Assorted Links 7/30/09

RIP: John S. Barry

  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Disney Small World ride a casualty of the obesity epidemic – “Despite my kind of flippant tone in this post, I don’t find the large numbers of obese guests (as the Disneyland staff refers to the people paying to go there) and staff amusing in the slightest. I think it is tragic. As I’ve said many times before, we have all been the unwitting subjects of a long experiment, the hypothesis of which is that since fat is bad and carbs are good, we should all eat low-fat, high-carb diets. If so, says this hypothesis, obesity will go away. Well, it hasn’t. It has gotten much, much worse. And the sad, sad thing is that this hypothesis was never validated scientifically before we were all enrolled in the experiment. When I see dozens and dozens of young people looking like the one pictured above, it makes my blood boil. Most of the people who inflicted this nonsense on us are still around and still pushing the carbs and still blaming the fat in the diet. Tar and feathers spring to mind.”
  • New York Times Can’t Afford to Hire Housekeeper – “This comment from Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winner, hugely popular New York Times columnist, and important media star, says more about the state of the economy and newspapers than anything else I have seen to date:”
  • Maker’s schedule, Manager’s Schedule – “There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour.

    When you use time that way, it’s merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you’re done.

    Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

    When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.” ht Kottke

  • Court Okays Secession for New Jersey Cul-de-sac: Bay Beach Way – “Bay Beach Way’s residents are reminding government of something seemingly forgotten: citizens are taxed because they expect to get certain services in return. When those tax rates are punitive and services poor, the choices are to vote your elected officials out of office (or have them recalled, like Point Pleasant Beach), to ‘vote with your feet’ and move. Or, in this case, re-draw the line.”
  • UAW to TARP Oversight Panel: FOAD – “But even though the White House is on hand to show how easy putting your best platitude forward can be, the UAW won’t be joining the testimonial fun.

    The Congressional Oversight Panel isn’t happy about the non-development. ‘The UAW came before Congress and pleaded for billions of taxpayer assistance,’ GOP member Rep. Jeb Hensarling tells the Detroit News. ‘Their ownership stakes in Chrysler and GM look suspicious at best and like sweetheart deals at worst. It’s outrageous they would benefit from the taxpayers’ money and then refuse to testify about it.’

    Outrageous, yes. But not entirely unexpected. Hensarling said it himself . . . ‘Without [the UAW], the panel cannot provide meaningful oversight for $80 billion of taxpayer support rewarded to Chrysler and GM.'”

