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  • December 2010
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links for 2010-12-30

  • Quote:"The value of education has never been clearer. The unemployment rate for people who never graduated high school is 15 percent–depression-level joblessness. For high-school grads with no college, unemployment is 10.4 percent, and for college grads it's just 4.9 percent.

    // Complete lie. There are hundreds of thousands of college grads who graduate without a job and can't find one. Guess what, they don't get counted into the unemployment numbers as they can't apply for unemployment insurance. Also, the numbers are not put into context. People under thirty, regardless of education, have a much higher unemployment rate than those forty over over. The value of education is falling, and this is proven by the millions of BAs, MAs and the occassional PhD who are working as clerks or waitstaff.


links for 2010-12-29

links for 2010-12-29

links for 2010-12-27

  • Quote:". Caught up in a wave of new medical options and lured by an increasingly sophisticated cadre of veterinarians, pet owners across the country are forking over thousands — and even tens of thousands — of dollars to treat illnesses that would have gone undiagnosed or untreated just a few years ago. And then doing it again if they have to. Of course, pet owners and most vets have the animals' best interest in mind. But that doesn't make it any easier: With health insurance covering the humans in many families, it's not unusual for pet owners to spend far more money on health care for their cats and dogs than for their sons and daughters.

    // National healthcare time for pets?

  • // If this paper is accurate, then it is quite logical to assume the universe is teeming with life, that reproducing pre-cells would create reproducing cells in short order given enough simultaneous undirected "experimentation." And it should be reproduceable in a lab.
  • Quote:"In the winter of 1998, two separate teams of astronomers in Berkeley, California, made a similar, startling discovery. They were both observing supernovae – exploding stars visible over great distances – to see how fast the universe is expanding. In accordance with prevailing scientific wisdom, the astronomers expected to find the rate of expansion to be decreasing, Instead they found it to be increasing – a discovery which has since "shaken astronomy to its core" (Astronomy, October 1999).
    This discovery would have come as no surprise to Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966), a Belgian mathematician and Catholic priest who developed the theory of the Big Bang. Lemaitre described the beginning of the universe as a burst of fireworks, comparing galaxies to the burning embers spreading out in a growing sphere from the center of the burst. He believed this burst of fireworks was the beginning of time, taking place on "a day without yesterday."
  • Quote:"Indeed, no matter what Facebook allows us to do, I have found that most of us can maintain only around 150 meaningful relationships, online and off — what has become known as Dunbar’s number. Yes, you can “friend” 500, 1,000, even 5,000 people with your Facebook page, but all save the core 150 are mere voyeurs looking into your daily life — a fact incorporated into the new social networking site Path, which limits the number of friends you can have to 50.

    … "Our ancestors knew the same people their entire lives; as we move around, though, we can lose touch with even our closest friends. Emotional closeness declines by around 15 percent a year in the absence of face-to-face contact, so that in five years someone can go from being an intimate acquaintance to the most distant outer layer of your 150 friends. "

    // Boy am I in trouble.

From the Notebook

Cover of "American Assassin: A Thriller (...

Cover via Amazon

Lots of year-end house-cleaning to do here.

-Looks like an easy solution to the Vikings stadium issue is to permanently make Twin Cities Federal Stadium their permanent home. Making some small renovations to the field, like the addition of heating coils, and negotiating concessions and alcohol sales is a lot easier and cheaper than asking for $700-900 million for a new stadium or spending several hundred million renovating or rebuilding the Metrodome site.

– Larry Jacobs’ defense of the HHH/MPR/SCSU/MinnPost/Strib/Minnesota polls (for context, I suggest Mitch Berg’s series on the topic) is (or should be, anyway) embarassing. There is obviously a problem with these polls. The ability of other national polls to be more accurate at an earlier time is a good indication there is some systemic problem with the MPR/HHH and Strib Minnesota Polls.

Recount notes:

– I mentioned throughout the election that I felt Emmer was the weaker of the two MNGOP options to run for governor. Having seen a few thousand ballots now in the recount, I’m more confident of this assertion. I have seen a lot of undervotes for governor on otherwise straight-ticket GOP ballots. And I have seen a lot of Dayton votes in otherwise straight-ticket GOP ballots. These are very anomalous compared to what I saw in the Coleman/Franken recount. I did get to see a lot of split ticket ballots (Colin Peterson being the most common in both recounts, State Senator and former Douglas County Sheriff Bill Ingebritsen being a common split ticket vote getter this time around), but these ballots with votes for Byberg, Westrum or Franson, Ingebritsen, Severson, Barden, and Anderson then a vote for Dayton or a non-vote for governor have me convinced Emmer drove away people who would have voted for any other Republican. And there weren’t a few of these ballots. I saw more than a dozen in the 1000 or so ballots I got to see counted. (I wrote this the first day of the recount, on the second day I saw even more ballots and the pattern held.) And I bet reason #1 for this was Emmer’s DUIs.

– Something new this year, the election judges had the option to declare a challenge “frivolous” and skip sending those ballots to the state canvassing board. While there is a huge potential for abuse, it hasn’t been an issue in my area as the only challenged ballot was a real enigma. Some of my Republican recount volunteers were disappointed in me that I did not challenge a “Bugs Bunny” write-in on a Dayton ballot (one of the very few anamolies I saw). First, I was familiar with a similar issue from the 2008 Senatorial election and I knew how the MinnSupremeCourt ruled on the issue (thus the challenge would be futile) and second, the handout we got on the first day of the recount from the recount officials showed very clearly that they would declare challenging any writing in the write-in areas of the ballots to be frivolous.

