November 2008 Archives
Where's Sock Puppet's Bailout?
Hat tip Hit & Run.
Tyler Cowen: The Free Market and Morality
Tyler Cowen: The Free Market and Morality
Can you pass a basic civics quiz?
Take the ISI Civics Quiz, and see if you can score higher than most elected officials.
Some of the results:
- Officeholders typically have less civic knowledge than the general public. On average, they score 44%, five percentage points lower than non-officeholders.
- Seventy-one percent of Americans fail the test, with an overall average score of 49%.
- Fewer than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government, a minimal requirement for understanding America’s constitutional system.
- Only 24% of college graduates know the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
- Only 54% of college graduates can correctly identify a basic description of the free enterprise system, in which all Americans participate.
- US officials flunk test of Amercian history, economics, civics - Yahoo News
- Proud to be an American? Take the quiz - USA Today
- The Myth of the Rational Elected Official - Marginal Revolution
As children explore their environment by themselves--making decisions, taking chances, coping with any attendant anxiety or frustration--their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated, [Hara Estroff] Marano says. “Dendrites sprout. Synapses form.” If, on the other hand, children are protected from such trial-and-error learning, their nervous systems “literally shrink.”
Such atrophy, Marano claims, may be undetectable in the early years, when overattentive parents are doing for the child what he should be doing on his own, but once he goes off to college the damage becomes obvious. Marano sees an epidemic of psychological breakdown on college campuses: “The middle of the night may find a SWAT team of counselors calming down a dorm wing after having crisis-managed an acute manic episode or yet another incident of self-mutilation.” Overparented students who avoid or survive college meltdowns are still impaired, Marano argues. Having been taught that the world is full of dangers, they are risk-averse and pessimistic. (“It may be that robbing children of a positive sense of the future is the worst form of violence that parents can do to them,” she writes.) Schooled in obedience to authority, they will be poor custodians of democracy. Finally--and, again, she stresses this--their robotic behavior will threaten “American leadership in the global marketplace.” That was the factor that frightened parents into hovering. And by their hovering they prevented their children from developing the very traits--courage, nimbleness, outside-the-box thinking--that are required by the new economic order.
. . .
As for children’s safety, [Carl] Honoré makes what will no doubt be the controversial recommendation that we stop fretting about it. He quotes Samuel Butler on the subject: “Young people have a marvelous faculty of either dying or adapting themselves to circumstances.” Allergy rates in children are rising throughout the industrialized world. Honoré blames this on oversanitized environments: “Just look at what happened in Germany. Before unification, allergy rates were much higher in the western part, even though the Communist-run eastern half had much worse pollution and more children living on farms. After the countries reunited, East Germany was cleaned up and urbanized--and allergy rates soared.”
. . .
As for the steamy devotion shown by later generations of parents, what it has produced are snotty little brats filled with “anger at such abstract enemies as The System,” and intellectual lightweights, certain (because their parents told them so) that their every thought is of great consequence. [Joseph] Epstein says that, when he was teaching, he was often tempted to write on his students’ papers: “D-. Too much love in the home.” As his essay suggests, critics of overparenting have political concerns as well as moral ones. The politics go both ways, however. The conservatives are afraid that we’re turning our children into pampered ninnies (that is, Democrats); the liberals that we’re producing selfish, authoritarian robots (Republicans).
. . .
As for the current outbreak of worry over the young, [Steven] Mintz reminds us that America has seen such panics before--for example, in the nineteen-fifties, with the outcry over hot rods, teen sex, and rock and roll. The fifties even had its own campaign against overparenting, or overmothering--Momism, as it was called. This was thought to turn boys into homosexuals. For the past three decades, Mintz writes, discussions of child-rearing in the United States have been dominated by a “discourse of crisis,” and yet America’s youth are now, on average, “bigger, richer, better educated, and healthier than at any other time in history.” There have been some losses. Middle-class white boys from the suburbs have fallen behind their predecessors, but middle-class girls and minority children are far better off. Mintz thinks that we worry too much, or about the wrong things. Despite general prosperity--at least until recently--the percentage of poor children in America is greater today than it was thirty years ago. One in six children lives below the poverty line. If you want an emergency, Mintz says, there’s one.
"The Child Trap: The rise of overparenting." By Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, November 17, 2008
Yesterday afternoon, I traveled to Chinatown and bought a chopped, half Cantonese roast duck for $6 at my regular duck joint. It was a very freezing day and considering the cold weather, I created this simple recipe.
At home, I placed a cup of long-grain white rice in the pot with 2 cups of water. Shred a huge leaf of green cabbage and a carrot that are readily available from my root-celler (I have turned-off my refrigerator!). Bring the pot to a rolling boil and place the cabbage, carrot and the roast duck into the pot and cover.
