Sunday, May 31, 2009

PZ Myers is Right

We have a total cuteness winner (and yes you have to go through his site).
The little stripey feline lives the camera!

Well Worth It!

I remain a big fan of Susan Boyle. I am not sure she sings all that well.
So this is fun, though, as we know, she does not win. But she will get revenue!
As ever, SimonPiers is canny - a "weird seven weeks". And all else he said.

Britain's Got Talent

I think this is as good as you can get as an analysis of the final. Heck, Mary even voted!
But I must say her use of the verb 'exploited' baffles me. Who is exploiting whom? Seems to me like pretty free exchange. (Yeah there is a ten-year-old, but that is surely a parental issue.)

Mom's Nude Photos

Count on P.J. O'Rourke to capture it, though I think I am a dissenter - I have never regarded car ownership as other than an unfortunately rational response to other constraints I picked in life, never actually wanting directly to own a car (OK maybe when I was 20! - but back then I just rented, rationally).
But as I see now Chrysler and GM heading for the toilet, it seems to me he has a very nice analysis of the emotional meaning of this all.
The economic meaning is just a matter of scheduling, and who winds up paying for the end of life of many of the workers.

America’s romantic foolishness with cars is finished, however, or nearly so. In the far boondocks a few good old boys haven’t got the memo and still tear up the back roads. Doubtless the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation is even now calculating a way to tap federal stimulus funds for mandatory OnStar installations to locate and subdue these reprobates.
Among certain youths—often first-generation Americans—there remains a vestigial fondness for Chevelle low-riders or Honda “tuners.” The pointy-headed busybodies have yet to enfold these youngsters in the iron-clad conformity of cultural diversity’s embrace. Soon the kids will be expressing their creative energy in a more constructive way, planting bok choy in community gardens and decorating homeless shelters with murals of Che.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nifty - A Clear Distinction

One of my favorite blogs to follow has long been Larry Moran's Sandwalk and here he does a nice job of helping me understand a distinction I have been struggling with.
It's a difference in worldviews. Pluralists tend to look at an evolutionary outcome and ask, "What mechanism of evolution caused this?" Adaptationists tend to look at the same outcome and ask, "How can this be explained by natural selection?" Adaptationists know about random genetic drift—they just don't think it's an important player when it comes to the parts of evolution that they're interested in. I think that's a bad assumption.

I think he has converted me.

Matt Yglesias captures my astonishment

In a post about the Opel deal that gets a lot.
I think he misses the incredible importance of this to the quondam Frank Strohsack, now Frank Stronach of Magna.
I will bet this is an economically stupid idea made possible by earlier successes of those who really want to stuff it, and rightly so, to the people they had to leave 50 years ago to have a life. There is a lot of this going around right now. I know a lot of companies I would not consider buying a car from now. I suspect I am not alone.

The Ricci Case Seems Clear to Me

New Haven is in the wrong and should fix it.
What sort of world would we create with some other ruling?
And Steve Sailer is also right. :-)

I Sure Hope This Debate Continues!

Niall Ferguson fires a shot across the bow, after some previous minor skirmishes with Krugman.
This is entertaining at least, and matters, as I am trying to enjoy life as a sort of rentier. And so I prefer Krugman's mantra!

Of course, Mr Krugman knew what I meant. “The only thing that might drive up interest rates,” he acknowledged during our debate, “is that people may grow dubious about the financial solvency of governments.” Might? May? The fact is that people – not least the Chinese government – are already distinctly dubious. They understand that US fiscal policy implies big purchases of government bonds by the Fed this year, since neither foreign nor private domestic purchases will suffice to fund the deficit. This policy is known as printing money and it is what many governments tried in the 1970s, with inflationary consequences you do not need to be a historian to recall.
No doubt there are powerful deflationary headwinds blowing in the other direction today. There is surplus capacity in world manufacturing. But the price of key commodities has surged since February. Monetary expansion in the US, where M2 is growing at an annual rate of 9 per cent, well above its post-1960 average, seems likely to lead to inflation if not this year, then next. In the words of the Chinese central bank’s latest quarterly report: “A policy mistake ... may bring inflation risks to the whole world.”

A small consolation is that I am rentier in Canada, where commodity prices tend to drive the economy. My fingers are crossed, but I will keep reading these guys!

Civilized Discourse

This is the sort of thing I'd like to see a lot more of!
And I think that though I ask you to read the whole thing, this captures the issues.
I’d like to compare where I think Dr. Krugman stands on various elements of the strategic question I posed, and compare them with my own views. We differ in our concern about the risks and costs of severe climate change, and that difference leads us to radically different policy recommendations.
I should state at the outset my views on the science and risk of climate change. There is a significant amount of evidence that there is a long-term risk of severe climate change. But there is little discussion about the numbers: How big of a risk? How much warmer? How quickly? How certain are we? And the numbers matter a lot. If we knew with certainty that Earth would warm 10 degrees over the next 20-30 years, I would be screaming for an immediate big carbon tax. If instead we think Earth is likely to warm one degree over the next century or two, then climate change is a trivial concern and we needn’t worry about it. The problem is that nobody knows where we are between these two extremes. This uncertainty matters a lot, and it makes the problem hard.

And I cannot leave the theme of civilized disagreement without the hat tip to Greg Mankiw, who occupies more my position on this, but pointed me to this excellent discussion explaining why his views did not prevail in the White House.

Tar Baby - How Stupid is This Country?

A guy with French as his first language gets lectured fatuously by English language native speakers? How stupid and niggardly can their concerns be?
I am with Steve Janke on this waste of Parliamentary time. "Tar baby" has to be one of the most wonderfully precise metaphors in the language and let's try to keep it there!

What is it with Britain's Got Talent?

For all the fuss about "American Idol", which I have never watched, this British version seems to create amazing YouTube buzz. First Susan Boyle. And now more breakdowns. Hollie Steel, ten years old, who scintillated bouncing around the stage in her audition singing "I Could Have Danced All Night" cracks under pressure on the show in her first semi-final attempt:

The judges offer her another try:

No bawling, but I thought the singing pretty wobbly and inaccurate, much like most of Susan Boyle's "Memory".
But what a country for drama queens! (Though it seems "American Idol" has one this year too.)
UPDATE: The "dead posh" comment is SO British.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What Makes Steve Sailer Look Right

Fundamentally, something so lame as Tyler Cowen's post of this morning.
And it is not just that the post was bad, but that is was empty, a real shocker from Tyler Cowen,
So Steve's response reflects mere bafflement, rightly.
If it's about the Ricci case, say how you think it should come out. I know what I think.

There Should be More CDC-TV

But this is a heck of a start, in the struggle to counteract idiots like Jenny McCarthy and Oprah Winfrey.

The terrible externality being created by the gullible parents who withdraw their children from vaccination seems to be appearing. Nor a pretty sight.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Spelling Bee

The girl (East Indian) gets it right despite the ridiculous suggestion that the word is Latin and that somehow through German. Latin! WTF!? Good thing the girl ignored the stupid Latin connection.
How stupid is this show?!

Spelling Bee

It is a piece of crap.
"Unakite" gets a kid to the next round.
Why would "Eunochyte" not have done it?
English is a truly stupid language.

Spelling Bee on TSN2 - Brutal!

Why are the immigrant kids so damned good?
I'd say partly that their parents care.
And also that English is SO arbitrary they had to think a lot more.
What a brutal battle!
"Hebdomadally" - is it spelled that way in English? Kid gets eliminated and I sure wonder about that goofy spelling.
"pterylosis" - when has an English-speaking human last used that word? It has NEVER teased its way into my daily life.
Sukyanya Roy gets "stapp". Ridiculous. I have never seen this word used.
"Thyalicine"? Have you ever used this word? Another dark-skinned babe gets removed. Who can take this seriously? It's like picking a Supreme Court Justice.
Next kid, East Indian male, gets the ridiculously easy "Kalium" and gets it wrong.
This is really not very impressive.
The next word is insane and not used in daily life, and for another East Indian - much as I enjoy this, it seems nuts to me. I am gone. Why even bother with this nonsense?
I have had it! This is stupid. A kid gets eliminated for missing an utterly totally arbitrary transliteration. What is the point?

