Assorted Links 3/11/10


Judge Jim Gray on The Six Groups That Benefit From Drug Prohibition

  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, March 12, 2010
  • Word Workshop: Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing, April 15, 2010
  • Word Workshop: Writing to Persuade: Hone Your Persuasive Writing Skills, April 16, 2010
  • Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals, May 4, 2010
  • Advanced Media Relations, May 5, 2010
  • Public Affairs and the Internet: Advanced Techniques and Strategies, May 6, 2010
  • Crisis Communications Training, May 7, 2010
  • SnowJob: Revising the Non-Farm Payrolls Report – “It appears as though the concerns expressed by the Administration about the snow storms and their impact on lost employment was overdone, if not misplaced. The market is pleasantly surprised with this -36,000 jobs number, since the expectations had been calibrated lower so effectively.

    In fairness to the Obama Administration, they are only doing what Bush II, Clinton, and Bush I* had been doing right along with almost every statistic that they have issued. It’s called ‘perception management.’ Greece used one method of accounting management in shaping the numbers, and the US uses its own approach to what is essentially a similar problem.
    . . .
    Or perhaps the US economy and its monetary system are an increasingly untenable Ponzi scheme, the mother of frauds.”

  • You Think Joe Stiglitz is Funny? NYT is funny, too! – “I accept, as Angus did before, that debt might be okay if we were investing it. But we are not. We are using debt to fund pet projects that have no purpose other than re-electing Senators, or paying to put more people on the public employment roles so they will reliably vote Democrat.

    Third, the dude actually says, ‘According to this school of thought, as our debt grows, lenders will be willing to take the risk of giving more money only if they can get more in return. And yet with the rise of China, India and Brazil, the world is awash in money looking for safe places.’ That’s not a school of thought, that’s accounting physics. Further, if either the Eurozone or Chinese get their act together, our complacency (‘sure we suck, but they suck worse! Eat that pie!’) will be hammered.”

  • Gendercide – “Most people know China and northern India have unnaturally large numbers of boys. But few appreciate how bad the problem is, or that it is rising. In China the imbalance between the sexes was 108 boys to 100 girls for the generation born in the late 1980s; for the generation of the early 2000s, it was 124 to 100. In some Chinese provinces the ratio is an unprecedented 130 to 100. The destruction is worst in China but has spread far beyond. Other East Asian countries, including Taiwan and Singapore, former communist states in the western Balkans and the Caucasus, and even sections of America’s population (Chinese- and Japanese-Americans, for example): all these have distorted sex ratios. Gendercide exists on almost every continent. It affects rich and poor; educated and illiterate; Hindu, Muslim, Confucian and Christian alike.

    Wealth does not stop it. Taiwan and Singapore have open, rich economies. Within China and India the areas with the worst sex ratios are the richest, best-educated ones. And China’s one-child policy can only be part of the problem, given that so many other countries are affected.
    . . .
    And all countries need to raise the value of girls. They should encourage female education; abolish laws and customs that prevent daughters inheriting property; make examples of hospitals and clinics with impossible sex ratios; get women engaged in public life–using everything from television newsreaders to women traffic police. Mao Zedong said ‘women hold up half the sky.’ The world needs to do more to prevent a gendercide that will have the sky crashing down.”

