Assorted Links 11/08/09


Warren Pollock: Game Change for Zombie Banks

  • Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing, November 12, 2009
  • Writing to Persuade: Hone Your Persuasive Writing Skills, November 13, 2009
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, November 18-20, 2009
  • Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations, December 1, 2009
  • Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, December 2, 2009
  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, December 3, 2009
  • How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, with WiFi Classroom, December 4, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, December 7-8, 2009
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, December 9-11, 2009
  • Research Tools and Techniques: Refining Your Online and Offline Searches, with WiFi Classroom, December 15, 2009
  • Fifty Years of Economic History in one Figure – “A few thoughts: I wish Arnold Kling were correct that inflation is around the corner. We could use some inflation to get back on track. Nominal wages are simply not flexible enough to get the job done in short order and there is much to fear from populist backlash.”
  • ChiliPunk’d? – “Is is just me, or did Mr. Karzai totally chilipunk Obama? He loads up his government with bad guys as part of his re-election strategy, engages in sufficient electoral fraud that the US “forces” him to recant his majority win and agree to a runoff, then his opponent in the runoff drops out, Karzai is President again anyway, and our political masters now seem A-OK with this outcome.

    Do y’all think Barack even got the license plate of that bus?”

  • Mo’ money for schools – “The school funding crisis is ‘phony,’ writes James Guthrie, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt, in Education Next. Chicken Little reporters highlight ‘budgetary shortfalls, school district bankruptcies, teacher and administrator layoffs, hiring and salary freezes, pension system defaults, shorter school years, ever-larger classes, faculty furloughs, fewer course electives, reduced field trips, foregone or curtailed athletics, outdated textbooks, teachers having to make do with fewer supplies, cuts in school maintenance,’ etc. But real spending on education keeps going up, even in recessions, while the number of students stays about the same.”
  • Debate on the Free Access to Law – “Well, the free access to the law movement is thriving in Oklahoma. Years ago, our Oklahoma Supreme Court decided that the law should be free and available in Oklahoma. The court’s website, OSCN.net, has available to anyone all of the court opinions in a searchable format, back to statehood and even before. The online law library there includes the statutes as well as the case opinions, links to the administrative code, fee and bond schedules and many other resources. The largest counties already have their case files online and work is underway on the other counties.”
  • CRE Report: “Gloomy Times” – “For the other CRE sectors the outlook is very grim. From the Urban Land Institute:
      Among property sectors, the survey finds declines or near low record lows in investment sentiment for almost every property type. Only rental apartments register fair prospects and all other categories sink into the fair to poor range. Hotel and retail record the most precipitous falls. Development prospects are “largely dead” and drop to new depths and practically to “abysmal” levels for office, retail and hotels. Warehouse and apartments score only marginally better at “modestly poor.”

  • Memo to press secretaries for prelates: Don’t assume, Ask. – “I’d like to see us someday reach the point where arch/diocesan staffers learn to avoid speculating (at least in public) on canonical matters. These well-intentioned people rarely know anything about canon law, yet they frequently say things that muddy the waters for the rest of us, or are simply wrong. The recent comments on the Donna Quinn case made by Colleen Dolan, press secretary to Chicago’s Cdl. George, are a good example.”
  • More on Tax Credit – “Buyers who have owned their current homes at least five years would be eligible for tax credits of up to $6,500. First-time homebuyers — or anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years — would still get up to $8,000. To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30.

    “This is probably the last extension,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, D-Ga., a former real estate executive who championed the credits.

    The homebuyers tax credit is one of two tax breaks totaling more than $21 billion that the Senate included in a bill extending unemployment benefits for those without a job for more than a year. The other would let companies now losing money recoup taxes they paid on profits earned in the previous five years.”

  • Report: 11 states emerging from recession – “Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington, D.C., are in recovery, according to Moody’s Economy.com, an economic forecasting firm. It determines where a state is in the recession based on employment rates, home prices, residential construction and manufacturing production figures. Some or all of these indicators were stable or improving in these states.

    The firm also reported that, as of September 2009, Nevada remains firmly gripped by the worst recession because these indicators are still dropping significantly due to the plunging tourism, gambling and construction industries. The rest of the states, while still in recession, have seen the pace of their decline slow down, or moderate.”

  • PR Pros on Press Releases – Meh – “MarketingCharts uncovers some fresh data on how PR people feel about press releases. It’s ugly.”
  • CELEBRITY GOSSIP. – “Members of the Italian Sausage Society of Bloomfield were flabbergasted to learn that puckish pranksters in their own staff had slipped kielbasa into their spaghetti dinner. Mrs. de Facto is said to be laid up in bed recovering from the shock.

    Miss Diana Smoulder, the ravishing heartthrob of the hurdy-gurdy, has pulled out of the monthly Lemming Aid concerts after a heated dispute with the promoters. Sources say the board of directors was unhappy with her recent public statements on the sensitive vole issue.”

