February 28, 2009

I feel her pain

Mom has determined that now is the time to go through 60 years of photo albums, winnow out the pictures to keep as representative, and scan them to disc.

She's gone through half of one album containing pictures beginning in roughly 1942. It's a treat to look at hairstyles and cars from back then, but the tedium of the scanning and saving to disc is not going to be fun.

Has anyone found photo storage software which allows introductory text to be added to a disc? I've thought of just typing up a simple text file in Notepad and saving it to the same disc, but I'm open to suggestions.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2009

Yeah, and that's a bad thing?

From a WSJ editorial gnashing its teeth about the budget proposal laid out yesterday:

Republicans have an obligation to insist on a long and considerable debate on all of this, lest Americans discover in a year or two that they live in a very different country.

Paul Gigot and his fellow editorialists are quite happy with the country we currently have, where income inequality favors them and their readers by huge margins, where they have good health care plans, and where hedge fund managers pay income taxes at the capital gains rate of 15% rather than an income rate of 30% or so. Sharing the wealth and the burden is anathema to Paul Gigot and the WSJ.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 26, 2009

Phony budget panic

You are hearing and will continue to hear Congresspeople and Senators, mostly Republicans and a few Democrats, howling about "passing along debt to our grandchildren!"

Since 1791 the US Government has had a national debt. It was $75,463,476.52 in that year. Every non-balanced budget has added to our national debt. George Washington's grandchildren had debt bequeathed to them by the great man and his Congressional colleagues.

When you hear all these sanctimonious clowns saying the budget will overburden our grandchildren, ignore them. If you're nasty, you could write a letter to your local paper's editors and to your Republican members of Congress asking where their concern was when the late unlamented President Bush nearly doubled the national debt from $5.7 trillion to $10 trillion from 2000-2008.

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Auto woes

My car battery lasted nearly seven years. I know this because it died yesterday, and when I managed to get the car down to Sears (always, always carry jumper cables in your trunk!) they looked up my customer record and told me I'd bought it from them in 2002.

I guess I can't complain too much about having to shell out $105 for a new one.

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February 25, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 7

Update: Ryan's blog is back up, and the discussion is here.

Blurb: Locke's fateful mission off the island as Jeremy Bentham is revealed.

Ryan's doing a server move, so no link right now.

Jon's take. It might be mixed in with Manny Ramirez news, so hunt.

Uh, huh? The official "Lost" book that gets published when this show is over to explain things is gonna have to be 500 pages long.

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It's been a month, so...

What's the Prez been up to? Check out NPR's Obama Tracker. It shows the man's activity by day. Don't call him a slacker!

via Kos.

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February 24, 2009

Retro Republicans

If they've decided to go with the message Jindal just used in his response to President Obama's Not-the-State-of-the-Union but it-might-as-well-have-been speech, they're going to be in the wilderness a long long time. That was vintage Republicanism, going back to Goldwater in 1964. We all know how badly the GOP was beaten in that election.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Political junkies, take Tweet

Forget live-blogging the President's speech, that's so 2004. Live-Tweet it. You can find people doing just that by going to Twitter, looking at the bottom for "search," clicking it and then typing #nsotu into the search box. You'll get a page which looks like this. If you're already following another Tweet conversation, try TweetGrid and add the speech feed to your page. You'll have to pick a grid format first; 1x2 puts two feeds into newspaper column format.

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February 23, 2009

It's health care financing, stupid

Go look at the graphs Ezra Klein has in this post. They clearly show that Social Security has no financial problem going forward and that it's health care costs which are ballooning out of control. The really good news is that the guy whose think tank produced the charts is giving the keynote at President Obama's fiscal responsibility seminar today.

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Bigotry reaches Hawai'i

I'm embarrassed by those of my fellow citizens who participated in this event, and I have some questions for them: Just what the hell impact would the state's recognition of civil unions have on your marriage? Is yours so weak that it would dissolve upon the law's ratification? If so, perhaps you should work on that rather than worry about other people's private lives.

As usual among these things, the agitators all claim they're speaking for families. What harm civil unions might do to pre-existing families isn't spelled out.

