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September 2009 Archives

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

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. II.
Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.


Watch CBS Videos Online
Clinton Impeachment Trial February 12, 1999. Bill Clinton was impeached and brought to trial in the Senate, but they did not get the two thirds vote needed to remove him from office.

Richard Nixon shows the political developments that led to the demise of his presidency.

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

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September 29, 2009 08:47 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations

Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations

Get expert guidance on writing speeches and preparing oral presentations. This course shows you how to prepare for and draft an effective speech, focusing on organization, sequence, support and style. Attendees also get tips and guidance from a professional speechwriter.

October 16, 2009, at the DC Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200 (12th and K Streets NW), Washington, DC (McPherson Square station).

Agenda and secure online registration:

September 28, 2009 05:57 PM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/28/09

baby sign language

  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, October 16, 2009
  • Understanding The Regulatory Process: Working with Federal Regulatory Agencies, October 20, 2009
  • Effective Executive Briefings, October 23, 2009
  • Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing, November 12, 2009
  • Writing to Persuade: Hone Your Persuasive Writing Skills, November 13, 2009
  • *Too Big to Save*, by Robert Pozen - "For the last two years I've been receiving requests -- email and otherwise -- for a readable, educating book on the financial crisis. And while various books on the crisis have had their merits, no one of them has fit that bill. Until now. Robert Pozen's Too Big to Save: How to Fix the U.S. Financial System is the single best source for figuring out what happened. "
  • Barack Obama, College Administrator - "If you are confused by the first nine months of the Obama administration, take solace that there is at least a pattern. The president, you see, thinks America is a university and that he is our campus president. Keep that in mind, and almost everything else makes sense.
    . . .
    Academic culture also promotes this idea that highly educated professionals deigned to give up their best years for arduous academic work and chose to be above the messy rat race. Although supposedly far better educated, smarter (or rather the 'smartest'), and more morally sound than lawyers, CEOs, and doctors, academics gripe that they, unfairly, are far worse paid. And they lack the status that should accrue to those who teach the nation’s youth, correct their papers, and labor over lesson plans. Obama reminded us ad nauseam of all the lucre he passed up on Wall Street in order to return to the noble pursuit of organizing and teaching in Chicago.

    In short, campus people have had the bar raised on themselves at every avenue. Suggest to an academic that university pay is not bad for ninth months’ work, often consisting of an actual six to nine hours a week in class, and you will be considered guilty of heresy if not defamation."
  • Steward Brand, Slumlord - "Whole Earth Catalog founder and onetime Merry Prankster Stewart Brand is one of twelve thinkers asked this month by Wired magazine to contribute to a list of 'twelve shocking ideas that could change the world.' In this brief piece, Brand praises slums as good for the environment:"
  • Lobbying - "So I'll ask a different question, as a form of a modest proposal to get the money out of politics. Why should it be legal to make a political contribution to a candidate who is not running for an office that represents you as a constituent? I do not think it should be. Imagine how different this senator's incentives would be if he could only raise money from the residents of Montana as individuals and not from organized interests."
  • The Condo Glut - "But this is a reminder that new high rise condos are not included in the new home inventory report from the Census Bureau, and are also not included in the existing home sales report from the NAR (unless they are listed). These uncounted units are concentrated in Miami, Las Vegas, San Diego and other large cities - but as these articles show, there are new condos almost everywhere."
  • House Value = 15 x Ann. Rent - "So what is residential real estate worth today? The answer to that question is, 'About 15 times the annual rent'."
  • What would FDR do? - "In my Sunday Examiner column, I quoted from Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly last Wednesday, in a way that indicated a certain disapproval."
  • Costco Fuel Settlement - "Costco, along with other fuel retailers, has been sued over the way it measures gallons of fuel in some states. The putative class plaintiffs have settled the case--for zero dollars for the class, and ten million dollars for the attorneys."
  • You Have Two Cows... - "And lo and behold, there were 340,000 entries/versions under 'you have two cow jokes,' with entire web sites dedicated to them and entries dating back to early days of the internet. As a matter of fact, a web site tells us that 'You have two cows' jokes originated as a parody of typical 'Economics 101' examples, meant to show the limitations of economic systems and to point out flaws and absurdities in those systems."
  • Congressman’s 72 Hour Rule Suggestion Is Inadequate - "In response to the growing support for a discharge petition to force a vote on the Read the Bill bill, Rep. Tim Walz is circulating a 'Dear Colleague' letter asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to enforce the already existing 72 hour rule."

Is Your Alarm Too Quiet? Hook Up A Pair Of 140-Decibel Horns!

  • Vanity Fair's Disappearing Demographic - "One thing that interests me about the magazine is how often it features members of the Kennedy family. ... Still, I have the oddball notion that the Kennedys are pretty passé from the newsmaking standpoint, especially since Teddy has gone on to whatever reward he merits."
  • My Rich Uncle - "With consumers and businesses not only cutting back but actually reducing debt, A Rich Uncle Is Picking Up the Borrowing Slack."
  • Where Does Lost Luggage Wind Up? Terminal Man Finds Out - "False teeth, a hearing aid, hundreds of cell phones and iPods, and even Uncle Bob: These are the kinds of things that regularly turn up lost in a typical airport. ... Cell phones and iPods are frequent visitors to James’ office. 'On an average month, we’ll get anywhere from eight hundred to twelve hundred items,' he said. 'A large portion of those are cell phones.'"
  • New Genetic Analysis Sheds Light on Origins of Indian Castes - "The research team analyzed the DNA of 132 individuals from India and neighboring regions, dividing them into 25 distinct groups based on geography, caste and language. They calculated how genetically ‘closed’ each of these groups were. In the caste system it is rare to marry someone from another class, making caste societies very closed, or ‘endogamous.’ If this endogamy continues over many generations, it will leave a behind a genetic signature for scientists to discover. Reich and his team found such a signature, indicating a long history of endogamy in several of the groups. In fact, the research team calculated that the DNA of six of the groups can be traced back to just a few individuals who lived anywhere from 30 to more than 100 generations ago. Assuming a generation time of 25 years, that establishes the existence of the caste system in the range of 750 to more than 2,500 years ago -- long before the British colonial era."
  • AT&T, Google Spat Over Google Voice Blocked Calls Is Important... But Totally Misses The Point - "However (and this is important), the actual issue here is not net neutrality. The real issue is ridiculous regulatory setups in certain rural areas, that force unnaturally high connection fees on telcos to rural telcos, creating a massive arbitrage opportunity that the Free Conference call offerings making good (and profitable) use of in offering their services. Basically, every inbound call to these telcos requires massive per minute fees from the connecting service provider to the rural telco. It's so expensive that as long as the rural telco can offer a service (such as conference calls) at a cheaper rate, they make money on every inbound call -- but it's all due to outdated regulations that 'protect' those telcos."

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September 28, 2009 09:57 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/22/09

Parkour on a bicycle

  • Capitol Hill Workshop, September 23-25, 2009
  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, October 16, 2009
  • Understanding The Regulatory Process: Working with Federal Regulatory Agencies, October 20, 2009
  • Effective Executive Briefings, October 23, 2009
  • Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing, November 12, 2009
  • Writing to Persuade: Hone Your Persuasive Writing Skills, November 13, 2009
  • Socialism v. Capitalism - From an article by Svetlana Kunin: "In the USSR, economic equality was achieved by redistributing wealth, ensuring that everyone remained poor, with the exception of those doing the redistributing. Only the ruling class of communist leaders had access to special stores, medicine and accommodations that could compare to those in the West.
    . . .
    There is no perfect society. There are no perfect people. Critics say that greed is the driving force of capitalism. My answer is that envy is the driving force of socialism. Change to socialism is not an improvement on the imperfections of the current system."
  • Museum of Communism - "It would be a great tragedy if Communism disappeared from the earth without leaving behind an indelible memory of its horrors. Communism was not essentially about espionage, or power politics, or irreligion. Rather it was a grand theoretical synthesis of totalitarianism... a theory which millions of people experienced as the practice of murder and slavery."
  • Why Stimulus Spending Lags - "Stimulus projects are likely to come with a thick string of transparency and accountability requirements, along with potentially severe financial penalties and, in some cases, possible prison time. These conditions may be extended not only to U.S. government contractors, but to companies undertaking federally funded projects for state and local governments."
  • It All Depends on What Your Definition of Tax Is - "As Katherine Mangu-Ward noted this morning, the president's attempts to narrow his pledge so that it does not include the taxes he ends up raising (such as the federal cigarette tax, raised a few weeks after he took office, or the proposed levies on Americans who fail to buy health insurance) recently prompted a testy exchange with George Stephanopoulos in which the ABC interviewer cited the dictionary definition of tax, which Obama saw as evidence that Stephanopoulos was 'stretching a little bit.'"
  • The baked bean index and other economic indicators - "A bunch of odd economic indicators that I have read about recently."
  • Clunk Confirmed: - "A new paper in The Economists' Voice concludes that the costs of the 'cash for clunkers' program exceed the benefits by approximately $2000 per vehicle. "
  • CPSIA chronicles, September 20 - "At the Wall Street Journal, a letter to the editor regarding my op-ed of last week generally agrees with its thrust but claims that I '[err] when assigning blame to consumer groups' among others for the enactment. I find this charge baffling, since groups like Public Citizen, PIRG and the Consumer Federation of America 1) were routinely cited in the press during the bill’s run-up to enactment as key advocates of its more extreme provisions, 2) have loudly claimed credit for enacting those provisions and the overall bill ever since, 3) have been routinely cited this year in the press as key opponents of any effort to revisit the law in Congress. Why strive to excuse them from a responsibility that they gladly shoulder?"
  • Maryland governor OKs ACORN investigation - "O’Malley’s announcement came in response to a request from Attorney General Doug Gansler to conduct an investigation into criminal allegations. Baltimore employees with the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) were caught on video tape telling undercover investigators posing as a pimp and prostitute how they could sidestep tax laws and obtain illegal loans."
  • Obama energy secretary to Americans: Stop acting like teenagers! - "When Secretary of Energy Steven Chu thinks of the American people, he apparently sees a bunch of unruly teenagers who need to be told how to act.