That Dreaded Schwa Sound

Good Heavens - yesterday on The Sports Network I was watching Barca versus Man U! Today I am now utterly enraptured by some spelling bee. The kids are like lawyers asking after word roots and alternative pronunciations. To little effect in the presence of the guess-making schwas.
This is a sport I somehow dodged as a kid. And another bloody schwa on the second very challenging word. What the hell kind of language is English anyway with all these godawful schwas?

Mad Men, I Give Up

With time on my hands I devoted some to the first few episodes of "Mad Men".
And I fell no urge to go on. There is nobody likeable to justify my continuing.
And part of me finds this discussion a little sensible. It simply does not seem a remotely credible show, and does seem to be like what Lionel Chetwynd's son says, it is Boomer propaganda.
So I give up for now until someone convinces me otherwise.

Too Much Pressure


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sports Highlights

Sharapova (with a slight mustache exposed by those cruel TV cameramen) moved along, against a Petrova who seemed to want to look as much like a body-builder as Nadal. And I was pleased.
Later in the day Barcelona won one of those football matches where justice is clearly done. And it was very clearly done. Paul Hinderaker summmarizes very nicely. This match was not as competitive as one might have liked, but the justice done was satisfying. SillyWife and I especially liked that the goal that essentially finished the match derived from an assist from a guy whose name sounded like "Shabby", and came off the head of "Messy".
Congratulations Barca - one truly solid win. Hinderaker points out that the Man U passing was awful - he leaves out that the Barca passing was superb.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Most Importantly

Somehow that adverb phrase was what I found most moving in this TED talk.
I had the good luck to grow up in English, and my interest in foreign languages has always been a luxury good. But it is a luxury good I recommend heartily to anyone.

Apes and Puppies

This is a lovely post with a great picture in it.
It makes me wonder what it is my species of ape has that created this great relationship we have with the descendants of wolves, when it is clear that the affinity for them is clearly part of the bonobo.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Real Singing

The nice thing is that the Susan Boyle research actually sent me to this - what starts at 1:29 or so is devastating. Is there a better song or a better performance? Thanks to YouTube I can explore at length but this is my current pick.

Susan Boyle Moves to The Finals

Maybe by singing "Memory" (a song I know I am not supposed to like, but the salesguy who sold me my electric piano did it by playing that song on it). She starts off a bit shaky but sure finishes beautifully.

The NY Times' Public Editor Seems to Behave Foolishly

Outsourced to Brad DeLong.
Megan McArdle's point is that dysfunctions in mortgage lending have next to nothing to do with Edmund Andrews's personal financial crisis. The crisis comes from the radical disjunction between the style of life Andrews and his wife expect and Andrews's income--$10,000 a month, $3,500 in taxes, $4,000 (in the book; $5,000 in the bankruptcy filing) in alimony and child support, leaving $2,500 a month to live on for all expenses. If Andrews hadn't bought his house in Silver Spring he would, McArdle believes, be in a worse financial position right now--for one thing, his landlord would have evicted him. I think she is probably right, and that Patricia Berreiro's second bankruptcy is telling evidence for McArdle's position. Hoyt's claim that "I think it was clear that [Andrews] and his wife could not manage their finances, bankruptcies or no" appears to me to be a deliberate attempt to miss the entire point.

Now Megan McArdle is arguing that he is not a victim of the system in sense (3) either--that no matter what the financial system Andrews would now be facing bankruptcy. Moreover, on this reading the debt system has actually advantaged Andrews substantially. In a counterfactual world in which Andrews had rented and not bought, he would now have an extra $14K in New York Times stock (all that would be left of the $46K in stock he sold in 2004 to assemble the down payment, but in the meanwhile he paid about $2.5K a month in mortgage payments for a house it would have cost him about $2.5K a month to rent, the deductability of mortgage interest has given him about $21K in tax shields, he has lived rent-free for ten months since he stopped making mortgage payments and so gained an additional $25K, and he pumped $58K in home equity loans out of the house. As I see it, the willingness of the financial system to lend to him has allowed him to spend an extra $90K since 2004.

The question is: if the financial system had not encouraged him to borrow so much, would he have made wiser decisions and arrived at this point with more assets? Megan McArdle argues that Patricia Barreiro's two bankruptcies spaced eight years apart make that highly unlikely, and she has a very strong case.

That's why it is of interest--not Hoyt's "he should have revealed the second [bankruptcy], if only to head off the criticism," but because it shapes how we assess the damage done by the too-easy availability of credit.

It is also quite telling how Andrews left key elements of the story out.
And it is even more hilarious that the NY Times chooses not to name Megan McArdle. As DeLong points out in a separate blog post, who has the higher credibility?

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Crowd Doesn't Really Think That's an Insult

Nor does mine! A 'cosmopolitan'?!
This discussion among four really bright observers of Canadian politics probably entertains only Canadians.
We have a former Prime Minister subjected rightly to an inquiry wondering about his bizarre behaviors. And this is after he did two great things in his period as PM - NAFTA (which I originally thought a bad joke, and was wrong about), and the GST (which I knew always was an improvement on what it replaced). Allen Gregg correctly, I think, describes this as a tragedy - but also a farce. Good God - KarlHeinz Schreiber!?
But the heart of this is the battle coming in the next election. Michael Ignatieff versus Stephen Harper is what it will be. Harper has been drifting into a position of some degree of embarrassment. Ignatieff was a guy for whom I had a lot of respect when he was out of the country. Not so much now that he is home and trying to sell himself in Canada.
We shall see.
Gregg's 'cosmopolitan' response misses the point a bit - I am with his community. But how many votes are?
The Tory ads do nothing to prevent me from voting Liberal.

Edmund Andrews Story - Count on Steve Sailer

... to follow up Megan McArdle's excellent work with a pithy comment:
By the way, an unwritten part of the story of the mortgage meltdown has to do with quiet importation of Fiesta Culture attitudes toward saving and spending.

Good Morning!

I studiously and perhaps at times annoyingly insist on trying to make eye contact with anybody I pass while walking or jogging, and almost always utter a "Good morning", or the time-dependent suitable other greeting. I do this partly because some of our 'brighter lights' (e.g. Andy Barrie and Margaret Atwood, and yes, I do consider them generally somewhat dim bulbs) wring their hands constantly over the averted eyes in Toronto. I think they are wrong about the city, and likely just manage to cause people to want to avert eyes from them (which would hardly surprise me).
Some places I go, this behaviour is 100% reciprocated; one example is during morning outings in Ashbridge's Bay Park. Of course I mostly encounter dog-walkers or other joggers, so the people are relentlessly nice and responsive. Some of them are in fact even more aggressive than I about such behaviors. Generally when out on the town, I find maybe 70-80% of people respond, with some degree of eye-aversion, but that's mostly among younger women, and I can see their point.
But now I learn that this could be dangerous!
Life among neighbours has become increasingly complicated by multiculturalism, in this case making even the most affable salutation or good Samaritan gesture a practice in walking on eggshells. But in trying to adapt to a patchwork of often conflicting cultures, has civility become the casualty of accommodation?
I grew up in Manitoba, where it was an affront to your neighbour not to be cordial. If you didn't greet them by name you could be talked about in hushed voices and risked being labelled standoffish. Community amongst neighbours was not something to consider, it was a way of life. Call it prairie law.

I am taking the author's advice (which he got at second hand from exactly the kind of immigrant we want!):

Keep smiling, keep saying hello, she advised. The successful cohesion of cultures requires concessions from both sides. Offence or not, I have continued to greet those I share a building with, although the couple next door continue living in reclusion.
The alternative to this is to live amongst strangers in an icy standoff, fearful that the slightest attempt at community might be viewed as an affront. The alternative is to abandon prairie law, turn your back and close your eyes. And that sounds terrible.