I don't understand these people.

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February 22, 2009

Sunday silliness

After seeing a few commercials, my concern has risen to this: I finally got around to visiting Hang In There Jack, the site that shows on the screen during the latest round of ads for Jack-in-the-Box. It's pretty darned imaginative; 30-second video clips of "doctors" updating the public on Jack's condition, etcetera. If you've got five minutes to spare, go look. I particularly like his 2nd in command Phil, who was there when Jack was hit by a bus: "All I know is that Jack and I were talking over some high-level executive stuff and then we weren't, 'cause he got hit by a bus."

I've received no remuneration from Jack-in-the-Box for this post. Too bad. I kinda like their Ciabatta burgers.

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February 21, 2009

Wedding cake

Best cake-topper ever.

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BookNotes

You may have noticed a few weeks ago that Neil Gaiman won the Newbery Award (yes, one R) for his The Graveyard Book. Here's what the committee had to say about it:

A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, the tale of Nobody Owens is told in magical, haunting prose. A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens.

"A child named Nobody, an assassin, a graveyard and the dead are the perfect combination in this deliciously creepy tale, which is sometimes humorous, sometimes haunting and sometimes surprising," said Newbery Committee Chair Rose V. TreviŮo.

I can't add to what Ms. TreviŮo said about it, except to say that I read it yesterday and really enjoyed it.

If you're a CSI fan, you'd probably like Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series. He's a quadriplegic forensic scientist and former NYPD criminalist. There are eight books so far, and they're pretty good thrillers. In the ones I've read the killer has to be found by a certain time or even more terrible things than the murders will happen, which of course contributes to the suspense. The science can be pretty dense, and the murders pretty grotesque, but all in all they're entertaining.

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February 20, 2009

It was cold, too

A pink and purple extravaganza, taken last night from the top of my driveway in a hurry with no regard for setting up the shot or eliminating wires/poles/signage.

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That should settle it

It appears that the guy who started the entire "Immunization causes Autism" panic faked his evidence.

As you can see, Wakefield's work and ethics are about as bad as it gets.

Or so I thought, until readers started sending me this article published in The Times, again by Wakefield's nemesis Brian Deer. Holy crap. If only a fraction of the allegations in this article are true, not only is Wakefield an unscrupulous and incompetent scientist but he's a scientific fraud as well:

The doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients' data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

How many children have gotten sick as a result of this bastard? How many parents have been taken in by this fraudulent nonsense? What is the appropriate penalty for Wakefield?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fun with statistics

Nate Silver of Five-Thirty-Eight, the guy who picked the winners of the election better than any other analyst, occasionally looks at data other than political.

Beer sales, for instance. After posting a nice chart, he says:

As you can see, there has generally not been much of a relationship between alcohol purchases and changes in GDP -- the correlation is essentially zero. Nor have alcohol purchases historically been any kind of lagging or leading indicator.

But something was very, very different in the fourth quarter of 2008. Sales of alcohol for off-premises consumption were down by 9.3 percent from the previous quarter, according to the Commerce Department. This is absolutely unprecedented: the largest previous drop had been just 3.7 percent, between the third and fourth quarters of 1991.

Beer sales fell 14%, which allows him to use this wonderful line:

Perhaps people are substituting Michelob and Coors for more expensive microbrews like Alpha King and Dogfish Head. (This is unpatriotic, by the way, since all the macrobrews are now owned by foreign-based multinational conglomerates. Stimulate your country -- and your tastebuds!).

Damn. If I were still a beer drinker, I'd feel obligated to do something after reading that.

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February 19, 2009

Best Picture

I find myself in the unusual position of having actually seen one of the movies that was released during the current (Oscar) year. Since I go to a theater on average once every 18 months, this is a surprise. The one I saw was in DVD format at home, so that pattern wasn't affected. Since I did see it and liked it, I'm biased towards it, and I'd vote for it for Best Picture.

Regrettably, Wall-E isn't nominated in that category.

I hope it wins for Best Original Screenplay, but I think it got stiffed.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 18, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 6

The oh-so-startling blurb: The way back to the island is revealed to members of the Oceanic 6, but there's trouble ahead when not all of them wish to return.