    Asked at a seminar on reconstructing America's electrical grid about the Obama administration's efforts to persuade people to conserve energy, Chu said 'the American public…just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act. The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is,' according to The Wall Street Journal."

Tennis scene from Mr. Hulot's Holiday

  • NFL player bankruptcy - "The 78 percent number (i.e., 78% of NFL players go bankrupt within two years of retirement) is buoyed by the fact that the average NFL career lasts just three years. So, figure a player gets drafted in 2009, signs for the minimum and lasts three years in the league: He will have earned about $1.2 million in salary."
  • How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke - "Recession or no recession, many NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball players have a penchant for losing most or all of their money. It doesn't matter how much they make. And the ways they blow it are strikingly similar"
  • Professional Athletes and the Prevalence of Bankruptcy - "Doing the math, and discounting $400,000 per year for three years, beginning at age 17 and entering the big leagues at age 21 (not likely), the expected value of a career in baseball is about $86. Who's likely to pursue that?
    . . .
    Making [it] to the pros for many athletes is like the person who lives in a trailer winning the lottery - they've never learned how to handle the wealth."
  • 8 lottery winners who lost their millions - "Having piles of cash only compounds problems for some people. Here are sad tales of foolishness, hit men, greedy relatives and dreams dashed."
  • 10 Ways Sports Stars Go From Riches To Rags - "Too much money in real estate; investments in Ponzi schemes; and poor financial advising have been exposed with the down economy. ... More than anything else, players appear to put too much money into real estate."
  • American Efforts at Weisse Bier - "Surprisingly good, in fact excellent: Sierra Nevada 'Kellerweis' Hefeweizen. Much, much better than I expected. Looks and tastes just like wiessbier, in fact. Well done. My new favorite, #1 American beer."
  • Unexpected effects of a wheat-free diet - "Wheat elimination continues to yield explosive and unexpected health benefits."
  • An amazing note-taking tool for lawyers (and others) - "Hey, you know what’d be cool? What if you could use a pen that was (1) a recording device, but (2) also captured your writing, and (3) when you tapped it on an area in your written notes it would play the recording of what was being said at that time. That would be cool, but also totally impossible. Except it’s not. If you go to Amazon you can get this ‘smart pen’ for $129."
  • Mobile Tech Minutes -- Evernote - "Evernote is a true platform agnostic, note taker / collector supreme. It runs on just about every mobile device out there and makes grabbing information a snap. I show the basic operation of the program and demonstrate how it makes it easy to find nuggets of information."
  • Your Google docs: Soon in search results? - "Web 2.0 is great for interactive discovery of information. I have been reticent, however, to advise lawyers to put mission critical or client confidential information in the websphere, no matter the protestations of vendors about security. Users are not always going to make fine distinctions between 'Publish to Web' and other web terminology if they are creating documents and sharing them online. It is risky enough to send documents attached to emails. Mis-directed emails have gotten more than one lawyer or firm in trouble."
  • “A new, hard test of our wisdom” - "Back in August, Terry Teachout suggested in the Wall Street Journal that those of us grappling with new media take a few lessons from the history of TV. Television succeeded for a number of reasons, he says, including its unanimous, unquestioning acceptance by the people. ... In a remarkable essay 'A Forecast of Television' (1935), Rudolf Arnheim wrote:"
  • Parked Truck Gets 45 Automated Speeding Tickets - "Netherlands -- Dutch lumber merchant Martin Robben no longer believes the camera never lies. As reported by De Telegraaf, the man was falsely accused of speeding forty-five times on August 25 while his vehicle, a commercial truck, was parked on the side of the road in Oldeberkoop village. 'Sometimes there were only three seconds between the tickets,' Robben told the Dutch paper. 'That’s impossible . . . Nobody can be flashed dozens of times in an afternoon.'"
  • Vandalised Gatsos - "To my knowledge this is the largest collection of wrecked Gatsos [speed cameras in England] on the internet, and its growing rapidly. So long as these cameras are robbing motorists of their cash they will continue to be destroyed."

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September 22, 2009 09:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

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

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. II.
Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.


President Bill Clinton's final State of the Union speech-January 2000

President George W. Bush called a special Joint Session of Congress in response to the September 11 attacks on our country.

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

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September 21, 2009 08:07 PM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/19/09

The Devil Wears Fake Prada

  • Capitol Hill Workshop, September 23-25, 2009
  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, October 16, 2009
  • Understanding The Regulatory Process: Working with Federal Regulatory Agencies, October 20, 2009
  • Effective Executive Briefings, October 23, 2009
  • Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing, November 12, 2009
  • Writing to Persuade: Hone Your Persuasive Writing Skills, November 13, 2009
  • The Potency Of The Investigative Power Of Congress - "A request from Congress for an appearance or for documents should not be taken lightly. Let's say you're a major government contractor. I think it's just common sense that you should be aware of what's happening on the Hill with regard to the breadth of congressional investigations and how they could impact you and your company. The ramifications of a congressional investigation go far beyond the actual hearing itself and can threaten the reputation of a company, its CEO, and/or a product, and can cause serious harm to an individual's future employment as well as adversely impact investor confidence in a company. Everybody should be aware that Congress is going to be very active over the next two years and should act accordingly. When Congress comes calling, you'd better take it seriously."
  • Measures of State Economic Distress: Housing Foreclosures and Changes in Unemployment and Food Stamp Participation - ht 13th Floor
  • Sputum markets in everything - "South African saliva ... It seems to be a competitive market:"
  • Taxes and Legitimacy - "A regime that depends on taxes to function and retain power will seek to assure that it retains legitimacy, by carrying out the necessary functions of governance. 'Legitimacy' need not stem from democracy; a stable authoritarian regime, like China, can have one without the other. But it does require that the government govern, as Samuel Huntington used to put it."
  • Earmark Horse Hockey - "The report for the bill has the federal government sending $500,000 to the Pendleton Round-Up Foundation for 'reconstruction and construction needs of facilities which are critical to the local economy.' That’s right: The folks in Pendleton, Oregon want you to send them a half-million bucks for their 'critical-to-the-local-economy' rodeo ring."
  • Rangel the roguish raconteur - "The trouble is, he also has a reputation for sloppy book-keeping. And this matters. The Democrats' agenda this year will cost a lot of money. They will struggle to persuade Americans to pay their fair share while people like Rangel are perceived not to. So no matter how entertaining and colourful a figure Rangel is, he should not be the chairman of the committee that writes America's tax laws."
  • California Regulations On TV Energy Efficiency - "A geographically huge state can't generate all the electricity it uses? Why? The problem is not the vastness of California's needs. Let me reword: California's NIMBY regulations are so vast that the state prevents sufficient electricity generating capacity from being built within the state's borders. While I'm at it: California's regulatory restrictions increase transmission line losses by requiring generation capacity to be built far from its population centers and it increases odds of power outages due to failures in long distance transmission lines."
  • Nonscientists Naive about Science - "When journalists talk about science in general this is usually a pretext for saying those who disagree with their favorite idea are wrong, because they are unscientific. Who can be against science? There isn't a formal anti-science movement because it's indefensible in principle. They then caricature their opponents, taking the most inarticulate advocates from the other side, and skewering their illogic. They then sit back and take take inordinate pride in their scientific pretensions, as if their selective discussion was objective. The fact is, most 'big' scientific issues do not conform to the scientific method, where one puts out testable hypotheses, rejecting ones that are falsified."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Audacity of Hos
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Jon Stewart slams media for missing ACORN story: 'Where the hell were you!?'

  • Is Mandatory Health Insurance Unconstitutional? - "In the The Politico's Arena, we are debating Rivkin and Casey's Wall Street Journal Op-ed that Jonathan notes below. While my take on this issue differs somewhat from his, in my contribution (here), I respond to this rather catty post by Washington & Lee law professor Timothy Stoltzfus Jost. This is what I wrote:"
  • Profanity on the Court and the Trading Floor, from Ken Drees - "There are few things in life with less downside than good manners. No matter the field, no matter the situation."
  • It was a foul, ref! Dive guide will help officials spot the cheaters from fair players - "These include clutching their body where they have not been hit, taking an extra roll when they hit the ground and taking fully controlled strides after being tackled before falling. Most tellingly they often make the 'archer's bow' position, holding up both arms in the air, with open palms, chest thrust out and legs bent at the knee. This would not occur in a natural fall."

