Wednesday night fell into the teens. This, according to data collected by Seattle Weather Blog, has happened only 11 times since the beginning of this century. True, this is not all that when one considers the polar vortex that settled on cities like Detroit and Minneapolis. 

Star Tribune:

This week, the weather pattern has already dumped more than 8 inches of snow at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and unleashed winds between 20 and 30 mph in the metro. It's also led to the Twin Cities registering a temperature of 6 below on Thursday afternoon.

A mind shaped by the Pacific Northwest can only break when considering temperatures that drop several points below zero. It makes Seattle’s high temperature today, 22 degrees, almost tropical.  

How many flights are delayed today? Nearly 200 flights were delayed at Sea-Tac, according to Seattle Times. Why do we do this to ourselves? One of the few things I miss about the lockdown days was this fuss-lessness. No holiday flying, no delays, Zoom your loved ones.

To that squirrel that gave me those looks this morning. I want them to know I had nothing to do with this freezing weather. Yes, I do not mind it. Yes, I may even love it. Certainly prefer it to summer. But I'm not God, you lowly squirrel. I can't make the world freeze. Wait. Wait. Wait. I understand now. You are not blaming me directly. You are blaming my society (or civilization), which can't stop liberating carbon. Well, squirrel, you have seen nuts and even buried a few in your time. But in my cultural world, we have people who own billions and billions of the universal equivalent (money). We have never seen these billions. And yet, they are real as the carbon that's released into the atmosphere.  

There is a scene in The Santa Clause that demands the attention of those trying to solve one of the riddles of economics. This movie, if you have forgotten—it hit screens in 1994—stars Tim Allen (Scott Calvin). He plays a toy executive whose ex-wife (Wendy Crewson) is married to a psychiatrist (Judge Reinhold). One night, the psychiatrist attempts to show his stepson (Calvin's son—Eric Lloyd) that Santa does not exist.

The scene: 

The Psychiatrist/Stepfather:
What about Santa's reindeer? Have you even seen a reindeer fly?

The Boy/Stepson:

The Psychiatrist/Stepfather:
Well, I haven't.

The Boy/Stepson:
Have you ever seen a million dollars?

The Psychiatrist/Stepfather:

The Boy/Stepson:
Just because you can't see something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Indeed, the boy is right and wrong at the same time. He is right that the existence of a million dollars is real, though almost no one on this planet has ever seen it. And let's not even speak about billions upon billions apparently owned by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and the like. They have never seen their own money. We will certainly never see it. But it is real in a way that Santa Clause, elves, and flying reindeer are not. The fiction of billions has real results. Because of billionaires, thousands of people live on the streets, millions of workers are forced to live on minimum wages. A billion is, in the words of Marxists influenced by Alfred Sohn-Rethel, a "real abstraction." Santa is simply fictional.

At the end of the first decade of the previous century, the American anthropologist, William H. Furness III, published a book called The Island of Stone Money. It was about the monetary system and economy of Yap, a remote island in the Pacific. The people of that island used huge circular stones with holes in them as money. This kind of money was called "fei." 

Some fei were 13 feet tall; others, just a foot. All were hard to move from place to place. Also, the people of the island had everything they needed: a few domesticated pigs, fish, coconuts, a small number of vegetables. There was, it appeared, no real need to buy or even barter these few things. They could be had for free. But to William H. Furness III's surprise, they had this sophisticated monetary system of stones. To make matters stranger to his American eyes and sensibilities, the stones were rarely moved around. When a deal was struck with a stone, it usually was not exchanged. It stayed in the buyer's yard, and its new owner only needed to know that the buyer knew it was his.

The Yap also used feis that had never been seen. They only existed as a verbal claim. Indeed, one massive stone was said to have fallen into the ocean while being transported by boat from another island. Though it was at the bottom of the ocean (as the boatmen claimed), it had not lost one bit of its massive value. You could still make deals with it. This stone money nobody had ever seen and would never see.

But isn't this also how a bank works? As the Korean-British economist Ha-Joon Chang points out in Economics: The User's Guide, the money that you see in your account only exists if there is not a run on the bank. A bank, in reality, does not have enough cash to meet all of its obligations at once. It depends on you believing that it does. And if there's no run on the bank, the reality of this fiction is maintained. And so the money you see in your account is only there not because the bank actually has it or is holding it, but because you believe it is there.  

The massive $2 billion extension to the Washington Convention Center opens in January, reports Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. 

What is this? Hari Kondabolu is in one of the new episodes of the best comedy show on TV, South Side:

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Let's end PM with a bleak track from DeepChord Presents Echospace's The Coldest Season, "Abraxas."