However, every time I’ve asked this question, people have reacted as if I was suggesting that the state should be allowed to torture people into confessing. Obviously that’s not what I’m asking. I just don’t see a principled reason why defendants can’t be required to answer a question that is relevant, subject to the rules laid out in paragraph 3.

Notice the claim that his innocent query has stumped the brightest minds on earth. He has yet to get the answer he likes, so that means no answer exists. The use of neutralized logic phrases is particularly annoying. “Obviously that’s not what I’m asking” avoids the charge, without ever addressing it. It also makes it appear the invisible audience to whom he is referring is irrational. The poor guy is an island of rationality in a sea of mean spirited loons!

The funny part is that he is suggesting the state torture people into confessing. Maybe he knows that and that’s why he is shifting the focus from what he is suggesting onto straw men. If the state can punish you for lying to agents of the state and they can force you to answer questions, the honest answering of which could lead to punishment, the state is compelling you to bear witness against yourself. Anyway, the comments are worth reading. Comment #6 takes the author’s tactic and turns it around on him.

You’ve done a good job of comparing fifth amendment rights to the ability of the state to subpoena third parties. It makes perfect sense to me that if it’s acceptable for state to subpoena third parties, it should also be acceptable to subpoena the accused. I hold the position that the state should NOT be able to subpoena the accused OR third parties though. To convince me, you’ll need to provide good reasons why the state should have this particular coercive power in the first place.

I don’t think it is intentional. This sort of sophistry is so common, people do it without even knowing it now. All logic expressions imply a set of conditions that would make them false. For instance, all men are human is a logical expression. To falsify this, we would need a man who is not human. That does not mean it can be falsified. There are scientific fast that cannot be falsified, because they are axioms.

What the modern sophist does is insert taste or opinion into the search for truth. “Vanilla ice cream is the best” is not true statement. Everyone knows that. All swans are white, however, is a logical statement. Bolting on “you have to convince me that all swans are white” invalidates the logical expression. Of course, it sets up a standard that can never be met. The judge in this case can simply claim you have to convinced him, no matter how much evidence is stacked up in your favor.

Putting it together you get what looks like a deductive examination of an existing rule, law or custom. What you really get is ignorance framed as a question and a petulant demand from the questioner. It is not an affirmative argument or even a logical expression. It’s a temper tantrum, except the performance of it shifts the focus from the person having the tantrum onto something self. It’s performance art.

The MacCult

Way back in the olden thymes, I was at a pub drinking with some friends and I somehow fell into conversation about computers with a woman. After all these year, I no longer recall much about her or the conversation, but one thing did stick with me until this day. She called herself a “Mac Snob.”

This was the mid-90’s when Apple was close to bankruptcy. Among the tech community, Apple was just another sad victim of the winner take all world of technology. If giants like Wang and DEC were getting crushed by Microsoft, a pipsqueak like Apple had no chance. Still, her weird emotional attachment to a brand stuck with me.

Fast forward to the current age and it is clear that Apple is going to be one of the winners and the reason is what that woman said. Steve Jobs could not win as a business or with technology, so he turned his company into a cultural movement, a way for the upper middle-class to distinguish themselves from the lower classes. You see it in this story about Blackberry, the Canadian phone maker.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a bit of a BlackBerry basher. The struggling smartphone, once at the epicenter of our nation’s gadget addiction, feels like it’s all but gone the way of the 8-track in recent years. While far from extinct, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone walking down the street talking, texting, or taking a selfie on one. My few friends who still carry a BlackBerry primarily use them for work, while opting for an iPhone or Android as their personal phone.

So why are we still talking about it?

And yet … just when you think it’s time to say goodbye to the good ole’ CrackBerry for good, it seems by many cautiously optimistic accounts that the embattled company could be on a path to making a comeback.

On Friday, CEO John Chen, a noted turnaround artist, reported good news, by way of an earnings showing a fourth-quarter net loss of $423 million. While most of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around how Chen could be “pleased” with that result, industry and financial analysts expected it to be a lot worse. Chen said that BlackBerry’s most recent financials are “on track and slightly ahead” of expectations, and re-asserted that BlackBerry will return to profitability and growth within little more than a year.