(And, in case you are wondering, do I think we would be better off without the hostile male figure in this story, I sure do!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Due Diligence on the Andrews' Story

Megan McArdle appears to have discovered that the Edmund Andrews story is not quite the baring I had thought it was.
Seems he is part of a team of serial bankruptcy experts, and they sure aren't bankruptcies caused by indigence!
Serial bankruptcies can, of course, happen to anyone with enough bad luck. But they usually don't. And when they do, they usually hit people with marginal incomes that leave no margin for error in the budget. Most people, even in LA, are able to build a sustainable budget out of an income in the low six figures.
Moreover, pesky bad luck isn't really the picture painted by either filing. Rather, Ms. Barreiro seems to have spent most of the last two decades living right up to the edge of her income, and beyond, and then massively defaulting. If you structure your finances so that absolutely everything has to go right, it's hard to blame the mortgage company when you don't quite make it.
Andrews married a woman with a lengthy history of debt and spending problems. Serial bankrupts were getting into trouble long before there was a credit bubble, indeed long before there were credit cards or 30-year self-amortizing mortgages. In fact, the literary history of America is littered with them; we owe much of Mark Twain's later work to his catastrophic financial mismanagement.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


On the weekend I downloaded a free offering of the CD Left-Right-Left-Right-Left from Coldplay.
I did it purely on spec as I so love their 'Viva la Vida' song. They had an earlier one many years ago I sort of liked.
But the delight is that 'Viva la Vida' is on this CD! So my driving plans are fixed for years. (I SO love in this song the utter musical simplicity.)
Meanwhile, the gossip-mongers I read say Gwyneth Paltrow is defensive about her boobs.
For God's sake, Chris Martin! Give her proper feedback! I know I would like to.

Obama did not have to wear a funny hat at Notre Dame

But Eric Schmidt has to wear one at CMU.
A much better University, a far more useful speaker, and a much better speech.

Congratulations, Shawn Johnson

In the end, I fell asleep during the rather tedious final DWTS show - E!Online has a nice summary, also explaining what was so tedious.
Shawn Johnson triumphed in the end, and rightly, I think; Gilles Marini had the decided early edge, but she came on over the last few weeks very nicely.
All three finalists were excellent, though. I look forward to taking the show a lot more seriously next year, especially knowing that Anna was the pro picked to take part in that season!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I apologize - I missed it last night because of a PBS show on the Kennedys that SillyWife could tolerate, and so I did not have to explain why I was watching The Bachelorette (she says that now that I am a retiree I am almost unrecognizable).
RealitySteve says, I suspect, much of what I might have.
I am hoping to live-blog in future weeks.


The 30 Rock Weekend

SillyWife and I have a lot of trouble watching any TV shows on a regular basis. This week we decided to catch up on the first two seasons of "30 Rock".
I think we both say 'Wow!'. What fun!
Alec Baldwin was for us a revelation - we had seen him in many movies but had never recognized his enormous skills as a comic actor. To the point of some truly bravura scenes.
The overall ensemble cast were great fun, maintaining consistent characters to allow true nuttiness to show through.
And Tina Fey - what can I say? - a fine conception, generally quite good execution, and she is one fetching and clearly very smart actress.
Thanks, everyone involved.
Next weekend we work our way through Season 3.


I Hope This is True

I would really like this to be true.
And I even agree that:
The next generation of Kennedys are pretty much all idiots

and I do not think the previous generation were all winners.
But dammit, I will cheer for Ted.

I Hope This is US Only

My gut feel it is yet another symptom of Obama's complete cluelessness about economic consequences.
Calculated Risk summarizes it slickly.
In the new regime I can see a lot of people not willing to live with credit card agreements that shift costs to the reliable payers (like me). This is not good for the credit card companies, and certainly not in general for keeping the economy going.
Well, I suppose The One simply knows better. We shall see.

Dancing With The Stars - Apologies

I did see the show last night but chose not to blog as I found a far more comfortable way to watch it. Tonight, though, I am very curious how they plan to fill three hours! So I plan to be there.
BTW - Shawn killed everyone last night. Fun, entertaining, really competent, and crazy!

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Monarch(s)! In Toronto!

As I walked home from the local public library (a delightful new habit) I saw a Monarch Butterfly cruising from Danforth Avenue into East Lynn Park! The first of the year.
I am pleased ot report that I have two milkweeds in the backyard at about 6 inches. Sadly, I have not seen too many elsewhere so far in the city.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Edmund Andrews Bares a Lot

What a stunning confession!
A "sophisticated" NY Times writer, on economics of all things, documents how he descended into the world of unaffordable subprime mortgages, not as a reporter, but as a participant, and not for the purposes of reporting.
It is an incremental slide, and makes one realize how helpless many people would be in the hands of mortgage servicers similar to the one Andrews worked with.
Nobody duped or hypnotized me. Like so many others — borrowers, lenders and the Wall Street dealmakers behind them — I just thought I could beat the odds. We all had our reasons. The brokers and dealmakers were scoring huge commissions. Ordinary homebuyers were stretching to get into first houses, or bigger houses, or better neighborhoods. Some were greedy, some were desperate and some were deceived.
As for me, I had two utterly compelling reasons for taking the plunge: the money was there, and I was in love. It was August 2004, just as the mortgage party was getting really good. I was 48 years old and eager to start a new chapter in my life with Patricia Barreiro, who was then my fiancée.

But the fact was he simply could not afford the sort of house he and Patricia expected to be able to have. They find a dream home, have an offer accepted and find a mortgage company. During the credit examination we hear:
What about my alimony and child-support obligations? No need to mention them. What would happen when they saw the automatic withholdings in my paycheck? No need to show them. If I wanted to buy a house, Bob figured, it was my job to decide whether I could afford it. His job was to make it happen.
“I am here to enable dreams,” he explained to me long afterward. Bob’s view was that if I’d been unemployed for seven years and didn’t have a dime to my name but I wanted a house, he wouldn’t question my prudence. “Who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t do what you want to do? I am here to sell money and to help you do what you want to do. At the end of the day, it’s your signature on the mortgage — not mine.”
You had to admire this muscular logic. My lenders weren’t assuming that I was an angel. They were betting that a default would be more painful to me than to them. If I wanted to take a risk, for whatever reason, they were not going to second-guess me.

Well, we don't know at the end how this comes out, but he is not in a nice place right now.
It is a long but interesting read.
Megan McArdle catches a specific point about this that I, not a writer by profession, missed.

They [writers] are extremely well educated, and all that education is not only expensive, but builds expensive habits. You end up with a lot of friends who make much more money than you--who don't even realize that a dinner with $10 entrees and a bottle of wine is an expensive treat, not a cheap outing to catch up on old times. Our business is in crisis, and we lose jobs often. When we do, it's catastrophic.
This is what David Brooks calls "status-income disequilibrium", and unless you are among that happy breed of writers who is married to someone with a high-paying job, or who has a trust fund, you feel it keenly. Everyone you write about makes more than you. Most of the people you know make more than you. And you come to feel that shopping at the farmer's market, travelling to Europe, drinking good coffee, are minimum necessities. Your house is small, your furniture is shabby, and you can't even really afford to shop at Whole Foods. Yet you're at the top of your field, working for one of the world's top media outlets. This can't be so.
And so the debts creep up, one happy hour or Colorado backpacking adventure at a time.
Until we're comfortable with talking publicly about the fact that we don't make much money and likely never will, that our lives are risky, and that this has obvious impacts on our ability to consume on the level of our educational peers, writers will keep getting into trouble. Bravo to Andrews for leaning into the strike zone and taking one for the team.

Of course the core of Andrews' story is not dependent on his having been a writer; other people have clearly fallen into the same hole.
On the other hand, I am certainly glad I never aspired to be a professional writer!

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Protectionist Immiseration Alert

And so it begins.
After a Navy official spotted Canadian pipe fittings in a construction project at Camp Pendleton, Calif., they were hauled out of the ground and replaced with American versions. In recent weeks, other Canadian manufacturers doing business with U.S. state and local governments say they have been besieged with requests to sign affidavits pledging that they will only supply materials made in the USA.
Outrage spread in Canada, with the Toronto Star last week bemoaning "a plague of protectionist measures in the U.S." and Canadian companies openly fretting about having to shift jobs to the United States to meet made-in-the-USA requirements. This week, the Canadians fired back. A number of Ontario towns, with a collective population of nearly 500,000, retaliated with measures effectively barring U.S. companies from their municipal contracts -- the first shot in a larger campaign that could shut U.S. companies out of billions of dollars worth of Canadian projects.

