Archive for November, 2009

November 29, 2009

IS DUBAI A Financial China Syndrome? Beats me. On the one hand, if rich Arab sheikdoms can go broke, who’s safe? On the other hand, anyone can spend more than they should, and stupidly — and people with lots of money may even be at more risk for that. So does it tell us anything about the state of other sovereign debtors? Doubtful. Will it bring down the system itself? Also doubtful, but who knows?

UPDATE: A hedge-fund reader emails:

Dubai could be bailed out its by its Arab pals in the blink of an eye. This is about WILLINGNESS to pay, not ABILITY to pay.

The public list of Western bank exposures shows some institutions are wounded, but not mortally so.

The big financial enterprise at stake here is the recently created industry known as “Islamic Finance” which purports to create debt instruments consistent with arcane Moslem-friendly rules.

No one knows, or CAN know, how these spanking-new pieces of paper will be honored or valued. And only insiders know who holds the paper, and what process will be used to manage their first crisis.

Given the obvious conspiracy to spring this de facto default on markets before a lengthy Islamic holiday, it’s clear this will be very much an insiders’ game.

A worst case outcome, structurally, would be the collapse of the entire Islamic Finance complex, with unknowable consequences. At the very least we’d be looking at another drain on global liquidity/financing capability, at the margin dampening global growth further and pushing the US recovery further into the future.

Interesting. Well, stay tuned . . . .

November 29, 2009

A GADGET GIFT GUIDE, from Popular Mechanics.

November 28, 2009

THE EXAMINER: Growing Public Backlash Over Obamacare.

November 28, 2009

JONATHAN ADLER ON CLIMATEGATE: “‘We’re the Experts, Trust Us,’ Has Clearly Gone by the Wayside.”

November 28, 2009

A BUNCH OF INTERESTING FOOD LINKS. And a photo of a “bacontastic” Thanksgiving turkey.

November 28, 2009

OH, GOOD GRIEF: Polanski’s Release Secured by Sarkozy.

November 28, 2009

KING BANAIAN: Not an economist, just wrong.

November 28, 2009

DID F.D.R. actually die from cancer?

November 28, 2009

TV CALIBRATION: The Easy Route.

November 28, 2009

MANCESSION: The Jobless Gender Gap: Unemployment for men is growing at a much faster pace than for women. “Imagine the outcry if women amounted to roughly three in four lost jobs in this recession.”

This was not by accident, but a matter of Administration policy in response to interest-group pressure.

November 28, 2009

MARK STEYN: Major Nidal Hasan Had An Enabler.

November 28, 2009

CANADIAN BORDER GUARDS WANT TO BE SURE THAT foreign journalists don’t criticize the Vancouver Olympics.

Good thing I didn’t go, then. . . .

November 28, 2009

MARKDOWNS ON home and garden stuff.

November 28, 2009

GATEWAY PUNDIT: 4000 Patriots Join James O’Keefe At St. Louis Tea Party Protest.

November 28, 2009

WORLD WAR II VETS: This isn’t the Britain we fought for. “As a group, they feel furious at not being able to speak their minds. They see the lack of debate and the damning of dissenters as racists or Little Englanders as deeply upsetting affronts to freedom of speech.”

November 28, 2009

DANIEL DREZNER on the global governance of apocalypses.

November 28, 2009

FLIGHT TESTING A magnetic heat shield.

November 28, 2009

ED DRISCOLL: Ron Ziegler Redux.

November 28, 2009

AT THE WHITE HOUSE, an “into-the-breach rapid response.”

November 28, 2009

READER DAN ROHR sends this photo and report from today’s St. Louis Tea Party rally.

A worthwhile event I’d say. About 1500 people, 4 K9s, about 10 speakers. A poem was very well thought out. I’d rate a few of the speakers pretty high:
James O’Keefe – nailed ACORN
Jay Steward – He was the highlight, me thinks.
Some fellow from pre/post Castro Cuba was inspiring.

112809stlouisteaparty

UPDATE: Stephen Green writes:

From that photo on your site, it looks like the event was held at the St. Louis Muny. It’s an amphitheater in a huge natural bowl in Forest Park, and seats more than 10,000. So it really is huge. People sitting in the back rows (where that pic was taken) would have a lousy view. Were people sitting up there just because they wanted to? Or did they have to, and attendance was much higher than the reported 1,500? Can’t tell from the shot, but it’s got me curious.

Here’s the view of the stage from the back row, where that picture was taken.

