Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Band Aid Removal Metaphor
I have been thinking about the Federal Reserves response to the credit crunch and it is clear to me that they have opted for slowing down the crisis and effectively spreading out the process so that the pain is not as sharp but it is no where close to being over. While listening to a local real estate show on the radio which has gone from a cheer leading squad to a wake I heard one of the mortgage professionals lament the fact that many banks are not letting sellers offthe hook to sell their homes when it was in the best interest of everyone else to just clear out the older inventory of homes right now rather than have sales stagnate for another year. (From their point of view it is better to let prices drop and then have a return of volume of sales because that is how they make their money.) He said the banks were slow to act because the regulators were not forcing them to write off the bad debt. The reason for this is you would see a sharp jump in banks going belly up. The Fed doesn't want to participate in a banking crisis among the smaller regional banks.
I was of two minds on the subject. The Suck It Up school has a point about fairness and the Let's avoid another Great Depression or Bailout school (for lack of a better name) points to the societal destabilization, which will affect guilty and innocent alike, of allowing a financial meltdown. The truth is that there is no right answer in that there will be pain no matter which course is taken.
There are real world examples which will help us to the correct course. Let's take two examples of depressions: the U.S. in the 1930s and Japan in the 1990s. Although it is difficult to separate out causes and effects in a real world laboratory of a social science experiment there are lessons we can draw without too much massaging of the facts. The U.S. experience was much more of a ripping off of the band aid- although FDR's policies attempted to mitigate this after 1933 and, arguably, stunting the rebound in the economy. Japan's depression has been much longer with low growth carrying on for more than 15 years. The U.S. was up and running at full strength after WW II, another apples and oranges problem, Japan still has a slight hangover. The Nikkei was near 40,000 at the beginning of 1990 and is currently 1/3 that level. The Dow was back to 50% of its 1929 value after 18 years. Yes, hardly a huge difference. And a very good reason to be owning Japanese stocks right now.
Japan continues to have sub 3.0% growth rates and with high oil prices and an aging economy that is likely to continue. The biggest difference between the two depressions has been the unemployment rates. The U.S. suffered through very high unemployment for a few years. The Japanese choice has been to freeze their capital markets to keep companies from laying off workers. These seems to be what the U.S. is doing right now. You can hardly blame the Fed for not wanting to return to 10% unemployment and all the suffering that would entail. But what is the cost? Below trend economic growth for the foreseeable future. What the Bailout school also offers is the risk that increased liquidity will be used to start another bubble. Perhaps a commodity bubble which would be a bubble which benefits a very small segment of the population and is very unpopular.
So the choice is low economic growth for a long time or a short period of high unemployment. Again, it's a no win situation. The Fed and Treasury and most of our gov't economic elites rather spread the pain over time. A muddle through economy is less likely to stir voter anger and that means politicians don't have to worry about revolutionary changes. I have gone back and forth on this but with time I am quite sure that this is a huge mistake. I don't want to see a massive recession but it would be better than decades of low growth that will mean a declining standard of living for all Americans. Better to tear off the band aid and let the most responsible suffer. In the long run it will mean higher growth and standards of living and a more prudent financial system that will take the rest of my life to unlearn the lessons of over-leverage and speculative folly that are a part of the character of the post Great Depression generation.
Now after following the link the first place my eyes took me was to the photo next to the story. Immediately I thought she must have something to do with the story but she doesn't. The photo is from The National Spelling Bee. Poor girl, this has to be the worst case of bad timing in a very long time.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Durbin & Foster's Media Show
Sen Dick Durbin and Rep Bill Foster, media in tow, toured gas stations all over Kane County yesterday. The point was to whine about the high cost of gasoline, highlight record oil company profits and drum up support for their windfall profits tax proposal. (Never mind the record amount of gasoline tax receipts the state is counting on.)
The Courier News quotes Foster:
I’d like to see a higher fraction of their profits go into alternative sources of energy, instead of just handing out dividend checks.From the Kane County Chronicle:
They called for a sustained halt on the deposit of more crude oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.Foster claimed gas prices would fall by as much as 24 cents as a result, so he is obviously aware that increased supply exerts downward pressure on prices. If so, why do he and his fellow Democrats oppose any policy aimed increasing our domestic supply?
Foster noted that decision, made earlier this month by Congress, has resulted in the release of 70,000 barrels of oil a day back into the marketplace.
They also called for continued federal support for ethanol – especially cellulosic ethanol, which is less reliant on food crops, like corn.
