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Assorted Links 2/25/10 Archives

Assorted Links 2/25/10

7 of the most powerful persuasion techniques by expert Robert Cialdini

  • The Defense Budget, February 26, 2010
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, March 3-5, 2010
  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, March 12, 2010
  • Is it ‘raining’ hard enough? - "Faced with historic revenue drops, states have tapped their rainy day funds in fiscal 2009 and 2010 at levels not seen since the 2001 recession to help close budget gaps totaling some $290 billion. The decision to go to these funds has renewed the debate about how much states should be setting aside in these reserves and when to use the money. A few states, meanwhile, have been able to leave their funds intact. Texas, for example, is sitting on $8 billion in its fund and has relied instead on federal stimulus money to balance its budget.

    It’s a common perception that rainy day funds are like the couple’s savings account and can be spent in emergencies. But they actually are more like 401(k) or other accounts that put contraints on the funds.
    . . .
    But a handful of states haven’t gone that route at all and can boast that their rainy day funds remain essentially untouched. Texas has so much set aside that its $8 billion and Alaska’s reserves of $6.9 billion are badly skewing the national average of what states hold in their rainy day fund and ending balances in their budgets. Figuring the two states in, the average comes to 4.8 percent of states’ annual expenditures. Without them, it’s a paltry 2.7 percent, according to NASBO. That’s far below the 5 percent that many budget experts and bond rating agencies typically recommend states hold in reserves. "
  • Morning Must Reads -- All Obama, all the time - "They say the legislation was not enough of him and too much of Congress. He was too restrained in using his gifts to convince the undecided and smite his enemies.

    Letting Obama be Obama may win the primaries or a debate with John McCain, but it’s not going to convince voters that a warmed-over version of Harry Reid’s health plan is worth $125 billion a year to a bankrupt government and a good deal of disruption to the current standards of access and quality.

    Obama has talked about the plan in two States of the Union, a special joint session of Congress called just for that purpose, more than 30 speeches, an online ad, and at least a dozen weekly radio addresses, but still the electorate resists.

    In fact, the more people hear about the plan, the less they like it. But the solution from the president’s crew: More Obama!"
  • Ignorance is Not Stupidity, Redux - "If voters tend to be ignorant and often illogical in their evaluation of the information they know, transferring more power to government in order to adopt paternalistic policies will only increase the impact of the types of cognitive errors paternalists seek to correct."
  • TSA Detains Possible Terrorist Armed With Flashcards - "Nicholas George, who is from Philadelphia, is a student at Pomona College in California and is studying Arabic there. This is a good thing. We need people to study and learn Arabic so they can translate things and see if anybody else who speaks Arabic is trying to kill us. To learn a foreign language, sometimes one uses flashcards. Sometimes, especially if one wants to become fluent, one actually travels to the countries where the language is spoken, and that will mean your passport will show that you have been to the Middle East.

    The suspiciously stamped passport, and the über-suspicious flashcards, neither of which an actual terrorist would have been carrying, caused TSA agents in Philadelphia to detain George, handcuff him, and interrogate him for four hours. He missed his flight and had to travel the next day. ACLU contacted. Lawsuit filed. Lesson almost certainly not learned."
  • Basically, It's Over: A parable about how one nation came to financial ruin. - "Basicland's investment and commercial bankers were hostile to change. Like the objecting economists, the bankers wanted change exactly opposite to change wanted by the Good Father. Such bankers provided constructive services to Basicland. But they had only moderate earnings, which they deeply resented because Basicland's casinos--which provided no such constructive services--reported immoderate earnings from their bucket-shop systems. Moreover, foreign investment bankers had also reported immoderate earnings after building their own bucket-shop systems--and carefully obscuring this fact with ingenious twaddle, including claims that rational risk-management systems were in place, supervised by perfect regulators. Naturally, the ambitious Basicland bankers desired to prosper like the foreign bankers. And so they came to believe that the Good Father lacked any understanding of important and eternal causes of human progress that the bankers were trying to serve by creating more bucket shops in Basicland.

    Of course, the most effective political opposition to change came from the gambling casinos themselves. This was not surprising, as at least one casino was located in each legislative district. The casinos resented being compared with cancer when they saw themselves as part of a long-established industry that provided harmless pleasure while improving the thinking skills of its customers.