  • Return of the natives: Beneath the idealism and political correctness of Avatar, in the spotlight at the Oscars on Sunday, lie brutal racist undertones. – “The film teaches us that the only choice the aborigines have is to be saved by the human beings or to be destroyed by them. In other words, they can choose either to be the victim of imperialist reality, or to play their allotted role in the white man’s fantasy.”
  • Alice In Wonderland – “Johnny Depp did not work well in this role and the character he played came off as your creepy Uncle Harold rather than the whimsical character that defines the role of the Mad Hatter and would have worked and been better suited here.”
  • California Doing a Rendition of the Housing Industry on the Budget – $20 Billion Budget Deficit and Massive Amount of Distress Inventory. How Banks Raided the U.S. Treasury with the aid of the Federal Reserve and have Damaged Housing Further. – “The banking system has captured our government and frustration is boiling over. Yet those in the housing and banking industry seem complacent and even self congratulatory that we ‘have avoided Great Depression 2.0.’ Really? Now we’re taking advice from the same group of cronies that led the economy off the financial cliff. And the most troubling thing is we are at the height of unemployment even though the headline rate seems to have steadied out. California’s unemployment rate still continues to move upward hitting 12.5 percent. Yet all is well in delusional banking world since their idea of a solution is simply not foreclosing. What is even worse, these banking crooks are now offering fire sale deals to other banks and hedge fund investors! I’ve contacted a few banks about short sales and in many cases, preference is being given to “all cash” investors. Glad those bailouts are supporting the crony banking system.
    . . .
    I’ve talked with colleagues who are Republicans and Democrats and both are absolutely appalled by what is going on with Wall Street and the housing industry. They have transformed our economy into one giant casino and houses are now life sized Monopoly tokens that are traded on the New York Stock Exchange with no regard to local economies. Moral hazard applies to the masses yet those rules don’t apply to the plutocracy that sits on Wall Street.”
  • Housing: A Tale of Boom and Bust and a Puzzle – “That is happening in many areas – I’ve heard a number of stories of homeowners staying in their homes and not paying their mortgage, and the banks not foreclosing – and, at the same time, there is intense competition for any home that comes on the market.

    This is a real mystery right now.
    . . .To be clear, I have my own views why the lenders are not foreclosing. Part of it is policy – it is government policy to restrict supply and boost demand to support asset prices and limit the losses for the banks. Part of it is inadequate staffing. Another reason is the lenders are making an effort to find alternatives to foreclosure (modifications, short sales, deed-in-lieu). Of course a majority of modifications will eventually redefault, but that still restricts supply for now. It isn’t one reason – and the real puzzle is when (and how many) distressed sales will hit the market.”

  • Human Terrain Mapping – “It’s about time the Afghans get to enjoy the sight of foreign women.

    With rifles.”

  • The fable of Emanuel the Great – “From too many years of covering politics, I have come to believe as Axiom One that the absolute worst advice politicians ever receive comes from journalists who fancy themselves great campaign strategists.”
  • Peggy, Clytie, Ethel: 1926 – “June 21, 1926. Washington, D.C. ‘Peggy Walsh, Clytie Collier and Ethel Barrymore Colt.’ National Photo Company glass negative.” (photo)
  • Building a Better Teacher – “Lemov, for his part, finds hope in what he has already accomplished. The day that I watched Bellucci’s math class, Lemov sat next to me, beaming. He was still smiling an hour later, when we walked out of the school together to his car. ”You could change the world with a first-year teacher like that, he said.”
  • Secret millionaire donates fortune to Lake Forest College – “Like many people who lived through the Great Depression, Grace Groner was exceptionally restrained with her money.

    She got her clothes from rummage sales. She walked everywhere rather than buy a car. And her one-bedroom house in Lake Forest held little more than a few plain pieces of furniture, some mismatched dishes and a hulking TV set that appeared left over from the Johnson administration.

    Her one splurge was a small scholarship program she had created for Lake Forest College, her alma mater. She planned to contribute more upon her death, and when she passed away in January, at the age of 100, her attorney informed the college president what that gift added up to.”

  • More on Wind – “Any traditional capacity (fossil fuel, nuclear) except perhaps gas turbines takes on the order of a day or more to start up — if you don’t take that long, the thermal stresses alone will blow the whole place up. During the whole startup and shutdown, and through any ‘standby’ time, the plant is burning fuel. Since we don’t have a good wind energy storage system, some percentage of wind capacity must be backed up with hot standby, because it can disappear in an instant. We are learning now, contrary to earlier assumptions, that wind speeds can be correlated pretty highly over wide geographies, meaning that spreading the wind turbines out does not necessarily do a lot to reduce the standby needs. And since plant startups take time, even gas turbines take some time to get running, the percentage of wind power that required hot backup is pretty high….”
  • Why I Ban Laptops From the Classroom – “Too many students with laptops were distracting others around them, including one group viewing a soccer tournament during a lecture. The complaints about this ban never cease….
    . . .
    The next obstacle to overcome is text messaging during class.”
  • US Government Working With Pharma Companies To Raise Drug Prices In Other Countries – “A series of stories from Jamie Love at KEI highlight the troubling cozy relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the US government in trying to raise drug prices in other countries — which very likely will come at the expense of the health of citizens in those countries.”
  • Roberts: Scene at State of Union ‘very troubling’ – ” U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday the scene at President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address was “very troubling” and that the annual speech to Congress has ‘degenerated into a political pep rally.’