Also, it seems in the above excerpt they both tacitly admit that our current ethanol policies are increasing the price of food. Then why do they both support the Farm Bill, which greatly expands the use of corn based ethanol?
David From, campaign manager for Jim Oberweis, who will challenge for Foster's seat after losing it this spring, had this to say:
A gaping omission here is that we have our own (oil) resources here in America that we can explore and develop. We need to consider all of our options.Too bad more Republicans don't think this way.
Shame On China
Many of those killed in the recent earthquake in China were children. Their grieving parents are making their displeasure with the government known:
Parents of the estimated 10,000 children who lost their lives in the quake have grown so enraged about collapsed schools that they have overcome their usual caution about confronting Communist Party officials. Many say they are especially upset that some schools for poor students crumbled into rubble even though government offices and more elite schools not far away survived the May 12 quake largely intact.The government is issuing permits to parents who lost their only child in the quake so that they may have another one.
Parents need government approval, of course, because of China's one child policy -- a policy which is rigidly enforced. Maggie Gallagher takes a hard look at this policy, noting why the cause of Tibet and the repression of political activists receive so much more attention in the West than the plight of women who endure forced abortions. She describes one woman's experience:
Company officials tried to get Mahire to see reason: "'If you don't do what we want, we'll suspend your wages, cancel your bonuses, levy a 2,500 RMB penalty on you, suspend all benefits you are enjoying now. And your child will never have a residence permit. He'll be a nobody.'"As Gallagher points out, the government owns everything in China, woman's bodies included.
This is what a "non-forced abortion" in China looks like.
In the end, three company officials showed up at Mahire's house with a Nissan van and drove her to the hospital. When she saw the needle they were about to insert into her belly, "I told the obstetrician, 'Doctor, don't give me the shot. I want to go home. I want my child!' ... But the two nurses started pressing my arms with all their might. One of the nurses said ferociously, 'Who told you to get pregnant! Who told you not to act according to the planned birth policy!'"
Shame On Japan
Widowed American lawyer Paul Wong promised his dying wife that he would raise their daughter in Japan. While in the process of moving from Hong Kong, where they had lived, to Japan, he agreed to let his daughter stay with her maternal grandparents in Japan. From ABC News:
For more than a year after her mother's death in December 2005, Kaya continued to live with her grandparents, with Wong visiting monthly from Hong Kong as he worked to find a job that would allow him to move to Japan.Kaya's grandparent's consulted an attorney nine months prior to making the sexual assault allegations. Japan's Family Court sided with the grandparents:
Once he found a job and was preparing to move, however, things suddenly changed.
"Once I moved to Tokyo last year, the grandparents did everything possible to keep Kaya away from me. When I said I'm taking her back, they filed a lawsuit against me filled with lies and claimed I had sexually assaulted my daughter. There are no facts and the evidence is completely flimsy."
Despite the lack of any substantiating evidence and objective factual evidence establishing the allegations as false, the Family Court in Tokyo recently permanently stripped Paul of his parental rights and awarded his daughter to her maternal grandparents on the the basis that, even if there is no evidence, "normal" people would not make up such a story, therefore "something" must have happened. The Court ignored all evidence establishing the allegations as false, including the findings of its own court investigator; never once mentioning them in its decision. This constitutes a violation of not only Paul's right to due process but is also a violation both his and Kaya's human rights.The US isn't the only country Japan treats this way. Shame on them.
As Kaya has been taken from her father due, not to parental divorce but to her mother's death it represents the most egregious and callous example of the Japanese government's cancelling the rights of an American parent. But worse is the fact that Kaya will, upon the death of her grandparents, become a ward of Japan as her mother was an only child and there is no one else in the grandparents' family who can assume custody.
But Kaya's abduction is not the only one. There are currently 47 American children who have been removed to Japan. These are active cases reported to the US State Department in Washington, DC. The US Embassy in Tokyo reports over 80 active cases involving American children, but state that many more go unreported.
Via Ed Morrissey.
Spend the Next Week
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Chicago Skyline
Developers had big plans for the Chicago skyline. At just under 1000 ft, Two Prudential Plaza is currently the fifth tallest building in Chicago. With three buildings currently under construction designed to exceed 1000 ft, and two others planned, it will be relegated to 10th place by 2012.
