THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN. I THINK IT DEFINES OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY: “Jobless claims unexpectedly rise 11,000 to 315,000 last week.”
BRING BACK DDT: Mosquito-Borne Viruses Hit Japan and the U.S.
Mosquito-borne viruses are showing up unexpectedly in affluent countries where they have been largely unknown.
Yoyogi Park, a popular oasis in downtown Tokyo, was closed last week after authorities realized it was the center of Japan’s first outbreak of dengue in 70 years.
Dengue is also called breakbone fever for the severe joint pain it causes. Repeat infections can cause dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be lethal. Since Japanese authorities detected the first case Aug. 27, 65 more have been found, most of them associated with Yoyogi Park. The victims included two models covering the outbreak for a local television station.
Fear of the virus is spreading. In Yokohama, officials closed a large beach park after one local woman infected in Tokyo said she was later bitten by a mosquito there.
In the United States, more than 750 cases of another painful disease, chikungunya, have been reported this year. Almost all have been in tourists returning from the Caribbean, where the disease is rampant, particularly in the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique and Puerto Rico. Nine million Americans visit the Caribbean each year.
But Florida residents who had not traveled were infected this summer, and the virus was found in a Texas mosquito, meaning that it is becoming established in the United States.
Chikungunya was unknown in the Western Hemisphere until late last year.
Victims can often be seen walking stooped over with pain; the name means “bent up” in Makonde, an East African language.
There used to be malaria in East Tennessee where I live — and Yellow Fever epidemics in Philadelphia.
MEGAN MCARDLE: More Bad News For ObamaCare.
Last Monday, Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily reported that insurers say Affordable Care Act enrollment is shrinking, and it is expected to shrink further. Some of those who signed up for insurance on the exchanges never paid; others paid, then stopped paying. Insurers are undoubtedly picking up some new customers who lost jobs or had another “qualifying life event” since open enrollment closed. But on net, they expect enrollment to shrink from their March numbers by a substantial amount — as much as 30 percent at Aetna Inc., for example.
How much does this matter? As Charles Gaba notes, this was not unexpected: Back in January, industry expert Bob Laszewski predicted an attrition rate of 10 to 20 percent, which seems roughly in line with what IBD is reporting. However, Gaba seems to imply that this makes the IBD report old news, barely worth talking about, and I think that’s wrong, for multiple reasons.
The first is simply that we didn’t know what the attrition rate would be until we actually saw the final numbers, and it could have been lower — or higher — than Laszewski suggested. It’s always valuable to have actual data rather than guesstimates (and we should remember that we’re still getting data; we won’t know the final attrition rate until December).
The second is that while attrition was predicted, not everyone was necessarily expecting it. People are still citing enrollment figures from March as the number of people covered by Obamacare policies, even though that number didn’t tell us how many would ultimately pay. In fairness, the Barack Obama administration conveniently stopped issuing enrollment reports after that March peak, so there isn’t a better hard number to use.
It seems like wherever there’s a book, it’s being cooked.
YOU KNOW, THEY DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE ANY LEGAL AUTHORITY TO DO THAT: Golfers frisked as Obama arrives at Martha’s Vineyard club. How come nobody ever tells them to buzz off, and that if the President wants to play golf he can damn well respect the rights of others? The response to the ominous “So, you’re not cooperating?” should be “No, are you assaulting me?”
If the President wants to go out in public, fine. If he can’t do it without assaulting the rights of citizens, then he should stay home. But hey, most of these folks probably voted for him. So: Enjoy!
UPDATE: From the comments:
Think of it this way…
There are probably two Republicans on MV and they are incognito.
Obama is pissing off all the right people.
Well, that part is fun.
UNEXPECTEDLY! ObamaCare Enrollment Is Shrinking, Top Insurers Say.
K.C. JOHNSON: A Depressing Year For Campus Due Process. “The 2013-4 academic year featured a steady assault on campus due process, resulting from a loose alliance between the Obama administration (especially its Office for Civil Rights) and self-appointed ‘activists,’ their faculty supporters, and a handful of higher-ed journalists. The year concluded with some pushback from an unexpected source—the federal courts—likely previewing major controversy between the academy and civil society for coming years.”
I’m so old, I can remember when the academy was part of civil society.
The most relentlessly cited statistic was that women make up only 16% of the tech workforce. At first glance, this looks pretty lame. But once you catch your breath, you realize that most of these jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Women only earn 18% of such degrees awarded to United States residents. Not such a bad effort, then, by Google and company. Still, that didn’t stop the public shaming. Earnest apologies were issued, and calls were made for reform.
Who deserves the brunt of our collective outrage over these lopsided ratios? More importantly, who should be charged with fixing them?
One highly controversial theory — the one that got Larry Summers in deep trouble — argues that there are male advantages in math-related cognitive ability, especially at the so-called “right tail” end of the bell curve. But it’s not necessary to hit that third rail, because even the most capable women shy away from engineering and computer science.
To my knowledge — I’m biased — no school enrolls more fiercely intelligent women than Yale. Yet even there, women are only 18% of computer science majors. The figures are similar at other high-flying schools that admit the best and the brightest women. Not unexpectedly, the prevailing narrative at Yale is that these numbers reflect some kind of glaring injustice. But what exactly is Yale doing wrong? . . . In fact, despite the mainstream media’s insistence that sexism is rife, there exists very little evidence of pervasive bias. Studies occasionally pop up that point to overt or subtle bias in academic hiring or funding, but they are debunked as often as they are trumpeted. And the discrimination that social scientists claim to demonstrate is rarely strong enough to explain observed disparities.
One explanation I’ve seen is that most women don’t want to date science-and-engineering guys. Thus, they avoid those majors. . . . But read the whole thing.
You just can’t keep a good boom down. Oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken formation has quintupled over the past five years as drillers employ the dual technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling to tap previously inaccessible hydrocarbons trapped in shale. This summer, it looks as if Gaia will cooperate, offering mild weather to spur what one official is predicting will be a “big surge” in output. . . .
The shale boom has been so sudden, and so unexpected, that we still lack the transportation infrastructure to deliver shale-sourced crude to refineries. Without pipelines to link North Dakota’s Bakken formation to Gulf Coast refineries, that crude is riding our nation’s rails and being transported by truck—more expensive and more dangerous options. Building new pipelines will cut down on bottlenecks, save money, and potentially save lives. This is a challenge, but it’s the kind we’d like to see more of: one of abundance, not scarcity.
And one that makes the barbarous nations of the Middle East — and Putin’s Russia, too — less powerful and less important.
