May 31, 2010
I FIND THIS ANALOGY UNPERSUASIVE: “Indeed, the parallels between Israel and — gulp — North Korea are becoming pretty eerie.”
I FIND THIS ANALOGY UNPERSUASIVE: “Indeed, the parallels between Israel and — gulp — North Korea are becoming pretty eerie.”
CLAYTON CRAMER ON causes of childhood obesity.
ISRAEL NEEDS TO BE more Jacksonian.
PHOTOS: “Peace activists.”
SOME MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS FROM Lt. Col. John Tammes.
OH, GOODY: Home Sales Set to Plummet in Markets Hit Hard by Foreclosures. “A sample of subdivisions in both cities showed sales contracts for new homes ‘pulled back sharply in May and contract cancellations spiked,’ Houston-based Metrostudy said in an e-mail. Would-be buyers canceled about 40 percent of new home contracts in San Diego in May, up from 10 percent in April, the company said. Data on new signings in that city weren’t immediately available. Sales indicators fell after April 30, the last day for homebuyers to sign contracts in time for a federal tax credit of as much as $8,000 for first-time purchases and $6,500 for certain ‘move-up’ buyers. The deadline may have hurried customers to snap up properties when they otherwise would have waited, said Brad Hunter, chief economist based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, for Metrostudy.” As with the cash-for-clunkers debacle, this basically seemed to involve a sort of borrowing against future sales. You get a bit more activity now, at the cost of less activity later.
CLAUDIA ROSETT on the Gaza Terror Flotilla.
DVDs under ten bucks.
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LEARNING from Canada.
MEMORIAL DAY: 100 Fewer Headstones.
IF YOU’RE FREE NEXT MONTH on June 12-13, you might want to attend the H-Plus Summit at Harvard, with speakers including Ray Kurzweil, Alex Lightman, and a host of other stars.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT STUDENT LOAN DEBT when you’re unemployed.
MARIA KONOVALENKO on science against aging.
WEIGHT TRAINING IS GOOD FOR YOU: Low Muscle Mass Linked To Type 2 Diabetes. “Even skinnier old people with low muscle mass are at greater risk of type 2 (insulin resistant) diabetes. The risks do not just come from fat.”
THE CHALLENGES OF virtual hairstyling.
MARKDOWNS ON magazine subscriptions.
VIA GERI SORIANO LIGHTWOOD ON FACEBOOK, the world’s coolest computer mouse.
HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Air Force Pounds MILF.
“USEFUL IDIOTS CONDEMN ISRAEL.” Actually, I think that’s giving them too much credit . . . .
MAX BOOT: “Much nonsense has been written in recent years about the prospects of American decline and the inevitable rise of China. But it was not a declining power that I saw in recent weeks as I jetted from the Middle East to the Far East through two of America’s pivotal geographic commands — Central Command and Pacific Command.” America’s biggest weakness is its political class, where the decline is indisputable . . . .
TACIT KNOWLEDGE: You don’t know how much you know.
THE NEW ECONOMY: Interns actually paying to work.
THE SECRET INGREDIENT in the Obama formula for success.
STEWART BAKER: The Solicitor General Lays An Egg. “The brief is at best a hacked-together, please-no-one compromise. At worst it borders on the unprofessional.”
WHAT WOULD A EURO COLLAPSE mean for the United States?
MEMORIAL DAY: Remembering The Fallen.
EIGHTIES MUSIC, CULTURE, AND TV, at LikeTotally80s.com.
IN THE MAIL: From William J. Voegeli, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State.
DO FALLING HEMLINES tell a tale?
HUMAN BRAINS NOT WIRED FOR CONSUMER CREDIT.
Plus, “Governments, also made up of humans, similarly can’t handle debt rationally either.”
MARK TAPSCOTT: Will journalists wake up in time to save journalism from Obama’s FTC? “Release of the Federal Trade Commission’s working paper on ‘reinventing journalism’ makes it clear that there is no more time for diplomacy about this issue: Barack Obama is determined to federalize the news industry just as he has banking, autos, and health care.”
MARKETS IN everything.
THIS WEEK IN THE FUTURE.
ONLINE CONVENIENCE: Why I Steal Movies… Even Ones I’m In.
MARKDOWNS ON women’s jeans.
BOYCOTT CALIFORNIA! Poll: California voters favor Arizona law.
RICHARD FERNANDEZ on the Gaza “Aid” Flotilla.
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Claudia Rosett.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Allison Kaplan Sommer.