Muny_Closing_Night

Yes, later reports are saying over 4,000 people. Plenty of crowd shots there, but is it the same venue? Looks similar, but I think it’s a different one . . ..

ANOTHER UPDATE: Christopher Johnson emails: “From what I understand, it was held at Kiener Plaza downtown, a few blocks west of the Gateway Arch. There’s an amphitheater there and various events are held there all the time.”

November 28, 2009

L.A. TIMES: A Daughter’s Cure Is Priceless.

November 28, 2009

PJTV: Sonja Schmidt: Box Office Poison.

Sonjaschmidt112809

November 28, 2009

TAXPROF: Tax Court Awards $323k in Attorneys’ Fees to Two Kersting Tax Shelter Investors Because of IRS Misconduct.

November 28, 2009

KOS POLL SHOWS poor morale among Democratic voters, as reflected in low likelihood-of-voting reports. Republicans, on the other hand, are much more likely to say they’ll turn out to vote next time.

November 28, 2009

GIZMODO: Roku Channel Store Opens, But Hulu Is A No-Show.

November 28, 2009

COMING: A Toyota MR2 Hybrid? Where’s the hybrid RX8?

November 28, 2009

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE UPDATE: Early holiday shopping has merchants optimistic.

November 28, 2009

THEY MUST BE PREPPING HIM FOR A CABINET SPOT! IRS files $79,000 tax lien against Schwarzenegger.

November 28, 2009

ANDREW BOLT: IPCC too “politicised” to survive.

Plus, from Tim Blair, a ClimateGate wrapup.

November 28, 2009

MORE POTENTIALLY MONEY-SAVING NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF HEALTHCARE RESEARCH: Research Shows Chronically Ill Patients Might Be Happier if They Give Up Hope.

November 28, 2009

MICHELLE MOORE WRITES that she’ll be streaming video from the St. Louis Tea Party on her blog this afternoon.

November 28, 2009

WILL HIGHER OIL PRICES DRIVE PEOPLE INTO CITIES, or move businesses out to ex-urbs?

November 28, 2009

CHEER UP! Phil Bowermaster reminds us that things are getting better all the time.

November 28, 2009

IN THE MAIL: From Michael Ledeen, Obama’s Betrayal of Israel.

November 28, 2009

CATO: ObamaCare’s Cost Could Top $6 Trillion.

November 28, 2009

PJTV: Stephen Green’s The Week In Blogs is up.

November 28, 2009

VOTER ANGER IS BUILDING OVER DEFICITS: “The generic poll shows a 16-point swing to the GOP over last year.”

Plus this: “When Mr. Obama was sworn into office the federal deficit for this year stood at $422 billion. At the end of October, it stood at $1.42 trillion. The total national debt also soared to $7.5 trillion at the end of last month, up from $6.3 trillion shortly after Inauguration Day.”

November 28, 2009

HMM: Tiger Woods: Injuries Caused by Wife, Not SUV.

UPDATE: A reader wonders how his Dubai deal is holding up. (Via FreeRepublic).

ANOTHER UPDATE: If this report is true, will Tiger get the full-blown Rihanna sympathy treatment? Or will it be treated as a joke?

November 28, 2009

EUGENE VOLOKH ON DATA SHARING AND CLIMATE RESEARCH: “My inclination would be to say that data should nearly always be shared. If you share your data, this lets others check the conclusions you draw from the data, as well as verifying the accuracy of the data against other available sources. They might disprove your arguments, or lead you to improve your arguments, or, if they reproduce your results, they might help prove the validity of your arguments. But in either case, science progresses better, and the decisions made based on the science are more reliable, than if you keep the data secret.”

November 28, 2009

OLD STORY: Bloggers stealing from Old Media. New Story: bloggers reporting actual news while Old Media covers up.

Then there’s this assist for the CBC.

November 28, 2009

CHANGE! “Who says the Democrats haven’t moved public opinion in the health care debate? According to a new Rasmussen poll out today, they have steadily persuaded more and more Americans that the health care system we have is a good one.”

November 28, 2009

RUSSIAN TRAIN CRASH “caused by bomb.”

November 28, 2009

IN BRITAIN, talk of privatizing the NHS?

November 28, 2009

THE U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION takes on the Black Panther voter-intimidation case. “Attorney General Eric Holder has so far ignored requests for relevant documents despite a statutory mandate to cooperate.” Now they’re subpoenaing Justice Department people.

