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  • May 2011
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links for 2011-05-30


links for 2011-05-27

  • // Graph goodness relating to the housing market, hint: there's still a long way to go.
  • Quote:"Two former Los Angeles Police Department officers, along with 13 others, have plead guilty to running a robbery ring, which used fake no-knock raids as a ruse to catch victims off guard. The defendants would then steal cash and drugs to sell on the street. This tactic led Radley Balko, editor of Reason Magazine, to complain "So not only can you not be sure the people banging down your door at night are the police, not only can you not be sure they’re the police even if they say they’re the police, you can’t even be sure it’s safe to let them in even if they are the police."[3][4][5]
  • Quote:"One of the officers planted marijuana in Johnston's house after the shooting.[7][8] Later investigations found that the paperwork stating that drugs were present at Johnston's house, which had been the basis for the raid, had been falsified.[3] The officers later admitted to having lied when they submitted cocaine as evidence claiming that they had bought it at Johnston's house.[7] Three officers were tried for manslaughter and other charges surrounding falsification and were sentenced to ten, six, and five years respectively.[3]

    // Drugwar

links for 2011-05-26

links for 2011-05-25

links for 2011-05-24

links for 2011-05-21

  • Quote:"The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.

    // Huge assumption in this article. Income taxation rates are not simple coefficients in Keynesian equations. It's more complicated than that. The author's assumption of increasing tax reciepts from higher rates in a basically linear fashion is the sort of one-dimensional thinking one would expect from an obtue academic. While higher taxes probably would increase revenues, those increases would not be predictable; the damage done to the economy because of those higher taxes is a huge, and ignored, variable.

  • quote:"About 100 miles southwest of Phoenix, in a remote patch off Interstate 8, Glenn McGinnis is seeking to do something that has not been done for 29 years in the United States. He is trying to build an oil refinery.

    Glenn McGinnis hopes his Arizona Clean Fuels will build an oil refinery southwest of Phoenix.
    Part of his job is to persuade local officials and residents to allow a 150,000-barrel-a-day refinery in their backyard – no small task. Another is to find investors ready to risk $2.5 billion in a volatile industry. So far, the effort has consumed six years and $30 million, with precious little to show for it.

    // Unfortunately, this still hasn't happened five years later. Between lawsuits, regulation and all around peevishness, it is impossible to build something useful in this country.

  • Quote:"The current refinery squeeze has been building for years. For the past two decades, deregulation and low profits have combined to push the industry into consolidation. Partly because of environmental regulations, it was cheaper to expand existing refineries than to build new ones. In 1981, the US had 324 refineries with a total capacity of 18.6 million barrels per day, the Department of Energy reports. Today, there are just 132 oil refineries with a capacity of 16.8 million b.p.d., according to Oil and Gas Journal, a trade publication.

    This bottleneck is expected to keep pressure on gas prices – and politicians. Both parties are weighing measures to loosen environmental and permitting constraints for refineries. Rep. John Shadegg (R) of Arizona is set to offer a bill to streamline federal regulations governing refineries, Congressional Daily reports.

    // Had an argument about this, just collecting and saving sources

  • quote:"New NHS performance data reveal that the number of people in England who are being forced to wait more than 18 weeks has risen by 26% in the last year, while the number who had to wait longer than six months has shot up by 43%.

    In March this year, 34,639 people, or 11% of the total, waited more than that time to receive inpatient treatment, compared with 27,534, or 8.3%, in March 2010 – an increase of 26% – Department of Health statistics show.

    Similarly, in March this year some 11,243 patients who underwent treatment had waited for more than six months, compared with 7,841 in the same month in 2010 – a 43% rise.

  • Quote:"The files show that prisoner Abu Farajal al-Libi, al Qaeda’s No. 3 and a close aide to bin Laden, first disclosed the terrorist master’s special courier to the CIA. It was the agency’s ability to find and track the messenger that ultimately led a team of Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed early on May 2.

    // The efficacy of these techniques is no longer in question. In addition to revealing the MO of bin Laden's and Al Queda's network of couriers, there is ample evidence to show that many other operations were also disrupted. Whether these techniques are ethical, that is the question we must focus on.

