Assorted Links 8/6/09

Not going so well in PA…. Hmm, read the bill – that’s novel!
“Is it representative government when your representatives don’t read the bill?”
Democrats Decline to Listen to Unhappy Constituents, Decide to Label Them Nuts Instead

  • Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations, September 9, 2009
  • Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, September 11, 2009
  • How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, September 15, 2009
  • Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, September 16, 2009
  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, September 17, 2009
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, September 23-25, 2009
  • A tale told by an idiot – “‘The Sheriff at the Gates: A Farce in Three Acts’”
    Act One

    (A street in Cambridgeham. Most Exalted University Professor HENRY LOUIS GATES, freshly returned from the Land of the Asian Khan, is rattling the door of his keep. Enter a WENCH.)….

  • What Does This Sad Story Say to You? – Uh, don’t look for jobs in bars? (See Out of Options, photo 9)
  • My Father The Dope Dealer – “I loved the car trips I took with my mom as a kid. In 1986, we climbed into a rented motor home and bolted south Florida for the mesas of New Mexico, seeing cousins and digging for Indian arrowheads in my aunt’s yard. Later we toured New England, New York, and the Southeast, my mom taking advantage of the long hours behind the wheel to grill me about my grade-school crushes and playground fights. I thought we were just bonding and visiting family. Years later, I would learn that the trips had another aim: to hunt down cash and valuables my dad had stashed during his days as one of the biggest suppliers of high-quality marijuana in the Northeast.”
  • Lobbying: A Booming Business in a Politicized Economy – “Lobbying expenditures are up in the second quarter of the Obama administration, reports the Center for Responsive Politics. Well-connected Democratic lobbyists like former House majority leader Richard Gephardt and Tony Podesta, the brother of Obama transition director John Podesta, did especially well. Given the administration’s focus on nationalizing health care and energy, it’s no surprise that health care and energy companies were the biggest spenders.
    . . .
    As Craig Holman of the Nader-founded Public Citizen told Marketplace Radio the last time such a report was issued, ‘the amount spent on lobbying . . . is related entirely to how much the federal government intervenes in the private economy.'”
  • Does this Congress have transparency problem? – “The same problem exists in the Senate, where the committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) passed its health care bill on July 15. We still don’t have a copy of that text”
  • OMB v. CBO in the “First Battle of the Blogs” – “Washington policy battles usually play out in person in the Oval Office and in the offices of congressional leaders. On Saturday, July 25, Washington witnessed the first ‘Battle of the Blogs.'”
  • Pricing Transit – “This analysis acknowledges that as the price of Boston public transportation rises, people at the margin will substitute other means of transportation, reducing the number of riders. This may seem obvious to those commuters who realize that demand slopes downward, but oftentimes those involved in setting prices for public transportation do not acknowledge that changing fares leads to a movement along the demand curve for their service.”
  • Office Volume Down 50% to 91%; Industrial Space at Decade Low; Retail Vacancies at 7.5% – “Retail, office, and industrial real estate are all suffering to various degrees.”
  • The Bottom Hasn’t Arrived for Commercial Real Estate – “for the vast majority of small banks who didn’t play the sub-prime mortgage game, but are hip deep in commercial construction loans, the plunging of commercial real estate values may spell the end of their existence.”
  • Hot Waitress Economic Index – “In New York, we have our own economic indicators, often based on the degree to which people are being thwarted by the lack of opportunity. An old standby is the Overeducated Cabbie Index. The Squeegee Man Apparition Index is another good one. There’s also the Speed at Which Contractors Return Calls Index: within 24 hours, you’re in a recession; if they call you without prompting, that’s a depression.” ht Marginal Revolution
  • Our Enemy, the State – “It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power. There is never, nor can there be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power.”
  • Andrew Sullivan: Opposition to Cash-for-Clunkers Shows GOP Not Serious About Limited Government – “What about the estimated 12 percent of Americans aged 15 years and above who don’t drive, period? What about all the adults who live in the 8 percent of households that don’t have a vehicle? What about half the residents of Manhattan, who took transit planners’ decades-old dream to heart and ‘got out of their cars’? What about those who are too poor to drive? The answer: All of these people are subsidizing whoever turns in an SUV or crappy old $800 K-Car like the one I used to drive. Not only that, but what do you think happens to the $800 car market when the guvmint is handing out $4,500 checks to have the things destroyed? I’ll go ahead and state the obvious: It shrinks, making it more expensive for the truly poor people, the ones who want to make that daring leap from the bus system to an awful old bucket of rust.”
  • GOP Senator: White House Encroaching on First Amendment – ” A Republican senator is calling for the White House to suspend a new project that asks members of the public to flag ‘fishy’ claims about President Obama’s health care plans, arguing that it raises privacy concerns and will serve to chill free speech.

    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is sending a letter to the White House today asking the president to ‘cease this program immediately’ — or to explain how Americans’ privacy will be protected if e-mails are forwarded to the White House as requested.”

New at Sending Our Fishy E-Mails to the White House!

