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Assorted Links 2/18/10 Archives

Assorted Links 2/18/10

The Truth About Taxes 1939

  • The President's Budget, February 23, 2010
  • The Defense Budget, February 26, 2010
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, March 3-5, 2010
  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, March 12, 2010
  • another one bites the dust - "Evan Bayh is the latest to announce that he won't face the voters this fall.

    Will the last Demo pol left please turn out the lights?

    While I think it's very funny how little fight appears left in the Dems, please don't think I am pleased about the possible return of the Republicans. Heaven forfend. I am kind of a 'pox on both your houses' guy."
  • Generosity and heroics of the Berlin airlift - "After gigantic sacrifices, the United States was finally able in 1945 to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Only three years later, the United States found itself making even more sacrifices related to Germany, but this time to stave off starvation in West Berlin, a bombed-out city where countless former Nazis lived.

    Richard Reeves, a prolific journalist-historian, decided to write a book about what became known as the Berlin airlift because so many Americans today know little or nothing about the seemingly impossible - and highly unlikely - humanitarian mission.

    Before starting to write Daring Young Men, Reeves, born in 1937, had been contemplating the changed perception of the United States throughout the world. At the end of World War II, it seemed, citizens of other nations looked upon the United States as bighearted, willingly sharing its disproportionate wealth. But during the first decade of the 21st century, many inhabitants of other lands viewed the United States 'as arrogant, self-righteous, brutal, even a monster using our very substantial power to try to enforce a new order, a kind of global neo-imperialism,' Reeves writes."
  • Test Drive It! - "When shopping for clothes, you try them on to see if they fit. When buying a car, you take it for a test spin and check out the CARFAX report. When looking at a home, you tour it and hire an inspector.

    It's a shame that our young people don't take this same approach when deciding to go to law school. How, then, shall we "test drive" it? How can you make an informed decision? How do you know which side to believe: the optimistic law school admissions staff or the disgruntled JD Undergrounders? Underdogs, with a little research and soul-searching, you will come up with the truth."
  • 3 Ways to Prepare for the CARD Act - "On February 22, 2010, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, better known as CARD, will go into effect and consumers can start breathing a little easier as some of the worst abuses in the industry are curtailed. Don’t start celebrating just yet, though. We predict that issuers are going to get creative seeking profits elsewhere, so it’s important to take the time to understand what changes may be coming in a few weeks -- and how to protect yourself now.

    Below find our predictions for how card issuers will find new profits in the days after the legislation takes effect, and also three suggestions for staying ahead."
  • The government has your baby's DNA - "When Annie Brown's daughter, Isabel, was a month old, her pediatrician asked Brown and her husband to sit down because he had some bad news to tell them: Isabel carried a gene that put her at risk for cystic fibrosis.

    While grateful to have the information -- Isabel received further testing and she doesn't have the disease -- the Mankato, Minnesota, couple wondered how the doctor knew about Isabel's genes in the first place. After all, they'd never consented to genetic testing.

    It's simple, the pediatrician answered: Newborn babies in the United States are routinely screened for a panel of genetic diseases. Since the testing is mandated by the government, it's often done without the parents' consent, according to Brad Therrell, director of the National Newborn Screening & Genetics Resource Center.

    In many states, such as Florida, where Isabel was born, babies' DNA is stored indefinitely, according to the resource center."
  • Scalia on the Right to Secede - "Eugene says the Civil War didn’t settle whether there is a right to secede. Ilya agrees. But it looks like Justice Scalia might disagree."
  • Instruction and Recall: - "Eugene notes the interesting question of whether a state could pass an advisory recall of a Senator. As I discussed in one of my papers on the 17th Amendment (see this article, pages 171–173 especially) for the Framers the issues of 'instruction' and 'recall' were tied up together. Under the Articles of Confederation, state legislatures had the power of both instruction and recall. Under the Constitution, however, state legislatures continued to exercise the power of instruction, but no longer had the power of recall for failure to follow instructions. Senators were understood as being 'ambassadors' of the state to the national government, thus it followed that they could be instructed.

    The absence of a power of recall was a major sticking point for the Anti-Federalists, who anticipated that without the power of recall, the power of instruction would be largely a dead letter. "
  • Yes the Senate is broken (but not in the way you might think) - "Congress is broken because it has acquired more power than mere mortals can handle.

