May 29, 2011
I DON’T THINK HE’S REALLY A “PICKUP ARTIST:” Chester Brown and prostitution.
I DON’T THINK HE’S REALLY A “PICKUP ARTIST:” Chester Brown and prostitution.
THERE’S GOOD CHOLESTEROL, BAD CHOLESTEROL, and now “ultra-bad” cholesterol? I think they should have called it SuperBad cholesterol, because that would be funny.
LEE STRANAHAN: #Weinergate:The “Would Your Spouse Buy It?” Test. “Although I don’t think what Anthony Weiner is even accused of doing rises to the level of ‘love child while your wife has cancer’, the #Weinergate story reminds me a lot of the post-Beverly Hills Hotel phase of the John Edwards story.”
ED DRISCOLL: There’s a reason it’s called The Forgotten Man. “What would happen, if, heaven forfend, Obama actually went into business himself? Since his far left administration is basically an extension of George McGovern’s Pyrrhic 1972 campaign, perhaps this anecdote fits as well. It’s from 1994, after McGovern retired from politics and attempted to open, Bob Newhart style, a New England inn.” Read the whole thing.
NOT CLEAR ON THE ROLE OF INCENTIVES: Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake. “Italian government officials have accused the country’s top seismologist of manslaughter, after failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009, a massive devastating earthquake that killed 308 people. A shocked spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) likened the accusations to a witch hunt.”
The Italian justice system is looking like a bigger joke than usual, lately.
JIM TREACHER: I demand an official investigation of the hacker who broke into Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account. “I don’t agree much with Rep. Weiner politically, but he’s a congressman and this is a serious crime he’s alleging. Not to mention that identity theft can happen to any of us at any time. Therefore, Rep. Weiner must call for an official investigation. He owes it to himself, to all other victims of cybercrime, and to his fellow members of Congress who might also be at risk. . . . And if Rep. Weiner doesn’t want an investigation, somebody should ask him why not.”
UPDATE: More here.
THOSE REVELATIONS ABOUT CONGRESSIONAL INSIDER TRADING lead Jeff Carter to observe: “I now understand why campaigns have become so expensive. The net present value of beating the market by 6% annually, along with the net present value of a guaranteed government pension, cushy health benefits, and the opportunity to leverage your elected position into a lucrative full time lobbying job after ‘serving’ your country makes the spending seem minimal.” Even better, the campaign cash comes out of other people’s pockets. Win-win!
AT AMAZON, it’s the Camera & Photo Outlet Sale.
I PREDICT MORE SUITS LIKE THIS: Unemployed Grad Files $50m Class Action v. Law School for Misrepresenting Placement Data. “Plaintiff would not have attended TJSL and incurred more than $150,000 in school loans if she knew the truth about her job prospects upon graduation.”
LARRY RIBSTEIN: Immigration, Preemption, And Regulatory Coordination.
REVENGE OF THE GEEKS: What made them outsiders in high school makes them stars in the world.
If high school is an environment that systematically punishes traits that lead to success in the real world, then why not abolish high school? As institutions, they don’t do a very good job of teaching math and history. If they also punish traits linked to innovation then what exactly are high schools good for?
UPDATE: Reader Drew Kelley writes: “They provide union-protected jobs for the graduates of Ed-Schools, insulating those grads from the cruelties of the market.”
READ BETWEEN THE LINES: “Less than three years into the job, first lady Michelle Obama is on her third chief of staff and third social secretary.” So where are the tell-all books?
JEFF ROSEN: The Wrongful Conviction As A Way Of Life. A review of Brandon Garrett’s Convicting The Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong. “Since the late 1980s, DNA testing has exonerated more than 250 wrongly convicted people, who spent an average of 13 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. (There is every reason to think that more people have been wrongly convicted since then, but only these 250 have been definitively exonerated by postconviction DNA tests.) Seventeen of the 250 were sentenced to die, and 80 to spend the rest of their lives in prison. . . . Garrett’s statistical analysis is invaluable, but the most dramatic parts of his book are those that provide narrative details of trials that failed to prevent the innocent from being wrongly convicted. It turns out to be surprisingly hard to prove your innocence: most people don’t remember where they were on a particular day months ago, and can present only weak alibis.”
THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF America’s crime decline.
WEINERGATE UPDATE: Hey MSM any old Twit(erer) understands what Rep Weiner’s numbers mean. “There are millions of people who use twitter who have absolutely no interest in politics, who when they see the numbers concerning followers also will understand exactly what it means.” Read the whole thing.
IN THE MAIL: From Robert A. Heinlein, The Green Hills Of Earth.
SCAREWARE FOR MACINTOSHES:
The fact that Mac users have fallen victim to “scareware” scams — the kind that have long plagued Windows users — shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, fake antivirus software schemes like MacDefender don’t have to rely on exploitable vulnerabilities, but instead typically depend on tricking users into visiting malicious sites and duping them into installing the software.
And Mac users, for all their pretensions otherwise, are as fallible as the next person.
There were some rogue ads on this site doing this, but they’re supposed to have been removed now. I’ve seen this via Java in rogue ads elsewhere in the past, too, once on my local TV station’s page. Don’t click on them!
UPDATE: A reader emails: “Glenn, I have been doing mac tech support since the mid 90s. Why is this effective now? Because in the past few years the percentage of Mac users who formerly used Windows in the past 5 years is greater than Mac users who used Macs since before then. IMO, the windows users have brought their own habits and expectations that scareware villains can easily trick. Every victim of this I have helped has been a Windows user from the past 5 years or less.”
You’d think Windows users would be more careful about viruses.
MICHAEL BARONE: Pro-Obama media always shocked by bad economic news. “I’m confident that any comparison of economic coverage in the Bush years and the coverage now would show far fewer variants of the word ‘unexpectedly’ in stories suggesting economic doldrums. It’s obviously going to be hard to achieve the unacknowledged goal of many mainstream journalists — the president’s re-election — if the economic slump continues. So they characterize economic setbacks as unexpected, with the implication that there’s still every reason to believe that, in Herbert Hoover’s phrase, prosperity is just around the corner. . . . We tend to hire presidents who we think can foresee the future effect of their policies. No one does so perfectly. But if the best sympathetic observers can say about the results is that they are ‘unexpected,’ voters may decide someone else can do better.”
“EVERYBODY’S A VIRGIN, but somehow we got pregnant.”
IN CENSORSHIP MOVE, Iran Plans Internal-Only Internet. “The leadership in Iran sees the project as a way to end the fight for control of the Internet, according to observers of Iranian policy inside and outside the country. Iran, already among the most sophisticated nations in online censoring, also promotes its national Internet as a cost-saving measure for consumers and as a way to uphold Islamic moral codes. . . . The unusual initiative appears part of a broader effort to confront what the regime now considers a major threat: an online invasion of Western ideas, culture and influence, primarily originating from the U.S. In recent speeches, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials have called this emerging conflict the ‘soft war.’”
And you just admitted you’re losing, dude.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE NEARS COLLAPSE: “The postal service is already carrying more junk than first class. Pretty soon it’s going to be a government-run advertising mail delivery service. Does that make any sense? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Plus this: “Democrats receive the vast majority of the contributions made by postal workers’ unions, according to campaign finance records, so they tend to be sympathetic.”
AT AMAZON, markdowns on bestselling Automotive goods.
TEN OF THE UGLIEST CARS EVER MADE.
FIVE MYTHS about women in combat.
CONRAD BLACK: A World Of Financial Ruin. “Unless the United States has the most spectacular cognitive awakening since Brunhilda, if not Lazarus, the laws of arithmetic are going to assert themselves in Zeus-like terms. Meanwhile, the European Union is a water-logged vessel in a tempest, frantically bailing.” Since we have the worst political class ever, I’m a bit pessimistic about how this is likely to turn out.
JAY SCHALIN: “Startup America” Will Have A Bad Ending.
CHANGING A NATION, one tweet at a time.
A PROFILE OF “SUPERAGENT” ANDREW WYLIE. Helen used to babysit for him when she was a student in New York.