  • Lawyer hid millions from IRS – “Most creative of his dodges? Entering into a sham child support agreement.”
  • High Sensitivity C-reactive Protein – “This blood test measures a marker for inflammation, thought to be involved in plaque formation. It’s often elevated when a person is overweight, out-of-shape, and on the road to diabetes. Many doctors routinely do this blood test nowadays and it can be combined with Framingham risk factors to give you what’s known as a Reynolds Risk Score. Research shows it provides more accurate information about heart-disease risk than Framingham and can tell you your heart attack risk out to 40 years and your risk of other heart conditions like strokes. ”
  • Reynolds Risk Score – “If you are healthy and without diabetes, the Reynolds Risk Score is designed to predict your risk of having a future heart attack, stroke, or other major heart disease in the next 10 years.”
  • Apolipoprotein- B But not LDL Cholesterol Linked to Artery Calcium Build Up – “Dangerous LDL comes in small particles which are prone to attach to arteries. Very large fluffy LDL molecule tends not to bond to your arteries. The LDL calculation apparently gives something like the total volume of your LDL, so if, like me, you have a modest number of very large fluffy molecules the formula gives an extremely high LDL figure while someone with a lot of very small dense LDL may be told they have a low, misleadingly comforting LDL number.

    This is one reason why fully one half of people who have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol–because just measuring the amount of cholesterol is worthless. You have to know how many cholesterol particles you have to better understand risk since small dense LDL does correlate with your risk of having cholesterol clog your arteries.

    So while it isn’t new that your APO B value is a useful indicator of risk, the new Diabetes study is useful because it finds that APO B is the only LDL test result that provides useful information to people with Type 2 diabetes.”

  • OpenHouse NY releases early site list for ’09 free tours – “Come October, the non-profit openhousenewyork will again pull back the curtain at hundreds of seldom-seen spots around the city, allowing free public access to the Apollo Theater, the abandoned 1844 railway tunnel under Atlantic Avenue, the Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library and Museum, and the ‘Model Museum’ showcasing the designs of architects Richard Meier and Partners.”
  • The Forbes/CCAP Best Buy College Rankings – “we have prepared a list of 100 Best Buy American colleges and universities, after both institutional quality and the typical cost of tuition after average discounts are considered (e.g., scholarships). While the Best College top 100 is dominated by private schools, a large majority (61 percent) on the Best Buy list are public institutions–because, on average, public institutions are less expensive to attend than private ones.”

Sand Animation: “WWII as experienced in the Soviet Ukraine. A story told with sand and hands…” ALD
The artist is Ksenia Symonova

  • Fiber gets nimble: small telcos weaving fiber web – “Fiber to the home is associated with Verizon, but half of the rural telcos around the country are installing it, too, a few hundred lines at a time. The strange result: Bemidji, MN gets fiber but Chicago does not.”
  • Google Voice offering active serviceman and women instant invites – “In an effort to help assist deployed servicemen and women in the United States Military, Google is allowing anyone with a .mil email address to sign up for a Google Voice invite and get pretty much instantaneous access.”
  • Where Are All the Funny People? – “Chief among the myriad problems infecting this junk heap [Funny People movie] is that the funny people in the title are simply not funny. Of course, it doesn’t help if you are allergic to Adam Sandler and an aberration called Seth Rogen in the first place. This grim duo is about as funny as two kidney stones.
    . . .
    If there is anyone more repulsive than Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, it is Jason Schwartzman, who also provided a musical score that makes construction-site jackhammers sound like Debussy’s ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.’ Between batteries of blood tests and treatments, we get routines guaranteed to bore a kindergarten at recess. There is even a scene in which everybody takes turns rubbing peanut butter on their face and the dog licks it off. Talk about wasting time to drag out a movie by covering up the fact that there is no movie!
    . . .
    There is nothing cute or cool or liberating about almost two and a half hours of X-rated excreta by criminally unfunny people feigning to be pros.” ht The Browser
  • 3 ways to save on college textbooks – Rent, buy digital, buy used.
  • The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals – “Critics of ‘industrial farming’ spend most of their time concerned with the processes by which food is raised. This is because the results of organic production are so, well, troublesome. With the subtraction of every ‘unnatural’ additive, molds, fungus, and bugs increase. Since it is difficult to sell a religion with so many readily quantifiable bad results, the trusty family farmer has to be thrown into the breach, saving the whole organic movement by his saintly presence, chewing on his straw, plodding along, at one with his environment, his community, his neighborhood. Except that some of the largest farms in the country are organic–and are giant organizations dependent upon lots of hired stoop labor doing the most backbreaking of tasks in order to save the sensitive conscience of my fellow passenger the merest whiff of pesticide contamination. They do not spend much time talking about that at the Whole Foods store.
    . . .
    Biotech crops actually cut the use of chemicals, and increase food safety. Are people who refuse to use them my moral superiors? Herbicides cut the need for tillage, which decreases soil erosion by millions of tons. The biggest environmental harm I have done as a farmer is the topsoil (and nutrients) I used to send down the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico before we began to practice no-till farming, made possible only by the use of herbicides. The combination of herbicides and genetically modified seed has made my farm more sustainable, not less, and actually reduces the pollution I send down the river.
    . . .
    Most of the critics of industrial farming maintain the contradictory positions that we should increase the use of manure as a fertilizer, and decrease our consumption of meat. Pollan would solve the problem with cover crops, planted after the corn crop is harvested, and with mandatory composting. Pollan should talk to some actual farmers before he presumes to advise a president.”

. . . . . . . . .