I am impressed neither by the US action nor the Canadian response, even in that context.
Moreover the US provisions are so fatuously written (why does this not surprise me) that utterly perverse behaviors are arising.
"You need to tell me how inhibiting business between two companies located one mile apart is going to save American jobs," said Bob Miller, Duferco Farrell's executive vice president. "I've got 600 United Steel Workers out there who are going to lose their jobs because of this. And you tell me this is good for America?"

Even worse, we are not finished. This is just the very beginning.
Last week, Obama unveiled a series of proposals aimed at increasing taxes by nearly $200 billion over the next decade on U.S. companies doing business abroad. At a White House event, Obama said the measures were designed to "close corporate loopholes" that permit companies to "pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, N.Y."

This is one sorry direction, and it's another example of Obama's ignorance of history and economics, as well as Congress,. Of course it might be great politics because nobody will recognize the bad economic impact (the seen and the not-seen).
h/t Phil Miller

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Demonstration I'll Join

Terence Corcoran on the nonsense on Toronto's streets.
Let it be known that a new pro-capitalist organization plans to take to the streets of Toronto to protest the threat of Obamaism to Canada’s market economy. To get our message across, Canadians Harnessed Against Obama Socialism (CHAOS) will soon stage a mass rally at King and Bay.
CHAOS will seize control of the crossroads of Canadian capitalism until Stephen Harper agrees to tell Barack Obama to stop interfering in the global free market system and stop the Buy American policies that are killing Canadian jobs.
We will keep King and Bay shut, along with adjacent roadways, whether it takes days or weeks.
Certainly CHAOS also plans to count on the support of David Miller. The Mayor says the Tamils “have an absolute right to make [their] concerns known and to protest.” Remember those words: “An absolute right.” This from a Mayor who would deny people the right to bottled water, dandelion-free lawns, competitive mass transit, and hundreds of other things.

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More Hans Rosling - AIDS

Another interesting Gapminder presentation from Hans Rosling, focusing on AIDS. I did not understand initially what he meant by 'concurrency' but he made it clear when he got to describing it in Sweden.

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h/t LGF
This is utterly amazing. (I find it seems to work better in Internet Explorer than in my Firefox.)
When I consider how excited I was to be able to afford an expensive videotape of video from the first shuttle flights, I am SO thrilled to have been able to live into this era! What we now so take for granted I can certainly remember as utterly amazing.

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Metro Morning Exposes, but does not Name, Two Slacker Teams

After reporting on the outcome of the final game of the Pittsburgh-Washington NHL playoff series, the sports reporter on Metro Morning said, roughly, "Two teams will be vying tonight to reach the next round of the playoffs as Carolina meets Boston and Detroit Meets Anaheim."
OK, c'mon Metro Morning, which of these FOUR teams are you accusing of tanking?

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thank You, Metro Morning - Tamils and Radio Reception

Metro Morning is one of Toronto's drive-to-work talk shows. I normally find it too orthodoxly full of "Canadian values" and generally just find it annoying, especially when hosted by Andie Barrie.
But let me thank it and Andy for two things this morning.
a) The information that, in fact, CBLA is doing maintenance on its transmission tower; I was about to devote the better part of my morning, I suspect, trying to figure out why my reception was so frustratingly poor. This information saved me a lot of time and annoyance. Moreover, he even got in what seemed a pretty spontaneous witticism, "we are maintaining the transmission tower; no, that makes it sound like a kept tower - we're doing maintenance on it".
b) Air time granted to a prominent Tamil-Canadian - you can hear Ignasious Selliah here - who is even more offended than I am by references to the current demonstrators as "representative of the Tamil Community"; his view, like mine, and he surely knows better, is that these protests are pawns in the hands of the Tamil Tigers, a thuggish and murderous organization. One need only look at all the Tiger flags, and he was able to add as well that the crowd chants are Tiger chants, not generic Tamil chants. His recommendation was that Canada should request a Sri Lankan cease-fire only accompanied by a requirement that the Tigers stop holding the civilian population hostage as human shields (a tactic they have used, apparently, from their inception).

So when I read this:
Inside the legislature, Premier Dalton McGuinty is encouraging the UN Security Council to find a way for Canada and other countries to help civilians affected by the fighting in Sri Lanka.
McGuinty says he understands why people in Toronto are unhappy about protests, including one that shut down a major highway Sunday, but adds it's important to speak out in the face of a significant breach of human rights.
He says thousands of civilians are being killed in northern Sri Lanka and people here need to recognize that the protests are rooted in real concerns.
McGuinty says this is not a time for the international community to be silent and is favour of the UN Security Council bringing countries together to help.
He also commended the federal government for providing more aid to the region in recent days and says the province will continue to push Ottawa to do more.

...I find it clear that McGuinty (our provincial premier) KNOWS Canada is already doing everything that is the purported request of the protesters. And if he knows it, why is he kow-towing to a gang of thugs? It seems to me one of the key purposes of the state is to protect civil life from exactly this sort of thuggery. The only encouraging thing in the article was the news that police are out in force in riot gear. Of course the Tiger organizer would love their use, but in the end this has to be cut off somewhere.


Then I'd Say There's Something Wrong with the Community

The Sun has a rather bizarre article this morning on the shooting of a 14-year-old boy in the West End of Toronto. I wondered of course when I heard about the shooting whether this was another gang-on-gang effort (I always wonder, as it does affect my view of the event in the grand scheme of things, always understanding of course that friends and family will be devastated), and the age certainly did nothing to cause me to dismiss the idea.
The article begins with this rhetorical flourish:
He was just a boy.
Was he known to police? Yes. Might he have fallen in with the wrong crowd? Perhaps. Did any of this matter to a west-end community coping with a 14-year-old gunned down in a field?

No??! It seems to me it sure as hell should. It would make a difference to me whether my community had just lost a positive leader, contributing to positive community developments, or even just a participant in same, rather than, say, perhaps a thug, engaged with other thugs in intimidation and worse.
And for all the lovely rhetoric, we do get an apparent answer later.

A police source said Adrian was known to police for threatening and robbery, but he had no criminal record.
"He was a little man who thought he was a big man," the source said.

Of course the police source could be wrong, but if it makes no difference to the community, I worry about the community,

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The Pigou Club Survives an Election

British Columbia's Liberals, defending their carbon tax, through the election campaign, hold their ground and win an election.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dancing With the Stars Results, May 12, 2008 - Live-Blog

Opening with something sung by a Raphael Saadiq. Not to my taste - ominous for the hour. Some dancers come out, which improves things. Though not a lot.
Next we review yesterday's results, and some of the rather entertaining disagreements among the judges. Generally I think they scored right, with Gilles and Shawn putting on the best
Hmmm. The actual contestants are dancing again tonight! Or is this a replay? Anyway that is clearly Shawn's body tangoing and doing those cute little leg kicks. Looks as if it was live.
Now past champions talk about the semifinal four. Everybody says everyone is great. Well, of course they all say Ty is a hard worker and determined, rather than discuss the dancing.
Now we are back to selection of next year's new pro (just one?). Mayo does a tango. I guess I should watch as we are supposed to vote. Anna does a quick-step.
For all I admire the celebrities, putting two pros together in these trials shows the difference pretty clearly. Of course the pros likely have more motivation to win as I imagine this gig for one of them must be a lot more important than it is for a celebrity. On the other hand, this show's concept of celebrity is rather broad.
Last finalist:
Now there is a quickstep with four dancers and I have not paid enough attention to understand who they are or why they are out there. There was mention of a design-a-dance contest. Oh I see - I was supposed to be voting to help define that dance. And I did not even watch it really! Next year, maybe.
OK Mayo is back cha-cha-ing. And now a samba from Anna. This is a no-brainer for me; Anna is the one. (Not entirely because of dancing. I like her accent.) OK my votes are in.
I just noticed they are not doing that silly elimination of semi-finalists one by one. Maybe they will just tell us today who gets knocked off.
More promotion now for The Bachelorette.
OK here they come - no ad?
OK here are two who are finalists. Well, once they stop killing time.
First two finalists (in no particular order): Gilles, Shawn
By the way, saying "in no particular order" is ludicrous. The names are delivered in a very particular order. I know what they mean and surely, "not necessarily in order of their scores", or perhaps, "in no particular scoring order".
Now more blather from the judges just to fill time and increase suspense.
Third finalist: Melissa
Well, Ty was fun to watch, but not really usually for excellence. It is a relief to me after Jewel's outburst (slightly justified) that it was not Ty who made it to the final.
One more week!