  • Quote:"The man shot and killed by Pima County SWAT officers was linked to a home-invasion crew, the attorney representing the officers said Thursday.

    Attorney Michael Storie said authorities found rifles, handguns, body armor and a portion of a law-enforcement uniform inside the house where Jose Guerena was shot by officers serving a search warrant May 5.

    // It will be interesting to see how this case turns out.

    (tags: law police)
  • // Things are getting better? Really? That's the spin on the data included in this article?

links for 2011-05-20

links for 2011-05-19

links for 2011-05-18

  • Quote:"The Tradeworx computers get price quotes from the exchanges, decide how to trade, complete a risk analysis and generate a buy or sell order — in 20 microseconds.

    The computers trade in and out of individual stocks, indexes and exchange-traded funds, or E.T.F.’s, all day long. Mr. Narang, for the most part, has no idea which stocks Tradeworx is buying or selling.

    Showing a computer chart to a visitor, Mr. Narang zeroes in on one stock that had recently been a winner for the firm. Which stock? Mr. Narang clicks on the chart to bring up the ticker symbol: NETL. What’s that? Mr. Narang clicks a few more times and answers slowly: “NetLogic Microsystems.” He shrugs. “Never heard of it,” he says.

    // These high volume traders seem fundamentally anathema to the purpose of a free market exchange.

  • Quote:"Household chores often get in the way when dual-earner couples want to unwind after a stress-filled day on the job. Now, a new study shows that while wives' stress levels drop when their husbands are helping them with chores, for men it's the opposite: stress levels fall when their wives are busy while they're relaxing.

    The research, conducted at the Center for the Everyday Lives of Families at the University of California, Los Angeles, between 2004 and 2006,

  • Quote:"The sane among us recognize that in a free society, income is neither taken nor distributed; for the most part, it is earned. Income is earned by pleasing one's fellow man. The greater one's ability to please his fellow man, the greater is his claim on what his fellow man produces. Those claims are represented by the number of dollars received from his fellow man.

    Say I mow your lawn. For doing so, you pay me $20. I go to my grocer and demand, "Give me 2 pounds of steak and a six-pack of beer that my fellow man produced." In effect, the grocer asks, "Williams, you're asking your fellow man to serve you. Did you serve him?" I reply, "Yes." The grocer says, "Prove it."

    That's when I pull out the $20 I earned from serving my fellow man. We can think of that $20 as "certificates of performance." They stand as proof that I served my fellow man. It would be no different if I were an orthopedic doctor, with a large clientele, earning $500,000 per year by serving my fellow man."

  • // Public schools have turned into a medium for funneling children into the judicial system. Read the whole thing.
  • Quote:"While views vary widely over the wisdom of constructing Minnesota’s firstcommuter rail line, just about everyone agrees the number of riders for the first year of Northstar service fell far short of expectations— 20 percent and 185,000 riders short.

    When ridership comes up short, so do taxpayers, who were already expected to subsidize 79 percent of Northstar’s $16.8 million operating costs—before the shortfall. Passenger ticket sales were projected to pay for 21 percent of the cost of train rides, an operating deficit of more than $1 million per month. The final audited 2010 “farebox recovery” numbers for Northstar Commuter Rail will not be available until July.

    // When the value of something is 20% OF WHAT IT COSTS, don't do it.

  • Quote:"The Kentucky Supreme Court had found that the police created the exigent circumstances and, therefore, the police could not rely on the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth amendment. The U. S. Supreme Court disagreed in an 8-1 decision. Alito wrote for the majority and Ginsburg dissented. The Court reviewed five different tests used by lower federal courts and state courts for determining when the exception to the exception came into play. They rejected them all.

    // SCOTUS is very wrong in eroding the rights of homeowners like this. But this is what the war on drugs is doing to us. Warrantless police searches should not be the norm.

links for 2011-05-17

  • Quote:"Suppose you're part of a married couple, both age 60, you're earning about $75,000 per year, and you've earned a similar amount throughout your career, adjusted for average growth in wages. Also suppose your spouse had sporadic earnings and will be relying on the Social Security spouse's benefit based on your earnings record.

