Assorted Links 12/5/09

The Bohr-Einstein Debates, With Puppets from Chad Orzel.

  • 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
  • Who says there’s a credit crunch? – “Somali pirates are raising money through a local equity offering:”
  • Panel Discussion – “[Alan Nevin] mentioned that “we don’t learn” from our mistakes, and that California is a cyclical state. Traditionally there have been around 10,000 houses per year built in SD County, but this year there will only be about 2,000, and almost all of them north of the I-8 freeway.
    . . .
    The most powerful data of the evening was [Bruce Norris’s] chart that showed that there were projections of 549,383 foreclosures to happen in California by now, but only 238,054 have happened. The shortage of 306,329 is what is haunting the market — when will the shadow inventory hit the open market?”
  • A Real Fiscal Conservative – “In Washington, the term “fiscal conservative” often gets applied very loosely to people who complain about debt and deficits a lot but never, ever put any real deficit reduction proposals on the table–Evan Bayh, I’m thinking of you. Such people always say we need yet another commission to study the issue, the time isn’t right, we need to wait until after the next election or better weather or whatever. So I’m pleased to call attention to a real fiscal conservative–economist Jeff Frankel of Harvard, who has put together a 10-point plan of serious, honest-to-God deficit reduction proposals. Half involve higher revenues and half reduced spending; they include entitlements as well as discretionary programs.”
  • Guarding Obama: Photos of the president-elect’s Secret Service detail. – “Obviously, over of the course of the campaign, I got to know many of the agents quite well. In fact, it sometimes felt like traveling with the 40 or so older brothers and sisters I had never wanted: They were nosy and overprotective and fun to be around. Best of all, they almost never wanted to talk politics, a quality so rare on the campaign trail that it immediately elevates those who possess it to most-favored-interlocutor status. The only thing worse than hearing the same speech over and over is hearing people talk about it endlessly at bars afterward.”
  • Fed Chairmen Never Learn – “No matter if people agree or disagree with Bernanke, to maintain independence the Fed Chairman should not be commenting on the deficit and entitlements.
    . . .
    A very poor performance today from the Fed Chairman.”
  • Gasbaggery at the White House – “Indeed, in the age of Obama, the summit has replaced the vaunted bipartisan commission as the ultimate empty gesture. Where a president once kicked a nettlesome political problem down the road by assembling a panel of bipartisan worthies to produce a report on entitlement reform, say, or how we made the mistake of thinking Saddam had WMDs, Obama now holds a confab to jawbone the problem to death.”
  • Terrorists Within our Borders – “My ears perked up at this line last night in the president’s speech about Afghanistan. It’s one sen­tence that has poten­tially huge implications:

    This is no idle dan­ger; no hypo­thet­i­cal threat. In the last few months alone, we have appre­hended extrem­ists within our bor­ders who were sent here from the bor­der region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to com­mit new acts of terror.

    Has any­one heard about these appre­hen­sions? Who are the per­pe­tra­tors and what were they plan­ning? This is explo­sive news. Am I just miss­ing something?”

  • Sprint Provides U.S. Law Enforcement with Cell Phone Customer Location Data – “The odds of us ever learning the truth are probably very low.”
  • Yes, We Can Write Our Opinions Without Contacting The Company We’re Writing About First – “This happens all too frequently. I recently wrote a short post about something that was apparently happening with YouTube and soon after received an angry email from a PR person at the company first scolding me for not contacting Google PR first and then demanding that I insert some PR babble paragraph that said nothing that addressed the key questions raised in the post in ‘response.’ This made no sense to me. If I got something factually wrong, I have no problem having someone point out what was in error, but demanding that I first contact them and then include a meaningless statement is ridiculous. If the PR folks have something to say, they’re free to take it up in our comments.”
  • The Future of Western War – “My point here is that all of the usual checks on the tradition of Western warfare are magnified in our time. And I will end with this disturbing thought: We who created the Western way of war are very reluctant to resort to it due to post-modern cynicism, while those who didn’t create it are very eager to apply it due to pre-modern zealotry. And that’s a very lethal combination.”
  • Former RNC Finance Chair pleads guilty to $1 million bribery – “Elliott Broidy, the former Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee, plead guilty yesterday to offering $1 million bribes to officials with New York state’s pension funds. In return, Broidy got a $250 million investement in the Wall Street firm he worked for:
    . . .
    However, Pro-Publica — which has been doggedly covering the story — notes that nothing has been done to prevent future corruption:”
  • Will Medicare cost reductions stick? – “My view is this: the aggregate data show that Medicare expenditures, as a percentage of gdp, have expanded at a healthy clip for every medium-run period you can find since 1973. I don’t doubt that the future — like the past — may well show some shorter periods which look better than others but cost control has never worked in the past on anything but a temporary basis. Citing a bunch of short periods of time doesn’t convince me; they didn’t stick!”