Learning from Milton Friedman’s Rhetoric

  • Dear Zagat A hearty thanks for your 30 years of service. Now go away. - "The Zagat guide turned 30 years old this year, and in honor of the occasion, I’d like to give founders Tim and Nina Zagat a hearty thanks for all their years of service to the restaurant industry. And, if I may, I’d like to offer some friendly advice, too: You can go away now."
  • Remembrance of Zagat’s Past: The SNL Sketch
  • Ouch - Do You Know Who Your Clients Are? - "On the surface, this is a simple case. A lawyer in a closing asks for photo IDs of his clients at the closing table. Husband provides his. Wife says she left hers at the restaurant. The closing proceeds, and the lawyer doesn't follow up. Lo and behold, the mortgage goes into foreclosure and it turns out that the 'wife' was an impostor. Now, lawyer is defending a grievance for not verifying the identity of the parties. Ouch."

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September 19, 2009 07:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Allowances"

Allowances: Amounts included in the budget to cover possible additional expenditures for statutory pay increases and other requirements.

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

September 18, 2009 09:47 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

TheCapitol.Net Forms International Alliance with PATRI/EDUCARE Brazilian Training Organization; World-Wide Organization a Future Possibility

We help you understand Washington and Congress TM

PATRI: Brazilian Government Relations and Training



Chug Roberts, Publisher
Phone: (703) 739-3790
Fax: (703) 739-1195
Email: registrar -at-
Eduardo Carlos Ricardo, President and CEO
Phone: (202) 822-6420 / (61) 3327-2606
Fax: (202) 822-6423 / (61) 3327-1619
Email: patrielgov -at-

TheCapitol.Net Forms International Alliance with PATRI/EDUCARE
Brazilian Training Organization;
World-Wide Organization a Future Possibility

ALEXANDRIA, VA – September 16, 2009 – For over 30 years, TheCapitol.Net and its predecessor, Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences, have been training professionals from government, military, business, and NGOs on the dynamics and operations of the legislative and executive branches and how to work with them.

Now, TheCapitol.Net has formed a working relationship with PATRI/EDUCARE, a firm that specializes in advising and training Fortune 1000 clients in the workings of the Brazilian government, and has offices in Brasilia, São Paulo and Washington, DC.

The two companies expect to share resources, collaborate on educational materials, training materials and publications, refer clients as appropriate, and learn from each other's best practices.

"This first-of-its-kind alliance reflects each organization's commitment to a better informed, engaged, and represented population through training and education, and allows us to better serve multinational clients with interests in either or both capitals," said Chug Roberts, President and Publisher of TheCapitol.Net.

As a first collaboration, TheCapitol.Net is assisting PATRI in broadening its scope of training programs offered in Brasilia.

Roberts and his Brazilian counterpart Eduardo Carlos Ricardo, President and CEO of PATRI, see this alliance as an umbrella that could be big enough to span the globe.

"To the corporation or NGO that wants to have an impact around the world, understanding how each government works is crucial. We hope to eventually create partnerships around the world with other non-partisan firms that explain the often non transparent workings of government to their citizens and businesses—we can all learn from each other's experience, and all of our clients will benefit," Ricardo said.

TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan, privately held U.S. firm based in Alexandria, Virginia. TheCapitol.Net each year helps thousands of government and business leaders understand how Washington and Congress work through its media, legislative, budget and advocacy training and publications.

PATRI is a non-partisan, privately held Brazilian government relations firm that assists international clients in developing strategies for effective government and institutional relations. PATRI has offices in Brasilia, São Paulo - Brazil, and Washington, DC.


September 16, 2009 11:17 AM   Link    Associations    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/16/09

No American Should Have to Choose Between Health Insurance and Getting Drunk

  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, September 17, 2009
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, September 23-25, 2009
  • Statistical Analysis: Yer doin' it Wrong! - "The study on the determinants of college graduation rates is making a big splash. However, its analysis is, with all due respect, crap. Correlation is not causation, there are generally multiple explanations for a correlation and it is not correct to simply pick one and assert its truthfulness."
  • Swine Flu And Vaccines - "Per the Times, the swine flu is likely to peak this season in late October, before the vaccine has been made and distributed in vast quantities. Unless I utterly misapprehend the Congressional timeline, it follows that the non-timely government response will be in the midst of the debate over national health care reform."
  • As Predicted: A Psychic Failure - "the fact is that nobody, no professional nor amateur psychic gave any indication that there would be a major terrorist attack in New York City or Washington in September 2001."
  • Post Cash for Clunkers Sales Suck - "Any automotive analyst worth their salt could have told you--did tell you--that Uncle Sam’s $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program was going to suck the oxygen right out of the showroom. Really, this is one for Johnny Carson."
  • "Too big to take a pay cut" - "We should stop using political favors as a means of managing an economic sector. Unfortunately, though, recent experience with health care reform shows we are moving in the opposite direction and not heeding the basic lessons of the financial crisis. Finance and health care are two separate issues, of course, but in both cases we’re making the common mistake of digging in durable political protections for special interest groups.

    One disturbing portent came over the summer when it was reported that the Obama administration had promised deals to doctors and to pharmaceutical companies under the condition that they publicly support health care reform. That’s another example of creating favored beneficiaries through politics.
    . . .
    In short, we should return both the financial and medical sectors and, indeed, our entire economy to greater market discipline. We should move away from the general attitude of 'too big to take a pay cut,' especially when the taxpayer is on the hook for the bill. If such changes sound daunting, it is a sign of how deep we have dug ourselves in. We haven’t yet learned from the banking crisis, and we’re still moving in the wrong direction pretty much across the board."
  • No Bickering or Thinking: Just Do It: Understanding Obama's new health care agenda - "Those who claim that President Barack Obama's speech on health care this week wasn't a glorious success are fooling themselves. A Washington takeover of health care never sounded so enticing or fun.

    Just ignore the specifics, because when the president says he welcomes substantive new ideas, he means that if you have the nerve to offer any ideas--as Whole Foods' CEO, John Mackey, did in The Wall Street Journal last month--his allies will attempt to destroy your business and reputation."
  • Three Myths about the Crisis: Bonuses, Irrationality, and Capitalism - "With a year having passed since the start of the greatest economic crisis in our lifetimes, you’d think we would know a lot more now than we did then about what caused it. Yet by the spring of 2008, a three-part conventional wisdom about the crisis had taken hold that still governs mainstream thinking about what happened and why--even though there was never any evidence in favor of the conventional wisdom, and there is now much evidence against it.
    . . .
    Contrary to popular belief, then, the crisis of 2008 is best described as a crisis of regulation--not a crisis of capitalism."
  • Public Information and Public Choice - "If we’re going to be bound by the decisions made by regulatory agencies and courts, surely at a bare minimum we’re all entitled to know what those decisions are and how they were arrived at. But as many of the participants at the conference stressed, it’s not enough for the data to be available -- it’s important that it be free, and in a machine readable form."
  • American Masculinity Redeemed - "Well, apparently, just when I thought the entire country was going to slink off into the shadows and let the gang wearing the black hats rape the schoolmarm and plunder the Farmer's & Mechanic's Bank at will, a righteous badass has stepped forth. (Stark but stirring theme music plays in the background). Today I read of his manly exploits in the NY Times:"

One Senator's Thoughts on the CPSIA
"You elected me to lead, not to read."

  • Musical training may help the brainstem choose - "Those with musical training may be better at picking out an important or complicated sound in a room than those without."
  • The Digital Lawyer Crosses the Border - "Many, if not most, lawyers who carry laptops have some form of a 'paperless' law practice and carry many client files on their laptops, hopefully encrypted or, at least, password protected. One of the nice things about having a laptop is using it as a desktop replacement to carry everything with you.

    That laptop probably can no longer travel across the U.S.border with you. Whether top military grade encryption protects your information from the Department of Homeland security or just presents a professional challenge for them is for you to decide.

    But, if you just need access to a few files and know you will have Internet access at your destination, you can always just e-mail them to yourself and leave them in your inbox. You could also use an online document repository or VPN or one of several other secure solutions for remote access to files.

    Bottom line: These rules probably give every law firm a great justification to buy a Netbook or two for overseas travel. Cleaning up every confidential file from a laptop used as a primary workstation before traveling overseas would be too big a pain and cost more in lawyer time than a Netbook."
  • "Your Tweets They Are Belong To Us" - "I think all lawyers need to examine Twitter's NEW terms of service very carefully. As the author of this post points out, when Twitter can: "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)", I have to ask: "Are you kidding me?". I am an old dirt lawyer. In real property law, if you can enter on to the land, use it in any way you wish, stomp on it, dig out the minerals, and just generally fool around on it, You Own It."
  • CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) - "I’ve got an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal on CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) and Congress’s unwillingness to reform it despite its calamitous and unnecessary impacts on the children’s product business, especially its smaller participants. If you’re new to this site, here are some pointers for further reading about the issues raised in the piece:"
  • By me @ Wired: The Superconducting Super Collider - "Finally, my story about the Superconducting Super Collider, in Texas, makes it into the world. I first pitched this story to Wired in October, 2006, on the back of an interview I conducted with Johnnie Bryan Hunt.

    JB Hunt was a multimillionaire and former member of the Forbes 400, who I interviewed him for All The Money in the World, in 2005. If you live in America, I guarantee you have seen one of his white trucks, with a yellow-and-black 'JB Hunt' logo, on the road somewhere."