MORE: “Short video clips broadcast on various television stations showed demonstrators clubbing the navy personnel with metal bars and showed at least one soldier firing.” The Israelis should model their restraint on that shown by their opponents.
ON MEMORIAL DAY, remembering the forgotten.
COMBINING THE WORST TRAITS of Carter, Nixon, and LBJ?
DON SURBER: Witch Hunts: Approved and Disapproved. “Attorneys general in California and Virginia recently launched separate investigations into speakers at two state universities. The faculty reaction was different.”
FRANK J. FLEMING on today’s extreme rhetoric.
STILL NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME? An electric-car quick-charge test drive:
Their dream may be a good one. But it’s also problematic. There were, after all, five i-Mievs on this drive that needed charging, and with only one charger it didn’t take 20 minutes to fuel them. It took about an hour and a half.
Mitsubishi didn’t leave us to cool our heels during that charging, but took us to a nice lunch. Imagine how nasty the scene could get if five i-Miev owners showed up at one charger with the fifth in line finding out he’s going to be spending more than an hour cooling his heels at Sonic. So what if he has a coupon that gets him two milk shakes for the price of one?
A modest, average size gas station has, say, eight pumps. And usually those pumps push fuel at a rate of between five- and ten-gallons per minute. Going on the low end of the scale, lets say it takes three minutes to fuel up an average car with a 15-gallon tank. So in an hour, that eight-pump station could theoretically fuel 160 average cars from empty to full.
In contrast, a station with eight Eaton/TEPCO Quick Chargers could theoretically fuel just 24 i-Mievs to 80-percent full in an hour. To match the capacity of a modest gas station, completely filling 160 i-Mievs to 100-percent of battery capacity (on 25 minute charges) in one hour, would take at least 67 Quick Chargers with one parking space for each charger. Figure 300-square feet of space for each charger and parking spot and that’s a half acre of land before accounting for driveways or other infrastructure.
Related item here. Don Surber and Maureen Dowd on the same page? Cats and dogs, living together!
FATHER’S DAY MARKDOWNS on video games.
THE TRADITIONAL REMEDY FOR SUCH THINGS INVOLVES TAR AND FEATHERS: Michigan Considers Law to License Journalists.
A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”
Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets–traditional, online and citizen generated–and an even greater amount misinformation.
“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.
He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.
How about requiring that all sitting legislators pass a test on the constitution? And maybe an IQ test, too . . . .
Okay, if you read the fine print, the bill doesn’t really do anything other than label. But it wouldn’t be irrational to fear the camel’s nose. And how do you deal with the camel’s nose? You cut it off.
NEW YORK TIMES: White House Struggles as Criticism on Leak Mounts.
MICHAEL BARONE: Oil spill tars Dems’ reputation for competence. “Obama’s press conference — his first in the White House in 309 days — did not make him look any more in command of things than the photos of Bush’s flyover visit to New Orleans. The candidate who told us his electoral victory would be seen as ‘the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal’ is now the president who seems helpless to prevent the oil slick from spreading. . . . Before the oil spill, the Obama Democrats, noting their policies’ unpopularity, might have asked voters to decide on ‘competence, not ideology,’ as Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis did in 1988. Now, suddenly, that doesn’t seem like a viable theme for 2010 or 2012.”
GOOD QUESTION: “Why write something he knew wasn’t true?”
FOR MEN WHO ARE ENGAGED, the “Mangagement” ring.
STOP YER WHINING, you non-contributing zero!
HOT NEW TREND: Divorce Rings?
DID EARLY HUNTERS cause climate change? “When hunters arrived in North America and drove mammoths and other large mammals to extinction, the methane balance of the atmosphere could have changed as a result, triggering the global cool spell that followed. The large grazing animals would have produced copious amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from their digestive systems. They vanished about 13,000 years ago.”
AT AMAZON, a big Memorial Day clothing sale.
DA TECH GUY ON GA-4: Looking for a cup of peach tea.
A HIGHER ED BUBBLE? This sounds familiar:
So in an eerie echo of the mortgage crisis, tens of thousands of people like Ms. Munna are facing a reckoning. They and their families made borrowing decisions based more on emotion than reason, much as subprime borrowers assumed the value of their houses would always go up.
Meanwhile, universities like N.Y.U. enrolled students without asking many questions about whether they could afford a $50,000 annual tuition bill. Then the colleges introduced the students to lenders who underwrote big loans without any idea of what the students might earn someday — just like the mortgage lenders who didn’t ask borrowers to verify their incomes.
