Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Risks in Egg Freezing

Now they tell us. As you might know, the latest in reproductive science involves egg freezing. It has become increasingly popular with feminists. Given that these intrepid souls refuse to be bound by biology, they have gotten into the habit of freezing their eggs, in order to extend their fertility. This allows them to pursue career goals when they are in their twenties and thirties, then, when they are in their forties to go out and find that perfect husband, one who will only marry them if they can still procreate.

One might suggest, as one has on numerous occasions, that doing it the old fashioned way is not such a bad idea. 

Now, as many have reported and as many more have suspected, the New York Times tells us that the chances of a viable birth from a frozen egg are slim. 

They depend on the age at which a woman froze her eggs and how many eggs she froze. The Times does not mention it, but the process also depends on the refrigeration being used at the clinic. A blackout might end the process definitively.

Anyway, the Times has this story:

The procedure of egg-freezing is an increasingly popular, but expensive, option for women who want to delay childbirth. But new research documents some caveats: how old a woman is when she freezes her eggs and how many eggs she freezes make a significant difference in whether she will have a baby. Most women who tried to become pregnant, the study found, did not succeed, often because they had waited until they were too old to freeze eggs and had not frozen enough of them.

Obviously, this is cautionary. But it is certainly a good thing that young women understand the realities and the probabilities. By freezing eggs to advance their careers they are taking a risk. And not just the risk of never having children. Do you think that a woman who has attained the age of forty something, and who has devoted herself to career advancement is valued as marriage material.

Apparently, the information does not come as a surprise to physicians who are involved in the process:

Dr. Marcelle Cedars, professor and director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at the University of California San Francisco who was not involved in the study, said that although it involved just a single fertility clinic, “it is a center that is unique for its long duration of follow-up.”

The data, she said, “are sobering” and “should give women pause.” Dr. Cedars, who is also the president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, or A.S.R.M., added that many women “are overly optimistic” about their chances of having a baby when they freeze their eggs. It is not, as many assume, an insurance policy.

“The pregnancy rate is not as good as I think a lot of women think it will be,” she said. “I always tell patients, ‘There’s not a baby in the freezer. There’s a chance to get pregnant.’”

As for the statistics, they are sobering:

The overall chance of a live birth from the frozen eggs was 39 percent. But among women who were younger than 38 when they froze their eggs, the live birthrate was 51 percent. It rose to 70 percent if women younger than 38 also thawed 20 or more eggs.

The age of the woman when she used the eggs to try to have a baby did not make a difference — all that mattered was how old a woman was when she froze her eggs and how many she froze.

As often happens in these matters, God has the last word.

"She Was 12, I Was 30"

Everyone knows by now that President Joe Biden often gets lost. He especially gets lost on stage, after finishing a speech. He wanders around, looking for an exit or a handler, dazed and confused.

Well, yesterday Joe Biden did not seem to know where he was. He mistook a meeting of teachers’ union members for a meeting of Pedophiles Anonymous.

We all know that Biden used to shower with his daughter. We know that she stated that the experience had traumatized her. We have seen Biden on many occasions sticking his nose in girls’ hair-- doubtless to get a whiff of the pheromones. So, Biden also has a hair sniffing fetish.

So, yesterday, not knowing where he was, Biden looked out at a woman in the audience, a woman who must today be around 60 years of age, and recalled an earlier encounter:

“She was 12, I was 30.”

If anyone can think of an innocent interpretation, I would like to hear it. 

As for the explanation, Monica Crowley tweeted this:

As dementia progresses, patients lose more of their filter and tend to blurt out the truth. 

I cannot attest to the accuracy. Doubtless someone out there knows more about this than I do.

Apparently, if you are a Democrat it is OK to sexualize and to molest children.

One does not like to mention it, but, the truth is, if Donald Trump or any Republican had said such a thing he would have been tarred and feathered, then run out of town on a rail. 

America has seen better days.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Another Great Exodus

David Goldman read this Wall Street Journal article, and tweeted: We are so screwed.

You would think that what with China’s zero-covid policy, along with its human rights violations, that Chinese scientists would be thrilled to be working in America. And yet, among the exoduses that we have been following for you, the exodus of Chinese scientists counts among the most disturbing.

With America’s school systems producing social justice warriors and experts in critical race theory, the jobs in high tech have increasingly been going to people from China. Unfortunately, the products of America’s school system cannot do the jobs. 

The next time you get lost in a reverie about onshoring, put that one in your hookah and puff on it. 

Now, Chinese professors are decamping for what they consider to be friendlier climes. One notes that this group has also contributed to America’s technological innovation, so….

