Monday, March 19, 2018

First Clue, Sherlock: Do Not Use Hate Attacks On The Parkland FL Survivors

Mainer Leslie Gibson, learned the hard way to keep his yap shut about insulting shooting survivors.

Most brane space readers would likely never have heard of Leslie Gibson,  a former  Reepo lawmaker from Maine's hinterlands who looks like a human cloning experiment (using a Moose's uterus)  gone bad.

Gibson has been under fire the past week for comments he made online about two teens (David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez)  who survived the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.   What provoked this inbred (or cloned, using a female Moose) ignoramus we can't say.  It's always difficult to tell with inbreds, partial Moose offspring, or knuckle draggers. But I suspect it was Ms. Gonzalez'  buzz cut hairdo and Mr. Hogg's articulate activism on behalf of controlling AR-15s and other military style weapons.

Whatever the trigger, this since rapidly retired asswipe from Maine's state house  can now repent at leisure.  Well, maybe so long as he keeps his twitter feed private.  Evidently the poor little misfit has been taking savage blowback on twitter since calling  Emma Gonzalez a "skinhead lesbian,"  and David Hogg "a bald faced liar."  (Ms. Gonzalez has since clarified she  accepts a bisexual sexual identity. In either case, lesbian or bisexual, it is of the most sordid hate to take her to task for her sexual choices. )

Unable to withstand the backlash he's  taken his Twitter feed private. Apparently, he's been miffed and appalled at all the mean things people were posting there: But what did this former lawmaker expect when you - as an elected pol - assume the role of a common bully and vilify kids whose school just endured the worst high school shooting in U.S. history?  Did he really seriously think he'd garner plaudits and kudos? Especially after going after a teen student's physical appearance.

How badly did this asshole blow himself up? Gibson had been cruising toward an unopposed election in the  particular Maine district, which included two hamlets,  Sabattus and Greene. But his comments stirred both a moderate Reep (Thomas Martin Jr.) and Democrat  Eryn Gilchrist to join the contest. As Martin put it:

“There’s enough division in our state and country already without ramping up the rhetoric,"

Yeppers, and Trump, aka Dotard or Hitler Jr. provides much of it.

So, "hoping to restore some peace and quiet in our lives,", Gibson  has abandoned his effort to win a state House seat. I'm sure a lot of Mainers are keenly disappointed but they are more than likely of the "basket of deplorables"  kind that would agree with his slander about Emma Gonzalez.

Among the last comments from this mutant - or human cloned via a Moose- was this offered to the Maine media:

I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high,” 

Whatever. The point is you are walking away with your (Moose?) tail between your legs.

Interestingly, Gibson is said to have made the decision after talking with his family, praying and discussing it with friends and colleagues, including Thomas Martin Jr. of Greene, the GOP contender who entered the 57th District race Thursday.

It’s the best thing for everybody,” Gibson said. Well it certainly may be\for Martin with whom he "talked it over".  ("Uh yeah, Mr. Moose face, I totally agree it is best to bow out now. Oh, and take your prayers and Moose face with ya!")

As for "prayers' - mayhap Mr. Moose face, errr... Gibson, might still be in the thick of it had he prayed BEFORE he opened up on the two teen Parkland FL survivors. Yuh think?

Gibson has since "apologized" for his comment, but he'll also have to make another one when his Democratic opponent grabs his seat in the Maine House. .

"Hitler Junior" Careens Toward The Hangman's Noose After Latest Performance

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"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you. " Twitter text from former CIA chief John Brennan after Trump gloated over Andy McCabe's firing before he could resign.

"If you really are innocent, and think there is no collusion, then ACT like it!"  - Trey Gowdy (R, SC) yesterday on Face the Nation

"I wonder where Republicans are right now in terms of showing some courage, not about party but about right and wrong." - Mika Brzenzski, 'Morning Joe'

"I think we're dangerously close to a constitutional crisis. I think the president is doing something that no CEO of a Fortune 500 would do. Can you imagine a senior CEO tweeting about one of his senior VP's "Ninety more days to go until his retirement! Ha! Ha! Ha!" And then the guy gets fired? They'd throw him out of the company. We've crossed that red line a long time ago."   -  Sophia A Nelson, former GOP Counsel,  House Oversight Committee, on 'Morning Joe' this a.m.

