Monday, October 13, 2008
- Three kinds of pickled cauliflower
- Dried kale
- Arugula and tomato salts
- Haddock, beets, and horseradish cream
- Smoked tomato and almond soup
- Poached yolk and eggplant
- Bass with cauliflower and pesto
- Honey ice cream with caramelized condensed milk cream
- Chocolate bread pudding with vanilla ice cream
Friday, October 10, 2008
Defined benefits is the old system. After a certain number of years of work, one's company will guarantee a certain amount of money each month during retirement. These disbursements are funded from current worker's paychecks, and managed either by the company itself or by a contractor. Social Security is, in effect, a giant government defined benefits plan.
Defined contributions is the new system. We can take a certain amount of money out of our paycheck each month, tax free, and invest it as we choose, letting it grow tax free until we retire and then draw funds out as we need it. This has been attractive for three reasons:
1. It creates a direct link between the money I'm putting aside versus the money I'm getting out, bypassing any potential pyramid schemes (as Social Security has been the past few decades, with more people paying into it and than getting money out of it).
2. It allows each individual to set his or her own risk tolerance and direct investment accordingly.
3. Finally, and most importantly, it shifts the risk from the employer to the employee. This is primary reason that employees have switched to these plans.
The problem with defined contribution plans has reared its head this week: panic. The massive sell off on Wall Street is in part a function of millions of individuals deciding that their retirement accounts have dropped low enough and must be liquidated before they decline further. This, of course, pushes stock prices even lower.
A defined benefits plan would not fall victim to such a panic routine, since defined benefit plans have much better and more accurate projections of future liquidity needed (i.e. payouts), and also (should) have access to both private and government insurance and hedging mechanism to protect themselves against downturns. Companies should certainly shift their allocations in times such as these. But they are far less likely than individuals to simply dump their holdings into a falling market.
Defined contributions plans were supposed to be the herald of a new ownership society. Instead, they are a mechanism for irrational risk taking and collective panic.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Here are my picks (notes where I dissented from the majority of pickers):
Com: Furman - huge campaign advisor; liberal leanings
Def: Danzig - Gates too polarizing, Reed's seat may go Rep, which would hurt chances of 60 seats
Labor: Granholm - term limited and can't run for pres/vice, with no senate seat likely to open up
Trans: Rendell - Obama has talked a lot about putting more emphasis on Trans, and Rendell would add diversity (Jew)
OMB: Orszag - From CBO, with Furman already used above
AG: Giuliani- he's the reason why McCain won California and became the nominee
Def: Lieberman -makes it easy for Republicans to pick up Joe's seat - and he deserves a big prize if McCain wins
HHS: Huckabee - anti-obesity enthusiast - would give him a national profile
HUD: Ken Blackwell - previous HUD experience
State: Woolsey - Lieberman not going to be State - he's not a negotiator; Negroponte too close to Bush administration
OMB: Holtz - Eakin
Thursday, October 2, 2008
2. Gwen Ifill should have dropped out of moderating the debate. As soon it became known that Ifill had a book coming out next year with Obama's name in the title, she should have stepped aside. The fact that she did not meant that Ifill was on eggshells the entire debate, unwilling to press Palin when she dodged a question (which happened almost every question). Another moderator should have repeated questions that either Palin or Biden would not answer.
3. Sarah Palin may not know who Achilles was, since she did nothing to convince me otherwise by making no effort to answer a question about what her Achilles Heel is.
4. And finally, the real loser of this debate was John McCain. Joe Biden made point after point about how McCain has voted on the wrong side of an issue, and Palin made almost no effort to refute them. If this were a high school debate, Palin would have lost in a landslide, since, at the end of the day, it is the unrefuted arguments that count.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Everything was excellent - from the buttermilk biscuits and a taste sweet pumpkin apple soup to start, to the goat cheese, pear, walnut, and greens salad to the wild rainbow trout with tomato-basil risotto. The ostrich (so I've been told) was also very good.
Ratcliffe also does lunch, if one if in the downtown Charlotte area during the day.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
"Community organizers, as many of you know, have loads of
responsibilities. The biggest one is helping people educate and
empower themselves to have agency in their lives and fight for their
own interests and for a better world."
