Not a Surprise

I expected Fed’s decision to leave interest rates as-is:

  1. There have been at best only limited signs of inflation. By contrast, there have in the last year been deflationary periods in the consumer price index.
  2. Inflation is easy to control (raise interest rates). Deflation is very difficult to control (you can’t cut rates to zero or below, because banks make money by lending money at a higher rate than they pay savers, which means a negative rate on deposits, which savers can beat by stuffing their money in a mattress and earning 0% interest). So rulers of any sort, central bankers included, tend to be more willing to risk inflation than deflation; it’s one of the reasons they never target zero inflation. Instead, they target a low inflation rate, just to err on the safe side of not having deflation.
  3. Some inflation is actually a good thing, as by making money lose value over time it punishes people who would stuff their money in a mattress as opposed to investing it in the economy, thus encouraging investment.
  4. Recent signs the bubble in China might be ready to pop. The Fed doesn’t want to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused a severe recession.

That final one provides a key to their near-term plans. The Fed is doubtless waiting to see if the China jitters blow over before making any decision on a rate hike.

They don’t want to flatly admit it, of course, because that would be admitting the problems in China are real and serious (as they are) which might itself provoke a recession. But they alluded to it by burying a revealing phrase in their press release:

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments [emphasis added]. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen some further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term.

And if the Associated Press’s economic pundits are correct, this is in itself somewhat unusual (and thus particularly revealing):

It’s extremely rare for Fed officials in their statement to highlight the risks posed by foreign economies. This means that they’re carefully monitoring the aftershocks from a slowdown in China and other emerging markets, in addition to struggles by Europe to increase economic growth.

 

Sleazy Recruiter: Aflac Insurance

Ah, more insurance company spam. Memo to all who read this: Never buy insurance from Aflac. Their customer service record is doubtless as poor as Farmers’; sleaze in one part of a firm’s operations almost always indicates sleaze in the other parts.

From: "CareerBuilder.com" <careerbuilder@recruit.careerbuilder.com>
To: xxxxx@xxx.com
Reply-to: careerbuilder@recruit.careerbuilder.com
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2015 13:03:19 -0400
Subject: In Response to Your Resume…

We saw your resume on CareerBuilder.com and are interested in
talking with you about a job opportunity. Are you looking for a
career that allows you to manage your time and schedule so you
can balance work and fun? Or a career with the potential for
unlimited income based on your personal performance? If so, a
sales career with Aflac may be right for you.

Sleazy Recruiter: Vik Smith of Global Systems LLC

Yet another douchebag who can’t read my clearly-stated geographic limits.

Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2015 18:31:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Vik Smith <vik@globalsyst.com>
To: xxxxx@xxx.com
Subject: Requirement: Software developer in Orange County / Los Angeles (SoCal)
 or San Jose / San Francisco Bay Area (C2H/FULL TIME)

09/16/15 6:25 PM
Greetings,
My name is Vik and I'm an IT recruiter at Global Systems LLC.
Our records show that you are an experienced IT professional
with experience in Software Developer. This experience is
relevant to one of my current openings.
 
We are currently looking for Software Developer. This is with
our direct client.  It is located in Orange County / Los Angeles
(SoCal) or San Jose / San Francisco Bay Area.

The Growing Irrelevance of Establishment Pundits

Is amply illustrated by this article.

First, there is the equating of Trump (who has no political experience whatsoever, and who engages in largely fact-free xenophobic rhetoric) with Sanders and Corbyn (both of whom have decades of experience and whose policy proposals, though on one side of the political spectrum, are generally fact-based and definitely do refrain from stoking the flames of ethnic bigotry).

Second, there is a complete lack of investigation into any of the Establishment’s many failings, and how those (and not mere New Media attention) might be playing a role in the popularity of all three.

Trump, whatever his failings, is a free trade skeptic, and most of the free trade agreements pushed by that same Establishment consensus have failed to live up to their promises. Take NAFTA: it was supposed to reduce illegal immigration. Its skeptics pointed out that illegal immigration would probably increase. In this real-world experiment, it was the skeptics’ prediction and not the Establishment’s that was proven correct.

Both Sanders and Corbyn opposed the Iraq War fiasco. This was so self-evidently a blunder that outside the English-speaking world, even some prominent conservative leaders (such as Jacques Chirac) opposed it. As did some prominent centrists, like Senator Byrd (who was I believe the only Senator who had also been in office when LBJ pulled the Gulf of Tonkin snow job on Congress and led the nation into the Vietnam War based on lies).

Meanwhile, both the “New” Democrats and the “New” Labourites decided to be “practical” and “realistic” by supporting the war.

At the time, the best the Establishment could manage was : “Oh, isn’t this interesting: the anti-war crowd is playing the national security card by saying that going to war will end up actually undermining it; there’s a controversy about which course is best for national security. Let’s present both sides as equally plausible — even though the preponderance of evidence favors the skeptics — because, heavens, we wouldn’t want to be accused of ‘bias’ or anything.”

And then there’s the financial deregulation that paved the way for the Great Recession, something else that the self-professed “responsible” “New” Democrats and Labourites united with conservatives to enact over the opposition of the left wings of both their parties.

If the Establishment wants answers as to why it is getting less and less respect, it would be better served by taking a good long look in the mirror rather than playing pin-the-blame-on-the-Internet and sermonizing about ignorant peasants.

A GPS for My Truck? No Thanks!

I actually had a chance to try one out, for free. I’m not impressed.