Picking up on the last quote from Sophia Nelson, more bold red lines were crossed by Adolf Hitler Jr. over the weekend ending with blistering and foolish attacks on Mueller himself and paving the way for this bastard's fat neck to be put into the hangman's noose. That is,  the total indictment on obstruction of justice compliments of Bob Mueller, a rock-ribbed Republican, I might add. Though fucktard Drumpf seemed to miss that memo in one of his tweets claiming there were no Republicans on Mueller's team.

And yes, before continuing, I refer to Drumpf (aka Trump) as Hitler Jr. based on a previous analysis I did comparing their mental and other profiles, e.g.

Most of us- and that includes former CIA chief John Brennan- didn't believe Trump,  though deplorable and detestable beyond the most f-bomb replete descriptors, would sink to the degenerate level beheld by the end of yesterday. Especially the initial vicious and vindictive firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe .  But as vile as that cowardly act was (using threats to Sessions to do it or else) it was his subsequent gloating that roiled Brennan - and also had wifey screaming for Drumpf's head, e.g. "How could this piece of shit do that to an honorable man who worked 20 years at the bureau, destroying his pension?" She then pounded her recliner several times for emphasis while mumbling something about Trump needing a bout with "Neegan" and an entity called "Lucille".

Trying to provide cover for this illegitimate slimeball, the WSJ editorial today ('The McCabe March Madness', p. A 16) emphasized all of Drumpf's detractors (including "Obama's CIA chief Brennan") had missed the memo that the DOJ's own Inspector General and the FBI's Office of Personal Responsibility (OPR) had agreed on McCabe's firing.  (Maybe, but not 24 hrs. before he's due to receive his damned pension!)   In the OPR case, the findings were rushed and not substantive. Almost certainly, Jeff Sessions ended up twisting arms for Trump in order to get the OPR on board.

 This is  also definitely something Trump would have personally pushed for given he'd been rubbing McCabe's face in the dirt with such threats for months. (See the last quotation at top from Sophia Nelson)

Trump had  also applauded the firing of McCabe as a “great day for democracy”., which the same WSJ editorial had described as Trump "too self-involved for restraint" e.g. to allow the dismissal to "speak for itself".  But after defending their Hitler wannabe 'x' times they ought to know his M.O. by now;  he's an idiot asswipe,  a former reality TV con man and pseudo-billionaire who fancies himself a dictator a la Hitler, and above the reach of law)  So no wonder his infernal gloating was too much for John Brennan, who reacted to the unconcealed glee by calling Trump a “disgraced demagogue” headed for “the dustbin of history”.   The full tweet in all its articulate beauty and verbal precision is given at the top of this post.

Former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter described the firing this way to the WaPo:

 “I would add that for me, and I think many former law enforcement personnel, it is difficult to recall any precedent for the kind of personal vindictiveness the action by the executive exhibits towards a career FBI agent like McCabe, except from the longtime targets of federal law enforcement, like the mob or drug cartels,”


'With those criminals, I noted that their hate was personal towards the agents and attorneys they thought were building cases against them. This move strikes me as very similar.”

McCabe himself didn't mince words in a statement later:

This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally, It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”

To top it off we beheld Trump’s personal lawyer (John Dowd) saying -  in a statement first provided to the Daily Beast on Saturday -  that he “prayed” Rosenstein,  who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller, “will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility [OPR] and attorney general Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier”

Seriously? Can Dowd truly be that  stupid, or is he just begging for an obstruction of justice charge slapped on his own sorry ass?   As one commentator put it on Lawrence O'Donnell's 'Last Word' Friday night, it's difficult to conceive how Dotard's legal team could be so rife with bozos and incompetents who insist on shooting themselves in the foot - including the turkey that is filing suit against  Stormy Daniels -  while admitting Trump was the "Dennison" that never signed  his 'John Hancock' to the "silence" (e.g. NDA) agreement. Which, as Sophia Nelson - former counsel to the House Oversight Committee- put it, carries no weight at all.