  • Nominal Nonsense – “Sometimes it seems like waving MV=PY in front of a Keynesian is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It so enrages them that they lose sight of economic logic. Keynes’s entire General Theory is basically a theory of PY, and hence necessarily a theory of MV. (In fact V doesn’t have any independent meaning; it’s just PY/M.) Sure Keynes often assumes fixed prices in the GT, but not always. And what happens when he relaxes the fixed price assumption, which variable does he see AD affecting, RGDP or NGDP? The answer is obvious. Keynes relaxes the assumption at full employment, or what he calls ‘bottlenecks’ in the economy. If the economy has reached capacity then any further increases in AD continue to cause increases in NGDP, but RGDP no longer rises. So the General Theory is first and foremost a theory of nominal income determination. The impact of AD on RGDP is entirely contingent on the slope of the SRAS curve. For the millionth time, the equation MV=PY has zero monetarist implications, and that’s doubly true for the concept of nominal GDP. ”
  • British Muslim Gangs and the “Chemical Jihad” – “A Taliban fighter killed this spring by NATO troops in southern Afghanistan was found to have a tattoo from the Aston Villa Football Club, indicating he may have grown up in Britain’s West Midlands. It was the latest evidence that British Muslims of South Asian origin have joined the fight in Afghanistan.

    For some time, Royal Air Force spy planes have picked up radio communication between Taliban fighters who speak with thick accents from Manchester, Birmingham, West Bromwich and Bradford, all cities with large populations of British Muslims of South Asian origin.

    “But it was a shock to hear that the guys we were fighting against supported the same football clubs as us, and maybe even grew up on the same streets as us,” the Telegraph newspaper quoted an unnamed British military official as saying.

    Some law enforcement officials believe the British Taliban fighters may have links to criminal gangs in Britain whose members are Muslim and who have been connected to selling heroin on British streets. At least one other captured Taliban fighter was found to have British gang tattoos on his arms, according to a western law enforcement advisor to the U.S. military, and there is evidence that various British Muslim gangs have sent fighters to Afghanistan, or sell Afghan heroin on British streets. Roughly 90 percent of the heroin sold in Britain comes from Afghanistan.

    The Gambinos, gangsters of Pakistani origin who take their name from the New York crime family, have been linked to selling Afghan heroin in north London and Luton. So have the South Man Syndicate (SMS) and the Muslim Boys (who are also known as the PDC, or Poverty Driven Children).

    “The big bosses have Taliban and al Qaeda connections and we’re often told only to deal it to non-Muslims. They call it chemical jihad and hope to ruin lives while getting massive payouts at the same time,” said a street dealer quoted in this British tabloid.”

  • Weak Dick – “The picture that emerges is not one of a persecuted minority, but a man with a severe case of narcissistic personality disorder. If you can’t win the argument of your self-proclaimed superiority on merits, gun some people down. Unarmed people, of a preference.

    That’ll show ‘em.”


33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask

  • Little-Known Strategies to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits – “Now for a strategy that only a fraction of a fraction of Social Security beneficiaries have ever heard of! We already told you that it’s smart for many people to wait until their full retirement age to start taking Social Security benefits. But what if you didn’t? What if you start your benefits and change your mind? Well, most retirement decisions are hard to reverse, but this is one time you get a ‘do over.’ Here how it works: The Social Security Administration allows seniors who have started taking their monthly benefit to stop their benefits and start again later.”
  • Major Airlines Crank Up Another Fare Hike – “Major airlines have installed the third significant fare increase in as many weeks, according to Rick Seaney, the CEO of Farecompare.com”
  • Report: Pre-Retirees in Denial on Savings – “I expect many of these pre-retirees will start saving more soon, and this is part of the reason I expect the saving rate to increase to 8% or so over the next couple of years.”
  • ACORN hard drives to be returned after data is copied by state investigators – “David Caldwell said state investigators will copy the hard drives from ACORN’s computers and return them next week. The computers contain payroll information for the national organization. Caldwell noted that some computers were not taken Friday because they would have affected the agency’s immediate payroll, and forced some to go without paychecks. Caldwell said investigators worked with ACORN members and will pick up those items in the near future.

    People inside and close to ACORN were angered by news last spring that Dale Rathke had taken close to $1 million from the organization, which is billed as an advocate for poor and working-class people.

    But in the subpoenas, the state attorney general’s office suggested that the embezzlement may have been on the order of $5 million, and that ACORN’s current CEO, Bertha Lewis, acknowledged as much at an Oct. 17, 2008 board meeting, soon after she assumed the position.”