Lower the heat to simmer and shut-off the heat after 5 minutes. Let stand for another fifteen minutes and scoop up the duckfat infused rice into a dinner plate and enjoy with a glass of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. It is so good for a one-pot cooking in this very hard economic times. There was enough left-over for lunch!
p/s: duckfat is better then butter or extra virgin olive oil!!!
Will the day come when the celebritariat endangers its own existence by becoming a self-perpetuating elite, closed off to new members? There are signs that this is beginning to happen, with the children of famous people inheriting their celebrity status, just as aristocrats inherited their parents estates. It sounds odd to say it, but for those like my father who dream of turning Britain into a socialist paradise, the greatest cause for hope may be the existence of Peaches Geldof.
"Lulled by the celebritariat," by Toby Young, Prospect, December 2008
Also see "Sick fascination with celebrities indicts Americans," by Leonard Pitts Jr., Columbia Tribune, January 19, 2008
- Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole? - Calculated Risk
- Thomas Kinkade's 16 Guidelines for Making Stuff Suck - Vanity Fair
- Love in the Time of Darwinism - City Journal
- The Coming Slavery - ThinkMarkets
- Is tax protesting a cult? - Daniel Evans
Peter Schiff was right....
Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, among others, has been predicting the current economic crisis since 2006.
Just as prices in a free market are set by supply and demand, financial and real estate markets are governed by the opposing tension between greed and fear. Everyone wants to make money, but everyone is also afraid of losing what he has. Although few would ascribe their desire for prosperity to greed, it is simply a rose by another name. Greed is the elemental motivation for the economic risk-taking and hard work that are essential to a vibrant economy.
But over the past generation, government has removed the necessary counterbalance of fear from the equation. Policies enacted by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which were always government entities in disguise), and others created advantages for home-buying and selling and removed disincentives for lending and borrowing. The result was a credit and real estate bubble that could only grow -- until it could grow no more.
"Don't Blame Capitalism," by Peter Schiff, The Washington Post, October 16, 2008
Will You Get Your Mail-In Rebate?
We have it from good sources currently that CPG owes consumers somewhere in the neighborhood of $9M to $12M worth of rebates. The problem here is that CPG currently only has about $3M in cash to cover that $9M-$12M in rebates owed to the consumer. Where that money has gone to is anyone’s guess and we will leave speculation up the law enforcement authorities and the courts.
Currently CPG is contacting its customers telling them that they will need to yet again deposit money into CPG accounts in order for CPG to have the cash to cover rebate checks to consumers. This is money that companies have already paid CPG previously. CPG is telling its customers that if they do not pony up AGAIN, consumer rebate check payments are in jeopardy. In our example above, CPG is not sure where the $100,000 is that Company X paid them, but we are sure that they want another $100,000 or CPG will start bouncing consumers' MIR checks.
"Your Mail in Rebate May Be In Jeopardy," by Mike Bennett, [H]Enthusiast, November 13, 2008
Just a day after it handed out pink slips to 17 employees, CPG Marketing Inc. and Continental Promotion Group Inc. of Tampa have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday.
"Continental Promotion seeks bankruptcy protection after layoff," by Michael Hinman, Tampa Bay Business Journal, November 14, 2008
Caution is necessary here on any rebate through this holiday season as outcome of this mess is uncertain at this time.
Check your status (CPG link)
List of companies that show up on above search link below.
"The End of Wall Street's Boom"
To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital--to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.
. . .
Whitney was an obscure analyst of financial firms for Oppenheimer Securities who, on October 31, 2007, ceased to be obscure. On that day, she predicted that Citigroup had so mismanaged its affairs that it would need to slash its dividend or go bust. It’s never entirely clear on any given day what causes what in the stock market, but it was pretty obvious that on October 31, Meredith Whitney caused the market in financial stocks to crash. By the end of the trading day, a woman whom basically no one had ever heard of had shaved $369 billion off the value of financial firms in the market. Four days later, Citigroup’s C.E.O., Chuck Prince, resigned. In January, Citigroup slashed its dividend.
From that moment, Whitney became E.F. Hutton: When she spoke, people listened. Her message was clear. If you want to know what these Wall Street firms are really worth, take a hard look at the crappy assets they bought with huge sums of borrowed money, and imagine what they’d fetch in a fire sale. The vast assemblages of highly paid people inside the firms were essentially worth nothing. For better than a year now, Whitney has responded to the claims by bankers and brokers that they had put their problems behind them with this write-down or that capital raise with a claim of her own: You’re wrong. You’re still not facing up to how badly you have mismanaged your business.
"The End of Wall Street's Boom," by Michael Lewis, Portfolio, November 11, 2008
"The Uses of Adversity"
One of the reasons that the Parsi in India, the East Asians in Africa, the Chinese in Southeast Asia, and the Lebanese in the Caribbean, among others, have been so successful, sociologists argue, is that they are decoupled from the communities in which they operate. If you are a Malaysian in Malaysia, or a Kenyan in Kenya, or an African-American in Watts, and you want to run a grocery store, you start with a handicap: you have friends and relatives who want jobs, or discounts. You can’t deny credit or collect a debt from your neighbor, because he’s your neighbor, and your social and business lives are tied up together.