    I really don't know how we are going to fix that, but by all means, let's not pretend that changing some rules of procedure will fix the problems in our broken legislative branch."
  • Rhode Island District Fires All Its HS Teachers - "Performance, it seems is abysmal. The district’s high school graduation rate is said to be less than 50 percent, and things have been bad for a long time. Charged with turning things around, the superintendent asked teachers (who are making between $70,000 and $78,000 vs. the town’s median income of $22,000) to work an extra 25 minutes a day, provide tutoring on a rotating schedule, and have lunch with the kids once a week. The union said no. So superintendent Frances Gallo went reluctantly to plan B: she fired the school’s entire staff.

    Union leaders seem to think that the old rules still apply. Maybe they do, for now. The union plans to challenge the firings and it remains to be seen if they’ll find a way to reverse them.

    But America is reaching a tipping point after which the old rules will go out the window. "
  • Was Alaska a Good Buy? - "The U.S. bought Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867 for $7.2 million. At the time the purchase was derided as 'Seward's Folly,' but today it's common to compare the purchase price with Alaska's gross state product of $45 billion and claim it a resounding success. But is that the right comparison?"
  • Tom Hoenig and The Fed - "On Tuesday, he once again spoke on the true threat of inflation, and noted that maybe, just maybe, massive and crushing amounts of debt aren't the most wonderful things in the world. Last month, he was the lone voice of dissent against the Fed's continued policy of full-bore inflation and easy money.

    Hoenig, president of the Kansas City Fed, was also probably the only high ranking Fed official who ever expressed doubts about the true state of the economy back in 2007. While Hoenig was doubting, Bernanke and company were still touting the 'fundamentally sound' American economy.

    I'm not trying to make Hoenig out to be some kind of hero or sage, but Hoenig's lone dissent helps to highlight just how divorced from reality most of the Fed's leadership is. As a central banker, Hoenig is part of the problem, but a tight money policy is certainly better than a loose money policy in an age in which there is so little capital accumulation and in which the market-rate of interest would undoubtedly be many times the artificial Fed-set rate."
  • Eleven Principles of Financial Reform - "The corruption of the socio-political system runs deep, and is embedded in the national consciousness as a reflexive set of slogans (the big lies) that substitute for practical thought and effective policy formation. The examples of thinkspeak are numerous. People become parrots for their favorite corporate news/opinion channel, to which they become emotionally addicted, because otherwise, reality is too painful and complex to face. And so they are blinded and cut off from productive and even civil discourse, trapped within deep wells of subjectivity.
    . . .
    What will it take? It took the Japanese about twenty years of economic privation to finally get rid of the LDP political party that had ruled the country since the Second World War. It may take ten years of stagflation and economic hardship for the American people to wake up and put an end to the crony capitalism that has captured its two party political system. A good start would be to continue to defeat incumbents from both parties, and to start electing viable third party candidates."
  • Health Reform Moves to the States: The Case of Minnesota - "The apparent collapse of health reform in Washington has shifted attention back to the question of what (if anything) states can do to control prices, improve the delivery system, and/or expand coverage at time when revenues are collapsing.

    Over the course of the next few weeks, Governing will take a look at several alternatives being proposed. We'll start today by highlighting the ideas of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty."

A scene from Mr. Hulot's Holiday

  • Mamma Mia! - "Q. When did you begin to plan your wedding?

    A. Well, actually, I didn’t plan my wedding; my mother did.

    Q. Did you participate in your mother’s planning of your wedding?

    A. No. My family is Italian.

    Q. When did your mother begin to plan your wedding?

    Q. When I was born."
  • Let's move away from TV, computer and video games for healthier future - "So I'm somewhat hurt that Mrs. Obama didn't ask me before she announced her initiative.

    I would have told her, 'You're a soccer mom -- have you ever seen an obese soccer player?'

    But rather than focus on physical activity, the 'Let's Move!' initiative focuses on top-down bureaucratic programs stressing nutrition."
  • A lethal business model targets Middle America - "Sugar cane farmers from a tiny Mexican county use savvy marketing and low prices to push black-tar heroin in the United States."
  • Wheat Ridge High School Class of 1970 - "The reonion committee is working away planning the 40th reunion the weekend of August 13-15, 2010. Wheat Ridge, Colorado"
  • Common Market Food Co-op - "Common Market Food Co-op was a 'new wave food co-op' located at 1329 California Street in Denver, Colorado, from 1975 - 1980. It started as a buying club at the University of Denver in the late 1960s, and for a few years prior to moving to the old Safeway at 13th and California Streets, Common Market operated out of a small storefront on Champa Street."
  • Hammer Time: Happy Returns - "Does retail always give you the best return when it comes to cars? The reflexive answer is ‘yes’. But the real answer is ‘It depends’. I’ve seen cars bought at dealer auctions that don’t have a chance in a felon’s hell of reclaiming their outrageous price. This week there was a Barney inspired purple 1998 Dodge Caravan with 118k that sold for $3000. That one will have to be financed to a hardcore Prince fan with a brood. A little while back I also saw this Farley inspired van go for $5800. That one is still at the dealer’s lot begging for monetary penance. Of course, these two extreme examples are somewhere between a lightning strike and a snow flurry in Atlanta. So what’s the norm?

