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  • April 2011
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links for 2011-04-29


links for 2011-04-28

links for 2011-04-26

Decennial Anniversary

Ten years ago today my writing “career” started with a short column on the Quebec Summit of the Americas published in a soon-to-be-dead online magazine. A hundred and fifty columns, 4,500 blog posts, and fifteen hundred dollars in earnings later, here I am. This summer the novel will be out in print, and I’m hoping another major project will be nearing completion (It’s not much, but it’s something solid). I can’t complain about how things have gone, I’ve had every opportunity a writer can ask for. Some of my articles have been read by thousands of people. That’s not impressive in today’s media world, but it would have been impressive to that college freshman back in 2001. Every once in a while I consider calling it quits altogether. Those moments don’t last long. To everyone I owe thanks, thanks. To everyone else, thanks too.

links for 2011-04-24

  • // Good take-down of the new Atlas Shrugged movie.
  • Quote:"Forty-one percent of federal student loan borrowers who started repayment in 2005 have either defaulted on their loans or have been delinquent on their loans at some point, according to this report.

    The study found that although 15 percent– or 258,404 students representing $3.2 billion in loans – actually defaulted on their loans, the percentage of people who have trouble repaying their loans, but never actually default, is much higher.

    Twenty-six percent – or 454,000 borrowers, representing $8.5 billion in loans – were delinquent at some point, but never defaulted.

    // And it's only getting worse.

links for 2011-04-23

links for 2011-04-22

From the Notebook

Official photograph portrait of former U.S. Pr...

Image via Wikipedia

El Dos de Mayo is coming up, I’ll be there (though I do have jury duty). Any regular readers who want to meet me at one of my few public appearances (it’s hard to keep a straight face even writing that) can catch me at Sally’s on Monday, May 2nd, sometime after 4pm. Or, I’ll be at Stub and Herbs sometime after 8pm. I won’t have a book to premier this year though. However, over the next year, I might have up to three books coming out. The novel is set for midsummer, and the two other projects I can’t talk about (yet). Other stuff in the notebook:

-Looking at my visitor stats, I saw a Google search asking “is ‘you done good’ grammatically correct?” No, no it’s not. Idiot.

-There are two bits of information I’ve seen showing the employment market’s recent resurgence will be short-lived. First, Teen unemployment levels went up last month (teens are always the first out, last in) and rising gas prices are correlated to a rise in unemployment (albeit two years after the rise; research I found gives a solid .58 correlation). It will be interesting to see if the economy presses through the higher fuel costs and the coming consumer price inflation.

– Interesting tidbit from Federalist 23:

The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for the government of both; to direct their operations; to provide for their support. These powers ought to exist without limitation, BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FORESEE OR DEFINE THE EXTENT AND VARIETY OF NATIONAL EXIGENCIES, OR THE CORRESPONDENT EXTENT AND VARIETY OF THE MEANS WHICH MAY BE NECESSARY TO SATISFY THEM. The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed. This power ought to be coextensive with all the possible combinations of such circumstances; and ought to be under the direction of the same councils which are appointed to preside over the common defense.

-The end of April marks the completion of the fifth year of my exercise plan. Five years ago I committed to exercising at least 5 days a week (or more). Previous to this I averaged 3-4 days with a workout. I boosted that number to 5-6 and continued it for a very long time. I get at least 30 minutes of cardio every workout, with flexibility and strength training sprinkled throughout. I also try to get some walking done in addition to everything else. Now, if only I could keep to a diet…

Books Read:

-Decision Points by President George W. Bush. At the end of Bush’s presidency, I was among the millions of Americans who were frustrated with him, despite being a solid supporter. Reading this book was great because Bush provided what he never did while president: reasonable arguments. His justifications of his policies were quite thoughtful. He had his own doubts about many of the actions he took. The book, unlike other presidential memoirs, appeared completely sincere. Regardless of what you think of Bush, you should at the very least get his side of the story before criticizing him.