KENNETH ANDERSON had a nice visit at U.Va Law School. I visited there years ago — back when I was single — and found the law school and faculty as nice as he describes, though I found Charlottesville to be a rather small town if you weren’t a student. Knoxville seemed positively metropolitan by comparison.
IMPORTANT NEWS: Former Miss World Wins Damages After Being Branded Racist and Xenophobic. With bonus hot-babe photo.
CHANGE: Gas Tanks Are Draining Family Budgets: “Households spent an average of $369 on gas last month. In April 2009, they spent just $201. Families now spend more filling up than they spend on cars, clothes or recreation. Last year, they spent less on gasoline than each of those things. . . . Only twice before have Americans spent this much of their income on gas. In 1981, after the last oil crisis, Americans spent 8.8 percent of household income on gas. In July 2008, when oil price spiked, they spent 10.2 percent. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, have risen just 1.9 percent in the past year. That’s only just enough to keep up with inflation.” And only if the measure of “inflation” doesn’t include gas prices.
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Supreme Court Makes It Official: California A Failed State. “Let there be no mistake: when you produce so many criminals that you can’t afford to lock them up, you are a failed state. Virtually every important civil institution in society has to fail to get you to this point. . . . California used to be the glory of this country, the dream by the sea, the magic state. Now it produces so many criminals it can’t pay to keep them locked up. This is partly a blue social model thing.”
BILL WHITTLE: TURNCOAT NATION.
When national campaign strategists consider targeting an ethnic voting bloc to swing results in their direction, they typically consider blacks or Hispanics.
Yet, an ethnic group they often overlook — the Scots-Irish — are the voters the Republican Party persuaded in 2010 to swing back to GOP candidates, after they swung toward the Democratic Party in 2006, experts say.
As the 2012 election approaches and both parties eye the White House and U.S. House and Senate seats, strategists from both parties say the Scots-Irish again could be critical to winning.
Note the appearance by James Webb. Maybe this is why he’s not running again? . . . .
If you want to watch a corruptocrat start sputtering like Porky Pig with allergies, confront him with three simple words: conflict of interest. Asked this week about his role in securing an ex-lover’s highly coveted job at government mortgage giant Fannie Mae, Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank retorted:
“Aba-dee aba-dee aba-dee aba-dee.”
Or that’s what it sounded like, anyway. Frank was rather miffed about the recent disclosure that he helped former lover Herb Moses land a job with the behemoth lender while sitting on a House committee that regulates lenders a decade ago. The Boston Herald reported Thursday that Frank immediately invoked the Everybody Does It card: “It is a common thing in Washington for members of Congress to have spouses work for the federal government. There is no rule against it at all.”
Frank then switched to the Everybody Knew defense: “It was widely known. It was out there in the public.”
Next, he dismissed any controversy about his ethical judgment with the Nobody Cares shield: “It’s nonsense.”
No doubt he’ll spring the Homophobia Card on critics at an opportune moment to ice his multitiered cake of excuses.
Funny thing. Not too long ago, it was Frank himself counseling fellow Democratic scandal magnet Rep. Maxine Waters to butt out of Boston-area OneUnited Bank’s bid for $12 million in federal TARP bailout funds because of conflict-of-interest odors. Waters’ husband, Sidney Williams, was an investor in one of the banks that merged into OneUnited and owned stock holdings estimated at $350,000.
Frank’s exact words to Waters: “You should stay out of it. … You should stay away from this.”
Do as I say, not as I do.
THE POLITICS OF FOOD: “China, India and Saudi Arabia have lately leased vast tracts of land in sub-Saharan Africa at knockdown prices. Their primary aim is to grow food abroad using the water that African countries don’t have the infrastructure to exploit. Doing so is cheaper and easier than using water resources back home. But it is a plan that could well backfire.”
IT TAKES A GREAT NATION to build a great . . . dog park?
SO DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON THE COMPUTER: The growth of “Facebook depression.”
PROGRESS: Stinky feet could pave the way for better ways to stop mosquitoes. But is that a path we want to tread?
SHOCKING DISCOVERY: Pretty Girls Get Free Stuff.