Or will it? I don't know the status of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel And Residence Tower or 375 East Wacker, which are planned, but the slump in the housing market and the credit crunch are giving headaches to the developers of two of the buildings under construction. Construction has halted on the Waterview Tower. Lack of local demand has forced the developer of the 2000 ft Chicago Spire to market units to overseas buyers, refusing to release sales figures. Among the five, only the nearly complete Trump Tower Chicago definitely looks set to take its place in the Chicago skyline.
Which is too bad. Four of the other five would make interesting additions to the skyline. Below, in order of height, are the five:
Trump Tower Chicago
375 East Wacker
Chicago currently has 91 buildings 500 ft tall or taller. Sixteen more are currently under construction. I wonder how many of their developers are experiencing financing problems.
(I accidently published this post before I was finished editing it. This is the finished product.)
Carol Ronen's Pension
Former State Representative Carol Ronen worked for Governor Rod Blagojevich's office for 8 weeks. The Sun-Times reports:
Ronen, a 63-year-old Democrat from Chicago, is Blagojevich's onetime Senate floor leader. The governor hired her as a $120,000-a-year senior adviser on March 1, but she left on April 30 to become a volunteer for presidential hopeful Barack Obama. The job Blagojevich gave her allowed her to increase her pension from $64,005 to $102,000 annually.Blagojevich claims he envisioned a long term role for Rosen and he only learned of the pension increase by reading the newspaper. Rosen offers this defense:
"My entire career has been devoted to public service, part of the time in the Legislature and part of the time in the executive branches of state and city governments," Ronen said. "My pension is based on all those years of service. It's not a scam."Yes, it is.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Out Of Love, He Put Her Away
In Germany, a 23 year old man stabbed his 16 year old sister to death:
"Maybe he did it out of love," Moral's cousin Mujda said, when asked why Ahmad stabbed his sister that night. Mudja O. gave an extensive interview to SPIEGEL TV following the crime, discussing the stabbing and her cousin's possible motives for the killing. "We spoke to him and he told us, 'My sisters are my life. She should be put away before anything happens to her. The last sentence that we heard from him was that he loved his sister."Via Wretchard.
It was not the first time Ahmad, who worked in an auto parts store, had come to the attention of the police for violent acts, either. In police circles, he was known as a serial offender, constantly in trouble for beatings and even stabbings. Morsal had even tried to get charges pressed against her brother with the police after he repeatedly attacked her, but she later withdrew them.
In the SPIEGEL TV interview, her cousin says that Morsal "simply wanted more freedom." She wanted to lead her own life and not the one her parents had planned for her. "She was actually given a lot of freedom, in my opinion. She had some piercings, for example. Her parents didn’t say anything about it. She could wear what she wanted -- even if she wasn't allowed to wear a miniskirt to school."
Maxine Waters Solution To High Oil Prices
At yesterday's congressional hearings concerning high gasoline prices, Rep Maxine Waters had this to say to executives representing the 5 largest American oil companies:
“And guess what this member* would be all about? This member would be all about socializing — er, uh. [Pauses for several moments] …. would be about … [pause] … basically … taking over, and the government running all of your companies.”Via Ed Morrissey, who comments:
Take a look at the video that AP posted last night while Waters says this. As soon as the word “socialization” exits her lips, she knows she made a big blunder, not the least of which is that the actual term is “nationalization”. Waters just declared a socialist policy of total confiscation in the House hearing room, and she looks for an exit strategy, finally winding up with the slightly more ambiguous idea of Washington “running” the oil companies. Two people in the background try mightily to stifle laughter at Waters’ predicament.I'd like to laugh at her nationalization idea, but I fear many Americans actually think its a good idea.
The Obama Administration
Jeffrey Lord notes the similarities between Barak Obama's policy ideas and those of Jimmy Carter:
Tax cuts? Not for Obama. Military superiority? No, not for Obama. Do tax cuts work? Yes, as shown by Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43. Military strength? Yes, decisively too. From Lincoln's Union Army to Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet and his maxim to "talk softly and carry a big stick," from Wilson's Allied Expeditionary Force to FDR's vow to victory "so help us God" to Ronald Reagan's peace through strength, the idea of overwhelming military superiority works -- if the enemy believes you will use it. Or you actually use it.Lord also points out that these ideas are the product of a world view that has failed every time its been tried. Its a world view which is now dominant among Democrats. And the Intrade markets have the Democrats at 3-2 to control the House, the Senate and the Presidency.