It's incredible that the Republican pary would take such offense at the this. What did the founding fathers do when they met in their homes in Boston and New York and Philadelphia and Virginia? Community organizing! How have women gained the right to vote? Community organizing! How did the marches and protests in the civil rights movement happen? Community organizing! G-d forbid people actually meet among themselves and think about what problems they have and how best they can work together to make a difference. And G-d forbid they ask someone with experience bringing people together and experience petitioning government to help them be more effective.
On a more specific note, you should read the middle section of Obama's first book (Dreams from my Father) about his experiences in Chicago as a community organizer if you haven't already. It's an amazing story of a young man who spent time talking to people on the South Side of Chicago. Not as a politician, but just as a guy interested in helping them fight for themselves. It's experience that I think makes Obama exceptionally qualified to be President of the United States. There are plenty of people like the residents of Wasilla, AK in the US. But there are also plenty of people like the residents of the South Side of the Chicago, and they need our help more than ever.
Obama's experience as a community organizer gives him an incredible perspective, and it's something to be applauded. It's a big reason to vote for him.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
"I've worked with John McCain for twenty years in the United States Senate. He and I have agreed on many issues and collaborated on legislation many times. In the past few years, however, on terrorism and on keeping America safe, he and I have seen more eye-to-eye than I have with many of my Democratic colleagues, especially Senator Obama. I support our President's effort to make us safe, from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, and John McCain and I stand together on that front.
"Many of my Democratic colleagues do not see the progress we have made in Iraq in these past few years, and many continue to oppose a surge that John and I supported that has achieved results. Another of my colleagues, Senator Biden, even wanted to break up Iraq into multiple countries. Unlike these colleagues, John McCain has held firm in his support for our efforts for peace in freedom in Iraq, and he will continue them as president.
"I also agree with John on other issues, from his efforts to reform immigration, campaign finance, and curb global warming. John has shown true bipartisan leadership on major issues facing our country, and for that I stand with him. I urge you to stand with him as well."
Thursday, August 28, 2008
First and foremost, let's clear up a misconception. If Lieberman caucuses with the Republicans in the Senate, won't the senate be split 50-50 the way it was in 2001, with Vice President Cheney give the Republicans control? No.
Each two-year congress passes an organizing resolution at the start of its term. Most organizing resolutions (including the one passed in 2007) contain no mechanism for the senate to switch control, even if the majority party actually becomes the minority party. This actually happened in the 83rd congress in 1953-1954. Though the Democrats at times had a majority, LBJ remained minority leader. (Read more about it here.)
The only way that the senate leadership and committee chairmanships can actually change control is if such a mechanism is actually written into the organizing resolution, as it was in 2001, which was subsequently used when then VT. Sen Jim Jeffords switched parties. For the same to happen this year, the new Republican majority would have to pass a new organizing resolution, which of course could be filibustered by the 50 Democratic senators. This may have PR consequences, but it likely will be only for the final few months of this congress' term.
Now - why have I finally given up on Lieberman? I actually like him - I like who he is - I like the fact that there's an observant Jew in congress - I like his positions on most issues. I remember the moment in 2000 when Al Gore picked him - I was never prouder to be an American Jew. Furthermore, I lived in Connecticut for 4 years after that, and thought that Lieberman was all in all an excellent advocate for the state.
Furthermore, in 2006, I had a relatively strong aversion to Ned Lamont. Primarily, I think Lamont's opposition to the war in Iraq came far too late. Unlike Senators Jack Reed and Russ Feingold, or then State Sen. Barack Obama, Lamont waited until it was politically easy to oppose the war. I have a hard time giving him much credit with that. So, had I voted in CT that year, I would have voted for Lieberman in the primary, and likely still voted for him in the general election.
However, now is different. Refusing to endorse a presidential candidate is one thing (a la Sen. Chuck Hagel). Endorsing a candidate from the other party whom you agree with is one thing (a la former Sen. Linc Chaffee). But attacking your own party's candidate is another (a la former Sen. Zell Miller). We'll see what Lieberman's speech is like next week. But if he specifically attacks Senator Obama as unfit to lead this country, Reid should boot him out.
Joementum can carry him somewhere he's wanted.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The tailors there (supervised by Irene) do an excellent job in a short amount of time at a reasonable price. Furthermore, Irene strives to produce excellent work. I tried on a pair of pants she had worked on, and she saw that the seam wasn't straight (from a past tailor). She offered to fix it in 10 minutes at no charge (after closing hours).
Finally, when my total bill came to $63, but neither of us had change for a $20, she said to call it $60. First vendor I've even been to who rounded more than $0.04 in my favor.