Nonetheless, the fierce words from former spy chief Brennan clearly struck fear into Dowd who proceeded to backtrack  saying he was “speaking for myself not the president”.  In other words, letting his mouth sign a  check his ass couldn't "cash".   He also  'fessed up to the AP how he let his bravado and beer talk run ahead of his brain, admitting he wasn't "really" calling on Rosenstein to fire the Special Counsel "immediately", nor was he discussing the idea of firing Mueller or ending the probe.  Who'da thunk? 

He added  the qualifier that the investigation should be ended “on the merits in light of recent revelations”.  But anyone who's followed this case, from the Clinton emails, to the hyped up conspiracy memes surrounding the Steele dossier to the role of Devin Nunes in leaking classified files to undermine Mueller, knows damned well the so-called "revelations"  are hot air bilge and balderdash. They carry about as much freight as the "Pizzagate" nonsense circulated in 2016, accusing  Hillary of keeping child sex slaves in the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor. Personally, I believe all the degenerates that circulated that inane tripe ought to be permanently hooked up to electro-shock machines indefinitely.

The firing of McCabe itself was a blatant effort to try to short circuit the Mueller probe by impugning the credibility of a key person. Its inherently vile nature was revealed in Drumpf's gloating over it and gleefully anticipating McCabe's loss of pension. As former Mueller aide Chuck Rosenberg put it on Morning Joe,  "It's disgusting and depraved".    This is something  so gratuitously vicious  that even Trump's putative steel worker followers ought to be aghast: being fired by a narcissist boss or CEO just before eligibility for a pension. It's basically near the lowest rung of the totem poll for human behavior with only murder, bestiality and child molestation coming in lower.

But thanks to having a sixth sense of Drumpf's  impending treachery, McCabe had the prescience to keep notes and turned all over to Mueller. These  included when Trump called him into his office and made snide references about his wife and Hillary. All of those notes will now join James Comey's in being grist for Robert Mueller's investigation, i.e. the hangman's noose. Of course, Traitor Trump is terrified which is why he's tried to dismiss McCabe's notes as  "fake memos". He should be so lucky.

Matt Miller, a former top Justice Department official in the Obama administration, noted that McCabe has already spoken to special counsel Robert S. Mueller's team and that he would have shared anything he knew about allegedly illegal actions. But Miller said that doesn't mean there isn't more McCabe might share — particularly now that he could file suit over his termination.   Miller added to the WaPo:

There are a host of inappropriate actions by the president that don't necessarily rise to the level of criminality that McCabe may feel obliged to disclose publicly now, It's very much in McCabe's interests to reveal any inappropriate actions by the president that he was aware of because it helps make his case that he was fired for political reasons. He may do that in interviews, and he may do it in a lawsuit he brings over his firing.”

"Disgraced demagogue" sums up the character of this piece of shit  with whom we're saddled  as "president" but also traitor. Indeed, just as the news of Andy McCabe's  firing was coming over the transom Friday night, O'Donnell had retired 4 star Gen. Barry McCaffrey on the phone, basically calling Trump out as a goddamned traitor. His words from his phone call:

Reluctantly I have concluded that President Trump is a serious threat to U.S. national security. He is refusing to protect vital U.S. interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr Putin.

In other words, he's saying what we already know: Trump is a fucking traitor who deserves to be hanged.  But as I noted, in the olden days in Cromwell's England - demagogue or no - he'd be hung, drawn and quartered, i.e. first partially hung, then disemboweled, then each limb chopped off in turn - first the arms then the legs. Everything, including the head, then tossed into a huge pyre - maybe leaving only a few teeth.

The Trump backers may feel elated at all this and love that Dotard appears to be sowing more TDS or "Trump derangement syndrome"  but they'd be foolish to believe so. Indeed, as the weekend WSJ editorial noted ('The Trump Tariff Layoff Begins', p. A12):

"American Keg Company has only used domestic steel. But now it's being punished for this domestic sourcing as Donald Trump's steel tariffs have forced the business to lay off a third of its work force."