An increasing number of scientists and engineers of Chinese descent are giving up tenured positions at top-tier American universities to leave for China or elsewhere, in a sign of the U.S.’s fading appeal for a group that has been a driver of innovation.

And also:

More than 1,400 U.S.-trained Chinese scientists dropped their U.S. academic or corporate affiliation for a Chinese one in 2021, a 22% jump from the previous year, according to data gathered by researchers from Princeton University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To some extent the problem reflects the rise of China as a leading technological center. To another extent, the Trump administration’s China Initiative, which sowed distrust for potential Chinese spies, sent many scientists packing. They did not like being persecuted for their ethnicity:

Chinese scientists trained in the U.S. have returned to China in increasing numbers over the past two decades as the country has grown more affluent and gained stature as a center of scientific research. In the past decade, China has tried to recruit top researchers through talent programs, but historically the majority elected to stay in the U.S.

Departures from the U.S. rose sharply starting in 2020, however, when the Covid-19 pandemic coincided with an increase in criminal cases filed against academics under the China Initiative, a Trump-era Justice Department program intended to counter national security threats from China.

You might be thinking that this is a good thing. Unfortunately, our diverse social justice warriors cannot replace them.

What fields lost the most people?

The majority of those who spoke to The Wall Street Journal were tenured and naturalized U.S. citizens, and many were experts in aerospace and biology—strategically important fields that Beijing has singled out for increased investment and that were among the most scrutinized under the China Initiative.

One Chinese mechanical-engineering professor said he left a top American university this summer after more than two decades in the U.S. to join a university in Hong Kong, citing a desire to be closer to his aging parents and saying he was fed up with the political environment in the U.S. The scientist, whose children were born in the U.S., said the political atmosphere had grown so tense that he stopped seeking out collaborations with other scientists.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, a goodly percentage of researchers were born in China:

A 2020 analysis by Chicago-based think tank Macro Polo found that China-born scientists account for nearly 30% of artificial-intelligence researchers working for U.S. institutions.

Chinese and other foreign-born scientists have been a source of national strength, Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and chairman of the U.S. government’s National Security Commission on AI, said in an interview. “We should never aim to cut ourselves off from a country that is home to 1.4 billion, with immense talent.”

As for scholarly research and innovation, China has moved ahead of the United States over the past few years:

In 2019, China-based scholars overtook U.S.-based scholars in producing the largest share of the top 1% most highly cited scientific papers—generally considered a key metric for scientific leadership—according to a study by scholars from the U.S., China and the Netherlands.

We are at war against China. We are fighting a Cold War against China. We failed to see that much of the best scientific research in our country was not being produced by Americans. As Goldman said, we are so screwed.

Carl Icahn on the Markets

From time to time, as a public service, I share the views of some of the savviest investors. I am not making recommendations, but I am saying that if you know very little about the market, as is my case, you do well to pay close attention to those who are older and wiser and richer.

Generally, the people I choose are cranky old guys. And today, the honor falls upon legendary investor Carl Icahn. If the stock market is generally nonplussed, if the Biden administration thinks we have nothing to worry about, and if Icahn and other cranky old guys are worried, you should continue to worry.

Icahn’s view of the markets-- “the worst is yet to come.” So you can wipe some of the optimism off your face.

Fortune magazine reports the bad news:

From JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to former Federal Reserve officials, the world’s top economic minds have pointed, practically in unison, to the storm of headwinds facing the global economy and expressed fears about the potential for a serious downturn.

In the U.S., consumers are grappling with near 40-year high inflation and rising interest rates, all while the world struggles to cope with the war in Ukraine, the European energy crisis, China’s COVID-zero policies, and more.

And even after a more than 21% drop in the S&P 500 this year, Wall Street’s best minds still think stocks have further to fall.

“The worst is yet to come,” Carl Icahn, who serves as the chairman of Icahn Enterprises and boasts a net worth of $23 billion, told MarketWatch at the Best New Ideas in Money Festival on Wednesday.

Why does Icahn think what he thinks? It has something to do with the Fed management of interest rates during the pandemic. For starters. Actually, if you have been following Lawrence Summers, he too has been especially harsh about Fed mismanagement:

The investor [Icahn] argues the Federal Reserve boosted asset prices to unsustainable levels amid the pandemic using near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing—a policy where central banks buy mortgage backed securities and government bonds in hopes of spurring lending and investment. 

“We printed up too much money, and just thought the party would never end,” he said, adding that with the Fed switching stances and raising rates to fight inflation, he now believes “the party’s over.”

