Saturday, January 14, 2017

Milton Friedman, Fool

Conservative economists are a special breed of idiot:
Friedman’s theory says that people’s consumption isn’t affected by how much they earn day-to-day. Instead, what they care about is how much they expect to earn during a lifetime. If they have a sudden, temporary loss of income -- a spell of unemployment, for example -- they borrow money to ride out the dip. If they get a windfall, like a government stimulus check, they stick it in the bank for a rainy day rather than use it to boost consumption. Only if people believe that their future earning power has changed do they respond by adjusting how much they spend.

This idea is important because it meant that we shouldn’t expect fiscal stimulus to have much of an effect. Government checks are a temporary form of income, so Friedman’s theory predicts that it won’t change spending patterns, as advocates such as John Maynard Keynes believed. Even now, when economic models have become far more complex than anything in Friedman’s time, economists still go back to Friedman’s theory as a mental touchstone -- a fundamental intuition that guides the way they make their models. My first macroeconomics professor believed in it deeply and instinctively, and would even bring it up in department seminars.

...Ganong and Noel looked at data on the bank accounts of people who receive unemployment insurance (anonymous data, of course). They examined how spending tends to change when jobless benefits begin -- usually soon after people lose their jobs. And they also look at how spending changes when the benefits run out. That kind of individual-level data was unheard of in Friedman’s day, and it shows how computerization and empirics are revolutionizing the economics profession.

The authors’ first finding isn't too surprising -- when people lose their job, they start spending less. This is consistent with the credit-constraint model, since lots of people can’t borrow enough to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed when they had a job. After that initial drop, the authors find that spending continues to drift lower. That’s no surprise either.

But it’s when unemployment-insurance benefits end that the real mystery begins. That produces another big, instant drop in spending -- one that’s almost twice as big as the fall that happens when people are laid off!

...The income drop is much bigger than the drop in spending, meaning that people aren’t living completely hand-to-mouth. But it’s much too big to be explained by any of the leading theories. Jobless-benefit exhaustion is hardly a surprise -- people know exactly when the checks are going to stop arriving. And if borrowing limitations were the story, people would have saved more beforehand, knowing their benefits were going to run out.

So this behavior is a big puzzle for the leading theories. It means there’s more going on here than banks’ simple unwillingness to lend. For some reason, consumers are short-termist -- when money stops coming in, they cut back, even if they know they’ll probably get a new job in the relatively near future.

"A Message To My Doomed Colleagues In The American Media"

Our supposed journalists, getting schooled:
Congratulations, US media! You’ve just covered your first press conference of an authoritarian leader with a massive ego and a deep disdain for your trade and everything you hold dear. We in Russia have been doing it for 12 years now — with a short hiatus when our leader wasn’t technically our leader — so quite a few things during Donald Trump’s press conference rang my bells.

...These things are carefully choreographed, typically last no less than four hours, and Putin always comes off as an omniscient and benevolent leader tending to a flock of unruly but adoring children. Given that Putin is probably a role model for Trump, it’s no surprise that he’s apparently taking a page from Putin’s playbook. I have some observations to share with my American colleagues. You’re in this for at least another four years, and you’ll be dealing with things Russian journalists have endured for almost two decades now. I’m talking about Putin here, but see if you can apply any of the below to your own leader.

Having Fun With Fascists Today

Texas Trolls need attention. I oblige. Their event got cancelled (HOORAY!) and now they are having a Pity Party:
UC Davis issued a statement on Friday night, “After consulting with UC Davis Police Department and UC Davis Student Affairs officials, the Davis College Republicans canceled tonight’s event featuring Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos. The decision was made at about 7:00 pm, 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the event, after a large number of protesters blocked access to the venue, and it was determined that it was no longer feasible to continue with the event safely.”

“I am deeply disappointed with the events of this evening,” said Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter. “Our community is founded on principles of respect for all views, even those that we personally find repellent. As I have stated repeatedly, a university is at its best when it listens to and critically engages opposing views, especially ones that many of us find upsetting or even offensive.”

The decision was not one made by Milo himself.

“My event at UC Davis tonight has been cancelled after violence from left-wing protesters,” read a post on Yiannopoulos’ Facebook page. “There are reports of hammers, smashed windows and barricades being torn away. The campus police can’t guarantee anyone’s safety so I’m not being allowed anywhere near the building. Stay safe, everyone.”

The university confirmed, however, that despite some reports to the contrary, “there were no broken windows or other property damage during the protest. Earlier in the evening, one person was arrested inside the venue. No further arrests were made. “

Meanwhile, Mr. Yiannopoulos posted, “I’ll be marching through the UC Davis campus from 1 pm today, with Martin Shkreli and the College Republicans, to protest the cancellation of my event last night.”