Ya think?

Ryan's take

Jon's take (might have to scroll down a post or two)

Huh. Not sure what to make of that.

Jack, Jack. Did you never learn you don't dive headfirst into water you haven't checked for depth? And why didn't you (or anyone else) ask Ben what happened to cause the contusions and broken arm? Where did Desmond go? How did Sayid get hooked up with a US Marshal on the plane? How did helicopter pilot Frank wind up flying fixed-wing passenger planes to Guam?

There were a couple of good lines, I thought: From Ben, about other passengers on the plane -- "who cares?" And from Frank -- "we're not going to Guam, are we?"

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Meltdown

If you couldn't watch Frontline's Inside the Meltdown last evening, it's viewable online. It's quite compelling, although as I said when it was over, "I don't require happy endings, but it would be nice to have some ending." It necessarily ends before we know the rest of the story, since we're still living it.

M J Rosenberg noticed something I hadn't: Bush wasn't in it. Oh, there was a clip of him at a press conference, but other than that he wasn't mentioned as being in on any consultations that Bernanke, Geithner or Paulson held. Granted that he isn't an expert on finance, you might have expected the guy who called himself The Decider to be in on the discussions. Maybe he recused himself.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 17, 2009

California edges closer to cliff

I was born in California, and I've spent a few years living there. I'm sure glad I don't live there now.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prepared to lay off 10,000 state workers and his administration said it would halt 275 more public works projects.

California is one of only three states which require a 2/3 majority to pass a budget (Arkansas and Rhode Island are the other two), and it's also home to some of the looniest anti-tax Republicans in the country. Right now they can't get three Republicans to sign off on what looks like a pretty draconian budget already, because it's got $14.4 billion of desperately-needed tax hikes in it.

If I were one of those 10,000 state workers I'd be pretty ticked, and I'd be thinking about organizing some of my fellow employees to go march around a few Republicans' homes. With torches and pitchforks. At night.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 16, 2009

Cellphone fail

A while back I replaced my original Nokia candy-bar cellphone with a Motorola W370 from Tracfone. It's worked fine for the year or so I've owned it, but today it's gone berserk.

I brought it back to the kitchen from the bedroom and plugged it into its charger. It happily started recharging, and then about an hour later it started issuing a very loud hum. It won't turn on, either.

Dammit.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Learning from history, not

Dear me. A caller on NPR's Talk of the Nation just said she "didn't see the big deal" about Watergate, as she made the case for Nixon being her favorite President. (Context: Presidential historians' ranking of the best and worst of the bunch). She went on to say that Reagan was her second-most favorite.

No accounting for taste, I guess.

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Wake-up music

If you gotta get up in the morning, hearing Copland's Appalachian Spring on your clock radio is one of the least annoying ways to do it.

I have the Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic CD that includes the piece. I recommend it.

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February 15, 2009

Ackroyd returns to SNL

I doubt if it's permanent. It may be no more than a one-off, but he played John Boehner to a T last night: Go here for a link to the video.

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Small virtues

First of three loads of laundry into dryer by 0930HST. Estimated time of completion: 1300HST.

Update: Bah. Sweater needed washing. Extra time required.

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February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

I don't remember any guitar solo in the recorded version of this song from Hasten Down the Wind, but it's a damned good one.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My inner populist

Inside the stimulus bill there are 11 pages of rules about executive pay. Predictably, there are complaints:

A common argument from executives against reining in huge Wall Street bonuses is that it would cause the most talented to flee to hedge funds and private equity groups. The free market, they say, should dictate pay levels.

I really wonder about that "most talented" statement. The smartest people I've known have been motivated more by the job than by the cash. And anyway, how much money does a CEO need?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:06 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 13, 2009

Short-term thinking

Has every individual in this country taken on Wall Street's "this quarter's numbers" disease?

Some people (Republicans and anti-government-waste types) object to the funds for home weatherization provided in the stimulus package. Apparently there aren't enough people able to do it.

