Dang, 538 goes into NYT???

Hmm, doesn’t mergers/acquisitions defeat the purpose of the internet? Isn’t 538.com better as a stand alone than being a single blog on the NYT news portal? I suppose that time will tell … but on this day, I am sad to read that the simple URL of http://www.fivethirtyeight.com is no more.

Though, Nate Silver does get a dig in on the McLaughlin Group in his first NYT post posted on Wednesday:

Politics is not the only place where a poor understanding of probability and statistics can color news coverage. In baseball, “intangibles” like clubhouse chemistry are sometimes treated as being more important than batting average or E.R.A. But you wouldn’t find very many sportswriters who would claim, in a game in which the Yankees were trailing Boston, 7-2, in the ninth inning, that it was “too close to call,” … That’s the equivalent of what those pundits were doing on “The McLaughlin Group.”

Well said. And it reminds me that I like politics in part because of the math. And i’ve followed 538.com (umm, how many times did i read the comments for the discussions and debates below? too many to recall) for the math that it applies so astutely. I am confident that that will carry over to the NYT blogs, even with the fancier graphics that the paper offers.

Cause-and-effect: empire, overstretch, and the narratives we attach to phenomena

Nine days after the wikileaks leak of 90K pages of first-hand sources out of the Pentagon, the acknowledgement of hemeophiliac empire continues. Or as Glenn Greenwald calls it: Empire in Collapse. The serendipity of coming across the July31 NYT opinion piece of Frank Rich and this August3 article out of the Asia Times on the bungled futility of the US military exercises in Af/Pak. In reverse order, cuz I find the AsiaTimes article heftier …

The Asia Times’ Here Be Dragons, by Ann Jones in AsiaTimes:

not enough armor, not enough vehicles, not enough helicopters, not enough weapons, not enough troops – and even when there seemed to be plenty of everything, complaints that nothing was of quite the right kind.
This struck me as a peculiarly privileged American problem that seemed to underlie almost everything I was to see on the eastern front of this war. Those complaints, in fact, seemed to spring from the very nature of the American military enterprise – from its toxic mix of paranoia, entitlement and good intentions.

Jones is on to something. What does it say about an empire that this is a “not-enough war”?

Meanwhile, in “Kiss this War Goodbye,” Frank Rich tells the chronology of history in the early 1970s and of the four presidents preceding Tricky Dick that further doomed Vietnam:

What Ellsberg’s leak did do was ratify the downward trend-line of the war’s narrative. The WikiLeaks legacy may echo that. We may look back at the war logs as a herald of the end of America’s engagement in Afghanistan just as the Pentagon Papers are now a milestone in our slo-mo exit from Vietnam.

It wasn’t the Pentagon Papers that were the figurative nail in the coffin. It was the Tet Offensive, My Lai, life after lie by LBJ, and a public wiser than our politicians and power brokers that finally extracted young men and women out of Vietnam. And eventually, it will be the same in Af/Pak even if some war profiteers of a paler shade continue to linger and profit for years to come.

Mobile phones v. credit card cos.

One thing i’ll say for “the dismal science” of economics — i love it’s ability to embrace and witness aspects of destruction and disruption. That it is what it is, and not cling to the past such that it blurs the ability to be today. In this spirit, I appreciated the following post (h/t nakedcapitalism) this morning for a dose of some creative destruction:

The [AT&T and Verizon] partnership, which also includes Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile USA, may work with Discover Financial Services and Barclays Plc to test a system at stores in Atlanta and three other U.S. cities that would let a consumer pay with the contactless wave of a smartphone….
The service, similar to those already available in Japan, Turkey and the U.K., would use contactless technology to complete purchases in stores. They’d be processed through Discover’s payments network, currently the fourth-biggest behind Visa, MasterCard and American Express Co. Barclays would be the bank helping to manage the accounts, said the people, who requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.

Because, really who wouldn’t want to watch some titans of Vzon and the behemoth formerly known as BabyBells go at Visa and Mastercard. Just for the sake of storytelling, it is fascinating to observe a moment where Verizon is an underdog. And is willing to risk failure by going after the bread-and-butter niche of the Plastic.
And the post closes with this ringer from Crone Consulting:

“A mobile device is online, real-time interactivity that changes the customer relationship,” he said. “A card is dumb.”

FYI, who is Crone? According to the LLC’s homepage:

for nearly 30 years, Crone Consulting, LLC, helps companies unlock the power of electronic payments to create strategic advantage in the financial services marketplace.

And, if you are unfamiliar with the phrase of “creative destruction” here is how wikipedia summarizes it:

an economic theory of innovation and progress…. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter popularized and used the term to describe the process of transformation that accompanies radical innovation.