Reading is necessary for life, but writing is a luxury.

I have not been writing lately because I have been short on time. For one thing, I have been doing too much sleeping. But I always make time for reading even if I have to cut out on the sleeping.

I figure that since I have not been writing I might as well share some of what I have been reading. This will give the nosey people in the audience an idea of what I do on the web and maybe point some people towards a few things that are worth reading.

So here is a list of 7 things that I read this week that were good enough to justify the existence of the internet. Some of these things will make it into The Ethereal Voice, but most them would have just been read and filed in the back of my mind. To balance the force, I am also going to list 3 things that highlight why the internet can never break down the barriers that prevent communication between people. In other words, there will also be a list of three things that bothered me.

7 things worth reading

Brad Setser’s recent post entitled “It is now (almost) official: q1 dollar reserve growth exceeded the US current account deficit …”

This should have been headline news in the financial press (ironically, I forgot to post a link to this over at the Ethereal Voice. I shall fix that). Instead everyone chose to pay attention to moves that the stock market was making. But I don’t really think you can understand the moves the stock market has been making without understanding the implications of Mr. Setser’s post.

If official reserve growth exceeds the US current account deficit, it means that private investors are pulling their money out of the US in net terms. In other words, the only thing that is preventing even worse carnage in the financial markets is strong buying by the world’s central banks. But how long can central banks continue to do this without causing major problems in their own countries? That is big question mark hanging over the economic future of the US.

“Seeking Words of Balm” from a blog called A Day In the Life of An Ambulance Driver.

There is not much that you can say after reading an essay like this. It is so well written and powerful that any comments seem cheap in comparison. All I will say is that death should cause us to think about what is important in life.

Tanta’s latest rant entitled “Wounded Innocence 1, Seasoned Vigilance 0

Do you read the financial press much? Do you get disgusted by all the highly paid analysts who are claming that they were mislead by the rating agencies? If so, you will love this rant by Tanta.

She has a talent for spanking people who refuse to grow up. And this time she uses a hairbrush.

Forget your future plans” from Inspector Gadget

If you don’t regularly read Inspector Gadget, you should. He is the best of the British police blogs. This particular post is nothing out of the ordinary for Inspector Gadget. His stuff is normally like this.

In my head, I have already written a post inspired by Inspector Gadget called the “The Last Restraint.” It will tie some of the ideas that I expressed in this post and this post with some of the common themes in Inspector Gadget’s writing. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it to appear on the web.

A post from Edward Hugh over at Demography Matters entitled “Ukraine Population and Fertility.

It’s a boring title, but it is a scary post. Ukraine geographical location and size guarantees that any serious problems there will affect most of Europe. What’s more, a lot of countries are depending on Ukrainian labor to bail them out of their own demographic problems. I don’t think that is going to happen.

“In defense of genocide, redux” from Spengler

It is amazing how fast the human heart can stop caring about mass murder. I don’t agree with everything Spengler says. But in his latest essay he makes some points worth pondering. Especially when he says…

Time was that the g-word was unpronounceable by critics on the right or left. It is a measure of how much the world has changed since September 11, 2001, that the prospect of genocide shocks neither.

I am afraid he is right, but I don’t think that is a good thing.

This piece from the Ethereal Voice based off of stuff I read in Calculated Risk.

I wrote the piece in the Ethereal Voice on America’s Home Mortgages decision to pull their dividend at the last moment. So technically it is not something that I read this week. But the post is based entirely on information that I read at Calculated Risk. The only reason I am not highlighting a post of theirs on the subject is because I had to collect a lot relevant information from the comment sections of their posts.

Anyway, if Calculated Risk and Tanta are correct, the implication of America’s Home Mortgages decision to withdraw their promised dividend seems pretty dire. How many other companies out their have seen a similar cutting off of credit?

“Sikh To Death” by the War Nerd.

When I was around 6 years old, there was this little girl who was heavily overweight who lived across the street from where I lived. She must have led a sad life because her method for attracting attention was to be as gross and offensive as possible. That is what War Nerd is like. He makes frequent references to the fact that he is overweight and he goes out of his way to be as offensive and gross as possible. He must be desperate for love.

Whatever his peculiar problems are, he knows a lot about history. Most of the time, I already know as much as he does about what he is writing about (me king of jungle 🙂 ) but sometimes he writes about things I am ignorant about. Such is the case with his latest essay on Sikh history.

It made me realize how little I know about Sikh history and made me want to learn more. Especially since I never fully trust the War Nerd’s version of events for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who reads him.

Three things that make me despair of communication with my fellow human beings

Are children a public good?” from Free Exchange

This post has a few good things in it. Most notably it makes some good points on the dangers of only valuing children for their economic potential. But that point loses some of its punch when one gets the feeling that author has no use for children, period. I mean, what do you make of this sentence…..

People differ rather vehemently on this issue, but I see nothing wrong with a population dwindling away entirely, as long as living conditions remain high.

It says something when a person can imagine a high standard of living even as their community dies off around them. As much as I like to play the recluse and live way off in the country, I cannot conceive of a high quality of life that does not involve other people. Maybe robots will enable us to do without other people, but does that really mean that we will have high living standards?