So, for your suits and dresses, go see Irene at Silhouettes & Profiles.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Ignore that fact that Clinton was not picked to be Obama's running mate; this was never going to happen. Clinton's stock has gone up Obama has gone with the Cheney model: a vice president who won't be eyeing running for president in eight years.
Biden will be 73 in 2016, too old to run for a first term (remember the political cartoons in '96 about Dole choosing which set of teeth to wear that day?). Clinton, on the other hand, will be 68, which, in most cases is young enough to run, especially for a woman (given that women on average live longer than men). A Tim Kaine or Evan Bayh pick would have made it very difficult for Clinton to run in 2016. Joe Biden means that the 2016 race could be Clinton's for the taking.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Richardson is savvy enough to know that there was no chance that Obama would put him on the ticket. Having an African American nominee is incredible. Having him pick a Hispanic VP candidate is too much. Richardson knew that the best he could hope for would be Secretary of State.
Richardson's main rival for that position was none other than DE Sen. Joe Biden. So, Richardson must have breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday morning when Obama took Biden out of running for State. In some ways, this is a better allocation than the other way around. Richardson may have spent a decade in the house, but he's more of a negotiator and an executive than a legislative mastermind. Furthermore, Richardson did not prove to be the best campaigner or debater last year. Biden, on the other hand, knows the legislative process better than almost all active politicians.
This must all be very exciting for Richardson, as he just became the front runner to be the first Hispanic Secretary of State and the highest ranking Hispanic in American history.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Chapman is wrong. Chapman fails to understand what a draconian drinking age does to binge drinking for 16-20 year olds. Underage drinkers, unable to buy alcohol in a safe commerical setting (with a sober bar tenders who cannot serve them if they are visibly impaired), instead consume in private, unsafe settings.
Furthermore, especially on college campuses, binge drinkers are loathe to seek medical attention, since they rightly fear disciplinary action. This compounds the situation above, where underage drinkers are incentivized to drink quickly and privately, and then not seek medicial attention if needed. Surely public safety is not best being serve.
Chapman makes the argument that a higher drinking age lowers drunk driving deaths. This is not the best way to prevent drunk driving. Drunk driving requires not just a drunk individual, but also a car. The answer to drunk driving is therefore to have more police patrols late at night, and more draconian punishments for drunk driving (long time license suspensions, car confiscation, jail time), rather than less alcohol. If society is serious about preventing drunk driving, then a DUI should be treated as a very serious crime with very serious consequences.
One final idea: Perhaps those between the ages of 18 and 21 should be able to drink legally under certain circumstances. Perhaps one must have a high school degree or GED to drink legally. Or, one must have to pass an alcohol awareness course. Regardless, our current law should be changed.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Where is the outrage in the international community? Where is the outrage among American leaders? Is their silence related to their willingness to write discrimination into state constitutions? Surely a behavior that some consider morally reprehensible does not justify silence in the face of rape and murder.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This is beyond domestic violence. It is, as prominent moderate Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali says, a systematic way of punishing Muslim women who refuse to along with the sexist rules of their society.
Where is the outrage from America's political and moral leaders? Where are the efforts from national women's organizations to create hotlines to help women in trouble? Where are their priorities? Isn't standing up for women being systematically murdered by their own families an important cause?
- Only showing restaurants that deliver to your address, so you never have to figure out whether you're in a delivery zone or not
- Ability to tip your delivery individual with your credit card
- Frequent discounts, up to 20% off
- Ability to save repeated orders
Monday, July 21, 2008
- Economic experience - former CEO of Bain & Company, founder of Bain Capital, savior of the Olympics, Havard JD/MBA. To get wonkier than this you'll have to get into Ben Bernanke territory
- Vigor. Romney may not be much younger than McCain, but he looks much younger, and so provided youthful looks without looking inexperienced.
- Money. Romney's personal fortune could come in handy if McCain and his public financing wind up way behind Obama's machine.
- Vetting. The country's seen Romney, and the most scandalous thing was that he once tied the family dog to the roof of the car. That's it.
- Michigan. Romney's family has deep roots there, which could help McCain win the state.
- Mormons. While Romney's religion may hurt McCain with evangelicals, many of them were unhappy with him as it is. On the other hand, adding Romney to the ticket insures Mormon financial and political support, which could help in swing states like Nevada and Colorado.