So what does all this mean for BlackBerry loyalists who swear by the devices flagship security and productivity features? While the company pivots back to its core strengths — securing mobile devices on the internal networks of corporate and government clients such as MasterCard, Daimler AG and Airbus Group — there’s a new line of handsets on its way for die-hard keyboard lovers. While smartphones won’t be the main focus, Chen said that BlackBerry plans to introduce high-end smartphones that cater to keyboard aficionados in the coming 18 months.

Is BlackBerry worth considering?

Recently, I gave BlackBerry’s all-new Z30 smartphone a spin. I used it for three weeks, and it was a lot better than I expected it to be. Here are three things it did better than my iPhone 5s:

– It lasts a lot longer on a single charge: My iPhone usually poops out after about 8 hours, but the BlackBerry stays awake for some 25 hours.

– It’s easier to type on: The built-in predictive text feature doesn’t just finish the word you’re typing, but it can predict the next word based on your past writing patterns. It saves time and tapping.

– It’s a better organizer: The notification hub puts all your messages, notifications, and calls in one place. Its clean layout is easy on the eyes and perfect to glance at when you have just a few seconds.

But those bonuses also come with a few drawbacks that will keep me from switching to BlackBerry for the long haul:

– The lack of apps: I want Netflix, and I want it on my phone — and I don’t want to take extra steps to get it. To say the marketplace just isn’t as robust as the competition, is a major understatement, and app lovers will suffer. Sure, you can switch some apps over (using the Device Switch App) or download Android apps from a handful of places like the Amazon Appstore, but these extra steps are a pain when you’re used to having everything you want right at your fingertips. If you’ve grown accustomed to the iOS, or even Android ecosystem, this feels like you’re just going too far back.

– It’s out-of-sync: iOS’s ability to automatically populate photos, notifications, and messages across all my — and my family’s — devices is something I just can’t give up. Sure, there are apps that will do it for you, but taking that extra step is just too much of a pain.

– The “cool” factor: I want my main gadget to be an extension of my personality. BlackBerry says “business,” when the phone I want to carry around also needs to denote “pleasure.”

There’s the issue. I’ve often noted that the best selling Apple products are their mobile products. No one buys their servers and PC’s. They tried hard to make their laptops a fashion statement, but people resist a $2,000 fashion statement. The cheap stuff like music players, phones and now tablets, on the other hand, are relatively cheap ways for the the beautiful people to signal their moral goodness.

I suspect this wanes now that Jobs is dead. His revivals were a big part of how the MacCult kept itself alive. The lack of a cool new mobile devise is going to be a problem at some point. Apple has squeezed all the juice out of the multi-use mobile platform that is the iPhone. There’s nothing else to do there. Worse yet, poor people will soon be toting around iPhones, which will make them uncool.

Blackberry has real products with real value. Their security is second to none. They also have hooks into the car business. That cool information center in your new car is most likely running on a Blackberry OS. They have a real business with real value, as long as they get their costs under control. Apple is a toy maker, but they make a lot of money selling toys to rich people. That says a lot about where we are now.

Sunday Ramblings…

Every Sunday I head off to the market for my supplies. I’m somewhat of a cheap bastard so I bring a lunch every day.  It is not just the expense; it is the quality of food. I can’t keep my weight down without preparing my own food. I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t seem to judge the calorie content of restaurant food. I know restaurants load up their food with salt so maybe that has something to do with it. I don’t know. All I know is I would weigh 300 pounds if I went out for lunch every day…

At the market the checkout girl was a short little gal with a nose ring. It is the ball ring type, which almost always means lesbian. She also wears boy’s pants, another sign of being a dyke. Her causal hostility to the penis people also suggests she is a dyke. I’ve been on earth for a long time now and I have never met a dyke who was cheery. Even the pleasant ones seem to be struggling with rage or depression.