  • Needle Free Insulin Delivery from PICOSULIN – “Amy Tenderich from DiabetesMine spoke with Thierry Navarro, co-founder of PICOSULIN, a Geneva, Switzerland company developing a patch and an insulin pump with an unusually open R&D process.”
  • My Thoughts on the Skype Settlement: Winners & Losers Scorecard – “The final results are in: eBay and private investors led by Silver Lake Partners have struck a deal with Skype founders and JoltID, the technology company controlled by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. They are also transferring the ownership of intellectual property needed to make sure that Skype works as an Internet telephony service. More than 500 million Skype subscribers can breathe a sigh of relief.”
  • Frank Veneroso: Employment Losses Probably Continue at a 300,000 a Month Rate – “1. According to BLS, payrolls fell at a 188,000 a month rate over the last three months. But their own household survey says employment fell at a 589,000 a month rate.

    2. Why the discrepancy?”


SoundRacer — Make The Family Sedan Sound Like A Supercar

  • LogMeIn Central Makes Good Remote Support Products Better – “LogMeIn Central provides me with a customizable view of all of the machines that are associated with my account (currently approaching 50) and easy access to many setup and configuration options. Central is an interesting product, in that it really only exists to complement and enhance the LogMeIn tools I am already using. The distinction in functionality between Free and Pro2 accounts still exists, Central just works with these services (along with VPN product Hamachi) to make them much more functional.”
  • Miracle or Child Abuse? – “However — and perhaps this is just me here — it seems far more likely that instead of an actual miracle, someone is maybe, y’know, writing the verses on the baby. The mother says the baby is cranky when the words appear, which (if she’s being truthful) you might expect if someone is scraping or otherwise irritating the baby’s skin to make the words appear. I’ll note that the words fade with time, too, just as expected if this is a fraud.”
  • Kindle Case Lights up for Reading in the Dark – “After reading so many books on PDAs and phones over the past years, the lack of any lighting on my Kindle2 is a bit of drag. It’s not stopping me from reading one or two novels a week, but there are times I’d like to read without the lights on. That’s were Case-Mate’s Enlighten product comes in.”
  • Bloggers’ Right to Free Speech and Use Anonymous Sources Questioned in New Hampshire Supreme Court – “I believe the court ruled improperly in forcing the documents to be removed from Implode-O-Meter. Moreover, I believe Aaron should be able to post all of the relevant documentation he has on The Mortgage Specialists.

    While some may consider a $725,000 fine substantial. I do not believe it was substantial enough. The sad irony in this case is that The Mortgage Specialists is fighting to shut down Implode-O-Meter, when it is The Mortgage Specialists who should be shut down.

    This case has profound implications on the right of online journal and blogs to state their case. This is both a freedom of speech case and a journalist right to protect sources case.”

  • What MP3 player should I buy? – “I’m in the market for a new MP3 player — my second-gen iPod Nano is finally dead, and I don’t want to buy another iPod, or any other player with DRM built in. I figure that any company that wants to devote its engineers to figuring out how to frustrate my desires doesn’t really want my business.”
  • The Oregon School Bill, 1922 – “The 1920’s saw the last great wave of organized anti-Catholicism. One of the most powerful expressions of this bias was the passage of the Oregon Compulsory Education Act on this day in 1922. Known as the Oregon School Bill, on a single day in June 1922 volunteers from the Klan (seen here in a 1925 Oregon rally) and the Masonic Lodges collected enough votes to put the proposition on the ballot.”
  • The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges – “In other words, students used to attend a local college regardless of their abilities and its characteristics. Now, their choices are driven far less by distance and far more by a college’s resources and student body. It is the consequent re-sorting of students among colleges that has, at once, caused selectivity to rise in a small number of colleges while simultaneously causing it to fall in other colleges. I show that the integration of the market for college education has had profound implications on the peers whom college students experience, the resources invested in their education, the tuition they pay, and the subsidies they enjoy. An important finding is that, even though tuition has been rising rapidly at the most selective schools, the deal students get there has arguably improved greatly. The result is that the ‘stakes’ associated with admission to these colleges are much higher now than in the past.” ht Marginal Revolution
  • 80 Min Exercise Per Week Prevents Visceral Weight Gain – “80 minutes per week of either aerobic or resistance training prevents any fat weight gain around the internal organs. This is good news.”
  • Projects: Rebirth Of A Dresser – “This old dresser has been handed down through two generations of my family before I had it. It’s close to 50 years old and has been reworked more than once. It has no particular value save its clothes-holding properties. It has been in my bedroom for close to 30 years and it’s time for a change — preferably to something a little less Sgt. Pepper. It was time to overhaul this piece again.
    . . .
    All that remains is to finish the trim pieces out and add a footer band, and then it’s on to hardware and stain. It’s not a bad start for a day’s worth of work but hopefully the effort and resulting bit of furniture will help ease my transgression against the furniture gods in my younger years.”

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Posted in: Caught Our Eye

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