Looking for Ichabod: The View from My Room


Pocantico Fog Kykuit 2011.JPG
Last night and this morning, Pocantico Hills was covered in very thick fog — much like that which dominated the scenes in Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Didn’t see Ichabod Crane — but wouldn’t have been surprised.
SleepyHollowStamp_3.jpgThe Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is just down the road — and there buried are Washington Irving, Samuel Gompers and even Andrew Carnegie.
This photo was taken from my room in Kykuit, John D. Rockefeller’s home, now run as part of the Pocantico Conference Center by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Amazing place.
Topic of discussion today at the off the record meeting organized by the US in the World Initiative: “Improving Media Coverage of Fear-Inducing Events and Rhetoric.”
More later.
— Steve Clemons


10 comments on “Looking for Ichabod: The View from My Room

  1. questions says:

    Repowatch — about repo:
    “At repo


  2. questions says:

    Daily scam to learn about:
    h/t Thoma
    The details of this case are fascinating.
    FDL is hosting a discussion on Treasure Islands. Great book. Worth the time to buy and read.
    I wonder if part of the reason economists “missed” the crash/bubble is that they didn’t see the level of pure corruption on which our prosperity rested.
    In general, money is conjured and unreal at some level to be figured out, in general, Ron Paul’s desire for the gold standard is to have something “real” that isn’t really real, but don’t tell him that because he’d freak out, but the unreal quality of the boom is beyond any fictional quality of “money.”
    In something recently, Ferguson, maybe, I came across a line that the CDS market (I think these are insurance policies on CDOs, if I have this right) sold insurance to people who didn’t hold any of the securities involved. This scheme is likened to a person’s taking out insurance policies on his neighbors’ houses. If you have 50 or 60 or more insurance policies on ONE house, and the house burns down, well…that’s a lot of money for the insurance company to have to pay out against the damage. They’ve collected premiums from all the claimants, but they don’t bank the money, and they don’t collect enough, and the 50 or 60 claims come due all at once.
    While the fees are rolling in, so roll the good times.
    Maybe there’s something about the fee structure that could be altered easily? The mortgage brokers wanted fees, at every level there are fees, the debit card mess is fee-related…. Rents, rents, rents, rants, rants, rants…..
    I think it’s kind of the googl-ization of the economy. Take a small amount from every transaction, and just make sure that you have millions of transactions pouring through the system.
    (See the Supreme Court decision on class action lawsuits and small dollar frauds.)
    The economics profession needs to be combined with the criminal justice profession.


  3. questions says:

    Daily DeLong!
    A very somber look at the economics profession, what it knows, what it doesn’t, what it’s forgotten that it used to know, what it might never know. Present, past, and future, epistemic limits, too.
    The question here is whether or not the whole profession can shift its hiring practices in the wake of the crisis, and start getting some of the behavioralists and policy people in.
    It would be a great idea to do this, but when do programs hire outside their comfort level? If you’re doing heavy duty quant work, and you have a significant ideological lean to the quant work you look for, then you’re not likely to hire someone who undermines your assumptions of rationality or your version of quantifiability.
    We are overly devoted to certain kinds of quantitative thinking; it makes for pleasant clubbiness, it’s a kind of shibboleth that keeps out a range of potential competitors, and it has generated a fair amount of money for some hedge funds. Who in heaven’s name would give all that up?
    The best hope for economics, in my incredibly circumscribed experience with the field (not even a 101 course!) is that someone from the Royal Court decides to take in several non-quants, less-quants, psychologists and policy people and pays their salaries at a few Really Serious Universities. There might never come a time when the quantmost economists respect the nonquants, but the rest of the world might be willing to listen to a nonquant from Hahvahd or Chicago, and if that nonquant writes THE textbook and underprices whatever people now use, it’s possible that over time this Brave New Economics might take hold. Fund some grad students, too.
    It’s really good to see a whole lot of disciplinary introspection, a lot of breastbeating, a lot of intellectual honesty on the part of at least some economists. I hope it leads to something in the field.


  4. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Love fog and mist…it’s so soft and mystical(pardon the pun)…Trump seems to have his own personal fog going on in his headless campaign…If it walks like a Donald, and it talks like a Donald, it’s a quack.


