Assorted Links 4/14/10


Bill Black: Not Dead Yet – Part 4


John Cleese on Extremism

  • Word Workshop: Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing, April 15, 2010
  • Word Workshop: Writing to Persuade: Hone Your Persuasive Writing Skills, April 16, 2010
  • Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals, May 4, 2010
  • Advanced Media Relations, May 5, 2010
  • Public Affairs and the Internet: Advanced Techniques and Strategies, May 6, 2010
  • Crisis Communications Training, May 7, 2010
  • Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives – “Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.

    This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president’s desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction.”

  • Ohio Judge Tells Residents to ‘Arm Themselves’ – “When asked what advice he would give to residents of Ashtabula County Ohio because of cutbacks in official law enforcement budgets, Judge Alfred Mackey said they should:

    arm themselves. Be very careful, be vigilant, get in touch with your neighbors, because we’re going to have to look after each other.

  • Get a job or your tuition money back – “In a county with 11.7 percent unemployment, Lansing (Michigan) Community College is offering a money-back guarantee, reports Time Magazine. If you pass a six-week training course for a high-demand job and don’t get hired within a year, you’ll get your tuition back.

    This offer applies to training for jobs as call-center specialists, pharmacy technicians, quality inspectors and computer machinists; pay rates range from $12.10 to $15.72 an hour. Training costs about $2,400.”

  • Supply, Demand and Consequences – “Before the big 1960s ramp-up in college and university numbers and enrollments in the USA due to pressure from the postwar Baby Boom and the encouragement of Lyndon Johnson’s happy band of Great Society government spenders, college graduates were distinctly a minority of adults. Ability to fund a college education aside, the assumption was that college graduates fell into the upper part of the IQ bell curve — perhaps an IQ of 110 being the threshold.

    Aside from the bleak Depression years, the American economy was modern enough and strong enough to absorb college graduates in occupations requiring ability and drive; such occupations were often financially rewarding.

    Elitist? You bet. But the system makes a lot of sense from the practical standpoint of running an economy.

    Nowadays a majority of high school graduates go on to one kind of “higher education” or another. That throws away the notion that college is for above-average people: 60 percent (or whatever) of the population can’t have IQs greater than 110. (I’ll avoid that sad topic of what kind of “education” many colleges provide these days.)
    . . .
    Looking at post-1945 history, country after country that was once a cheap labor market has graduated to comparative affluence or is well on the way. Assume this trend continues. Eventually, all countries will become nearly equally affluent and there will be no pockets of inexpensive labor to be found. That suggests low-priced good will become a thing of the past where the supply of cheap labor has been destroyed by the demand for it.”

  • Older America Made Recession Look Better – “As the chart shows, the ‘composition-adjusted’ unemployment rate — the light blue line — was at a record high of 11.3 percent in the last quarter of 2009, surpassing the peak of 1982.

    In other words, yes, in terms of unemployment milestones, this was the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

  • Ron Paul has Barack Obama’s number – “Don’t be bamboozled by Republican propagandists telling you Obama is running left or that he is a ‘socialist.’ This is nonsense – kabuki theater, if you will. They are merely using Obama’s weakness to gain control of the historical political narrative. In reality, Leftists are absolutely outraged at his legislative agenda.

    Obama is a corporatist like other New Democrats of the neo-liberal mold. The schtick — as also used by Schroeder in Germany, Koizumi in Japan and Tony Blair in the UK — is to say the things that progressives want to hear, but do the things that big business wants to be done. You have to give a sop to the base here and there like exempting unions from the healthcare bill’s Cadillac policy tax. But, the goal is to curry favor with big business, which is the paymaster of both established parties in the U.S.”

    See “Crony capitalism

  • Further to Andrew Ferguson on Behavioral Economics – “Long before reading Cass Sunstein as a risk-expert, I read him as a jurisprudential philosophe. I mean, going back to his writing on ‘deliberative democracy,’ going way back. It seems to me that the move from traditional economics here to behavioral economics is precisely the same move in moral philosophy that he, and others of the same tendency, made in the deliberative democracy literature. What was it, after all, that characterized ‘deliberative democracy’ as an intellectual move, in the hands of Amy Gutmann, Sunstein, and others? A theory of meta-deliberation, a theory of how people would ideally discuss all the deeply divisive issues of the day — abortion, affirmative action, on and on.