Homosexuals have a significantly higher rate of mental problems, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.  Lesbians struggle more than homosexual males so perhaps that’s why I notice the angry/depressed dykes. Women, by design, are more expressive than men. Their unhappiness seems odd, though. Straight men find male homosexuality to be disgusting, while no one really thinks that about female homosexuality. But, maybe the cause of female homosexuality carries a high incidence of depression as well…

I’m fond of pointing out that the easiest way to refute libertarian arguments about market genius is to go to a market. Today, I saw a dozen or so couples, with small children, at the market. That’s common. It is also is entirely irrational. They spend a lot of time and energy bundling up the kids for the trip. The kids are a hassle in the store. Nothing about what they are doing is rational, yet they are always there. Worse yet, they are spreading their irrationality because the kids and the giant carts they use slow down the rest of us…

This trend of making mundane tasks a family event is new. When I was a boy, parents rarely took their kids to the store. Mothers during the day would drag pre-school kids around on errands, but that was it. It was considered inappropriate, for example, to take kids to the hardware store or to the furniture store. Today, people expect the rest of us to help mind their kids. Everywhere you go there are kids running wild. Home Depot has carts shaped like race cars for the kids to ride in while mom and dad shop….

People believe all sorts of weird things about food. It is because we are programmed, I think, to accept direction from authority. When Food Inc. or Uncle Sam says something is good, people believe it. An example of this was in the cereal aisle. I rarely eat cereal. Health-wise, it is no different than ice cream. As a treat it is fine, but not as a meal. That includes the healthy stuff. Carbs are carbs.

I’m looking for something and I hear a couple debating one form of Kashi to another. All of it is crap, but you can see from the website why moonbats like it. They have all the buzzwords and tribal chants packed into their marketing. The couple truly believed that stuff is superior to a bowl of Fruit Loops, which it is not. They would be better off snorting a bowl of sugar…

A commenter mentioned his conversion to a low-carb diet. When I wrestled, our coach called this an athlete’s diet. In wrestling, the goal is maximum strength and stamina at the lowest possible weight. Wrestlers are always cutting weight and are obsessed with their diet. You have to be. Our coach preached a diet of chicken, turkey, eggs, green vegetables and fruit as a snack. When I hit my middle years I went back to that diet and lost most of the weight I gained in my 30’s. I eat a dozen eggs a week and all the meat I can stand. My cholesterol is low so my doctor tells me to stick with it…

Another commenter complained that I ignored the real issue facing our electric grid when I went off on that fat tub of goo, Newt Gingrich. Here’s the thing. There’s nothing we can do about the electric grid. The chances of someone getting a nuke here and setting it off are infinitesimally small. Even if they manage it, the chances they do so in a way that wrecks the grid is equally low.

I’m old enough now to have a few scares under my belt. Every one of them comes with hands out demanding cash from the public till. In the fullness of time, all but a few were shown to be scams. Air pollution from cars is a notable exception. Lead in gas is probably another. Given Gingrich’s habit of selling his opinion to the highest bidder, we should assume he is being paid to lie in an effort to scam money from Congress.

My advice here is simple. Never trust a dishonest man…

Why We’re Doomed

This piece in National Journal is a good example of why America is doomed. It’s not that Gingrich is a festering carbuncle of man or that he is a moral nullity. Politics, going back to the Alcibiades, has been populated with loathsome parasites. It’s that people like Gingrich are now the bets the ruling class can offer. He’s not some unusual character that appears from time to time. he is the norm. Now society can last when it is ruled by people who write things like this.

Within a year, nine out of 10 Americans could be dead. And whatever causes the national apocalypse—be it North Korean malice or the whims of the sun—the downfall will ultimately be our own fault.

That’s the fear of Newt Gingrich and other members of a high-profile coalition who are convinced that our fragile electrical grid could be wiped out at any moment.

Their concern? Electromagnetic pulses, the short bursts of energy—caused by anything from a nuclear blast to a solar flare—that can wreak havoc on electrical systems on a massive scale. And the coalition believes it’s coming soon.

“I think we’re running out of time,” said Peter Pry, a former CIA officer and head of a congressional advisory board on national security. And if the worst happens? “This gets translated into mass fatalities, because our modern civilization can’t feed, transport, or provide law and order without electricity,” he said.

While some see the coalition as alarmist—and others dismiss them as out-and-out quacks—the coalition boasts some prominent and influential names. Pry and Gingrich are joined by former CIA Director James Woolsey.