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Will They Sit Back Again and Allow This Nonsense?

Tamils are threatening Toronto tomorrow with further chaos by blocking some major traffic artery.
Last Sunday they closed the major east-west artery for several hours by breaking a police line and racing up a ramp onto the Gardiner Expressway. I was stunned that the police did not take what I consider to be their job, clearing the roadway, but understood better after hearing the police chief describe the logistics problems, and major dangers, as a crowd, including children, was parked up 40 feet above ground with low fences. WIth a lot less justification the police also permitted the demonstrators to close one of the main streets in town for several days.
I'll have a harder time understanding another failure of will to start arresting these clowns. There certainly won't be the excuse of surprise, and I will wager any popular sympathy for the people involved is fading fast. Canada has essentially nothing to do with the conflict in Sri Lanka, and I doubt these demonstrations are building popular support in Toronto for the idea that our Prime Minister should devote his energies in other than working through the UN via normal channels trying to provide humanitarian aid. Which I will wager we already have people doing.
There is a real reason for distress among local Tamils in general, but my own guess (and it is a guess) is that the Tamil Tigers (the protesters fly Tamil Tiger flags prominently in every gathering) organization is clearly pretty close to being finished. This is not an organization we really ought to be sorry to go. The main thing they have brought into the world is the suicide vest.
I am pretty sure occupying a major highway is a crime in Ontario. It will be interesting to see whether any of our levels of government decides to enforce that one for a change.

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Two Books to Order at the Library!

Joseph Heath's "Filthy Lucre", reviewed here by Nick Rowe.
And the review reminds me to also order "The Rebel Sell".

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More Attractive Cafeterias, but Just in Case ...let's have a Jail

Driving home this morning a CBC News item caught my ear, with the headline being more or less that the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) was planning to make its school cafeterias more attractive to students. But then it veered oddly into the TDSB also planning to make it compulsory for students to stay in school over lunch. So I thought what gives? Why jail them if the cafeteria is more attractive?
Fortunately CBC Online has an article on this that does not spin it so dishonestly. (A theme I have noted that the quality of items in CBC Online reports are far superior in general to the version that gets broadcast.)
The "attractive" spin appears fairly late in the article:

Coteau said middle school cafeterias can't offer great food choices because so few kids stay at school for lunch.
He envisions healthy menu choices that make kids actually want to eat at school.

Now Coteau's notion that his idea of healthy menu choices matches what kids want to eat in school seems at best a somewhat fond one, whatever his notions are.
At least this article opens with the right emphasis:

The Toronto District School Board is considering a controversial proposal designed to get students to eat healthier foods.
A task force on nutrition has recommended keeping middle school students on school grounds at lunch hour to prevent kids from buying junk food.

Hmm, jail the kids and create a captive market for the school cafeteria and expect it therefore to produce a varied, broad, and attractive menu of healthy options that will cause young 'uns to swear off junk food. Sure. Brilliant idea.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

The Stand-Up Economist at the 2009 AEAs

What does the hamster need? Rest or Methamphetamines?

h/t Greg Mankiw, who gets a rhyming mention

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Dancing With the Stars, May 11. 2009 - Live-Blog

Opening dance by next year's pro candidates. It was O but I cannot tell them apart.
One celebrity to be tossed this week before next week's final.
Review of the Melissa/Tony foxtrot. id look pretty elegant. And Melissa's bit of the samba. Melissa promises more hip action tonight - excellent!
Gilles/Cheryl analysis. Gilles sure performs but Cheryl can find his faults. Cheryl has warned him to get his rise and fall right in today's waltz. Gilles says he is relieved that people missed their missed steps because of the performance aspect. Cheryl warns him again to perform at his best. Gilles says he likes Cheryl's cranky teaching style, and that he needs a boss like her to learn. Hmmm.
Shawn/Mark observe that the Paso Doble was Shawn's chance to prove she does not bubble perpetually, and she says she likes the fighting role in that dance.
Ty/Chelsie are reviewing their chequered past. He has improved, the frame is better, but he is not quite loose enough. He is a great "aw shucks" character.
Individual dances:
Melissa/Tony quick-step - a focus in practice on clear distinction of heel and toe for Melissa. Nice bouncy dance, great finishing spin.
Len - loves her feet at last, Bruno - wanted more exhilaration, Carrie-Ann - agrees with Bruno. Scores (always in order Carrie-Ann, Len, Bruno) 9-10-9 for 28
Gilles/Cheryl - waltz Focus of practice is on elegance with a special waltz coach for Gilles. Gilles seems a bit too restrained to me in this dance. But it sure was elegant!
Bruno - thought it perfect, Carrie-Ann - great fantasy expression, Len - standing ovation seated
Scores - 10-10-10 for 30
Shawn/Mark - tango - This seems a natural successor to the paso doble. Practice is a focus on lifts for the tango. Shawn needs to know when to jump so as to avoid being a dead weight. Lot of precise step with a little wobbling. Lifts seemed good too. As usual, the audience is happy (it always is).
Carrie-Ann - Shawn delivered the emotional content despite age, Len - unexpected maturity and intensity - best dance from Shawn, Bruno - liked her ferocity
Scores - 10-10-10 for 30
Ty/Chelsie - waltz Ty is honest about getting past a better dancer last week. The waltz should be good for him, especially a nice country waltz. He is having problems making this dance fluid, and is clearly missing some steps. He does get the rises and falls.
Len - A for effort - and it shows - there were glitches - fabulous, Bruno - he nearly dropped her - dance not smooth, Carrie-Ann - great personality and fan engagement - but there were wobbles and misses.
Scores - 8-9-8 for 25
OK that round of dances is done. Wonder what comes next?
A profile of the semi-finalists along with their second individual dances.
Melissa learned a Texas-tough mentality. Her Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader coach broke through her shyness. She says this show has been a great exhilaration after the down of the Bachelor. (Where she was very lucky and just dodged a bullet.)
The a cha-cha, which I quite liked!
Bruno - Need to sustain energy in cha-cha, Carrie-Ann - much better than the last dance, but I agree with Bruno, Len - liked it but not your best
Scores 9-9-9 for 27
Now a Bachelorette promo - ABC loves their tie-ins. Except because of Canadian practices I despise, we get an ad for Lost! Rather makes the continuity of the show somewhat compromised. The irony is that the Bachelorette is the Canadian from the Bachelor. Canadian practices (they may be rules) deny her this promotion. Nice job, dimwit Canadian broadcast industry. Unbelievable.
Gilles is from Cannes, and guys from France can be emotional and romantic. His Dad was a bakery owner - hard work ethic, which he has internalized. Came to America as a model and really wants to win.
Their salsa features his hips working pretty well. Looked pretty energetic and good to me.
Carrie-Ann - loved it - the best dance from Gilles , Len - wish I could score an 11, Bruno - should be in final
I have to assume 10-10-10 for 30 but the cable signal for this show went out. (All we missed was the scoreing.)
Shawn is a daredevil and picks things up forst - she was like that from a VERY young age. Coach says she is very determined and never gives up. She is grateful for her Iowa background.
Nice jive dance for her enthusiasm (as well as precision and athleticism). With a cute self-scoring finish.
Len - loved the fun feeling - but too much messing-about, Bruno - I like Shawn going wild and you sold it to me, Carrie-Ann - wonderful if a little heavy at the end
Scores 9-8-9 for 26
Texan Ty is a fourth-generation cowboy, and took to roping and riding, never having wanted toys. Approaches problems one day at a time. Knew dancing would be a giant stretch for him. His wife says he is macho and strong but tender and sweet. This profile will likely earn him some votes.
Wow - I am actually enjoying this samba though he cannot loosen those hips.
Bruno - brave effort, Ty - you are the MVP of this season, Len - it was a little out of control
Scores 8-7-8 for 23