    If we’re looking at ‘cash purchases’ for new cars, the public with rare exception pays the premium. Sometimes dealers will buy the new fashionable car at a stiff premium at a dealer auction to get more traffic into their place. Otherwise, the public pays it all… and it’s really not much of one in most cases. Most vehicles sell somewhere between a 1% to 10% premium in the retail markets. But even then the dealers often have to factor out the pigs that simply sit, and it’s not always cut and dry. The popular brands offer a few lackluster models and sometimes an errant option package or two. The declining ones offer the most porkish of pointless plentitude and have a net negative return in the end. In a recessionary market almost everyone has headaches and migraines. But the general public with finance companies in tow offer all the medicine needed to treat it."
  • The Tasters "Weren't Entirely Happy." - "From a logical point of view, it's impossible to understand why food nerds have such a hard time believing that Wal-Mart could bring excellent food to the masses. The Wal-Mart model can and does work for a wide spectrum of goods. Organic mixed greens are not so very different from sweaters or shotguns or Popsicles or toilet paper as far as Wal-mart is concerned. But food scold Michael Pollan (among others) has so demonized the company that an article in The Atlantic noting that Wal-Mart sells rather nice veg reads like a revelation.
    . . .
    The taste testers preferred the Wal-Mart veggies overwhelmingly, with complaints about the meat and dairy."
  • Is glycemic index irrelevant? - "There are several fundamental flaws with the notion that low-glycemic index foods are good for you:
    . . .
    2) Foods like whole wheat pasta have a low glycemic index because the blood sugar effect over the usual 90 minutes is increased to a lesser degree. The problem is that it remains increased for an extended period of up to several hours. In other words, the blood sugar-increasing effect of pasta, even whole grain, is long and sustained.
    . . .
    Don’t be falsely reassured by foods because they are billed as 'low-glycemic index.' View low-glycemic index foods as indulgences, something you might have once in a while, since a slice of whole grain bread is really not that different from a icing-covered cupcake."
  • What's the Easiest Way to Share Large Files and Media with Friends? - "For this writer and tech enthusiast's money, the easiest and best way to share large files of any kind with your friends and family is to simply install Opera Unite, walk through a couple of quick configuration screens, and then send them the URL and password to access your content from any browser."
  • The Night They Burned Ranum's Papers - "At about 2:30 a.m. on May 22, 1968, as New York City police entered Hamilton Hall, on Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, to clear it of demonstrators, files belonging to Orest A. Ranum, an associate professor of history, were ransacked, and papers documenting more than 10 years of research were burned. The fire came at the tail end of a month of protests that had roiled Columbia, paralyzing the university and provoking the biggest police bust ever undertaken on an American campus. Members of Students for a Democratic Society, which led the protests, denied responsibility for the arson, claiming that if anyone had set fire to Ranum's papers, it was the police.

    Now a key participant in the Columbia rebellion has made a startling confession. Mark Rudd, who was chairman of the SDS chapter during the disturbances, acknowledges that a fellow radical, John "J.J." Jacobs, set the fire in Hamilton Hall, and that he, Rudd, went along with the plan. The confession, a depressing postscript to the 1960s, solves a four-decade-long mystery. It offers a grim testament to just how mean things got at Columbia, and a sobering reminder that not all student radicals were starry-eyed idealists. In more than a couple of cases, they were power-hungry extremists jostling for control of the student-protest movement. And Ranum had the audacity to get in their way."
  • Skype Over 3G Now Ringing on Verizon Wireless - "AT&T might be hesitant to allow Skype calls over 3G on the iPhone, but Verizon Wireless is making a statement about its network -- today, the carrier announced Skype voice support over 3G on various handsets. The BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition and Tour 9630 smartphones are all supported starting next month. Even the recently popular Android phones like the Droid, Droid Eris and newly announced Devour will gain mobile Skype capabilities on Verizon’s EVDO network."

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February 18, 2010 07:57 AM    Caught Our Eye

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