    And yet somehow, some way, the conclusion was always that the right process of thinking must ineluctably lead one to think they way Gutmann, Sunstein, all good and honorable liberal thinkers thought about these hot button issues. Not just good people — but rational people — would all think affirmative action a good thing, abortion okay, etc., etc. The most stunning intellectual move was not merely the claim that these were the right moral conclusions, but that to reach some other conclusion meant that you hadn’t deliberated enough, or deliberated in the right way.”

  • Carbon Dioxide Causes Near Death Experiences? – “If CO2 opens the gates to the afterlife then will rising atmospheric CO2 cause some people pass over to the other side? I’m just asking.”
  • Liberty, “Group Status Issues,” and the Tea Party – “What I really, really care about is liberty. If the culture and the law denies liberty to some groups, then I think we ought to fight culturally and politically to win equal freedom for the members of those groups. If people have been denied liberty on the basis of group membership, caring about liberty then entails caring about the ‘group status issues’ standing behind historical oppression.

    I am not scared of the fact that older Americans are more racist, sexist, and homophobic that younger Americans. I regard this as a hopeful sign that historic inequalities in status and freedom are on their way out. And I’m not frightened of the Tea Party movement (which is not especially old.) In fact, I hope it helps deliver divided government by helping Republicans win a bunch of seats. I just don’t think it’s very substantively libertarian. It is a populist movement centered on a certain conservative conception of traditional American identity. Libertarian rhetoric is definitely part of that, but rhetoric is rhetoric.”

  • Aljazeera TV promotes the lie that prediction markets are “eerily accurate”, sucking up to InTrade’s PR and Hanson’s spinning. – “Here for the debunking.”
  • Stop Fishing and Start Feasting: How Citable Public Documents Will Change Your Life – “Making it possible to create timestamped permalinks at a paragraph level of granularity would be a huge leap forward in increasing government transparency through its online documents. The same principles apply when producing citable government data. When recovery.org decided to display visual representations of the data coming in about recovery money around the nation, it quickly became clear that some amount of data was erroneous. When the errors were reported and the data was later modified, there wasn’t any way to go back and compare the two versions to see what changes had taken place. A blogger, reporter, statistician or scientist should be able to run a query against any specific collection of government data, as it was published, for a given version or moment in time.”
  • ‘Young invincibles’ imperil health reform – “One of the biggest risks to the success of health reform, comes not from the sick but from the young and healthy, a former top official in charge of Medicare and Medicaid administration said Friday.”
  • Mish Mailbag: IBM Abandons U.S. Workers – “Outsourcing jobs has been going on quite some time. Let’s address why.

    For starters, global wage arbitrage is one huge factor in play.

    Unfortunately, wage equalization and standard of living adjustments between industrialized countries and emerging markets will be a long painful process for Western society.

    On that score, there is little that can be done except reduce wages and benefits in the public sector and stop wasting money being the world’s policeman. We simply can no longer afford it. Besides, neither of those things ever made any sense anyway.

    US Tax policy is another reason for outsourcing, and that can easily be addressed, at least in theory.

    US corporate tax policy allows deferment of profits overseas, but profits in the US have a tax rate of 35%. This policy literally begs corporations to move profits and jobs, overseas.”

  • Health insurance mandate as a privacy right violation – “Among the lawsuits filed against Obamacare is a class action in the Southern District of Mississippi. Class representatives, for residents of Mississippi who do not wish to be subject to the health insurance purchase mandate, include State Senator Chris McDaniel and Lt. Governor Phil Bryant.
    . . .
    Para. 35: The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes. The tripartite enumeratation shows that the ‘substantially affects’ test for regulation of interstate commerce does not imply an infinite power. Since everything affects everything else, at least in some degree, a regulation of Indian or foreign commerce might be justified on the ground that it ‘affects’ interstate commerce. However, the text separates interstate, foreign, and Indian commerce. ‘Had the Founders intended the commerce power to be unlimited, enumerating three categories of commerce for Congress to regulate would have been wholly unnecessary.’ (And as Justice Thomas pointed out in Lopez, the theory of an unbounded interstate commerce power is also contradicted by Article I’s enumeration of a separate bankruptcy power.)
    . . .
    Indeed, the insurance purchase mandate is considerably more intrusive than other purchase mandates which would become constitutional if the insurance mandate is upheld. For example, if Congress required that every family purchase a General Motors ACDelco automobile battery at least once every 5 years, the mandate would be financially burdensome, but would not necessarily require the disclosure of any private information. In contrast, the insurance mandate is a mandate for the involuntary disclosure of many of the most intimate details about one’s life–and making that disclosure to a corporation that in effect functions as a highly-regulated public utility, and which will turn the information over to the government under certain conditions.”