A NICE GESTURE, from the folks at Red Lobster.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Final US GDP contracts 2.9% vs -1.7% estimate; May Durables drop 1.0%. Unexpectedly!
UNEXPECTEDLY! Consumer prices rise sharply in May. “Consumer prices last month posted their sharpest increase in 15 months as inflation continued a recent acceleration from unusually low levels. The consumer price index jumped 0.4% after rising 0.3% in April, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Economists had expected a 0.2% increase.”
ROGER KIMBALL: Eric Cantor and the Conventional Wisdom.
From where I sit, the response of “responsible leaders,” i.e., representatives of the convention wisdom, has been mostly confined to what they used to call in the wild West a circling of the wagons. Demonize the bastards. Ostracize ’em. Talk incessantly about “fringe candidates” and “extremists” who cannot win (except they just did), who will upset the status quo, which by an extraordinary coincidence just happens to benefit those registering their “shock,” their having been “stunned,” “staggered,” not to say “utterly dismayed.”
Both parties have been assiduous in demonizing the Tea Party. And they’ve been quite effective in convincing themselves that it was yesterday’s news, that the upsets of 2010 were an anomaly, that business-as-usual (represented by us mature politicians who are already in office) had once again achieved the upper hand. Order, in short, had been restored.
Except that unexpected things like David Brat’s victory, like UKIP’s victory in the European election, keep happening. . . .
Which brings me to the other aspect of the Cantor Conundrum, the Brat Braining: the contention that, in addition to being “staggering,” “stunning,” etc., it is also of vast importance. Is it? In the sense that it (like the European elections of a fortnight ago) bespeaks a profound unease among the electorate with politics (and, nota bene pollsters: politicians) as usual, I’d say, yes, it is important. We’ve been told that the “tea party” is a spent force. The trouble is, the millions of ordinary people who are disgusted with Washington, who fear and loath the the rise of the imperial state with its vast armory of regulation and surveillance, not to mention its untouchable self-enriching nomenklatura — those millions haven’t gotten the memo. They don’t know that their interests and desires are de trop, even though their masters in Washington have done everything possible to reinforce that idea.
Yeah, how’s that working out?
UNEXPECTEDLY! More patients flocking to ERs under Obamacare.
RICHARD FERNANDEZ: The Day Obama’s Presidency Died.
The curious thing about September 11, 2012 — the day of the Benghazhi attack — is that for some reason it marks the decline of the Obama presidency as clearly as a milepost. We are told by the papers that nothing much happened on that day. A riot in a far-away country. A few people killed. And yet … it may be coincidental, but from that day the administration’s foreign policy seemed inexplicably hexed. The Arab Spring ground to a halt. The Secretary of State ‘resigned’. The CIA Director was cast out in disgrace. Not long after, Obama had to withdraw his Red Line in Syria. Al-Qaeda, whose eulogy he had pronounced appeared with disturbing force throughout Africa, South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Almost as if on cue, Russia made an unexpected return to the world stage, first in Syria, then in the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
Worse was to follow. America’s premier intelligence organization, the National Security Agency, was taken apart in public and the man who took its secrets, Edward Snowden, decamped to Moscow with a laptop full of secrets. But it was all just a curtain raiser to the dismemberment of Ukraine and the disaster in Eastern Europe. . . . And still there’s no acknowledgement of anything being fundamentally wrong.
Read the whole thing. Including this: “The lie is much more dangerous than the truth. America can live with an Obama mistake. But it can’t live with an Obama who cannot acknowledge his mistakes.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: This Simple Graph Compares Reagan’s and Obama’s ‘Recoveries’. All the people I know who are in business for themselves already know this in their guts (and in their bottom line.)
UNEXPECTEDLY: Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day.
CHANGE: Aging Baby Boomers Becoming the Roommate Generation, at ABC. Note the unexpectedly “funemployment”-style slant of the article.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Student debt holds back many would-be home buyers. “Of the many factors holding back young home buyers — rising prices, tougher lending standards, a still-shaky job market — none looms larger than the recent explosion of college debt.”
HEADLINES FOR THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: Marc Ambinder: If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
But isn’t it funny that this is happening under a President who recently mocked Mitt Romney for a 1980s approach?
21ST CENTURY BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS: When The Restaurant You Googled Googles You Back. “It’s not the thought that counts; unexpected in-person customization feels icky.”
THE CULTURE OF UNEXPECTEDLY! Wrong Again: The economists’ confession.
VIRAL KISSING VIDEO ACTUALLY A CLOTHES AD: “The video peddles the fantasy that beauty can spring from an unexpected connection between two random people, but what it’s really showing us is the beauty of models making out. It’s like the hipster Bachelor. I doubt that millions of viewers would be so quick to celebrate a video of randos kissing if they were all less thin, hip, stylish, charming, and well-manicured.”
TRAIN WRECK UPDATE: ObamaCare enrollments dip. Unexpectedly!
ER, OKAY, BUT MIGHT THIS HAVE LESS DESIRABLE EFFECTS ON WEATHER, TOO? Massive offshore wind farms’ unexpected benefit: Hurricane protection; Wind speed, storm surge slashed when there are 10,000 turbines in storms’ path.
CHANGE: Republicans catch another break in the 2014 Senate elections. “‘Senate Republicans have scored an unexpected recruiting coup, with Rep. Cory Gardner (R) opting to challenge Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) this year, according to a person with knowledge of his plans. Gardner, who is considered the state’s top GOP rising star, previously said he would not run for Senate and would instead seek reelection in November.’ As important, failed Senate candidate Ken Buck has opted for the House race, avoiding a bitter primary and winning the gratitude of his party. This is a huge improvement for the GOP and puts yet another Senate seat in play.”
YOU MAY NOW KIDNAP AND STRIP THE BRIDE: 15 Unexpectedly Barbaric Origins Of Modern Wedding Traditions.
PROTECT YOUR CREDIT by freezing it.
UPDATE: Reader G.L. Carlson emails:
A report from the field: We did this 10 years ago, and it is cheap, easy, and convenient. Free, in some states (Tn is one). The unexpected benefit is that one gets no (or almost no) offers of new credit cards (no ability to prequalify you, no offers). In most states, there is a minor fee ($10 or so) to set up, and a minor fee to remove, which can be done on a one-time or limited time basis. Today, it only takes a phone call. The only problem is that one must plan when one needs credit (that is, remove the freeze). When we refinanced, our bank moved a little too fast…and got denied access. They were surprised; we were delighted.
Of course, this does nothing for data breaches on existing accounts. But if you’re concerned that someone might try to establish a new account, unbeknownst to you, this is an effective, low cost countermeasure.
