Assorted Links 1/26/2010

Che: The Other Side Of An Icon.

  • 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
  • Is the Cult of Che Guevara on its Way Out? – “Che Guevara is one of the few communist leaders who still has a broad following in the West. Go to any college campus or hip neighborhood and you’ll see plenty of Che T-shirts, Che posters, and even the occasional Che cell phone message. This is extremely unfortunate, since Che was in fact a brutal mass murderer and terrorist, as I explained in this post. Reason editor Nick Gillespie points this out as well, but also cites evidence suggesting that Che worship may be declining:
    . . .
    Ultimately, the Cult of Che is deplorable less because of what it says about attitudes towards him than because it is the most blatant manifestation of our much broader tendency to ignore or downplay communist crimes.”
  • U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google – “Google made headlines when it went public with the fact that Chinese hackers had penetrated some of its services, such as Gmail, in a politically motivated attempt at intelligence gathering. The news here isn’t that Chinese hackers engage in these activities or that their attempts are technically sophisticated — we knew that already — it’s that the U.S. government inadvertently aided the hackers.

    In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.”

  • Thong-in-cheek advice for Dorothy Brown’s campaign – “Despite a recent Tribune poll showing she’s fading fast in the race for Cook County Board President, Dorothy Brown could win this election — and my vote — if she just follows my plan.

    Brown, the Cook County Circuit Court clerk, has already suffered through several cash-related controversies.

    There was the Cash for Dorothy’s Birthday controversy, in which employees developed the purely voluntary practice of giving her cash gifts on her birthday just because they love her.

    And recently, there was the Cash for Jeans issue, in which her workers kicked in cash so they could wear jeans at work. Some good government types who just don’t understand Chicago politics thought this was reprehensible, but Brown said it was all about ‘boosting morale’ and charity.
    . . .
    I would never go out of my way to malign a great program involving county officials accepting cash from their underlings. That’s the Chicago Way.

    But her morale-boosting initiatives, like Cash for Dorothy’s Birthday and Cash for Jeans — and let’s not forget another of her favorites, reported in the Tribune months ago: Dorothy’s Cash for Christmas — have given me an idea that will win her the Feb. 2 primary.

    Here’s the plan, Dorothy Brown:

    Cash for Thongs. ”

  • Front Running the Fed – “I had a friend from the old neighborhood who was Comptroller of a major casino in Las Vegas in 1970-80s, where I also was married in 1981. Only lasting win from there, ever.

    According to this dour son of Italy the way he could spot a problem, besides the more aggressive methods of observation and detection, would be to examine the returns on a table basis. In the short run they will vary, but in the longer term each game will provide a statistical return that rarely deviates from the forecast, unless someone is cheating. We would walk through the casino, and he would point to a table game and say ‘at the end of the month, this table will bring in xx percent.’

    It was he who introduced me to Bill Friedman’s book, Casino Management, which is a useful read if you wish to learn more about that end of the speculative business from the house perspective.

    Attached is some information from a reader. I cannot assess its validity, not being in the bond trading business. But it does sound like someone has tapped into the Fed’s buying plans to monetize the public debt and is front running those buys, essentially ‘stealing’ money from the public. Its what they call ‘a sure thing.'”

  • NASA’s Puffin Is Way Cooler Than a Jetpack – “The engineers at NASA have combined every one of our geeky transportation dreams into a single little vehicle called the Puffin. It takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane. It can cruise at 140 mph and, with a boost mode, hit about twice that. Oh — and it’s electric.

    If that sounds too good to be true, it is — for the moment. But give it time. NASA unveiled the concept today at the American Helicopter Society meeting in San Francisco.

    The tilt-rotor Puffin has a flight system similar to the V-22 Osprey, but instead of carrying a bunch of Marines and their gear, the Puffin carries one person in the prone position. The rotors are nearly 7.5 feet in diameter and the aircraft has a wingspan just over 13 feet. Thanks to carbon composite construction, the Puffin weighs in at less than 400 pounds including the lithium phosphate batteries.”

  • Taxpayer-owned General Motors spent $1.48 million on lobbying in fourth quarter – “General Motors, owned mostly by the U.S. taxpayer, spent $1.48 million on lobbying in last year’s fourth quarter, a recent lobbying report shows. The failed automaker lobbied for highway funding, climate-change legislation, corporate tax credits, ‘R&D Funding for Cellulosic Ethanol and Renewable Fuels, Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, Advanced Batteries,’ and many other issues.

    The $1.48 million includes the company’s in-house lobbying shop, as well as $155,000 spent on four different K Street firms. Here are the outside lobbying firms funded by your tax dollars.”