November 28, 2009

AT THE NEW YORK TIMES DOT-EARTH BLOG, a climate scientist talks about how ClimateGate is discouraging young researchers, and how to respond. “If climate science is to uphold core research values and be credible to public, we need to respond to any critique of data or methodology that emerges from analysis by other scientists. Ignoring skeptics coming from outside the field is inappropriate; Einstein did not start his research career at Princeton, but rather at a post office. I’m not implying that climate researchers need to keep defending against the same arguments over and over again. Scientists claim that they would never get any research done if they had to continuously respond to skeptics. The counter to that argument is to make all of your data, metadata, and code openly available. Doing this will minimize the time spent responding to skeptics; try it! If anyone identifies an actual error in your data or methodology, acknowledge it and fix the problem. Doing this would keep molehills from growing into mountains that involve congressional hearings, lawyers, etc.”

Excellent advice, though perhaps a bit late now. Plus, another comment: “It is possible that some areas of climate science has become sclerotic. It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.”

Read the whole thing.

November 28, 2009

TUNKU VARADARAJAN: Punking the White House.

It’s funny, but I remain concerned about security. My guess is that White House security isn’t frequently tested, and hence doesn’t stay as sharp as it should. (On the other hand, a convenience market has people trying to buy beer with fake ID every day.)

November 28, 2009

PEGGY NOONAN: A White House That Is Coming To Seem Amateurish. “When longtime political observers start calling for wise men, a president is in trouble.”

November 27, 2009

MORE AMAZON Black Friday Sales.

November 27, 2009

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Jerry Brown Needs To Get Serious About Investigating ACORN.

November 27, 2009

COMPUTERWORLD: Data-Leak Lessons Learned From The Climategate Hack.

November 27, 2009

MICHAEL SILENCE: Memo #4,618,903,347 to some journos: Online discussions are a good thing.

November 27, 2009

CONGRATULATING the prescient Joe Biden.

Plus this: “The Times also ignores their own reporting of two weeks back by retelling the story of Biden and the Kurds with no mention of Biden adviser Peter Galbraith, who made millions advising the Kurds.”

November 27, 2009

IT’S THE FRIDAY SALE at Amazon.

November 27, 2009

MORE ON CLIMATEGATE, in the Financial Times: Secrecy In Science Is A Corrosive Force.

November 27, 2009

TEST-DRIVING the world’s fastest personal submarine.

November 27, 2009

DAVID HARSANYI:

With good reason, the prevailing economic concern of most Americans is jobs.

With this in mind, two Democratic congressmen have cooked up a plan to help us out. The strategy entails sucking another $150 billion of capital investment out of the market each year and handing it to an organization that can’t balance a budget, borrows money with abandon, runs massive deficits and excels at creating fairy tale jobs.

What could go wrong?

November 27, 2009

SPARE TIRES ROT YOUR BRAIN? Waist Fat Doubles Dementia Risk In Women.

November 27, 2009

A DARK MATTER ROCKET?

November 27, 2009

TOP 20 UNFORTUNATE LESSONS girls learn from Twilight.

November 27, 2009

ANNALS OF GOVERNMENT MEDICINE: “Hundreds of patients died needlessly at NHS hospital due to appalling care.” Plus this: “As is typical in government medicine, there has been no accountability even though Basildon has been criticized publicly since 2001, when the Royal College of Nursing described conditions there as ‘third world.’”

November 27, 2009

MEGAN MCARDLE ON CLIMATEGATE: “This interview with the head of the UN’s climate experts is ridiculous. He responds to concerns about the peer review process being stacked by saying . . . all the work was peer reviewed. I am open to being convinced that I should not care about hacked information, and I am a confirmed believer in AGW. So why can’t, or won’t, the climate change community mount a more compelling defense?”

Plus this: ClimateGate: The end of credibility and the need for process control. “Increasingly, the average concerned citizen without a particular ax to grind will no longer trust the climate scientists simply because they say so, or because Al Gore says so on their behalf. So how do we regain that trust? By agreeing that we will not use data or the output from climate models to inform public policy unless they have been developed according to established quality systems for mission critical software and have been audited accordingly by a genuinely disinterested third party. Because of the implications for the global economy and the well-being of literally billions of people over the next century, requiring that the models and the data used to feed the models be subject to at least the process control and auditing that we would require of a medical device seems the absolute least we should do.”

Also, is it all about power?

November 27, 2009

PJTV: Thanksgiving Thoughts From AlfonZo Rachel.