A third of its work force now unemployed thanks to their hero Dotard, who promised more jobs, not less. And that's only the beginning. This degenerate not only prides himself and gloats about taking away a man's pension, but also taking away thousands of his voters' jobs - after they put all their trust into his hollow word. Or as NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it (Mar. 17):

He is no longer bothering to pretend that governing involves a learning curve. Now he finds it’s clever to be a fabulist, concocting phony facts about the trade deficit when talking to the Canadian prime minister — one of our closest allies — or inventing a story for donors about how Japanese officials test American cars by dropping a bowling on their hoods from 20 feet up to see which ones dent.

One good thing we learned since the firing of Andy McCabe, before he could properly retire with his pension, is he can still get it back in full. All he needs is to work one (1) extra day in some governmental service capacity . I understand at least one Dem lawmaker is prepared to offer him that 1- day job.

In the meantime, serious citizens can certainly now see that every reckless tweet and misfire from this odious animated excrement will be another nail pounded into his coffin, if not compliment of Robert S. Mueller then via impeachment when the House is taken back in eight months. Or, as congressman Eric Smalwell put it:

Gloat now, but you will be fired soon. And it’s not going to be done cowardly, as you’ve done to so many who’ve served you. There’s a storm gathering, Mr. President, and it’s going to wipe out you and your corrupt organization all the way down to the studs. 

See also:


"The magnitude of outrage over the truly contemptible McCabe Affair can be measured by John Brennan's reaction. Merely a year or two ago, could anyone have envisioned that a former director of the CIA would aim such a fireball of loathing at a sitting president of the United States?"


Friday, March 16, 2018

Handwritten Notes: Definitely Better Than Laptop-generated For College Classes

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General Physics students, ca. 1970 at USF, taking notes in lecture hall.
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Partial view of my class notes for Stellar Evolution course, Spring, 1971.

The front page WSJ piece, 'I'd Be An 'A' Student If I Could Just Read My Notes', (March 13),  garnered little sympathy from me, and I am sure the many professors who now have declared laptops off limits in class.  To those of us in an older generation, taking notes by hand in college - using cursive (e.g. actual handwriting) - ought to be no biggie. You just do it.

But according to the WSJ article, today's crop of college students feel handicapped without their laptops. According to one quoted in the piece: "I always had beautiful, color coded notes in high school"  but was shocked to learn many professors at Georgetown University "don't allow laptops in their lecture halls"

And who can blame them? The clacketty clacking of fingers plunking on a keyboard is definite distraction especially multiplied by dozens. Also, the sight (for a lecturing prof) of so many heads geared to the assorted laptop monitor screens.   As noted (ibid.):

"Professors are weary of looking out over a sea of laptops, with students' faces aglow from who knows what. Are they taking notes? Ordering sneakers on Amazon? Checking out memes?"

Indeed, or perhaps going to a porno site. Professors aren't sure and they'd rather have the devices out of the lecture room entirely. Besides, it's good for the students and hand notes enable better learning (see the SciAm link at the bottom).

According to one professor  (Carol Holstead) at the University of Kansas quoted in the article:

"I really get tired of seeing them out there on their laptops and doing something other than pay attention to me."

True to her take she banned all laptops three years ago and "now tells students when it is time to pick up their pens and take notes on a particular point."

Seriously? She is way too generous.  In my years at Loyola, - and later USF- whether the course was Theology, Ethics, Logic, Biblical Exegesis,  English literature, chemistry, physics, geodesy or celestial mechanics  - the onus was on the student to have the common sense (and intelligence) to know when to take notes and when not to. We had no Jesuit profs (or transplanted Yale profs at USF) giving us heads ups on what parts of lectures were note-worthy. Talk about coddling!  Don't believe me? Then take in this balderdash (ibid.):

"Students complain professors just don't understand how hard it is to write by hand."

Awww....give the little infants a sippy  cup. But a large part of the problem is that "a whole generation of students never learned to write in script and have entered college."

In 1964 at Loyola, this would have been cause to instantly pull an admission as unqualified because of basic incompetence.  I mean, writing in script - as for note taking in courses - was taken for granted as much as being able to use a slide rule in physics class, or using the Dewey decimal system in library research - say for a philosophy or English lit paper. In today's context it would be judged roughly the same as being able to use a smart phone.

So how  do today's little dweebs manage without laptops and someone telling them it's  note taking time? Evidently, there are loads of strategies including: "using abbreviations and getting  notes from  classmates with better penmanship". Also,  "recording lectures on cell phones.". . (Which, of course, means the notes must be transcribed later).

