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  • March 2011
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links for 2011-03-30


links for 2011-03-29

links for 2011-03-28

  • Quote:"Obama says we have a vital national interest in Libya, and he declares that Qaddafi "must go." Yet regime change is not our goal: "[B]roadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." If I understand Obama correctly–and believe me, it isn't easy–he is invoking Iraq as an explanation for why he doesn't want to overthrow Qaddafi: regime change in Iraq took too long and cost too much.

    That doesn't mean, of course, that deposing Qaddafi would be as hard or take as long. Actually, Qaddafi appears to be hanging by a thread. Obama leaves himself in an inconsistent position, where the U.S. ostensibly has a vital interest in preventing Qaddafi from terrorizing his own people, but not vital enough to do the one thing that would actually bring about the desired result: get rid of Qaddafi.

    // Simply put, Obama was not interested in communicating, only in sounding pretty and not taking a stance on Libya.

    (tags: obama Libya)
  • Quote:"Gold and silver have become the inflation hedges of choice for some investors. Gold hit an intra day high today of $1,448 per ounce. Silver is trading at 31-year highs, hitting an intra day high of $38 per ounce.

    // There are big consequences if the dollar is dropped as the world's reserve currency (ask the Brits about it). And see below about the current monetary base.

  • // There is very little evidence technology actually increases academic achievement. In fact, most of the time it does the opposite. Perhaps the new KhanAcademy model will reverse this, but I highly doubt schools are going to be doing the KhanAcademy schtick. Teaching kids to look stuff up on Wikipedia is not education.
  • // Graphy goodness, the Captain lets us see the current monetary base compared to the norm, and the news is not good if you have any cash or savings. If you have a lot of debt, it's a little better.
  • Quote:"In Sendai, tsunami warden Mr Kamata tried to return for his dog — a large pedigree Akita — after warning neighbours about the incoming wave, but found his way blocked by the churning water.

    // Akitas…now there's a dog. A dog's dog.

From the Notebook

John Stuart Mill

Image via Wikipedia

– Published an article on pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

-Went to the MOB event, saw a few people, actually talked to a few others (Mark, John, Mitch, Brad). Would’ve stayed longer but I was really tired from a long day of fantasy baseball drafts and drinking.

-I have gone through all my old blogger.com blogs and put them under private viewership. Eventually I intend to delete them (all the posts have been transferred to this blog and the archive). If, for some incredibly odd reason you want access to my blogger.com blogs, contact me.

-Saw “Sucker Punch” at St. Anthony Main. There was too much “Girl Power” and not enough Tengu Monster killing, and it was too loud, and I hated the music, and there was too much crying, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit I even paid to see it (I didn’t, thankfully), and it started too slow and ended quite stupidly. But, the Steam-Powered Zombie Nazis (though technically, they weren’t Nazis as it was a WWI fantasy and not a WWII one, regardless) made this film worth seeing.

Books Read:

-Pascal’s Treatise on the Arithimatical triangle. This is part of the Great Books ten-year reading program, and was very difficult to understand (terrible translation). But, I did recognize some of the statistical concepts. Fortunately, there are plenty of youtube videos available that make learning about “Pascal’s Triangle” rather easy. If only I had to factor more binomial expressions in my life.

-“Let’s go to the Movies” by Lester Gordon. I barely consider this a book. It was a collection of trivia, quotes and anecdotes about movies and famous actors and actresses. But, because I’m having a hard time getting books finished, I’m counting it. It’s dated, so don’t bother.

-John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” –Another selection from the Great Books reading program– I liked this essay. It presents the foundation for what we call “classical liberalism” including the limits of government power, the value of free speech, and the limits and requirements for government interventions. Because Mill is an atheist (agnostic), this book might not get read by conservatives as much as it should.

links for 2011-03-27

links for 2011-03-25

  • Quote:"The results? Housing delivered a solid but unimpressive annualized return of 8.6%. Commercial property did better at 9.5%. The S&P, however, delivered a crushing 13.4%.

    Other studies argue that real estate's returns are much worse. Yale finance and economics professor Robert Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance, who looked back to 1890, contends that only twice has real estate produced truly outstanding returns: after World War II, when returning troops were starting their families, and from 1998 to 2005, a period he thinks is a bubble.

    Housing's rate of return, he argues, has to trend back to the mean of about 3% a year – barely above the inflation rate. If that's starting to happen now, he says, we could be facing many years of losses.

  • Abstract quote:"Using longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study (analytic sample N = 712), we investigate how age, adult role acquisition and attainments, family resources, parent–child relationship quality, school attendance, and life events influence support received from parents in young adulthood. Parental assistance was found to be less forthcoming for those who had made greater progress on the road to adulthood, signified by socioeconomic attainment and union formation. The quality of mother–child and father–child relationships affected parental support in different ways, positively for mothers, negatively for fathers. School enrollment, negative life events, and employment problems were associated with a greater likelihood of receiving support. The findings suggest that parents act as “scaffolding” and “safety nets” to aid their children's successful transition to adulthood.

    // So really, this study told us stuff we already knew.