"The Uses of Adversity: Can underprivileged outsiders have an advantage?" By Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, November 10, 2008
Fuleen Seafood Restaurant
Recently I shepherded a group of 7 amigos to the Fuleen Seafood Restaurant ... Classic Cantonese cuisine with nice service and a very good value. Another great place to bring a group of hungry amigos for a delicious Cantonese dinner in Chinatown. The dishes I ordered ... perriwinkles in black-bean sauce, flour-coated fried oysters, prawns with walnuts, garlic-scented sauteed chicken, garlic sauteed pea-shoots, fermented bean-curd sauteed water spinach, chow-mein with prawns. Fresh cut Florida oranges for desert. The total bill was $125.00. We were allowed to bring our own red wine ... come soon for a very frugal Manhattan-Yankee dinner in Chinatown ...
Real Estate Downfall
“We had some very good years but a lot of people over-capitalised,” he says. “They bought $300,000 new boats, $300,000 new houses, and new trucks, never putting anything away for a rainy day. But here it is, pouring rain.”
"Maine lobstermen suffer as prices fall," by Rebecca Knight, FT.com, November 10 2008
- "A California town drowns as home values sink," by David Streitfeld, International Herald Tribune, November 11, 2008
- "Bonus Jackpot Can Be Yours in Five Easy Steps," by Michael Lewis, Bloomberg News, November 10, 2008
- Calculated Risk
- Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor
- Case-Shiller index - from Wikipedia
Who Is Thelonious Monk? Nov. 15, 2008 at Lincoln Center
New York City Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008, jazz musical compositions by Thelonius Sphere Monk, 1PM concert performed by the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis ...
Best deal for hard economic times
After casting my vote at Hunter College with a minimal wait ... the TV media was very sensational about long lines ... I went to Chinatown and ate at my local hawker stall on south-east corner of Canal & Mott Streets .... three deep-fried vegetable spring rolls for $1.00 and fried vegetable chow-mein for $1.25 ... I walked to the Hong Kong supermarket on Hester Street and bought a can of cool coconut juice for $0.89 ... the best deal for this hard economic times ... cheaper then the cost of the tip at a 4-star fancy up-town restaurant ...
A single red deer is worth fifty thousand oysters
It's a history of Europe which blends economic geography and economic archaeology. The underlying question is how Europe became so innovative and the answer has much to do with trade and migration.
. . .
The photography and the color plates of the art are lovely. You can learn how to view the Roman Empire as an "interlude" and as a break from the major story and how to understand 800-1000 A.D. as a period of rebalancing. And you get passages like this:
...the actual return in calorific value for the effort expended in collecting [shellfish] is comparatively small. A single red deer would be worth fifty thousand oysters! That said, the value of shellfish is that they are always available and can be substituted when other food sources run short.
If you enjoy early economic history, this is a must, noting that it does not have the titillating feel of a popular science book.
25th Anniversary of Chimay Trappist Ales in NY
Please come and join me : The 25th Anniversary Chimay Trappist Ales in U.S.A ... .Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at The Ginger Man, 7 - 9 PM ... the only pub in Manhattan that does not have any television sets!
Museum of Arts & Design
I went to the Museum of Arts & Design last month. I must say that this is the best new museum in New York for a very long time. The exhibitions are very sophisticated and well crafted. The cliche that "my child could have done this art-work" does not apply here. I am so happy that Columbus Circle is finally getting done. There is the MTA subway station to be renovated. A great plus for New York.
Thursday night is the best time to visit because it is pay-as-you-wish ... 6 - 9pm.
Mrs. Hughes Live at the Ice House
15 year old son: "So, why'd you have me?"
Mrs. Hughes: "Well actually, we didn't know it would be you."
"We were hoping for someone with a job!"
Daylight Savings Time Ends November 2, 2008, at 2 am
Daylight Savings Time Ends November 2, 2008, at 2 am. Turn your clock back.
The official U.S. time is here: http://www.time.gov/
Green Grow the Rushes O
Green Grow the Rushes O
By Robert Burns
There's no but care on every hand
In every hour that passes oh
That signifies the life of man
and twere not for the lassies oh
Green grow the rushes oh
Green grow the rushes oh
The sweetest hours that e're I spent
Were spent among the lassies oh
The wordly race may riches chase
And riches still may fly them oh
And when at last they catch them fast
Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them oh
Give me a quiet hour at e'en
My arms around my dearie oh
And warly cares and warly men
May a gae topsy-turvy oh
For you so grave you sneer at this
You're no but senseless asses oh
The wisest man the world e'er saw
Dearly loved the lassies oh