November 27, 2009

THE HILL: Obama Faces A Daunting December, Thanks To Make-Or-Break Issues.

November 27, 2009

STIMULUS UPDATE: Be Thankful For More Phony Jobs “Created or Saved.”

November 27, 2009

FREEDOM OF SPEECH, personified.

November 27, 2009

ROUNDUP: Eric S. Raymond on ClimateGate.

November 27, 2009

BIG GOVERNMENT: Calif. Attorney General Offers Incoherent, Troubling Answers When Asked About ACORN Doc Dump.

November 27, 2009

FRANK TIPLER: Climategate: The Skeptical Scientist’s View. “What keeps scientists honest is knowing our colleagues are looking over our shoulders. A theory with hidden data is never to be believed. . . . The now non-secret data prove what many of us had only strongly suspected — that most of the evidence of global warming was simply made up. That is, not only are the global warming computer models unreliable, the experimental data upon which these models are built are also unreliable.” Plus, more from Richard Fernandez.

November 27, 2009

BALTIMORE MAKES “CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS” put up signs saying that they don’t actually do abortions.

Can we make ACORN put up signs saying they don’t actually help the poor?

November 27, 2009

IN THE MAIL: The Basic Book of Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Enhance, and Share Your Digital Pictures.

November 27, 2009

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Kill The Bills: Do Health Reform Right. “Insuring the uninsured is a moral imperative. The problem is that the Democrats have chosen the worst possible method — a $1 trillion new entitlement of stupefying arbitrariness and inefficiency. The better choice is targeted measures that attack the inefficiencies of the current system one by one — tort reform, interstate purchasing. and taxing employee benefits. It would take 20 pages to write such a bill, not 2,000 — and provide the funds to cover the uninsured without wrecking both U.S. health care and the U.S. Treasury.” But there’s no graft in that approach.

November 27, 2009

I, FOR ONE, WELCOME our new robot employees.

And, yes, I’ve used that line before. Plus, from the comments, this from a Brit: “Blood tests? Pah! When they can ignore a bell being rung by an elderly patient for a couple of hours, then – and only then – will these robots be fit for our glorious NHS.”

November 27, 2009

FROM JAPAN, an “unbelievable cat-friendly house design.”

November 27, 2009

OKAY, NORMALLY I DON’T SHILL SO LOUDLY, but in light of the FTC’s soon-to-come regulations, I’ll note once again that anything you buy through Amazon links on the site, like this one, puts a bit of change in the pockets of the Insta-household, at no cost to you.

November 27, 2009

JOHN STOSSEL: We Pay Them To Lie To Us. “I happily suspend disbelief when a magician says he’ll saw a woman in half. That’s entertainment. But when Harry Reid says he’ll give 30 million additional people health coverage while cutting the deficit, improving health care and reducing its cost, it’s not entertaining. It’s incredible.”

Plus this: “If a business pulled the accounting tricks the politicians get away with, the owners would be in prison.”

November 27, 2009

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: So the Insta-Daughter and an Insta-Niece braved West Town Mall at 5 a.m. this morning. They report that it was “semi-crowded,” but no better than last year.

Williams-Sonoma, on the other hand, managed to lose my business. After suffering a catastropic coffeemaker failure last night, I had tasked the Insta-Daughter to buy a new one. She was snubbed by the salespeople, who skipped her to wait on someone older who was behind her in line. So she went to Belk and got a better deal on the same thing, but tells me she’ll be personally insulted if I ever shop at Williams-Sonoma again. I’ve noticed a lot of stores that treat teenagers this way, and it strikes me as quite unwise.

November 27, 2009

HAVE THINGS GOTTEN SO BAD THAT WE’RE dreaming of Diocletian? I think he’s a poor model. He took power in a military coup, vastly enlarged the bureaucracy, and tried to solve inflation caused by lousy fiscal policy with price controls, a disastrous failure. He persecuted Christians, and though he purchased some temporary stability via authoritarianism, he didn’t address the core problems and left an empire that was, overall, weaker than before. It says bad things when core Democratic constituencies think that’s what we need now . . . . Hope and change, anyone?

UPDATE: Dr. Violet Socks, who is a delightful person, says she didn’t mean to suggest any actual enthusiasm for Diocletian, or for Diocletian-like approaches, but merely the need for serious change within the Democratic Party. That makes sense to me, so please don’t beat her up with Roman-history cudgels . . . .

November 27, 2009

DOLLAR COULD FALL to 80 yen.