This post nicely illustrates that point I was trying to make in my post entitled “The only demographic effect that educated people will accept.” The unwillingness of people to acknowledge the seriousness of the demographic problem has nothing to do with ignorance and everything to do with their existential world view.

Of course, I would take issue with lots of other ideas in this post. For example, I don’t find the idea that immigration will still provide a viable source of labor in a world that has below replacement birth rates very creditable. Nor do I think that productivity growth can exceed 3 percent over the long term (which it would need to do in many countries in order to make up for the aging of the population). But what is the point of arguing these points if one’s fundamental values are so divergent?

This piece by Randy over at Demography Matters called “Why it’s not a good idea to scare away the creative class”

The central idea of this post is that the cultural conservatives that now rule Poland are driving away all the smart people in Poland. Supposedly, smart people just can’t put up with being ruled by government that is motivated in part by religious ideas.

The main problem with this idea is that there is no evidence to support it. The comment section for this particular post is full of people from eastern Europe who point out that Poland’s problems are no different then those of other Eastern European countries who have liberal governments.

Edward Hugh tries to rescue his fellow contributor by saying….

I agree with the general consensus here that wage differentials are a main driver of the migrant flows which are taking place, and since these wage differentials are large, and likely to remain so, the flows are likely to continue, and this in itself is a cause for concern.

OTOH, I think Randy may well have a point when it comes to peoples decision about whether or not to *return* home at some point.

But there is no evidence to suggest that that people from Poland will be more reluctant to return home than other eastern Europeans. So why does Randy invest so much time promulgating a view that there is no evidence for?

I think it is because Randy has succumbed to the natural human tendency to blame all the problems of the world on one’s ideological opponents. Since he already believes that social conservatives are bad news, it is easy to impute all manner of problems to them whether it is justified or not. Social conservatives turn around and do the same thing. (A good example of this would be this piece in the Brussels Journal blaming the flight of the creative classes from Great Britain on liberal immigration polices.)

Such tactics might please one’s fellow ideological travelers, but it also lowers the quality of discourse. It makes the already deep divisions that divide mankind even worse. And that is in nobody’s long term interest.

Reason & Revelation by Doctor Bob

This post involves me rather personally as the post was response to a comment that I left on Dr. Bob’s site. Or at least, Doctor Bob imagines that he is responding to a comment that I left. From my particular perspective, Doctor Bob seems to have missed my point entirely and gone on to do battle with some imaginary phantom.

For this I take full responsibility. It is the job of the writer to make himself understood. And unfortunately I have long history of writing things that are impossible for people to understand. If I write a long essay on subject, nobody can understand it. If I write a short couple of paragraphs on a subject in the most simplistic manner I can imagine, nobody understands me.

I am not sure why I have this problem. I know one common mistake I make is that I overestimate how much knowledge my intended audience and I share. For example when I was young teenager I wrote an essay called two modest proposals. I was sure that my intended audience (which was composed of people who knew me and were very well educated) would get the obvious reference to Jonathan Swift. Even if they didn’t, I was sure that my audience knew me well enough to recognize when I was being ironic.

But I was wrong on both counts. The fact that nobody recognized the illusion to Jonathan Swift still boggles my mind. How do they teach people in high school about the use of irony in the English language without making reference to Swift’s famous Modest Proposal?

I do try to learn. And in the case of Dr. Bob I tried hard to avoid even a hint of irony and I tried hard to be as clear as possible. But somehow Dr. Bob got the idea that this represents my views….

To maintain that any claim to revelation is valid, if we only believe it to be so, substitutes self-direction based on emotion (invariably self-serving) for revelation from the source of absolute truth.

For the record, I don’t believe that any revelation is valid if only people believe it to be valid. But I am a loss as to how to get Dr. Bob to a place where he can understand my point well enough to argue against it. Any ideas on how I could present my point more clearly or should I just give up?

2 Responses to “Reading is necessary for life, but writing is a luxury.”

  1. Thanks you for the link and the kind words, Sir.

  2. Teague says:

    On Dr. Bob– my advice to you Chief, is to give it up. Here, Bob is looking for (expecting ?) an adversary not a friend– and gets what he finds.

    For your part, you are not enough of a pietist to formulate what I think you are trying to say in a way that will make make it go smoothly down the gullet of human nature.

    If you just came right out and said: Nobody can believe the truth unless God grants it to them, and nobody can believe anything at all, except for by reason of the fact that God is gracious to them– they might strain at the gulp it required. But some would at least feel confessionally bound to acknowledge the truth of what you only imply.

    When ‘Christian’ people stumble over what you even hint at, I take it as a sign of what their heartfelt reception of the clear statement of it would be. Yes, ‘Christians’ want some credit for their good ‘choice’ to believe God. Otherwise, it would be impossible for God to be moral without the exercise of a individual’s choice– which for them remains fundamentally free of their nature. Modern ‘Christians’ don’t have to believe in free will, they believe in the freedom of man’s nature.

    I think you let pious rhetoric about the sovereignty of God deceive you. You might also reconsider the efficacy of your own ‘ten-step/essay’ approach to making the truth sound more intelligent.

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