  • Scott Brown is More Liberal Than Olympia Snowe, and Now He’s Pivotal, Too – “Boris writes, regarding the recent U.S. Senate election (in which moderate Republican Scott Brown narrowly beat liberal Democrat Martha Coakley in usually reliably-Democratic Massachusetts:”
  • Money and Speech – “People continue to characterize the Court’s campaign finance decisions as resting on the theory that money is speech. And of course money isn’t speech.
    . . .
    The problem with restrictions on independent spending on campaign speech — a problem recognized by Justices Brennan and Marshall and not just by today’s conservatives (though Brennan and Marshall would have allowed more such restrictions than today’s conservatives do) — isn’t that money is speech. It’s that restricting the use of money to speak, like restricting the use of air travel or computers to speak, interferes with people’s ability to speak. One can debate whether this interference is justified. But mocking the pro-constitutional-protection position as resting on the notion that ‘money is speech’ strikes me as quite mistaken.”
  • The “spending freeze” – “If you are surprised by this Obama announcement, that is indirect evidence that some of your other policy preferences are incorrect.”

The Boom and Bust Rap</font>

  • Friday Fun Link: City Too Busy To Hate Is Too Gay For School – “I hate to second guess here, but I lived for many years in New York and San Francisco and spend a lot of time in West Hollywood, and I gotta tell you: The gayest city in America is Washington, DC. It just doesn’t show up on these lists because pleasureless, closeted self-hatred is still a done thing in the nation’s capital, where even straight romance comes infused with shame, anxiety and paranoia — and not in a good way. That’s why Advise and Consent, even though it was written in the 1950s before homosexuality was even invented, will always be the great DC novel.”
  • Conan’s Exit Interview, and a Ken Burns Special… – “Let’s never forget….”
  • Homeless Chic – “What does it mean that high fashion is (claiming to be) inspired by the homeless? What is going on when models trying to appear homeless are paraded up and down catwalks and photographed?

    We’ve seen it on America’s Next Top Model, we saw it in W, and now we see it at the Milan Fashion week with Vivienne Westwood’s collection.

    Models were not only dressed to look homeless. Their clothes were deliberately made to appear dusty and mismatched. Their messy hair and dirty faces were made up to look as if they were covered in frost. Some seemed to have been dressed so as to appear crazy.

    They walked, sometimes less than gracefully, a catwalk covered in cardboard boxes. Sometimes they emerged from boxes and pushed shopping carts or carried sleeping bags or bedrolls.

    Here’s what it looked like (comments below):” ht Cheap Talk

  • 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.”
  • Would You Have Spotted the Fraud? – “Pictured below is what’s known as a skimmer, or a device made to be affixed to the mouth of an ATM and secretly swipe credit and debit card information when bank customers slip their cards into the machines to pull out money. Skimmers have been around for years, of course, but thieves are constantly improving them, and the device pictured below is a perfect example of that evolution.”

Killer Chic: Hollywood’s Sick Love Affair with Che Guevara

  • Why You Can Yawn Over Monday’s Home Sales ‘Shock’ – “Memo for Monday morning: Don’t get excited.

    The National Association of Realtors is due to release its monthly report on existing home sales at 10 a.m. Monday, and it’s likely to look lousy. (What’s with this ‘existing’ home sales bit? New homes don’t exist? Let’s call it home resales.) Analysts are predicting a sharp drop from November’s level. The knee-jerk reaction probably will be: Oh, no, the housing market is in free fall again!

    In reality, housing stats tend to bounce around erratically from month to month, and one month’s numbers rarely mean much.”

  • LA Times says: No More Room on the Bench! – “This jobs gap is even more problematic given the rising cost of tuition. In 2008, the median tuition at state schools for nonresidents was $26,000 a year, and $34,000 for private schools — and much higher in some states, such as California. Students racked up an average loan debt in 2007-08 of $59,000 for students from public law schools and $92,000 for those from private schools, according to the ABA, and a recent Law School Survey of Student Engagement found that nearly one-third of respondents said they would owe about $120,000.

    Such debt would be manageable if a world of lucrative jobs awaited the newly minted attorneys, but this is not the case. A recent working paper by Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt Law School contends that with the exception of some of those at the best schools, going for a law degree is a bad investment and that most students will be ‘unlikely ever to dig themselves out from’ under their debt. This problem is exacerbated by the existing law school system.

    Despite the tough job market, new schools continue to sprout like weeds. Today there are 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the U.S., with more on the way, as many have been awarded provisional accreditation. In California alone, there are 21 law schools that are either accredited or provisionally accredited, including the new one at UC Irvine.”

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