The hangover from the Fed’s loose monetary policies, according to Icahn, is sky-high inflation, which rose 8.3% from a year ago in August.

“Inflation is a terrible thing. You can’t cure it,” Icahn said, noting that rising inflation was one of the key factors that brought down the Roman Empire.

OK, I am not going to explain how inflation brought down the Roman Empire-- though I am happy to hear some cogent historical analysis. One understands that inflation also brought down Weimar Germany, but that has become too much of a cliché.

In any event Icahn is not new to the pessimistic camp:

Wednesday’s warning for investors wasn’t the first from Icahn this year, either.

The billionaire warned back in September that a recession or “even worse” was likely on the way for the U.S. economy and compared today’s high inflation with that of the 1970s, arguing the Fed will struggle to control rising consumer prices.

True enough, if you are Carl Icahn you can find some stocks to buy here. But still, caution seems clearly to be the best approach to stocks. It’s not the time for heroics. And it’s not the time to incur unnecessary risks. After all, look who’s running the country.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

"The Great American Exodus"

From where I sit, within a hundred yards of the United Nations, New York is safe and secure. Given that the General Assembly is holding some kind of meeting this week, the streets in my neighborhood are flooded with police officers and the secret service. Blockades are everywhere; checkpoints stop everyone. It’s safe and secure-- it’s the exception that proves the rule.

The rule, in this case, involves the exodus out of New York City. Of course, New York is not alone in this category. Chicago is suffering its own brain drain and California has seen its population hemorrhage. Naturally, the political powers in Illinois are blaming Donald Trump. California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has declared himself a candidate for president in 2024. He has qualified his declaration that he will only do so if Joe Biden does not run. Of course, no sentient individual believes that Biden, who does not know where he is or what he is doing, will run again.

What is going on right now is an exodus. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis-- the man most likely to be your next president-- explained it in a recent speech.

Dan Henninger has the story for the Wall Street Journal:

One DeSantis idea, though, should have caught the eye of anyone focused on the flow of U.S. history.

The governor described something he called a “Great American Exodus.” In short, he means the recent movement of U.S. population out of California and the North—primarily New York, New Jersey and Illinois—into states in the South and West. He says this shift has a “political character,” which he was happy to describe. Since the pandemic began, he said, “more adjusted gross income [moved] into the state of Florida than has ever moved into any one state over a similar time period in American history.”

For years, demographers have studied this population migration from North to South, a shift with significant implications for the economic health and political power of both regions.

Some imagined that the exodus from New York City would abate once the pandemic restrictions were lifted. Apparently, it is not happening. Many of us were heartened by the election of Mayor Eric Adams, but aside from his lust for partying, the new mayor has largely failed to bring law and order back to the cities. And, lest we forget, the school system in New York City, even the private schools, is now indoctrinating children in wokeness. The result, private schools in Palm Beach are flooded with too many applicants. 

Of course, a lot depends on who is leaving. A miniscule percentage of the New York population pays most of the taxes here. If wealthy people leave New York, there goes the tax base. Already the city budget deficit is projected to be $10,ooo,000,ooo. Our Nero-like mayor does not seem to get it. He parties on.

The Census Bureau tells the tale of the tape:

In May, the Census Bureau released data noting a large departure from Northern cities between July 2020 and July 2021. The populations of San Francisco fell 6.3%, New York City 3.5%, Boston and Washington both 2.9%. The New York Post reported this week that, according to Florida driver’s-license registrations, 41,885 New Yorkers moved there this year.

More broadly, the Census Bureau reported in 2019 that “Florida had the most domestic inmovers, with 566,476 people moving from another state within the past year.” Meanwhile, “California had the most domestic outmovers, with 661,026 people moving to another state” in the previous year. Some movement has occurred inside state borders, for instance out of New York City to the suburbs or from Los Angeles and San Francisco to inland California counties. The “political character” point is that many cities administered for decades by liberal, and more recently progressive, Democrats are hemorrhaging population.

The note about drivers’ licenses suggests that the exodus is continuing. One does not need to say it again, but the primary problem with certain cities and states is Democratic governance. The level of rank incompetence is sending people packing, to warmer climes and to friendlier states.

And, lest we ignore it, black Americans have also been fleeing the crime-ridden cities:

It’s not just the 1% fleeing high-tax states for lower taxes. Receiving little attention is the fact that black Americans are also moving south, reversing the Great Migration into the North during the 20th century.

