Assorted Links 8/4/09

Barney Frank, on the Road to Socialized Medicine
Also see: Uh oh…

  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, September 23-25, 2009
  • Cash-Strapped Zoo: “Give Us Money or the Gorilla Gets It” – “Massachusetts lawmakers provided $6.5 million in their latest budget to help fund the Franklin Park Zoo. That figure represents about half the zoo’s annual budget.”
  • Affirmative Actionocracy – “Countless pundits have debated whether the Henry Louis Gates Jr. brouhaha is about race or class. In truth, Barack Obama’s maladroit but heartfelt interjection of his own prejudices into the controversy stemmed from a quite precise intersection of race with class.”
  • The Mask Comes Off – “Congresswoman Maxine Waters on what she’d like to do with the oil industry ”
  • Desperate Times: Arizona Leases State House – “Arizona faces its own catastrophe. Its budget shortfall, while at $3.4 billion not as large as California’s, represents 30 percent of its $10.7 billion budget. After months of wrangling over how to meet the shortfall — program cuts versus tax cuts — a possible solution was reached this week, four weeks into the state’s new fiscal year: the lease of 32 government-owned properties including the State House, a prison, and a state hospital.”
  • Here They Come – “About 1 in 10 Californians with a home loan is now in default, and there’s growing evidence that the mortgage meltdown is spreading to commercial real estate.
    . . .
    The staggering number of home mortgage defaults probably will lead to large numbers of foreclosures through at least this year, housing experts say.”
  • Tiered House Prices for Several Cities – “My feeling has been that house prices are probably close to the bottom in the lower priced bubble areas with heavy foreclosure activity (Lawler’s ‘de-stickification’). Inventories are very low in many of these areas, and activity has been fairly high as first time buyers and investors buy distressed properties.

    However it appears there are more foreclosures coming, and the level of inventory will be the key to future price declines.

    My view is that mid-to-high priced bubble areas – with far fewer distressed sales than the low-to-mid priced areas, and much higher inventory-to-sales levels, and few move-up buyers – will see continued real price declines, although the pace of price declines will probably slow.”

  • ‘Too Big to Fail’ Cause of Current Community Bank Failures – “we have seen a tremendous increase in bank closures over the past 7 months. In fact, the closure rate is alarmingly high and accelerating every month. To date we have had 69 banks fail in 2009 which is 276% more banks than last year and at the current rate it will double by the end of the year. Keeping in mind that in July alone we have had 24 banks closed by the FDIC which is almost 100% of all of last years closures…. This should trouble you as it has an impact to the availability of credit in smaller communities.”
  • Copyright Cops Go After Town For Creating Little Mermaid Statue – “It’s hard to believe that this one artist, whose been dead for fifty years, should have total control over statues of mermaids, but that’s what today’s copyright law gives us. Isn’t it great?”
  • Digital Wretches – “The decline of urban print newspapers is sparking local replacements online.”
  • It Won’t Be So Bad: A Q&A With the Author of $20 Per Gallon – “That said, civil engineer and Forbes reporter Chris Steiner argues that prices will rise precipitously over the next few decades.”
  • How they laugh in Hell – “Anyone who doesn’t think that government bureaucracy eventually destroys all it touches should read this solicitation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for consultants to provide ‘two, 3-hour Humor in the Workplace programs.’ You’ve never seen, I promise you, a more humorless treatment of humor.”
  • F.A. Hayek and the Fatal Conceit of Barack Obama – “Members of Congress lecture car manufacturers and mortgage lenders on how to do their jobs. Politicians keep taking on more and more responsibility for the U.S. economy, as each industry appears to be getting its own ‘czar.’ Unfortunately, more czars will not produce better cars, or health care, or mortgages, or much of anything else.

    The belief that one person or group, no matter how smart, can know how best to allocate resources is a classic example of what the Nobel Laureate economist F. A. Hayek called ‘the fatal conceit.’

    In Hayek’s view, what enables businesspeople to make good decisions about the allocation of resources is not that they are smarter than other people. Instead, two other factors are key.
    . . .
    Imposing a vision of how an industry ‘should’ work and how it should produce and deliver its products from the top down is the height of political hubris.”

  • More Exhaustees Coming – “The details on exhaustees — the people have used up their total Unemployment benefits– are pretty daunting. I mentioned this to Doug Kass last week, who referred to our prior post in one of his recent missives.

    Now, the Sunday NYT looks at the same issue prospectively, to guesstimate how many more exhaustees there will be in the next few months.

    Short answer: 1.5 million.”

  • A Little Inflation Now Might Help — Really? – “Hume told us that in designing governmental institutions we must presume all men to be knaves. Smith told us that political power was nowhere as dangerous as in the hands of a man who thought he had the presumption that he possessed the knowledge and the power to impose ‘correct’ policy for the good of society. Ideal policy design, in other words, must be ‘robust’ policy design that takes into account the fact that government can be, and will be used by some to benefit themselves at the expense of others. This is true of Congress and public spending, and it is true of the Fed and monetary policy.
    . . .
    An omniscient eunuch is not in charge of monetary policy.”
  • Iran’s Stalinesque Show Trials – “Stalinism was dropped even by the Soviet Union when the murderous Joseph Stalin died, but it has never disappeared completely. North Korea, for instance, mimics the bizarre personality cult promoted by the Soviet dictator. Now Iran appears to be adopting the Stalinesque tactic of staging show trials, with ‘confessions’ from the obviously brutalized accused.”

