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August 2009 Archives

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 9.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 9.

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifying before Congress and discussing the meaning and rights of habeas corpus granted in this section.

A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

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August 31, 2009 08:07 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/30/09

Darwin, Magic and Evolution

  • 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
  • Fresh OLC Memos - "The Founders made an inherently inefficient form of government as a check against arbitrary use of the power of the state. The President doesn’t declare war, Congress does. When we allow the government to write itself a waiver to constitutional limitations that are part and parcel of its contract with the people, it’s time for the people to let the government know who the boss is in this employer-employee relationship."
  • The National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion? - "Is this truly the role of the NEA? Is building a message distribution network, for matters other than increasing access to the arts and arts education, the role of the National Endowment for the Arts? Is providing the art community issues to address, especially those that are currently being vehemently debated nationally, a legitimate role for the NEA? I found it highly unlikely that this was in their original charter, so I checked.
    . . .
    In an attempt to recapture the excitement and enthusiasm of the campaign the organizers of this conference call have entered murky waters, a strait that the NEA cannot afford to swim. Previously shackled with the controversy over the Serrano and Mapplethorpe images of 1989 that escalated to a debate over its very existence, the NEA needs to stay far away from any questions of impropriety."
  • If we don't recover, it's your fault - "The NYT is already referring [to] the 'legacy' of the recession, with this an example: 'Even as evidence mounts that the Great Recession has finally released its chokehold on the American economy, experts worry that the recovery may be weak, stymied by consumers' reluctance to spend.'"
  • Ezra Klein's Confusion Over "Rationing" - "Klein evidently thinks that market outcomes that he dislikes mean that government should step in and impose outcomes that he does like. All right, let's admit it; the health insurance market and the rest of health care are royally screwed up as a result of decades of government interventions and mandates. Consequently we don't actually find the usual benefits of falling prices and improving products and services that we experience in normally operating markets where robust competition and choice reign."
  • Can the FTC Regulate Lawyers As Creditors? - "It seems that the FTC did not learn its lesson. Once again it is trying to impose financial privacy protection rules on lawyers and law firms. This time, however, it claims it has such authority under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. "
  • Homeland Security Still Plans To Search Laptops At Borders With No Probable Cause - "On top of this, the other thing that's not at all clear is how far the 'search' can go. With a growing number of 'cloud' based services in use, many of which act as if they're local, can the border patrol search those as well? For example, I use Jungledisk, which gives me a virtual drive that shows up in my file system as if it were a local hard drive, even though it's hosted in some data center somewhere. It looks like a local drive... but it's not actually on my laptop. Would border patrol have the right to search that, even though the contents of that drive are not actually traveling across the border? "
  • The president can fire the attorney general - "The attorney general serves at the pleasure of the president, and the president can determine that a prosecution would undermine the national security--a subject on which he has a wider perspective and a greater responsibility than the attorney general--and order that it not go forward."
  • Twice Branded: Western Women in Muslim Lands - "But it is no coincidence that women who must submit to Sharia law find themselves in a very bad place, wherever those women and those places happen to be. This includes France, where only last year a court in Lille upheld the right of a Muslim man to hold fast to his faith and annul his marriage when he discovered his bride was not a virgin. And it includes Germany, where in Berlin in 2005 there were eight murders of young women of Turkish origin, executed by members of their own families. And Australia, where, after a group of unveiled Muslim women were raped, the succinct Mufti Taj al-Din al-Hilali explained away the crime as an attack on 'uncovered meat.' And it includes the United Kingdom, where Scotland Yard has probed 109 suspicious deaths of women, also likely slaughtered by relatives. Islam is an easy rider: it travels everywhere and often brings with it a lot of baggage.

    Bet let’s start with Islam as it affects women in their home countries. Last year, in a poll of 2,000 Egyptian men, 62 percent admitted harassing women: an activity most of those interviewed insisted was not really their fault as their advances, however intemperate and offensive to their victims, had after all been provoked by the women themselves.
    . . .
    In other words--and here is a telling paradox of life in much of the Islamic world--whatever devout Muslims are religiously prohibited from doing to women (and there are plenty of strictures listed in the Koran: a man must lower his gaze in the presence of a woman, for instance, and also guard her chastity) is in practice resolutely ignored, all the more so when it comes to foreigners.

    Why bother to observe prohibitions on a group so manifestly inferior? Eltahawy complains bitterly that the donning of the hijab, which she as an observant Muslim used to do, actually procures no real measure of safety for the wearer. 'I was groped so many times that whenever I passed a group of men, I’d place my bag between me and them,' she writes. But not wearing the hijab or a veil in Egypt is the sure sign of a foreigner--a word that has become synonymous with 'slut.' 'I was at a conference just recently which was attended by both Egyptians and Americans,' Eltahawy recalls. 'One researcher showed us clips from an Egyptian documentary in which men were interviewed: and it was always the same reaction from the men. ‘The Western woman is always easy prey. . . . All they want is sex . . .'
    . . .
    It is, of course, the women who don’t get to fly home to New York--or indeed leave any airport without their husbands’ consent--who truly deserve international attention. And yet these are the very women our Western politicians, media outlets, and academicians barely acknowledge because, as I was constantly advised by European and American diplomats in both Egypt and also the Sudan when I visited, 'We have no right to pass judgment on the customs and mores of other countries.'

    Here are just a few of those customs and mores: in Turkey, a nation often cited as 'moderate,' wife beating is so common that 69 percent of all female health workers polled (and almost 85 percent of all male health workers) said that violence against women was in certain instances excusable. In April, a new epidemiological study in the European Journal of Public Health revealed that one out of every five homicides in Pakistan is the result of a so-called honor killing. And in Mauritania, the age-old practice of force-feeding young girls--a life-threatening process that is intended to make them round and therefore 'marriageable'--has seen a renaissance. Girls as young as five are herded into 'fattening farms.' Those who resist are tortured."
  • Unbearable - "Shorter Zorn: Privileged scions of politically powerful families ought to be given a pass on negligent homicide in the here and now because some day they might make up for it."

Misc: Cerberus, Flippers and Market

Les Mille et une Nuits au TNT Show

  • What do kids find worth fighting over? - From the comments: "It is not a wife who socializes a husband, it is a daughter."
  • Great Moments in Faculty Meetings - "As chair, I have now been presiding over faculty meetings for fully 10 years. (Not one meeting. Just when we have meetings, I mean) Sometimes, a shining beacon of comedy gold breaks through the tedium, and there are moments of transcendent joy. Today was such a day."
  • People Narcissistic And Boring On Facebook? - "I get much more out of reading my favorite blogs. The long turn trend in social networking seems to be more people talking and fewer listening."
  • US Dems fill inboxes with 419 scams - "Scammers pumping out emails that try to trick recipients into parting with large sums of cash are getting a helping hand from the Democratic National Committee."
  • Energizer Rips Off Customers With AA Batteries Disguised As D’s - "That’s right, if you tear open one of these batteries (I don’t usually recommend opening batteries, as it’s just a bad idea) you’ll find a something that resembles a AA battery inside a plastic case. Granted, the shape is a bit different, but the capacity is exactly the same. So for $25 you are essentially getting the same thing as a $6 pair of AA’s and a pair of cheap (we’re talking a couple bucks each) AA-to-D converters. For shame Energizer, for shame!"
  • Vendy Awards names best [NYC] sweet street vendor finalists - "The non-profit Street Vendor Project on Thursday announced the finalists in the dessert category for the Vendy Awards, which will determine the city’s best street eats."
  • Drobo Experience Report: Going strong after 18 months - "Verdict: Recommended!"

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August 30, 2009 11:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Papers"

Papers: Documents passed back and forth between the chambers, including the engrossed measure, the amendments, the messages transmitting them, and the conference report.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

August 28, 2009 11:37 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 8.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 8.

(Clause 1 - Power to tax and spend)
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

(Clause 2 - Borrowing power)
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

(Clause 3 - Commerce power)
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

(Clause 4 - Naturalization and Bankruptcies)
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

(Clause 5 - Money)
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

(Clause 6 - Counterfeiting)
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

(Clause 7 - Post Office)
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

(Clause 8 - Copyrights and Patents)
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

(Clause 9 - Courts)
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

(Clause 10 - Maritime crimes)
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

(Clause 11 - War power)
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

(Clause 12 - Army)
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

(Clause 13 - Navy)
To provide and maintain a Navy;

(Clause 14 - Military establishment)
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

(Clause 15 - The Militia)
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

(Clause 16 - The Militia)
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

(Clause 17 - Enclave clause)
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

(Clause 18 - Necessary and Proper clause)
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.