  5. questions says:

    Two fascinating stories to put together….
    Can the Republican majority survive being, well, Republican?
    Also, follow the Wisc. recalls…. If i have it right, the dems have been fairly successful in collecting signatures, the Republicans not so much. And there seems to be a fair amount of incompetence among the paid Republican signature collecting companies, including using someone who has a history of significant fraud….
    The Republicans are doing more than overreaching. They are being themselves.
    Will this fact of the world be enough to overcome party ID effects?
    People now think the deficit is THE pressing problem, and they might go for more austerity, shared sacrifice, and early death just to help out.


  6. questions says:

    The immortal words of Brad DeLong: Contractionary fiscal policy is contractionary.
    And for music:
    Her cover of Nick Drake’s “River Man” is great, but we can only put two links in any one post for some arbitrary reason.
    And everything else by Katell Keineg as well. It’s all on iTunes and should be on Amazon.


  7. questions says:

    A really interesting piece, h/t Monkey Cage, that tells us perhaps some of what it is that a successful instigator does:
    “In 1986, Hallin introduced the idea that we can understand journalistic ideas in terms of three


  8. questions says:

    Out of my league on this one, but could this:
    suggest that the Hamas/Fatah reconciliation, if it happens, is pretty thoroughly strategic.
    The article deals with the Italian activist who was strangled in Gaza, presumably by far more radical types who are no longer totally under Hamas’s control.
    If this is the case, it’s all far more layered, and one wonders what Netanyahu is doing.
    It’s worth thinking about the following vaguely related phenomenon in this context: Obama releases a less official birth cert to shut up the birthers — why? because a fringe group of conspiracy theorists has provided a convenient positioning event for the greater Republican party. No one, or few I guess, dare defy the fringe because their noise is an effective rallying point.
    If people utterly devoid of proof, rationality, regard for the world, can take over a political party on something so utterly thin, foolish, diversionary, without merit, ignorant, insane…what might a far more effective group do to Gaza? And to Israel?
    The domestic pressures, the positioning and opportunism, the fear of defying the ridiculous on the off chance that you will be painted as ridiculous by the ridiculous is a deep problem in all political systems.
    Of course, the standard version is the Emperor’s New Clothes, and as always, the emperor is naked, but we don’t often have the ability to stand up to the crowd.
    On issue after issue, from the economy to birtherism, from safety issues to the treatment of Bradley Manning, from the latest and greatest war to the worst of our social policies, we are overly dependent on there being a self-sacrificing whistle blower to let us know that we’re off the deep end.
    It is not good to structure a society’s security and rationality on the need for whistle blowers.
    Honestly, how does Trump get attention at all? Because his buffoonery and the covering of his buffoonery is convenient for other people’s motives.
    Truly and astoundingly ugly.
    And it repeats with SoSec, the debt, Medicare, the budget in general. Round and round we go with false memes endlessly repeated. Even when there are countervailing voices, they are not taken into the policy circles.
    As a closing note on a similar theme, School Finance 101 has up a nice piece on the assumptions regarding poverty levels and the mistakes it causes in measuring achievement and teacher value added. We compare the incommensurate and think we have something real. Once again, the Emperor has no clothes. Once again, the political system won’t listen to the bloggers who point this fact out over and over.
    Dude, you’re naked!


  9. questions says:

    Martin Wolf has up a discussion of the 300 plus page World Development Report — something he thinks won’t get enough media coverage because it’s too long.
    He summarizes the report and boils it down to several punchy lines regarding the sources and consequences of conflict.
    It’s worth reading.
    The one that sticks out, for me, regarding fear and media coverage is the drug war. He notes the report is anti-prohibitionist. Makes sense except then something occurred to me regarding drug policy.
    When “drugs” are illegal, the conflict regarding drug use is state vs. state, and state vs. citizen. It’s bloody and expensive, it ruins teens, families, and it leads to a lot of slaughter, organized crime, corruption, and trafficking. All bad.
    On the other hand, if we legalize, we merely privatize all of this conflict so that it stays at the level of family and community. The destruction doesn’t go away, it changes locale, it changes the level of conflict, but it doesn’t get rid of conflict.
    Now, maybe everyone who was ever going to succumb to the temptations does so whether or not it’s legal, and so legalization has no effect at all. But one wonders if this really is the case, and further if the extent of use and kinds of drugs used are likely to be impacted by their legal status.
    Basically, there may actually not be a clean way through the drug issue and we may need social structures in place no matter what.
    The whole Wolf piece is worth reading, and the issues of conflict around the world are worth solving (to understate deliberately.)


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