(see next link about parking on the wrong side of the street)

  • File this under: Property rights problem, things that sound like - "Upon climbing into my car this morning, I found the following note under my windshield wiper, verbatim:
      Please park on your side of the street. No one from this side (block) parks on your side! Seriously, this has become a problem, park on your own side and be courteous to us as we are to you.
    Since the Steelers game was last night, I needed a nice pick-me-up this morning, and this note did the trick nicely."
  • Gut Bucket Blues - "Johnny St. Cyr offered to start off with a banjo solo, an idea Armstrong liked. Then Armstrong, whose voice had been silenced on the hundreds of records he had made to this point, decided to make his personality immediately known by shouting encouragement to each member of the group during their solos. That's one of the reasons I've always loved this record; it's as if Armstrong could not possibly wait another session longer without letting his personality and natural ability as an entertainer shine though. 'Oh, play that thing, Mr. St. Cyr, lord. You know you can do it. Everybody from New Orleans could do it. Hey, hey!' It's a blast. No wonder it was chosen as the first Hot Five to be released...listen for yourself:"
  • Dressmaking 101 - "The one body area a woman is most worried about is her hips, thighs and butt. Right? So why would a designer ever make a dress that specifically brings more attention, weight, and bulk to that area?"
  • Top 10 Tactics for Protecting Your Stuff - "5. Erase your hard drives the permanent way. ... 4. Uglify gear you don't want grabbed. ... 2. Know where to hide your money"
  • Canon VB-C500VD Vandal Resistant Mini-Dome Camera - "The VB-C500VD will have an MSRP of $999 and will be available in mid-October, just in time to protect your home against toilet paper and smashed pumpkins."
  • PaperFix: Staple-free stapling - "The PaperFix that I've owned for all these years is silent in use, completely ecological, and the ongoing cost is zero. I reach for it at least a few times a day and with one firm press of the top can bind about 6 to 8 pages (depending on paper thickness) together."

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September 16, 2009 08:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. II. Section. 2.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. II.
Section. 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) chairs this 9-second session of the United States Senate on December 26, 2008, to prevent recess appointments by President Bush.


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

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September 15, 2009 06:27 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Media Tip 73

Media Tip 73: If a principal is going to explode at negative media coverage, defuse them by letting them vent to you instead of a reporter.

Congressional Deskbook

This tip is from our booklet, Media Relations Tips: 102 Secrets for Finding Success in Public Relations.

Practical tips for anyone who works with the media, works with someone who works with the media, or who works at an organization that is covered in the media.  An easy handout for everyone in your group to make sure that they are prepared and confident if they ever have to deal with the media.
4 x 9 inches, 15 pages

Based on the Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch.

The cover and inside pages of this booklet can be customized with your logo and information. For more information, see our Booklets page.

TheCapitol.Net offers Media Training and Communication and Advocacy Training. We help you understand Washington and Congress. TM

September 14, 2009 07:57 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/13/09

Seven Ridiculous Ticket Camera Blunders

  • 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 comment on the Deficit and National Debt - "The time to concerned about the structural deficit was in 2001 through 2006, and hopefully again starting in 2011 or 2012."
  • Life In (and After) Our Great Recession - "The defining characteristic of the middle classes has always been their orientation toward the future. The Depression ruined schemes for such baubles and pleasures as the new car and the winter vacation. But it also at best disrupted and at worst (and often) destroyed carefully wrought plans for so-called investments in the future: the substantial house in the stable neighborhood, the savings account, and, most important, what was then and remains the cynosure of American middle- and professional-class family life--a college education, or a certain kind of college education, for the children. Even today, that investment largely determines the opportunities parents seize or forgo, the towns they move to, the rhythm of a family’s daily life. The Depression rendered any careful planning for the future, an activity that depends on predictable conditions, all but impossible, or at least crazy-making."
  • Junk Bond Defaults Worst Since Great Depression. So Why Is The Market Rallying? - "The corporate debt market is still in control, but we now have a warning sign from treasuries yields about the strength of the so-called recovery. This rally is extremely long in the tooth, but the fact still remains: as long as corporate bonds hold up, huge equity selloffs are unlikely."
  • Anatomy of an Economic Ignoramus - "You could spend the rest of your life correcting drones and automatons who will never have an original or unconventional thought no matter how much you prod them. Their seventh-grade teacher, who was also the track coach, taught them what they know, and they're sticking to it."
  • Is It Identity Theft Or A Bank Robbery, Part II: Couple Sues Bank Over Money Taken - "Last month, we posted an amusing discussion (and comedy act) concerning whether or not 'identify theft' was really a crime, or if it was really a bank robbery where the bank was passing off the liability for its poor authentication system onto the bank customer. Apparently, just such an argument is already playing out in the courts."
  • General Motors Zombie Watch 17: May the Best Automaker Win - "General Motors is a nationalized automaker. But it can’t stay that way forever. Its federal taskmasters have decreed that GM must return to public ownership before the Congressional mid-term elections in 2010. Makes sense. If GM is still on welfare at election time, GM will be an enormous political liability. A symbol of Big Government gone bad. But GM can’t possibly achieve profitability within that time frame. Even if it had the brains, it doesn’t have the time or money to build what needs building, to fix what needs fixing. The new car market sucks and GM’s product planning, reputation and branding are in tatters. So New GM’s doing the only thing they can do: putting lipstick on the product pig and sending it off to market. This 'May The Best Car Win' advertising strategy will backfire. Badly."
  • Luigi Zingales on threats to the Future of American Capitalism - "The distinction between a 'pro-business' agenda and a pro-market one is a crucial point that I have often emphasized myself (see here and here). Unfortunately, it is routinely ignored or misunderstood. For the reasons Zingales points out, business interests regularly lobby in favor of government intervention whenever they think it might protect them from competition or secure government-provided privileges."
  • Where college dreams go to die - "Between the overmatched and the undermatched, it’s a miracle anyone earns a degree."
  • Cheaper Health Care - "Here’s how the federal government can realize those savings:
    • Stop telling us what to eat, and admit that the earlier attempts to tell us what to eat were a mistake.
    • Stop subsidizing corn and other grains.
    These proposals would produce both short-term and, more importantly, long-term savings. The short-term savings are based on a principle of economics that’s so stupidly simple, even the average congressman can grasp it: if you stop spending money, you end up spending less."
  • Europe’s First Farmers Came from Afar: New Clues Shed Light on Genetic Ancestry of Modern Europeans - "The research team, led by Barbara Bramanti of Mainz University, sequenced the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of just under 50 individuals unearthed from various prehistoric burial sites across central and eastern Europe. Half the individuals came from hunter-gatherer societies, and the other half from communities based around farming. As a comparison, they also sequenced the mtDNA of nearly 500 modern Europeans from the same parts of Europe."
  • The Student Loan Market - "The furor over President Obama's trillion-dollar restructuring of American health care has left his other trillion-dollar plan starved for attention. That's how much the federal balance sheet will expand over the next decade if Mr. Obama can convince Congress to approve his pending takeover of the student-loan market."
  • Quick Impressions of the D.C. 9/12 Protest - "I just came back from spending four-plus hours with the Don't-Tread-On-Me crowd at our nation's capitol. Expect a full report later, but my snap impressions: * Big crowd. * Nineteen out of 20 signs were hand-made. * Chants on the march included 'Shut down ACORN!' and 'Boot Charlie Rangel!' and 'Don't tread on me.' * The view on Obama and his administration ranged from a 'heading in the wrong direction' vibe to a 'we're not gonna take it much longer' edge."

Free Panfilo!

  • Investor Beware - "Lately, there have been a number of inquiries about investing in real estate. Even though there is some frothy-ness going around, be careful! ... If you are thinking of buying at a trustee sale, buying a fixer, or 'stealing one from the bank', watch yourself - things can go wrong, very wrong. Assume that there is no 'built-in equity' and what seems like a simple repair job usually costs double."
  • Google Working On Micropayment Scheme To Help Newspapers Commit Suicide Faster - "The problem with a paywall isn't that the technology doesn't exist to make it work -- it's that consumers won't buy into it. But, if the newspapers want to try -- and Google wants to provide the rope -- good for them. Update Seems like a bad time to point out that retailers are having serious problems with Google Checkout, huh?"
  • Interview with Richard "Buz" Cooper, MD, Prophet of Physician Shortage and Challenger of Policymaker Assumptions - "Wealth is a source of health care creation; poverty is a source of health care consumption.
    . . .
    Regional variation is a product of regional differences in wealth, overlaid with differences in poverty. It’s not generally appreciated that health care expenditures for people in the lowest 15% of income are 50% to 100% greater than for people of average income. There’s also a difference at the high end. The wealthiest 15% also consume more, but only about 20% more. So there’s greater utilization at both ends of the income spectrum, but for different reasons and with different outcomes.

    More spending at the high end improves outcomes, not simply for a specific condition but across the board, because the care consists of a broader spectrum of beneficial services. More yields more. But among the low-income patients, outcomes are poor despite the added spending. In fact, the added spending is because of poor outcomes -- more readmissions, more care for disease that’s out of control.

    And these differences are exaggerated in dense urban environments, like Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. Now, when you blend all of this into 'regional' studies, which average rich and poor, urban density and ex-urban comfort, racial and ethnic groups, you get just what you’d expect. High costs with average outcomes in urban areas (the average of excellent and poor outcomes at different ends of the income spectrum).

    A good example is the Dartmouth study of academic medical centers. You find that one group of academic hospitals provide more care than another group. The Dartmouth folks say that Mayo is more 'efficient' in resources used per patient or in number of doctors devoted per unit of patient care than in LA, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, and New York City.