“It wasn’t difficult persuading them” to join the coalition, Pry said. Gingrich “has known about EMP and cared about it for many years.”

Last year, Gingrich told members of Congress that an EMP attack “could be the kind of catastrophe that ends civilization—and that’s not an exaggeration.”

What does Gingrich know about physics? The answer is nothing. He was a history instructor at a strip mall college and he likes dinosaurs. There’s nothing wrong with history. Lots of people are history buffs. It’s that history is not science, so even if you are a well regarded historian, your opinions on science are no better than the guy who mops the floor at the university. In fact, in this case, the guy mopping the floor has the good sense to know this material is out of his reach.

The fact that the nation takes seriously a guy like Gingrich on anything, much less issues he is uniquely unqualified to discuss is far more worrisome than solar flares or an nuclear attack. Gingrich is a crank and not the funny entertaining type either. He is the weird guy who lives at the end of the lane type of crank. The guy parents warn their kids to avoid. His ideas are mostly nonsense, but he believes them with the intensity of a fanatic. This is not a guy who should have power over others.

Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi In Paris

A long time ago I encountered a story about Sikhs in Minnesota. I thought it odd that Sikhs would emigrate to a place that was very white and very cold. It turned out that America and Canada imported scads of them for some reason. That spawned the image in my head of people walking around Minneapolis saying, “You know what would make this place better? Sikhs! We need a bunch of swarthy looking fellows who wear filthy hats and rarely bath. That will make this place perfect.”

It is a ridiculous image and it is intended to be. The people who decided to import roughly a million Sikhs never expected to live anywhere near them. In Georgetown and Bethesda, you will find no Sikhs. In Chris Mathews’ neighborhood, Chevy Chase Village, you will not find any Sikhs (or blacks or Latinos for that matter). America’s ruling class is insulated from the consequences of their decisions. It’s why they decided to dump a bunch of Somalis into Lewiston Maine. Let the little people deal with them.

Anyway, that came to mind when I saw this story on Drudge. Well, my first thought was “I see the French still hate the Jews.” The French are not the worst Jew-haters on the planet, but they are not immune to some tribal hatred. Jews have been in what is now France since the Roman Empire and since then they have been at odds with the local population. Of course, what defines local population has changed so much thanks to immigration, the locals are no longer French.

A Jewish teacher from Paris told police that three men had assaulted and cursed him in Arabic before drawing a swastika on his chest.

The attack occurred on Thursday night, according to a report by the Drancy-based Bureau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, a watchdog group known as BNVCA.

“They pressed him to the wall and hit his face, around the eyes and on his chest,” the report said. The blows broke his nose and deformed it, according to the report.

“One of the perpetrators opened the victim’s shirt and with a black marker drew a swastika on the man’s bare chest,” BNVCA president Sammy Ghozlan wrote in the BNVCA report.

The victim, who was wearing a kippah at the time of the attack, was identified as K. Richard. He was treated for a broken nose and lacerations on his face on Thursday night.

He told police that the three men whoa attacked him appeared to be of North African descent and were in their twenties. They cornered him as he was exiting a kosher restaurant on Manin Street in Paris’ 19th arrondissement, near the Gare du Nord train station.

The shouted “death to the Jews” and called him “dirty Jew” in French and also shouted insults in Arabic which Richard did not understand, the BNVCA report said.

Of course. It was Arabs. France did not have enough problems, so they decided to invite in a population of mostly useless people. That’s a problem all by itself, but those useless important also have a real hatred of Jews. Were Frenchmen wandering around Paris saying to one another, “This city really needs some Muslims so that the Jews can have an enemy again!”? Of course not. The French people never wanted this, but it was forced on them and they have to live with it.

The French are the most chauvinistic people on the continent. They hate pretty much everyone that is not French. There’s nothing wrong with it. I wish my country was a bit more chauvinistic. Instead of inviting the world and invading the world, maybe we would mind our own business a bit more. That’s what makes the madness so stunning. The French are a proudly chauvinistic. They’ve also had to deal with some hostile neighbors a time or two. They also have Charles Martel in their history books.

Somewhere, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi is laughing.