  • President Obama Can’t Locate Any Waste – “If you can’t find $100 million to cut, you just are not even trying.”
  • What Keeps Poor Kids Out of College? – “There’s ample econometric evidence showing that private schools boost high school graduation rates, college acceptance rates, and college graduation rates, especially for urban minorities, over the levels seen in public schools (and after appropriate controls for student and family background). Policies that give these students easier access to private schools should thus improve their college prospects significantly.”
  • WaPo: Foreclosures Frequently Best Alternative for Lenders – “When you compare the losses from foreclosure to the losses from modifications – and include self-cure risk and redefault risk – the researchers argue there are very few preventable foreclosures.”
  • Some Democrats Worry About Abortion Funds in Healthcare Bill – “Add abortion to the list of issues that could trip up President Obama’s bid for healthcare reform this year. Conservative Democrats and antiabortion Republicans are mounting strong opposition to an element of the health reform plans that would mandate taxpayer funding for abortions, a clause that the White House won’t rule out as a key element to the final package. Democrats first raised the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter in which they said that mandated abortion coverage ‘is unacceptable.'”
  • Ghulam Nabi Azad says late-night TV will help slow India’s birth rate – “India intends to harness the passion-killing properties of late-night television to help to control a potentially catastrophic population explosion. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Health and Family Welfare Minister, has called for the country to redouble its efforts to bring electricity to all of its huge rural population.” ht Marginal Revolution
  • We Are All African Now – “Some 99% of the human genome is shuffled from one birth to the next. The Genographic Project traces the 1% of the genome which is not shuffled–mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) through the maternal line and the Y-chromosome through the paternal. These jokers in the pack allow geneticists to work back to our common ancestors. Our mtDNA appears to coalesce in a single woman, who lived on the African savannah 150,000 years ago. Our Y-chromosome survives from a single man, who lived in the Rift Valley of Kenya or Tanzania 59,000 years ago. So Adam and Eve did exist–90,000 years apart. The discrepancy is because, unlike the biblical Adam and Eve, this couple only represent the last common Ancestors we can trace genetically.” ht The Browser
  • Liberals revolt after Blue Dog health deal – “Just hours after House Democratic leaders announced a deal with their party’s conservative Blue Dogs on a sweeping health care reform bill, their liberal wing is pushing back.”
  • Class sizes grow – “A Tennessee study showed long-term gains for classes of 14 to 17 students in the early grades, especially for blacks. However, small classes in higher grades don’t produce significant performance gains, says researcher Eric Hanushek.”
  • Janet Yellen Channels Ronald Reagan: “Deficit’s Don’t Matter” – “Her thinking underpins the basis for Bernanke’s strategy of packing the banks with liquidity, monetizing their assets, but maintaining control of that added liquidity by having the ability to attract bank reserves into the Fed where they can be managed through the ability to pay interest on those reserves.”
  • “Illegal Eggs Taste Amazing” – “A recent study found that $10 wine tastes better if the drinker thinks it’s $90 wine (“with the higher priced wines, more blood and oxygen is sent to a part of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, whose activity reflects pleasure”). The same phenomenon is probably at least partially responsible for raptures over illegal duck eggs and summer sausage. The price is only part of the cost, and an egg custard that might land you in the pokey is bound to be more delicious than a legit dessert make from supermarket eggs.”
  • Women’s (or Men’s) Concealed Carry Handgun Recommendations: – “In keeping with my original query, I’d like to ask commenters to specially consider what might be preferred by women, or to be more precise (1) by people who might be on the smaller side, or (2) by people who might want to carry in a purse rather than in a holster. On the other hand, if you think you have a good unisex answer, or have advice only for men and not for women, please feel free to post it — just note whom your advice is focused on.”
  • Rice and Beans for 2n – “olive oil or butter
    n yellow onions
    other fresh vegetables; experiment
    3n cloves garlic
    n 12-oz cans white, kidney, or black beans
    n cubes Knorr beef or vegetable bouillon
    n teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    3n teaspoons ground cumin
    n cups dry rice, preferably brown

    Put rice in rice cooker. Add water as specified on rice package. (Default: 2 cups water per cup of rice.) Turn on rice cooker and forget about it.

    Chop onions and other vegetables and fry in oil, over fairly low heat, till onions are glassy. Put in chopped garlic, pepper, cumin, and a little more fat, and stir. Keep heat low. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes, then add beans (don’t drain the beans), and stir. Throw in the bouillon cube(s), cover, and cook on lowish heat for at least 10 minutes more. Stir vigilantly to avoid sticking.

    If you want to save money, buy beans in giant cans from discount stores. Spices are also much cheaper when bought in bulk. If there’s an Indian grocery store near you, they’ll have big bags of cumin for the same price as the little jars in supermarkets.”

  • Take Close Note – “Top Party Schools, from the new Princeton Review college guide:”
  • Clean Energy Shopping List: 5 Stocks with Technology to Improve Grid Reliability – “I previously stated I like all smart grid stocks because I see so much potential for the sector, and I have a hard time picking winners. But when I have to choose, in a competitive market with many new entrants, I tend to favor established companies that already have established business lines and experience working with customers in the space.”
  • Thyroid: Be a perfectionist – “Iodine replacement should be part of any thyroid health effort. Iodine is not an optional trace mineral, no more than vitamin C is optional (else your teeth fall out). The only dangers to iodine replacement are to those who have been starved of iodine for many years; increase iodine and the thyroid can over-respond. I’ve seen this happen in 2 of the last 300 people who have supplemented iodine.”
  • God and Majors: Some parents of faith have long worried about the possible impact of (secular) colleges on the religious observances of their children. – “Being a humanities or a social science major has a statistically significant negative effect on religiosity — measured by either religious attendance and how important students consider the importance of religion in their lives. The impact appears to be strongest in the social sciences.” ht Marginal Revolution
  • Genographic Project – “With a simple and painless cheek swab you can sample your own DNA and submit it to the lab. We run ONE test per participation kit. We will test either your mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down each generation from mother to child and reveals your direct maternal ancestry; or your Y chromosome (males only), which is passed down from father to son and reveals your direct paternal ancestry. You choose which test you would like administered.”