AT AMAZON, bestsellers in Men’s Shoes. Don’t tell The Manolo what’s #1. . . .
THIS MUST BE MORE OF THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” I’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT: Dancing With A Dictator In Sudan. “In Darfur, the Khartoum regime has cleared millions from their lands, allowing ethnic groups allied with the government to move into the deserted areas. In the oilfield areas of southern Sudan in the 1990s, the regime strategically killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of indigenous residents to facilitate Chinese oil exploitation. In the Nuba mountains during the late 1980s and 1990s, the vast majority of locals were forcibly displaced by Sudanese government attacks, and hundreds of thousands died. The international community threatened real consequences during and after these incidents and after other targeted crimes against civilian populations. But the consequences never came.”
WELL, WE’VE ALREADY HAD THE SUMMER OF LOVE: Headline: Brace Yourself For The Summer Of “Sluts.”
WELL, GOOD: Shale Boom in Texas Could Increase U.S. Oil Output. Key bit: “What makes the new fields more remarkable is that they were thought to be virtually valueless only five years ago.”
UPDATE: Reader Roger Baumgarten writes: “It’s only a matter of time before the Obama administration targets them for destruction.”
And reader Bobby Clarke writes: “Another point from that story about Texas oil: Lots of jobs, and lots of money. All sorts of jobs – very well paying blue collar, white collar, supply, support (restaurants and real estate and construction). And the money can stick around for a long long time – Texas got a couple of huge cities, lots of hospitals (world class ones in Houston), University systems, roads – all sorts of good stuff. For the life of me, I do not understand why states that are struggling are not begging geologists to come look for oil.” Good point. Or even paying them to.
FASTER, PLEASE: Japanese Plan: All of Earth’s energy ‘to be supplied by lunar ring of solar panels.’ “The ambitious project would result in 13,000 terawatts of continuous solar energy being transmitted back to receiving stations on Earth, either by laser or microwave.”
Related: Water in the Moon.
UPDATE: Steven Den Beste writes:
A steerable 13-terawatt beam, whether laser or microwave, is a weapon of conquest. And it would have to be steerable in order to track receiving stations on Earth as the Earth rotated. What happens if someone focuses the beam on NYC instead of a receiving station? It wouldn’t take many minutes to kill everyone.
Well, on the old O’Neill/JPL solar power satellite studies, the beam density was very low — low enough that birds could fly over the receiver without being harmed. But that plan involved satellites in geosynchronous orbit. I don’t know if it applies to lunar power-beaming. And I’m not actually sure that lunar power stations beaming power to earth work out better than orbital power stations built of lunar materials shot out by mass driver.
HOW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES LOOKED IN HIGH SCHOOL. Nobody looks Presidential in high school. But here’s a high school picture of me, for comparison. Jimmy Williams (on the right) and I were the yearbook photographers; here’s our picture as artistically “improved” by a classmate. Nerdvana!
CHANGE: American Muslim Clerics Stand Up For Evolution. Good for them. On the other hand, the equivalence here is a bit strained: “Recently, for example, an imam in London was hounded out of his mosque and has suffered death threats for openly declaring support for Darwinism. Likewise, in Christian communities, especially in the US, fringe fundamentalists continue to push for teaching of creationism in science classes.” Can you spot the difference?
BLAMING YOUR LOVE LIFE on Sarah Palin.
WHO WERE THE BIGGEST LOSERS IN THE AUTO BAILOUT? “Among the creditors who suffered most, car-accident victims represent a distinct mold. Unlike banks and bondholders, this group didn’t choose to extend credit to the auto makers. As consumers, they became creditors only after suffering injuries in vehicles they purchased.”
Plus this: “Given the celebratory, even triumphalist, rhetoric that’s being applied to the auto bailout after the fact, it’s important to remember that many suffered in order to give GM and Chrysler a second chance. Even those who are proud of the bailout’s accomplishment should acknowledge that the jobs saved carried a price that goes beyond any final accounting of anonymous billions lost from the federal budget.” Fat chance of that.
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IN POLITICS: “Where Are The Jobs?”
