Assorted Links 8/8/09

Is Your iPod Unpatriotic?

  • 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
  • Foreclosures: One Giant Wave, Still Building – “To say there is a second wave implies the (current) wave has receded,” [Sam Khater, senior economist, First American CoreLogic] “I don’t see that the wave has receded.”
  • E85 Boondoggle of the Day: 2100 Gallons of Water Per Gallon of E85? – “Corn-based ethanol took another blow from the scientific literature this week. University of Minnesota scientists published an article revealing that corn into E85 could require three times as much water as previously estimated.”
  • The Obama/Joker Poster Is Racist, Says a Washington Post Article by the Newspaper’s Culture Critic – “Joker = ‘urban’ = ‘inner city’ = black. True, he’s white, Heath Ledger is white, but … But what exactly? All references to white ‘urban’ criminals are actually secretly to blacks? The references to William Ayers were, too?”
  • Prairie-Fire Anger – “There is a growing sense of a ‘we’ve been had’, bait-and-switch. Millions of moderate Republicans, independents, and conservative Democrats–apparently angry at Bush for Iraq and big deficits, unimpressed by the McCain campaign, intrigued by the revolutionary idea of electing an African-American president–voted for Obama on the assumption that he was sincere about ending red state/blue state animosity. They took him at his word that he was going to end out of control federal spending. They trusted that he had real plans to get us out of the economic doldrums, and that he was not a radical tax-and-spend liberal of the old sort.

    Instead, within days Obama set out plans that would triple the annual deficit, and intends to borrow at a record pace that will double the aggregate debt in just eight years.

    He not only took over much of the auto- and financial industries, but also did so in a way that privileged unions, politically-correct creditors, and those insider cronies who favor administration initiatives. On matters racial, his administration is shrill and retrograde, not forward-looking. It insists on emphasizing the tired old identify politics that favor a particular sort of racial elite that claims advantage by citing past collective victimization or piggy-backs for advantage on the plight of the minority underclass.

    In other words, the Obama swing voter thought he was getting a 21st-century version of pragmatic, triangulating Bill Clinton–and instead got something to the left of 1970s Jimmy Carter.”

  • Regulation Is Almost Always Anti-Competitive – “I can see the effects of this right here where I am sitting, out near the end of Cape Cod. Zoning and business regulation here is enormously aggressive – its is virtually impossible to start a new retail establishment here, particularly on virgin land. As a result, every store and restaurant here feels like it is right out of the 1950s. You’d hardly know there has been a revolution in retail or service delivery over the past few decades, because businesses here are sheltered from new entrants.”
  • MoD Minister: This is the last generation of manned fighters – “In a bizarre repeat of history, a British defence minister has given it as his opinion that we are currently witnessing development of the final generation of manned combat aircraft. The comments made last week by Quentin Davies MP echo those made in a 1957 government white paper by the then Defence minister, Duncan Sandys.”
  • A $191 Million Question – “Raymond said it is common practice for contractors to bolster their chances of winning a deal by providing information that helps to shape statements of work. ‘It happens all the time . . . They disguise it as a white paper,’ he said.
    . . .
    ‘The game around this town is you put résumés of people who are well known,’ Raymond said.”

Stand-Up Economist: The world’s first and only stand-up economist

  • You just can’t make this stuff up – “Seriously, I propose an emergency meeting of the AEA to resolve this issue once and for all. We should not wait for the January meetings in Atlanta, as by then a whole new group of EC101 students will have been mis-educated in the fall semester.”
  • USAF’s C-5 Galaxy Gets Modern Upgrades With…GPS! – “Believe it or not, one of the things pilots are enjoying the most in the new cockpit is the GPS navigation. The older C-5s still relied on inertial navigation which can be less than ideal on long trips. With the new glass cockpits, the pilots can finally enjoy the same convenient navigation the military first started using more than 20 years ago.”
  • How good is the post office really? – “For obvious reasons, an inefficient quasi-monopolist might run high costs and overinvest in public relations. Some of the world’s worst post offices have pretty stamps and the guy behind the counter really does smile like grandpa.”

Revolt is brewing among AARP members against AARP leadership

  • Panoramic Windshields – “By 1961, wrap-around windshields were gone. Fords returned to traditional A-pillars in 1960 and General Motors followed for its 1961 line as can be seen on this Buick. The windshield glass curves both horizontally and vertically, but there is no significant wrapping. The A-pillar has returned to its traditional backwards slant. This situation prevails nearly 50 years later, strongly implying that wraparound windshields weren’t such a great idea.”
  • 7 Reasons Not to Ditch Your iPhone – from the comments: “I will ditch my iPhone for the next gen iPod Touch (comes out in September) plus the Verizon Mifi. This allows me to retain the iPhone apps and functionality while freeing myself from AT&T (which is the main problem for me).” We agree that this combination has the potential to be a game-changer.
  • Why you don’t drive in fogThree dead following collision on Interstate 81: “The wreckage of the passenger car and third tractor was recognizable only because both vehicles’ tire rims and the tractor’s exhaust pipe were visible. Debris littered the highway under the trailer, in which chemicals burned throughout the day.” Video slide show here
  • Organic food and unhealthy snobbery – “People don’t eat organic for its nutrients, but because they want to distinguish themselves from the junk-scoffing hordes.
    . . .
    As Professor Ottoline Leyser of York University says: ‘People think that the more natural something is, the better it is for them. That is simply not the case. In fact, it is the opposite that is true: the closer a plant is to its natural state, the more likely it is that it will poison you. Naturally, plants do not want to be eaten, so we have spent 10,000 years developing agriculture and breeding out harmful traits from crops. ‘Natural agriculture’ is a contradiction in terms.’”
  • Is The Post Office So Bad? Yes, and Try Eating More Kiwi. – “Consider, this story from today about USPS’s $1.1 billion loss in the 3rd quarter. The USPS’s primary business is transportation. You give them something, they give it to someone else, oftentimes within a mailbox or two of the address you ask of them. If you are sending a small, light, paper envelope, within the U.S., then you will get a rate of $0.44.

    Visit the grocery store and price Kiwifruit, and depending on the time of year, the weather conditions of the growing season, and where you are located relative to major distribution points, you will get quoted a price in the ballpark of 40-50 cents.”

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