The Pod People: Harry Reid

I’m fond of calling our ruling class Pod People. They look like us and make sounds that seem human, but they are nothing like us. It’s a take off of the gag used in the movie The Live. The aliens use some sort of technology to disguise their presence. To humans, the aliens look like humans, just very successful. That’s the way our world feels these days. Here’s a good example from Hairy Reed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said the fault of struggling to sign up on the Obamacare exchanges didn’t lie with the faulty website, but with the people who weren’t “educated on how to use the Internet.”Explaining the reasoning behind the latest Obamacare delay, Reid said too many people just didn’t know to use their computer properly and needed more time. Apparently, it had nothing to do with the well-documented failings of the website that have embarrassed the White House for months.

“We have hundreds of thousands of people who tried to sign up who didn’t get through,” he said. “There are some people who are not like my grandchildren who can handle everything so easily on the Internet, and these people need a little extra time. It’s not — the example they gave us is a 63-year-old woman came into the store and said, ‘I almost got it. Every time I just about got there, it would cut me off.’ We have a lot of people just like this through no fault of the Internet, but because people are not educated on how to use the Internet.”

It’s just the latest strange moment for the embattled Reid, who’s facing an increasingly uphill battle to keep a majority of Democrats in the Senate. Reid also recently implied all Americans telling their stories of Obamacare’s harmful effects were liars, and he has incessantly bashed the Koch Brothers as “un-American” and “against everything that’s good for America.”

Unfortunately for Reid, he has a far higher negative rating with the public than the Kochs.

Back in the 1990’s I used to get a kick out of reading legacy media talk about the Internet. Watching them fumble on TV with the basics was great theater. The strange thing about our elites is they are always late to the game, but then pretend to be experts long after most people take the “new thing” for granted. The Internet is a good example, as the people in charge were the last adopters., but now they demand the right to regulate it as the experts on the subject.

Bitcoin Is Not Money

One of the ways to spot a fanatic is the old line about their inability to change their mind or change the subject. The first part is the key. No amount of evidence can get them to question their beliefs. This is something you see it with Bitcoin. The believers, despite the mountain of bad news, are still hoping and praying their Utopian fantasy will come true. This latest set back could, however, make the fantasy more expensive.

The Internal Revenue Service may have just taken some of the fun out of Bitcoin. But that may mean that the virtual currency is growing up.

The I.R.S. announced on Tuesday that it would treat Bitcoin, the computer-driven online money system, as property rather than currency for tax purposes, a move that forces users who have grown accustomed to operating under the government’s radar to deal with new tax issues and reporting requirements.

While that may seem like an expensive headache, some financial experts view the move as a way to push Bitcoin further away from the fringes and into the mainstream financial system.

“It’s getting legitimacy, which it didn’t have previously,” said Ajay Vinze, the associate dean at at Arizona State University‘s business school. The ruling, he said, “puts Bitcoin on a track to becoming a true financial asset.”

This was always going to be a problem for Bitcoin. No government on earth is going to treat it as a currency. It will always be property. That means the guys who bought ten grand in Bitcoin when it was trading at $50 will now owe taxes on their windfall. If you go into a pawn shop and sell a million dollars in gold coin the pawn shop is reporting the sale to the IRS and you have to report the gain or loss on your taxes.

In most states, gold is not hit with sales tax, but that is not the case with Bitcoin or any other digital currency. That means Bitcoin dealers will now be hit with sales tax audits, assuming states are savvy enough to do it. That’s the real story of Bitcoin. To this point, government have not had a need or desire to address it, so Bitcoin and other digital schemes have been able to flourish. When that stops, the flourishing stops.

The flaw in the Bitcoin plan has always been obvious to anyone familiar with how countries work. To be a country, you must control your borders, your currency and your central authority. Puerto Rico is not a country. It has a defined border, but Washington runs its currency and most of its government. Puerto Ricans can be as proud of their people as they like, but the remain a property of America.

The US government guards the dollar better than it guards the border. They know the key to keeping the American ruling elite in power is the dollar. If the world went to different money, say backed by energy, the current arrangements in Washington would unravel quickly. When you can no longer print away your mistakes, thus transferring the cost to some other place in the world economy, you have to act differently.