Discussion of "Commerce Clause" (article one, section 8, clause 3).

A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

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August 26, 2009 08:37 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/25/09

Back to the Future

Richard Feynman 'Fun to Imagine' 6: The Mirror

  • Answers to Common Excuses not to Travel Full-Time - "Oftentimes when folks hear what we’re up to -- we get the response of ‘You’re living my dream!’. To which we of course reply ‘Then why aren’t you doing it too?’. We are in process of compiling our responses to the common excuses that folks give us to that question, some very valid. We aim to share examples of others overcoming the challenges, our own stories and share resources to assist. This will be a growing series,"
  • Carrier Wars: T-Mobile results, wrap up - "Let’s take a quick look at everything lined up nice and pretty:

    Average Download Speed
      1. Sprint: 1361kbs
      2. AT&T: 933kbps
      3. T-Mobile: 786kbps
      4. Verizon: 701kbps

    Average Upload Speed
      1. Verizon: 322kbps
      2. Sprint: 267kbps
      3. AT&T: 180kbps
      4. T-Mobile: 177kbps

    There you have it folks-- the final act of Carrier Wars is officially a wrap. While these numbers shouldn’t be considered absolute or scientific, they certainly give an accurate representation of each carrier’s 3G network speeds as experienced by our readers."
  • The Small Business Guide to Wikis - "Streamlined communication, collaboration, and information sharing are all vital aspects to building a successful small business. You need to build ideas as a team, record past successes and failures, and have your employees keeping each other informed on their current work so your company can avoid overlap."

‘U.S. News’ Readers: FIRE's Red Alert List Exposes the Worst Violators of Campus Rights

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August 25, 2009 12:17 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/23/09

Quote of the Day: Overstimulation Edition
"It’s just a mess, an absolute mess. There is a billion dollars of dealerships’ money on the road."

  • 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
  • What happened to the antiwar movement? Cindy Sheehan hits 'hypocrisy' of Left, Democratic allies. - "I asked Sheehan about the fact that the press seems to have lost interest in her and her cause. 'It's strange to me that you mention it,' she said. 'I haven't stopped working. I've been protesting every time I can, and it's not covered. But the one time I did get a lot of coverage was when I protested in front of George Bush's house in Dallas in June. I don't know what to make of it. Is the press having a honeymoon with Obama? I know the Left is.'"
  • Rahm’s Grand Coalition - "Having rushed through an enormously expensive stimulus package that, so far at least, has failed to stimulate anything but the appetite for even more pork, the Blue Dogs have gazed into the trillion dollar abyss on health care reform and seen it staring right back into them in the form of future electoral defeat."
  • The Nuclear Option For Pensions? - "A massive reduction in pension benefits will likely cause massive protests by union members, which means more social unrest.

    When I wrote that the pension crisis will define President Obama's legacy, I meant it. Those pension bombs that started exploding in 2008 have exposed the vulnerability of the nation's retirement systems.

    Politicians all around the world better pay close attention to global pension tension because a financial nuclear bomb was detonated in 2008 and its full effects have yet to be felt."
  • It Started with Plato - "Plato's ideal republic was founded upon two primary assumptions: (1) that the community must be comprised of only two classes, those who govern and those who are governed (the latter owing implicit obedience to the former), and (2) that human qualities are mainly hereditary and therefore that rulers must beget future rulers."
  • Bastiat's Nightmare - "A friend wants the government to start a 'Dollars for Dumps' program through which they will subsidize the destruction of his current house and the purchase of a new one."
  • The autistic macroeconomist - "The cause of the Great Depression was too few pennies being made at the Philadelphia mint.

    If you think this speculation is far-fetched, go read the piece Krugman wrote in the NYR of Books right after Milton Friedman died. Krugman argues that Friedman and Schwartz’s whole argument relies on the assumption that the Fed had the ability to prevent a fall in M2, simply by printing more base money. . . . You find an aggregate that is correlated with NGDP, and then you argue that the Fed just needs to expand the base enough to keep that aggregate growing at a steady, non-inflationary rate. It doesn’t have to be money at all; it could be postage stamps.
    . . .
    So let me finally get to the point. I believe that the financial crisis of 2008 was the mother of all frame jobs. The commercial bankers were framed, when it was really the central bankers that created the severe recession."
  • U.S. population distribution by age, 1950-2050 - best comment: "I can’t really say anything knowledgeable about looming health care costs, but I will say this: Stay off the roads in 2050--something tells me we’ll be seeing a lot more full-sized sedans and a lot less turn signals."
  • My Qualm about Universal Health Insurance - "Just going by personal interest, I should be wildly in favor of universal health insurance. But as to the country at large, I worry about the rationing issue. To be clear, I'm not worried that there will be too much rationing, I'm worried that there won't be enough."
  • Is ObamaCare Unconstitutional? - "Speaking of substantive due process, there may be other constitutional problems arising from national health care reform -- but not of the enumerated powers variety. While the federal government may be able to require national health insurance coverage, could it require all individuals to purchase plans that cover certain procedures? What if the guidelines for acceptable plans include contraception, abortion, and certain types of end-of-life care? Could the federal government require devout Catholics to purchase such plans for themselves?"
  • Leviathan on the Move - "Something to keep in mind next time you see or hear a news report about state and local governments being strapped for cash:"
  • Uncle Sam's Big Gamble on Derivatives - "In any case it's exciting to see my ideas in action, even though the Fed isn't really the government, just an old-fashioned bank run by simple folks."
  • Initial Comparison of College Rankings - "The figure below plots the relationship between the USNWR rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges and the comparably modified Forbes/CCAP rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges. We can easily observe that there is a large degree of correlation between the two rankings (actual correlation value is p=.71), particularly at the top, although the two become increasingly disparate as you move farther down the rankings."
  • US Blues & World Distort - "What brochures and websites can't do is allow you to interact. There is nothing that can replace the opportunity to walk, on your own two feet, across the grass of a courtyard positioned between a residence hall and an academic building at an institution you've been reading about for months. The chance to watch the class that's being held outdoors in that courtyard (cause it's a gorgeous fall day) and to hear the conversations between classmates immediately following the conclusion of the formal discussion. There's little that will replace the chance to hear from a student about what he loves and hates about the school (the second of those two things is often more telling)- and to watch his facial expressions as he talks to you. The chance to stop and glance at the bulletin boards in the student center getting a sense of what students might be doing this weekend, and what causes are most important to them. Eating a meal in a dining hall, observing a class, touring a recreation center... My list could go on, but I'm sure you get my point. Seeing what is current, engaging in real time, offering you personalities and character and heart. Synthesize it all with what you know about yourself and the type of environment you want to be a part of and you've got a much better sense of whether that school is a good fit. THAT is what a visit can do for you.
    . . .
    Colleges are not their rankings. They are people, traditions, buildings, spirit, culture, temperature, sounds, history, grass, bricks, mascots, energy... Don't let rankings get in the way of getting to know those things about a place"

Is It ID Theft Or Was The Bank Robbed?
"The problem isn't 'identity theft.' It's bad security and verification processes by a financial institution."

  • A Litmus Test For Source of Sweetness - "At this week's American Chemical Society's 238th National Meeting, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presented a study about a sensor that can accurately detect the presence of any of the common sweeteners used in food products. The business card size sensor has color spots that activate when particular chemicals are detected, and the color pattern as a whole identifies the actual sweetener in drinks and even solid foods."
  • Q and A on Flat Fee Pricing - "What are the advantages of flat fee billing?"
  • Libertarian Squishiness - "Libertarians have been more willing than traditional conservatives to oppose government-sponsored discrimination against gays and lesbians. Libertarians are also less likely to allow their religious views to dictate their public-policy preferences and are also less likely to presume that traditional practices should enjoy any presumption."
  • A Last-Minute Dash for Tuition - "Weeks or even days before classes start, hundreds of thousands of college students nationwide still don't know whether they'll be able to cover their tuition bills this year."
  • Apple loses students to netbooks and Windows - "When US students return to their classrooms this fall, few of them will be lugging along new Apple notebooks.
    . . .
    'Netbooks are affordable - some costing only $170.00. In contrast, Apple laptops start at $949.00. At a time when many people are experiencing economic hardship, having a new Apple laptop isn’t a necessity.'"
  • Forget The Segway, The EniCycle Is One-Wheeled Fun We Could All Get Behind - " The EniCycle is an a prototype self-stabilizing unicycle from Slovenian inventor Aleksander Polutnik. Featuring a three-hour battery, gyroscope and a spring damper, Polutnik claims a 30 minute learning curve." includes video
  • The rise of the $299 Wal-Mart laptop - "These computer have 2 Gigs of memory, 15 inch screens, full sized keyboards, 160 Gig hard drives, DVD-RW/CD-RW drives, wireless Internet, LAN ports, and Vista Basic. In other words, this is more computer than the average attorney or professional will ever need to get the job done."
  • *The Inheritance of Rome* - "I have to count this tome as one of the best history books I have read, ever. The author is Chris Wickham and the subtitle is A History of Europe from 400 to 1000."

