2016 GOP Debate, Game One

Trump struck out. His anger and bombast don’t recommend him, even if he weren’t an ignoramus. Trump is a Trumpite, not a Republican or Democrat. He appeals to the same demographic as Hitler. Simple solutions for tough problems; rhetoric over responsibility.

The media tells us Ohio Governor Kasich hit a homer; he didn’t. He performed well (as did Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee), but Mark Rubio and Ted Cruz did better. Ben Carson and Rand Paul stumbled. They never were contenders. (Too bad; both are good people in their own way.) Chris Christie’s not in the game either. Bush? Was Jeb Bush there? He acted like this was batting practice.

The media says Carly Fiona won the minor league contest; what do they know? Maybe she’ll be called up to the majors next time.

FoxNews hosted it better than the only debate I watched in 2012: a softball game by moderated by NPR. You have to stand up to morons like Trump.

Presidents must communicate, but debating skill is largely irrelevant to leading. Debates dumb down the electoral process, which I guess is exactly the point.

November 2016 is a long way away.

Global Oversupply Is bad?

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the global oversupply of almost everything: commodities, capital, labor, finished goods. It’s not that simple, of course, but normally oversupply triggers in contraction, inflation or … deflation, or …. “The ‘science’ of economics is all based on shortages.”

Quotation marks added on the word science because economics is no more a science than psychology or cooking. All are closer to art than science … or maybe crystal ball gazing. Arguably cooking is closest of those three to being a science; it’s controlled and repeatable, usually.

Now that I’ve offended everyone …

Book Review: J.R.R. Tolkien by Wyatt North (Two Stars)

Book Review: J.R.R. Tolkien: A life Inspired by Wyatt North

Two stars out of five.

Modern authors have the idea that biographies must be at least seven hundred pages long, even if they don’t have seven hundred pages of material. often resulting in a bloated mess of myth and rumor.

Therefore, a tight, well-written biography of barely one hundred pages is refreshing. This work is the perfect companion to Tolkien’s works, especially The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

That said, there must be more fruitful information which modern readers would enjoy knowing about the professor who birthed modern epic fantasy. This volume only refers to fellow Inklings C. S. Lewis and Hugo Dyson in a literary context, while Tolkien and Dyson played decisive roles in the re-conversion of Lewis to Christianity.

Can you imagine, reader, having read the two mentioned volumes when the Professor still lived, and feel as I did the hope of more? It was not to be, but I have re-read those volumes once a decade since. They are the gold standard for all light and epic fantasy since.

North seems to specialize in hagiographies of Roman Catholic persons, of which this is definitely one.

Playing the Oil Card, Part Two

The Saudis are certainly under no obligation to help Americans get rich off their new oil output … and vice versa.

Individual governments can try to defend their people from the worst of energy—as well as other commodity—fluctuations, but in the long term the market tends to respond to supply and demand, not wishful thinking.

High and low prices affect the decisions of oil explorers and producers (not to mention consumers) in different ways.

In the 240 years since Adam Smith penned Wealth of Nations; individuals, industries and nations have tried to stack the deck in their own favor. It usually doesn’t work, and often fails spectacularly.

Monopolies and Other Amazonian Strategies

I don’t know enough about the Amazon/Hachette dustup to express a meaningful opinion—not that such a lack stops others—but I keep remembering reading Wealth of Nations years ago and being struck by Adam Smith’s theory that monopolies are the goal of every participant of any competitive market. (Or something like that.) It shocked me at the time because I still thought free-market economies were God’s gift to the world, and that Adam Smith was some sort of prophet. (That was a different Smith.)

According to Smith’s 238-year-old wisdom, Amazon is doing what any business in its position tries to do: corner the market so eventually it will be able to charge unnatural prices. Not possible, you say? Now that Amazon has the brick-and-mortar bookstores on the ropes, it’s beginning to work on its mail/internet order competitors as well as the brick-and-mortar retail chains like Wal-Mart and Costco. Overreach, you say? That was Smith’s point: it’s what monopolies do. They expand until they destroy all their competitors or, more likely, until they collapse of their own internal inconsistencies.

I haven’t shopped at Amazon for over a year. In fact, I shop at local brick-and-mortar stores. Why? To have a relationship with the people I buy things from (for when they don’t work as advertised, for one thing). I know that’s naïve and costs a more than shopping at EngulfandDevour.com, but I’m a romantic.

Shopped in your local independent book store recently? They’re wonderful folks. And they love books almost as much as you.

Besides, I don’t need to have everything I want yesterday. Neither do you.