''That really is an extraordinary step,'' said Mark Wolfe of the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, which represents state-run low-income energy assistance programs. ''A lot of these are great entry-level jobs, but you still have to train people.''

[snip]

''Training will be the biggest obstacle,'' said Norm Gempel, who manages Florida's weatherization program.

Have you guys thought that maybe, just maybe, the people who get trained will go on to weatherize more and more homes? That maybe, just maybe, weatherizing ought to be an ongoing goal in order to reduce the need for heating oil?

We need a smarter citizenry.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Amazon's algorithm

It's amazing what checking the "I own it" box on a couple of albums Amazon classifies as "alternative rock" does to its software recommendations. Suddenly I'm seeing Radiohead and something called Snow Patrol on the list.

It might be amusing to confuse it completely. Lessee, thrash metal plus 17th century Baroque plus 12th century chant plus . . .

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February 12, 2009

Executive Pay

With all the hooha about bank execs' compensation being capped, I found this instructive (4-page .pdf file):

U.S. taxpayers subsidize excessive executive compensation ó by more than $20 billion per year ó via a variety of tax and accounting loopholes. For example, there are no meaningful limits on how much companies can deduct from their taxes for the expense of executive compensation. The more they pay their CEO, the more they can deduct. A proposed reform to cap tax deductibility at no more than 25 times the pay of the lowest-paid worker could generate more than $5 billion in extra federal revenues per year.

That's from the Institute for Policy Studies. Here's their detailed report (27-page .pdf file); the above is an Executive Summary.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stimulus

Polls indicate support for the stimulus package is rising.

Whether I think it's large enough or allocates money correctly (no to both; fewer tax cuts, more infrastructure and state aid would have made me happier), I think this is an expression of something my Dad used to say (he was a Navy officer):

"Whatever you're doing, Lieutenant, do it faster."

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February 11, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 5

The blurb: Locke takes on the burden to stop the islandís increasingly violent shifts through time. Meanwhile, Ben hits a roadblock in his attempt to reunite the Oceanic 6 and bring them back to the island.

Ryan's take.

Jon's take.

On past performance by these writers, I'm not taking bets on whether Charlotte's really dead.

I'm puzzled or forgetting when Locke met Ben in the non-island world so that Ben could get his hands on Jin's wedding ring.

There will probably be a lot more questions I have later after further reflection.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The People's Hall

Ooh, I like this. Joe Posnanski has created his own baseball hall of fame, called Hall of Fame Jr. to distinguish it from the one in Cooperstown. His rules?

1. These are only people who are NOT in the Baseball Hall of Fame. If they ever get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, they will be proudly escorted out of my Hall of Fame in a touching graduation type ceremony.

2. The Hall of Fame Jr. will be in Hoboken, because thatís where the first semi-official baseball game was played, on Elysian Fields, between the New York Knickerbocker Club and the New York Nine on June 19, 1846. This was almost certainly not anything close to the first baseball game played ó baseball, in some form, probably goes back dozens, and maybe even hundreds of years ó but this game was probably the first played under the Alexander Cartwright rules, which makes it probably the first semi-modern game played. Baseball, it is fair to assume, was not invented by any one person. It evolved over time. But this is probably as close as we will get to a starting point, and anyway Hoboken has a MUCH stronger claim to baseballís beginning than Cooperstown.

3. The Hall of Fame Jr.ís only role is to fill the gaps. We make few character judgments and no one is ineligible.

He follows with a list of twenty players (Pete Rose), authors (Jim Bouton), songwriters (the guy who wrote "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"), and even a doctor (Frank Jobe, who invented Tommy John surgery). He then issues a call for nominations, and his readers respond.

So what favorite of yours is not in the big Hall and should at least be in this one?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 10, 2009

Coldplay

After seeing Chris Martin of Coldplay interviewed on 60 Minutes the other night I thought I'd borrow their albums from the library to see what the fuss was about.