    But the so-called 'inefficient' hospitals are all in dense urban centers, while 'efficient' hospitals are all in smaller cities, often college towns liked Madison, Wisconsin or Columbia, Missouri, or in places like Rochester, Minnesota, where Mayo is located. Rochester is 90% Caucasian with low poverty. But in fact, Mayo is the most resource intensive center in the upper Midwest. Among peer institutions in similar socio-demographic environments, Mayo actually uses more resources. But you can’t compare Mayo to Los Angeles, where only 30% of the population is non-Hispanic white and where you have tremendous pockets of poverty.
    . . .
    But it all made sense when I learned that the new editor of Health Affairs, Susan Dentzer, is a Member of the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth Medical School, the former Chair of the Board of Dartmouth College, a former Trustee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and winner of the alumnus of the year award from Dartmouth. She has a profound conflict of interest which she failed to reveal in her editorial -- an egregious ethical breach. So, it all made sense. And it all is rather remarkable. Fortunately, truth has a way of surviving, and the truth is that states with more health care spending and more specialists have better quality health care." ht Marginal Revolution
  • State of Texas Forces Couple Into Nursing Home, Takes Over Their Finances - "Awful story from Texas, where elderly couple Michael and Jean Kidd were made wards of the state of Texas, then held against their will while the state took over their finances."
  • "The Crisis No. I," by Thomas Paine - "THESE are the times that try men's souls.

    The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

    Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

    What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

    Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

    Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but 'to bind us in all cases whatsoever,' and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God."
  • Obama to Impose Tariff on Chinese Tires - "From the quiet shadows of the White House, at around 10 pm on Friday night, came word that President Obama will impose prohibitive duties of 35% on imports of Chinese tires.

    Well, we at Cato and elsewhere have warned repeatedly of the dangerous consequences of this outcome (June 18, July 24, August 13, September 9, September 11). Former Cato colleague and coauthor Scott Lincicome has an excellent analysis on the ramifications right here.

    The good news is that we now have clarity about where the president stands on trade. The bad news is that his stance reflects his isolationist primary election campaign rhetoric and not the post-election messages of avoiding protectionism and repairing the damage done to America’s international credibility by unilateralist Bush administration policies. Short of armed hostilities or political subversion, no state action is more provocative than banning another’s products from entering your market."
  • If Free Trade Is Good, Why Are We Putting a 35 Percent Tariff on Chinese Tire Imports? - "for example, a nation like Canada can grow a lot of wheat, and then use their silos full of it in trade to buy the computers it needs from nations like Japan. That way both nations have computers, they are fed, and--and this is where it gets really exciting--it's possible for both nations to consume more of both goods than would be possible if they were living in isolation with no trade whatsoever, relying only upon their own workers to make all the goods they need."
  • Parking lot striping business - "Parking Lot line stripping is a business that you can get started in almost immediately. It’s easy to do and has a low start-up cost."
  • China alarmed by US money printing - "The good news is that someone is alarmed by U.S. monetary policy. The bad news is that it's a top member of the Chinese Communist hierarchy."
  • Cornell Student Dies of Swine Flu - "A student from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has died of complications from the H1N1 virus, according to a statement on its Web site. Warren J. Schor, 20, died Friday at Cayuga Medical Center."

Inflation, explained by Pete Smith - Vintage pro-inflation propaganda

  • Is the Stone Beginning to Crack? - "We’re all working from different vantage points -- some closer than others -- but the ultimate goal is similar, if not identical: to show that the Conventional Dietary Wisdom of the last hundred years has done far more harm than good."
  • Woodstock Farm Festival - "Woodstockers can now buy incredibly overpriced produce, bread and free range meat, at least during the warm weather months, at our once weekly market. 'Homegrown Blueberries - $4.00' a pint! The Karaoke Queen would bust a gut over that. Good thing she’s over in the Philippines for a couple of weeks. So, I guess that the surplus carbon produced by all those cars driving into town for the market is offset by all that carbon that is not created by folks taking a trip to Kingston to buy their groceries at Shop-Rite. It’s a wash."
  • Department of Duh - "I liked the opening paragraph of the piece:

    'A driver has racked up dozens of speeding tickets in photo-radar zones on Phoenix-area freeways while sporting monkey and giraffe masks, and is fighting every one by claiming the costumes make it impossible for authorities to prove he was behind the wheel.'

    Monkey masks I can see. But giraffe masks? That's good enough for a markets in everything. Who, other than this guy, buys a giraffe mask? And how is this for governmental wisdom?"

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September 13, 2009 09:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Closed Rule"

Closed Rule: Permits general debate for a specified period of time but generally permits no amendments.

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

September 12, 2009 12:07 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. II. Section. 1.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. II.
Section. 1.

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."


Electing a US President in plain English-an explanation of the Electoral College.

Barack Obama takes oath of office as written in the end of Article Two, Section One.

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

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September 11, 2009 09:07 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Business Etiquette, Dining Etiquette

What's wrong with this picture?

Caution: this is a professional actor. Do NOT attempt this at a business meal!

There are at least eight things in this picture that demonstrate bad business etiquette. The answers are below the fold.

Dining Etiquette - European vs. American Dining Style, with Kimberly Law

More Tips

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Continue reading "Business Etiquette, Dining Etiquette"

September 10, 2009 04:27 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/8/09

Richard Feynman - Ode on a Flower

  • 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
  • DC: Camera Ticket Overturned Over Accuracy Doubts - "Doubts over the accuracy of the speed camera equipment led to the dismissal of a Washington, DC photo radar ticket last month. The motorist, who requested anonymity, decided to fight the citation out of 'spite.' He arrived at the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles on August 17 unprepared with an argument that would beat the ticket. He fully expected to lose, but thought it was right to “cost the city more money” because he saw the photo radar program as little more than an illegitimate money grab. The motorist was surprised, however, when Adjudicator Stephen Reichert took one look at the ticket photo and noted that a second vehicle had been within the radar’s field of view. "
  • Czars - "Others have pointed out that having offices called 'czars' is an odd naming choice for a democracy. But czars weren't just authoritarians. They were ultimately authoritarians who left their country far poorer than their more democratic counterparts, lost a world war, and of course paved the way for an even worse system of government. The label 'czar' thus doesn't historically connect to a model of strongman effectiveness -- it connects to a model of strongman failure."
  • Conflicts - "And in Wisconsin, a current legislator (one account says his license was once suspended) blows a red light, striking a cyclist."
  • An Ill Wind is Breaking For Our President - "If I gather correctly from my correspondence secretary, a few Topsider subscribers have taken umbrage to my previous encomiums to Mr. Obama as the nation's foremost voice of conservatism. Invariably, these missives will emphasize at great length the President's trillion dollar shopping sprees, diplomatic apologies and bank nationalization schemes, between explicit invitations to fornicate myself. It is apparent these slow-witted correspondents are incapable of seeing the plain truth: that these are merely brilliant tactical policy feints designed by Mr. Obama to appeal to the wide swath of sensible American moderates who, I am assured, are quite keen on unlimited credit and state ownership of the means of production. Once the proletariat is on board, I have every confidence that our intrepid young captain will deftly steer conservatism back to safe harbor. In saner times it would have been a quick fortnight's journey; instead he has been buffeted by the endless gales and squalls of self-styled 'conservatives' who have opposed him at every turn."
  • Solution or Problem? - "What I'm getting at is structural: what does it mean that the supposedly left-of-center Democratic Party would be covertly working on behalf on entrenched business interests at what would appear to be the expense of the members of their own party? If you want an example from across the aisle, why would the Republicans be so eager to violate their oft-professed devotion to free markets in order to rescue the nation's largest banks, already the recipients of so many decades of corporatist non-level-playing-field government support?"
  • Reclaiming The Power in the People - "Morley based his distinction between Society and State on the origins of the words. Society is derived from the Latin socius, a companion. Society and association are rooted in the voluntarism of companionship…Morley continues on to the word State, which is rooted in involuntary or forced association. He sees the absence of free choice and free contract as the basis of the word status, from which state is derived."
  • Politicians Unclear on the Concept - "For anyone my age or older, with clear memories of the Soviet Union and 'Communist' China, did you ever imagine a day would come when the 'Commies' would (correctly) lecture us on the benefits of free trade and free capital flows?"
  • Fat reprograms genes linked to diabetes - "A gene that helps muscle cells burn fat can be radically altered and switched off if the cells carrying it are exposed to fat. The finding suggests that the same process may occur when people eat too much fat-rich junk food, resulting in drastic changes to this 'fat burning' gene."
  • Fruit and Nut: 1920 - "'Allen car, 1920.' And your little dog, too, on G Street Northwest in Washington, D.C. National Photo Company Collection glass negative." 1235 G Street NW, WDC
  • Lobster Shoot Out in Maine - "This year, the lobstermen are having a very bad year (I can’t recall prices being this low, inflation adjusted, ever) which will make any bad situation worse."