First, it’s far more distracting than a map. The display animates to show your progress. This grabs my peripheral vision and distracts me from what’s going on outside. That’s more than just annoying: it’s unsafe. There’s no escape from the above drawback: the thing has to be mounted on the dash in order to “see” the satellites. If I put it on the seat so it doesn’t distract me, then I have to wait several minutes for it to locate itself every time I check my position. By contrast, a old-fashioned paper map stays out of the way when I don’t need it yet is there, instantly, whenever I wish to consult it.

Second, it shows only a tiny part of any map. It’s very difficult to get any overall idea of the layout of where I am by zooming out (lose detail) or panning (lose context). A big, old-fashioned map is much better in this regard.

Third, it’s expensive. I just bought a comprehensive street map of Kitsap County for $6. So far as addresses go, the phone company sends me a countywide phone book every year for free. Since I don’t need it at home (where I can use the Internet), I put it in my truck. Any decent GPS will cost about 15 times that much. Plus in a few years, the maps and address data inside the GPS will need updating. That costs $50 or $60, i.e. fully 10 times what acquiring a new map and phone book does.

Fourth, it’s limited. It shows but a subset of businesses and business categories. Compared to the phone book, it sucks. It also shows a very limited subset of points of interest like parks, lakes, etc. Compared to the index on my old-fashioned map, it sucks.

If I did more long-distance road trips, I could see such a thing having some utility despite its drawbacks, because it’s impractical to keep a detailed map for every last town you’re going through with you (and to acquire same in advance). But I don’t — so it doesn’t.

The Irony is Thick in the UK

Well, isn’t this one precious.

A left-winger just won* the race to be the leader of the Labour Party. And the losing side, which calls itself “New” Labour is whining about things like “returning to the past,” “delusions,” and “failed policies.”

Reality check time: Blair is no longer PM, and hasn’t been for some time now. So far as “delusions” go, how about the one that Dubya was telling the truth about Iraq being a threat worth going to war for? And for “failed policies,” how about the resulting war there which paved the way for ISIS, a group that manages to make Saddam Hussein look OK in comparison?

And of course the ultimate irony is the term “New” Labour. It’s the past, it’s dying, and good riddance.

* Won it quite handily, in fact, on the first round of voting, with the largest margin ever for such a victory.

Sleazy Recruiter: Piyush Srivastava of Simplion Technologies

Spams me about a job in Silly Valley, despite my clearly-stated residence in the Seattle area and lack of desire to relocate:

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2015 14:28:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: Piyush Srivastava <piyush@simplion.com>
To: xxxxx@xxx.com
Subject: Backfill Position: Build Engineer | CA

Dear David
 
Our records show that you are an experienced IT professional
with experience relevant to one of our current open position.
Please let us know whether you would wish to evaluate one of the
open positions we have with our customer based out of San Jose,
CA.

Gotta love the mangled English on this one. Evidence that Simplion is a real sleaze outfit who not only offshores their workforce, but does so to the absolute minimum level of education (and salary) they possibly can.

“Ex Gay” Could Actually Work for Me

Mainly because sexuality is more than a simplistic gay/bi/straight spectrum, and I happen to be further from that line than most.

I just don’t have the sort of strong sexual urges most men do, so if I wanted to I could become an “ex gay” and put up with the ruse basically indefinitely. Attractive men would still catch my eye, but it would be trivially easy to resist any temptation to go further (because for me there simply isn’t much temptation).

It would of course still be a lie (I’d not be straight), and I have no interest whatsoever in practicing fundamentalist Christianity (or any other sort of organized religion, for that matter), and I strongly support the right of all individuals to live according to the sexuality they actually possess, so I’d never actually do such a thing.

But if I wanted to, I could. And although my sexual orientation is unusual, I doubt it’s unique.

So there exist “gay” men who are sexually active to the degree they are not because they’re gay and that’s what their deepest intrinsic desires lead them to be, but because they can be that way if they try. (They’re play-acting at being gay, in much the same way that many so-called “ex gays” play-act at being straight.)

Perhaps, like me, they were curious about sex and wanted to experience some at least once in their lives. I realized that I just didn’t fit in with what is — to me — a hyper-sexualized subculture that was continually imposing its alien sexuality onto me, primarily through the implicit assumption of others that I wanted the same sort of frequent, often casual, sex they desired. I wanted a little bit of sex, with one or two individuals I had a very close relationship to, that’s it.

I resolved the problem by basically walking away from the subculture and ceasing to identify as a member of it. Others may find that difficult to do, and want to replace the gay male subculture with another one, say that of conservative Christianity. And the world’s a large enough place that at least a few individuals probably have.

Keep that latter point in mind. Because, no matter how many “ex gays” continue to be caught in the act of lapsing, it means that somewhere there are probably some who don’t — and won’t — “lapse.” Odds are this will eventually get some attention in the Establishment media.

When it does, it in no way means that it’s possible to become “ex gay;” the individuals which will be reported on never actually were gay in the first place.

Sleazy Recruiter: Amber Srivastva of United Software Group

More spam from United Software Group which blissfully ignores my very obviously stated unwillingness to relocate:

Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2015 14:35:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: Amber Srivastva <amber.s@usgrpinc.com>
To: xxxxx@xxx.com
Subject: Requirement of Technical Lead-Cloud/AWS in Portland, OR

Hi David,

We have an urgent requirement for a Technical Lead-Cloud/AWS.
This is a Contract position based in Portland, OR. If you are
interested in this position, please contact me / send your
updated resume.

Comparing this to the other recent bit of spam from a recruiter with this firm, it’s clear the sleaze is organization wide. Note how they both use exactly the same form letter.

Well, I Got a Verbal Offer

At yesterday’s interview. Which is promising, but cue Richard Marx:

Honestly, it probably will materialize, but this job search has been sufficiently weird (with signals from prospective employers that in the past were generally promising turning out to be false) that it wouldn’t be a total surprise if it doesn’t.