Brookings Institution demographer William Frey details this in a September report. Describing what he calls “a virtual evacuation from many northern areas,” Mr. Frey writes the “movement is largely driven by younger, college-educated Black Americans, from both northern and western places of origin. They have contributed to the growth of the ‘New South,’ especially in Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, as well as metropolitan regions such as Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston.”

The fun part is that Democratic Party leaders in blue states have recently decided that the best way to stop the bleeding is to attack corporations for not doing enough environmentally friendly investing. As Henninger notes, this is beyond stupid. If you want to attack what remains of your tax base, this is the way to go:

Last week, 13 treasurers from Democratic states including California and Illinois plus New York City’s comptroller issued a letter attacking West Virginia, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida for resisting public-pension investments tied to environmental, social and governance sustainability goals. The letter accuses these states of acting on behalf of “corporate interests.” What a spectacle—Democratic state treasurers denouncing corporations that are the bedrock of their tax base. Or were.

Their cities and states awash in crime, these dunces are trying to force corporations to declare war against the weather. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Climate Change Religious Cult

Of course, Joel Kotkin is right. Climate change activists and green environmentalists belong to a fundamentalist religious cult. They are up in arms to save the Goddess of the Planet and do not care about the human cost of their policies. If they destroy the world economy to save the planet, then, so be it. 

Obviously, not everyone is on board with this fundamentalist pagan folly. India and China, two of the world’s most significant polluters, are forging ahead with coal powered plants and even with nuclear plants. They are more than happy to stand aside and watch the ever-more decadent West commit economic suicide. 

As Kotkin explains, the fundamentalist preachers of the climate movement have been predicting imminent apocalyptic catastrophe for decades  now:

Today's climate activists resemble nothing so much as a religious movement, with carbon the new devil's spawn. The green movement is increasingly wedded to a kind of carbon fundamentalism that is not only not realistic but will reduce living standards in the West and around the world. And as with other kinds of religious fundamentalism, the climate hysteria is often overwrought and obviously so; a decade ago, the same activists predicted a planetary disaster by 2020 if the U.S. and China did not reduce their emissions by 80 percent—which of course never happened.

And no one seems to care about the direct consequences of climate change hysteria. Like all extremists, these activist do not care about the practical effects of their policies. They are maniacal about the dire necessity of doing something to repeal the Industrial Revolution. I would add my suspicion that most of them are not smart enough or well enough educated to asses possible outcomes of their policy proposals. Better to be like that ignorant little twit, AOC, and rant about the Green New Deal:

Under the green lobby's current policies, our "war" against climate change is doomed to make things worse for most people, creating what economist Isabel Schnabel calls "greenflation." 

Higher prices for energy and food, worsened further by the war in Ukraine, are already are forcing countries to adopt massive subsidies for food and gas. In the developing world, billions now face immiseration, malnutrition or starvation. And green targets of zero emissions only make this situation worse.

The cost of energy in today's Europe should have been a warning shot. It should have told us that green energy sources were not capable of making up the shortfall when Russia turns off the gas. Strangely, some climate change hysterics have concluded from Europe’s problems with Russia that they need to build more windmills.

And, of course, considering how bad they think things are, these same climate change hysterics are happy to suspend democracy:

A regime run by the climatistas is likely to be very authoritarian, with many seeing in the COVID-19 lockdowns a "test run" for top-down edicts over how people live. In a sign of things to come, Switzerland is considering jail terms for those who try to stay too warm this winter.

In a sense Kotkin also buys into the climate change hysteria, or perhaps he is throwing a few bones to the activists. Yet, he is certainly correct to say that we need more nuclear energy, but he should also notice that you cannot just wave a magic wand and see a nuclear power plant rise from the ashes.

In truth, as China, in particular, seems to know, it is a lot easier to build coal power plants. These plants produce electricity, and the electric cars that the administration is touting, need vast quantities of electricity to run-- as of now the grid is not even close to being able to provide it.

Instead of placing all bets on fundamentally intermittent, unreliable and economically problematic solar and wind energy, we should focus more on other options, from nuclear power to hydroelectric generation to continuing to replace coal with abundant, cleaner natural gas.

One gets the distinct impression, from reading Kotkin, that the climate change movement is a remnant of the anti-capitalist socialist revolutionary ideology. You know, the one that failed so miserably in the twentieth century.

Where climate hysteria promises only gloom, class conflict and ever-increasing repression, an adaptation scenario allows humans to adjust to a warming world, even as we work to bring down emissions. Adaptation gives us a way of addressing climate change while retaining prosperity, creating opportunities, and showing that, rather than wage a scorched earth policy to save Gaia, we can learn instead to work within its limits.