The only one I've gotten so far is X&Y, but I'm favorably impressed.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:23 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Steroid news

Doug Glanville, who's a former MLB player himself, has some reflections on the news that Alex Rodriguez admitted to steroid use in the earlier part of this decade. He zeros in on something I've wondered about too:

There is a lot of outrage out there about Alex. Not surprising. But what really surprises me is the lack of outrage about how a confidential and anonymous test could be made public. We seem to gloss over the fact that these players voted to re-open a collectively bargained agreement in a preliminary effort to address the drug problem. When privileged information is shared it effectively hurts anyone who has expected privacy in any circumstance, just as when someone made Britney Spearsís medical records public.

The 2003 test was only supposed to assess whether the number of players using performance-enhancing drugs exceeded a certain threshold. If it did, as part of the agreement, a full drug policy would be instituted in the following testing year. One that was more comprehensive with penalties. This was at least a step in the right direction.

He's absolutely right. And why were names attached to these surveys in the first place? In any blind trial it's important to maintain privacy to avoid prejudice in favor or against the results, so why were the survey respondents identified at the time?

Whoever leaked this info has, at the least, betrayed a trust entered into between the players and Major League Baseball.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Record of the Year

That really means "best track from an album." In this instance, it's an old Robert Plant/Jimmy Page song which surfaced on the album Plant did with Alison Krauss.

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February 09, 2009

Questions left unasked

What about the puppy, Mr. President? When do you get the puppy?

Seriously, A-Rod? C'mon!

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Network cutbacks

Time was, all the major networks had foreign bureaus and reported on international news from those places. Not any more.

I was watching the CBS Evening News last night and Mark Phillips did a two-minute segment on the bushfires in Australia. Where was he? In London.

Now, color me foolish, but it seems to me there ought to be a bureau in Southeast Asia or China which would be responsible for stories from that neighborhood. No matter how good Phillips is, he's only as familiar with an Aussie story as the audio and video he gets from locals on the scene.

Apparently it costs too much to have reporters and editors in foreign places (except Jerusalem! Gotta have reporters in the Middle East!). What the heck, Americans don't care about foreign news anyway.

Bah.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 08, 2009

Grammys

The NYT is live-blogging the Grammy Awards, and in the pre-show awards the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand has already won two. The album won in the folk/Americana category and their song ďKilling the BluesĒ won for country collaboration with vocals.

I really really like that record, in part because Plant surprised the heck out of me with his ability to tone down the Zeppelin wail I remember him for. I've liked Krauss for a long time.

Update: My goodness. Five awards for that album.

How much fun was it to see Paul McCartney singing "I Saw Her Standing There" while playing what was once called a Beatle Bass?

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It's a Beautiful Day

In case you were wondering, that really is a bright blue sky and a ton of sunshine you're seeing while watching the Pro Bowl. The stadium is about 1 1/2 miles from here.

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Decrepitude

Either I'm getting denser or the Sunday puzzles are getting harder.

"Take the name of a country, interchange two consecutive letters, and add an "e" after the fifth letter."

There are nearly 200 countries in the world, fer cryin' out loud!

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 07, 2009

About those job losses

Krugman:

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending ó much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast ó because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects ó and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.

My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

Our only hope is that the House Democrats refuse to agree to the Senate version, and that Obama's townhall meetings next week can swing the public to their side. In those meetings he's got to point out that this "centrist" plan will do what Krugman says, and say that's not acceptable.

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Dear Senators Nelson and Collins

Are you dumber than a box of rocks? Why on earth would you cut aid to states? That would result in job losses at a time when we're losing enough jobs without help from Senators who seem to value "centrism" over common sense.

The biggest cut, roughly $40 billion in aid to states, was likely to spur a fierce fight in negotiations with the House over the final bill. Many states, hit hard by the recession, face wrenching cuts in services and layoffs of public employees as they struggle to comply with laws requiring them to balance their budgets.

Have you got mush for brains?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 06, 2009

Line of the morning

From Blue Texan at FireDogLake, responding to this:

Coburn described it as "the largest generational theft bill we've ever had in the history of our country."

"Object to the bill, fine. But please STFU about how we're hurting our grandchildren by investing in our own country."

