Phishing for Phools: Free Market Realities

An advertisement for Rolls-Royce from the late 1950s

An advertisement for Rolls-Royce from the late 1950s

Cass R. Sunstein via New York Review of Books:

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception
by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
Princeton University Press, 272 pp., $24.95

Very few economists foresaw the great recession of 2008–2009. Why not? Economists have long assumed that human beings are “rational,” but behavioral findings about human fallibility have put a lot of pressure on that assumption. People tend to be overconfident; they display unrealistic optimism; they often deal poorly with risks; they neglect the long term (“present bias”); and they dislike losses a lot more than they like equivalent gains (“loss aversion”). And until recent years, most economists have not had much to say about the problem of inequality, which seems to be getting worse.

There is a strong argument that within the economics profession, these problems are closely linked, and that they have had unfortunate effects on public policy.

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Scientists Asked the Stoners: What Type of Pot Helps You Sleep Better?

marijuana 2

Agata Blaszczak Boxe via Braindecoder:

People use various tricks to deal with sleep problems — some like to have a cup of chamomile tea before bed, while others count sheep or rewatch Planet Earth.

And then there are those who claim the best way to get quality Zzz’s is to smoke some pot.

Managing sleep issues is indeed one if the most commonly cited reasons for the use of medical marijuana, research has shown. But while pot may help promote sleep in some insomniacs, the extent of this potential benefit and the exact mechanisms involved are not clear.

What’s more, various types of marijuana may have different effects on sleep. To understand this better, in a new study, researchers look at the types of medical marijuana that people prefer to use for sleep problems like insomnia and nightmares. After recruiting 163 adults who purchased medical marijuana at a California dispensary, the researchers looked specifically at whether the people were using sativa, indica, or hybrid strains of pot.

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Nunavut’s Suicide Crisis

Better Than Television
Laura Eggertson writes at CBC News:

On May 18, 2013, after responding to the suicide of a 13-year-old girl in Pangnirtung, Nunavut’s chief coroner pleaded for help from the territory’s minister of health and senior bureaucrats.

“It is time to declare a state of emergency,” Padma Suramala wrote in an email sent to Health Minister Keith Peterson, Justice Minister Daniel Shewchuk and others. After working for 13 months straight, and dealing with nine suicides in the previous month, and five that month alone, the coroner described herself as devastated and disheartened.

Before she wrote the email, she spent a sleepless night agonizing over what brought a 13-year-old to the decision to die “before even experiencing her life.”

“We have reached a breaking point and our community is under crisis,” Suramala wrote in the email, obtained through an access to information request. “I leave it in your best hands to make the decision of calling [a] state of emergency … and bring awareness of available resources to Nunavummiut.”

Nothing happened.

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Are Alzheimer’s and Diabetes the Same Disease?

There’s a compelling link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease, reports New Scientist:

Having type 2 diabetes may mean you are already on the path to Alzheimer’s. This startling claim comes from a study linking the two diseases more intimately than ever before. There is some good news: the same research also offers a way to reverse memory problems associated with diabetes – albeit in rats – which may hint at a new treatment for Alzheimer’s.

 More details This image shows a PiB-PET scan of a patient with Alzheimer's disease on the left and an elderly person with normal memory on the right. Areas of red and yellow show high concentrations of PiB in the brain and suggest high amounts of amyloid deposits in these areas. Credit: Klunkwe (CC)

This image shows a PiB-PET scan of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease on the left and an elderly person with normal memory on the right. Areas of red and yellow show high concentrations of PiB in the brain and suggest high amounts of amyloid deposits in these areas. Credit: Klunkwe (CC)


“Perhaps you should use Alzheimer’s drugs at the diabetes stage to prevent cognitive impairment in the first place,” says Ewan McNay from the University at Albany in New York.

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Driving Ms. Parks

first world homeless

1st world def

I took some days off, for the soul… to “think”.

Each time my kid came home from school to find me on the couch staring into space, he gave me crap, “Dad! You didn’t work, again?!”