It is a fundamentalist and pagan religious cult. And it is also a radical leftist attack on the Industrial Revolution, on free enterprise and free trade. It is certainly ironic that the West failed to draw the right lessons from the collapse of Communism, leaving it to other countries, ones that do not hold democratic elections, to ensure that their citizens to not undergo California style or Texas-sized blackouts in the midst of winter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Organized Retail Theft

The insurrection is ongoing. It has moved beyond the rioting and arson and has become a fact of everyday life in retail stores. That is, smash and grab robberies are considered to be the new normal in retail establishments across America-- that is, across America’s big blue cities.

But, don’t call it an insurrection. Don’t call it justice. Compared to the monstrous crime of sending 50 illegal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, it pales. And don't let's get started on January 6. While gangs of thieves attack the basis for urban businesses, the enabling left is in a snit about Ron DeSantis and January 6.

Have you ever gotten the impression that the American mind has been rendered terminally stupid. Well, while America’s mayors, like Lori Lightweight in Chicago and America’s governors, like J. B. Pritzker in Illinois are in the highest dudgeon about the arrival of a few dozen illegal migrants, to the point where they are calling out the National Guard, these same leaders are perfectly insouciant about a wave of urban violence that is engulfing their cities. 

If it doesn’t bother them, one can only conclude that they believe it to be just.

Now, organized retail crime, as it is called, has advanced to the point where gangs are in charge. Since the gang members belong to minority groups, blue district attorneys have turned their backs on the perpetrators. It keeps the crime statistics down.

Bryan Jung explains in The Epoch Times:

These crimes have hurt thousands of businesses and have contributed to higher prices for consumers and loss of key retailers in many communities, as countless stores have closed to due to lack of security.

“The factors contributing to retail shrink have multiplied in recent years, and organized retail crime is a burgeoning threat within the retail industry,” said Mark Meadows, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis.

“These highly sophisticated criminal rings jeopardize employee and customer safety and disrupt store operations. Retailers are bolstering security efforts to counteract these increasingly dangerous and aggressive criminal activities.”

While most shopkeepers do their best to avoid violent confrontations with gang members, this is not always the case.

Jung continues:

A sudden increase store violence is another growing area of concern, such as random attacks on store personnel, robberies, and ORC gangs.

The majority of surveyed retailers reported a 89.3 percent increase in violence and a 73.2 percent uptick in shoplifting.

The reported incidents of both ORC and employee theft rose 71.4 percent, much of it involving organized crime or for the gangs’ own benefit.

The NRF said that respondents reported that ORC robberies have risen 26.5 percent since the onset of the pandemic.

The most targeted store items fall under the acronym CRAVED: concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable,  and disposable.

Items under CRAVED include apparel, health and beauty, electronics/appliances, accessories, food and beverage, footwear, home furnishings and housewares, home improvement, eyewear, office supplies, infant care, and toys.

In search of solutions, retailers are boosting spending on theft-prevention measures.

The NRF survey showed that 60.3 percent of retailers are increasing their security budgets.

Increased security increases costs. And increased costs are going to be passed along to consumers. Unless, of course, you shop at Amazon, in which case you have nothing to worry about… yet.

Isn't it interesting, at a time when shopkeepers are being put out of business by Amazon and Walmart, that criminal gangs are picking through the carcasses.

I don’t need to tell you where this is taking place. And I do not need to explain who is responsible. Apparently, the problem is endemic to places where rich liberals live.

Jung continues:

Wealthy liberal enclaves throughout the country with district attorneys thought of as “soft on crime” appear to be the regions most affected by the crime wave and which has only grown worse since the pandemic.

The top five metropolitan areas affected by store bandit gangs in the past year were the Californian cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland; New York; Houston, Texas; and Miami, Florida.

Retailers across the country are calling for stronger legislation, especially at the federal and state level, along with better enforcement of existing laws to quell increasing acts of violence and theft, which are hurting their survival.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce demanded earlier this year that Congress take action to address the rise of ORC crimes, calling them a “national emergency.”

“Retail theft is becoming a national crisis, hurting businesses in every state and the communities they serve,” said Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer, in a letter to Congress in March.

“We call on policymakers to tackle this problem head-on before it gets further out of control. No store should have to close because of theft.”

We see the pictures every day. And we shrug our shoulders. Doesn’t this suggest that in our minds, we think that the criminals have a right to take what they have not earned? Aren’t we telling them not to bother to work to earn?

But, stores will close. Aisles of products will be and are now locked down. Prices will rise. People will lose jobs. Consider it a testimony to the arrant stupidity of leftist pro-crime policies.