Circle Drawing Man

  • URL shortener speed and reliability shootout - "So, by these two simple criteria, and tied for 'first place.'"
  • Black Elk (1863-1950) - "Born to a medicine man who followed Crazy Horse, Black Elk witnessed the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 and the upheaval that followed the tribe's flight to Canada to join Sitting Bull. In 1886 he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. ... In 1904 he was converted by a priest to the Catholic faith and took the name Nicholas Black Elk."
  • I'm forever blowing Zubbles! Inventor spent 15 years creating world's first colour bubbles that don't stain - "Tim Kehoe spent 15 years and an astonishing $3m (£1.8m) creating the world's first ever coloured blowing bubbles, which have now gone on sale."
  • 13 Things a Burglar Won't Tell You - "1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator."
  • You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again - "More than half of the internet’s top websites use a little known capability of Adobe’s Flash plug-in to track users and store information about them, but only four of them mention the so-called Flash Cookies in their privacy policies, UC Berkeley researchers reported Monday.

    Unlike traditional browser cookies, Flash cookies are relatively unknown to web users, and they are not controlled through the cookie privacy controls in a browser. That means even if a user thinks they have cleared their computer of tracking objects, they most likely have not."
  • But What Keeps McDonalds From Charging $100 for a Big Mac? - "t’s amazing, given this logic, that McDonald’s doesn’t charge $100 for a Big Mac, given that there is no government competitor in that market. The reality of course is that the relationship works the other way around - Fedex and UPS keep the Post Office in check. Many of the Post Office’s most recent service offerings were copied from UPS and Fedex."
  • Credit Card Issuers Reimposing Annual Fees in Response to New Card Regs - "More regulations go into effect next year, so look for more offsetting changes to your credit cards: more annual fees, higher interest rates, less-generous rewards, higher penalty fees, lower credit lines, and less access to credit."
  • Iodine deficiency is REAL - "Make no mistake: Iodine deficiency is real. While most of my colleagues have dismissed iodine deficiency as a relic of the early 20th century and third world countries, you can also find it in your neighborhood."
  • US Life Expectancy Up To 77.9 Years - "If you want to cut your own risks read my archives Aging Diet Cancer Studies and Aging Diet Heart Studies. A lot of the dietary factors heart disease risk reduction also slow brain aging. But you can also read Aging Diet Brain Studies for more ideas."
  • Irwin Stelzer on Executive Compensation: - "The appeal is irresistible to a certain professional New Class but not exactly populist. The reason these 'populists' are stretched is from trying to make tuition payments to Sidwell Friends, National Cathedral School, or St. Alban's - all of whose annual tuitions, so far as I can gather, are slated to hit around $50,000 a year in current dollars by ten years from now. But what appeals to these technocrats is not devising a structure of incentives - it is the naked exercise of moralizing power over paychecks, one group of professionals, exercising political power in the political sphere, over another, the previously untouchable and in every way advancing, winner take all, professional class of financiers."
  • Arlington Sues Virginia Over HOT Lanes - "The I-395 HOT Lane project, however, does not involve any new construction. An Australian tolling company, Transurban, will restripe and narrow the existing HOV lanes to include three lanes within the current space built with federal and state taxpayer dollars for two lanes. These lanes reverse depending on the time of day."

    From the comments: "Arlington is upset that the state found a way to avoid new construction in an attempt to prevent Arlington from using its normal 'don’t build anything anywhere' tactics of using the environmental process."

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August 23, 2009 11:57 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Reconsider"

Reconsider: Parliamentary practice that gives a chamber one opportunity to review its action on a motion, amendment, meausre, or any other proposition.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

August 21, 2009 08:57 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 7.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.


President Obama signing the Credit Card Reform Bill.

House of Representatives debate and vote on overriding a Presidential veto.

A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

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August 20, 2009 08:27 PM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Whoops! Official Argentine inflation just a tad off

We have posted in the past about how Argentina has been fudging their macro data (see here and here) by systematically under-reporting inflation, which is a very convenient thing to do when you have issued inflation-indexed bonds!

However, it seemed like the Kirchner governments were more or less getting away with it. Now, after a humbling electoral defeat, anti-corruption prosecutors are actually going after them for the funny numbers!

Economists say the official inflation rate of 8.5 percent in 2007 was really about 25 percent.

Hard Times for the Kirchners

August 19, 2009 10:17 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Can you trust what you see?

What do you think when you're reading an interesting story and you come to a picture of a man with short hair and the journalist describes him as having a shaved head?

A "bump in the road"? I must be going blind? My lying eyes? His razor must be terrible? Oh, it's just a detail?

Or do you then begin wondering about the accuracy of other things the journalist writes in the story - things that you can't see in an accompanying photograph?

Scroll down to see the man with the "shaved head", Mike Austin:
"The New American Religion Behind the Growing American Rage."

August 19, 2009 08:57 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/19/09

While I was away

  • 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
  • Roubini Project Syndicate Op-Ed: A Phantom Economic Recovery - "So, the end of this severe global recession will be closer at the end of this year than it is now, the recovery will be anaemic rather than robust in advanced economies, and there is a rising risk of a double-dip recession. The recent market rallies in stocks, commodities and credit may have gotten ahead of the improvement in the real economy. If so, a correction cannot be too far behind."
  • Drug Policy Debate Is Under Way in Latin America. What About the U.S.? - "A serious and open debate about the future of drug policy in Latin America seems to be underway. The question remains on whether Washington is paying any attention to this."
  • New at Reason: Radley Balko on Bernard Baran, Wrongful Convictions, and Prosecutorial Misconduct - "What happens to prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence in cases that result in wrongful convictions? Not much. Senior editor Radley Balko reports on the case of Bernard Baran, a man who served 22 years in prison after he was convicted of molesting several children at a daycare center in Massachusetts. Evidence pointing to Baran's innocence was never introduced at trial, and the prosecutor who may have committed serious misconduct in winning Baran's conviction not only was never investigated or disciplined, he was soon promoted to judge, a job he has held for the last 20 years."
  • We're Not Getting Older, We're Getting More Powerful - "For Congress to attempt to restructure one-sixth of the US economy prior to repealing the Law of Unintended Consequences is daunting to any reasonable person."
  • Is Obamacare Constitutional? - "3. It violates Substantive Due Process, and interferes with doctor-patient medical decisions to a vastly greater extent than did the laws declared unconstitutional in Roe v. Wade."
  • Our Ongoing Catharsis - "We must remember that America is a naturally rich country. We inherited a lavish infrastructure. Our Constitution is singular. We largely solved the problem of a multi-racial, multi-religious society not devolving into the Balkans, Rwanda, or Iraq. Our higher education in the sciences is superb. American individualism is a magnet that draws kindred spirits the world over. Our military is 19th-century in its patriotic outlook, and 21st century in its competence. So the fumes of America are strong and can keep us fueled for a long time.

    But like it or not, at some future date, we will lose what we inherited if we keep borrowing trillions. At some point racial identity politics will result in factionalism. No country can survive with open borders. An educational system that is therapeutic rather than knowledge-based will result in that terrible combination of an arrogant and ignorant electorate that becomes a mockery on the world stage."
  • Rose Friedman Passes - "Rose Friedman, co-author of several books with her late husband and Nobel laureate economist Milton, passed away this morning. Rose and Milton co-wrote Free to Choose the wonderful book that formed the basis of Milton’s PBS television series, as well co-writing their joint auto-biography 'Two Lucky People.'"