They all fall down: Mattress dominoes world record attempt

  • Would You Pay $5 For A Truly Great Slice Of Pizza? – “Di Fara’s, the pizza place 12 blocks from my ancestral home in Brooklyn, N.Y. and one of the absolute best places for pizza by the slice in New York City (hence anywhere in the universe), is now charging $5/slice…and getting it! I completely understand why.”
  • Charles Atlas: Muscle Man – “How the original 97-pound weakling transformed himself into Charles Atlas and brought the physical fitness movement to the masses.”
  • I went wheat-free and I . . . – “I believe we can conclude from this casual exercise that, as a simple strategy, wheat elimination is surprisingly effective. ”
  • I was Corner Man in a Poison Frog Ceremony, from Bo Keely – “The talent of Dow-kietl, the shiny green frog that exudes Sapo or frog sweat to paralyze the biting jaws of predator snakes, was hidden from the western world until Peter Gorman introduced the ‘death experience’ to the N.Y. American Museum of Natural History in 1986, and then to Amazon outward bounders. Last night I witnessed three people cringe under cigarette burns on their biceps, the yellow viscous Sapo dabbed on exposed mesoderms, and I sat back to watch them ‘die’.”
  • What Can You Eat When You are Cutting Carbs? – “If you are trying to cut back on your carbohydrates to lower your blood sugar, you may be wondering what there is left to eat. Here are some ideas to get you started.”
  • South Beach Diet: Phase 1 Food List and Sample Menu – “‘The South Beach Diet is not low-carb or low-fat. Instead, the South Beach Diet teaches you to change the balance of food you eat to emphasize health and weight-loss! You’ll do away with bad carbs and bad fats, and start eating good fats and good carbs.”
  • Nanosheets May Replace Sutures for Scar Free Results – “Michael Berger over at Nanowerk profiles the work of Japanese scientists that created adhesive ultrathin ‘nanosheets’ that are able to bind tissue together. The goal was to create a material that can help avoid suturing or stapling of fragile tissue during surgery. The material, developed by a team from Waseda University and the National Defense Medical College, may also lead to plastic surgery techniques that don’t leave a scar behind.”
  • Ethanol is a false solution with unintended consequences – “American farmers planted a record 94 million acres in corn in 2007, yielding a record 13 billion bushels. Yet we displaced just 3 percent of our total oil consumption with ethanol. It’s not clear we could even make any sort of significant dent in our oil consumption. According to researchers at the Polytechnic University of New York, ‘Using the entire 300 million acres of U.S. cropland for cornbased ethanol production would meet about 15 percent of the demand.’ Our ethanol policies might be enriching Archer Daniels Midland and other Midwest agribusinesses. But we’re deluding ourselves if we think they are keeping Hugo Chavez or oil-soaked Middle Eastern kleptocrats awake at night.”
  • The Department of Double Standards – “Crude, ridiculous and off-point caricature of George W. Bush as Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker: High art! Crude, ridiculous and off-point caricature of Obama as Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker: akin to lynching!”
  • Roubini Says Commodity Prices May Rise in 2010 – “Roubini predicted on July 23 that the global economy will begin recovering near the end of 2009, before possibly dropping back into a recession by late 2010 or 2011 because of rising government debt, higher oil prices and a lack of job growth. ”
  • Rockport Boots – “Toolmongers with feet that would impress a yeti know the pain of trying to find a good pair of work boots. Wide-footed individuals the world over have leaned towards New Balance products for ages, but New Balance doesn’t make work boots, do they? Well, sort of: Rockport Works, a work shoe manufacturer, contracts with New Balance to design their foot beds and toe caps, leaving the uppers, tongue, and lace arrangement for themselves, at least according to Moe at Harry’s Army Surplus.”

metacool Thought of the Day
“It would be insane to call Hamlet a loser. He is not a loser, even though he has lost.”

  • Top 10 Computer Hardware Fixes and Upgrades – “If your desktop or laptop parts have died or seen better days, you’ve got a friend. All of your Lifehacker editors–and many helpful net denizens–have upgraded or repaired faulty systems, and we’ve rounded some of their most helpful tutorials.”
  • The reality behind dual nationalities and multiple passports – “The topic of multiple nationalities and passports tends to be filled with hype and mystery, but it’s really simple. Your ethnicity, birthplace, and religion can be the basis of dual citizenship. If your spouse has dual citizenship, you may be eligible for it too.”
  • America’s Seven Worst Gas Guzzlers – “here are the most environmentally reprehensible rides, from the not least least efficient to the most least efficient, by vehicle category.”
  • 100M Portable Apps Downloads Can’t Be Wrong – “There’s something insanely cool about having everything you need with you on your key chain, as long as you can find a PC somewhere – which is easier than you might think. USB apps have lightened my load dramatically. I can almost always find a workstation wherever I roam”

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