Interview with Robert Lawrence and Kevin Odom from FairWarning on Vimeo.

Your GM Pickup Could Explode And Kill You


  • The Ten Fastest States In America – “Some states dole out more tickets per capita than others, and DriverSide has worked up a list of the top 10 speediest states according to traffic citations. Of course, a lot goes into these statistics besides how fast residents are driving, including the number of law enforcement officers on the road and the population of each individual state. Do drivers up north really cruise at higher speeds than their southern counterparts? Take a look at our list of speediest states to find out for yourself.
    . . .
    It’s not really a state per se, but the District of Columbia takes the crown as the location with the most citations per capita. The capital of our nation boasts an astounding 553,523 residents with 434,301 tickets. That means a full 78.5 percent of the population has at least one traffic violation to their name! So much for law-abiding citizens in the land of law and order.”
  • Why do colleges care about extracurricular activities? – “Colleges want to expand the heterogeneity of the selection criteria so they can pick who they want. If it’s a top college or university, mostly this means limiting the number of Asians and maximizing the number of future donors and by the way those two goals tend to move in tandem. Other than legacy admissions, I wonder what other features of applications predict future donations? Might extra-curricular activities be one candidate here?”
  • Top colleges squeeze parents dry – “The richest institutions could pay all operating expenses from endowments, Manshel writes. But ‘there are qualified paying customers lined up at the door,’ so why not make ‘em pay? Leaders of the elite private colleges could control costs and end inflation-busting increases, raise endowment payouts and ‘rededicate themselves to providing opportunity to the talented regardless of means.’

    Wealthy grandparents can’t pass much on to their grandchildren directly, but they can pay unlimited tuition, notes George Leef. And colleges know that.”

  • 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 WRHS1970.com”
  • 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 early 1970s, 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.”
  • How “elite” dating websites scam people – “My ex-girlfriend called me a few weeks ago, her voice shaking. She asked if it was possible to get money back from a website. I asked her what the website was, and she did not want to tell me. So I told her to call the credit card company and ask them to refund the money. She did, called me a few days later to thank me and I did did not hear about it again.

    Till last week, when she called me, crying on the phone. She was being sued by the dating website for not paying the fee of a bit more than $800.

    (I’m not going to mention any of the websites by name, because they are extremely litigous, and I don’t want it to be said I directly accused any particular company of scamming. You can use the quotes I include here to discover the websites or use the search term ‘elite’ to find the sites)

    I’m going to describe the techniques that these websites are using to squeeze a lot of money out of people with a service that gives them nothing in return.”

  • “Crony Capitalism” – “Crony capitalism is a pejorative term describing an allegedly capitalist economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between businesspeople and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth.

    Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.”


Is it Time to Lower The Drinking Age?

  • Octopus vs. Sea Lion–First Ever Video – “New National Geographic Crittercam footage shows never before seen eating habits of the Australian sea lion–including video of a sea lion hunting a large octopus. The footage is from a project intended to help save the endangered sea lions, in part by uncovering where and how the animals eat.”
  • Spray Bandages Closer to Human Testing – “Researchers at Wake Forest University reported that they have mounted an “ink-jet” type device, capable of spraying skin-cells directly on burns, onto a frame that will allow human testing. At the Translational Regenerative Medicine Forum the researchers reported on results from testing the device on mouse models, where the rate of wound healing was sped up significantly. They hope to begin human testing soon.”
  • Feel Free To Get Lost With The Lost Balloon – “There are already a bunch of options for getting yourself rescued from the wilderness (where there are bears that want to eat you). Most of these options are fairly situational… A cell phone is great, but you need reception and batteries. A flare gun is great (and fun!), but it only works once. A signal mirror is great, but you need to have sun. What you really want is something simple, reliable, portable, and effective, which (it turns out) means big inflatable rescue balloon.”

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