A few days ago I was fascinated to see something new on the BEA calendar: "Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, U.S. and States, 2022." Wuzzat? Sadly, it turns out to have nothing to do with recreation satellites. It's the "satellite account"—whatever that is—for outdoor recreation. Here are the most and least outdoorsy states in the country: ...continue reading "Chart of the day: The most outdoorsy state is . . ."
Kevin Drum 🕸
Private citizens have always been allowed to file discrimination suits regarding voting rights. But no longer, at least in the upper Midwest: The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-to-1 ruling, held that private plaintiffs can’t bring legal claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.... [The ruling] said the Arkansas branch ...continue reading "FLASH: Conservative judges rule against NAACP"
The OpenAI affair just keeps getting weirder. The ringleader of the decision to fire CEO Sam Altman has always seemed to be Ilya Sutskever, one of OpenAI's founders and its chief scientist. But now he has regrets: More than 500 employees of OpenAI have threatened to leave the company if the current board doesn’t resign ...continue reading "OpenAI workers threaten to quit en masse"
According to a study reported by the Wall Street Journal, everyone would like more money. But how much more money? They displayed the answer in absolute dollars, but I converted it to percentages for a clearer look: Assuming this is meaningful—which I'm not sure of—this is an interesting U shape. People become more satisfied with ...continue reading "Money and happiness"
What. The. Fuck? Sam Altman won’t return as CEO of OpenAI, despite efforts by the company’s executives to bring him back, according to co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever....Emmett Shear, co-founder of Amazon-owned video streaming site Twitch, will take over as interim CEO, Sutskever said. This is from The Information, but it's all over the ...continue reading "OpenAI hires interim CEO to replace Sam Altman"
The Washington Post describes Argentina's recent past: For only the second time in its history, Argentina has seen 10 years without economic growth. During that decade, poverty rates shot up from 28 percent to more than 40 percent. Now, for the first time ever, even formal workers in Argentina’s economy are below the poverty line. ...continue reading "Argentina elects its own Donald Trump"
During the Republican debate a couple of weeks ago, I had a question about a peculiar commercial halfway through: what is "Biden's whale EZ pass lane"? Today, Politico finally—finally!—answers me: A new television commercial from a GOP-linked conservative group accuses Biden of raising gasoline prices by creating an “E-ZPass lane for whales in the Gulf.” ...continue reading "Answered! What is an “EZ pass for whales”?"
The Office of Management and Budget issued a new set of guidelines for regulatory analysis a couple of weeks ago, and it's surprisingly important. It's also pretty technical, so hang on. The rules are set out in Circular A-4, one of OMB's 136 circulars, and the first thing it addresses is the discount rate that ...continue reading "Circular A-4 is the most important rule you’ve never heard of"
The Washington Post reports today on the proliferation of junk fees: The fees together may cost Americans at least $64 billion annually, according to a rough White House estimate. This may sound like a lot, but it actually amounts to only 0.34% of all consumer spending. However, that understates things because there are huge swaths ...continue reading "Junk fees probably aren’t going away anytime soon"
Here's a look at online shopping: E-commerce spiked during the pandemic but then subsided until mid-2022. Since then it's been growing again. It looks like the pandemic gave e-commerce a permanent 2% bump relative to its long-term growth rate.
I haven't posted an update on my M-protein level for a while, which I know is the highlight of the month for many of you. The reason is that I don't know what it is. You may recall that in September I got no M-protein number and my doctor told me it was because the ...continue reading "I am undone by coelution"
Last month I showed some data suggesting that, sensational media reports notwithstanding, the rate of shoplifting hadn't changed much recently. Today I came across a new analysis from the Council on Criminal Justice that reports shoplifting rates from 24 big cities across the country. Here it is: There has been a smallish spike in shoplifting ...continue reading "Raw data: Shoplifting in big American cities"
From the New York Times: Today’s A.I. technology cannot destroy humanity. Whew. Although how do they know? Anyway, this is all in the context of CEO Sam Altman's firing from OpenAI, the artificial intelligence company that makes ChatGPT among other things. It's still a mystery why he was suddenly let go on Friday, but the ...continue reading "Quote of the day: We’re safe, for now"
Here's the latest trend story from the New York Times. It's about—God help us—"TikTok economics": "Look at economic data, and you’d think that young voters would be riding high right now..." "Look at TikTok, and you get a very different impression..." "Social media reflects — and is potentially fueling — a deep-seated angst about the ...continue reading "Gen Z is fine and productive and happy"
From the Wall Street Journal: OpenAI is making efforts to bring back Sam Altman, the chief executive it ousted Friday, said a person familiar with the matter. (Updates to follow as news develops) Um, what?
This is a genuine question, not a debating point: Are the people calling for a ceasefire in Gaza asking for a unilateral ceasefire? Or are they equally insistent that both sides stand down? Again, this is an honest question. After all, pretty much everyone would prefer a ceasefire to endless slaughter.¹ But at a minimum ...continue reading "Is a Gaza ceasefire for both sides?"
I'm perplexed by the number of Democrats who continue to urge Joe Biden to drop out of the race. I mean, he's obviously not going to. For better or worse, he's the Democratic candidate. So what's the point of publicly slagging him? Is this just a matter of stubbornness? Or being able to say "I ...continue reading "Why are so many Democrats slagging Joe Biden?"
I have a correction. A couple of days ago I posted a chart of childhood vaccination rates by state plotted against each state's vote for Donald Trump in 2020. Unfortunately, I used the wrong numbers—which by coincidence produced results similar to the correct numbers. Similar, but not the same. Here's the corrected chart: As with ...continue reading "CORRECTION: Childhood vaccination rates"
The Border Patrol released its October numbers this week, and they're down a bit from last month's record high: Border encounters in October were up 4% from last year and down 11% (to 240,000) compared to last month. About 50,000 of these were legal asylum requests while the rest were illegal crossings between ports of ...continue reading "Border encounters decline 11% in October"
Hilbert was in the hallway quietly posing for the camera yesterday when Charlie decided to check in and see what was going on. Before long Charlie was rolling around and photobombing everything in sight while Hilbert sat there scowling at him. It is, after all, Hilbert's week for catblogging.