Good to know.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: why you should run away from a nuclear blast.
I’m not sure I agree with this advice. The last thing you want to be is stuck in traffic when the fallout starts to come down. I might be willing to go a short distance — say to a nearby building — to find better shelter, but that’s about it. Here’s a piece I wrote for The Atlantic a while back on this topic. Also, this video.
SO OBAMA RAN ON KEEPING YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE, NET SPENDING CUTS, AND FIXING IRAQ. HOW’S THAT GOING? How Al Qaeda Terrorized Its Way Back in Iraq: As the country edges closer to civil war, much of the blame goes to Prime Minister Maliki—and the White House.
The climactic battles of the American War in Iraq were fought in Anbar Province, with U.S. forces at great cost retaking the city of Fallujah at the end of 2004 and Ramadi, the provincial capital, in 2006-07. The latter success was sparked by an unlikely alliance with tribal fighters that turned around what had been a losing war effort and made possible the success of what became known as “the surge.” By 2009, violence had fallen more than 90%, creating an unexpected opportunity to build a stable, democratic and prosperous country in the heart of the Middle East.
It is now obvious that this opportunity has been squandered, with tragic consequences for the entire region. In recent days the Iraqi army appears to have been pushed, at least temporarily, out of Fallujah and Ramadi by al Qaeda in Iraq militants. A battle is raging for control of Anbar Province with some tribal fighters supporting the government and others AQI. Mosul, the major city of northern Iraq and a longtime hotbed of AQI activity, could be next to fall. If it does, AQI would gain effective control of the Sunni Triangle, an area north and west of Baghdad the size of New England.
AQI’s control would stretch beyond the Sunni Triangle because its offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, dominates a significant portion of Syrian territory across the border. This creates the potential for a new nightmare: an al Qaeda state incorporating northern Syria and western Iraq.
How’s that Smart DiplomacyTM working out?
MICKEY KAUS: GM Loses Market Share, Again?
The press won’t make it easy for you to discover–gets in the way of the pre-packaged “Detroit is back!” narrative–but it looks like General Motors lost market share again in 2013. According to Ward’s Auto, GM sales grew 7.3%–but the market as a whole grew 7.5%. … GM sales for December unexpectedly cratered, despite “high inventory levels … unseen since before the Great Recession.” … If this is a good year for GM, I wonder what a bad year will look like.
I dunno, but I’ll bet it’ll happen unexpectedly.
WHAT TO DO WHEN OBAMACARE UNRAVELS:
The unraveling of the Affordable Care Act presents a historic opportunity for change. Its proponents call it “settled law,” but as Prohibition taught us, not even a constitutional amendment is settled law—if it is dysfunctional enough, and if Americans can see a clear alternative.
This fall’s website fiasco and policy cancellations are only the beginning. Next spring the individual mandate is likely to unravel when we see how sick the people are who signed up on exchanges, and if our government really is going to penalize voters for not buying health insurance. The employer mandate and “accountable care organizations” will take their turns in the news. There will be scandals. There will be fraud. This will go on for years. . . .
There is an alternative. A much freer market in health care and health insurance can work, can deliver high quality, technically innovative care at much lower cost, and solve the pathologies of the pre-existing system.
The U.S. health-care market is dysfunctional. Obscure prices and $500 Band-Aids are legendary. The reason is simple: Health care and health insurance are strongly protected from competition. There are explicit barriers to entry, for example the laws in many states that require a “certificate of need” before one can build a new hospital. Regulatory compliance costs, approvals, nonprofit status, restrictions on foreign doctors and nurses, limits on medical residencies, and many more barriers keep prices up and competitors out. Hospitals whose main clients are uncompetitive insurers and the government cannot innovate and provide efficient cash service.
We need to permit the Southwest Airlines, LUV -0.26% Wal-Mart, WMT +0.40% Amazon.com AMZN -0.06% and Apples of the world to bring to health care the same dramatic improvements in price, quality, variety, technology and efficiency that they brought to air travel, retail and electronics. We’ll know we are there when prices are on hospital websites, cash customers get discounts, and new hospitals and insurers swamp your inbox with attractive offers and great service. . . .
Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers; lifelong and guaranteed-renewable, meaning you have the right to continue with no unexpected increase in premiums if you get sick. Insurance should protect wealth against large, unforeseen, necessary expenses, rather than be a wildly inefficient payment plan for routine expenses.
People want to buy this insurance, and companies want to sell it.
Unlike ObamaCare, which is the reverse.
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Jobless claims unexpectedly jump to highest level since March.
SARAH HOYT: Woe Is Obama: Is the president depressed as his “accomplishments” come home to roost? “Unexpectedly! Everything going wrong for the most brilliant man in the nation!”
UPDATE: The National Enquirer was already on this. Hey, as John Edwards can attest, they’re not always wrong.
I BLAME GLOBAL WARMING. AND GEORGE W. BUSH! As More People Live Longer Why Are Rates of Dementia Falling? “A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine points out that something unexpected has happened to confound the gloomy prognostications of epidemiologists and demographers. As the percentage of people surviving into old age increases, so the proportion of them who suffer from dementia decreases. People are not only living longer, but living better. This is a phenomenon that has happened across the western world.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! Obamacare Exchanges Won’t Hit Enrollment Targets.
I PREFER MY “PEELING AN ONION OF FAIL” METAPHOR, BUT “FAIL FRACTAL” HAS A NICE RING TO IT, TOO: ACA Fail Fractal: The Deeper You Get, The More Dysfunction You See.
Higher deductibles can, in certain contexts, be useful for introducing some price sensitivity into the system. But that depends on how people go about dealing with them. There are two deep-rooted problems with what remains in many ways an excellent health care system overall: it is too expensive, and not enough people have enough access to it. The cheaper health care becomes, the easier it is to expand access. In a cheaper system, fewer people need subsidies and the subsidies they do need are smaller. Without fixing costs, on the other hand, more and more people, not to mention the government, struggle to pay for our system, and the resources for expanding access shrink as the cost of do so grows.
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act puts most of its effort on the wrong end of the problem: access rather than price. That’s one reason the rollout has been going so poorly and in some respects will get worse. Because not much effort was put into cost control, many insurers have taken the one easy step available to them to limit rate shock: restricting provider networks. As a result, people are unexpectedly losing access to doctors they have seen for years.