FUNNY TO SEE THIS IN THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS: “Being president of the world has sometimes seemed a job more agreeable to Barack Obama than being president of the United States.” Plus this: “Obama has always preferred the symbolic authority of the grand utterance to the actual authority of a directed policy—a policy fought for in particulars, carefully sustained, and traceable to his own intentions.”
AMERICA’S CHILDREN: Free to choose? “They should have the freedom to become African American, Hispanic, or even Native American. Whose to say they should be oppressed by biology? Did not Michael Jackson become the first trans-ethnic person? Why can’t others aspire to achieve such a state of being? Or in feminist speak, why should my children be oppressed by the tyranny of racial assignment?” Race certainly has less of a biological foundation than sex. As Ta-Nehisi Coates says, “Race is such bullshit.”
TODAY ONLY: A sale on HP Pavilion PCs.
KENNETH ANDERSON on the law of “targeted killing.” “The United States does not believe it is acting extralegally, let alone illegally, in its counterterrorism programs, and it should be willing to say why. The U.S. government believes, as former State Department lawyer Ashley Deeks observed in a recent, influential paper, that states that are unable or unwilling to deal with terrorists in their midst lose claims of sovereignty, thus allowing other states to reach inside to deal with them. The U.S. government believes, moreover, in Koh’s formulation, that even covert operations undertaken outside of an armed conflict must still adhere to international law principles of necessity, distinction, and proportionality in their conduct; there are limiting principles of international law that the U.S. recognizes and abides by. The problem is, such public, official articulations are rare.” The “lawfare” crowd, on the other hand, speaks frequently and loudly.
MICHAEL BARONE: Illinois’s Democratic redistricting–and how Republicans may respond. “The bottom line is that Republicans will have to hustle to offset the effect of the Democratic redistricting plan in Illinois, but that they will probably make a net gain nationally in redistricting, but not a large one—less than 10 seats. If that seems like a small gain to make after the big Republican sweep, especially big in state legislative seats, in 2010, it’s largely because Republicans already made big gains in the redistricting cycle following the 2000 Census.”
THE VISION THING: Reindeer see a weird and wonderful world of ultraviolet light. “When we used cameras that could pick up UV, we noticed that there are some very important things that absorb UV light and therefore appear black, contrasting strongly with the snow. This includes urine – a sign of predators or competitors; lichens – a major food source in winter; and fur, making predators such as wolves very easy to see despite being camouflaged to other animals that can’t see UV.”
IN THE WASHINGTON POST, JOHN TAYLOR REVIEWS Gretchen Morgenson & Joshua Rosner’s Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. Excerpt:
While many economists — including this reviewer — have argued that government actions caused the crisis, Morgenson and Rosner use their investigative skills to dig down and explain why those actions were taken. To avoid reckless policies in the future, we need to understand their causes, and the authors’ identification of government-industry links deserves careful consideration by anyone interested in improving the economy. . . .
The book then gives examples where Fannie’s executives — Jim Johnson, CEO from 1991 to 1998, is singled out more than anyone else — used the excess profits to support government officials in a variety of ways with plenty left over for large bonuses: They got jobs for friends and relatives of elected officials, including Rep. Barney Frank, who is tagged as “a perpetual protector of Fannie,” and they set up partnership offices around the country which provided more jobs. They financed publications in which writers argued that Fannie’s role in promoting homeownership justified federal support. They commissioned work by famous economists, such as Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, which argued that Fannie was not a serious risk to the taxpayer, countering “critics who argued that both Fannie and Freddie posed significant risks to the taxpayer.” They made campaign contributions and charitable donations to co-opt groups like the community action organization ACORN, which “had been agitating for tighter regulations on Fannie Mae.” They persuaded executive branch officials — such as then Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers — to ask their staffs to rewrite reports critical of Fannie. In the meantime, Countrywide, the mortgage firm led by Angelo Mozilo, partnered with Fannie in originating many of the mortgages Fannie packaged (26 percent in 2004) and gave “sweetheart” loans to politicians with power to affect Fannie, such as Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. The authors write that “Countrywide and Fannie Mae were inextricably bound.”
It’s interesting to me that there has been so little law enforcement — or journalistic — interest in the rampant corruption relating to these institutions’ collapse.