Texting While Driving
Disclaimer: The video above contains graphic images and pulls no punches with the depiction of an auto accident. Gear Diary is in no way liable for any nightmares or post-traumatic stress syndrome caused after viewing this video. You’ve been warned…

  • How Aware Are We of Our Own Distraction? - "One factor that promotes overconfidence in one’s ability to “safely” multitask while driving is the idea that we cannot often correctly monitor our own level of vigilance."
  • Kirzner at FEE - "FEE has just posted the video of Israel Kirzner's opening lecture at the FEE Advanced Austrian Economics seminar from earlier this month. I have to say that to have at almost 80 years of age, Israel's energy and passion for ideas that he has talked about hundreds of times before is just stunning."

Economist Richard Vedder on Why College Costs So Damn Much!

  • What are health care co-ops? - "I am in any case puzzled by the topic. If, say, rescission is a major problem, why do not health insurance customers seek out health insurance mutuals or co-ops, both of which offer the possibility of greater consumer control and thus less opportunism from the supplier."
  • The Gypsy In My Soul - "'The Gypsy in My Soul' was written in 1937 by two graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, Moe Jaffe and Clay Boland. It was written for the 50th anniversary of UPenn's Mask and Wig show and according to sources, wasn't much of a hit at the time of its composition but over the years, it grew into something of a minor standard. Some jazzmen tackled it, such as Lester Young, Oscar Peterson and Barney Kessell, but really, it was a tune tailor made for the pop ilk such as Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Patti Page and Doris Day."
  • Asus Eee PC 1101HA, 1005HA compared, contrasted - "There are three computers in the Asus Eee PC 'Seashell' lineup. The Eee PC 1005HA and 1008HA each have 10 inch displays, while the Eee PC 1101HA has a larger 11.6 inch display. It also has a higher screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, and a slower Intel Atom processor that clocks in at just 1.33GHz."

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August 19, 2009 09:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/17/09

Larry Reed's 3 Lessons of Freedom We Are In Danger of Forgetting
"1. Government can provide you with absolutely nothing except that which it has first taken from somebody else.
2. A government big enough to give you want you want, is big enough to take everything you have.
3. A free people are not economically equal, and an economically equal people are not free."

  • 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
  • Obama's Montana town hall not quite the 'Wild West' - "Barack Obama's town hall in the Bozeman, Montana area is not as 'bold' of a trip into the Wild West as described by Politico's Carole E. Lee this morning. Bozeman, Montana is a college town with many resident yuppies and is a home for multi-millionaires looking to buy their own piece of the West. [Montana's] Gallatin county was blue enough to support Barack Obama in the 2008 election and over 70% of voters supported Democratic Senator Max Baucus."
  • Firefox extension liberates US court docs from paywall - "A new Firefox extension created by the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton aims to tear down the federal judiciary's PACER paywall. It uploads legal documents to a freely accessible mirror that is hosted by the Internet Archive."
  • The worst health care reform ever? - "Perhaps Turkmenistan takes the prize:"
  • FDIC Bank Failure Update - "The FDIC closed five more banks on Friday, and that brings the total FDIC bank failures to 77 in 2009. The following graph shows bank failures by week in 2009. The pace has really picked up recently, with the FDIC seizing almost 5 banks per week in July and August, and with 4 1/2 months to go, it seems 150 bank failures this year is likely."
  • Coolest Map of Bank Failures You'll See All Day - "From The Wall Street Journal. You can really tell when WaMu went under."
  • More Than 150 Publicly Traded US Banks Are In Serious Trouble - "This analysis by Bloomberg is based on some fairly modest economic assumptions. Most of the banks in question are state and regional banks that have not enjoyed the largesse of the Fed and Treasury like the free-spending, Wall Street money center banks, who are sharply curbing lending and raising rates on credit cards and other revolving debt aggressively even for customers with excellent credit and no history of non-payment.

    As you might suspect, even the worst of the banks with large percentages of non-performing loans all claim to be 'well capitalized' by regulatory standards. If as indicated more of the smaller banks fail, we will be left with a few, larger, more potentially lethal financial institutions."
  • Boycott Obamacare. Girlcott Whole Foods! - "Dear Olivia Jane: You and many readers of Daily Kos are furious that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey expressed--in the pages of the Wall Street Journal--his opposition to greater government involvement in health care."
  • How American Health Care Killed My Father - "Insurance is probably the most complex, costly, and distortional method of financing any activity; that’s why it is otherwise used to fund only rare, unexpected, and large costs. Imagine sending your weekly grocery bill to an insurance clerk for review, and having the grocer reimbursed by the insurer to whom you’ve paid your share. An expensive and wasteful absurdity, no?

    Is this really a big problem for our health-care system? Well, for every two doctors in the U.S., there is now one health-insurance employee--more than 470,000 in total. In 2006, it cost almost $500 per person just to administer health insurance. Much of this enormous cost would simply disappear if we paid routine and predictable health-care expenditures the way we pay for everything else--by ourselves.
    . . .
    The unfortunate fact is, health-care demand has no natural limit. Our society will always keep creating new treatments to cure previously incurable problems. Some of these will save lives or add productive years to them; many will simply make us more comfortable. That’s all to the good. But the cost of this comfort, and whether it’s really worthwhile, is never calculated--by anyone. For almost all our health-care needs, the current system allows us as consumers to ask providers, 'What’s my share?' instead of 'How much does this cost?'--a question we ask before buying any other good or service. And the subtle difference between those two questions is costing us all a fortune.
    . . .
    For fun, let’s imagine confiscating all the profits of all the famously greedy health-insurance companies. That would pay for four days of health care for all Americans. Let’s add in the profits of the 10 biggest rapacious U.S. drug companies. Another 7 days. Indeed, confiscating all the profits of all American companies, in every industry, wouldn’t cover even five months of our health-care expenses.
    . . .
    The net effect of the endless layers of health-care regulation is to stifle competition in the classic economic sense. What we have instead is a noncompetitive system where services and reimbursement are negotiated above consumers’ heads by large private and government institutions. And the primary goal of any large noncompetitive institution is not cost control or product innovation or customer service: it’s maintenance of the status quo.
    . . .
    Keeping prices opaque is one way medical institutions seek to avoid competition and thereby keep prices up. And they get away with it in part because so few consumers pay directly for their own care--insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid are basically the whole game. But without transparency on prices--and the related data on measurable outcomes--efforts to give the consumer more control over health care have failed, and always will.
    . . .
    By contrast, consider LASIK surgery. I still lack the (small amount of) courage required to get LASIK. But I’ve been considering it since it was introduced commercially in the 1990s. The surgery is seldom covered by insurance, and exists in the competitive economy typical of most other industries. So people who get LASIK surgery--or for that matter most cosmetic surgeries, dental procedures, or other mostly uninsured treatments--act like consumers. If you do an Internet search today, you can find LASIK procedures quoted as low as $499 per eye--a decline of roughly 80 percent since the procedure was introduced. You’ll also find sites where doctors advertise their own higher-priced surgeries (which more typically cost about $2,000 per eye) and warn against the dangers of discount LASIK. Many ads specify the quality of equipment being used and the performance record of the doctor, in addition to price. In other words, there’s been an active, competitive market for LASIK surgery of the same sort we’re used to seeing for most goods and services.
    . . .
    Technology is driving up the cost of health care for the same reason every other factor of care is driving up the cost--the absence of the forces that discipline and even drive down prices in the rest of our economy. Only in the bizarre parallel universe of health care could limiting supply be seen as a sensible approach to keeping prices down.
    . . .
    A wasteful insurance system; distorted incentives; a bias toward treatment; moral hazard; hidden costs and a lack of transparency; curbed competition; service to the wrong customer. These are the problems at the foundation of our health-care system, resulting in a slow rot and requiring more and more money just to keep the system from collapsing.

    How would the health-care reform that’s now taking shape solve these core problems? The Obama administration and Congress are still working out the details, but it looks like this generation of 'comprehensive' reform will not address the underlying issues, any more than previous efforts did. Instead it will put yet more patches on the walls of an edifice that is fundamentally unsound--and then build that edifice higher.

    A central feature of the reform plan is the expansion of comprehensive health insurance to most of the 46 million Americans who now lack private or public insurance. Whether this would be achieved entirely through the extension of private commercial insurance at government-subsidized rates, or through the creation of a 'public option,' perhaps modeled on Medicare, is still being debated.