Ms. Munna does not want to walk away from her loans in the same way many mortgage holders are. It would be difficult in any event because federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts. But unless she manages to improve her income quickly, she doesn’t have a lot of good options for digging out.
With only a few exceptions (like being admitted to Yale Law School or CalTech) I strongly recommend avoiding student loans. And I wonder — when you’ve got an industry whose prices have skyrocketed on a combination of consumer ignorance and cheap credit, what happens when consumers wise up, and credit gets harder to come by?
UPDATE: A reader emails:
One rather interesting thing about that article comes right at the end. The woman they profile makes $2,300/month after taxes, pays $750/m in rent and would have $700/m in loan payments if she was paying in full (which she isn’t because she’s in night school). They then claim that paying both the rent and the loans would leave her little in the way of money to live off of. By my math, she’d have $850/m to live off of, which is plenty for a single person who’s at all sane with their spending.
I suspect the real issue here is that she’s never learned how to manage money. That would explain her debt, her degree (in Religious and Women’s Studies, which is a good choice if you want to work in Fast Food) and her current situation. Note she’s blaming Citibank for giving her the money (which they shouldn’t) but she signed the papers.
Unfortunately this is far too common a story today, but the issue is as much the fault of the students and their parents as it is of the Banks and Colleges.
Who’s an adult, back in school after over a decade in the workforce and living on much less than $2,300/m USD after taxes.
The Higher Ed establishment has been selling college as a matter of emotion, self-fulfillment, and entitlement rather than economics. Nothing new about that — sports cars are sold the same way — but one doesn’t depend on the sports car to generate the income needed to pay off the sports car loan . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brian Abbott writes:
I really think your exceptions for when student loans are appropriate are a bit excessive. I put myself through engineering school at Virginia Tech. Between the relatively low tuition and the low cost of living there, I was only $12,000 in debt once I was done. Within 3 years of graduation, I had that all paid off.
Student loans aren’t a bad thing as long as you keep them in a reasonable range (i.e. less than the cost of a car) and you’re majoring in something that’s actually in demand and pays well (i.e., not law, education, or basically anything else that starts with “Bachelors of Arts”).
Well, maybe. But the point is that it needs to be a case where you can clearly make enough money to pay the loans off. And because student loan debt is non-bankruptable (and at lousy interest rates, these days), you need to be much more certain about your ability to pay it off than with other debt.
MORE: Reader Brock Cusick writes:
The cost of education should prepare to fall much further than housing post-crash. Prices in competitive markets fall when costs fall, and the cost of building a house hasn’t changed all that much. The same cannot be said of education.
StraighterLine – $99/mo. + $39/course for college credit.
KhanAcademy.org – Free. (I know someone getting their MBA at Columbia who does the Khan exercises rather than attend class, because they explain the subjects better).
The cost of storing and disseminating information (even educational information) has dropped to zero. The web makes it interactive. Colleges should prepare to be disintermediated just like the newspapers.
ANDREW ROBERTS: Nick Kristof’s Unhinged Attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE MIKE STOPA compares the Deepwater Horizon oil spill with the 1979 Ixtoc 1 spill. “I cannot say with any confidence that the consequences of the current, Deepwater Horizon spill will be as slight as the fortunately slight effects of Ixtoc 1 of 1979. I present the facts just to keep my readers up to date in an issue which is of concern to many if not all of us.”
BP’S FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: “Here’s something you probably don’t know about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the top media consultants for British Petroleum gave free rent to a politician who became White House Chief of Staff.”
STEWART BAKER: If you like the BP spill, you’ll love cyberwar.
DAVID ZARING: Would You Even Want To Be The Treasury Secretary?
IN THE MAIL: From Tom Bower, Oil: Money, Politics, and Power in the 21st Century.
AN ARMY OF ALTERNATIVE MEDIA: If you missed it on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, the latest PJM Political is now online. “From Rush Limbaugh biographer Zef Chafets and Ricochet.com majordomo Peter Robinson, to James Lileks and the gang at PJTV’s Trifecta, this week’s edition of the VodkaPundit-hosted PJM Political is all about the new, new media.”
TRYING TO INSPIRE A Tea Party movement in Ireland.
THE MEDIA WOLF PACK holds itself at bay.
SO WERE THOSE JOBS CREATED, OR SAVED? “The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.”
POLITICO: Mixed messengers highlight Salazar problem. “The White House’s failure to designate a single spokesperson — with a corresponding schedule of media updates to show the administration in action — may have been intended to convey an all-hands-on-deck approach to the BP oil spill. Instead, it has created a public relations vacuum, being filled by critics of the president’s approach. And the one man who might have filled that role — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — already has had a pair of high-profile stumbles, with not one, but two of his comments effectively retracted from the White House podium.”