THEY’RE CALLING IT “WEINERGATE:” Congressman Claims “Facebook Hacked” As Lewd Photo Hits Twitter.
JAMES Q. WILSON: Why Crime Keeps Falling, Even In Hard Times. “At the deepest level, many of these shifts, taken together, suggest that crime in the United States is falling—even through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—because of a big improvement in the culture. The cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression’s fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society’s cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case.” Read the whole thing.
JAMES TARANTO: The R-Word: James Clyburn and the new racial taboo. “Just as racism and the expression of racially prejudiced sentiments have become taboo, the word ‘racism’ and the imputation to others of racially prejudiced sentiments are becoming taboo. As ‘The Daily Show’ reported in August: ‘The race card’s maxed out.’ Electing a black president really has made a difference.”
HISTORY: A Teachable Moment.
14 STATES with the most job growth.
JIM TREACHER: White t-shirts are racist because, um, shut up.
So does that mean that the Blackshirts were actually progressive?
TYLER COWEN, America’s Hottest Economist. “Cowen is still best known for the blog he shares with Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution. The same survey listed Cowen and Tabarrok’s blog as the second-most popular on economics. Greg Mankiw’s eponymous blog at Harvard just edged it out; both picked up far more votes than Paul Krugman’s New York Times blog Conscience of a Liberal, which ranked third, or Freakonomics, at fifth. That’s among economists.”
FEARING AN INCANDESCENT-BULB PHASE-OUT, Americans are hoarding. I like the way the NYT spins this to blame Bush even as it tries to debunk. But if people are afraid of Bush’s ban, where’s the change now?
Anyway, if the debunking doesn’t calm your worries, it’s not too late to stock up!
UPDATE: Reader Stephen Siegel writes:
I read the NYT piece you linked alleging that the ban on incandescent bulbs is false. Their claim surprised me, so I checked Home Depot’s web site, which reports that they are indeed being phased out.
Then I compared standard 60-watt incandescents with the NYT’s approved substitute, the Philips Ecovantage. First problem is that the substitute isn’t an incandescent; it’s a halogen. The second problem is that it has the same life, produces less than half the lumens (light output), and costs nearly five times as much. It is 28% more efficient, but that won’t even come close to offsetting its higher costs.
Yeah, and I have to say I’m deeply, deeply disappointed with CFL bulbs. I replaced pretty much every regular bulb in the house with CFLs, but they’ve been failing at about the same rate as ordinary long-life bulbs, despite the promises of multi-year service. And I can’t tell any difference in my electric bill. Plus, the Insta-Wife hates the light. I’ve had somewhat better luck with LED bulbs, of which I have a couple, but though the longevity is better, the light is still inferior.
A FRIGHTENING PREDICTION:
I literally experience an emotional connection to my automobile because of the features I mentioned. Someday all of our technology will learn to emotionally manipulate us. Your smartphone is already doing it. Your desktop computer has been doing it for years. As your possessions learn to fill your emotional void, your need for the comfort of other humans will continue to decrease. Eventually we’ll be a society of sociopaths. I’m already halfway there.
That prediction is entirely serious, by the way. I do believe we will transfer our emotional connections from humans to technology, with or without actual robots. It might take a generation or two, but it’s coming. And it probably isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Put that together with the whole President Robama thing, and well . . . it’s scary, all right.
KILLING KHADDAFY with the secret weapon.
THREE CHEERS for Canada.
THE STATE OF THE UNION, ACCORDING TO MATT DRUDGE:
WHAT TO DO if you think you’re getting fired. It helps to be likable.
BLEG: A reader emails: “Hi! I am about to go to a country long ago and far away. Please suggest a good solar charger, portable, that will charge the battery on my HP laptop, and maybe my Kindle.”
STEPHEN GREEN: The Obama Dilemma: “When a President loses control of Congress midstream, typically he turns to foreign policy — where the President’s import can’t be understated — to gin up his numbers. Let’s take a look around the world and see how that’s going for Obama, shall we?”
MEMORIAL DAY SALE: Up to 30% off on HDTVs.