I remain very impressed at how hard these celebrities are willing to work in domains where they are sometimes a bit like a fish out of water. Ty is a classically impressive example. I would never have expected him to be in the second-last week.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

The TPC at SawGrass - 2009

This will be SO much fun tomorrow!
One player I did see and did not mention from my experience watching the Canadian Open live was Alex Cejka (pronounced Chay'ka). He was quite charismatic, and had the wildest ponytail.
Well he is leading the TPC, perhaps the tournament most worthy of being named a major and not so declared, and he does not remotely look like the guy I watched. But he is sure playing well.
One thing that impresses me is that NBC can recover from finding some weird guy leading the tournament, and actually say something useful about him. They have been nicely telling the story of his family's flight from Czechoslovakia in 1968 - "my father jumped over the fence so I did too". And so Cejka now plays as a German, and more power to Germany for hosting him!
Ian Poulter has been in the mix and the broadcasters really do not like him. He is not much to my taste either, with his apparent attitude, and his asshole-sunglasses. I guess I should not blame him for the latter as he is no doubt paid a lot of money to wear them by the asshole-sunglasses-company. But a passing comment from the broadcasters about his being 33 and his record not quite matching his self-image seemed spot-on to me.
Holy Cow! Cejka finishes the day of approaching greens with a stunning shot.
Tomorrow should be SO great. It seems he will be playing with Tiger in the last group with a great starting lead. Cejka has never won in the US. I figure I might well be cheering for him.

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Hail! In Toronto!

Not unheard of, but hardly common here, and quite the feature of the morning. In my part of town I was in a car hammered by pellets maybe the size of raisins. But clearly other parts of town had more fun.
Yup, his were the size of loonies and toonies. Moreover, CBC meteorologist, Natasha Ramsahai, held up pieces of hail the size of golf balls in her morning weather report.


Maybe they could redefine Planck's Constant?

Texas determines the age of the Universe:

h/t Pam, who actually has a much more practical suggestion than mine regarding redefining some constants - all those fractional bits of Pi are annoying!
You know, if they put this in a sitcom nobody would take it seriously.

Finally! An Honorary Doctorate I Can Believe In

They really ought to be handed out for achievement, but so few are. This one sure is!
The entertainer also shared a commencement speech challenging graduates to to dream, learn, care, and be more. She shared several humorous stories with parents, faculty, and students, including her childhood aspirations to look like the "town trollop."

For all her mischief, she is one of the finest songwriters (and performers) of my lifetime.

A bogus meaning of 'bogus'

Simon Singh is in a pickle and Orac does a nice job of summarizing why.
Canadian "human rights" commissions are certainly one major offence against free speech, but Orac dosuments why British libel law is even more ridiculously so.
I feel for you my skeptical British brothers and sisters. I also admire you. If I lived in the UK, I don't know if I would have intestinal fortitude to keep blogging if Singh settles or appeals and loses. It's times like these when I truly cherish the wisdom of our Founding Fathers for having enshrined freedom of speech in the Constitution as part of its First Amendment. True, it doesn't entirely prevent legal thuggery such as what the British Chiropractic Association is doing, but it does make it a lot more difficult.

Personally I hope Singh fights, and I am with Orac here:

He has such an uphill battle from here that it may not make sense to continue. I wonder if there is a legal defense fund to which skeptics may contribute. I'd be willing to make a contribution, for sure.

If I hear of such a fund, I'll post on it.
Imagine of Jenny McCarthy had not simply her Oprah-based bully pulpit but similar libel laws to use against criticism of her antivax idiocy.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Just From the Name

... I would have predicted this outcome.
My favorite bit is this apparent surprise to some people:
frustration with the centre over loud fundraising parties

Of course the theft of electricity and other items is no surprise to me either.
Even more shocking it seems one councillor had:
questions about the value of any services being offered

Chrysler Bankruptcy - My Head Still Hurts

Stephen Lubben summarizes - but do follow his links to make your head hurt too.
Of course, whatever the legalities, this outcome is not going to be pretty for the future of finding willing lenders. Heck, even I am wondering about my pathetic amount of money available to lend now that Obama has decided he can just take it from me if he has friends who need want my money.

The Amazing Race Host

By far my favorite reality show, though the current crew of competitors is pretty unpleasant.
Phil speaks.

I’ve spent my entire career doing ridiculous, crazy, wild things, and at this point in my career I’m very happy to watch ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I get a big kick out of it.

Ignatieff REALLY Needs a Good Editor

It is clear he does not have one right now. My guess is, he thinks he is smarter than any plausible candidate. I will say I would never have allowed him to write this brain-dead passage in public.
"Morally contemptible" is almost too kind. This passage leapt up at me as well:
“To imagine it as a citizen is to imagine it as a resident of Yellow Quill reservation in Saskatchewan would have had to imagine it, this Canada where two half-naked children died in a snow-covered field in the sub-Arctic darkness because their father tried to take the sick little girls to his parents and never made it, and all you can hope is that death was as mercilessly quick as the cold can make it. What does a resident of Yellow Quill imagine, what do we Canadians imagine our country to be, the morning we learn that children have perished in this way? It is surely more than just a tragic story of one family. It is a story about us.”

This sounds great if you do not know the story he is referring to.
I wonder what it takes to formulate it that way, knowing, as Ignatieff surely does, that Christopher Pauchay was drunk, so drunk that he was oblivious (or so we must presume, for he was found guilty merely of negligence, rather than sadism) to the fact that it was well after midnight, minus 50 with the wind chill, and he had dressed three-year-old Kaydance and 16-month Santana only in T-shirts and diapers. At 5 a.m., Pauchay was found on a neighbour’s doorstep, stinking of booze, frostbitten and aggressive, so that the RCMP were obliged to accompany the paramedics. It was not until eight hours later, in the hospital, that he mentioned the children.

"This is a story about us"? I do not accept that it is a story about me or actually anyone I know.
it’s a story about him: the vandalism he does to the memory of Kaydance and Santana Pauchay, the tasteless opportunism of cashing in on their fate by conscripting a grimly particular episode to the cheap generalities of societal guilt, the horrible glimpse inside the husk of a man once genuinely engaged by Iraq and Bosnia and reduced by ambition to peddling what he knows to be bilge.

It's actually shocking to find I think Harper the most principled of our party leaders, and that is one sorry comment.

Reality Talent Shows

I tend not to watch them - after all, if the talent has not been realized, how is such a show likely to find it? Having said that, it is interesting how well American Idol has done for its contestants, and not just the winners (I am wearing as I type a Kellie Pickler t-shirt - never saw her on American Idol, but at a country awards show where she cried and I did with her).
But this year's "Britain's Got Talent" auditions are sure proving the case for the name of the show. I have already posted on Susan Boyle, and figured she was a shoo-in, but I have since not posted on other videos from the auditions that show there will be a very healthy competition.
My friend Dianne just drew my attention to this lovely audition.

Simon Cowell I see taking a rap for being mean on American Idol, but from what little of the show I have watched, he is the only judge who has any standards at all.
So it actually means something when he counsels Jamie Pugh to believe in himself more. And the reaction is quite touching.
The other thing you know, and this makes Cowell a VERY valuable judge, is that he invests himself in those he believes in - a recent appearance by Paul Potts on Q is proof of that.
I take a certain delight in having participated in technology developments over the last twenty years that have driven networks to feature a lot more of these surely inexpensive shows, by making them less able to earn easy money. I would not have expected such positive consequences from them (as I always thought they mostly focused on humiliation).

Aye-Aye Captain - Friday Animal Blogging

From the venerable Zooborn:

Wow! This Sounds Good

I hope I live long enough to enjoy some of it.