November 27, 2009

ADDRESSING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Commas and Periods — Inside Closing Quotation Marks or Outside Them?

November 27, 2009

HMM: Vincent Gray on Climategate: ‘There Was Proof of Fraud All Along’.

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: National Post: A French scientist’s temperature data show results different from the official climate science. Why was he stonewalled?

MORE: Col. Douglas Mortimer writes:

You know, when you consider that “We’re Saving The Planet” is the biggest power/money grabbing scam since “We’re Saving Your Souls,” whoever leaked/released those e-mails and such is kind of like the modern scientific equivalent of Martin Luther. This person/persons may well have broken the backs of the Global Warming Priests who did everything in their power to make sure that the common man, and those who would oppose them, had no direct access to the Spoken Word of God.

Well, when it comes to computer models, if you can’t see the code or the data, there’s no particular reason to trust them, even when the graphics are pretty.

November 27, 2009

HE SAYS HIS HERO IS LINCOLN, but is Obama Dithering Like McClellan? “General McChrystal told the president that the war could be lost in a year, and three months of that year have been given to the enemy to regroup and prepare. War, as it happens, is a zero-sum game in which waiting does, in fact, cost lives. This isn’t a mere political football. If you have a general who is competent, as McChrystal is, give him what he says he needs to win.”

November 27, 2009

NEW YORK POST: Clubbing SEALs. “What is especially ironic, to say nothing of infuriating, about the SEALs’ inquisition is that it underscores the utter lack of curiosity exhibited by the Pentagon in the matter of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army shrink and Islamist.”

November 27, 2009

I THINK THE ANSWER IS “NATURE:” Who made Biden — and Katie Couric — Look Dumb?

Plus this: “You might ask why they’re throwing big parties when times are so bad. But what the hell? And when can we watch the big Oprah-Obama TV Christmas special? There’s Obama putting up the White House decorations, the doorbell rings, and it’s Oprah! The doorbell rings again… and it’s — who? — Russell from ‘Survivor’?”

November 27, 2009

FARHAD MANJOO: Black Friday Is For Suckers. That’s why I’m shopping online.

November 27, 2009

AUSTRALIA: Opposition MPs Bail On Global Warming.

November 26, 2009

AHEAD OF BLACK FRIDAY, a bunch of big toy deals. Well, why wait for Black Friday for online markdowns?

November 26, 2009

THANKSGIVING: Thoughts from a displaced Brit.

November 26, 2009

UH OH: “The impression left by the Climategate emails is that the global warming game has been rigged from the start.”

November 26, 2009

AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I thought turkeys could fly.

November 26, 2009

UH OH: If Dubai World has debt problems, then who’s safe?

November 26, 2009

A “RATHER BLEAK FORECAST” from the Fed.

November 26, 2009

ALTHOUSE & MEADE give thanks for everything.

November 26, 2009

SHOCKER: Howard Dean on ObamaCare.

November 26, 2009

A BLACK FRIDAY IPHONE APP from the folks at Popular Science.

November 26, 2009

THEY’VE BEEN SERVING WITH DISTINCTION SINCE RIGHT AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, but can we count on the Retail Support Brigade to save America one more time? I’m not sure. With doubts about where the national leadership is taking them and whether it values their sacrifice, and whether it will support them in the crunch, it’s hard for me to recommend re-enlistment at this point. On the other hand, I’ll be spending about the same as last year, but, as usual, mostly online.

November 26, 2009

DEEP RETROFITS to improve housing efficiency.

November 26, 2009

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ENSURES THAT HOMELESS PEOPLE DON’T GET FAT:

When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said.

“It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.” . . .

Lines at soup kitchens are up by 21 percent this year, according to a NYC Coalition Against Hunger report released yesterday. The city’s law banishing trans fat took effect in July 2008 and touched everyone with Health Department food licenses — including emergency food providers.

Good grief.

November 26, 2009

GUERRILLA MECHANICS: Some gonzo auto repair tips.

November 26, 2009

LOOKING AHEAD to Black Friday. “The real test, though, will not be when the Black Friday numbers come out in a few days. Rather, it will be whether retailers can sustain a decent sales level without phenomenal discounts.” I was at the mall yesterday, and the crowds were fairly thin. I have no intention of being there tomorrow. I’ll be doing my shopping online. Interesting discussion in the comments regarding the future of retail.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s flashing lots of new deals on and off in advance of Black Friday.

November 26, 2009

WHICH IS BAD NEWS: John Bolton Was Right.