-Your Marketing Sucks by Mark Stevens. I picked it out of a bargain bin for a couple of reasons, 1) I try to read something business related every couple of months, and 2) I don’t know a lot about marketing. It turned into a great read. The author has done large marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and had a common sense perspective on the topic. What was frustrating is that, despite the title, the author still wrote like an MBA. The technical-businesspeak was unnecessary and took away from the book. And some stuff got repetitive. However, as an introduction to “ROI-Marketing” it can’t be beat. Stevens promotes the idea of stopping all marketing expenses until you can prove every dollar spent is making more than a dollar in revenues. Common sense, but rarely found in large companies.

Twins Thoughts:

-The Twins offense will come back. It’s called regression to the mean. No team is this bad at the plate. Seriously. I would definitely be looking for upgrades at SS. I think Trevor Plouffe is an option. I think Luke Hughes should stay on with the team (the Twins can go to an 11 man pitching staff). For some more offensive pop, I think Rene Tosoni, Chris Parmelee or Joe Benson should get called up to take over Repko’s spot. That won’t happen, and it wouldn’t make a huge difference anyway. More worrisome is the team’s pitching. The Twins need to upgrade their bullpen by removing some dead arms (Dusty Hughes) and sending Joe Nathan to AAA for some low-leverage innings and calling up Anthony Swarzak to take Nathan’s spot. Kyle Gibson is looking like he’s ready for a rotation spot as well (when June comes around, if one of our starters is struggling, I would give Gibson that rotation spot).

-There has been plenty of discussion about moving Mauer away from catcher. It’s something I’ve promoted for a long time. While I understand Mauer’s relative value is greatest as a catcher, the Twins have him signed longterm (until he’s 36). I would prefer we raise his absolute value, get his bat into the lineup more often, and extend his quality years as a player (by up to five years!). I know Mauer is against this, as he knows his ticket to the HOF carries a catcher’s stamp. It might be void if he moves (ask Joe Torre). Still, Mauer is a very expensive team asset who needs to be protected.

-Regardless of everything else, this year’s Twins team has a lot of problems that will require more than patchwork. We have a terrible fielding outfield. A hole at shortstop. Durability problems at catcher and first base. Mediocrity problems in the bullpen (and a lack of power arms). And a terrible bench. Maybe the great run is over for a bit.

links for 2011-04-21

  • Quote:"The mother of a special education first-grader wants to know why her son was handcuffed when he became upset while decorating an Easter egg at his New York City school.

    Jessica Anderson tells the Daily News that 7-year-old Joseph became upset because his egg-painting didn't look the way he wanted. She says he was taken to the hospital wearing metal handcuffs even though she told the school she was on her way to get him.

    // Nothing more dangerous than a spe-ed first grader. Way to be Mr. Policeman.

    (tags: police)
  • Quote:"Buster Posey(notes) may have the only World Series title in the family, but Samantha Posey isn't above playing a healthy game of "anything you can do, I can do better."

    The sister of the San Francisco Giants catcher is a star softball player at Valdosta State University in Georgia. And on Monday, she achieved something that her big bro will likely never touch in the big leagues — a home run cycle in a doubleheader.

    // I've always wanted to track baseball families to see how baseball "skill" is inherited. This would include something like this (and AAGPBL players who had sons play professionally). I think the correlation would be pretty high.

  • Quote:"U.S. households are now getting more in cash handouts from the government than they are paying in taxes for the first time since the Great Depression.

    Households received $2.3 trillion in some kind of government support in 2010. That includes expanded unemployment benefits, as well as payments for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and stimulus spending, among other things.

    But that’s more than the $2.2 trillion households paid in taxes, an amount that has slumped largely due to the recession, according to an analysis by the Fiscal Times.

    // That doesn't sound sustainable…why can't the government just not tax any US households, and give them a hundred billion dollars?

links for 2011-04-20