WILL FREE MARKETS give way to state capitalism? “In Bremmer’s telling, the world’s autocratic states learned a valuable lesson from the implosion of the Soviet Union: command economies do not work and when they fail, they can bring down the over-arching political system with them. They also watched the post Soviet experiment in crash liberalization with horror. To protect their hides and preserve their privilege, autocratic rulers in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere have created a ‘hybrid’ system that leverages many of the tools of capitalism to generate wealth while the heavy hand of the state ensures that wealth is put to the service of the elites and rulers of each country.”
MICKEY KAUS: “Is CDP vice-toady Eric Bauman correct in saying that my positions are ‘more in line with the California Republican Party than the California Democratic Party,’ or is that the sort of mindless if-you-aren’t-in-labor’s-pocket-you’re-not-a-Democrat thinking that will lead the party to defeat? You make the call!”
DEFAMATION by stupidity?
BYRON YORK: Covering Obama, press encounters Nation of Islam. “President Obama’s home is in the same Chicago neighborhood as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. On Saturday night, the overlapping of Obama’s and Farrakhan’s worlds made for a strange, and sometimes testy, encounter between the Secret Service, the press corps covering the president, and the paramilitary security force, the Fruit of Islam, surrounding Farrakhan. . . . Some observers will make light of the whole thing — just a little misunderstanding with those weird Nation of Islam guys — but the fact that Farrakhan’s security force is close to the president’s home is likely a matter of continuing concern to the Secret Service. And on Saturday night, the two forces ran into each other.”
TOOLS FOR GREEN GARDENING.
REMEMBERING Dennis Hopper.
THREATENING TO jail parents for a year for truancy in California. “The bill is the brainchild of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general.”
KING CANUTE is in over his head.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: What Our Media Taught Me.
WALL STREET JOURNAL: May’s Big Selloff Could Be Just the Beginning.
PETER WEHNER: Obama, the Thin-Skinned President. “Obama is among the most thin-skinned presidents we have had, and we see evidence of it in every possible venue imaginable, from one-on-one interviews to press conferences, from extemporaneous remarks to set speeches. . . . With Obama there is also the compulsive need to admonish others, to point fingers, to say that the problems he faces are not of his doing. . . . The ingredients are in place for some serious problems down the road. Those who care for the president need to recognize the warning signs now, sooner rather later, before it becomes too late, for him and for the nation.”
THE DIFFERENCE a school can make.
USA TODAY: Poll finds anger over country’s leaders.
Americans are increasingly optimistic about the economy, but that brightening outlook hasn’t softened their outrage over the country’s direction and its political leadership, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
Two-thirds of those surveyed this week describe themselves as “angry” about the way things are going in the USA, the highest percentage in the decade the question has been asked. By nearly 2-1, they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress over one with experience.
FROM WEBER, The Girls’ Guide to Grilling.
IS OBAMA THE NEW CHENEY? “Rather, in terms of Cheney’s inability to fake emotional involvement. Bill Clinton was a master of insincerity; when he felt our pain, we almost believed it. Cheney, on the other hand, once sheepishly admitted that he ‘doesn’t do funerals.’ Emotional symbolism wasn’t his forte, and he knew it. Obama strikes me as, in that respect, a similar personality.”
MICHAEL YON reports: “Brigadier General Daniel Menard was fired from command in Afghanistan.”
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READER C.J. BURCH lost his mom last week. Please accept my condolences, C.J.
A HAPPY BIRTHDAY FlashMob.
IOWAHAWK: Hi, Neighbor!
ROGER SIMON remembers Dennis Hopper. “Unlike other Hollywood hot shots like Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, etc, who never once changed a single thought they ever had, whether on LSD or a glass of milk, Dennis Hopper was able to see that the very thing that allowed him to live the wild and crazy life he did was deeply obvious. Forget all the self-serving narcissistic left-wing baloney. It was good old fashioned American Freedom! Nowhere else could Dennis have been Dennis — and he knew it. He wanted that for everybody. . . . And to my Hollywood friends, let this be a reminder that traditionally an artist is not someone who goes with the crowd, especially when that crowd hasn’t revised an idea since the presidential campaign of George McGovern. Open your minds. What’s cool may not be so cool anymore. If Dennis can do it, so can you. He wasn’t afraid of losing his job.”
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