The Cost of Cheap Money

Often, what turns up on the mainstream media reads like a parody of what is in the mainstream media. The lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. Of course, this is, in part. the result of being in a bubble, insulated from the rest of us. Even so, it seems that someone inside the bubble should notice that stories like this strike people outside the bubble as a bit bizarre. Apparently, no such person exists.

The super-low mortgage rates that tens of millions of Americans locked in during the refinancing boom are now discouraging many of these borrowers from buying another home and giving up those loans.

The multiyear refinancing craze, which included some of the lowest rates ever recorded, freed up cash for borrowers to sink into the economy. But refinancing activity began receding last spring, and rates have been rising since. The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.32 percent this week, up from 3.54 percent a year ago, according to mortgage-finance firm Freddie Mac, based in McLean, Va.

The higher rates, soaring home prices and a tight inventory have kept potential buyers on the sidelines, hurting the sales of previously owned homes and undermining the recovery of the housing market, a huge contributor to economic growth. Homeowners who are reluctant to move and lose their low rates — a phenomenon that economists call interest rate “lock-in” — could slow the churn of home sales across the country.

Just let that roll around in your head for a bit. If home prices are soaring, that must mean buyers are bidding up prices. Otherwise, the houses would remain unsold, forcing sellers to lower prices eventually. That’s how markets work, when left alone. On the other hand, if rates are discouraging buyers, the banks will eventually have to lower rates to attract new borrowers.

A healthy turnover of homes is critical to a robust housing sector, enabling critical first-time home buyers to enter the market and existing homeowners to move or trade up. But housing experts worry that interest rates, which are expected to gradually rise to nearly 6 percent by late next year, will chill enthusiasm for home purchases. They say they’re already seeing signs of that, most recently among existing homeowners.

This is he problem of libertarian economics. They never see the other side of the balance sheet. Artificially suppressing interest rates today has consequences. There’s another side of the entry and it will make itself know eventually. In this case, pulling forward demand for housing with cheap credit means demand will be below average at some point in the future. Cheap credit is eating your cake before you bake it.

It’s too early to quantify the impact of the lock-in phenomenon. But it’s happened before and could happen again, say researchers who have studied the effects of rising rates on housing turnover. Statements by Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen this week sparked investor fears that the agency could soon begin allowing a key interest rate to rise, helping push mortgage rates even higher.

Ella Lore said she and her husband are fence-sitting. Now that their daughter is studying abroad, they would like to sell their D.C. home, buy a two-
bedroom condominium and rid themselves of the hassles and costs of maintaining a large home.

But when they did the math, they discovered that they would be paying about the same amount each month for considerably less space partly because of rising mortgage rates, Lore said. The couple refinanced into a loan with a 2.8 percent rate in 2012. Now, with a new loan, they’d get a 4.25 percent rate.

For two decades, people ave been planning and building their lives in a world of artificially cheap credit. When that cheap credit begins to unwind, suddenly everyone, even the prudent, have unanticipated problems. Think of it this way. If tomorrow the poles reversed and north was now south and south was now north, what would have to change in your life? The answer is everything.

Most of what you depend on, at some level, relies on the long held assumptions about the earth’s magnetic field. Money is just about as important. Credit is our money now, so when it gets more dear, money becomes more dear. That changes every financial relationship on earth. That either happens gradually or it happens all of a sudden, which is more likely as the gradual approach is delayed.


Ramblings About Big Box Stores

Karl Denninger likes to pick on Best Buy. The reason is Best Buy is a big nationwide chain like Home Depot or Walmart , except they lose money.The reason for that is not price or on-line competition. The reason is Best Buy offers no added value. There’s no reason to go into a best Buy, other than shoplifting and killing time. Why would anyone pay even a small premium for a product from Best Buy? Karl’s answer is they won’t and they don’t, which is why Best Buy is a dead man walking.

That’s a fine argument, but what explains Home Depot? When I need something for a project, I’ll stop there for supplies. They never fail to disappoint. Yesterday I stopped for some solvent to degrease a bike chain. Cleaning a bike chain is not a black art, but you don’t just soak it is gasoline either. I ride a Specialized carbon fiber bike so that means taking care when tuning it up for the season. Instead of spending fifty bucks at the bike shop, I thought I’d get something for half the price.