But Obama, as with Carter, is having none of these approaches. From hiking Social Security payroll taxes to investing 20 percent less in defense budgets to telling Americans they had an "inordinate" fear of Communism, step by step Carter's policy selections and his decisions on the role of government led the American people down a dark and dangerous path that produced the worst economy since the Great Depression along with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a beachhead in Central America with the Communist take-over of Nicaragua. When his policy towards Iran resulted in abandoning the Shah in favor of the extremist mullahs and the taking of American hostages, Carter's military was in such bad shape that American soldiers died in the Iranian desert during a miserably failed rescue attempt.
PERHAPS MORE ASTONISHING than his advocacy of a return to Carterism, Obama channels the Republican president to whom Carter was frequently compared -- Herbert Hoover. Obama is completely on board with protectionism, seemingly oblivious to the lessons of the Smoot-Hawley tariff that was a product of the Hoover administration in 1930. Upping the tariff on some 20,000 goods it is famous forever as the disastrous idea that deepened the severity of the Great Depression.
China and Russia don't like our plan for a global missile defense system:
The plan "does not help to maintain strategic balance and stability or strengthen international efforts to control nonproliferation," Hu and Medvedev said.Sounds like a Democratic talking point on missile defense.
The quote I cited accurately describes the actions of Russia and China concerning Iran's nuclear program, something which isn't a Democratic talking point.
That missile defense confers an advantage to the US is the reason that China, Russia and the Democrats hate it.
The Best and Worst of Steven Soderbergh
Well that is true about his first film but I probably wont bother to see his latest even just once.
And since it is Friday, here is an excerpt from Soderbergh's finest ("Pick something groovy, Alex!"). I suggest you watch the whole thing more than once!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Profit vs.Taxes per gallon of gas
Once again, Chicago is number one in taxes. So glad I moved to the 'burbs.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin complained to oil company bosses at a hearing on Capitol Hill about Chicago having the highest gasoline prices in the United States. Largely ignored was the role taxes are playing -- an astounding 10 levels of taxation.
"Does it trouble any of you when you see what you're doing to us?" Durbin asked..
In the city, Motor Fuel Taxes originally for building roads currently go to the Feds, Illinois, Cook County and Chicago. The 9.25 percent sales tax is split among Illinois, Chicago and Cook County's share of the state sales tax; a county home rule tax; RTA transit tax and a Chicago home rule levy.
The watchdog Civic Federation says that on a $4 gallon of gas, the total tax is 79.2 cents. That compares to 77 cents in Los Angeles and 65 cents in New York City.
"Every time the price of gas goes up, the tax goes up with it," said one motorist.
And that, of course, is exactly the point for the politicians. Gov. Blagojevich, for example, is counting on the high price of gasoline to bring at least an extra $220 million in the State Treasury in the fiscal year that begins this July. Most of that will be used to balance the way-out-of-balance budget. [Emphasis added.]
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Credit Crunch: Millions of Dumb Decisions, In Their Own Voice
A special program about the housing crisis produced in a special collaboration with NPR news. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money.
In a mania people forget that prices can go down.
The broadcast also explained the role psychology played. A mid-level manager said his mortgage brokers would complain when they learned that loans deemed "too risky" for their firm to approve, had in turn been approved by competitors. The manager would complain to higher-ups, who would then further relax loan standards. Soon the whole industry was watching itself and waiting for "who takes the next step" in approving ever-riskier loans. There were many of those steps, and in each case the whole herd would follow.
Greed, fear, greed, fear, it is the human condition and rising above the crowd before the bubble bursts takes a great deal of courage. No likes to be ridiculed when the mob has grabbed hold of a fad with both hands.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Obama had this to say yesterday:
"For him to come to Oregon as an environmental president, but his big strategy is to do more drilling and to have a gas tax holiday for three months, that's a phony solution," he said.That's what I'm afraid of.
Pitching his message to Oregon's environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to "lead by example" on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.
"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.
Why do I need the OK of other countries when deciding how much energy I use or food I eat?
For Obama and many of his supporters, foreign opinion is more important than my freedom.
In the past year, a network of nongovernment organizations, on the ground and afar, has taken up the antioilsands cause, aiming at least to slow down development, at most to shut down altogether what has become the backbone of Canada's economy.Via Instapundit.
Many rely on funding from such well-heeled U. S. foundations as Pew, one of the top charities in the United States with nearly US$6-billion in assets, or the Menlo-Park, Calif.-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a legacy of the co-founder of computer giant Hewlett Packard with assets of more than US$7-billion.
Greenpeace, Ecojustice, Water Matters and the Sierra Club are among those that have opened or increased operations in the province or will do so shortly. Pew, the Natural Resources Defence Council and Earth Justice are among those bolstering the campaign from abroad.
