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Assorted Links 11/02/09 Archives

Assorted Links 11/02/09

Rubber Bands
"The world is a jiggling mess."

Paranormal Legislative Activity?

  • Dollar Suicide - "It wasn't Colonel Mustard in the library with the candelabra. And contrary to recent press reports, it wasn't Prince Alwaleed in the desert with a cartel. It was, in fact, Dr. Bernanke in the temple with the printing press. And since Dr. Bernanke is, in effect, the dollar incarnate -- the walking embodiment of the soundness of our currency -- if the dollar does die, it will not have been murder. It will have been suicide."
  • Oregon Tries Claiming Copyright Over Gov't Materials Again - "Yes. A government official claiming copyright over a document on the public record. Wonderful. Carl Malamud is trying to get the Attorney General to issue an opinion that such things will not be covered by copyright. But, again, can anyone provide any good reason why any government document should be covered by copyright?"
  • Escape from New York (and California, Illinois, NJ, and Michigan) - "High taxes and housing costs, regulations and the growth of government at all levels in New York, California, and New Jersey have bankrupted these states not only of their revenues, but of their most valuable asset -- their people."
  • A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades - "we've taken chunks of data for the major newspapers, going back to 1990, and graphed it, so you can see what's actually happened to newspaper circulation."
  • Cartoon: "Trying to Reinflate the Bounce House"
  • Why Are Swedish Meatballs So Much Smaller Than Their American Counterparts? - "The Hansonian take is that meatballs are an important cultural symbol and the size of the American meatball is a signal. To understand Swedish meatballs, think ABBA with pork."
  • "Cultural Values" - "Another attempted 'honor' killing, this time in Arizona. Two women in hospital, one with life-threatening injuries. Their crime? According to the younger girl's father, she was becoming too 'westernized'.
    . . .
    This would be a less ludicrous argument if Mr Almaleki hadn't run down his daughter in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's all a bit culture à la carte, isn't it? Infidel motor vehicles, fine. Infidel guarantees on individual rights, no way."
  • All Falling Down . . . - "Integral to public debt are two eternal truths: a public demands of the state ever more subsidies, and those who pay for them shrink in number as they seek to avoid the increased burden."
  • Cracks Appearing in Law Firm Associate Model: - "Or, as the headline in the Philadelphia Business Journal has it: 'Reed Smith’s New Personnel Policy Allows it to Ditch Automatic Pay Raises.' Now that’s getting to the heart of the matter!"
  • Firebowls, Copyright And Crowdfunding (Oh My) - "So, without copyright, what can Unger do? Well, he's actually already doing it. He put up a site that points out that Wittrig copies him, get lots of attention for it, and a lot more people now know about these kinds of decorative firebowls. My guess is that Unger is suddenly selling a lot more than he was before -- and that'll be true whether or not Wittrig gets the copyrights tossed out. And, in the meantime, having Wittrig around as competition should be good for Unger, pushing him to continue innovating and coming up with new designs."
  • The Lordlings - "The bipartisan urge to tax and spend has become an addiction. And amazingly enough, the addicted think the music will never stop."
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Gmail Inbox - "With the Iranian nuclear scandal hitting the world press, we decided to take a look into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Gmail inbox. And this is what we found."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
William Kamkwamba
Daily Show
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

William Kamkwamba

  • Friday's tax-funded presentation - "You might be interested to hear what happened at yesterday's Capitol Hill presentation of the political science study you paid for -- the one promoted as a way of helping your congressman boost his approval rating by up to 18 points using Internet town halls.

    The study, funded in part by the National Science Founation and conducted by a non-profit called the Congressional Management Foundation, drew mostly unremarkable conclusions. It found that Internet town halls are easy to hold and increase political participation. Most importantly, it found that they make voters more likely to agree with, like, and vote for their members after they participate in one.
    . . .
    I was not allowed to attend yesterday's presentation. When I tried, I was informed that it was for staff and members only. But a staffer who was there tells me over the phone that it was entertaining. For example, when asked whether his study had diverted National Science Foundation grant money away from the study of a cure for cancer, the presenter choked up and talked about his friend's daughter who has leukemia.

    When he was asked whether Internet town halls had any impact on politicians’ understanding of constituents’ points of view, the presenter admitted that the study had not even considered that question."
  • Rotator cuff injury - "Rotator cuff injury symptoms may include:

    * Pain and tenderness in your shoulder, especially when reaching overhead, reaching behind your back, lifting, pulling or sleeping on the affected side

    * Shoulder weakness

    * Loss of shoulder range of motion

    * Inclination to keep your shoulder inactive"
  • Quote of the Day: In The Long Run We’re All Dead Edition - "New GM’s October sales numbers are about to hit the screens, and it ain’t gonna be pretty. GM’s first full financial report will emerge thereafter; the hard numbers on the company’s cash burn will trigger major mainstream media alarms and raise fresh (stale?) questions about GM’s viability."
  • Guest Post: Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University Says Politicians Are NOT Prostitutes … They Are Pimps - "Specifically, as the chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University (Donald J. Boudreaux) points out:

    Real whores, after all, personally supply the services their customers seek. Prostitutes do not steal; their customers pay them voluntarily. And their customers pay only with money belonging to these customers.