The College Republicans added, “We will not stand for the repressive left perpetuating violence, censoring speech, and spreading hate.”

...In a statement to the UC Davis community earlier on Friday, Acting Chancellor Ralph Hextor wrote, “All of those who expressed concern referenced Mr. Yiannopoulos’s notoriety for making disrespectful and often offensive utterances directed at certain segments of our society, or global society, and for denigrating ideas with which he disagrees. They view the beliefs and statements in question, along with similar ones attributed to Mr. Shkreli, as being in sharp conflict with the type of institutional environment that UC Davis is committed to supporting—one that is inclusive and respectful to people of all backgrounds, and dedicated to the pursuit of deeper understanding through the free and civil exchange of ideas.”
TOO BAD, poor babies!

Cool Satellite Photo of Northern California

The Yolo Bypass really shows up. (via Mike Karoly)

Immunity Amnesia

Like many viruses, measles is known to suppress the immune system for a few weeks after an infection. But previous studies in monkeys have suggested that measles takes this suppression to a whole new level: It erases immune protection to other diseases, Mina says.

So what does that mean? Well, say you get the chicken pox when you're 4 years old. Your immune system figures out how to fight it. So you don't get it again. But if you get measles when you're 5 years old, it could wipe out the memory of how to beat back the chicken pox. It's like the immune system has amnesia, Mina says.

"The immune system kind of comes back. The only problem is that it has forgotten what it once knew," he says.

Saw "Sing" Tonight

Loved it! Anyone involved with community theater or show business can appreciate the plot.

A little disturbed by the teens sitting next to me, though. Up and down, up and down, texting, talking on the phone, talking with each other, etc. I was in a good mood, though, so I bore with it, but their lack of focus made me wonder if smartphone culture has fried their brains.

Tower of Power Musicians Hit By Train

Oh, this spooks me! Yoshi's is a great place, but the trains in Jack London Square are alarming!:

Two musicians with the legendary Oakland funk/R&B band Tower of Power remained in critical condition Friday after being hit Thursday night by an Amtrak train in Jack London Square.

Drummer Dave Garibaldi, 70, a longtime member of the band, suffered head and facial injuries. Reports said officials were optimistic for a complete recovery. Bassist Marc Van Wageningen, who was filling in for regular bassist Frank Rocco Prestia, suffered broken ribs, a concussion and internal injuries and underwent surgery at an Oakland hospital Thursday night, according to the band's publicist. Reports said officials are waiting until he stabilizes before performing more tests.

Highland Hospital spokeswoman Louise Nakada said Friday that both men were "critical but stable." They were on their way to perform with the group at Yoshi's nightclub when they were hit by an Amtrak train on Embarcadero at Clay Street on Thursday evening, officials said. They apparently were coming from a nearby hotel and the two musicians were due to take the stage at 8 p.m.

...In interviews and on social media, people familiar with the Amtrak crossing where the accident occurred said they feel the intersection poses safety concerns. Oakland resident Lydia Offord has worked at BevMo in Jack London Square for two months, and though she said she has become accustomed to the commuter and freight trains rolling through every hour or more, she said she's still leery of crossing the tracks too quickly. She tends to use the pedestrian over-crossing that connects to a parking garage above Yoshi's to get across the street, she said. And if she's just running across the street to grab lunch, Offord said she always looks twice.

"I've always felt it's unsafe to cross the train tracks at times," Offord said. "I hear them every day and I always double-check to make sure none are coming."
I remember seeing a video where two pedestrians were preparing to cross at a rail crossing where visibility was somewhat limited by buildings. The lights were functioning and you could hear a train horn echoing off the buildings, so it was hard to tell what direction the train might be located. The pedestrian on the right looked right, saw the train, and stopped. The pedestrian on the left looked left, didn't see the train, thought his right flank was covered by his friend, walked right in front of the train, and got picked off like a bowling pin. Easy-peazy mistake to make.

Not Shooting At Illegals - Shooting At Each Other

"What we have here is a failure to communicate":
“There is no evidence that suggests ‘cross-border violence,’ ” the, said in an emailed statement. “This incident was a result of friendly fire among the hunting party, with contributing factors.”

