Saturday, December 18, 2010

The USA went straight to hell in 1975

And I can prove it!!

(Click the pic for a more glorious image)



Last minute Christmas deals!

KPC has used its considerable influence to negotiate the following deals for its readers (just enter KPCROCKS as the promotional code when doing online check out):




Don Van Vliet, RIP

Captain Beefheart has died. I still listen to his first two classic albums (safe as milk and trout mask replica) and he was an accomplished artist. He was 69 years old.

Reattachment Update

I have been trying to lay low. In fact, flat. MAG brought me over a massage table, which is like a sturdy cot, but with a frame with a hole in the middle so I can lie face down and read through the hole.

The first procedure was 8 days ago; the second procedure was Monday, 5 days ago. There is an enormous bubble in my left eye (well, a small bubble, but it's all I can see). The retina appears to have reattached in a physical sense. The problem is that the nerves all need to mate up again, and of course only some of them will. So vision from left eye will always be dim, wrinkled, and unfocused. At BEST.

The primary variable that affects the improvement of vision over the next month is lying face down and motionless. The larger the proportion of time I can do that, the more likely I get back at least some vision in the left eye. (Have always slept on stomach, so that's a help). Anyway, all I can do is look down. And dr says to stay off computer. Eye movements are too rapid, and too large.

So, I read. May I recommend:

Chernow's GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Life
Manchester's THE ARMS OF KRUPP
Strasser and Becklund's SWOOSH: The Story of Nike

Three huge books. Only the Chernow one is remotely new. But all well done. Finished GEORGE and SWOOSH, just started KRUPP. Read it years ago, but thought I would give it another go.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The bane of my existence

It's not the Fed, or my tax bill, or the lack of a local Whole Foods, it's grading. And right now, it's the grading time of the year.

This person definitely gets it in their post, "The 5 stages of grading".


An excerpt:

"Bargaining. This stage usually begins as an earnest attempt to buckle down and grade. The instructor might say, “If I grade five papers, I can watch one episode of House,” or, “For every page I grade, I get to eat a piece of candy.” This process starts well, but as the instructor progresses the amount of work required to achieve the reward generally becomes smaller and smaller..."

You'll have to excuse me now, grades are due in on Monday so I'm off to buy a big bag of Reese's cups!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This is the last straw

As you people know, I've been a big advocate of increased immigration and, yes, of amnesty and a path to citizenship for our "illegals".

But no more!

Not after reading the Fox News Latino report that Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are having an anchor baby.

In what can only be interpreted as a bearish move on the future of their homeland, the couple is planning to give birth in Los Angeles.

Let's just repeal ALL the amendments just to make sure this crap can't happen any more!

FNL in their infinite wisdom, took the story down, but it's cached, people, it's cached.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heads I win, tails you lose

I am a little bit confused about Fed policy evaluation 101. I seem to be flunking that course.

Quantitative Easing II was supposed to lower long term interest rates. That was the stated goal of the policy.

Long term interest rates have been steadily rising (even before the latest borrowing binge announcement).

Yet many people say that the fact that rates are rising MEANS QE II is WORKING!


As my good friend Doug Nelson likes to say, "you have to be a very highly trained economist to come to that conclusion".

Now maybe the Fed is playing the long con and deliberately misinformed the public about the true purpose of their policy. Could you see the Ben Bernank announcing "We want to raise inflation expectations and long term interest rates"?

I think that they actually expected to lower long rates and the episode should be viewed as an example of the idea that the further out in the term structure the Fed aims, the less control they actually have over rates.

I guess there are two kinds of people in this world; those who think the Fed is always wrong and those who think the Fed is always right.

Hans Rosling's Chart is SERIOUSLY MISLEADING

I guess I am the last person with an internet connection to see this video.

Yes he's an entertaining and enthusiastic guy. Yes, the rise of China and India is amazing and fantastic. Yes there is a large "middle class" of countries.

But people, have you looked at the horizontal axis of his chart? The distance between $400 and $4000 is the same as the distance between $4000 and $40000.

That is incredibly misleading.

Properly plotted on a linear scale, it would be clear that there was way way way LESS income inequality in 1810 or that magic year of 1948 than there is in 2010.

We are NOT living in an "age of convergence" with respect to per-capita incomes.

It is NOT only Sub-Saharan African countries stuck at the bottom.

Latin America is NOT catching up to the USA.

The whole thing is pretty much horse hockey.

Then the press grabs ahold and starts to exaggerate the exaggerations. Here's David Brooks:

"Then, over the last few decades, the social structure of the world changes. The Asian and Latin American countries begin to catch up. With the exception of the African nations, living standards start to converge. Now most countries are clumped toward the top end of the chart..."

Just keep repeating this to yourself people: "The left half of the chart covers a range of $3,600, but the right half of the chart covers a range of $36,000.

Holy Crap!

Rahm Emanuel as Coriolanus" "The price is to ask it kindly"

A bizarre modern remake of Coriolanus was enacted in a basement hearing room in Chicago yesterday. (nod to Anonyman for the NTY link)

Listening to the questions, and the tone of the answers, reminded me of this speech by Coriolanus, after he agreed to submit to the questions of the idiot voters of Rome. Coriolanus has asked one voter what is the "price" of the office he seeks; the voter tartly responds that "the price is to ask it kindly."

Later, Coriolanus says this:

Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,
To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,
Their needless vouches?


Coriolanus thinks he deserves the office; how dare the voters make him beg for it? Sorry, Rahm, democracy sucks.

(An aside: I was surprised the article author called the Chicago train the "L", because I always thought it was the "El", short for "elevated train." But the city of Chicago itself has gone with "L" trains. Who knew?)