    Responding to a University of Alabama law student’s question about the Senate’s method of confirming justices, Roberts said senators improperly try to make political points by asking questions they know nominees can’t answer because of judicial ethics rules.
    . . .
    Justice Antonin Scalia once said he no longer goes to the annual speech because the justices “sit there like bumps on a log” in an otherwise highly partisan atmosphere.”


Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices

  • Cop’s book defies stereotypes – “Martin Preib is a Chicago cop. And he’s a Chicago writer.

    You hear that a cop has written a book, and there’s a temptation, grounded in stereotype, to think of stock characters: a tough guy, sultry women, Outfit bagmen with plenty of attitude and, of course, gunplay.

    But his book, ‘The Wagon and Other Stories From the City‘ (University of Chicago Press, $20) isn’t pulp fiction.”

  • Detroit school board leader can’t write – “A product of Detroit Public Schools now leads the school board that’s trying to raise worst-in-the-nation literacy scores. Otis Mathis can’t write, reveals Detroit News columnist Laura Berman. The board president’s e-mails are notoriously garbled:”
  • Friday’s Three Burning Legal Questions – “1) Question: I’m an adult male, and recently I’ve been thinking about getting circumcised. I saw an ad on Craigslist by some dude who says he can do it for me out of a mini-operating room in his home. He tells me he’s a doctor. Should I go for it?”
  • Wheat Ridge High School Class of 1970 – “The reonion committee is working away planning the 40th reunion the weekend of August 13-15, 2010. Wheat Ridge, Colorado WRHS1970.com”
  • Common Market Food Co-op – “Common Market Food Co-op was a ‘new wave food co-op’ located at 1329 California Street in Denver, Colorado, from 1975 – 1980. It started as a buying club at the University of Denver in the early 1970s, and for a few years prior to moving to the old Safeway at 13th and California Streets, Common Market operated out of a small storefront on Champa Street.”
  • Succinylcholine, A Perfect Poison, Makes Appearance in the Dubai Killing – “According to Dubai authorities, and as reported by ABC News, Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was given a shot of succinylcholine prior to other grossly things done to his body on the fateful (for him) day of January 19, 2010. And since your humble correspondent is an anesthesiologist by day, and by call at night, let me tell you why succinylcholine is such a perfect murder weapon.

    The best poisons usually have three things in common: small effective dose, also called Median Lethal Dose (or LD50), ease of administration, and rapid and definitive action. The fourth characteristic, the difficulty in detection by a forensics team is a big premium that most poisons don’t posses. Most poisons, that is, except succinylcholine and maybe a few others.”

  • The Great Burger Battle – “Sports bore me but I can’t get enough of the great burger battle. McDonald’s reported sales increases of 4.8 last month. Most of the increases are overseas but it is no surprise that its domestic sales are solid as can be.

    Their new coffees, which now include frozen drinks, are a close competitor to Starbucks, and in buying them you don’t have to endure a lecture about how you are doing your part to save the planet.

    For breakfast, you can get a traditional biscuit or croissant with sausage or move into the new line that includes a fruit parfait for a buck (how is this possible?) or an apple-walnut salad. This stuff is amazing.

    And I would compare their Angus burger next to any hamburger in a fancy restaurant that costs twice as much.