    In this case, your Social Security income at age 66, which is your Full Retirement Age (FRA), will be roughly $2,000 per month. Your spouse would receive an additional $1,000 per month at his or her FRA for a combined income of $3,000 per month, or $36,000 per year. Now consider a move that may sound radical, but is also quite practical: consider hooking up with another like-minded couple in a similar situation, finding a nice three-bedroom house, and living together. Your combined income will be $72,000 per year.

    // Too bad it won't work for my generation.

  • // Great article by Nick Nelson on the Twins Front Office woes.

    What remains to be understood is why the Twins were good for so long while relying on scouting instead of statistical evaluation.

    My answer would be that in the last ten years, the statistical gaps the Twins exploited, speed, all around players, defense, finesse pitching, have closed. Six years ago, it was hard to properly evaluate a player who had a low OPS but a good glove and could steal bases. Now we can. The Twins used to have success picking up these types of players when every other team was focused on HRs and Strike Outs. No more. The only way the Twins can settle in for longterm success by tapping into undervalued players is by a sabremetric makeover.

  • Quote:""People don't realize the risk we're taking by taking care of these patients," the newspaper quoted Dr. Albert Triana of South Miami as saying. "There's more risk of something going wrong and more risk of getting sued. Everything is more complicated with an obese patient in GYN surgeries and in [pregnancies]," he told the newspaper.

    // No, we don't tort reform…

  • // Vin Mazzaro gave up 14 ER in 2.1 IP. And it was not his fault. He didn't have a good outing, walking three guys and giving up a home run, but that isn't all that unusual. What is unusual is the BaBIP of .667 or so. A pitcher has no control over the defense. If anyone should get sent down to the minors, it's the Royals' manager Ned Yost, for allowing his pitcher to be abused like this. Yost stubbornly forced Vin to keep pitching regardless of the outcome. Ridiculous.
  • Quote:"The annual increase in the consumer prices index to a 30-month high of 4.5%, from 4% in March, wrongfooted the City and intensifies the dilemma for the Bank of England over how much longer it can keep interest rates low to support the flagging economy.

    Governor Mervyn King was forced to write another letter to the chancellor, George Osborne, to explain why inflation is so far above the Bank's 2% target. He blamed high commodity and import prices, and the increase in VAT to 20% in January

    // Send them Paul Krugman.

  • // Interesting read. Somehow, I do not believe this new explanation for the "Geronimo" codeword.
  • Quote:"The Killer was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball history, but he was also one of the nicest people ever to play the game. He was one of the few players who would go out of his way to compliment umpires on a good job, even if their calls went against him. I'd call a tough strike on him and he would turn around and say approvingly, "Good call." And he was the same way in the field. And he never did this to get help on close plays, as some players do. The man hit 573 major league home runs and no umpire ever swung a bat for him.

    —Ron Luciano

  • Quote:"Two leading makers of lighting products are showcasing LED bulbs that are bright enough to replace energy-guzzling 100-watt light bulbs set to disappear from stores in January.

    Their demonstrations at the LightFair trade show in Philadelphia this week mean that brighter LED bulbs will likely go on sale next year, but after a government ban takes effect.

    The new bulbs will also be expensive — about $50 each — so the development may not prevent consumers from hoarding traditional bulbs.

    // The light bulb ban is rather stupid, imho. In Minnesota, does heat from an incandescent bulb get wasted?

  • Quote:"They said the real impact of the recession for workers was not in transitory unemployment, but was in permanently lowered future wages that would then feed into Social Security formulas in a way that would permanently lower benefits. "The reduction in wage growth affects nearly all workers — not just the relatively few who lost their jobs — and lasts for their entire post-recession career," the report said.

    Young workers will be harder hit, because the length of the careers they have ahead of them will magnify the effect of the lost wage growth, the study said. Their income at age 70 will be almost five percent lower than it would have been, or about $3,000 per person.

    But higher income workers will have the most to lose and will lose the most. Young workers in the top 20 percent of wage earners will lose an average of $7,500 a year in their 70s, the study said.

    // And that's every year of your working life.