I asked three different people where they keep solvents. No luck. After walking up and down the store twice, I gave up. Like Best Buy, the help runs from you if you look like you are about to ask a question. You just about have to tackle them. As I was leaving, I walked past half a dozen employees bullshitting with one another, totally disinterested in why I was leaving empty handed. Home Depot may be cheap, but it sucks. How in the hell do they prosper and Best Buy fails?

I stopped at some little auto parts shop I never knew existed and found what I wanted right away. The guy at the counter knew exactly what I was looking for and he also sold me some space age spray lubricant I figure I can use on my brake cables. I paid twelve bucks. Maybe Home Depot would be cheaper, but I don’t want to spend all day finding something just to save a few bucks. Time is money too.

Maybe people like spending hours browsing Home Depot. That certainly seems true of garden customers. I always see some poor guy with his wife in the garden center. She’s looking for plants and he is looking for some way to hang himself. The shopping carts shaped like race cars, so the kids can come along says Home Depot is not targeting just men. There’s something I’m missing, as the fact remains that Home depot exists, while Best Buy is headed to bankruptcy.

Those Hitler Loving Frogs

The new brings news that French voters have gone big for the fascists in their recent elections. They don’t call them fascists these days, but we know what they mean by “far right.” After all, anyone who is not 100% committed to post-national globalism must be Hitler or at least Mussolini. Of course, as soon as they get control of the state, they will suspend democracy and impose a dictatorship, so it is critical that the fascists never win an elections. This news sounds ominous.

France’s far-right National Front party dealt a major blow to the ruling Socialists Sunday after several of its candidates took prime position in the first round of local elections.

The main centre-right opposition UMP party also hailed a “big victory” as initial estimates showed it came out trumps in the elections, as President Francois Hollande suffers record unpopularity against a backdrop of near-zero growth and high unemployment.

According to preliminary results from the interior ministry, the UMP and allies took 47 percent of the vote nationwide while the Socialist party and allies took 38 percent, and the FN five percent — far higher than its 0.9 percent result in the first round of 2008 municipal polls.

That’s strange. That headline was a bit misleading. Both 47% and 38% are larger than 5%, at least for all known values of five. Maybe democracy works differently in France but here in America, you don’t win much of anything with five percent of the vote. The panic seems a bit out of line, given that fringe parties are always a part of European politics, most polling in the single digits.

Applauding what she said was “an exceptional vintage for the FN”, Marine Le Pen — head of the anti-immigration, anti-EU party — said the polls marked the “end of the bipolarisation of the political scene”.

Although the FN had been expected to do well, the first round results were far better than expected.

Far-right candidates came ahead in several key towns and cities that will put them in pole position in the second round on March 30.

France's local elections

In the former coal-mining town of Henin-Beaumont in northern France, Steeve Briois went a step further and achieved 50.3 percent, an absolute majority which made him the outright winner and mayor.

Under municipal election rules in France, any candidate who gets more than 50 percent is declared the winner and there is no need for a second round.

The FN hopes to claim the mayorship of 10 to 15 mid-sized town after the second round, and if it achieves that, it will have beaten its previous record in 1997 when it had four mayors.

OK, it looks like the FN did well in rural areas while the Slightly Less Socialist Than The Socialists (UMP) did well in the major urban areas. Still, five percent is five percent, so the hyperventilating is a bit ridiculous. It reveals the paranoia and insecurity of the globalists despite their total control of the world. Maybe they know something that is not obvious to the rest of us. Alternatively, maybe they just need a bogeyman to keep everyone from noticing what’s happening in the West.

For Americans, this is a glimpse of what’s on the way. The FN is mostly what the Democratic Party looked like in the 1950’s. That’s populist, patriotic and protectionist. In France today, being patriotic is like being a Klansman in New York City. Populism is about as tasteful as a septic tank. Of course, protectionism is considered on par with witchcraft. The idea that the government should put the interest of citizens ahead of foreigners is a banned concept in France. In a generation, that will be true of America.