  • Quote:'The new data came from the Youth Development Study, a survey of young adults. The study has followed a group of ninth-grade students enrolled in St. Paul, Minn., public schools in the fall of 1987; the students and their parents filled out questionnaires every year or two. Swartz analyzed data from 1997, when the participants were 24 years old, through 2005, when they turned 32.

    "We were interested in this older period of young adulthood," Swartz told LiveScience. "What defines this giving? Why do they give?"

    Most of these parentally dependent twentysomethings have launched into adulthood by their 30s, only about 15 percent still receiving aid of some kind from their parents, the results showed.

    // I really want to read this study, I doubt strongly its veracity.

  • quote:"Dorothy Young, the last surviving assistant to share the stage with Harry Houdini, died this week at the age of 103. Young passed away at a retirement community in Tinton Falls, N.J. according to a spokesman from Drew University where she was a longtime patron.

    Young was cast in Houdini's traveling show at the age of 17, reports Variety. She attended an open casting call in New York, and although she was originally stuck in the back of the crowd, Houdini spotted her and asked to see her dance. After impressing the magician and his manager, she was signed to contract to join his show.

    // It's sad we only get to hear about people like this after they've died.

  • quote:" "the runaway ebook renown of 26-year-old publishing-house reject Amanda Hocking," who has sold more than a million copies of what she describes on her blog as "young adult paranormal romance" and "zombie urban fantasy" tales via digital platforms like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

    As of Thursday, the former indie author from Minnesota is a vampire-hot New York publishing house property. Hocking has inked a four-book, $2 million-plus deal with Macmillan imprint St. Martin's Press, the New York Times reports. The agreement comes on the heels of what the Times described as a "heated auction" that apparently became a bit too heated for Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. The first book in the series is set for a fall 2012 release.

    But it's unclear how Hocking's royalties will compare with the profits she was reaping on her own. The author has said she was selling 100,000 copies of her nine ebooks every month for as much as $3 a piece;

links for 2011-03-24

  • //"Kinetic military action" is redundant. Action implies kinesis.
  • Quote:"Davidson was born in British Columbia in 1916. He checked up on his citizenship before joining the Navy and was told by an inspector at the U.S. Department of Labor Immigration and Naturalization Service he had nothing to worry about. Now he worries that he won't be able to prove his citizenship, because his parents were born in Iowa before local governments started keeping records of birth certificates in 1880. "I want it squared away before I pass away," he says.

    Schoolcraft says they tried to dissuade him from pursuing the matter. Employees at the local passport office scared them, telling her father "If he pursued it, (he could) possibly be deported or at risk of losing Social Security."

    // Fortunately, Senator Murray's office is helping out. Hope he gets everything squared away, he deserves it.

  • Just FYI:Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. A first aid kit* should include:

    •Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
    •2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
    •4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
    •Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
    •Triangular bandages (3)
    •2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
    •3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
    •Moistened towelettes
    •Tongue blades (2)
    •Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
    •Assorted sizes of safety pins
    •Cleansing agent/soap
    •Latex gloves (2 pair) Sunscreen
    Non-prescription drugs

    •Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
    •Anti-diarrhea medication
    •Antacid (for stomach upset)
    •Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
    •Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

links for 2011-03-23

links for 2011-03-22

links for 2011-03-21

  • Quote:"We pointed out a couple of years ago–time flies–that the United States has the most progressive system of personal taxation of any developed country. Now, the Tax Foundation has the same message. The top ten percent of American taxpayers pay more to the national government in taxes, both as a percentage of the total taxes collected and in proportion to their share of the national income, than upper-income taxpayers in any other developed country. This chart says it all:

    // If you start to include corporate taxes and unbelievable levels of regulation and bureacracy, America is basically a democratic-socialist country.

    (tags: taxation)
  • Quote:"That’s the point that the DFL wants to keep obscuring; while the original stated purpose of LGA was to help lower property taxes for cities whose infrastructure needs outstripped the population’s ability to pay – building water treatment plants and police stations and schools in towns that couldn’t afford them, then or now – it has become a subsidy for big, bad, profligate urban DFL mismanagment; the Twin Cities, Duluth and Rochester get twice as much LGA per capita as the rest of the state, and that’s with the “the rest of the state” including the cities housing a third of the population that get no LGA at all.
  • Quote:"The National Association of Realtors said Monday sales fell 9.6 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.88 million units, snapping three straight months of gains.

    The percentage decline was the largest since July.

    Economists polled by Reuters had expected February sales to fall 4.0 percent to a 5.15 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.36 million unit rate in January, which was revised slightly up to 5.40 million.

    The median home price dropped 5.2 percent in February from a year earlier to $156,100, the lowest since April 2002.

    // Pretty obvious to me, there won't be a housing market recovery until people have jobs.

  • Quote:"We study a prototypical model of a Parliament with two Parties or two Political Coalitions and we show how the introduction of a variable percentage of randomly selected independent legislators can increase the global efficiency of a Legislature, in terms of both number of laws passed and average social welfare obtained. We also analytically find an "efficiency golden rule" which allows to fix the optimal number of legislators to be selected at random after that regular elections have established the relative proportion of the two Parties or Coalitions. These results are in line with both the ancient Greek democratic system and the recent discovery that the adoption of random strategies can improve the efficiency of hierarchical organizations.
  • // There is no free lunch, part MMCXXIII