    In contrast, members of Congress routinely truck and barter with other people’s property…

    Members of Congress are less like whores than they are like pimps for persons unwillingly conscripted to perform unpleasant services."
  • "Strategic Defaults" a Mortgage Broker Comments on Fear and Shame Tactics - "I also tell them the consequences of walking away. Like the article said, a foreclosure will stay on your credit report for 10 years. However, if you walk away it will only be 3 years before you can buy a home again. (It used to be 2 years but Fannie, Freddie, and the FHA made it longer to discourage people from walking away.)

    I tell them if they choose to walk away they need to make sure they have a decent car, and at least one credit card. The reason for the car is that it may be hard to get a decent rate on a car loan for a while if they have a recent foreclosure, and the credit card is needed to help you re-establish your credit after the foreclosure. One of the biggest mistakes people make after a bankruptcy or foreclosure is not re-establishing their credit."
  • SAPPHIC SAUDIS: A review of "Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia," by Rovert Lacey - "On many levels Robert Lacey has written a highly accomplished book which should go into the bags of anyone who has to travel to the kingdom. It still did not make me want to go there."

Camorra assassin escapes as Naples looks the other way

  • How to improve basketball - "fans seem to prefer basketball seasons with a dominant player (Jordan) or perhaps a dominant match-up (the old Lakers vs. Celtics rivalries). For the season as a whole, we don't seem to want too much suspense. Does suspense distract us?"
  • Little X-Plane Pushes Bottom Edge of the Envelope - "Flight test programs at Edwards Air Force Base and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center usually are off-limits to outsiders, but we got a peek at one of its coolest programs, the X-48B, when the Air Force recently threw open the gates for an open house.

    The X-48B is the latest in a long line of experimental X-planes, and the joint venture between NASA and Boeing’s Phantom Works is unlike most that came before. The blended wing-body aircraft isn’t some sort of sierra hotel fighter jet, it doesn’t have a pilot on board and it’s not even full-size. Despite being an unmanned scale model, the test pilots who fly it say all the challenges of experimental flight are still there."
  • How to Carry Your Office on a Stick (USB Flash Drive) - "As USB flash drives continue to get faster and provide increasing amounts of storage capacity, you can use them for more than just backing up files and documents. You can actually run a ton of applications right from your flash drive, which can come in handy when you’re on the road outside your office or home. There are some popular suites of flash drive apps, such as PortableApps, which we’ve covered before. There recently announced freeware portable apps for popular packages such as Google Chrome, Skype and even uTorrent. However, PortableApps is not the only game in town these days."
  • Policy Lessons from the Great Depression - "I had wondered whether Keynes had had much influence on administration policies during the depression since The General Theory came too late. Even though he had earlier influential books, I gather not. My favorite part of Amity’s book was when she describes a meeting that Keynes had with President Roosevelt on May 28, 1934, lasting fifty-eight minutes, about the time of a class-room lecture. Both Keynes and Roosevelt indicated that the meeting did not go well."
  • How you too can be a computer expert! - "Please print this flowchart out and tape it near your screen. Congratulations; you're now the local computer expert!"
  • Anti-vaccine fear versus science - "Amy Wallace's Wired feature, 'An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All' looks at the life and times of Paul Offit, vaccine inventor and advocate, and the anti-vaccine pseudo-science he battles as he attempts to convince parents not to give in to fear and disinformation, and to follow the science that will keep their kids safe.
      This isn’t a religious dispute, like the debate over creationism and intelligent design. It’s a challenge to traditional science that crosses party, class, and religious lines.
  • One of the many reasons I couldn't have been a fashion designer - "'The 2009 International Best-Dressed List'. With an exception or two I think most of these get-ups are at best unattactive and at worse downright hideous. Mme. Sarkozy looks good."
  • The Ph.D. Problem: On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal - "Since it is the system that ratifies the product--ipso facto, no one outside the community of experts is qualified to rate the value of the work produced within it--the most important function of the system is not the production of knowledge. It is the reproduction of the system. To put it another way, the most important function of the system, both for purposes of its continued survival and for purposes of controlling the market for its products, is the production of the producers. The academic disciplines effectively monopolize (or attempt to monopolize) the production of knowledge in their fields, and they monopolize the production of knowledge producers as well. This is why, for example, you cannot take a course in the law (apart from legal history) outside a law school. In fact, law schools urge applicants to major in areas outside the law. They say that this makes lawyers well-rounded, but it also helps to ensure that future lawyers will be trained only by other lawyers. It helps lawyers retain a monopoly on knowledge of the law.
    . . .
    In order to raise the prominence of research in their institutional profile, schools began adding doctoral programs. Between 1945 and 1975, the number of American undergraduates increased 500 percent, but the number of graduate students increased by nearly 900 percent. On the one hand, a doctorate was harder to get; on the other, it became less valuable because the market began to be flooded with Ph.D.s.

    This fact registered after 1970, when the rapid expansion of American higher education abruptly slowed to a crawl, depositing on generational shores a huge tenured faculty and too many doctoral programs churning out Ph.D.s.
    . . .
    It is unlikely that the opinions of the professoriate will ever be a true reflection of the opinions of the public; and, in any case, that would be in itself an unworthy goal. Fostering a greater diversity of views within the professoriate is a worthy goal, however. The evidence suggests that American higher education is going in the opposite direction. Professors tend increasingly to think alike because the profession is increasingly self-selected. The university may not explicitly require conformity on more than scholarly matters, but the existing system implicitly demands and constructs it."

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November 2, 2009 08:07 AM

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