    Regardless, the administration has suggested a cost to taxpayers of $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. That, of course, will mean another $1 trillion or more not spent on other things--environment, education, nutrition, recreation. And if the history of previous attempts to expand the health safety net are any guide, that estimate will prove low. "
  • Health Costs Squeezing DoD Budgets - "As the body politic passionately debates the rising costs of healthcare and what to do about it, the country’s largest employer is already feeling the pain. Even though the Obama administration is spending record amounts on defense, DOD’s budget is being squeezed by rising healthcare costs that will increasingly crowd out funding for weapons systems, according to number crunching done by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments."
  • Obama Names Tyson “Townhall Healthcare Debate Czar” - "In keeping with his tradition of naming czars--individuals with extraordinary skill sets in their given field of expertise--to oversee crucial policy areas, President Obama has named former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson as his new 'Townhall Healthcare Debate Czar.'"
  • Giving Money to Poor People - "In theory, the $175MM given to New Yorkers ($200 per child) will alleviate malnutrition, perhaps pay for shoes, school supplies, a crock pot. In practice, videogames:"
  • Cash for Clunkers Pays 10X Market Rate for Greenhouse Gas Reduction - "The Cash for Clunkers (a.k.a. C.A.R.S.) program is a car industry bailout dressed-up as a green initiative. The University of California’s put some numbers to the boondoggle. According to a study by UC Davis transportation economist Christopher Knittel, Uncle Sam’s taxpayer reach-around is paying 10 times the 'sticker price' to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. At least."
  • The Treacherous Path for Housing - 42 Percent of California Mortgages with Negative Equity: $1 Trillion in Mortgages Submerged Underwater in California. $3 Trillion in U.S. Mortgages Underwater and Risking Foreclosure. - "$1 trillion in California mortgages are underwater and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. $3 trillion in U.S. mortgages are in a negative equity position. What this means is borrowers owe more than their home is worth. A few research papers have shown that the number one factor in determining potential foreclosure is being upside down on a mortgage (job loss is up there as well). "
  • Armey: No Client Asked Me to Leave - "Former Rep. Dick Armey said he resigned from DLA Piper because 'I could see that this fight was bringing innocent people in harm’s way.' In an interview with The National Law Journal Friday evening on his way to give the keynote speech at an Atlanta rally against Democratic health care plans, Armey said he had been growing increasingly concerned by commentators who linked his campaign through nonprofit FreedomWorks to his work at DLA Piper."
  • Stuff Journalists Like: #46 Stephen Colbert - "Stephen Colbert There is a rift dividing journalists, one that is threatening to rip the journalism world apart. No, it’s not Craigslist or hyperlinks. Those are doing more than just mere threatening journalism. For the most part, journalists live and think as a collective unit. They all prefer sans serif fonts, the Firefox browser and 100 percent voted for Barack Obama. But lately there is an issue that journalists can’t agree on: who they like more -- Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart. Every journalist wishes he or she could get their own Colbert bump."
  • CPSIA Update: Safe Vitamins Versus Safe Books and Baubles - "Today marks the effective date for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act’s lower standard for lead content in children’s products, dropping from 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead to 300 ppm as of August 14. (CPSC release, earlier post, more from Overlawyered. Good AP story.)

    However, as a number of Consumer Product Safety Commission votes on petitions for exemptions have shown (books, and beads and crystals) the ban really affects products that could conceivably permit 'any' absorption of lead. That makes the effective standard 0 ppm. As in zero.

    That’s right. Children’s vitamins may have tiny, infitesimal amounts of lead and still be safe and legal. The Food and Drug Administration in 2008 released a report, 'Survey Data on Lead in Women’s and Children’s Vitamins.'
    . . .
    So the FDA regards it as acceptable for vitamins to contain extremely small amounts of lead, vitamins that children actually eat.

    But products that children may occasionally touch with their hands must not have any lead in them---ANY---thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."
  • Keynes and Penn Spread Teller's Wealth Around! - "Samuel Adams once expressed opposition to the redistribution of wealth stating: 'The utopian schemes of leveling, and a community of goods are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the Crown, are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional.'"
  • Who’s Un-American? - "I also agree with Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that 'When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.' In my lifetime, I can’t recall our politicians ever really fearing the people. This past week is about the closest to genuine trepidation by our ruling class that I’ve ever witnessed, and a recent poll suggests that independent voters have more sympathy for the protesters than the politicians."

Retro-Nose: Cuckoo’s Nest II: The Housing Denial

  • Teslas Look Sexy in Drag - "Four Teslas under the Christmas tree sounds like a gearhead’s episode of Sesame Street, but it’s just what we’ve found on YouTube. Grapevine murmurings and viral video of Roadsters hitting the dragstrip are emerging online, even though it seems like only yesterday when the balls-to-the-wall EV went into production."
  • KozyFill - "Automatic bird bath filler"
  • COOKING FOR ONE. - "I’m Al, filling in for Herb, who they tell me is responding to external stimuli again, so good job there Herb. We’re all about cooking things guys like to eat, and today we’ve got a real treat for you."
  • The case against vitamin D2 - "Why would vitamin D be prescribed when vitamin D3 is available over-the-counter?"
  • Weekly wrap: Florida's population shrinks - "Florida, which has always struggled to manage its growth, has stopped growing. University of Florida demographers said Friday (Aug. 14) that the state lost about 50,000 residents between April 2008 and April 2009. It was the first decline in 63 years."
  • DOJ Doesn't Believe $80,000 Per Song Unconstitutional Or Oppressive - "First, what's stunning is that the brief claims the awards are perfectly constitutional because it is not 'so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense [or] obviously unreasonable.' Really? It seems that an awful lot of people find the idea of being forced to hand over $80,000 per song without any evidence that it was ever actually shared by anyone is severe and oppressive to the point that it's disproportionate to the offense and quite obviously unreasonable. I mean, this is a woman who wanted to listen to her favorite bands, and she now has to pay nearly $2 million. How can anyone claim that's not 'severe and oppressive' in relation to the actual 'harm' done?"
  • How to stop bullies - "They recommend a strategy developed in Norway that engages the whole school community in identifying and suppressing bullying."
  • New York Times op-ed urging "Getting Smart on Crime" - "Today's New York Times included this op-ed by Charles Blow titled 'Getting Smart on Crime.' Though the piece cover a lot of ground that should be familiar to regular readers of this blog, these excerpts (and the chart reprinted here) seemed worth emphasizing:

    Much of the rise in the prison population was because of draconian mandatory sentencing laws that are illogical -- sociologically and economically.

    On the sociological side, as the criminal justice expert Joel Dvoskin of the University of Arizona explained to me, data overwhelmingly support the idea that locking up low-risk, nonviolent offenders makes them worse, not better. "
  • CPSIA: August 14 arrives - "On Friday several key provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 took effect [CPSC release]. The permissible amount of lead in products dropped from 600 parts per million to 300 ppm, ensuring that more zippers, rocks, brass bicycle parts and other harmless items will fail; the new tracking-label mandate went into effect for newly manufactured kids’ goods; and penalties went way up, from a maximum of $8,000 per violation to $100,000 per violation and $15 million overall. "
  • A review of Douglas Jewell’s Roadtrip - "When he was 20 years old, Douglas Jewell made a life list. He had decided to live an unconventional life, unencumbered by the traditions of what he saw as a materialistic, consumer-oriented society. So he put pen to paper and came up with 10 ambitions, most dealing with life experiences that he wanted to have. Now 58, he has accomplished eight of these goals."
  • Eight screens, one e-book: What’s the lesson here? - "Behold--the Kindle, Sony Reader, iRex and five other machines--all displaying the same book!"

Luxury REO Tour
"we’re not fooling around with subprime crackerboxes anymore"

  • Print, beware! Publishers are "on the road" to pure digital - "Digital publishing and open access policies are changing the face of academic publishing, and many of the trends that develop here are likely to make their way into the larger publishing market. That's what made news that broke earlier this year so striking: a leaked memo suggested that the American Chemical Society's publishing wing was almost entirely abandoning print and would focus instead on digital publishing. Since then, however, the ACS said that it will continue printing 'condensed' versions of its journals for the time being."
  • Coolest Stuff I Have Worked With In A While - "Electro-Luminescent wire."
  • Print Isn't Dying, Serious Journalism Is - "It's a tired Silicon Valley drum beat: print is dying, blogs and Twitter are the future of news. Many in the business of blogging like to think that print ad revenues are declining and subscriber bases are shrinking because online media is vastly superior to those dinosaurs. This is one area where the evidence actually seems to suggest that the bloggers are justified.