    We did this last year, running paternal for father and maternal for daughter. Perfect gift for $100.

  • Using Niacin to Improve Cardiovascular Health – “Niacin’s benefits are not limited to its influence on blood markers of cardiovascular disease risk. It also reduces heart attack risk dramatically.”
  • Yes, Things are Still Better than They Used to Be – “If one thinks about all the bad economic policies and the general growth of the state that has taken place since the early 70s, the fact that life is still so much better in so many ways should lead one to think, to borrow from Pete, that the Smithian forces of the division of labor and the power of Schumpeterian innovation will indeed continue to conquer the stupidity of the state. No doubt the fight will be a tougher one in the years to come, thanks to the events of the last year, but both history and theory suggest that the combined efforts of humanity coordinated by even restricted markets will still win out over the stumbling and bumbling of the political class.”
  • Patents On Common Beans Rejected 10 Years Too Late – “This one’s a bit old, but Boing Boing just pointed us to the incredible story of a guy named Larry Proctor who was able to get the USPTO to patent some yellow beans he picked up in Mexico. Yes. Really. You can read the patent (5,894,079) here. Thankfully, it was (finally) invalidated last year, but was around for about nine years — during which time the patent holder basically was able to put a tax on imports of such beans to the US from Mexico”
  • A New Page: Can the Kindle really improve on the book? – “The Kindle DX ($489) doesn’t save newspapers; it diminishes and undercuts them–it kills their joy. It turns them into earnest but dispensable blogs.”
  • Financial Times: Apple’s tablet due out in September – “As for the possibility of a cellular radio, FT is reporting that it’s slim to none which really makes us wonder what’s up with all of those Verizon/Apple tablet rumors. Separate device? Complete BS? With September just over a month away, information should start flowing pretty soon if the FT rumor has any credence.”
  • Huascaran Restaurant, 3606 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA, 703-684-0494, right across from the Birchmere – “Its distinguishing feature is that they serve cuy – guinea pig – on a regular basis. Technically it is listed as a special, so call ahead, but usually they seem to have it. The sauce is delicious, especially on the potatoes. The key to eating the cuy is to chew on the fatty skin and the sauce and not obsess over getting all the meat.”
  • Stay Tuned for Bluetooth on Your TV – “Bluetooth on the TV gives consumers the ability to use their cell phones as a remote control, connect wireless headsets to the TV, and stream music from an iPod or other MP3 player to their television or speakers attached to their TV, all without a wire.”
  • Military pain-ray to be directed at troublesome geese instead of protestors – “Now, if you’re in the northwest like me, you know that Canadian geese, while great-looking birds and majestic creatures, are a huge pain in the ass. They bite kids, they crap all over the place, and they never stop honking. So while I normally don’t advocate shooting pain rays at animals, it’s better than just gassing them, which is the current practice.”
  • Google Voice apps yanked from iTunes App Store – “The GV Mobile application had been available since April 24, 2009 which seems to lend credibility to some theories that AT&T’s unhappiness with a program that made using their service cheaper could have been behind this sudden approval change.”
  • Fix Your Terrible, Insecure Passwords in Five Minutes – “Start with an original but memorable phrase. For this exercise, let’s use these two sentences: I like to eat bagels at the airport and My first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota. The phrase can have something to do with your life or it can be a random collection of words–just make sure it’s something you can remember. That’s the key: Because a mnemonic is easy to remember, you don’t have to write it down anywhere.”
  • There is no WiFi allergy: newspapers misreport PR as science – “Newspapers fall for the PR campaign behind a new album, and credulously repeat a DJ’s claims that he suffers health problems from WiFi exposure, a condition that doesn’t appear to actually exist.”
  • This Summer’s 5 Hottest Cell Phones
  • Print Isn’t Dying, Serious Journalism Is – “Print media isn’t hurting because it’s an outdated business model, print media is hurting because it’s boring. Blogs and Twitter are succeeding because their shit is clearly not retarded. And you know what? I love it. Intellectualism is dying, and the news is now anything we want it to be.”
  • Ten Great Government Web Sites – “Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System offers public access to documents from all three branches of government through a single portal. ‘It is a Web site of sweeping scope,’ Jackson writes.”

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