Where We Stand After The Recent Storm Passed Across Southern California

The Russians Compromised The Green Party Too

With the focus on Trump and his nefarious Russian connections, it's important not to forget that the Russians compromised the Green Party too. Russia Today sponsored the Green Party debate and flew Jill Stein to Moscow for a speech. You'd think they'd be more careful, but apparently not:
While explosive in the context of reports about coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, these two statements are verifiably true. We know that Jill Stein was not only a featured speaker at the Moscow event celebrating the 10th anniversary of Russia Today, it was that network which sponsored the Green Party debate in May as well as Stein’s response to the presidential debates between Clinton and Trump.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rain-Free Asia

With all the rainfall in the Pacific basin lately, it's quite striking to note that Asia will be nearly rain free next week. The largest continent on Earth, with hardly any rain (apart from southern Vietnam, parts of Afghanistan, and light snow in northern Siberia). China, in particular, will have virtually no rain.

Anxious Phone

My neurotic phone is telling me how to quickly get to and from Step One Dance and Fitness club. I didn't ask the phone for that information, but it thought I should know anyway, maybe because traffic is light. Because I NEED to know! And phones live to serve.

Tonight I'm with the DMTC crowd celebrating Mary Young's birthday, but usually I'm at Step One. The phone knows I'm supposed to be elsewhere, and it's making it nervous. Maybe traffic is bad and I need an alternate route, the phone thinks. But given the short distance, there is no better alternate route, which just makes the phone more apprehensive.

I'm surprised my phone is so invested.

On The Drought Borderline

Today's Drought Monitor report is out. It's kind of confusing. Sacramento is still in drought. East Davis is still in drought, but West Davis is out of drought. Hmmmm..... Does that even work? In any event, it's an evolving situation, and improving daily. According to Drought Monitor, we have been in a state of constant drought since February 26, 2013 - nearly four full years. Climatologists say the drought is the worst in a thousand years, plus.

Political Questions Too Deep Right Now

Friend Chloe Condon in San Francisco posts:
Why is our future President tweeting about L.L. Bean? Why did he tag Linda Bean's seafood account? Why am I looking at pics of lobster now? Why is our future President tweeting?

Surprising Met Statistics For Sacramento Executive Airport!

I can barely believe my figures! I was trying to calculate how the last five days of rain at Sacramento Executive Airport (Jan. 7-11, 2017: 5.58 inches) compared to other rainy 5-day periods in the past. So I downloaded a ton of met data from 1980-2016 (37 years of data, including years known with epic rains, like 1982 and 1986) and assembled a giant spreadsheet.

It turns out the last five days are Number One on the list, easily beating out second place, Feb. 13-17, 1986: 5.28 inches).

Well, that explains a lot!

This link provides more information about the storm of 1986. That stormy period was epic, but in higher terrain. Being in the Valley, Sacramento Executive Airport missed the heaviest of those rains, having only three heavy rain days that did not match our recent bout of rainfall. A fluke, but a legitimate one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Better Call Saul, Season 3 - "Los Pollos Hermanos" Promo

This makes me so happy! Coming in April (or so)!

When It Rains, It Pours

Clearing In Northern California Valleys

Looks like rain will start ending today in Northern California valleys (although it will continue in the mountains). The follow up storm that was supposed to keep things wet here today is reforming to move south, along the coast and into Southern California, on Thursday and Friday.

Also, a shout out to synoptic modeling folks making the precipitation forecasts. Last week, they forecast 5.5 inches storm total for the Sacramento area, and they absolutely nailed it. That used to be the most inexact science of all, akin to guessing, but the science has improved to the point of witchcraft.

Puzzled by the misleading official pronouncements:
Haynes acknowledged that the second wave of storms produced somewhat higher flows than previously expected. The second wave was more intense than previously believed, and came sooner than expected, which meant the system didn’t have much of a chance to dry out from the weekend storms.

“We didn’t get as much of a break as we thought. The rivers didn’t get a chance to recede,” he said.

To me, this is mysterious. Yes, I will grant that second wave came sooner than expected, but only by a few hours. And the forecasts showed the second wave was going to be about as powerful as the first, and raining down on storm-soaked ground too. Somehow, that message got bollixed. I don't think the National Weather Service was at fault. Someone elsewhere, maybe at the CA Department of Water Resources, made a blue sky forecast and the poohbahs and the press ran with it.

Morning Tea

You Must Be The Pillow

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

That Damned Pool Again

I dawdled after Zumba, and went to Safeway as it was raining hard. By the time I got home, there was water again in the basement. So, a two hour fight with the flood, but things seem to be under control again.

Folsom Reservoir Offloading Water, Because It's Coming Down From The Sierras Too Fast

Currently dumping water into the American River, in order to keep control over the situation.

With more rain coming in and the lake becoming fuller, the bureau opened five floodgates at Folsom Dam and 18 gates at Nimbus Dam.