The Continuing Drama of the Document-Swiping Deputy
What the hell?

  • Blackmail – “You can trust me to pay you for the information but now the problem is that I can’t trust you. You will show me only half of what you found and blackmail me to keep that a secret. Once you have your money you will show me the other half and blackmail me again. Forseeing this I won’t pay you the first time.”
  • Light’s Out–Norwegian Cruise Descends Into Chaos! – “What an excellent case study it would have been to be aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn, which lost power last weekend—leaving the ship’s 2,400 passengers on board without running water or air conditioning for two days.
    . . .
    If we’re to believe the anecdotal evidence from agitated cruisers, I’d have to rate the level of civilization to which the Norwegian Dawn backslid over the course of five hours to be somewhere in neighborhood of the pre-Enlightenment era.”
  • Google Now Personalizes Everyone’s Search Results – “The short story is this. By watching what you click on in search results, Google can learn that you favor particular sites. For example, if you often search and click on links from Amazon that appear in Google’s results, over time, Google learns that you really like Amazon. In reaction, it gives Amazon a ranking boost. That means you start seeing more Amazon listings, perhaps for searches where Amazon wasn’t showing up before.” hat tip Midas
  • Chicago Cannibalization: Mayor Daley’s Budget Eats 75% of a 75 Year rainy Day fund in One Year – “That is the sad state of affairs in Chicago. Unfortunately, Chicago is likely to respond the way it always does – raise taxes to make up for the lost revenue that stems from the city raising taxes.

    Some will suggest this argues against privatization, but the reality is that it argues against a no-bid process rammed through by one person. It also argues against using very long-term funding for short-term needs.”

  • “The 10 weirdest physics facts, from relativity to quantum physics” – “People who think science is dull are wrong. Here are 10 reasons why.”
  • Lenticular UFO clouds and other spectacular cloud formations – “Lenticular clouds are often shaped like flying saucers, leading to people reporting UFO sightings”

What is Sarah Palin?

  • Follow The Bunny: Even in its heyday, Hef’s magazine was a yokel’s idea of sophistication. – “There has always been something faintly ridiculous about Hugh Hefner—lounging in those silky pajamas with his interchangeable twin sets of blond honeys and that erect pipe jutting from his jaw, like Popeye.
    . . .
    In fact, even in its heyday, Playboy was a yokel’s idea of sophistication. There was, for example, the Bunny Watchers’ Society, a bunch of guys in special black blazers with the Playboy logo who would sip free drinks at a Playmate Bar each afternoon while ogling cottontail cocktail waitresses and guessing their measurements.

    Beneath the swagger ran a deeply unattractive misogyny. Mr. Hefner constantly proclaimed his adoration of women, but the magazine went berserk over the ‘womanization’ of American society, especially the dire threat of women competing with men at work. From the archives, Prof. Fraterrigo unearths a memo from editor A.C. Spectorsky, Mr. Hefner’s éminence grise, to the author Philip Wylie ordering up a hatchet job on career women–‘these chromium-plated, castrating, driven, vicious, unhappy, destructive, asexual or anti-sexual devouring, insatiable’ menaces. Later, Mr. Hefner tried to ally himself with the feminists.”

  • Facebook profile captures your true personality not some virtual ideal, claims psychologist – “In fact, our findings suggest that online social networking profiles convey rather accurate images of the profile owners, either because people aren’t trying to look good or because they are trying and failing to pull it off.”
  • Google Gets Into The DNS Business. Here’s What That Means – “Google just announced Google Public DNS, a new service that lets consumers use Google as their DNS service provider. The benefits to users are a theoretically faster and more stable browsing experience, and some additional security against malware type sites. The benefit to Google – tons more data, and some potential revenue.

    Here are the basic instructions on how to use it (and Google has even provided phone support).”

  • Markets in everything: Stepford Wife edition – “Mrs. Angus and I had been debating whether Tiger’s wife would leave him or stand by her man. Turns out she is planning to lease herself to him:
    . . .
  • Deposition Videos You Have To See To Believe – “You may have seen some of them before, but probably not all six unless you hang out on YouTube a lot.”

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