WHY OBAMACARE IS LIKE THREE MILE ISLAND. “The administration clearly understood this — right up to the point where a major component failed. Now it’s apparently planning to keep the reactor running with as many pieces as possible in the hopes that none of it will unexpectedly blow up. This is not sound policy thinking, or even sound political thinking, and I think that all of us who care about keeping insurance available for ordinary Americans should try to talk them out of it — for their good, as well as our own.”
Alternative analogy: The Iraq War.
MICHAEL BARONE: Washington Is Partisan: Get Used To It. “America’s Midcentury Moment was just that—and American politics has returned to its combative, partisan, divisive default mode. In the 1790s, Americans were divided over a world-wide war between commercial Britain and revolutionary France. Political strife was bitter. In the antebellum years, Americans were deeply split over issues from the Bank of the United States to slavery in the territories. For three generations after the Civil War, Americans North and South lived almost entirely apart from each other. The Midcentury Moment emerged as the result of three unexpected developments, two of them unwelcome—depression, war, postwar prosperity—and was communicated through the language of an unusually vivid and unusually universal popular culture. Absent these things—and it’s hard to see how they could return—our politicians aren’t likely to all get along.”
SALENA ZITO: No Evidence Dems Can Take Back House.
It is a possibility pushed by paid pundits as reality, but the facts do not support it.
That does not mean a wave election isn’t brewing out on Main Street. In fact, early polling indicates the 2014 midterm might produce another electoral shift, but not one that shoves Republicans out of power.
First of all, the playing field of vulnerable GOP seats is too narrow for Republicans to lose their majority, baring a massive wave. (Think 1894, when 107 Democrats were swept out of the House.)
Second, major waves historically have not happened concurrent with the “six-year itch” – the election held in the sixth year of a president’s tenure, in which the party holding the White House typically loses a substantial number of House and Senate seats.
And remember that, in the 1996 midterm election of the Clinton era, Republicans lost 18 incumbents but kicked the Democrats’ butts in the open-seat races. The Republicans’ losses were mostly “wave seats” that they unexpectedly won two years earlier, during their first sweep back into power after 40 years in the political wilderness.
Coincidentally, all of that occurred in the year of another government shutdown – that one over the funding of Medicare, which is a heck of a lot more popular with voters than Obamacare.
Today, every member of Congress, along with the White House and President Obama, are getting battered in the polls over how they’ve handled the shutdown, with Republicans taking a slim lead on the voter-anger index.
Kyle Kondik, a House analyst for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, says that if (and he stresses a big “if”) Republicans eventually suffer because of the shutdown, it will not be Tea Partiers who are hurt.
“While the Republican brand is poor, the president isn’t particularly popular – his approval is only in the low to mid 40s, according to polling averages,” said Kondik. “There would have to be an incredible amount of revulsion with the Republicans to deliver the House to the Democrats.”
Plus, historically, there’s basically no precedent for the president’s party to capture control of the House in a midterm year. Many presidents have held the House in a midterm, but they haven’t taken control of it in a midterm.
Mostly this is Dem pundits playing on GOP fears. It’s working, too.
President Obama’s chief technology adviser, Todd Park, blames the unexpectedly large numbers of people who flocked to Healthcare.gov and state websites. “Take away the volume and it works,” he told USA TODAY’s Tim Mullaney.
That’s like saying that except for the torrential rain, it’s a really nice day. Was Park not listening to the administration’s daily weather report predicting Obamacare’s popularity?
Park said the administration expected 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. It got 250,000. Compare that with the similarly rocky debut seven years ago of exchanges to obtain Medicare drug coverage. The Bush administration projected 20,000 simultaneous users and built capacity for 150,000.
That’s the difference between competence and incompetence.
INADVERTENTLY, BUT EFFECTIVELY: Surprise! The Koch Brothers Are Boosting Obama. “While President Obama continues to tilt for windmills, rising oil and gas production has showered his administration with unexpected benefits. Those producers inadvertently include his arch enemies—the Koch Brothers. How deliciously ironic it is that the oil industry – consistently scorned by this president – has been one of the most potent economic drivers of this recovery, the biggest contributor to an improving balance of payments picture and has provided Obama significant leverage in digging out of his difficulties in the Middle East.”
On the other hand, there’s this from Liz Peek: Obama Snookers GOP into Government Shutdown.
UNEXPECTEDLY! August Housing Starts Weaker Than Anticipated.
NOT EXACTLY LEADING WITH HIS STRENGTHS: Obama’s week ahead: All about the economy.
President Obama will launch a week of economic events on Monday, highlighting the five-year anniversary of the crashing of the financial market to argue that Republican policy prescriptions to looming fiscal battles would undo recent gains.
Looking back to the economic collapse of 2008, which helped propel him to the White House, Obama will argue the country has since been on a steady climb back to prosperity. The White House is hoping to use the week as leverage before an October deadline to keep the government funded and ahead of the nation reaching its borrowing capacity just weeks later.
It’s all fun and games until someone says the magic words: Labor Force Participation Rate.
UPDATE: Industrial Production Misses Fifth Month In A Row. Unexpectedly!
POLITICIZING IS WHAT HE DOES. IT’S ALL HE KNOWS: Obama’s Politicizing National Security.
UPDATE: Related: What The Hell Is Going On? “So far as we know, most everyone in the government was expecting the bombing would start on Saturday afternoon, Washington DC time. Government officials, above all those with expertise in military operations, were told to cancel their Labor Day vacations and show up for overtime work. No golf for them! Then President Obama–in the face of most all the advice from his ‘national security team’ (I even heard a national radio network broadcaster call it ‘the war cabinet’)–changed his mind. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Surprisingly. How? Why? . . . We don’t have an answer, which suggests to me that we’re missing some key element in the story.”
SEEN ON FACEBOOK: “If there was one advice I could give to fresh out of college professionals: Don’t ever underestimate the handwritten THANK YOU notes. You would not believe the business you can close and the jobs you can land with that simple and unexpected long forgotten touch.” This is very true — and, if anything, it’s truer in this electronic age.
UPDATE: And here’s a different example: Some years ago I wrote a job recommendation for a student who had been on the Frederick Douglass Moot Court team I coached, back when I was BLSA adviser. I gave him a really strong recommendation, because he was a really good student. About a year later, I got a letter from a named partner at the firm I’d recommended him to, telling me what a great hire he’d been and thanking me for recommending him. I still remember that.
AN UNEXPECTED ANTHEM for Obama’s second term.
JOURNALISM: Newspaper columnist goes topless in interview with Kelowna mayor. “A B.C. newspaper columnist and radio host was chatting with the mayor of Kelowna when she did something unexpected. Halfway through her interview, she undid the strap on her dress and bared her chest — then continued the interview.” Note the hypocrisy, though, as the photos are blurred out.
