One in 3 @realdonaldtrump supporters actually believe he will build the wall

Evidence of the Armenian genocide, this day 1915

Some sort of problem with Jews? The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate

Much has been written about the problem of antisemitism in the British Labour Party, but few commentators have attempted to contextualize ongoing revelations of anti-Jewish bigotry among party activists by providing a broader historical and intellectual analysis of antisemitism within the European Left.

Jamie Palmer, a freelance writer and independent filmmaker, set out to do just that – in a thorough, incisive and simply masterful essay published at The Tower.  

Here are a few introductory paragraphs from Palmer’s essay:

Over the past few years, a palpable sense of alarm has been quietly growing amongst Jews on the European Left. At the heart of an often-fraught relationship lies the following dilemma: The vast majority of Jews are Zionist, and the vast majority of Left-wing opinion is not.

But the problem goes beyond the question of Israel itself. It also involves a general sense that the Left is unconcerned with…

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Reforming Reserve Bank releases

This makes the very good case that there should be no lock-up at all for monetary policy announcements of the Reserve Bank.

croaking cassandra

I went into town this morning to talk to the Reserve Bank’s inquiry looking into the possible leak of last week’s OCR announcement (see last paragraph here).  I still have no idea whether there really was a leak, but it seems likely, and if so it seems likely to have come from one or other of the lock-ups the Bank runs, for analysts and for the media.

But the discussion this morning got me thinking again about some of the Reserve Bank’s processes around OCR decisions and Monetary Policy Statements. Insiders will recognize some old familiar arguments.

In many ways, it is remarkable that the Reserve Bank has not had an OCR leak, deliberate or inadvertent, before now (the memory of a couple of other earlier ones –  one deliberate and wilful, one inadvertent, are still seared in my memory).  As the Governor noted in his press conference last…

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The OCR leak

Excellent post about how the Reserve Bank failed to admit its own lack of security awareness and lacks gratitude to those when these inadequacies of pointed out to them in the public interest.

I have been to a budget lock-up. I was not required to sign anything, hand anything over, nor rely on the technology of the Treasury to ensure there is no naughtiness.

croaking cassandra

The Reserve Bank has this afternoon released the Deloitte report into the possible leak of the OCR on 10 March, and a press statement from the Governor.

I have given comments to various media outlets, but thought I should set down my assessment for the record.

It is extremely disappointing that it has now been confirmed that there was a leak.  One MediaWorks employee in the media lock-up apparently emailed several of his colleagues outside the lock-up.  My involvement in this unfortunate episode arose because a MediaWorks employee sent me the email that is reproduced in the Deloitte report.

It is unfortunate that the Deloitte report does not look into (and probably was not asked to) how it was the Reserve Bank’s systems for managing lock-ups for incredibly sensitive information were as insecure as they proved to be.  From the PWC report it seems that no underhand technology or secret…

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Science and the Public Part 1: Why You Shouldn’t Trust Blogs

The Logic of Science

An enormous disparity exists between what scientists know to be true, and what the general public chooses to believe. This disparity exists largely because of the internet, and it is perpetuated by those who readily read and disperse blogs and unfactual websites. Allow me to begin by using an example to illustrate the absurdity of the situation. I have little knowledge about archeology. I’ve seen some History Channel specials, and I can quote all of the Indiana Jones movies by heart, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge. Now, suppose that I did some reading online, then came up to you and said, “I have absolutely no credentials in archeology, I’ve never done any field work, I’ve never had any training, I’ve never gone to a professional meeting, I’ve never published a paper, I haven’t read more than 10 peer-reviewed papers, but I figured out something that the entire…

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Conspiracy Theories Debunked: The Moon landing was a hoax?!

Utopia, you are standing in it!

If staged in the studio, a 143 minute continuous broadcast of the footage of the Moon approach and the astronauts on the Moon with the recording technology of the time would have required tapes the size of cars if it were pre-recorded in some manner on 5,300 feet of film that is free of scratches and specs of dust. 1969 did not have the technology to fake the landing on video. Slow motion video was truly primitive in 1969: 30 seconds replayed at 90 seconds maximum.

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How the “Daisy” Ad Changed Everything About Political Advertising

I love attack ads. They actually tell you something and bring the contrasts between the candidates into sharp focus.

Put another way, the firm believed that viewers should not be given too much information to put their minds and emotions to work. And Daisy Girl’s DNA has continued to provide instructions for today’s political advertising: Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 “Bear” spot  used the animal to symbolize the Soviet Union without explicitly making the association. In 2004, Bush’s campaign skillfully employed the same technique with a spot that used wolves to symbolize al Qaeda.

Voting is not a purely rational act. As the late journalist Joe McGinnis observed, it’s a “psychological purchase” of a candidate. It’s often no less rational than buying a car or a house. DDB understood that arguing with voters would be a losing proposition. To persuade someone, especially in the political realm, a campaign must target emotions. Voters don’t oppose a candidate because they dislike his or her policies; they often oppose the policies because they dislike the candidate.

Reagan’s optimistic 1984 “Morning in America” spot was a good example of this kind of appeal. So was George H.W. Bush’s dark, fear-inducing “Revolving Door” spot in 1988 that exploited the controversy over a prison furlough program of his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis. Bernie Sanders’ “America” spot is a current example. They are all very different ads, but are aimed at generating a non-rational, emotional response.

DDB also believed that giving data and facts was less persuasive than telling a story. The best spots provide an experience. In addition to evoking emotions and not repeating what the viewer already knew, many of the DDB spots from 1964 had a narrative arc to them. A good example in 1964 was a Johnson spot reminding viewers of the many harsh attacks on Goldwater by his former GOP opponents. The gold standard for subsequent spots in this genre may be Bill Clinton’s 60-second “Journey” spot from 1992, in which he touted his small-town American values by recounting his childhood in Hope, Arkansas.

Source: How the “Daisy” Ad Changed Everything About Political Advertising | History | Smithsonian

Electric Eric Lives on in a classic Tasmanian tourist ad

A Discussion on Costs and Benefits

A Force for Good

Economics revolves around the study of benefits and costs.  The goal of any economic action is to maximize net benefits (Total Benefits minus Total Costs).  That maximization occurs when marginal benefits (the incremental benefit achieved from one additional unit) is equal to the marginal cost (the incremental cost achieved from one additional unit).

Whenever there is discussion in the economic world on different policies (for example, minimum wage, government stimulus, or protectionist tariffs), we spend much time discussing the costs and the benefits.*  And, indeed, there are some studies that find that the estimated benefits for some government intervention will outweigh its estimated costs.

So, why then do I oppose these measures if the research may show a gain in benefits?  The reason why is simple: those who benefit are not necessarily those paying the cost (and, as is often the case, those for whom the benefit is intended don’t…

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