There are also ways to be granted an exception. For example, college faculties that disallow laptops will make exceptions for students with disabilities, and conditions such as dyslexia and dysgraphia (an inability to write properly). The problem with invoking these excuses is that faculty will be obliged (usually) to explain to other conforming students why there are 'x' exceptions. In that case, the students claiming the disability or condition are "outed".

This will lead students who might otherwise be tempted to get an excuse to think twice. Like a Univ. of Connecticut kid - Christopher Wojick - quoted in the article, e.g.

"The class was ridiculously hard to take notes in and I was thinking. ' I have a disability?"

He acknowledged being close to "making something up" then "thought the better of it."  So is now toughing it out with his note taking. Good idea, at least he proved he wasn't a total wimp. (See also the terrific book, A Nation Of Wimps -by Hara Estroff Marano. She documents how  the current generation of college students are hobbled in their skills, coping abilities, etc. with helicopter parents to boot.

What should a high school student do today to prepare for college note taking? Easy, take a penmanship course or learn it on your own! An hour or so practice a day, and by the time the fall semester begins you ought to be proficient in note taking.

See also:


When it comes to college students, the belief that more is better may underlie their widely-held view that laptops in the classroom enhance their academic performance.  Laptops do in fact allow students to do more, like engage in online activities and demonstrations, collaborate more easily on papers and projects, access information from the internet, and take more notes.  Indeed, because students can type significantly faster than they can write, those who use laptops in the classroom tend to take more notes than those who write out their notes by hand.  Moreover, when students take notes using laptops they tend to take notes verbatim, writing down every last word uttered by their professor.

Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date.  Only it isn’t  New research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Selected Questions -Answers From All Experts Astronomy Forum (Astronomical Coordinates)

Question: I am interested in how astronomical coordinates and angles are computed and the geometry involved. Also can you show an example of how one can calculate a star's declination, say, using known angles?


The sub-discipline to which you refer, computing astronomical coordinates, including in differing coordinate systems, is called "practical astronomy".  The term implies little or no theorization just straight out, bare knuckle observations and mathematical computations.  Practical astronomy entails learning about the mechanics of the sky: how to measure angles and reference coordinates, then how to use these to find astronomical objects in terms of their positions, including altitude for the observer, as well as azimuth.

But before one can do all those things, one has to become au fait with the basic sky coordinate systems and geometry, ultimately working in the basic relations for spherical trigonometry. This is merely an extension of plane trig, but to the sort of angles (many > 90 degrees) one finds in spherical or astronomical applications.

A simple illustration of a spherical geometry is shown in Fig. 1. In the diagram, the angle Θ denotes the longitude measured from some defined meridian on the sphere, while the angle φ denotes a zenith distance, or the measured angle from an object to the zenith.

Fig. 2 shows a spherical right triangle from which a host of different angle relationships can be obtained, which can then be used to find astronomical measurements, etc.

Fig.3 shows an actual example of a celestial sphere, such as used in many practical astronomy applications, and some of the key angles with reference to a particular object (star) referenced within a given coordinate system. In some applications, the coordinate system may not need to be changed, but in others it must - for example, when going from the coordinate system applied to sky objects (Right Ascension, Declination) to the observer's own coordinates (altitude, azimuth). In this way, coordinate transformations will also enter and we'll get to those in time.

For now, let's just consider a simply angle relation in Fig. 1, to find the altitude, a. Then if we have the basic geometrical relationship: a + φ = 90 degrees, clearly then a = (90 - φ ).

Let's now examine Fig. 2 and see what spherical trig relationships we can infer.

Two of the key ones embody the law of sines and law of cosines for spherical triangles, which are the analogs of the law of sines and cosines in plane trig.

We have for the law of sines:

Sin A/ sin a = sin B/ sin b = sin C/ sin c

where A, B, C denote ANGLES and a,b,c denote measured arcs. (Note: we could also have written these by flipping the numerators and denominators).

We have for the law of cosines:

cos a = cos b cos c + sin b sin c cos A

Where a, b, c have the same meanings, and of course, we could write the same relationship out for any included angle.