    However, if you're not so full of yourself that 'citizen journalism' seems like a revolution, you can understand the real reason that print is dying: newspapers' shit is all retarded. "
  • Plug that folds flat: Sleek new design for the laptop generation - "Over the decades, many of the appliances it powers have become slimmed-down, compact or flat. But the British three-pin plug has remained exactly the same size--very bulky. Until now, that is, as an enterprising design student has come up with a folding plug that tucks away snugly to a quarter of the size of a standard one. Its three pins can be folded flat and the sides turned-in."
  • Netbook Roundup: 5 of The Best Netbooks On the Market - "We’ve done the research, and here is a look 5 of the best notebooks on the market."
  • Netbooks With High-Res Displays--Are You Sure You Really Want One? - "I have used a lot of mobile devices with small screens, and I can tell you that using a small display with a high resolution screen can get tedious after a while."
  • Debunking Netbook Myths and Misconceptions -- The Straight NetScoop - "I can’t recommend the NC20 more highly (other than the fingerprint magnet glossy case-- a pet peeve of mine)."
  • Bridge The Spiral, Don’t Crush It - "A standard hose clamp doesn’t work very well for clamping a spiral hose such as that found in dust collection systems. It has to clamp over one of the coils which can make a less-than-airtight connection. To solve this problem you can use a bridge hose clamp which has an offset connector that crosses over the coil without crushing it."
  • P2Peer Education: Bringing Elite Education to the Masses - "Like so many other industries, early attempts at delivering online education have generally consisted of making available the same content that’s found offline. While this is a good start, the key to online education is amplifying the way in which we learn when we’re at school -- from our peers."

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August 17, 2009 08:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/15/09

New Aviation Films Show the Filmmaking Has Definitely Changed

  • 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
  • US Consumer Credit Shows Steepest Contraction in Over 5 Decades - "Thanks to Dave Rosenberg for the above series of 5 stunning charts that highlight the inflation/deflation debate. The key take away is those charts all show deflation. Indeed, in a credit based economy a better title for chart 3 might be 'Credit IS Inflation'."
  • Deflation Hits Porn Industry, Canadian Grocery Stores, Newspapers, Firefighters, Lawyers, High Tech - "While nearly everyone is worried about inflation, deflation is hitting a wide gamut of white collar, blue collar, and no collar industries. Let's take a look.
    . . .
    Some voluntarily embrace frugality, others have frugality embrace them. The amazing thing to me is that people are harping about inflation with this hugely deflationary backdrop across a wide array of industries."
  • Good Enough For You, Not Good Enough For Me - "President Obama just revealed at the New Hampshire "town hall" that he rejected Federal government supplied insurance for himself and his family when he was in the U.S. Senate, and instead of the government regulated stuff he took advantage of his wife's private insurance supplied via her $317,000 per year political fixer/politician's wife job with the University of Chicago Hospital."
  • Anti-consumerist tracts: so many to choose from! - "Neal Lawson’s All Consuming -- yet another book that bashes the consumerist society -- sums up the flimsy intellectualism and elitist disdain for the masses that courses through the veins of today’s anti-shopping lobby."
  • Calling the Police as Negligence - "Yesterday, I blogged about the silent alarm case: A store was being robbed. The safe was set up to trigger a silent alarm to the police station when it was opened (supposedly contrary to company policy). The police came. There was a shootout with the criminals, in which a patron died. The patron's family sued the store for negligence, on the theory that the store shouldn't have risked patrons' lives by triggering the silent alarm. The trial court granted the store summary judgment. The appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment, holding that it was for the jury to decide whether silently calling the police was negligent."
  • First-time Home Buyer Frenzy - "Expect a surge in existing home sales (and some new home sales) over the next few months. Expect prices at the low end to rise (simple supply and demand). Expect all kinds of reports that the bottom has been reached.

    Expect the frenzy to end ... "
  • Diet Advice For Diabetics Falling On Deaf Ears - "Type II diabetes do produce insulin. In fact, they tend to produce lots of insulin-- but it’s not enough to keep their blood sugar under control. Why not? Simple: they’ve become resistant to the stuff. When the body’s insulin receptors are constantly flooded with insulin, they become damaged and stop working … just like the cilia in your ears can become damaged by too much noise. Worse, the beta cells in the pancreas can become overworked from constantly cranking out the insulin and burn out.
    . . .
    There is, of course, a natural alternative: stop forcing your body to smack down your blood sugar several times per day. Then you won’t need so much insulin. Many Type II diabetics have been able to stop taking insulin and any other blood-sugar medications simply by eliminating sugar and starch. That’s how it worked for Dr. Jay Wortman, the medical expert behind the wonderful documentary My Big Fat Diet."
  • Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice - "Human nutrition research and practice is plagued by pseudoscience and unsupported opinions." ht ALD
  • Misguided Worries About Inflation - "Indeed every week I have someone email me that 'We have inflation and deflation at the same time.'

    No we don't. It is not possible. The reason is falling prices are a symptom of deflation not a definition of it. Falling prices frequently accompany deflation, but they are not a necessary ingredient.
    . . .
    In Austrian economic terms inflation is a net increase of money supply and credit and deflation is the opposite, a net decrease in money supply and credit. In those terms we either have inflation or we don't. Prices simply do not fit into the equation.
    . . .
    The notion of inflation and deflation at the same time is a widely held belief based on brainwashing by the Fed about what inflation is. If everyone realized inflation involved money supply, the Fed and Central Bankers would not be able to lie through their teeth about being 'inflation fighters'.

    Once you realize that inflation involves money supply, you must come to the realization that the only source of inflation in the world comes from Central Bankers. Unfortunately, the media has bought the Fed's 'inflation fighting' mantra hook line and sinker by talking about inflation as if it was prices."

Domestics’ Share of Cash for Clunkers Sales Shrinks; Toyota Tops the Table

  • A Short Walk Goes a Long Way - "'Those who increased their physical activity by even a small amount-- 60 to 119 minutes per week--showed similar reductions in liver enzymes compared to those who increased physical activity by about four hours,' the study says. In other words, they found no dose-response effective for an increase in exercise of more than 60 minutes per week.

    'I like the fact that 60 minutes a week is enough for NASH,' my favorite Certified Diabetes Educator wrote me. 'This should help get the depressed or skeptical NASH-afflicted couch potatoes to start moving around! That’s just 10 minutes six days a week!'"
  • DesignYourDorm Takes The Guessing Out Of Moving In - "Just supply your school, residence hall, and room number during registration, and if you're lucky you'll get a 3D model of your room. The site doesn't have replicas of every room in every university in their database, but they allow users to add floor plans, meaning that in time it'll only get better. (If you don't want to add your floor plan, you can also just select a generic floor plan.)"
  • Getting Things Done Explained for Students - "GTD is basically a 'workflow for life,' so if all you want to do is get papers in by their deadlines, it's overkill. Luckily, some of the GTD precepts work for the student workflow--so that's what I'll share here."
  • Storage of your photos: Some ideas - "Well, here’s what I would recommend after thinking about this quite a bit myself (side note: I have over 60,000 digital images, most of them RAW photos, but at least several hundred digital abstract art pieces that I have created as well that total approx. 400 Gigabytes):

    Get a network attached storage device (NAS Array) that accommodates 4-5 hard drives and offers RAID levels 5, 6 or 10. Backup all of your photos, videos, etc. on a regular basis to this NAS Array. Plug into this NAS Array a single external 1.5TB hard drive and backup the array to that. Keep the external hard drive either in your car or your office or at your friend’s house. Use online backup as well if you want an extra layer of protection.

    Networked Attached Storage plugs directly into your network router and is/should be accessible from every computer in your house and from your network-enabled PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 (real men use Xbox 360s :) ).

    If you buy a Drobo, Thecus, Qnap or Buffalo NAS (all of which I have researched and can recommend, though I lean towards the Thecus and Qnap because of speed of data transfers and the fact that the Drobo, strictly speaking, doesn’t offer network connectivity [even with its optional 'Droboshare' add-on, it transfers data from the network through an RJ45 connection to the Drobo via a USB 2.0 connector]), and set them to RAID 5, you have pretty good protection."

Health care: the government is the problem

  • The economics of the secret Chinese menu - "Especially for immigrants, restaurant life is often about ambience, social contacts, and feeling you have a space to call your own. A restaurant cannot be all things to all people and the #1 best way of judging a restaurant is to look at its customers."