Gasoline is over $4 a gallon in Chicago.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The blame game
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Saudi oil output hike would not solve US problems: Bush
"Our problem in America gets solved when we aggressively go for domestic exploration. Our problem in America gets solved if we expand our refining capacity, promote nuclear energy and continue our strategy for the advancing of alternative energies as well as conservation," he said.
"One interesting thing about American politics these days is those who are screaming the loudest for increased production from Saudi Arabia are the very same people who are fighting the fiercest against domestic exploration, against the development of nuclear power and against expanding refining capacity."
Friday, May 16, 2008
Got To Get In To Get Out
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Conservatives to Get Middled in Republican's High-Low Split Game
Beyond McCain's nomination, the overall state of the GOP seems to me to be dominated by two factors: pork/corruption and playing it safe with the MSM.
Fund raising is done through the former and a lack of a challenge from conservatives leads to appeasing the latter.
More Sense From Bush
Bush: "Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," the President said to the country's legislative body, "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is –- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Obama now: "It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack,"
Obama then: In an hour-long interview on Wednesday, Obama made clear that forging a new relationship with Iran would be a major element of a broad effort to stabilize Iraq. And he vowed to engage in "aggressive personal diplomacy" with Iran and other regional powers as he withdrew American combat forces in Iraq.
Nancy Pelosi, who visited Syria recently: Bush's remarks were "beneath the dignity of the office of the president and unworthy of our representation" at the celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel: "The tradition has always been that when a U.S. president is overseas, partisan politics stops at the water's edge. President Bush has now taken that principle and turned it on its head: for this White House, partisan politics now begins at the water’s edge, no matter the seriousness and gravity of the occasion. Does the president have no shame?”
Joe Biden: “This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset . . . and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
I'm glad to hear Bush make this point. It has the Democrats in a hypocritical uproar. Our President is undermining the foreign policy of some who were elected to serve in Congress.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A Lesson For Republicans?
I don't know anything about the Republican candidate here but if it is the bogus conservative Republicans that are voted out of office now and in the fall it will at least help with cleaning up the party.
Bush Pleads Case
Perhaps taking Victor Davis Hanson's advice: "Bush, like Truman, will have to leave his final assessment for posterity. But for a variety of historic reasons as well as his own self-interest, Bush should at least take his now-unpopular case to the people, with more press conferences, public addresses, stump speeches and one-on-one interviews."
This is not just good for Bush, it is good for our country.
He makes a good point. It's hard to blame a pro athlete for making a cash grab when their earning power diminishes so quickly, especially football players. I'm not saying I feel sorry for him, just that I can't blame him.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Laughing While You Can
McAuliffe says media ‘in the tank’ for Obama: “Clearly it has been a biased media, no question about it,” McAuliffe said on Fox News. When asked how much of the mainstream media is “in the tank” for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who leads Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, McAuliffe estimated that about 90 percent of the media favor Obama.
Lanny Davis on CNN primary night: “I have seen the stacked deck on the so-called panels, which always struck me as imbalanced against Hillary on Election Night,” Davis said.
“Fox, no matter how much you might criticize an ideological bent, in this campaign, they have been religiously middle-of-the-road, point-counterpoint,” Davis said.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Identity politics sinking the Democrats?
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."If this isn't the proverbial 'nuclear option' then I don't know what is. Hillary seems to have made the decision to not only forgo appealing to blacks but to directly appeal to whites. In this case appealing to superdelegates as the candidate who can carry the white vote. She is making the assumption that the black vote will not leave the party. I think the superdelegates will come to a different conclusion because it is deeply offensive to say to black democrats that they cannot have one of their own as the nominee. I am not disparaging Hillary's argument. It may very well be true that white, blue collar Democrats will not vote for a black man. But I think black Democrats see this as their time. That is why what Hillary is doing is dangerous for her political career and ultimately divisive of the party. So expect to see backlash like this if she continues along this path.
"There's a pattern emerging here," she said. [Emphasis added.]
Do you regret referring to Bill Clinton as the first black President? —Justin Dews, Cambridge, Mass.Being stripped of his 'first black President' honorific can't be too pleasant of an experience for Bill.
People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
No Hits, No Sound, Almost
Aside from the no hit drama this game was memorable for another reason. The ball park sound system went out well before the game started. It came back on for a while at game time but then went out again until later in the game. What a pleasant experience that was. I really enjoyed watching the game without being blasted by the obnoxious sounds that most sports venues play non stop. I don't mind it as much in other sports but for baseball it stands out more.