    As it worked out, the politicians ignored the Good Father one more time, and the Basicland banks were allowed to open bucket shops and to finance the purchase and carry of real securities with extreme financial leverage. A couple of economic messes followed, during which every constituency tried to avoid hardship by deflecting it to others. Much counterproductive governmental action was taken, and the country's credit was reduced to tatters. Basicland is now under new management, using a new governmental system. It also has a new nickname: Sorrowland."

GoMeals iPhone App Makes Food Management Easier for Diabetics

  • Two Cheers for Credit Cards - "Ever since someone in grad school deviously introduced me to the concept of "irrational" debt aversion, I have been carrying credit-card balances that are far too high. Believe me, I understand the tricks these companies pull, like the clause in fine print where you unwittingly pledged away your firstborn.
    . . .
    The most obvious benefit of credit cards is that they offer a very flexible and convenient method for individuals to borrow money.
    . . .
    Ironically, the widespread use of credit cards actually promotes the safety of an individual's assets, or at the very least allows a much wider scope for purchasing without a proportional increase in the danger of theft.
    . . .
    Besides their intrinsic honesty, the ultimate reason most people pay their credit-card bills -- enough so that the industry is profitable -- is that they don't want to ruin their credit score."
  • LAUSD's Dance of the Lemons: Why firing the desk-sleepers, burnouts, hotheads and other failed teachers is all but impossible - "But the [LA] Weekly has found, in a five-month investigation, that principals and school district leaders have all but given up dismissing such teachers. In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district's 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance -- and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.

    During our investigation, in which we obtained hundreds of documents using the California Public Records Act, we also discovered that 32 underperforming teachers were initially recommended for firing, but then secretly paid $50,000 by the district, on average, to leave without a fight. Moreover, 66 unnamed teachers are being continually recycled through a costly mentoring and retraining program but failing to improve, and another 400 anonymous teachers have been ordered to attend the retraining."
  • How to avoid becoming senile: - "Don't retire. You know the old expression, 'Use it or lose it?' It's correct. Nobody's saying you need to do back-breaking work until you're 94 but retirement often involves too little mental stimulation and that can hasten mental decline:"
  • 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."
  • “Dean” Karen H. Rothenberg, Come on Down! - "Dean Karen Rothenberg, 'come on down!' You’re the next contestant on this week’s exciting episode of Big Debt! Step right up to Contestant’s Row and compete for millions in Stafford loan loot, alumni shakedowns, and lush government subsidies. All yours for the taking Karen, here behind the big doors on The Price is Right!

    For those not in our studio audience, this bulletin: News broke over the weekend that former dean of laughable TTT toilet U. Maryland Law, Karen Rothenberg, received $350,000 in compensation for several sabbaticals she apparently never took. Like most pseudo-academic lowlifes who suckle at the Stafford Loan teat, Karen’s apparently corrupt as well as lazy. The incident reeks of backroom dealing and criminal shadiness, all par for the course in the cesspool of today’s education racket. Read about it here:"
  • Full Genome Sequencing Helps Create Personalized Blood Cancer Test - "Clinical researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a new methodology for creating individualized cancer blood tests based on DNA sequencing. Since it is now becoming more affordable to detect cancer markers in free floating DNA, those markers can be used as a template for a blood test to track the progress of cancer therapy."
  • *The New Yorker* writes up Peter Chang and *China Star* - "Yes I know the article is gated but I wanted to blog the link anyway, out of sheer enthusiasm. It's a superb piece. China Star is my favorite Fairfax restaurant and it's the #1 restaurant for GMU blogger lunches and debates (though one of us hates it; can you guess which one? We make him go nonetheless). It's also where we take job candidates, at least the ones we respect. Even though Chang is now gone, the restaurant remains superb in the hands of his successors, who have kept many of his original recipes."

Advertising Is Content, Content Is Advertising, I'm On A Horse

  • Aeron: Best office chair investment - "I've been testing an Aeron Chair since 2001 and I'm ready to say, 'Go for it.' Why now? Because I just realized that it is the cheapest chair I've ever owned. I’m 6’ 2”, 200-plus pounds, and put a lot of daily wear-and-tear on my chair. So I wasn’t surprised when, after eight years of use the seat cracked: I was sitting there and it gave way by about two inches. Except for an early problem with a slight wiggle in the base (which Herman Miller paid to have fixed) the chair has worked flawlessly."

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February 25, 2010 08:27 AM    Caught Our Eye

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