Hearing that the University of California system had $2.5 billion in “unrestricted net assets” on hand in 2010 could make anyone question the necessity of the 32 percent tuition hike that has been proposed, or the 11 to 26 furlough days that more than 100,000 employees were forced to take in 2009.
Similar skepticism has been expressed in two other states in the last month, as different groups suggested that state universities were, in their view, hoarding funds while simultaneously demanding more money from students, denying pay increases to faculty and staff members, and fighting against cuts in state funding. In Michigan it was a faculty union in the middle of contract negotiations. In Ohio it was the state senate’s finance committee chairman. The problem with the claim, administrators say, is that unrestricted net assets are not just piles of cash lying around to be used for whatever they want. The accounting term, which they admit is confusing, refers to any money that doesn’t have some specific restriction placed on it by a donor. That includes a whole host of different funds, most of which have been designated for some purpose, they say.
The term could soon prove to be a headache for more state university administrators as lawmakers scour financial statements for any penny they can find to plug state budgets, and groups like students and faculty members are asked to share the sacrifice of budget cuts through tuition increases, cuts to services, pay freezes, and layoffs.
Read the whole thing. I think university financial statements will be scoured in ways they never have before, which could be awkward, but overall will probably be a good thing.
Plus this: “Everybody’s saying ‘Don’t accumulate assets, pay me!’” A metaphor for our times.
A BILL TO KEEP Big Brother’s mitts off your GPS. “A bill they’ve collaborated to draft prevents the government from getting tracking data sent by your smartphone, GPS unit or other device — including any ‘successor device,’ a nod to as-yet-unimagined tech — without a court order. It exempts geolocation collection from the Patriot Act’s “business records” provision.”
EXPERTS SPAR over Gulf methane’s fate.
A VARIATION ON “UNEXPECTEDLY,” ANYWAY: Pending Home Sales Plunge, Reaching Seven-Month Low. “Pending sales of existing U.S. homes dropped far more than expected in April to touch a seven-month low, a trade group said on Friday, dealing a blow to hopes of a recovery in the housing market.”
UPDATE: Consumer spending, income drop as inflation accelerates. Somebody send Obama a copy of Steve Carter’s essay.
XENI JARDIN: About That AutoPen: “I don’t know that I agree with Graves’ fears, but something just seems wrong about automating the process of signing this particular bill into law, given its far-reaching implications for the privacy and liberty of all Americans, and all the secrecy this law entails. Maybe I’m having a Bill Keller moment: maybe the technology doesn’t matter, and the ceremony of a human hand and a pen and a piece of paper is just familiar theater. But in this case, could the president have been any more detached?”
UPDATE: Several readers say this is eerily somehow reminiscent of the mortgage “robosigning” business.
Plus, from the comments at BoingBoing: “It also seems oddly appropriate that a marginally constitutional bill was signed in a marginally constitutional way.”
TEST-DRIVING the 2012 Toyota Prius V.
SUSANNAH BRESLIN: How To Get A Raise. “TIP #1: Ask for one.”
ROBERT WEISSBERG: Another Modest Proposal To Rescue Universities.
PAUL BOUTIN: Setting Browser Tabs To Open At Startup. “Do you find yourself hitting the same group of Web sites every time you sit down at your computer? For me, it’s Facebook, The Times, Instapundit, Techmeme, my bank, and my Google Docs spreadsheet of freelance assignments. . . . You’re working too hard, America. Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome will all let you save a group of tabs so that your browser will open them all whenever it starts.”
UPDATE: Readers warn that having your bank tab open in the same browser with other tabs is a security risk. Personally, I have an old Macbook I use solely for financial stuff, but that degree of paranoia is probably excessive.
POLL: LARGE MAJORITY SUPPORT A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT. “A full 65 percent of the public supports an amendment to the Constitution to require Congress to pass a balanced budget every year, The Daily Caller reports today. Just 27 percent oppose such an amendment, with 8 percent undecided.”
VIRGINIA POSTREL: Oprah, American Girls and Binge Dreamers.
TIME-LAPSE VIDEO: The Very Large Telescope at work.