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August 15, 2009 10:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Earmark"

Earmark: For expenditures, an amount set aside within an appropriations account for a specified purpose.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

August 14, 2009 05:47 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 6.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.


Govt. to hand over seized documents
Govt. to hand over seized documents

An explanation of the Speech and Debate Clause, in which a Congressman's office was searched, and the contents of the seizure were returned to him prior to the hearing because of this clause of the Constitution.

A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

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August 12, 2009 02:17 PM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

September 2009 Legislative, Communication, and Media Training from TheCapitol.Net

Our latest email update:

If you don't have time to attend our live training, see our Capitol Learning Audio Courses.

TheCapitol.Net, Inc.
>> We help you understand Washington and Congress TM
>> Non-partisan training and publications that show how Washington works. TM

August 11, 2009 07:27 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/10/09

If Obama has his way, his health care plan will be funded by his treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by his surgeon general who is obese, signed by a president who smokes, and financed by a country that is just about broke.
What possibly could go wrong?

  • 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
  • Birmingham, Alabama: National Guard Needed After Budget Cuts? - "The sheriff of Birmingham, Alabama warns he may need to call the National Guard to maintain order after this week’s Circuit Court ruling that Jefferson County leaders can proceed with plans to slash $4.1 million from the sheriff’s budget.
    . . .
    How did Jefferson County end up close to earning the title of 'biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history?'

    To finance a $3.2 billion sewer cleanup, six years ago, after consluting with J.P. Morgan, the county issued floating interest rate debt instead of the typical fixed interest rate debt. It was meant to save taxpayers money. But the collapse of the subprime mortgage market drove up variable rates and has left Jefferson County hemorrhaging red ink, with unexpected debt payments of $7 million a month. "
  • NODs Increasing, Foreclosures Decreasing - "Really these underwater 'homeowners' are more renters than owners, and many will still have negative equity when the interest rate increases again. Perhaps we should call the modification programs Single Family Public Housing."
  • Shame On Executives For Flying Private Jets… - "…only those of us in Congress get to fly private jets."
  • We just need a sugar daddy! - "Ironically, instead of using US taxpayer money to help finance universal health care in the US, our Government used US taxpayer money to help finance universal health care in Western Europe, by paying so much $$ for the defense of the region!"
  • US Consumer Demand Off a Cliff as the Crisis Deepens - "The big story is the collapse of the US consumer, unprecedented since WW II, and possibly the Great Depression. This is apparent in the numbers despite the epic restatement of GDP having just been done by the BLS in their benchmark revisions. If the Fed and Treasury were not actively monetizing everything in sight, we would certainly be seeing a more pronounced deflation as prices fall WITH demand. And if they continue, we may very well feel a touch of the lash of that hyperinflation that John Williams is predicting."
  • How the link economy benefits Reuters - "My feeling, however, is that the way that Reuters will benefit most from the link economy won’t show up in Ahearn’s P&L at all. The Reuters news product is primarily monetized through terminal sales, not through ad sales on, and that’s how we’ll make our money from the link economy too: insofar as Reuters becomes a central hub of the link economy, it will increasingly be a must-have product for the financial-market professionals who pay $1,000 a month* for their terminals. Could those professionals, in theory, find the same content online for free? Yes. But not nearly as quickly or as conveniently as they can find it on their terminal, where it’s pushed to them with ultra-low latency and long before the story in question finally gets put up on our website. As Reuters becomes increasingly authoritative and important online, largely through all the inbound links it gets, it will become that much easier for us to sell those terminals and make lots of money doing so"
  • Restating the case for human uniqueness - "despite the very small difference in the gene coding sequence between humans and chimps, some of the important genetic differences are in genes that regulate a whole host of other genes. So a small change can make an immense difference. The genetic difference between us and chimps may be much greater than the 1.6 per cent figure implies, as our uniqueness is based on a powerful network of gene regulation, [Jeremy Taylor] argues [in 'Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes That Make Us Human']."
  • Four Days in North Korea - "There is no Internet access in North Korea—the Pyongyang elite use an intranet to listen to music and watch movies. There are three TV channels, and North Koreans usually go to telephone booths when they need to make calls.
    . . .
    From our first moments in the country, it was obvious that some North Koreans receive special treatment. The train for Pyongyang had 15 cars, but only the three "international compartments" had fans to fight the sweltering heat. Well-dressed North Koreans took up the majority of seats in the compartment. The women wore silk blouses, nice skirts, and high heels, and the men were decked out in good T-shirts, which sometimes showed off their big bellies.

    They were the only fat North Koreans that I saw on the trip. The people in the streets of Pyongyang and Kaesong were often downright skinny. In Pyongyang, I had my picture taken with two elementary-school boys in Kim Il-Sung Square, and I could clearly feel their ribs when I put my hands on their backs. "
  • Health Care Reform and the Golden Rule - "As for Obama’s motivation in pushing healthcare reform? Just guessing, but so far Obama’s administration has been so corporatist in handing over aid and comfort to specific industries that it makes me wonder if he views instituting something like universal healthcare to be a bone to throw at the ordinary Joe, who may have begun to resent exactly how rigged (in favor of the big-ticket investors) politics in the U.S. has proven during the current downturn. If that line of thinking starts to proliferate, something bad could happen to the big ticket brigade. "
  • Everybody wants to go to heaven - "A mean conservative Newt Gingrich argues: 'we need a new federal resolve to truly defeat Alzheimer’s. As America’s largest generation ages, we have no time to lose.' On the empathic left Ezekial Emanuel (brother of the gentle soul, Emanual): 'Conversely, services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.'"
  • You don't have to go to school - "Here is the story of a Russian woman's experience with pulling her three children out of school that I thought would provide some valuable perspective to people in the States who are confronting the same decision, so I translated it."
  • Quelle Surprise! Hank Paulson and Goldman CEO Talked to Each Other a Lot! - "At this point, the New York Times story reporting that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Goldman chief Lloyd Blankfein spoke frequently during the crisis is close to a 'dog bites man' news item. After Goldman was the only Wall Street player involved in the discussions of what to do about the rapidly unravelling AIG, and Goldman then turned out to be the biggest beneficiary of the dubious credit default swaps unwinding, any other cases of undue attentiveness to the needs of Paulson's former firm are likely to pale. The amusing bit is that the public is looking for more signs of behind the scenes winks and nods, when what is in the open is so blatant that there really wasn't much need to do things in a covert fashion."

The Real Clunkers in this Deal: Why "cash for clunkers" is a terrible idea

  • Ten things we don't understand about humans - "4. Teenagers: Even our closest relatives, the great apes, move smoothly from their juvenile to adult life phases -- so why do humans spend an agonising decade skulking around in hoodies?"
  • Mini-magnet test makes things sticky for TB - "TUBERCULOSIS can now be diagnosed in just 30 minutes, using magnetic nanoparticles which identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum, even at very low concentrations."
  • What Kinds of Girls Are Upper Tier Colleges Looking For? - "Selective schools are not interested these days in girls who like English and history, like to read and are able to write clearly and well. Those skills fill the bell curve for smart girls ... Selective schools have absorbed the folk myths of bobo culture. So cool girls are math smart, genetically destined to be hackers, risk takers, and into competitive sports."
  • Vive la Difference! A New Approach to College Rankings - "The most exciting dimension of this year's Forbes/CCAP rankings of colleges is a revolutionary new concept --the do it yourself ranking, available here. You first determine the region where you want to go to school, and the size of the institution. After that, you indicate which of 12 factors you think are important --and how important. Those factors include admissions selectivity, average freshman SAT scores, the student-faculty ratio, the four year graduation rate, crime rates on campus, student evaluations of their instruction (and instructors), incidence of listing in Who's Who in America, average post-graduate salary data, whether students or faculty won nationally competitive awards, average student debt loads, and net tuition costs. Then the screener gives you the top 20 schools, given your tastes and preferences."

Richard Hammond's Honda Fireblade vs... a rocket and a golf ball?

  • iStubz - The Dumbest Idea I’ve Ever Wholeheartedly Endorsed - "I wouldn’t go as far as to call these iStubz replacement sync/charge cables for the iPod and iPhone genius or anything, I mean they’re just shorter versions of the ones Apple gives you, but 9 times out of 10 I only need 7cm of cord. I’ll happily suck it up that one time I need a bit more slack if the rest of the time my desk isn’t a cluttered cobweb of white cables."
  • Feds at DefCon Alarmed After RFIDs Scanned - "It’s one of the most hostile hacker environments in the country -- the DefCon hacker conference held every summer in Las Vegas.