And that I don't have to pay too much for it!

Norm Profiles Rondi

Check it out!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Yes, Guilty as Hell of a Murderous Urge

Rondi points so rightly to more good Christie Blatchford analysis.
The whole shebang might have remained under wraps indefinitely and might never have been revealed had The Globe and Mail not learned on the sly on Monday morning that a surprise guilty plea was in the works.

The Globe's Kirk Makin was the one reporter and media representative scrambled to the almost empty courtroom here when defence lawyers for Mr. Khalid and another accused awaiting trial obtained a temporary but sweeping ban on publication before Mr. Khalid formally entered his plea.

Now 22, he pleaded guilty to a single count of participating in a terrorist organization "with the intention of causing an explosion or explosions that were likely to cause serious bodily harm or death" or damage property.

This charge says that he was acting in support of other conspirators whose names are subject to an earlier ban on publication.

It also links Mr. Khalid to what prosecutors allege was a truck-bomb plot, with the targets allegedly under discussion including the CN Tower, the Toronto Stock Exchange, the offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and a military base.

Another group of the accused are alleged to have participated in a terrorist training camp in 2005, where, prosecutors say, they took weapons training and heard jihadist speeches exhorting them to take action.

This is not minor, and I would guess not the end of it.

Gangbangers and Public Goods

My own view is that gang on gang killings are a classic public good.
The state is spared wasting the time of police and state attorneys making a case they might have had in other circumstances to make against the deceased, now fortunately deceased, from the point of view of public expense.
So I find myself troubled listening to reports of the high rate of shootings and poor quality ot target selection these days in Toronto (and they are high) - the best of these shootings are simply sparing the public a lot of expense having to figure out what they might have to do with the largely criminal victims. But these guys are not good enough at what they should be doing.
And this is what makes Christie Blatchford's article in today's Globe troubling.
The deep problem is that the gangbangers do not come from the high-IQ section of the population, and, even worse, they come from the low-impulse-control section. As her article points out, these guys just are not too bright.
Given the way so many men dress, the description was apparently sufficiently broad that it captured Mr. Charlton, who was 31 and living at home with his mother when he was killed, and Mr. Bell, who at the time he took nine bullets was a 43-year-old married father and renovation contractor.

Two apparently model citizens taken out by some idiot clowns who cannot even identify their enemies.
I'd be a lot happier thinking we had much smarter gangbangers who would not have to shoot these guys or Jane Creba. Is there anyway we can improve the intellectual and emotional quality of our gangbangers so they kill only one another? Any ideas?

Liverpool Station

Is this getting a bit stale?

Not yet for me. In my retired state I can imagine myself prowling Toronto's railstations for the delightful equivalent. Bring it on!

Norm's Posterity Collection Reports

I know I voted but cannot recall in detail how. Some parts I know I really agree with!
Yeats, Shakespeare, Austen. Rembrandt. Probably chose John Ford over Hitchcock, the gimmick-man (he called it the McGuffin but it is a gimmick). Ford had no gimmick other than those inspiring shots of the women looking out hoping their men would come back from their ventures.
Many categories I do not care about but I thank Norm for the exercise.

More Matt Harding - He is a Doll

A long and charming story. I agree with him that if you are on a project and don;t believe in its outcome, get out!

There were some people who argued I didn't exist, which was really disconcerting.

And I did wonder about the rock in Norway.
That was the stupidest thing I have ever done.

It is stunning to see the technology that created his videos.
Penguins -
It's like they evolved for maximum cuteness.

I get a lot of shit from Canadians.

Hating Canadians is like hating bread.

There's no dancing at the Parthenon!

A Close Encounter of Some Kind

Ezra Levant, in Ottawa for better reasons, encounters a nemesis. (Actually, I hope he is her nemesis - the relationship is not symmetrical.)

Lynch was quiet now. But I was warming to my theme: "I think I'm going to file a hate speech complaint against myself," I told her. "Who do you think would win that one?"

Matt Harding, Conspiracies, and Confessions

I saw one of Matt Harding's early very entertaining videos a long time ago and am surprised I did not post on it (apparently). If you haven't see any of them, here is one - charming, inventive, engaging, and a lot of fun. A truly wacky guy, and such a crazily simple idea.

Here is the first video I recall seeing.

Both document in a lovely way this silly human universal, and the later one starts to suggest it is more than human.
But conspiracy theorists abound. I had not been aware at all of this, but all sorts of accusations were flying around from YouTube commenters that the videos were faked.
So Matt Harding delivered this confession.

The confession includes in an unreadable form this important budget for the project, not readable clearly in the video.

Apparently the YouTube video of the confession turned into a news item, which does suggest Matt Harding is not a bad actor after all. He appears at MacWorld this year and his discussion of the whole story is entertaining.

I loved his discussion of his now odd career - he wasn't good at writing video games, but is good at traveling.
And I do admire the determination of conspiracy theorists, though I don't care much for their intellects.
(Thanks to Bob Bossin for pointing out this great story.)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Maybe It's Not A Guess - There is a Police Union, Right?

Seems pretty likely. And I know anyway.
Is there a Union anywhere that can actually decide to protect its profession against people like this?

Cst. Rodin was previously charged with robbery and disguise with intent after a Markham pharmacy was reportedly robbed of prescription drugs.

When I see the smallest hint of a union showing some perspective and intelligence on issues like this, I will be really impressed!
At the moment I know of not a single case.
They certainly are not protecting the citizens!

A Bridge Too Far

American Movie Channel have done the great kindness of playing "A Bridge too Far" this afternoon.
This is my second favourite WWII movie, after The Longest Day. It is utterly brilliantly a movie about project management, something that dominated the last 15 years or so of my career in technology. And what the movie portrays are features that are utterly consistent across all attempts at this difficult task - over-optimism from the top, the stifling of dissenting views from below, and the complicit understanding from below that pessimistic dissent is simply not on.
As this movie progresses you see instance after instance of the lower-level management (command, I guess, in the armed forces) raising good questions and simply allowing them to be swept away by the sheer force of the high expectations of the higher levels.
And this is not nutty. There is a merit in the ignorant optimism of the higher levels of management - it allows companies (armies) to drive for greater objectives than the more realistic lower level command would ever believe in.
It breaks my heart to watch it as they came so close, and I know cases in my career where my lower-level skepticisms were proved utterly wrong, to the great benefit of my company. And it could have happened here too.
Of course the other great aspect of this movie is that they lined up an elite of the great performers of the mid-70s. An odd performance I would pick out is that of the very young Nicholas Campbell who is utterly compelling in his role.
Great movie. Thanks, AMC!

UPDATE: One thing they do well is convey the scale of the operations. There is a scene where the Michael Caine character looks into the sky full of airplanes and shakes his head, and his superior officer just comments "That's just the 101st". I feel privileged I have never had to see the like of that in my daily life, but I sure respect the commitment my forebears made on this.

UPDATE: Interesting. Which side has the human shields? Very intriguing movie.

And Then There was Maine!

Welcome aboard!

Baldacci said in a statement that while he has opposed gay marriage in the past, “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.
“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs," the governor said. "It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of church and state.

New Hampshire soon to come, it seems. The core of the original New England settlements...

The Seal Hunt and the EU

I'm sure no major fan of our seal hunt, but I happily eat meat of all sorts (never seal, though), and find it a bit off-putting that the media go so far to show exactly what the seal hunt looks like, and just as far not to show what domesticated animal slaughter looks like. So it is easy to develop a somewhat false compassion.
The levels of hypocrisy in this story are mind-bending.
Danny Williams can find lots of other cute animals apparently deserving of compassion.
"You see what's happening in countries like Denmark with the whale slaughters. We see other parts of the world where kangaroos are being culled by the hundreds of thousands, and yet they're after the seal harvest here in Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.
"So Europeans should have a good, hard look at themselves."

Even more sickening is the racist character of the ban.
The ban will offer some exemptions to Inuit communities in Canada and Greenland so they can continue their traditional hunts of harp and hooded seals, but bars large-scale trading of pelts, oils or meats in the 27-state European Union.