I’M SURE SHE’LL MAKE THEM AS EFFICIENT AND WELL-LOVED AS HER PREVIOUS EMPLOYER: U. of California Gets an Unexpected Leader in Janet Napolitano. Plus this: “She’s a symptom that universities have been taken over by an administrative class.”
SHOCKER: Old And Sick Swamp ObamaCare Rolls.
One result of the Obamacare employer mandate delay is increased pressure on the exchanges: if employers drop coverage of their employees, or even simply don’t offer coverage to currently uninsured employees, more people will have to migrate to the exchanges to fulfill the individual mandate. But the delay isn’t the only unexpected new influx into the Obamacare exchanges. Both Detroit and Chicago are hoping to save money and reduce pension obligations by moving retirees off city health care plans and onto the exchanges. . . .
It’s not clear yet what the outcome of this will be, or whether other states or cities will adopt this tactic. But one thing is true: Obamacare’s success depends in large part on enough healthy young Americans signing up for insurance to balance a risk pool that will now include the previously uninsured sick. If, in addition to them, tons of currently insured older Americans are going to lose their insurance and be kicked onto the exchanges, the number of younger people signing up for coverage has to be that much higher to counteract those new people entertaining the exchanges.
The ACA, to put it gently, is already on shaky ground.
Kill it off before it kills us.
UNEXPECTEDLY! GDP Growth Revised Downward. A Wall Street reader emails:
The “unexpected” downward revision to first quarter GDP confirms what everyone expected going into this year: The tax increases would hurt consumers. Funny how that “reality” didn’t show through the government data until as long after the fact as possible.
An undiscussed consequence of this suspicious pattern is that markets will decreasingly trust government data, potentially increasing volatility and decreasing stability. Note I believe these are undiscussed, not necessarily unintended, consequences.
It’s sad to see this degree of irresponsibility.
THE UPSIDE OF GLOBAL WARMING.
The Arctic boom reminds us that global warming, like most every macro phenomenon, has good and bad effects. The pace of warming has slowed down in recent years and it’s uncertain what the long term effects of climate change will be. But even if we grant that some of the greens’ fears will be realized, there are still countervailing benefits to consider. It looks to us as if the affects of climate change are much more complex and harder to predict than green publicists claim; the earth’s climate system has surprised us before and is likely to surprise us again as the interactions and interrelations of different factors lead to unexpected changes in the world around us.
Given that climate change is a mixture of curses and blessings, any policy addressing it is going to involve trade-offs. Slowing it down, for example, would hurt some, help others. It’s not clear why a cold, Arctic-reliant country like Russia whose economy is linked to the oil and gas trade would find a benefit in cooperating with efforts to stop climate change. It also appears that human activities like farming are better able to adjust to temperature variations than some pessimists would have us believe. Crops like soya, corn and wheat can be bred (or genetically modified) to grow in warmer and dryer conditions at a modest cost.
Greens, many impelled by emotional overreactions or a deep inner belief that unfettered capitalism is a terrible thing, have tried to simplify the discussion about the earth’s changing climate into a morality play.
GEORGE FAKEI? Takei Says That’s Not Always Him on Facebook. “In a week dominated by news that the National Security Agency was intercepting Americans’ emails and phone records en masse, some of George Takei’s 4 million devoted Facebook followers had more important things to worry about: unexpected evidence that the former Star Trek star hires ghost-posters.”
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Manufacturing Drops Unexpectedly.
LIKE A TIME CAPSULE: Wisconsin family discovers fully-stocked fallout shelter in their back yard 50 years after it was installed at the height of the Cold War. “Everything remained remarkably well-preserved, thanks to the airtight containers the supplies were kept in.”
Plus this bit of post-Cold War journalistic ignorance: “The idea of a fallout shelter was not to protect from a nuclear blast, but rather from the radiation that would likely contaminate the surrounding area. It’s unknown what fallout the late Dr Pansch was expecting in Neenah. The small Wisconsin city is 100 miles from Milwaukee and nearly 200 from Chicago – the population centers that might have been targeted by the Soviets.” Had those targets been hit — or missile fields farther west — there would have been plenty of fallout.
UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner emails:
I spent seven years serving in the SAC Airborne Command Post System, aka the Post Attack Command Control System. Even now my recollections of that time are clear.
Somebody in Neenah Wisconsin definitely wouldn’t have been worried about the blast effects of a nuclear weapon. The town is on the northern end of Lake Winnebago, and there is a regional airport northwest of the town, near Appleton, that might once have been a base for air defense interceptors. I doubt the Soviets would have gone to the trouble to take out a runway as small as Outagamie Regional Airport. However, based on what we knew of their political thinking, we expected them to hit every state capital because in the minds of the Soviet planners that is where all the command and control would be. As far as missile fields further west, yes, there were some. Grand Forks and Minot, both in North Dakota, had 150 Minuteman missiles each, as did Ellsworth near the Black Hills of South Dakota. F. E. Warren, near Cheyenne, had 150 Minuteman missiles, and Malmstrom, near Great Falls Montana had 200 Minuteman missiles. Everybody expected some or all of the launch control centers to be hit. It was even deemed possible that the Soviets might be inclined to hit the silos themselves. Fortunately we never got to find out.
As insurance against the Soviets successfully attacking the Minuteman launch control centers, there was a backup system known as the Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS). We in the SAC ABNCP System had the capability of commanding Minuteman missile launches from our ABNCP aircraft. I served as a deputy missile launch officer for part of my time the SAC ABNCP. The ALCS remains operational.
UPDATE: Reader Matt Kreutzmann writes:
Regarding the fallout shelter in Neenah, WI, there was plenty of risk of fallout. As you and other readers have noted, the major cities WI and the missile silos in the Dakotas could have brought fallout to Neenah.
Much closer, there were ELF stations in the Chequamagon National Forest and the Escanaba River State Forest that were used to communicate with submerged submarines. They were likely pretty soft targets, but still strategic. It’s an energy intensive and SLOW way to communicate, but it worked. They were decomissioned in 2004, I believe. The Cold War was much more pervasive than people tend to recall.
That would have been the old Sanguine system, I believe. Or, rather, its successors.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: 27 Unexpected Ways Coffee Can Improve Your Life.
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: “Previously owned U.S. home sales unexpectedly dropped in March.”
THE WAGES OF FRACKING: Rise in U.S. Gas Production Fuels Unexpected Plunge in Emissions.
WELL, THEY HAVE TO RELY ON THIS BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE ARGUMENTS: Victor Davis Hanson: The Dangers of Politically Inspired Moral Outrage—From Sandy Hook to What Next?