    This is a company that knows how to market, how to adapt, how to change. And in my town, the McDonald’s is the happiest place around. They offer wi-fi and smiling employees who are quick with a quip and a smile. The place is full of energy and life and is teeming with the sense of progress.
    . . .
    It always amazes me how demanding Americans can be toward private enterprise. Everything must be 100% correct or the customer flips out. But put these same people in line at the post office or the customs line at the airport and they become complacent slaves doing everything they are told. They don’t even complain about it.

    It’s as if our expectations are different and we are okay with that. We expect the government to be slow, rude, abusive, unreasonable, and unresponsive and we adapt ourselves to that and figure that this is what is necessary for security or the general welfare or whatever. We let them have our money and our lives and call it a day.”


Assasination [sic] and hotel door security

  • Why Google Android Favoritism Isn’t Punishing Consumers and Partners – “Mark rightly points out that the coolest new Android apps are appearing on handsets with newer builds of Android first — and sometimes exclusively. Google Maps Navigation debuted on the Motorola Droid with Android 2.0 and Google Buzz is supported on 2.x as well. But I ask myself: if I were Google and I wanted to rock out a new app and build the biggest buzz, I’d get it on the heartiest hardware first so it really shines from a performance perspective. I’d also pair it with hardware designed to show it off — the Droid car dock morphs what’s essentially a software product into a look-alike, standalone GPS device. That simple dock, designed specifically for the Droid, takes the Google software solution and transforms the experience. Don’t think so? Imagine if Google debuted the software on the original G1. The impact would be muted without a dock and on less capable hardware. Instead, Google chose the right hardware combination to show it off and the stock value of some GPS makers dropped 20%.
    . . .
    If you have to ‘blame’ someone, choose either Motorola who made the phone or Verizon who decided to sell the phone. All Google does for this phone is provide versions of it’s mobile platform to the phone maker. If I had to pick on someone in this specific case, it would be Motorola — the Devour runs Motorola’s custom interface called MotoBlur and Motorola doesn’t offer that UI on anything higher than Android 1.6. There’s your likely culprit in this case, which has nothing to do with Google’s perceived favoritism for current Android versions.”
  • Dreaded Words for One in Love – “It happened to me back when I was in the marriage market. And perhaps it happened to you.”
  • Two expats master the Cantonese language – “The Chinese language is notoriously complex. There are the tones, the accents, and not to mention the writing! China and Singapore use simplified Chinese characters, while Hong Kong and Taiwan still use traditional Chinese characters.

    Then there are the different dialects. Mandarin is spoken in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Hong Kong and China’s southern Guangdong Province mainly speak Cantonese.

    That being said, there’s few sadder sights than an expat who’s lived in Asia for years and still doesn’t speak the language of his adopted home. CNNgo profiled two Westerners who defy that stereotype in this article: How two gwailos learned to speak perfect Cantonese.”

  • BS Alert 2! Steve Wozniak (And The Media) Still Spreading Prius UA Obfuscation – “One of my pet gripes about the media and celebrities is the lack of follow-up and accountability. Remember all the hoopla about Steve Wozniak’s Prius with the mysterious electronics glitch that he could manipulate to create UA? My take was that obviously his cruise control had a minor bug that only showed up at over eighty mph. Woz readily admitted that he could disengage it with a tap on the brakes. Well, thanks to his celebrity status and the coverage, the story ended with Toyota agreeing to take his Prius for a week to test it thoroughly. So what happened?
    . . .
    Sounds like he’s got it all figured out. Toyota just needs to add a Reboot button on the dash. Meanwhile, Wozniak said he’ll continue to drive his Prius, and trusts its safety, and won’t buy another car.

    My guess is that he never handed it over to Toyota, or he did and they told him something he didn’t want to hear or repeat.”

  • Energizer Battery Charger Hides Trojan For 3 Years – “Apparently the Energizer DUO USB Battery Charger has been carrying around a nasty little trojan that can wreak havoc on your system. CERT has issued a warning…
    . . .
    That’s right, something as simple as plugging in your USB battery charger could give someone complete control over your system.”

. . . . . . . . .

Posted in: Caught Our Eye

Post a Comment