Scan to Evernote: Fujitsu ScanSnap

  • Obama to kids: Go to private school - "President Barack Obama will use his Sept. 8 speech to urge kids to go to private school so they can 'grow up to be like me,' writes Scott Ott (aka Scrappleface) in an Examiner column."
  • 5 Things We Learned From the Gmail Outage - "1. Get used to outages. ... 4. Email is finally a utility."
  • It's Official: Chinese Farmers Can Build Anything, Rarely Farm - "The rig cost Tao 30,000 yuan ($4,385) and two years to build, and includes a periscope and depth control tank. No mention of a sonar system, but knowing the Chinese farmers these days that DIY achievement has to be just a matter of time." From the comments: "Everyone knows that pot doesn't lead to other drugs, it leads to carpentry."
  • About Teddy's letter to the pope - "Whether Teddy in fact repented is known to him and God alone (and, I repeat, the fact of repentance is not an issue in the decision to grant a manifest sinner an ecclesiastical funeral), but I wonder whether his letter might not, at the end of time, be seen rather like the arrogant but utterly lost driver who, after so many hours of driving the wrong way, finally pulls over and considers asking for directions."
  • Massachusetts: Workers Exhausting Unemployment Benefits - "This is a story that will keep building as workers exhaust their extended unemployment benefits ..."
  • The Flying Bug -- Army Style - "Here's another one for you, this time an exclusive video of the T-Hawk Class 1 UAV in flight and an interview with an Army UAV operator flying it."
  • Unions in trouble on Labor Day - "The Gallup organization has been asking questions about unions since 1936, the year after the first Gallup poll was conducted. Over those 73 years the public’s response has been mostly positive. Now, with astonishing suddenness, it has turned mostly negative--in just eight months!
    . . .
    But it’s one thing to pass or support a bill when everyone knows it won’t become law and public opinion hasn’t given it a thought, and another thing when it’s entirely possible it will become law and people will have to live with it.
    . . .
    The lesson is that if you want to change the world in some major way, you need to muster support for that change from the general public. Just lining up a bunch of politicians’ endorsements may not be enough; politicians don’t always stay bought. They are entirely willing to welsh on their commitments if they think that’s necessary to save their political careers."
  • Van Gone - "All of this reflects what Daniel Pipes calls the 'paranoid style' in American politics, and it is by no means limited to the black community. It can occur, in Pipes’ words, wherever one finds the 'politically disaffected and the culturally suspicious'. The hard right has its black helicopters and Oklahoma office buildings. The left has their grassy knoll in Dallas, TWA Flight 800 and just about everything ever written by Noam Chomsky. In many African American communities there are pernicious conspiracy theories about the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to go along with AIDS genocides and CIA sponsored cocaine habits. When it comes to the paranoid style, just about everyone has the Jews."

People Lie About Alpha

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September 8, 2009 10:57 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Wash Your Hands!

Wash Your Hands!

Staying Healthy:

From the William & Mary Flu page


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September 7, 2009 10:57 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/6/09

Rapping Through The H1N1

  • 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, the Mortal - "But forget the character witnesses. Just look at Obama's behavior as president, beginning with his first address to Congress. Unbidden, unforced and unpushed by the congressional leadership, Obama gave his most deeply felt vision of America, delivering the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president. In American politics, you can't get more left than that speech and still be on the playing field.

    In a center-right country, that was problem enough. Obama then compounded it by vastly misreading his mandate. He assumed it was personal. This, after winning by a mere seven points in a year of true economic catastrophe, of an extraordinarily unpopular Republican incumbent, and of a politically weak and unsteady opponent. Nonetheless, Obama imagined that, as Fouad Ajami so brilliantly observed, he had won the kind of banana-republic plebiscite that grants caudillo-like authority to remake everything in one's own image.
    . . .
    Obama fancies himself tribune of the people, spokesman for the grass roots, harbinger of a new kind of politics from below that would upset the established lobbyist special-interest order of Washington. Yet faced with protests from a real grass-roots movement, his party and his supporters called it a mob -- misinformed, misled, irrational, angry, unhinged, bordering on racist. All this while the administration was cutting backroom deals with every manner of special interest -- from drug companies to auto unions to doctors -- in which favors worth billions were quietly and opaquely exchanged."
  • Labor's missing issue: right to work - "[O]rganized labor, despite having spent something like $400 million to elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, is not seeking what was once its number one goal, repeal of Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act which allows states to pass right-to-work laws. Those laws bar unions and businesses from requiring that employees join a union.
    . . .
    Currently 22 states have right to work laws, including every Southern state except West Virginia, plus several states in the Great Plains and Mountain West. Twelve of these states passed such laws in the 1940s, six more followed in the 1950s, one in the 1960s, one in the 1970s and one in the 1980s, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (though it references Texas’s 1993 update of its right to work law rather than the original 1947 law). The most recent such law was passed in Oklahoma by a 54%-46% margin in a referendum in September 2001.
    . . .
    Since the 1960s right to work states have had greater economic growth and greater economic growth than non-right to work states. A convenient metric is the number of electoral votes of the right to work states in each presidential election starting in 1948, which shows that in the six decades since the proportion of electoral votes and population in right to work states has almost doubled. "
  • Critically Underfunded Unemployment Insurance Plans - "Eighteen states have critically underfunded unemployment insurance plans. This issue has yet to come to a head, but it soon will."
  • How Not To Do Things: Redskins Suing Over 100 Fans - "If you want a lesson in how not to treat fans, check out the Redskins."
  • Not This Pig - "Our environmentally-correct czar believes that we were behind 9/11, that whites pollute poor neighborhoods on purpose, that American agriculture is pathological, that Republicans are 'assholes' and so on. He is the ideological version of the buffoonish Robert Gibbs. What do they teach at Yale (and Harvard) law school? Is admission there synonymous with graduation?

    The new Supreme Court Justice thinks that some judges are better than others based on their gender and race. The Attorney General (we are 'cowards' afraid to talk about race) wants to try agents of the CIA, not hunt down terrorists that plotted to destroy America. No wonder, in a past incarnation he helped to pardon terrorists from Puerto Rico for similarly careerist purposes."
  • Is College a Scam? - "Career counselor Marty Nemko calls the bachelor’s degree 'America’s most over-rated product.'"
  • The Tragic Flute - "Is the flute yours because you provided the materials (which were yours) and paid the kid who made it? If so, you can give it to anyone you want, or you can keep it. It’s yours! Did you steal it from the kid who made it? Then you should give it to the kid who made it. It’s hers! You’ve got no right to redistribute her flute.

    Anyway, I find this thought experiment, and the not uncommon practice of assuming away the relevance of property rights when considering questions of distributive justice, confusing. A settled scheme of property rights is the main solution to the problem of distributive justice."
  • A Different Sort of Health Care System - "At any rate, learning from a country doesn't mean copying it wholesale. It means adapting the things it's doing right to a different social context -- by, say, reducing our reliance on insurance and eliminating our artificial restrictions on the supply of medical providers. There's an unstated assumption that the institutions that have grown up around the American and European medical systems are a cause of our higher standard of living. But what if they're a product of that wealth: vast bureaucracies that no nation needs but only the richest can afford? India is already a destination for medical tourists seeking more affordable care. If we could combine our wealth with Bangalore-style competition, they wouldn't need to travel: Prices would come down and doctors would be much more responsive to consumer demand, this time in a country where far more people can afford to participate in the medical marketplace."
  • Swine flu goes to college: Here's what you need to know - "Influenza viruses are spread primarily through tiny respiratory droplets produced by coughing and sneezing. The best way to prevent the flu’s spread is to stay home when sick, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue--or a sleeve or elbow if necessary--and washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, though hand sanitizer sanitizers such as Germ-X, Purell, or a generic store brand product with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent will do in a pinch.

    Once those respiratory droplets land on a surface, the flu virus can stay alive for hours. So frequently touched surfaces in common areas, including doorknobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls, keyboards, faucet handles, countertops, and bathroom areas, can also be a means of infection. Clean them often, especially if someone in your household is sick. Likewise, heavily trafficked areas, such as computer labs or classrooms, keyboards, desks, tables, and chairs may become infected."
  • Simon Newcomb - "There is at the present day too great a disposition to regard the will of the majority as that of each individual of the community." ht MarginalRevolution


  • Smule + T-Pain + Antares + iPhone = madness - "If you haven’t heard about it when it was in the making, it’s basically a brilliant concept--transform the iPhone’s microphone into a mobile recording studio and get Antares’ Auto-Tune technology infused on top."
  • America's Power System Is Powerless - "Why 'smart grid' technology is still dumb."
  • Housing Bailouts: Lessons Not Learned - "The housing boom and bust that occurred earlier in this decade resulted from efforts by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- the government sponsored enterprises with implicit backing from taxpayers -- to extend mortgage credit to high-risk borrowers. This lending did not impose appropriate conditions on borrower income and assets, and it included loans with minimal down payments. We know how that turned out. Did U.S. policymakers learn their lessons from this debacle and stop subsidizing mortgage lending to risky borrowers? NO. Instead, the Federal Housing Authority lept into the breach."
  • Tax Credit: Mercury News Advocates Taxpayers pay $60 Thousand per Additional Home Sold - "Do the math. $30 billion for an additional 500,000 sales equals $60,000 per house. Ouch. And forget the 500 thousand additional sales. The evidence suggests that interest is already waning (although there will be a flurry of activity at the end just like Cash-for-clunkers). My estimate is the program will cost taxpayers $100,000 per additional home sold."
  • Lowest Cost Solar Power At Coal Plants - "Effectively this avoids lots of idle electric generator capital equipment at night."
  • Books Are A Load of Crap - "Far be it from me to say no to a little Google Hate. But my initial experiences with Google Books have led me to say nothing but 'Thanks for this good if imperfect thing that never existed before in human history.' I mean, really, of all the things to worry about going into commie Labor Day Weekend. And yet, I just know I will be worrying about bad metadata all weekend..."
  • College for $99 a Month - "The next generation of online education could be great for students--and catastrophic for universities.
    . . .
    Colleges are caught in the same kind of debt-fueled price spiral that just blew up the real estate market. They’re also in the information business in a time when technology is driving down the cost of selling information to record, destabilizing lows.
    . . .
    Colleges charge students exorbitant sums partly because they can, but partly because they have to. Traditional universities are complex and expensive, providing a range of services from scientific research and graduate training to mass entertainment via loosely affiliated professional sports franchises. To fund these things, universities tap numerous streams of revenue: tuition, government funding, research grants, alumni and charitable donations. But the biggest cash cow is lower-division undergraduate education. Because introductory courses are cheap to offer, they’re enormously profitable. The math is simple: Add standard tuition rates and any government subsidies, and multiply that by several hundred freshmen in a big lecture hall. Subtract the cost of paying a beleaguered adjunct lecturer or graduate student to teach the course. There’s a lot left over. That money is used to subsidize everything else.

