Assorted Links 1/18/10

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Clusterf#@k to the Poor House – Wall Street Bonuses
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

  • Word Workshop: Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing , January 28, 2010
  • Update on The 111th Congress, 2010, January 29, 2010
  • Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, February 10, 2010
  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, February 11, 2010
  • Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, February 18, 2010
  • The President’s Budget, February 23, 2010
  • The Defense Budget, February 26, 2010
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, March 3-5, 2010
  • How to guarantee your luggage won’t be lost or stolen next time you fly: – “Most of the time travelers are on the short-end of TSA regulations. In this instance, however, you can use travel rules to your advantage. If you’re traveling with equipment you would prefer it locked up and watched more closely than your run of the mill luggage, you can pack a firearm with the equipment or luggage.”
  • Why Many Investors Keep Fooling Themselves – “What are we smoking, and when will we stop?

    A nationwide survey last year found that investors expect the U.S. stock market to return an annual average of 13.7% over the next 10 years.

    Robert Veres, editor of the Inside Information financial-planning newsletter, recently asked his subscribers to estimate long-term future stock returns after inflation, expenses and taxes, what I call a “net-net-net” return. Several dozen leading financial advisers responded. Although some didn’t subtract taxes, the average answer was 6%. A few went as high as 9%.

    We all should be so lucky. Historically, inflation has eaten away three percentage points of return a year. Investment expenses and taxes each have cut returns by roughly one to two percentage points a year. All told, those costs reduce annual returns by five to seven points.

    So, in order to earn 6% for clients after inflation, fees and taxes, these financial planners will somehow have to pick investments that generate 11% or 13% a year before costs. Where will they find such huge gains? Since 1926, according to Ibbotson Associates, U.S. stocks have earned an annual average of 9.8%. Their long-term, net-net-net return is under 4%.”

  • Mike Rustigan Has His Head on Straight – “Mike Rustigan has an excellent op-ed in the LA Times hammering away at American society’s ill-conceived obsession with academic education, something that I am dismayed at daily. There are many people whose skill sets are just not cut out for academics, but have skills that would prove very valuable in a number of vocational trades. Yet, the ‘intellectuals’ of society have stigmatized those who make a living in such professions as inferior beings, creating the notion that college is the only path to success. We need to alter this public perception and encourage our youth to pursue careers that will help them improve their standard of living and make needed contributions to society – we all need car repairs, plumbers and electricians on occasion.”
  • Obama’s Other Massachusetts Problem – “When Obama campaigns for Martha Coakley, he is really campaigning for his health plan, which means he is really campaigning for the Massachusetts health plan.

    He and Coakley should explain why they’re pursuing a health plan that’s not only increasingly unpopular, but also appears to have a rather high cost-benefit ratio.”

  • Health Reform: A Political Mistake? – “Premier political analyst Charlie Cook argues today that Obama made a serious error in plunging into health reform until the economy had fully recovered. He says that Obama should have focused like a laser beam on the economy pretty much to the exclusion of all else. If unemployment is still high in November, as it probably will be, Democrats will be very vulnerable to the charge that they took their eye off the ball to pursue a longheld ideological goal that may have been worthwhile but was not by any means time-sensitive.”
  • “No Trial By Jewry” – “Oddly enough, Siddiqui was quite willing to get a Ph.D. from Brandeis.”
  • interview with a Chicago school economist – “Q: But Fannie and Freddie’s purchases of subprime mortgages were pretty small compared to the market as a whole, perhaps twenty or thirty per cent.

    A: (Laughs)

    Italics mine.”

  • Interview with Eugene Fama – “I don’t know if these are even the big issues of the time. I think that what is going on in health care could end up being more important. I don’t think we are going down the right road there. Insurance is not the solution: it’s the problem. Making the problem more widespread is not going to solve it.”
  • Look like Jimmy Stewart – “‘This diet works great,” Don declared. “But I think I’ve lost too much weight.’

    At 67 years old and 5 ft. 11 inches, Don began the program weighing 228 lbs (BMI 31.9). Because of high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high c-reactive protein, and excessive small LDL, I instructed Don to eliminate all wheat products from his diet, along with cornstarch and sweets. His intake of lean meats, eggs, vegetables, oils, raw nuts, etc. was unlimited.

    Don now weighed 194 lbs, down 34 lbs over 6 months (BMI 27.1). Triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure, and well-being had improved dramatically; small LDL, however, had dropped only 30%–still room for improvement.

    ”My friends say I’m too skinny. They ask if I have cancer!'”

  • No time for crushing despair as soccer will soon fill the air – “I’m just a soccer newbie, having been brought to the game by watching my sons play youth soccer. The boys begged me not to ask de los Cobos anything, just to sit at the Fire news conference and keep my mouth shut, lest I embarrass the family name with my lack of futbol knowledge.

    They figure my practical knowledge of the game comes from playing FIFA Soccer 2010 on their Xbox, and they may be right. But I’m trying to learn, which is like attempting to solve a puzzle of passionate human geometry. On a soccer field, I think I’m beginning to see fascinating triangles forming and reforming, the angles of the triangles constantly changing, the ball flowing to the points, forward and back.”

  • Straining to Defend Martha Coakley – “Broadly speaking, LeBlanc’s also right that ‘hardly anyone ever fails to be elected becasue they were too hard on criminals.’ But I don’t know of a single incident in which a prosecutor suffered bad publicity or was attacked politically for failing to fight the release of an innocent person. ‘Tough on crime’ positions on parole, sentencing, the death penalty, and so on are policy positions on which reasonable people can disagree. Obstinacy in the face of overwhelming evidence of someone’s innocence is a moral failing, regardless of motivation.

    Moreover, Coakley’s also being criticized for failing to bring charges against a man who sexually assaulted his young niece with a curling iron. Coakley’s successor put him away for two life terms. Why would Coakley–so aware of the political pressure to be tough on crime, so protective of her own ambition for higher office, and who carefully cultivated an image for herself as a defender of children–not throw the book at a man accused of raping a toddler with a curling iron? I’m just guessing here, but it may have something to do with the fact that Keith Winfield was also a police officer. That suggests a blind allegiance to law enforcement that we should find troubling in a U.S. Senator who will be making and voting on criminal justice policy.

    There’s a broader point here, too. Even the left–even the far left–seems to find it difficult to hold bad prosecutors accountable, at least when they happen to be Democrats. So long as prosecutors are rewarded for aggressiveness and never punished when they overstep, we’ll continue to see the very sort of behavior LeBlanc claims to find troubling.”

  • As the Economy Recovers, State Budgets Continue to Worsen – “Present state budget crises will likely seem mild compared to what they will face in F Y2011. In order to comply with their constitutionally mandated balanced budgets, many states relied on one-time gimmicks to pass their FY 2010 budgets and must now turn to even more drastic measures.”
  • Part 1: Answers on Fafsa and Financial Aid – “To help readers of The Choice navigate this maze, we’ve enlisted Mark Kantrowitz of the Web sites and FastWeb.Com (a scholarship search site). You can submit questions about the Fafsa to Mr. Kantrowitz by using the comment box on our original post, or the box below. His answers are scheduled to continue through Friday, Jan. 22.”
  • It’s Not about Interest Rates Yet – “Incoming data continue to support expectations that the Federal Reserve will hold rates at rock bottom levels for the foreseeable future – likely into 2011. But interest rates should not be the focus of policy analysts. The Fed will manipulate policy via the balance sheet long before they fall back to the interest rate tool. The question is whether or not the slow growth environment is sufficient to persuade the Fed to hold the balance sheet steady or even expand the balance sheet beyond current expectations. And there always remains the third option, favored by a minority of policymakers – withdraw the stimulus now that growth has reemerged. At this point, I suspect the Fed will stick with the hold steady option.”
  • Compare and Contrast – “It’s likely that I will watch the latest day of 24, although after recently observing Sherlock Holmes take down a somewhat more plausible cabal than the one Jack Bauer’s late brother and father were involved in, I’m compiling a list of reasons Sherlock Holmes would be a better counter-terrorism agent than Jack Bauer.”
  • Prison Escape Artist – “Clever ruse”
  • “Obama’s policy on the war he once opposed is not similar to Bush’s: It is identical” – “Reacting to my current column, plenty of Obama-loving liberals are angry at me for pointing out the obvious–that on the one issue that most defined Obama’s candidacy and the Bush presidency—the two men are indistinguishable.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Honor Bound
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

  • What Questions Do You Ask Before Signing a New Lease? – “It’s easy to get excited when you’ve found the perfect place to rent, but you don’t want to lose your head before signing the lease. Home blog Apartment Therapy suggests 10 questions to ask before signing, and we want to know yours.”
  • How many ancestors do we have? – “If we double the number of ancestors in each generation, 2 parents, 4 grandparents, and so on, we can see that by the time we are back 10 generations, we have the potential for 1024 ancestors. But is this true? If we were to go back to the time of Charlemagne, we would find we had the potential for 281 trillion (YES!) ancestors all living at that one moment in history. This is statistically impossible! So where did our ancestors go?

    It is estimated that 80% of the marriages in history were between second cousins. Why? Because the population base was smaller, people lived in small communities and migrated within those same small communities. The theory in genealogical research is that our family trees are actually shaped like a diamond, not a pyramid as shown below. Tracing back a few generations gives a wider shape. Keep going and you find the shape narrowing, eventually, the theory holds, converging to only a few ancestors.”

  • Why Do We Have Taxpayer Subsidized State Universities? – “What is the rationale of state government subsidized universities? One is that allegedly universities provide some positive spillover effects to society, a somewhat dubious proposition in our view after researching the issue for many years. The second goal is the egalitarian goal —rich kids can afford private schools, so state schools are designed to provide a low cost option (that is a laugh these days!) for those otherwise unable to attend college. Increasingly, the flagships are emulating the prestigious private schools. They restrict supply, turning decent if not spectacular students away. They say, ‘go to lesser, inferior schools.’ This rather haughty attitude is inconsistent with the egalitarian ideal, which is one reason why the prestige-seeking state universities are losing state support (Jim Duderstadt, former U of Michigan prez, told me last week that only about 5 percent of U of M funding now comes from the state).”
  • Wheat Ridge High School Class of 1970 – “The reonion committee is working away planning the 40th reunion the weekend of August 13-15, 2010. Wheat Ridge, Colorado”
  • Common Market Food Co-op – “Common Market Food Co-op was a ‘new wave food co-op’ located at 1329 California Street in Denver, Colorado, from 1975 – 1980. It started as a buying club at the University of Denver in the late 1960s, and for a few years prior to moving to the old Safeway at 13th and California Streets, Common Market operated out of a small storefront on Champa Street.”
  • Catholic scholars who aren’t Catholic – “In an editorial eulogizing the late Mary Daly, the Boston Globe lets the cat out of the bag. Daly ‘came to describe herself as a ‘radical lesbian feminist’ and a ‘post-Christian,’’ the Globe notes. How, then, did she justify her position in the theology department at Boston College: a nominally Catholic school?
    . . .
    Like all too many of her colleagues in Catholic theological circles, Daly used her academic post not to build up the faith but to tear it down–or, to be more accurate, to exploit it for other purposes.”
  • Marines Embark For Haiti – “The Marines are sending the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with three large amphibious assault ships loaded with heavy lift helicopters, trucks and earth movers to support relief efforts. Despite having just returned from a six month deployment as theater reserve for Central Command, the 22nd MEU out of Camp Lajeune, NC., is packing up and will tomorrow for Haiti and expects to arrive early next week. Marines were recalled from post-​​deployment leave two days ago and immediately began crisis planning, said Marine Capt. Clark Carpenter, speaking to reporters by telephone.”
  • Candy-ass vice-principal calls the bomb squad over an 11-year-old’s science project, recommends counselling for the student – “A San Diego school vice-principal saw an 11-year-old’s home science project (a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics), decided it was a bomb, wet himself, put the school on lockdown, had the bomb-squad come out to X-ray the student’s invention and search his parents’ home, and then magnanimously decided not to discipline the kid (though he did recommend that the child and his parents get counselling to help them overcome their anti-social science behavior).”
  • Doctors, Targeting Prostate, Mistakenly Remove Man’s Prostrate – “Doctors, performing prostate surgery on a man in Minneapolis, mistakenly removed his prostrate, leaving the man with his diseased prostate and, now, without a perfectly healthy prostrate.

    The patient, Leonard Gold, 67, was outraged and expressed as much when, from his hospital bed, told of the medical error, he shouted, ‘What!? Are you f**king kidding!!?’

    Wikopedia is reporting this as the first documented case of surgeons confusing the prostate with the prostrate (although anecdotal reports of the surgical mistake exist).”

  • Vitamin D And Calcium Reduce Bone Fractures – “Across a wide range of ages both vitamin D and calcium supplements cut the incidence of bone breaks.”

The U.S. is headed for a major debt crisis–within 5 to 10 years.

  • “The 32 Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases – “My wife, a high school teacher, sees kids confuse ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ a lot. In college, I see fair amounts of the ‘affect/effect’ and ‘imply/infer’ confusions. ”
  • Ask The Best And Brightest: What Price Tata Nano? – “A one liter, three cylinder engine making a reported 60 hp. Five speed manual transmission. Two airbags, ABS, traction control, and electric power steering. 14 inch wheels. [via Autocar] Would you bite for $8k? Everything sells at the right price. Where is the Nano’s magic number?”
  • Obama Approval Under 50 Percent Among Massachusetts Likely Voters? – “The National Review’s Jim Gergahty tweets: ‘Can Obama really save Coakley if PPP puts his approval/disapproval split at 44/43?’

    If the electorate which turns out tomorrow is this indifferent about Obama, I have little doubt that Coakley is headed for defeat. But I think we have to place into context just how lopsided turnout would be if indeed we see an electorate that is split 44/43 on Obama.”

  • How to defy the aging process – “How? Be Sophia Loren.

    The lady is 75 years old, and she’d be looking good even for fifty. Actually, she’d be looking good even for forty. There’s no super-taut, fake, worked-on look, either.”

  • Cornucopia Personal Food Factory Concept – “In the future, all of our food will come in tubes. Why? Because that’s just how things work in the future (the pre-replicator future, obviously). And I know you’re thinking, ‘wow! That’s convenient!’ But only uncultured heathens would eat food straight out of the tube. I mean, spluh! This is why you need a food printer, and MIT is getting way ahead of the future by starting to work on one in the present.”
  • Android Phones – Video Comparison – “So, you’ve decided that you want an Android phone; but don’t know which one? This video runs about 10 minutes, and compares phones from T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint.”

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