The scoreboard posted a message apologizing to fans for the sound system malfunction which gave me a good laugh. I'm going to let the White Sox know how much I enjoyed the experience and suggest it become a regular feature. How about hitting the mute button for the 3rd-6th innings?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Frustrated owners try to unload their guzzlers
The markets are doing what they are supposed to do when there is an exogenous price increase. Substitutions are made and less fuel is consumed. We can count on new sources of oil being discovered and, perhaps, new alternatives will come onto the market. Just like the 1970's, oil will rise to a spike high then settle down to a new higher plateau- I assume pretty far under $100/barrel. For the time being high oil prices will hit consumers in their pocketbooks which are already being squeezed by the housing bust. The commodity bubble probably isn't over but it will be if the U.S. economy doesn't grow for the next year.
Diego: I don't own a gas guzzler but I'm considering a newer car because it is about time. I'm seriously considering a Honda Fit based on price and mpg. It is smaller than the CR-V I'm currently driving but I don't think I want to pay up for a new CR-V if I can get by with a smaller Fit and save at the pump as well. I don't think a Smart ForTwo is in the cards for me but I will give it some thought.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Life on Mars?
If we discovered some very simple life-forms on Mars, in its soil or under the ice at the polar caps, it would show that the Great Filter must come somewhere after that period in evolution. This would be disturbing, but we might still hope that the Great Filter was located in our past. If we discovered a more advanced life-form, such as some kind of multicellular organism, that would eliminate a much larger set of evolutionary transitions from consideration as the Great Filter. The effect would be to shift the probability more strongly against the hypothesis that the Great Filter is behind us. And if we discovered the fossils of some very complex life-form, such as a vertebrate-like creature, we would have to conclude that this hypothesis is very improbable indeed. It would be by far the worst news ever printed.
The only other hope for us would be that all the intelligent life is hiding from us while we caught up. A sort of Star Trek model for galactic cooperation which doesn't allow interference in primitive cultures. That sounds better than waiting for the discovery of some super destructive technology that ends all human life.
Questions About Ayers, Wright
No degree for Rev. Jeremiah Wright: "Citing the recent controversy surrounding his remarks, Northwestern University has withdrawn an invitation for Rev. Jeremiah Wright to receive an honorary degree."
About Bill Ayers: "These days, Ayers carries the joint titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago."
Why was Wright invited to receive a degree and why is Bill Ayers employed by U.I.C.?
Friday, May 02, 2008
Diego Likes Ribs
Rev. Wright on Conan O'Brien
Bats in a White Cave
Or if you prefer the Ohio University Marching Band's version, here you go!
The credit card companies' practices seem shady to me but the real lesson here should be for consumers to be more careful who they borrow funds from and under what terms they do so. It seems socially acceptable to carry balances on a credit card and leads people to think that it is no big deal and that they deserve certain terms. That is not a good way to manage personal finance.
I'm not sure if the Ned Lemont lesson has anything to do with this but it is good to see the candidates venture into more sane territory.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Robert John Nelson RIP
This is devastating to me because Bob was only a few years older than I am. I just found out about this and as yet do not know the cause of death. I am afraid it is because of his hard drinking lifestyle. More on that later. Bob was a good friend to a lot of people and I hope he is enjoying a Guinness with his Dad, Sweets, right now.
A celebration of Bob's life is scheduled for May 3, 2008, at 7 p.m. at Mulligan's Public House.
Palatine considers seceding from Cook County
Palatine officials have discussed the idea of seceding from Cook County to avoid the 10 percent total sales tax rate faced by village shoppers when the county's portion increases 1 percentage point on July 1 along with a .25-percentage-point increase for the Regional Transportation Authority.
The new rate would raise about $426 million to cover a $230 million county budget shortfall, according to Palatine officials.
Northwest suburban leaders are concerned the tax increase could hurt local retail sales and government revenues as residents head to Lake, DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties to do their shopping.
To secede from Cook County and form a new county, at least 51 percent of voters would have to sign a petition to get the issue on a ballot. A majority of Cook County voters would have to approve the measure. [Emphasis added.]
So Palatine has to get permission from Cook county in order to secede? What are the chances that a majority of Cook county voters are going to approve shrinking the tax base. Right, zero. Good luck Palatine. I say just vote to secede and then do it. I would love to see this in the courts.