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If they only had a brain

Even one brain, spread thinly among 41 Republican Senators, would probably help. At least it would avoid stupidity like this:

. . .there is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), complaining in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal that of the 3 million jobs that the stimulus package might create or save, one in five will be government jobs, as if there is something inherently inferior or unsatisfactory about that.

[snip]

Actually, what's striking is that supposedly intelligent people are horrified at the thought that, during a deep recession, government might try to help the economy by buying up-to-date equipment for the people who protect us from epidemics and infectious diseases, by hiring people to repair environmental damage on federal lands and by contracting with private companies to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.

Yup. As Pearlstein says in his column, there is a definite need for personal economic trainers on Capitol Hill. I see nothing intrinsically wrong with re-sodding the National Mall, for example. The Department of the Interior probably doesn't have landscapers on its payroll, so it would have to contract out the work. People working! Bingo! Stimulus!

Likewise, weatherizing Federal buildings is a twofer: people working and reduced heating/air conditioning bills down the road! Buying hybrid vehicles to replenish the Federal motor pool? People building the things and energy savings to boot! That's about 212,000 cars, buses and trucks. And isn't it a good thing to upgrade the labs at the Center for Disease Control, in order to give the scientists there (you know, the ones that try to keep Americans safe?) better equipment to isolate viruses?

The inescapable conclusion is that Republican Senators (and one or two Democratic ones) are stupid, blinded by ideology, or both.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shine on, Ms. Mitchell

There's a huge number of reviews of Joni Mitchell's 2007 album Shine at her website, so I'm not going to write one. I'm just going to say you should listen to it. It's beautiful. This is pensive Joni, not jazz Joni. It was her first album of new material in nearly ten years, and you'd never know she'd been away.

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February 05, 2009

Obama on the Republicans' "Ideas"

From prepared remarks to staffers at the Department of Energy earlier today:

In the last few days, we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read but you'd be very familiar with because you've been hearing them for the last 10 years, maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems; that government doesn't have a role to play; that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough; that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They've taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars, and they've brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now is the time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.(My emphasis)

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Republicans, the party of ideas

From The Washington Independent via Josh Marshall: The amendment submitted by Senator Jim DeMint of SC as a replacement for the Democrats' stimulus bill consists solely of these items:

  • Permanently repeal the alternative minimum tax once and for all;
  • Permanently keep the capital gains and dividends taxes at 15 percent;
  • Permanently kill the Death Tax for estates under $5 million, and cut the tax rate to 15 percent for those above
  • Permanently extend the $1,000-per-child tax credit
  • Permanently repeal the marriage tax penalty
  • Permanently simplify itemized deductions to include only home mortgage interest and charitable contributions
  • Lower top marginal income rates from 35 percent to 25 percent
  • Simplify the tax code to include only two other brackets, 15 and 10 percent
  • Lower corporate tax rate as well, from 35 percent to 25 percent

Talk about your old, tired, failed prescriptions!

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February 04, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 4

Blurb:

Kate discovers that someone knows the secret of Aaronís true parental lineage. Meanwhile, the dramatic shifts through time are placing the lives of the remaining island survivors in extreme peril.

Ryan's view.

Jon's view.

So, um, Jin survived. Well, that doesn't completely surprise me. But Danielle's appearance as a much younger and pregnant woman really did. She and her crowd were in a Zodiac, so who left the canoes on the beach? And where did the beach bunch (Rose, Bernard, et. al.) go?

Jack, Kate, Said, Ben, Aaron and Sun are all on that slip in the marina; so they just have to get Hurley out of the lockup and then find transportation back. Persuading Kate and Sun that that's a good plan might be a little tricky.

My head is spinning from all the time travel.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Obama on stimulus

This is a nice start at recovering some lost ground, but house parties and YouTube videos aren't gonna reach enough people. Ask for time on the networks, Mr. President.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where the hell is the full-court press?

Update below

President Obama, you're a pretty good basketball player, we're told. You should be driving the ball up the floor, slashing to the basket and scoring on layups (dunking seems unlikely).