Now, we use Fig. 3, for a celestial sphere application, in which we use the spherical trig relations to obtain an astronomical measurement.

Using the angles shown in Fig. 3 each of the angles for the law of cosines (given above) can be found. They are as follows:

cos a = cos (90 deg - decl.)

where decl. = declination

cos b = cos (90 deg - Lat)

where 'Lat' denotes the latitude. (Recall from Fig. 1 if φ is polar distance (which can also be zenith distance) then φ = (90 - Lat))

cos c = cos z

where z here is the zenith distance.

sin b = sin (90 deg - Lat)

sin c = sin z

Let's say we want to find the declination of the star if the observer's latitude is 45 degrees N, the azimuth of the star is measured to be 60 degrees, and its zenith distance z = 30 degrees. Then one would solve for cos a:

cos a = = cos (90 deg - decl.)=

cos (90 deg - Lat) cos z + sin (90 deg - Lat) sin z cos (A)

cos (90 deg - decl.)=

cos (90 - 45) cos 30 + sin (90 - 45) sin 30 cos 60


cos (90 deg - decl.)= cos (45) cos 30 + sin (45) sin 30 cos 60

We know, or can use tables or calculator to find:

cos 45 =  Ö2/ 2

cos 30 = Ö3/ 2

sin 45 = Ö2/ 2

sin 30 = ½

cos 60 = ½


cos (90 deg - decl.)= {(Ö2/ 2 )(Ö3/ 2)} + {Ö2/ 2} (½) (½)

cos (90 deg - decl.)= Ö6/ 4 + Ö2/ 8

= {2 Ö6 +  Ö2/ 8)

cos (90 deg - decl.)= 0.789

arc cos (90 deg - decl.)= 37.9 deg


decl. = 90 deg - 37.9 deg = 52.1 deg

Or, in more technical terms:

decl. (star) = + 52.1 degrees

As can be seen with this example, once the basic geometry of the sky is grasped, relatively straightforward calculations can be used to obtain various astronomical angular measures as well as coordinates.

The Real Reason The Labor Participation Rate Is Lower

The Right's ideologues have many "footballs" they love to kick around in the culture wars in the U.S. of A., but one of their favorites is the "labor participation rate".  To read some of the hogswill in assorted economic columns - especially as it hit 63.0 percent in 2017, you'd think the whole country had turned into lazy bums who no longer want to work. But this misreads the statistic in a major way.

First let's get into the nitty gritty of this stat.

Here's how to calculate the Labor Force Participation Rate.
LFPR = Labor Force / Civilian Non-Institutionalized Population 
where the Labor Force = Employed + Unemployed
To calculate the formula correctly, you must first understand the underlying definitions outlined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Civilian Non-institutional Population = Everyone living in the U.S. who is 16 or older MINUS inmates of institutions such as prisons, nursing homes and mental hospitals and MINUS those on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Labor Force =  Everyone who is classified as either Employed or Unemployed.
Employed =   Anyone aged 16+ in the civilian non-institutional population who worked in the last week. That means they worked an hour or more as paid employees or 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in a family-owned business or farm. It also includes those who had jobs or businesses, but didn't work that week because they were on vacation, sick, were on maternity or paternity leave, on strike, were in training, or had some other family or personal reasons they didn't work.

(Each worker is counted once, even if s/he held two or more jobs. Volunteer work doesn't count nor work at home.)

Unemployed =  Those age 16 or more who weren't employed, but were available for work and actively looked for a job within the past four weeks.

Note here: people who would LIKE to work, but haven't actually gotten out, pounded the pavement and LOOKED for work, aren't counted.  They are counted in the population, however, which means the more of them, the lower the calculated labor participation rate.   This also includes those who have stopped looking for work entirely because they don't believe there are any jobs for them, and the BLS calls these discouraged workers."

Obviously, not all of these folks are bums, and that includes workers that become ill - say from severe diabetes or leukemia and then need to go onto Social Security disability. In the March 4 Denver Post article, 'Fewer Americans Working But Why?', we learn for example that "the share of Americans working dropped about 6.8 million from 1999 to 2016."   Did all those people become "lazy bums" on welfare or Social Security disability? No, as the article explains:

"Between 50 to 70 percent of the decline was due to an aging population"  which is reinforced by another WSJ piece from February 15 (p. A17) 'As Boomers Go Gray, Even 2% Growth Will Be Hard To Sustain' noting: 

"Slower growth is less the fault of Trump than his generation. Forty percent of the people born in 1946 have left the workforce."