Throughout Monday night into Tuesday morning, Folsom Lake was up to 600,000 acre feet, which was 100,000 more acre feet than during the day.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Moore said they raised the amount of water released to 45,000 acre feet and at 1 p.m. they will raise the release to 50,000 acre feet.

“Based on continued wet conditions, adjustments will be made and we will continue to monitor the inflow and lake levels,” Moore said.

Trying To Master The Disaster Before It Masters Me

It rained like crazy early this afternoon, so I took a quick look to see if the basement was flooding again. It was, and coming fast! Finally found the issue. A surprise pool of water developed along the west wall of the house from runoff next door. Once inside the basement, the water pooled against the east wall, which just confused me. I set up a siphon to drain the water. A measure of control. Now it's raining again. The cycle continues....

And Here It Comes, This Afternoon!

I was baffled why weather reports over the weekend kept reassuring people the worst is over. The worst just arrived.
Steady soaking rains will intensify this evening, possibly culminating in a very intense burst of precipitation at some point tonight as the strong and fairly convective cold front passes through. This steady ramp-up of precipitation intensity, followed by a final burst of rain rates possibly approaching 1 inch/hour, will likely lead to widespread flooding given already wet antecedent conditions. In some parts of the Bay Area, Sacramento Valley, and Sierra Nevada foothills, life-threatening flash flooding of streams and smaller rivers could result. In addition, larger rivers from the Santa Cruz Mountains northward to the Mendocino coast may respond rapidly to this additional rainfall, possibly leading to the highest flood levels in years. The Sacramento River will reach its highest level in at least a decade, flooding the Yolo Bypass. Large and dangerous mudslides have already started to occur in many places, and this risk will remain very high for at least the next 24-48 hours in areas of steeper terrain and near recent wildfire burn scars.

Woo-Hoo! The Sacramento Weir Is Open!

First time since 2005!

What Do Conservatives Know?

I agree with this fellow. Given their self-serving biases, conservatives have no business picking and choosing what science is agreeable to them. Scientists are the ones who have the information and experience to best make those choices:
Sacramento State history professor Joseph A. Palermo set off a conservative firestorm after writing that people who deny climate change “shouldn’t be allowed” to use social media, GPS-directed drones or nuclear weapons.

“I’ve always believed that people who dismiss science in one area shouldn’t be able to benefit from science in others,” he wrote Dec. 27 on the Huffington Post website. “If Trump and his cohort believe the science of global warming is bogus then they shouldn’t be allowed to use the science of the Internet for their Twitter accounts, the science of global positioning for their drones, or the science of nuclear power for their weaponry.”

Last Third Of January Will Be Very Wet

Current forecasts suggest rains will continue until Thursday, Jan. 12th. Then we'll have a week's respite before getting slammed repeatedly with storms, from Thursday 1/19 for the remainder of the month. We'll break a few records too.

High IQ

Coming This Way!

This stream crossing is south of Arbuckle, closer to Dunnigan, and just inside Yolo County (38.917797°, -121.989513°). This water is making its merry way to Knight's Landing and the Sacramento River.

Celebrities and Opinions

Every one has one.

Rainfall Hasn't Looked This Good in Years!

Approaching normal levels in Southern California; well above normal in Northern California.

A Few Local Records

Very rainy in Sacramento, the last couple of days. Even rainier than similar storms of Dec. '14. Probably have to go back to that windy and rainy storm in January, 2008 to find an equivalent.

Rainfall for the season so far in Sacramento is 196% of average - nearly double! Northern California drought can't take much more of this abuse.

We have a few local Record Daily Rainfalls:


DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO...... 1.10 1.02 IN 1940
STOCKTON................. 0.79 0.62 IN 1953
MODESTO.................. 0.69 0.57 IN 1993


DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO...... 1.96 1.51 IN 2001

So Happy For "La La Land" At The Golden Globes!

Glad to hear "La La Land" did so well at the Golden Globes. Most charming movie in years. And such good use of the Los Angeles geography!:

Fire Hose

The cold front has been passing like a huge fire hose from north to south Sunday afternoon in California, first pressure-washing Modesto, then Fresno, and now Visalia.

I thought I understood flooding patterns in my basement, but while I was in Davis Sunday afternoon, brand new patterns appeared. I've got some sodden boxes, and a few ruined magazines, but it's still early yet with this series of storms. More damage is always a possibility in the days ahead.

It'll probably rain every day until Thursday. The drought can't take much more of this abuse. Tonight, I heard a distant sound. Took awhile to recognize the sound. Frogs. Croaking frogs puts the drought on life support in northern California.

Midnight: The fire hose just hit Bakersfield.

11 a.m. Monday: Now, even Blythe is getting a (much weakened) fire hose.