    But despite the fact that attendees know they should take precautions to protect their data, federal agents at the conference got a scare on Friday when they were told they might have been caught in the sights of an RFID reader.

    The reader, connected to a web camera, sniffed data from RFID-enabled ID cards and other documents carried by attendees in pockets and backpacks as they passed a table where the equipment was stationed in full view.

    It was part of a security-awareness project set up by a group of security researchers and consultants to highlight privacy issues around RFID."
  • LG’s THX-Certified LED HDTVs are Now Available in the U.S. - "Hear that? It’s the trademark THX sound you hear before movies. Now you can watch those movies on LG’s new THX-certified LH90 series of LED-backlit HDTVs that have finally arrived on U.S. soil. The trio of 1080p HDTVs, which are the first to receive the THX certification here in the US, feature TruMotion 240Hz technology."
  • GearDeal: Prepaid cell phone cards – $50 refills only $44 at Target - "Some providers such as T-Mobile even let you keep your minutes for a full year if you fill them with $100 at a time. Target has all brands of prepaid cellular refill cards on sale this week. Spend $44 and get a $50 card. Choose Virgin Mobile, Boost, T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon Wireless. Available in store only."

. . . . . . . . .

August 10, 2009 07:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 5.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.


House of Representatives debating whether to punish a Member (James Traficant) for disorderly behavior and possibly expel him.

A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

. . . . . . . . .

August 9, 2009 05:57 PM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

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 fog - Three 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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August 8, 2009 12:37 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Omnibus Bill"

Omnibus Bill: A measure that combines the provisions related to several disparate subjects into a single measure. Examples include continuing appropriations resolutions that might contain two or more of the thirteen annual appropriations bills.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

August 7, 2009 08:07 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

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."

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August 6, 2009 08:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 4.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.


A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

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August 5, 2009 08:17 PM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Underfunded Pensions, Pension Dumping, and Retirement Security

Underfunded Pensions, Pension Dumping, and Retirement Security

Pension Funds, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), Bailout Risks, Impact on the Federal Budget, and the Pension Protection Act of 2006

Compiled by TheCapitol.Net
Authors: Patrick Purcell, Jennifer Staman, Kelly Kinneen, William J. Klunk, Peter Orszag, and Bradley D. Belt

Underfunded Pensions, Pension Dumping, and Retirement Security

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) provides a comprehensive federal scheme for the regulation of employee pension and welfare benefit plans offered by employers. ERISA contains various provisions intended to protect the rights of plan participants and beneficiaries in employee benefit plans.

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) is a federal corporation created by ERISA. It currently protects the pensions of nearly 44 million American workers and retirees in more than 29,000 private single-employer and multiemployer defined benefit pension plans. PBGC receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed by insurance premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors of defined benefit plans, investment income, assets from pension plans trusteed by PBGC, and recoveries from the companies formerly responsible for the plans.

Although the PBGC's liabilities are not explicitly backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government, Congress could face political pressure to bail out the PBGC at taxpayer expense should the agency become financially insolvent.

Bradley Belt, former executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), testified before Congress in October, 2004: "I am particularly concerned with the temptation, and indeed, growing tendency, to use the pension insurance fund as a means to obtain an interest-free and risk-free loan to enable companies to restructure. Unfortunately, the current calculation appears to be that shifting pension liabilities onto other premium payers or potentially taxpayers is the path of least resistance rather than a last resort."

2009, 316 pages
ISBN: 1587331535 ISBN 13: 978-1-58733-153-4

Complete Table of Contents and secure online ordering at

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August 4, 2009 12:37 PM   Link    Publications    Comments (0)

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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August 4, 2009 07:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 3.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.


A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

. . . . . . . . .

August 3, 2009 09:17 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 8/2/09

Dave Barry, Award-Winning Humorist, Speaks Out on College Censorship in New FIRE Video

  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Air Conditioning and Civilization - " I find it something of a wonder that civilizations sprouted in climate hell-holes such as India, Egypt, what is now Iraq, and Mexico-Central America. With heat slowing one to a snail's pace and sweat dripping off the nose, how did they even think of creating writing, arts, and other things we associate with civilized life? And to what heights might they have arisen had they invented air conditioning?"
  • NCSL: Too Liberal? - "legislators in Utah and other red states are thinking about pulling out of NCSL [National Conference of State Legislatures] due to their conviction that the group leans left"
  • Is There a 'Right' to Health Care? - "If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that "someone" is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion. People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.
    . . .
    The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.

    Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so."
  • How did ADHD evolve and survive? - "many people with ADHD can use their 'jumpiness' to propel themselves to sample and learn extra new pieces of information. The current distribution of identified cases from the ADHD population likely suffers from selection bias, namely that it id ADHD cases associated with greater life problems."
  • Resurrecting the New Deal in Perry County, Tennessee - "Instead, for long-term economic health, former manufacturing centers need to allow the private investment to direct their labor pools toward their new comparative advantages."
  • Coincidence? I think not - "And where is this powerful hospital with all the lobbying money located? Why in the metropolitan area of McAllen, Texas. McAllen, Texas? where I have heard that name before?"
  • Did Warren Burger Create the Health Care Mess? The 1975 antitrust decision that gave you physician-owned hospitals. - "Where there's death, my friend, there's always hope."
  • Ignorant bloggers go nuts over Michelle Bachmann - "A single afternoon of C-Span should be enough to teach you that this sequence of postponing votes until the evening occurs nearly every day in the House of Representatives, especially with relatively uncontroversial measures that are expected to get two-thirds of the vote, and totally uncontroversial resolutions like this one."

    Or you can sign up for our Congress in a Nutshell course. Or listen to our two tapes about C-SPAN - the House and the Senate. Sheesh.
  • Ain't Misbehavin': The 1940s Versions - "I still wanted to make time to get another one of these 'Ain't Misbehavin'' blogs out there. Today will focus on the 1940s, which was THE decade of 'Ain't Misbehavin'' in Armstrong's career. I have over ten versions in my collection from this decade...and I'd be a nut to share all ten. But I'd at least like to pepper in four or five"
  • *Imperial*, by William Vollmann - "It is glorious in its 1100 pp. plus of text, analytical diatribes, love stories, monomaniacal rants, ecological analyses, and unevenly eloquent prose. I'm on p.206 and so far it's a first-rate book on the Mexican-American border (Imperial is a county in California), low lifes, the desperation of America's empty spaces, and this is from an author who issues books like others do blog posts."
  • Immigration Raids Circumventing the Fourth Amendment - "It looks as if we can add 'llegal immigration' to the growing list of issues so critical, they deserve exceptions to the Fourth Amendment."
  • Eight hours of Bach for three bucks - "Even though Bach's works preceded copyright protection, this is a good example of how our culture benefits from sensible copyright term limits: eight hours of some of the finest music ever composed for about the price of a Happy Meal"
  • Street Urinal Makes Public Peeing Practical - "The Axixa is a design by Mexican Miguel Melgarejo, and could be deployed cheaply and easily on any city wall. Inside there is a traditional U-bend water trap leading to a drainage pipe. The outside could actually be any shape, but a yellow streak of piss seems appropriate enough. But would people use them? If you are desperate enough to pee in the street anyway, we doubt you’d be too embarrassed to use the Axixa instead."
  • Mysteriously High Tides on East Coast Perplex Scientists - "From Maine to Florida, the Atlantic seaboard has experienced higher tides than expected this summer. At their peak in mid-June, the tides at some locations outstripped predictions by two feet. The change has come too fast to be attributed to melting ice sheets or anything quite that dramatic, and it’s a puzzle for scientists who’ve never seen anything quite like it."
  • Pasara Thai - "It was one of the very best Thai meals I’ve eaten in this area -- ever -- superb in every way. The minced chicken with basil was especially good, also the drunken noodles and the chinese broccoli with small pork fritters. I can’t promise you’ll succeed in getting the same treatment, but like I said it’s worth a try."
  • 32 Ways to Use Facebook for Business - "Facebook’s not just for keeping tabs on friends and filling out quizzes-- it can also be used as a highly effective business tool. It’s great for marketing your products, landing gigs and connecting with your customers."

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August 2, 2009 12:47 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)