I told him, “Son, I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot. And you know what? Nothing is wrong right now. Absolutely NOTHING.”

So, it’s Friday morning. And I am now going into work, to drive a cab… in complete peace, come what may. (OM, baby.)


Heading out of the lot of ‘ol Citizen’s Cab in 137 – my trusty Prius, the headlights catch that feral, orange tabby lot cat frozen, er… like a deer. It would seem she is now spoiled after gorging on all the late night BBQ pitched from the recurring congregations of chatty drivers, and the likes of me occasionally tossing her half my lunch. Well not today, Sheba!… Read the rest

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Water on Mars? Another Marxist Plot from NASA!

Peter Sinclair writes at Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

The net effect of climate denial, tobacco denial, and science denial in general is to create a population that does not trust science, evidence, or fact, and instead relies on the pronouncements of ideological zealots like Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump, who serve their own ends, and in general, those of the most wealthy and powerful in society.

The current status of the GOP nomination process shows just how advanced that process is.  For a Republican candidate to opine that the earth is more than 5000 years old is considered edgy and risky with the base.  And of course, climate science, as this quote from right wing radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh shows,  is beyond the pale.

Read more here.

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Air France Executives Attacked as Carrier Cuts 2,900 Jobs

Airbus | A380-861 | Air France | F-HPJJ | Hong Kong | HKG | VHHH
Mathieu Rosemain via Bloomberg:

Air France executives were forced to flee with their clothes in tatters after workers stormed a meeting at Charles de Gaulle airport in protest at 2,900 planned job cuts.

Human resources chief Xavier Broseta and Pierre Plissonnier, head of long-haul flights, scaled an eight-foot fence to escape, aided by security guards. Broseta emerged shirtless and Plissonnier had his suit ripped to shreds.

Violence erupted Monday as Air France told its works council that 300 pilots, 900 flight attendants and 1,700 ground staff might have to go after failed productivity talks with flight crew. The protest, in which agitators chanted “naked, naked,” is just the latest to turn physical in France, where managers at Michelin & Cie. and Sony Corp. have been held hostage over firings, irate farmers have blocked city streets with tractors and manure and more than 100 Uber Technologies Inc. taxis have been smashed up by rival drivers.

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Earning a Profit from Global Warming


Pete Dolack writes at CounterPunch:

As evidence mounts that a warming world is hurtling toward the point of no return, the plan of the world’s governments is to make adjustments to the ability of corporations to profit from polluting. Short-term profits continue to be elevated above the long-term health of the environment.

There does seem to be a new sense of governmental urgency ahead of the Paris climate summit scheduled for December, with several governments announcing new proposed reductions in future greenhouse-gas emissions. But is it already too late? Two scientific studies issued this year suggest that so much carbon dioxide already has been thrown in the air that humanity may have already committed itself to a six-meter rise in sea level. A separate 2015 study, prepared by 18 scientists, found that the Earth is crossing several “planetary boundaries” that together will render the planet much less hospitable.

The Paris climate summit, officially known as the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 21, has set itself the goal of “achiev[ing] a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.” Representatives of the world’s governments will meet with an intention of setting goals for combatting global warming.

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DMT Entities — To Believe or Not to Believe?

Vision of the Shaman, by Infectednl (CC BY-NC-ND)

Vision of the Shaman, by Infectednl (CC BY-NC-ND)

Writing at Erowid, Teafaerie has some interesting thoughts:

We’ve got to be super careful about what we allow ourselves to believe. We’ve got to take a lesson from our betters and not let ourselves get caught up in the elaboration of whacko theories. Which is not to say that we shouldn’t talk about this stuff. We have to talk about it if we’re ever going to make any progress at all. I think what’s really happening with some of the so-called entity encounters eludes language, though, at least for now. We’re working on the language problem, but it’s tricksy and slow. If you somehow projected your consciousness into the mind of a person who has never been out of the deep rainforest, your contactee would be unable to tell his tribe mates what was happening. He would share your experiences as you ride on an airplane or read articles on the Internet, but he would not be able to interpret them, and even less would he be able to communicate them to others.… Read the rest

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