-Thankfully, there were very very few problem ballots in this election. Off-year election voters are simply less likely to vote for “lizard people” or do other stuff with their ballots that would be questionable in a hand recount. Everything went smoothly. Emmer’s only hope was for a statewide “reconciliation” of ballots and signatures. Without that, the recount wasn’t going to make a difference.

Books Read:

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. This novel was found on Crichton’s computer after his death. Unlike the last book he published when he was still alive (“Next”), this one was a simple plot with a small group of main characters. And thus, very pleasant to read. Steven Spielberg is said to be working on a movie. The most interesting part of the book was how true-to-life Crichton was trying to be, rather than other pirate stories that are well beyond what actually happened.

-Herodotus’ Histories (Books I&II). This is part of the Great Books ten-year reading program. Book I dealt mostly with the history of the Persians (and the Hellenes on the west coast of Turkey) and the various interactions thereof. Book II deals entirely with the Egyptians. This was really a joy to read. Herodotus was a writer for a popular audience.

-Prisoner of War Diary of Paul E. Lee Sr. (24 May 1944 to 29 April 1945). This short diary, about twenty pages, deals mostly with the day to day life of a POW. Lee was held as a prisoner for about a year by the Luftwaffe. He spent time in the American side of Stalag-Luft III (the place where the Brits staged their “great escape”). What was most interesting was the obsession with food (not surprising, but the last part of the diary had a page of food Lee intended to eat when he got back, and it makes a great guide for those looking for comfort food ideas). Also interesting was the number of “classes” that were taught. These POW camps, at least the officer camps, were practical universities. The diary was available from Lee’s daughter on eBay. It is no longer available. She put a copyright protection on the diary, so I can’t put anything up (yet).

-Revelations (The Bible). The most enigmatic book of the Bible is also the easiest read. I can see why fundamentalists love the book so much, I read the book in a single sitting. It was interesting, and taken out of context it’s subject can be applied to anything. (For example, are the Vikings the anti-Christ? they wear purple too.) Despite its many misuses, I like many of the passages of Revelations. It is the most literary book of the New Testament.

-Teaching Company Course: “Science Fiction: The Literature of Technological Imagination” by Professor Eric Rabkin (U of Mich). This was the equivalent of a 1-credit undergrad seminar. Rabkin avoided all of what we most commonly know as sci-fi and instead focused entirely on literary sci-fi and sci-fi origins. It is a very interesting course.

– American Assassin, Vince Flynn. The story of Mitch Rapp’s beginning. Like all of Flynn’s novels, there’s a lot of red meat here. A very fun diversion.

links for 2010-12-26

links for 2010-12-24

links for 2010-12-23

  • Quote:"Could Western Civilization’s commitment to equal human dignity—a commitment that is approved by liberal and conservative, progressive and traditionalist, secularist and believer—have developed in the absence of Christianity? It is impossible to say. We cannot rewind and run history over again from the beginning. The moral development of civilizations, the work of centuries and millennia, is not an experiment that can be replicated and its results confirmed. We can only say that the development of the idea of equal human dignity was bound up with the propagation of Christianity in the West, and that we cannot know for certain whether that moral idea can survive without its religious support. Perhaps this is reason enough for secularists to allow and even encourage the ongoing public celebration of Christmas as a religious holiday.
  • (tags: economics)
  • Quote:"The obvious solution then would be to lower taxes to the point that corporations would not ship/invest/shield/deposit/etc., their money offshore, but rather HERE. You would have the same corporate tax revenue (actually more, because they'd be repatriating their funds back to the US) because there would be no change in the effective tax rate. It's just that in lowering the statutory tax rate to the same level of the effective tax rate corporations would redirect their money flows. One might think about giving them an extra percent or two just to make it worth their while to repatriate the funds here, so a statutory rate of say 15% would be in order.

links for 2010-12-22

Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Six: Closet Shopping

The clock is ticking and the stores are empty. If you haven’t purchased your gifts, you might be feeling the pressure. Don’t worry, there’s an option here that will allow you to get rid of some stuff you’re not using and help the economy at the same time.

Go closet shopping.

Everyone has stuff. Most people have too much stuff. That stuff has value, but not enough value to be used everyday. But there is probably someone, somewhere, who would value that stuff in your closet enough to use it. So release your stuff. Dig deep down into the depths of darkness, in your closet, under you bed, in the garage, the attic. Wherever you put your surplus stuff. And wrap up the stuff and give it away.

Notice I’m not talking about regifting. Because this isn’t regifting. This is stuff you bought for yourself and didn’t use. Not that there’s anything wrong with regifting. Regifting works under the same principle, and it’s not shameful.

See, it’s basic economics. That stuff in your closet represents resources. Resources you don’t value enough to use. If you give those resources away as gifts, and in turn it gets regifted, eventually those resources will find people who will value them more than you. Those resources will re-enter the economy and assist in the creation of goods and services. Thus increasing GDP.

The more you closet shop, the more you regift, the less Christmas Deadweightloss.

It’s time for real hope and change. And less clutter.