It should be very interesting to see how this plays out at the WTO, though it may not play out before our seal hunters have to sit out a season or two.

Thanks, Ophelia!

Spot on.
The attractive campaigner is becoming the rapidly much less attractive ruler.
We just want presidents to shut up about praying, that's all. We want nobody official governmental political to talk about praying at all, because it's not their job and it's emphatically not their business.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dancing With The Stars - Results - May 5, 2009

I missed the dances last night but am delighted to see Melissa nailed her dances - she is the initial reason I am watching this show, though it has now sold me on many other fronts.
OK we're engaged. The show decides to feature the worst performance I have ever seen of "I Get a Kick Out of You" by someone named Jaime Cullum. No doubt this is how one draws young audiences. The dancing was suitably impressive, though.
The "DanceCenter" feature was cute. ABC loves its cross promotion.
First couple to make it to next week - Gilles and Cheryl. Seems her hectoring coaching is still effective.
Now a dance to "Viva ls Vida". Well, I like the song. And it is nice to see the professional dancers at work. Though this dance baffled me.
Surely this is the week we eliminate Ty. Especially after Jewel's outburst last week, this seems to me the right outcome.
I am not into the competition of the pros for roles next year but can see how I might come to be. Afton seems quite fetching.
Second couple to be back next week - Melissa and Tony. Yay!
Lisa Rinna? ABC can recycle. Her breasts do not look quite real.
Maurice Greene? - he survived weeks with Cheryl, and Anna seems a lot nicer.
Third couple to be back next week - Shawn and Mark. Also yay!
Now - the final couple to come back next week - Ty and Chelsie? Huh? I am shocked.

Count on Iowahawk

For a superb giggle.

Antivaccination rhetoric kills. It is that simple.

And Oprah is signing up for this crap now.
Well, she never was the brightest candle in the neighbourhood but she is really proving her intellectual uselessness now.

P. Z. Myers suffers for us all

My life exposure to Terry Eagleton is some baffling enthusiasm once expressed by a brother, never followed up by my reading the guy, and a couple of lectures on TV Ontario, that REALLY baffled me, refuting any notion, as far as I could see, that this guy had half a brain.
Poor P.Z. Myers, confronted with some aviation challenges, made the very brave commitment to one of Eagleton's recent excrescences, and paid the price.
The whole story is worth the read. Some key moments:
I've read a smattering of Eagleton before, and the words "brisk, funny and challenging" or "witty" never came to mind, and the review actually gave no evidence that these adjectives were applicable in this case.

The lectures I saw on TV Ontario would cause noone to reach for words like witty, brisk, challenging, etc. Mind-numbing is more like it.

That last quote is an amusing revelation of exactly how little Eagleton knows about science. His "fact" of a "well-evidenced" influence of the full moon on human behavior has been investigated — it's the kind of claim about reality that's relatively easy to check. Surprise: the evidence for it is extremely weak and anecdotal, and analysis of such things as police reports has found that the "fact" isn't.

But let us not get bogged down in the trivial details like evidence — I'm sure Terry Eagleton would agree that that misses the grand point he is making, which is completely independent of facts or reason, and represents a Greater Truth unhampered by those footling requirements. His claim is that the atheists are criticizing a version of religion he finds disagreeable and not at all like his version of religion. Ditchkins has made the ghastly error of failing to write The Eagleton Delusion or Eagleton Is Not Great or Letter to an Eagleton Nation. His irritation at this omission is essentially the driving force behind this entire book.

P.Z. Myers' sacrifice should be recognized by many of us who have no reason now to read Eagleton's book (books?!).
Thank you, P.Z.!


A truly great passage, thanks to the accident of the current reading of an author of Obscene Desserts.
To Hanover one should go, they say, to learn the best German. The disadvantage is that outside Hanover, which is only a small province, nobody understands this best German. Thus you have to decide whether to speak good German and remain in Hanover, or bad German and travel about. Germany being separated so many centuries into a dozen principalities, is unfortunate in possessing a variety of dialects.

My experience is that everybody actually does understand the best German but despises those who speak it. Not too far off the experience with the "Farfully" dialect of English.

India, RIP

Fare thee well, sweet cat.

Bankruptcy Law - My Head Hurts

The Chrysler bankruptcy filing is sure educating me. An excellent survey is available here.
There is no question this is going to be a fine spectator sport.
And so, with these fighting words by President Obama, Chrysler files for bankruptcy in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Clearly, we're in uncharted waters as never has the Office of the President become so engaged in the restructuring of America's largest businesses.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Self-Deception is So Sad

The evening evidently passed without anyone asking any uncomfortable questions, like: what, exactly, is it about a life devoted to Communism that is so admirable?

These people are not serious.

Elsevier sells out

This is utterly shocking to me.
If there is one thing that science-based medicine requires to function properly, it's good science and well-designed clinical trials subjected to rigorous peer review. Moreover, that review has to be unbiased, and the journals publishing them cannot be tainted with undue influence of big pharma.
Unlike Orac, my short academic publishing career was dominated by Elsevier, and I thought of them as embodying integrity. More fool me!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

More on Secretariat

A lovely video.

It makes me cry. What a horse! What a competition! Poor Sham. "He just felt like running."
"It was the only honest thing in the country at the time." Too deadly true.
"Boy. What are we going to see today?" And we saw it!
So sweet that Turcotte let Secretariat go.
I am sure I will never again see such magnificence. That great picture of Turcotte looking back is so funny.


Having now posted on Secretariat again, I feel I should speak on Sham. Sham was clearly another horse who wanted to compete. Sham had the misfortune to live during Secretariat's time. Life has its cruel and arbitrary moments.

Do Horses Want to Race?

I think Rondi has a bit of a point in this post.
But I also think this below is utter proof that at least one horse loved out-racing all the others.
This was, still to my mind, the greatest athletic achievement witnessed in my lifetime.

I feel so privileged that I lived during the lifetime of Secretariat and got to see those victories.
Back in the days of that horse, I also coached human middle-distance runners, and one of them said once that she wished that in the last couple of hundred metres of her races that someone was whipping her. Of course the horse has no such ability to communicate so clearly on this subject. And Secretariat needed NO whipping in this race.

BiBi's Class Act

Michael Oren as ambassador to the US.
A truly fine choice.

Oren has his work cut out for him as Israel's ambassador to the United States but, as I say, he is a great appointment.

Jack Kemp

Torontonians love Buffalo quarterbacks. Charles Johnson puts it perfectly.
He was a true gentleman and a great sportsman

Well, Less Responsible

...these are subprime mortgages.
An excellent presentation on the current financial crisis.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

h/t Charles Johnson

Some Snarky Narcissistic Comedian will Explain

Jon Stewart occasionally makes me laugh a little but he is an extremely superficial person. Bill Whittle does a nice job on his views on Truman here.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Expect the Worst

I fear Paul Mirengoff is right here; Obama, the supposed constitutional law professor, does not give a hoot about actual law.

If Obama wants to appoint a Justice who has run or worked in a soup kitchen, that's fine. But it looks to me like he wants to appoint a Justice who will reach outcomes that establish "soup kitchens" regardless of whether that's the best view of the legal provision he or she is interpreting.
Expect the worst, not just from this judicial nomination but from all subsequent ones.

Little Boxes

Driving home to Toronto yesterday I managed to hear one of those ignorant CBC wanderings, praising the most disgusting Stalinist Pete Seeger (if you have some piece of your heart romanticizing this prick, do some research and learn what a monster he is) talking about the song 'Little Boxes'.
Now understand that the song was written by a somewhat odd bird, NOT by Pete Seeger, in Berkeley, California, named Malvina Reynolds, and anyone who lived there during her time knows the boxes are NOT suburban boxes, as the CBC host claimed, but the boxes in the Berkeley Hills. Damn - listen to the song!
And what stupid lyrics - damn - those awful conformists - they became doctors. What an awful outcome!
There is SO much the sixties have to answer for.
I am embarrassed at my enthusiasms back then.
UPDATE: More on Seeger and his distasteful history.