Nick "The Jacket" Gillespie Prepares Balanced Budget

This is cute, for several reasons.

First, the content is good, and the video works just based on the premise.

But for the cognescenti, all of whom know that Nick's "nickname" (sorry) is "The Jacket", the fact that he is wearing the leather jacket UNDER the apron is terrific. Nick is 90% in on the joke, but the fact is that he DOES always wear "the jacket."

Angry Alex asks whether Nick EVER takes off the jacket. My understanding is that, like the Bandit's hat, he takes it off for one thing, and one thing only.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rouge Birds

A paraphrase, from "Moulin Rouge," Lady Marmalade.

Perhaps we could call it "St Louis Rouge-Birds"

City come through with the money and the bases
We let 'em know we bout that cake straight up the case uh
We independent owners, some mistake us for whores
I'm sayin‘, why spend mine when I can spend yours
Disagree? Well that's you and I’m sorry
Imma keep playing these cats out like Atari


'Cause it turns out that the Cardinals are playing the city pretty hard.

And, indeed, why spend mine when I can spend yours? Both the owners and the politicians win, and only the taxpayers get it good and hard.

As in Mencken's delightful formulation: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

The point being that a lot of St. Louis citizens actually approve of being treated like this. If you want baseball, pay for it.

(Nod to the Bishop)

Ziggy Stardust & the Spider from Slazenger?



There is a parody of this going around the interwebs; I can't understand why.

Mr. Tootie Has A Brother!

Angus's wunderhund, Pluto (aka Mr. Tootie, etc.) has a brother.

The brother is a bear, which is strange.

But if you watch this video, you will see EXACTLY how Mr. Tootie would react to something interesting left in the kitchen.

Right down to the facial expression. And the guy's voice even sounds a bit like Angus.

Video is pretty long. Watch first 15 seconds, then skip ahead to 1:50. And see what Mr. Tootie would do if he were a bear!

(nod to the Blonde)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Tao of Don

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is many things, slumlord, racist, sexual harasser, astute business man (he bought the Clips for 12.5 mil, now worth over 200 mil).

Now we can add performance artist to the mix. He's taken to heckling his premier free agent acquisition during games from his courtside seat:

It’s not uncommon to hear Los Angeles Clippers fans heckle Baron Davis. Of late, however, the jeers directed at the team’s struggling point guard are coming from a far more surprising source: The man paying Davis, Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling has expressed his displeasure about Davis’ play by taunting him from his courtside seat at Clippers’ home games, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. Among Sterling’s verbal barbs:

– “Why are you in the game?”

– “Why did you take that shot?”

– “You’re out of shape!”

While Sterling has also taunted other Clippers players since the middle of last season, none have received it worse than Davis, the sources said.

Why?

Sterling “started getting a lot more vocal during the second half of last season,” one team source said. “He never had done that before at games. Baron’s his pet project. He absolutely hates Baron. He wants to get his money back.”

Now it's true that B-Dizzle has been a big fizzle for the Clips, but heckling him during the game seems like a move designed to make sure he won't get any better.




Regulation Helps Established Firms....

New Flash: Regulation helps established firms, creates entry barriers, and protects profit.

Next: The sun rises in the east.

The only thing surprising about this is that you lefties think that THIS time, if we only elect the right people, things will be different.

Fail!

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Appalling American Propadanda Video, With Donald Duck

I laughed at first, but it becomes increasingly racist and disturbing. Still, an interesting piece of history...Donald Duck? Really? Plus, the song is catchy. But then so is syphillis.

(Nod to Dutch Boy)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

They know what boys like

Harry Reid and the Senate democrats think they know what President O and the Republicans evidently don't: how to lure the House Dems into supporting the tax deal.

And their answer is........

PORK!!!!

A few billion here and there for ethanol subsidies and wind and solar subsidies is all they figure it'll take to get the bill past the opposition of the Democratic Caucus in the House.

I bet it works, but I'm surprised they didn't throw in a lil bit more high speed rail money just to clinch it.





The leaky lockbox

Of all the weird stuff surrounding the tax deal (Bill Clinton and President O, mortal enemies, now together??), I think the weirdest of all is the idea that cutting the payroll tax imperils Social Security.

Let's sort this one out right here, OK people?

First, at the meta-level, money is fungible. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to earmark funds even when you try. This is what makes humanitarian aid to oppressive dictatorships such a morally murky area.

Second and most relevant though, is the fact that payroll taxes are NOT dedicated only to paying social security benefits. That's right, not only are your personal contributions NOT saved to fund your social security benefits, aggregate annual payroll taxes are not used explicitly to fund social security. The money is spent, period. On what? it's really impossible to say (see the above paragraph).

Yes, I know, Al Gore told us there's a lockbox with our "contributions" safe inside.

People, it's a lockbox with a 100% skim rate (i.e. not a lockbox at all)! Get Al to let you look inside; that sumbich is empty!

In truth, there really isn't much "imperiling" social security; it's the stream of future health spending obligations that are unsustainable. A combination phasing in partial means testing for benefits, and phasing in a slight rise in eligibility age could easily solve any "problems" that might be conjured up.

But the cut in the payroll tax doesn't "imperil" social security any more than it "imperils" the defense budget or the Pell grant budget.

If benefits aren't altered, then the day that payroll tax revenues fall below benefit payouts, what will happen? Nothing! Benefits will be paid out of general revenues just like they've effectively always been paid.

While tax cuts may imperil future spending (that's the essence of "starve the beast", no?), there is no real link between the type of tax being cut and the type of spending being imperiled.