But let's be reasonable here. "Blame" cannot be part of the nomenclature at all, because at some point every human - at least in the US of A  - is going to want to retire and halt the grind. (Retired people aren't counted among the work force, but are counted in the population, hence the larger the number of retired the lower the LFPR.)  Especially those members of the graying generation who are already having to fend off ageism in even finding decent jobs -  by which I mean jobs paying enough to make the rent - and yeah, save for retirement. So you cannot "blame" oldsters for the leaving the workforce, say when they hit the big Seven Oh. You can't even blame those who may choose to leave at 55 or 60 if they have enough money saved for retirement to make it.  You may be pissed that you can't do it, but you can't blame them for doing so.

Anyway, this still leaves some 30- 50 percent of the decreased LFPR to account for - according to the D. Post piece. Thanks to robust research by Katharine Abraham and Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland, some answers are forthcoming. Well, at least to the extent we now know what isn't driving the LFPR downward.   In a draft paper released by the National Bureau for Economic Research last month Abraham and Kearney found that trade with China and automation are responsible for millions of missing workers.  (And missing jobs).

Other typical scapegoats of the Right's scolds, e.g. immigrants, food stamps and "Obamacare" - didn't "move the needle".  Other related findings:

- Automation cost more jobs than it created and "robots likely cost the economy 1.4 million fewer workers"

- The number of people going onto Social Security Disability doubled from 1999 to 2016, from 4.9 million to 8.8 million.  The population did age, but that increase was still "1.64 million more people than there should have been", i.e. had rates remained steady for each age group.

VA Benefits:

The two economists estimated that 0.15 million more people didn't participate in work because of the expansion of VA disability insurance. (Between 2000 and 2013 the share of vets receiving such benefits rose from 9 percent to 18 percent).

One last factor was deemed a likely contributor to the lower labor participation rate: the inability to move from one location to another  to find work as was generally done in the past. The reason is that the home is usually Americans' biggest investment and it simply may not be possible to move from A to B if one's home either can't be sold for the price assessed, or there are no buyers. Then, it would take a real leap of faith to just move to  a new locale  without a firm job offer even lined up.

Beyond all the labor participation rate kerfuffle, what those like Jason Furman (WSJ piece) are really getting at is how difficult it will be to attain even a 3 percent growth rate and sustain it.  Furman, for example, points to last year's growth rate (2.5 %) which while greater than previous is still an aberration. It is an aberration because "more than half of it is based on cyclical factors".  These "have little or nothing left to contribute" since we're at or near full employment. (Which again makes one wonder why all the fuss about a low labor participation rate. Do the wonks really want it to become even tighter and possibly fuel inflation?)

Furman doesn't see the growth rate over the next 5-10 year getting much more than the pedestrian 5- 10 %.   He lays blame on all of us retired boomers, as well as needing  "bigger  productivity improvements".   I already dealt with how the latter can be achieved by ditching the GDP e.g.


"If the GDP is in error or doesn't measure what is really needed, then the labor productivity will be off too. "

How to easily improve productivity even with all the retirees? Simply include home work into the productivity equation.  For example, a 2015 Forbes article highlighted how 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. are putting their own careers on hold to provide unpaid care — sometimes for decades.   The estimated  total value of the care has been put at nearly $1 trillion. This isn't reckoned into the GDP but IF it were,  the labor productivity cited in the WSJ would surely be much higher in the years since 2007 - maybe even double or (1.2%) x 2  2.4 %. Which would then exceed the rate cited since 1947.

What to use in place of GDP? The Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare which was first proposed by Eco-economist Herman Daly of the University of Maryland. is a prime alternative  Daly's point was that the GDP was too artificial and narrow an indicator of economic health. He argued that if one incorporated all the "externalities" usually dismissed or ignored by standard economic models, people would be more parsimonious in how they consume which would yield a better world.

But will the economist wonks take note and agree? That remains to be seen, but I am not optimistic. If they did agree they'd be out of work!