    But this arrangement, however beneficial to society as a whole, is not a particularly good deal for the freshman gutting through an excruciating fifty minutes in the back of a lecture hall. Given the choice between paying many thousands of dollars to a traditional university for the lecture and paying a few hundred to a company like StraighterLine for a service that is more convenient and responsive to their needs, a lot of students are likely to opt for the latter--and the university will have thousands of dollars less to pay for libraries, basketball teams, classical Chinese poetry experts, and everything else.
    . . .
    Which means the day is coming--sooner than many people think--when a great deal of money is going to abruptly melt out of the higher education system, just as it has in scores of other industries that traffic in information that is now far cheaper and more easily accessible than it has ever been before. Much of that money will end up in the pockets of students in the form of lower prices, a boon and a necessity in a time when higher education is the key to prosperity. Colleges will specialize where they have comparative advantage, rather than trying to be all things to all people. A lot of silly, too-expensive things--vainglorious building projects, money-sucking sports programs, tenured professors who contribute little in the way of teaching or research--will fade from memory, and won’t be missed."

Sold Right Away: Zoomdoggle’s Buckyballs

  • Design a Fiat, Even if Your Name Isn’t Bertone - "Fiat Brazil’s Style Center is crowdsourcing the design of the FCC III concept, the third concept from the company’s designers in that country. Far from a run-of-the-mill design contest, Fiat says that Mio is the first car designed under a Creative Commons license."
  • “Resetting” State Governments - "How will state governments recover from the catastrophic collapse in revenues?"
  • Extreme steel 'Velcro' takes a 35-tonne load - "A square metre of the new fastener, called Metaklett, is capable of supporting 35 tonnes at temperatures up to 800 ºC, claim Josef Mair and colleagues at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. And just like everyday Velcro it can be opened up without specialised tools and used again."
  • Uninterrupted Power Supplies: Boring, but necessary - "Ever since I put any of my external drives and USB hubs on a UPS, I have not received a single delayed write error!"
  • University of Oregon Football - "LeGarrette Blount, a running back at the University of Oregon, punched a player of the opposing team last night after Oregon’s loss on national television. Afterward, he pushed around teammates and tried to fight Boise State fans before being forced off the field by police. Upon hearing about this chain of events we went to Youtube to see what actually happened."
  • Personal Media Players: The 5 Best Alternatives to the Apple iPod - "There are many reasons to look beyond Apple--perhaps you want features iPods don’t have, play files iTunes doesn’t support, or perhaps you just hate Apple--in any case, below is a list of alternatives that are actually pretty good."

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September 6, 2009 10:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 10.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Article. I.
Section. 10.

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.


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

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September 5, 2009 12:17 PM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/4/09

Richard Feynman on the "Inconceivable nature of nature"

  • 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
  • Houses and Autos: The Cost of a Tax Credit per Additional Units Sold - "If is correct, and total sales were 1.17 million (NSA) in August, then the tax credit only generated about 320 thousand extra sales. Of course some regular car buyers might have put off a purchase to avoid the rush in August, so this isn't perfect, but instead of costing taxpayers $4,170 per car (as announced by DOT), the cost to taxpayers per additional car sold was close to $7,200.
    . . .
    With 1.9 million first-time buyers, the total cost of the tax credit will be $15.2 billion. Divide $15.2 billion by 350 thousand, and the program cost $43.4 thousand per additional buyer. The actual number could be much higher if there were fewer additional first-time buyers than the NAR's estimate - or if the overall cost is higher (more buyers claiming tax credit).

    This is the actual cost per additional home sold. And since buyer interest will fade (like with the Clunkers program), the cost per additional house will increase sharply if the program is extended. "
  • Michelle Goldberg argues against heated rhetoric while mentioning that she "hated Bush so much" and talks of the "blessed day" when Dick Cheney dies - "Goldberg is attacking what she sees as right-wing rhetoric that 'contribute[s] to a climate of incitement.' What struck me was how, in the course of the debate, Goldberg casually expresses her deep hatred for Bush and Cheney. At 64:20, she mentions in passing, 'God, I hated Bush so much.' And at 39:10 Goldberg refers to the 'blessed day' when Dick Cheney dies and says, 'I certainly wouldn't be shedding many tears if Dick Cheney dropped dead.'"
  • The Real Reason the Government Wants To Tax Soda - "Vigna's amazement that the trillions of 'dollars' worth of stimulant hasn't been enough to stave off deflation is quaint, as is his assumption that we would now be experiencing horrendous deflation if not for the burial of all that Monopoly money. It's true that there's an apparent disconnect between the weakness of the dollar in international currency markets and its strength at your local Safeway. That's because the international markets are geared to respond to the sudden appearance of vast oceans of U.S. government debt. But since, among other things, this debt immediately gets bought by the Federal Reserve, no new money is actually printed.

    If, on the other hand, you are participating in the dollar-denominated economy -- if you are spending actual dollars and nickels and quarters and all those other trinkets that supposedly don't matter in this post-scarcity, long-now age of abundance -- you are not willing to pay more than a dollar and a half for a gallon of milk just because Ben Bernanke's friends are getting a lot of free virtual money. Even Americans aren't that stupid. "
  • Budget cuts test state personnel policies - "Forced to dramatically cut payrolls, some states are finding low-cost ways to boost employee morale, even as they struggle to maintain basic human resource functions such as training, recruiting, hiring and regular performance reviews."
  • Cut My Pay, But Please Give Me A Job - "If you think this is inflationary, you are not thinking clearly."
  • New Study on Genetics of Ethnic Groups Reveals We May Not Be So Different After All - "Often two groups’ differences -- along with circumstantial factors -- lead to tension between them and sometimes violence. The Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda, the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq, and the Croats and Serbs of former Yugoslavia all illustrate how cultural distinctions -- like language and religion -- can contribute to tensions and conflict around the globe.

    But do these cultural and ethnic distinctions translate to biological distinctions as well? Exactly how biologically distinct are two ethnic groups living side by side? Anthropologist Evelyn Heyer and an international team of researchers set out to answer these and many other questions by studying the adjacent -- and culturally very different -- Tajik and Turkic speakers along the Silk Road of Central Asia. Their results are published in this week’s BMC Genetics."
  • The Fatal Conceit - "Uh oh, the philosopher-kings have already made a mistake. Bertram confuses two notions of insurance."

Guiness World Record for most T-Shirts worn at one time

  • Win, Hold and Lose - "Since the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001, hordes of Western military and civilian personnel have been involved in everything from setting up schools to drilling wells to building roads. Although they avoid using the term nation-building, that is clearly what is taking place. Not only is Afghanistan an extremely unpromising candidate for such a mission, given its pervasive poverty, its fractured clan-based and tribal-based social structure, and its weak national identity, U.S. and NATO officials should also be sobered by the disappointing outcomes of other nation-building ventures over the past two decades. An audit of the two most prominent missions, Bosnia and Iraq, ought to inoculate Americans against pursuing the same fool’s errand in Afghanistan."
  • The Gender Politics of Mad Men - "I like to watch Mad Men for the menswear and a sense of the superiority of my postmodern egalitarian consumption partnership. But that’s not inconsistent with the idea that lots of guys who like the show don’t get the point of it and like to imagine how sweet it would be to have women take care of all the annoying details of life and smoke at work."
  • AMC Renews Mad Men for 4th Season - "AMC executives announced today that they have greenlit a fourth season of the cable network's hit series Mad Men."
  • Brill Gets More Delusional: Now Thinks 10 to 15% Of Online Newspaper Readers Will Pay - "Earlier this summer, we noted that it was something of a pipedream by Stephen Brill to believe that 5 to 10% of online newspaper readers would pony up for a subscription to the online site. Having spent time looking at plenty of 'free' websites that have tried to charge, the numbers are significantly lower in almost all cases. We're talking 1% tops -- unless there's a really really good reason to pay, and then you're talking 2 to 3%. In many cases, the number is even lower than 1%. At the same time, I pointed out that Brill was making the classic mistake that makes any venture capitalist laugh you out of the room: 'if we just get x% of this market, we'll be huge!' But that's top-down thinking, and markets don't work that way. You need to be bottom up and explain not why x% will buy, but why the first person will buy, and the second person will buy and so on. "
  • Human-Powered Helicopters Get a Bigger Carrot - "One exception to this rule is human-powered helicopters. It’s a small field to be sure, but one the American Helicopter Society wants to see thrive. Nearly 30 years ago it offered $20,000 to the first person to successfully fly a human-powered aircraft capable of vertical take off and landing. No one’s claimed it, so the Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition is offering a bigger carrot. A $250,000 carrot, to be exact."
  • SNPwatch: Researchers Find Link Between Red Hair and Avoiding The Dentist - "Redheads might have a better excuse than the rest of us for avoiding the dentist.

    For several years now scientists have known that the same genetic variations that give redheads their fiery manes can increase the amount of general or local anesthetic a person needs in order to be properly put out or numbed up.

    New research suggests that the effect of these variations is strong enough, and hasn’t been addressed by dentists well enough, that the people who carry them are more than twice as likely as those who don’t to avoid going to the dentist altogether."
  • What happens when there are no more world records left? - "In short, I expect entrepreneurs will always find ways around this problem. In chess the gaps between the top fifteen players have narrowed considerably, yet the public doesn't seem to have lost interest in the game."
  • In a recession, is college worth it? Fear of debt changes plans - "For years, an article of faith in this country has been that college is the gateway to a better life. So deeply held is this belief that many students, such as Horn, borrow tens of thousands of dollars to attend prestigious public or private universities. But as the worst recession since World War II trudges into its 21st month, many graduates are discovering that the college payoff could be a long time coming -- if it comes at all."

721 claps per minute

  • Sample Paint -- Who Needs That? - "I’ll freely admit I laughed at this recently when I saw the ad for sample 8 oz. cans of paint for just under $3 at the Depot. I should have known better; every time I scoff at something like that it winds up biting me in the rear."
  • Arizona: Peoria Cameras Increased Accidents - "According to data released last week at a Peoria (Arizona) council study session, the number of traffic accidents doubled at locations where red light cameras were installed. City data also indicate that more recent changes in intersection yellow timing have reduced the number of red light violations. So far, the financial impact of the program has been substantial."
  • Is AT&T losing its grip on the iPhone? - "If, as rumored, Apple is in discussions with Verizon Wireless about a CDMA iPhone next year, the Futurelawyer may find himself in a quandary. I love using the Palm Centro for phone calls and quick and dirty email, because it is narrow and fits easily in one hand. It also has a hard keyboard that I can manipulate with the thumb of the hand I am carrying the Centro in. However, I love the big screen and apps of the iPod Touch, and use it for many things."
  • AT&T Windows Mobile phones to get free Wi-Fi starting September 14th - "AT&T has jumped in to reveal plans to add Windows Mobile-powered handsets to its free Wi-Fi pool. That’s right folks, starting Friday September 14th, AT&T’s WinMo smartphones will gain free access to each and every AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot."

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September 4, 2009 10:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    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

September 1, 2009 09:57 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 9/1/09

Richard Feynman on "Social Sciences"

  • 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
  • The Inheritance of Education - "The effect for father's years of education is even larger; about a ten times larger effect on biological children than on adoptees. Similarly, parent income has a negligible effect, small and not statistically significant, on an adoptee completing college but an 8 times larger and statistically significant effect on a biological child completing college...."
  • PACER Petition - "Law librarians from Georgetown and Stanford Law Schools are getting ready to deliver a petition from several hundred law libraries to the Administrative Office of the Courts, the group that administers the federal judiciary's PACER system. They have a goal of 1,000 signatures. If you have a few minutes, look over the petition and if you agree with it, I'm sure the organizers will appreciate your support. The petition asks for some pretty reasonable things from the federal judiciary: signatures on documents, copies of the dockets to federal libraries, and a better way to disseminate the data."
  • Weekly wrap: Rising Medicaid bill a growing concern for states - "New Mexico may foreshadow a Medicaid crisis facing states next year as the federal economic stimulus money dwindles."
  • Grasscutting, fertilizer, and healthcare - "My simple relationship with Jeff is, I believe, the healthcare model of the future. You manage your own cholesterol issues, your own basic thyroid issues, supplement and monitor your vitamin D levels, use diet to suit your needs, order blood tests when necessary, even obtain basic imaging tests like heart scans, carotid ultrasound, bone density testing. Your doctor is a resource, near by when and if you need him or her: guidance when needed, an occasional review of what you are doing, someone to consult when you fracture an ankle. What your doctor is NOT is a paternal, 'do what I say, I'm the doctor,' or a 'You need these tests whether you like it or not' holder of your health fate."
  • FBI investigating laptops sent to US governors - "The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to figure out who is sending laptop computers to state governors across the U.S., including West Virginia Governor Joe Mahchin and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal. Some state officials are worried that they may contain malicious software." ht Bruce Schneier
  • Bankruptcy Filings and Mortgage Delinquencies by State - There is a sortable table to find the data for each state.
  • Fixing Health Care - "I won't do Mr. Goldhill the injustice of trying to inadequately summarize his proposals - but it's the first thing I've read (and again - I don't claim to have read all that much) about this issue that makes a damned bit of sense to me."
  • Cleaned by Capitalism VII - "One of the most unheralded anti-pollutants brought to you by capitalism is the metal can. By significantly retarding the multiplication of bacteria in the foods sealed within them, cans make our foods cleaner -- less polluted -- and safer."

Hillary: The Movie
"More broadly, campaign finance regulation is thought control: it takes a position on whether money should influence political outcomes. Whether or not one agrees, this is only one possible view, and freedom of speech is meant to prevent government from promoting or discouraging particular points of view."

  • Va. SPCA exec's dog dies after 4 hours in hot car - "An executive for an anti-animal cruelty group says her 16-year-old blind and deaf dog died after she accidentally left him in her hot car for four hours."
  • Housing, Transportation, and the Politics of Path Dependency - "I’ve been long puzzled by the widespread libertarian preference for state-subsidized roads plus building regulations oriented around cars over state-subsidized trains and buses and building regulations oriented around them."
  • Aim Your Windshield Washer Jets - "Klann’s Windshield Washer Jet tool will run you about $6 before shipping. Whether it’s worth the money when you can probably do the same job with a straight pin is your decision."
  • South Dakota: Supreme Court Limits Roadside Searches - "The South Dakota Supreme Court has limited the ability of police to search and interrogate innocent interstate travelers absent a reasonable and articulable suspicion of wrongdoing. The court considered the unique case of a vehicle search not made pursuant to a traffic stop, but while the owner was being detained before entering his vehicle."
  • Clunkers and August Auto Sales - "There is no question auto sales will decline sharply in September, but there is a pretty amazing range of estimates for August ... a couple of excerpts:"
  • Make Free VoIP Calls from Google Voice - "Since we're extremely cheap, we'll start out with the Gizmo/Google Voice 1/2 combo, since you can use it to place and receive calls without spending a dime. If you're particularly partial to Skype, we'll demonstrate how you can integrate Gizmo, Voice, and Skype for cheaper Skype calls after we demonstrate how to get everything up and running with Gizmo.
    . . .
    If you're already set up with a Skype name and lots of contacts and you'd prefer to keep Skype as your go-to VoIP app, you can get Google Voice and Gizmo to route calls to Skype for notably less money than Skype charges for its call-out service. Alternately, if you only need to make the occasional Skype call and don't want to bother installing software and getting a user account, Gizmo and Google are available there, too." OR, you could just cough up the $60 per year for SkypeIn and Skype Out....
  • Hey Poland, We Were Only Trying to Help - "For the real story of Nazi-Soviet collusion in the war against Poland, check out the 2008 documentary The Soviet Story which, as The Economist explains, reveals that 'Soviet radio transmitters guided German bombers in their attacks on Poland. A Soviet naval base near Murmansk helped the Nazi attack on Norway. The Soviet secret police helped train the Gestapo and discussed how to deal with the 'Jewish question' in occupied Poland.'"
  • Nation's Unemployment Outlook Improves Drastically After Fifth Beer - "Despite ongoing economic woes and a jobless rate that has been approaching 10 percent, U.S. unemployment projections drastically improved Monday after the consumption of five beers.
    . . .
    Reports from those well on their way toward putting away a whole six pack suggested that unemployed Americans could look forward to increased job security and much higher salaries. In addition, many half-in-the-bag analysts said they foresee greater career satisfaction and massive quality-of-life improvements following the inevitable arrival of new employment opportunities."
  • Dap 3.0 -- The Official Goo Of The 21st Century - "When I heard 'Dap 3.0' my mind immediately wandered into science fiction territory and I started to wonder if they’d stuffed nanobots into the goo, but alas, we’ll have to wait on that. No, Dap 3.0’s new formula sports a quick dry compound that can be exposed to water in just three hours and won’t wash out. That’s some damn good news to those who depend on sealant on the job or who, like me, use it like a ward against household evil."
  • Howard Dean on Obamacare and med-mal reform - "Perhaps the most buzzed-about story while I was on vacation (I’m back now) was the frank acknowledgment by former Democratic Party chairman (and former physician) Howard Dean when asked why liability reform was omitted from the health care redesign"
  • Things that are better than a New York City hot dog - "In response to a hyperbolic statement from a friend about the goodness of New York City hot dogs, Matthew Diffee compiles an extensive list of stuff that's better. A sampling:"

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September 1, 2009 09:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)