Instead, you're giving up easy points to the lousiest players on the opposite team. Worse, you're not even playing defense. Where is the full-court press from your team? They're barely showing up to put a hand in the face of the outside (cable) shooters and blocking out the inside big men (Republican Senators). You're in danger of losing the game, guy, and you don't seem to be pushing very hard.

Time for a halftime pep talk to your players (Democratic Senators), and make it a rousing one. Get loud (ask for some nationwide TV time) and make your case to the crowd (us).

If you lose, it will define your entire season (first term). Don't let that happen.

Update: Now this is more like it. From the President's press conference today:

But make no mistake: A failure to act and act now will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession, a less robust recovery, and a more uncertain future. Millions more jobs will be lost; more businesses will be shuttered; more dreams will be deferred.

And thatís why I feel such a sense of urgency about the economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that is before Congress today. With it, we can save or create more than 3 million jobs, doing things that will strengthen our country for years to come.

Itís not merely a prescription for short-term spending. Itís a strategy for long-term economic growth in areas like renewable energy and health care and education.

Now, in the past few days, Iíve heard criticisms that this plan is somehow wanting, and these criticisms echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place, the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems, that we can ignore fundamental challenges like energy independence and the high cost of health care, that we can somehow deal with this in a piecemeal fashion and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject those theories. And so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.

So I urge members of Congress to act without delay. No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger. No oneís more committed to making it stronger than me, but letís not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. Letís show people all over the country who are looking for leadership in this difficult time that we are equal to the task.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 03, 2009

The product does exist

If you've never seen a Snuggie (speakers off!) modeled by an actual human being:

Behold!

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A righteous rant

The letter Michael Phelps should write.

Tell you what. Iíll make you a deal. Iíll apologize for smoking pot when every politician who ever did drugs and then voted to uphold or strengthen the drug laws marches his ass off to the nearest federal prison to serve out the sentence he wants to impose on everyone else for committing the same crimes he committed. Iíll apologize when the sons, daughters, and nephews of powerful politicians who get caught possessing or dealing drugs in the frat house or prep school get the same treatment as the no-name, probably black kid caught on the corner or the front stoop doing the same thing.

Amen, brother.

via LGM

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Initial thoughts on Daschle

If Daschle had run afoul of tax law by overstating oil depletion allowances he took on his 1040 I don't think that would have been insurmountable, but thinking a car and driver doesn't represent imputed income ? That's entirely too easy for the rest of us to understand.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 02, 2009

Continuity

While watching the game yesterday my host and I figured it out: he's hosted a Super Bowl party for 16 of the last 17 years.

I've been to all of them, from the super-patriotic Super Bowl XXV in Tampa between the NY Giants and the Buffalo Bills (do you remember wide right?) to yesterday's game, also in Tampa.

We're in a rut.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Car door kluge

Back here I mentioned that my driver's-side door lock had broken, and I was worried about the price of repairing it.

Well, it wasn't as awful as the $500 I thought it might be. $226.84 for a new key cylinder and labor.

But. Because it's a new lock, it means I have to carry an extra key for it on my key ring (which I've ruthlessly kept at three keys for approximately forever). Worse, the new key works only on the driver's side but not the passenger's side, so I have to think which door I'm trying to open when I reach for the key ring.

The elegant solution would have been to replace both key cylinders, I suppose.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Above London

Wow. Here's a photo essay of London. At night. From a helicopter.

There are 24 pictures, all big and possibly slow-loading but worth the time.

Via Making Light

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 01, 2009

That was unusual

I just walked past a bedroom window a few minutes ago and noticed some movement outside, so I stopped and looked.

It was a helmeted girl on a unicycle.

Huh. Never saw that before.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Important Stuff

Update: Well, that was the rare exception where the game far outperformed my expectations, and the ads were all but uniformly unmemorable.

Where I was watching you could hear loud cries of exultation and despair from both sides during that fourth quarter. Wottagame!

Okay, the Steelers and Cardinals are playing football today. That's all well and good, but the really big question is:

Who wins the ad competition?

Which company somehow recognizes that this economy is in a deep hole and either

  • is subdued, or
  • goes way over the top (irony!)

Cast your votes in the comments.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack