Assorted Links 12/2/09

I must be going!

  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, December 3, 2009
  • How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, with WiFi Classroom, December 4, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, December 7-8, 2009
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, December 9-11, 2009
  • Research Tools and Techniques: Refining Your Online and Offline Searches, with WiFi Classroom, December 15, 2009
  • The limits of good vs. evil thinking – “Good vs. evil thinking causes us to lower our value of a person’s opinion, or dismiss it altogether, if we find out that person has behaved badly. We no longer wish to affiliate with those people and furthermore we feel epistemically justified in dismissing them”
  • 7 stories Obama doesn’t want told – “[1] He thinks he’s playing with Monopoly money . . . [5] He sees America as another pleasant country on the U.N. roll call, somewhere between Albania and Zimbabwe … [8] He’s in love with the man in the mirror”
  • Budget Deficit Blowback – “One of the striking things about about the deficit crisis that seems to loom over the United States is the probability that it will force a massive change in American expectations. In Newsweek this week Niall Ferguson beats the deficit drum. His fear is that US will have to give up its position as superpower:”
  • FHA to Ask Congress for Changes – “These proposals are similar to what Kenneth Harney outlined in the San Francisco Chronicle ten days ago: FHA looking for ways to pump up its reserves. Harney suggested the FHA was looking at four possibilities:”
  • What’s the Matter with California – “education consumes real economic resources, hence has a real cost no matter what its price… European experiments with zero-price education have not gone so well…Giving it away at the college level seems to signal for many students that it’s an entitlement, and delivered to them, rather than an opportunity to invest their own effort productively…”
  • Fed: We Will Pop Future Bubbles – “Ben Bernanke, it seems, is changing his spots. He is now trying to prove that he is not Alan Greenspan. The technique? Spotting and popping asset bubbles before they do too much damage.”
  • Summers’ Corporate Tax Confusion – “Politico notes that Summers suggested ‘that U.S. corporate tax rates are relatively low, despite complaints from U.S. corporations.’ And they quote him: ‘If you look at taxes paid by corporations as a fraction of profits, they’re actually very low’ because the U.S. tax code is replete with ‘evasion and avoidance.’

    The Obama team’s solution to the supposed problem is to pile more complex IRS rules and regulations on U.S. corporations and to increase taxes on their foreign earnings.

    There are lots of problems here. One is the implication that the U.S. corporate tax is uniquely subject to evasion and avoidance. It isn’t. Corporate income taxes around the globe are subject to large avoidance and evasion pressures because of globalization and technological advance.

    That is one of the main reasons why virtually every other industrial nation has dramatically cut its corporate tax rate over the last decade or so. But the United States has not followed suit, and that’s why U.S. corporations are having to put large efforts into avoidance.”

  • The future of Africa? – “This article caused me to revaluate my vision for the future of Africa. The Coase theorem is finally kicking in. I see corrupt politicians deciding it is more profitable, and also more secure, to ‘sell off’ their countries than to oppress them in the traditional manner. I see a new kind of tax farming, based on the extraction and exploitation of resources and raw materials, with African labor along for the ride. It will mean higher living standards and better infrastructure, but probably not along a path that will look very appealing to most Western observers.”
  • Cash for Cranks – “I, Grayson Lilburne know how to rescue the economy! I call it ‘Cash for Cranks’. The government will give free money to dot-com investors, former presidents, and central bankers for coming up with half-baked schemes for rescuing the economy. These schemes will actually worsen the economy, thereby increasing the demand for more half-baked schemes to rescue it, which will in turn create more employment for more cranks. The schemes of these new cranks will worsen the economy yet further, which will increase crank-demand yet further, and so on. This virtuous cycle will continue to spiral until everyone is an economic crank, which means 100% employment!”
  • President Obama’s Trust Deficit – “Tonight as I listened to President Obama’s Speech On Afghanistan and why we need to commit more troops, I found myself asking ‘Where’s the trust? Where’s the credibility?’
    . . .
    Apparently Afghanistan is vital to our interests for the next 18 months, after which ‘who cares?’

    Does that make any sense? The only way it can possibly make any sense is if he has no intention of leaving after 18 months unless the war is won. Given there is no mission statement, no measure of victory, and nothing but nebulous goals, there is absolutely no reason to believe the war will be won in 18 months.”

  • Going the Way of AIG with Dollar Holders as Patsies – “Those who argue for a stronger dollar because of deflation due to domestic credit destruction overlook the reality of the yawning imablance of US debt to external creditors, and the need to deal with it without writing it off like a home mortage.

    Yes, the US has lots of buildings, and minerals in the ground, and forests and proprietary software, and overpriced financial assets, and tranches of dodgy mortgages to sell. We are discussing AAA liquid assets here, without significant counterparty risk. Those peddling US debt instruments to Asia these days are getting a very cold reception.

    What Porter Stansberry says is valid, with the important exception that the US still owns the world’s reserve currency. Otherwise it would be well on its way to a hyperinflationary climax.”

And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall!

  • Need Help Selecting a Payment Processor? Look No Further Than Payments-R-Us – “More and more startups are finally focusing on real business models, ones that are based on actually selling a product or service. For money, you know.

    The irony is that many get pretty far down the development path before realizing that adding billing infrastructure to their offering may not be as simple as integrating with PayPal’s API.

    Choosing the right processor, and many times, processors, from a confusing multi-layered vendor ecosystem can be tricky. Poor decision-making when it comes to issues such as terms of pricing, business fit, or processing capability, can each be a deep gash in any startup’s jugular.”

  • That Was Fast: New Detroit Newspaper Lasted An Entire Week Before Shutting Down – “it looked like just an attempt to jump in with a product not particularly different than the ones that had already stumbled in the same market — but without the brand recognition or built up loyalty. So, it should come as little surprise that the new paper appears to have folded after just a single week of operation, though the publishers insist it’s just a temporary ‘bump’ due to (merely) a lack of advertising, distribution or timely printing operations.”
  • Are Trustee Sales For You? – “here are the reasons you should consider buying at the trustee sales”
  • Christian conscience – “Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts.”
  • What is your favorite Christmas Carol? – “I know we’re in Advent, (my latest Advent reflection is here) and -for me, anyway- nothing captures the sense of longing and urgent anticipation of this season than O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I also like O Come, Divine Messiah very much. Some of you may remember I vocally murdered it on one of my Advent Podcasts from last year.”
  • The Psychology of Being Scammed – “The paper describes a dozen different con scenarios — entertaining in itself — and then lists and explains six general psychological principles that con artists use:”
  • North Korea Revalues Currency by 100-to-1 – “Something tells me this isn’t going to work:”
  • More Minnesota Madness – “My article yesterday on this site, ‘Decoding Teacher Training,’ discussed the efforts of the University of Minnesota’s Education Department to purge prospective public school teachers deemed politically incorrect on ‘diversity’ matters.”
  • Better breathing, less fighting – “Yoga is helping low-income students cope with stress and control anger, say San Jose principals.”

Lady Gaga + typeface = awesome

  • Google Phone a certainty? – “While others are filing this under “certainty” we are still going to have to classify this one as a “class 1 rumor.” Gizmodo is reporting that it has a trusted source, of sound mind and body, proclaiming that Google’s Android operating system will be running on Google developed/branded hardware in the imminent future.”
  • Something for Everyone: 1924 – “Washington, D.C., circa 1924. “Ford Motor Co. — Fred Haas, Rhode Island Avenue N.E.” National Photo Company Collection glass negative.”
  • Entertainment Giants Looking At The Future… And See Cable? from the future-hazy,-please-try-again dept – “We’ve discussed in the past why we think that the cable companies’ “TV Everywhere” strategy is destined to fail. If you don’t recall, it’s the way the cable companies are looking to respond to the rise of competition in the form of Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, Boxee and others — not by offering something more compelling, but by putting up a giant wall around content and forcing you to keep your cable subscription (which fewer and fewer people seem to want) if you want to access TV shows online.”
  • Web-Based Productivity Suite Zoho Launches Full Integration With Google Docs – “Zoho is undoubtedly the lesser known name and an underdog in the productivity suite race with Google and Microsoft. But the startup has a compelling strategy: Zoho continuously launches integrations with its competitors and also iterates on it product to offer new and innovative products.”
  • A Checklist for Computer Passwords – “Nobody likes to think about the prospect of dying, but sudden illnesses and accidents can take lives unexpectedly, including one’s own. And while the only password you may have needed to know 25 years ago was the PIN for your ATM card, today our lives are ruled far more than we probably realize by our usernames and passwords. In case of some dreaded personal disaster, it’s worth completing a list of personal account information and storing it someplace secure so that family members can get to it in an emergency.”
  • What’s Wrong With This Picture: You Know, Besides All The Obvious Stuff Edition – “What happens on Facebook is not private, kids. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the right screencap can be worth a a few million.”

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