It is a bad idea to demonize your opponents with epithets such “shameful” and “lying,” given that the case was not made that proposed gun-control legislation would have prevented a Sandy Hook. To prevent these school-shooting horrors might require either armed guards in schools, or Draconian new laws about gratuitous screen and video-game violence, or more frequently incarcerating the mentally unstable, or, on the theory of reducing rapid rates of fire, confiscating millions of previously sold semi-automatic handguns and rifles. All those measures would have offended millions across the political spectrum in ways that demonizing the NRA apparently does not. In the end, it was not the “lying” “gun lobby” that persuaded enough senators to defeat the bill, but the president’s inability to make the argument that his proposals would help stop another Sandy Hook or Columbine.
Moreover, the current sophistry of using catastrophic current events to rush legislative agendas or build political capital is as natural as it is also dangerous — and can rebound in unexpected ways.
Indeed. Related: Former Justice of the Peace Shot Texas Prosecutors, Not Aryan Brotherhood as Chris Matthews Supposed. “The wife of a former justice of the peace revealed to authorities this week that she and her husband are responsible for the deaths of two Texas prosecutors, ending a months-long mystery that aroused speculation, especially by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, that members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas were responsible. On his show, Matthews routinely tied the Aryan Brotherhood to gun-rights supporters.”
TOM MAGUIRE: What Does Obama’s Common Sense Tell Him? “It was a bit of a plot twist to see the leading man booing the audience. Not entirely unexpected, considering the leading man, but still.”
NICK GILLESPIE AND TODD KRAININ: 5 Unacknowledged, Unexpected, and Unavoidable Facts about Govt Spending and the Economy.
RECOVERY SUMMER! Retail Sales Fall . . . wait for it, wait for it . . . Unexpectedly! “Retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in March by the most in nine months as employment slowed, showing households ended the first quarter on softer footing.”
I WAS EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Thunderstorms contain ‘dark lightning,’ invisible pulses of powerful radiation.
Scientists recently discovered something mind-bending about lightning: Sometimes its flashes are invisible, just sudden pulses of unexpectedly powerful radiation. It’s what Joseph Dwyer, a lightning researcher at the Florida Institute of Technology, has termed dark lightning. Unknown to Franklin but now clear to a growing roster of lightning researchers and astronomers is that along with bright thunderbolts, thunderstorms unleash sprays of X-rays and even intense bursts of gamma rays, a form of radiation normally associated with such cosmic spectacles as collapsing stars. The radiation in these invisible blasts can carry a million times as much energy as the radiation in visible lightning, but that energy dissipates quickly in all directions rather than remaining in a stiletto-like lightning bolt.
Dark lightning appears sometimes to compete with normal lightning as a way for thunderstorms to vent the electrical energy that gets pent up inside their roiling interiors, Dwyer says. Unlike with regular lightning, though, people struck by dark lightning, most likely while flying in an airplane, would not get hurt. But according to Dwyer’s calculations, they might receive in an instant the maximum safe lifetime dose of ionizing radiation — the kind that wreaks the most havoc on the human body.
I wonder if the mechanism is related to that by which Scotch tape creates X-rays? Interestingly, pilots have reported all sorts of strange sights on the tops of thunderstorms that meteorologists for years pooh-poohed, but science keeps finding evidence that there really are weird things going on there.
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: “The pace of expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly slowed in March, according to an industry report released on Monday.”
TWO PBSs IN ONE! PBS’s Mark Shields: ‘The Rich Are the Scum of the Earth:’
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: I think it was G. K. Chesterton who said, “Wherever they are, the rich are the scum of the earth.”
SHIELDS: For some reason, Charles doesn’t want to stand up for rich Russians. And I think somebody has to stand up for people who put their money in offshore or nontaxable places. Let’s remember, I mean, look at it this way: Cyprus is the Cayman Islands of a different time zone. That’s what it is. We don’t want rich people paying taxes whether they’re Russian or whether they’re Republicans.
GORDON PETERSON: But the rich people he’s talking about …
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: You don’t think there’s a difference between the way the Russian economy works and who gets rich? Russia doesn’t have a Steve Jobs. Russia has people who steal from what was once Soviet property and you get your money if you’re a crony of Putin and his other people.
SHIELDS: I wasn’t defending how one gets it. I was just merely addressing the compulsion to keep it and never to surrender any to the public wheel.
KRAUTHAMMER: There’s a difference between gains which are ill-gotten or fairly gotten.
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: [Groans] I’m not sure that a lot of the people that Mark is talking about who aren’t Russian got it so fairly either.
But please you wealthy people whom we just condemned, continue to sponsor our shows, and give generously during one of our seemingly weekly fundraisers. A generous pledge of $500 will bring you a $9.99 DVD of Woodstock and a PBS totebag!
Actually, the full Chesterton quote is:
“You English are an extraordinary lot,” said the Irishman, with a sudden and sombre quietude. ” I sometimes feel you may pull through after all.”
After another silence he said, ‘ You’re always right, Hump, and one oughtn’t to think of Yankees like that. The rich are the scum of the earth in every country. And a vast proportion of the real Americans are among the most courteous, intelligent, self-respecting people in the world. Some attribute this to the fact that a vast proportion of the real Americans are Irishmen.”
Modesty regarding my own heritage means that I can neither confirm nor deny the last portion of that sentiment, but it’s difficult to see anyone at PBS declaring that “a vast proportion of the real Americans are among the most courteous, intelligent, self-respecting people in the world.” I would imagine the thoughts of someone staring out from the glass windows of a PBS building into the hinterlands would be much more akin to this. Not to mention, this.
RELATED: Tales of the One Percent: “WaPo Executives Make Millions While Paper Cuts Staff, Benefits.” That seems rather “unexpectedly” paradoxical behavior from the management of a paper that supported Occupy Wall Street in 2011.
WHY YOUR KID CAN’T GET A JOB, as explained by Michael Malone of Forbes and Silicon Valley marketing executive Tom Hayes:
So what is a kid today to do? One answer is to establish a powerful personal brand independent of work experience. Not just cobble together a few starter jobs, but pursue their own aspirations – and then learn how to define them and market them to the corporate world. Another answer is to take advantage of being a digital natives and build new kinds of networks – and a sharing economy – and find jobs for each other and hire amongst themselves. Freelancing is likely to be their future anyhow, so why not start and learn the skills (from DIY bookkeeping to marketing) of being an entrepreneur now? Young job hunters need to rethink their social media presence. Social proof is critical to employers. Ditch the frat party photos, avoid the drunken tweets. Turn your public social media presence into a showcase of your personal brand and portal of interests and skills. Connect the dots for the prospective hiring manager. The best way to combat a thin resume is with photos, video, endorsements. Be unusual and memorable: if, for example, you reached Level 60 on World of Warcraft, tell your future boss why that means you have monster leadership skills. And, show you have a big and growing network that comes with you when you get hired.
Read the whole the whole thing, and then pass it along to someone who either needs the advice personally, or has kids who would benefit from these suggestions.
ILLINOIS LAW MUST OUTLAW STALKING, NOT ENCOURAGE IT:
Yes, that’s correct; during labor disputes, Illinois’s law against “aggravated stalking” does not apply to union organizers (Public Act 097-0468). This leads to a simple and logical question: is it ever acceptable to engage in stalking? Apparently, the answer in the Land of Lincoln is yes.
For anyone who engages in aggravated stalking in Illinois, it is a Class 3 felony with a “second or subsequent conviction” serving as a Class 2 felony. The penalty for the crime is serious and it should be. That’s what makes the exemption for organized labor — a special interest — so outrageous and inexcusable.
But unfortunately, Illinois is not alone; it is joined by California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. These states have placed the interests of Big Labor bosses above the safety of average citizens.
UNEXPECTEDLY: We had to pass the bill to find out what was in it — and now we know: under the Orwellian named Affordable Care Act, “medical claim costs, the largest driver of health insurance premiums, are expected to increase by 32 percent for individuals, a new study by the Society of Actuaries finds.”
And 2014 is just around the corner…
DEHUMANIZING ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC: “[Anyone] who would run out to buy an assault rifle after the Newtown massacre has very little left in their body or soul worth protecting,” tweets Jim Carrey, in-between sparring with moviegoers on Twitter who disagree with his anti-Second Amendment viewpoint.
Presumably Carrey is wishing for his box office appeal to become increasingly “selective,” as Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith euphemistically explained his charges’ own declining popularity.
Update: An Insta-reader emails that Carrey’s hateful rhetoric is “a pretty harsh thing to say about Gabby Gifford’s husband….”
Meanwhile, Greg Gutfeld and Dana Loesch punch back twice as hard; including Loesch asking Carrey if he’ll be denouncing his own upcoming Kick Ass 2 movie, to remain consistent with his anti-gun rhetoric; Carrey bravely runs away in response. Unexpectedly.
(Bumped to top.)
RACIAL ALIENATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION: The case of straight, white men.
Most people who are not straight white men would probably smirk at the idea that straight white men feel alienated in the higher education workplace.
Those who smirk, Sandra Miles said here at the annual conference of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, are hindering meaningful discussion about race.
Miles, whose dissertation on the professional experiences of black women in her field produced an unexpected sub-study about the alienation of straight white men, made this argument to a couple hundred people who turned up to hear more about her research. The ensuing debate was, unsurprisingly, somewhat contentious.
A comment by one white graduate student toward the end of the session summed it up well. He described a recent discussion about privilege in a higher education class, when he was shot down after offering his own thoughts.
“I couldn’t even begin to have that conversation because it was automatically assumed I didn’t understand,” he said. “To go through that experience in a higher education class – which is supposed to be the safest place to talk about that – was just terrifying.”
The preconceived notions and biases apparent in the reactions of that student’s peers spoke to the overall takeaway of Miles, who is university ombudsman at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.
“We’re all unhappy – apparently that’s what equality looks like,” she said. “Every other group feels discriminated against as well, and when having these conversations with people who are members of these other groups, it’s important that you understand that.”
Miles surveyed 671 student affairs professionals, primarily in the South and Midwest. About 230 respondents were black, and 415 were white.
Snippets from the responses of white men suggested many of them feel unfairly judged and at times professionally limited because of their race and gender.
Well, you can only call people the enemy for so long based on their race and gender before they start to notice.
And note this, from the comments: “When I started in the student affairs field in 1975, there were slightly more men than women in the student personnel graduate programs around the country. Today, go to virtually any school and take a look at the gender breakdown either in student development graduate programs or in the student affairs division at that school. You will find that the gender scene has changed dramatically since the 70s. In fact, the field is probably closer to 75% – 80% women. That fact should have us take heed and explore what has changed. The pay is still education pay and lousy so that hasn’t changed. Men have fled from the field for some reason.”
If it were any other race and gender fleeing, it would be a crisis. And if student affairs offices were 75-80% male, it would be seen as creating a hostile environment for female students.
In truth, of course, an increasingly feminized higher education world is, in fact, hostile to men in many ways, and that’s one reason why male enrollment is falling, exacerbating the higher education bubble’s bursting.
Related item here:
Men don’t join the conversation now for the same reason that women didn’t in the 50′s.
In the 50′s if a woman complained about her sexist boss then the entire weight of the organization and society came down on her for not playing her part, and being uppity enough to challenge the real power.
Now after decades of the government and corporate legal counsel’s actively stamping out sexual harassment a new paradigm exists. If a woman complains about a sexist man then the man is presumed guilty until he can prove his innocence. (usually because the company would rather fire him on the spot rather than risk a lawsuit or government interference in their operations) In other words, “the entire weight of the organization and society come down on the uppity man for questioning a powerful woman.”
Maybe someday we’ll achieve that actual equality we’ve been seeking, but for now it’s just safer and better for the man to move on to a less dangerous place and continue his career there.
Coming soon in response: A wave of “Black Knights?”
WINNING THE WAR ON MEN MEANS MORE SINGLE MOMS:
Men are becoming less appealing to women. Meager earnings tend to make a man less marriageable. And as men are skipping college in greater numbers, their wages are dropping.
But as we noted yesterday, the turn away from marriage hasn’t made men any less likely to father children. As a result, single motherhood is on the rise, and boys growing up without fathers will face even worse odds of successful employment and marriage.
Men are doing worse, but female hypergamy remains a strong force. It makes a poor combination.
UPDATE: Reader George Milonas writes:
I think most men would deny they’re in decline. Men are having just as much sex but without the legal liabilities marriage impose on them. All I’m hearing from women in these articles is that men need to grow up and take responsibility for their actions, meaning they need to legally sign a paper imposing government sanctions on them if said marriage dissolves. There is no question that men are getting the shaft from the courts financially when divorce occurs. Furthermore women are also more likely to get custody of any children as well as more decision making responsibility.
Men have wised up after hearing horror story upon horror story from their older friends and family when the court system utterly destroyed their lives and have simply decided to go galt from the entire marriage process.
Divorce courts have become the ultimate nanny state intrusion into the lives of men and the average man has decided that it simply is not worth the risk. Exactly how is that irresponsible to the man? This is the ultimate unexpected consequence Virginia slim gets.
Yes, this is the precise thesis of the Insta-Wife’s forthcoming book.
TEN YEARS ON, soldier recalls Iraq invasion. “I would absolutely do it again.”
It’s nice to hear that from the people who served. I think the Bush Administration dropped the ball on Arab democracy promotion in 2005, when I believe it would have gone better than the “Arab Spring” turned out. And the Obama Administration, of course, blew the withdrawal. Nonetheless Iraq is freer, and vastly more prosperous, than it was under Saddam and has a decent shot at becoming a successful and democratic nation, which is better than many countries in the region. [Later: What, I'm on the same page with Bill Maher?]
UPDATE: A reader whose name I’m omitting because he’s a serving military officer emails:
As a military analyst, I knew why we went in from the beginning. It was the right thing to do, and the right way to do it (at least the invasion, and the later Surge).
There were some middle parts where we didn’t do a great job working toward our goals, but it wasn’t because the invasion was wrong. It was inability to adapt to an unexpected environment. Petraeus’ COIN strategy was correct, and Bush was correct in approving it.
Obama absolutely fumbled the withdrawal.
That seems about right to me.
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell in March.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Jobless Claims Rise Sharply. “Jobless claims surged this week, missing expectations by the most since Sandy as seasonal affectations are in the rear-view mirror. For 13 months, we have meandered around a flat-line initial claims number in the 365k range – and we remain there.”
UPDATE: Reader Tom Deakins writes: “You forgot to mention that this latest surge was unexpected.” Well, that goes without saying, by now.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits. “Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.”
Hey, weren’t these the people ObamaCare was supposed to help? Who could have seen this coming?
UNEXPECTEDLY! USA Today: Health Care Law May Mean Less Hiring In 2013.
Australia has designs on becoming the leading natural gas supplier for not only Asia, but the entire world. Indeed, the country has the offshore resources and the thirsty markets nearby in Asia to pass Qatar as the world’s top supplier of LNG.
However, Australia’s march towards energy superpowerdom is beginning to run into domestic problems—and new competition. Rising labor costs and high prices in Australia’s booming economy are making it unexpectedly difficult for the Aussies to export their gas and now energy-hungry Asian countries like China and Japan are starting to eye alternative and equally cheap gas from North America. . . .
Whether it’s Australian, American, or Canadian gas that wins the race to the Asian market (and most likely, there is plenty of demand for all three), a few things seem clear:
(1) The long era in which the Middle East was the global supplier of hydrocarbons is coming to an end.
(2) A global switch from coal to natural gas is one of the most practical ways available for civilization to begin the transition to a new kind of energy market. Greens take note.
(3) Asia is not going to be self sufficient in either energy or food in the 21st century, which, from the standpoint of those who hope to see the world becoming a more peaceful and economically integrated place, is a very good thing. The rising Asian powers will need a healthy, stable and secure global system to feed their people and run their economies.
THE BIG FREEZE: Cold Weather Across Europe, Asia Kills Hundreds.
Cold weather in the past few days has sadly gone from severe to deadly. While unusually high snowfall has disrupted the travel plans of millions of Americans, freezing temperatures have taken the lives of hundreds of people from Central Europe to South Asia. The BBC reports that in Poland, 49 people have died; in Ukraine, 83; in Russia, 88; and in India, at least 93. The majority of those dead are the elderly and the homeless.
Besides being an obvious tragedy for many across the world, this is a reminder that “weather” is not “climate,” unless it suits the needs of environmental hotheads to claim that it is. When there’s a hot spell or a dry spell or a wet spell that can somehow be connected with the climate change narrative, the media resounds with panicky warnings. But when people die of frostbite in Punjab and temperatures hit -58F in Russia, the silence of the alarmists is deafening.
In the past few years we’ve seen climate change blamed for hot weather, for floods and for droughts. It’s been blamed for both the presence and the absence of storms. It’s been blamed for excessive snow as well as for the absence of snow. We don’t blame the smart greens for these recurring epidemics of media foolishness, but we wish they did more to focus the public discussion on practicalities and realities.
For the record, Via Meadia accepts the scientific evidence pointing to rising temperatures around the world. But we remain deeply skeptical that the nostrums proposed by green activists offer much in the way of practical steps, and the more green policies we see that fail due to ‘unexpected’ complications the less confidence we have.
More significantly, we’ve seen how the press selectively conflates weather and climate to advance a predetermined narrative. As they do in so many areas. I think it’s because they’re insufficiently diverse, like the all-white New York Magazine.
UNEXPECTEDLY: U.S. retailers scramble after lackluster holiday sales. “The 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.”
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall. “Not one of them has a four-year degree. Only one is still studying full time, and two have crushing debts. Angelica, who left Emory owing more than $60,000, is a clerk in a Galveston furniture store. . . . even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt.”
Go to college, but don’t borrow money to do it. Plus this: “The growing role of class in academic success has taken experts by surprise since it follows decades of equal opportunity efforts and counters racial trends, where differences have narrowed.” Unexpectedly!
IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, you should read Matt Lewis’s column in The Week about how the media should be ashamed of their Sandy Hook shooting coverage.
But aside from the “Death Porn,” as some have called it, there’s also the instinct toward moral bullying and control coupled with appalling ignorance that was demonstrated by Rupert Murdoch and Mark Shields, both of whom seem to think that any American can just waltz up and buy a machine gun at the drop of a hat. Perhaps Murdoch’s ignorance is excusable because he’s a foreigner — though if he wants to use that as an excuse, he might also want to butt out until he learns something about the country he’s criticizing — but Shields’ excuse is . . . what, exactly? Senility?
CRITICIZING THE “DEATH PORN MEDIA.”
A POLITICAL FLEET-IN-BEING: So one of John Kerry’s roadblocks in being named Secretary of State is a fear that Scott Brown might take the seat from the Democrats. And Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Haslam showed unexpected backbone on the ObamaCare exchanges because he feared a Tea Party challenge in 2014. Even the credible threat of political challenge can affect behavior. Worth keeping in mind.
UNEXPECTEDLY: US Manufacturing Declines in November: ISM Index. “U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in November, falling to its lowest in over three years in a sign the sector may be struggling to gain traction, according to an industry report released on Monday.” Funny, there was no sign of this before the election. . . .
On the other hand, there’s this: Knoxville One Of Just Three U.S. Cities In Recovery From Recession.