Racism USA

In an earlier comment, William Connolley wrote that he thought the US was "wealthist but not racist."  I want to assure him that he is quite wrong.  The history of racism in the US started with slavery but continued with Jim Crow.  The cardinal principle of Jim Crow was denying blacks the right to vote.  This policy was ensured by law and violence, with widespread lynching being the go to sanction.  The passage of the voting rights act during the 1960's was the first solid hole in this policy, and it turned the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican.Ever since, the Republican Party has depended on racist support for it core voters.  The scumbags of the Republican Supreme court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and ever since the Republican Party has made a career of suppressing the black vote.  Techniques today are a bit more subtle than in the hay day of the KKK - burdensome voter registration rules, placing voting sites far from predominantly Black neighborho…

Men are from Mars...

...and women and bacteria too.
Early Earth had some disadvantages as a place for life to start.  For one thing, there was little if any land - perhaps a few volcanoes poking up here and there, and water does not like nucleic acids like RNA.
Mars, on the other hand, had several things Earth lacked, as well as things Earth had, like water.  In particular it had deserts and ice caps, both of which Earth lacked.  For that reason, there is a significant number of origin of life partisans who think that life started on Mars and then got transferred to Earth.
It turns out that Earth does have a lot of stuff we got from Mars - a billion tons or so.  Asteroid impacts on Mars blast a bunch of Mars out into the solar system, and some of it makes its way to Earth.  Simulations show that bacterial spores could potentially survive the trip.
These considerations are one reason that the search for traces of ancient life on Mars are taken seriously.

Critical Structure Corruption

I got the blue screen of death on my old computer today, together with the title error message.  Microsoft immediately began its repairs.
It occurred to me that the same things was exactly what was wrong with my country: Critical Structure Corruption. Too bad I can't just push the resent button to flush all that corruption into the sewer.  Of course there wll be a chance in November, but Windows 10 is a lot quicker.

Distraction in his aspect

How to distract myself from horrors being done to my country has become a problem.  Some reading helps, but my latest John Grisham novel turns out to have a theme similar to much of the chaos Trump has unleashed: police overreach and out of control police violence.  That is just too topical.
Jigsaw puzzles are good, but hard on my elderly eyesight.
I've tried science fiction, but it isn't really doing it for me.  The old classics of the golden age I have mostly read and others are just a little too overcome by events.  The cyber punk themed stuff I find a bit tiresome - though I did like Neuromancer.  I keep searching for a writer I can really like.  If an author starts out with his own 500 word invented vocabulary, I usually give up in disgust.
So what about the hard stuff?
I have been looking into a few origin of life books, but I may need more chemistry.  The one I'm reading now is painfully slow at getting to any point.  The authors use the phrase "We will argue...&qu…

Things Fall Apart

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind...Proverbs 11:29
Tens of thousands of Americans are dying, and millions sickened, due to malice, incompetence, and stupidity of one man, with the acquiescence of  his corrupt and cowardly party.  That is bad, it is true, but I'm more upset about the roughly 40% of Americans who still applaud his fascist path of destruction through America.
Why so?  
For a few, I imagine, it is greed.  Trump has been good to the stock market and especially to the big hedge fund player who manipulate it.  He was lucky enough to catch three years of the boom that started under Obama.
For most, I think, it is anger.  Anger is lifeblood of fascism, though somewhat ironically, Trump and friends are the embodiment of the self dealing and corruption that is one of the things that they are angry about.  Of course a lot of that anger originates in racism.  Americans who have not completed college have had a rough three decades, and every demagogue knows tha…

Old Yeller - and the state of rhetoric

Joe Biden yelled at me for a while today.  I think he was talking about the economy, but it was hard to listen what with him yelling all the time.
Joe has been a professional politician since Demosthenes was in a short toga, so it is a little surprising that he never learned how to give a speech, or at least modulate his voice a little.  A loud voice of constant intensity is almost as soporific as its quiet counterpart, and lots more annoying.  Obama might have allowed one to get cat naps in the long pauses between words, but at least he displayed some animation and variety.
No doubt Biden wants to counter Trump's claims that he is "sleepy" but, Joe, Joe, this is not the way to do it.
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I …

Minimum Wage

Economic theory says that in a competitive economy for workers, an increase in the minimum wage should cause job losses.  Experience of minimum wage increases in various US States and in the UK shows that this has not been the case.
Why not?  The most reasonable explanation is monopsony, theequivalent of monopoly power in employment opportunities.  Much other data shows that this indeed the case.  Anne Case and Angus Deaton discuss the details and implications in their book Deaths of Despair.
When labor markets are competitive, a government-imposed minimum wage that is higher than the going wage will cause employers to lay off workers. This is what the economics textbooks commonly say. There have been many studies that have looked for such outcomes. Although the federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009, many states have raised their state minimum wage since then, providing many opportunities for studying the effects. The most comprehensive and persuasive study to date, by the e…