1. Israeli doctors hypothesize that Seg. Goldwasser and Seg. Reven likely died before most of the major combat operations in July 2006. However, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah did not inform the Israeli that his POWs were deceased. This is a violation of all international conventions on POWs. Israel (and America) release at least the names and well beings of its prisoners, so that families at least know that they are safe. To without such information is gross human rights violation. However, the international community has been completely silent about this.
2. Israel released Samir Kuntar, convicted of murdering multiple Israelis, including brutally bashing the head of a 4 year old girl. Kuntar is not an innocent Arab caught hanging out with the wrong people. He's a brutal murderer. There are many innocent people sitting in Israel's jails who deserve to be released. Kuntar is not one of them.
3. This is also more frightening because Kuntar was given a hero's welcome. When would Israel (or America) ever give a hero's welcome to a combatant who gruesomely murdered a child?
4. Given that Nasrallah likely knew that the Israelis were dead, he still allowed thousands of Lebanese civilians to die and hundreds of thousands to be displaced. If he had informed the Israelis that the soldiers had died and returned their remains, he could have prevented the deaths and hardships to so many people. Instead, Nasrallah used them a pawn to build support for his group and hatred against Israel. Where is the outrage from the international community?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Bayh is (in no particular order);
- From a red state
- An experienced executive (as governor of Indiana)
- A foreign policy wonk on the hill for almost a decade
- An early and fervent Clinton supporter
Monday, July 14, 2008
This is a smart move on Paulson's part for the following reason: the mortgages, for the most part, are money good. Fannie and Freddie do not have any subprime mortgages, by definition. Despite the fact that the ABX AAA (a rough measure of the probability of default of mortgage backed securities of that rating) is trading a 50, it's extremely unlikely that 50% of those mortgages will default. Therefore, while Fannie and Freddie may need some injection of government capital (raising valid questions about the bizarre mix of capitalism and socialism that govern the two organizations), they are not likely to lead massive government bailouts.
The timing of this announcement is interesting as well. Conventional wisdom is that the rate cuts of the past year will take about 12-18 months to take effect. This means that the equity markets will likely turn the corner within the next year. Paulson's actions are therefore a stop gap measure to boost confidence at a time when the equity markets are bearish, until they begin to recover.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
It is only open Thursday-Sunday, takes no reservations, and only serves dessert. Patrons can choose from one of seven desserts (from a daily changing menu), with each come with a first course (chamomile ice cream with blueberry paste), and a third course (petifores, chocolate truffles, and pistachio shortbread cookies). ChikaLicious also offers wine pairings for each dessert, ranging from port with the liquid chocolate tart to a fruity, fizzy wine with mint ice cream and strawberry sorbet (which comes with brown sugar cookies).
The best part, though, it that half restaurant are front-row seats to the dessert assembly process. Chika and her assistant assemble each dessert in perfect harmony, take the appropriate pieces from each oven, fridge, and freezer, and then alternating steps of the algorithm for that dessert. It was truly amazing to watch.
A final note - for those of us who do not eat animal gelatin, Chika was happy to accommodate.
Monday, July 7, 2008
However, as with many kosher restaurants, the service is something between lethargic and comically incompetent. No spilled food or massacred orders, just run of the mill largocity.
- Shifting British ovens from poisonous coal gas to less harmful natural gas
- High guard rails on the Golden Gate bridge
- Fewer guns in homes
It's worth a read.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
May G-d heal all those wounded in today's attack, and may G-d help the Israeli government decide on the appropriate response.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
If you're in Boston and want a very fancy dinner, Radius should be your pick.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The question is, with the number of Americans who think Obama is a Muslim/America-hater/black supremist/liberal/Yankee/radical, is this ad really going to chance their mind? Are there people who still don't know what a remarkable individual Obama is and actually can be convinced?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"Immediately after his speech in New Orleans, a pair of sweet-looking old ladies put down their McCain signs long enough to fill me in on why they're here. 'I tell you,' says one, 'if Michelle Obama really doesn't like it here in America, I'd be very pleased to raise the money to send her back to Africa.'"
"...I catch up with a man named Ron Saucier and a woman who would only identify herself as Mary. Ron says his problem with Obama is the integrity thing. 'He exaggerates too much,' Ron says. 'He's not honest.'....'OK,' I say. 'What does he exaggerate about?'...'Well, like that time he was saying he had a white mother and a white grandmother'...I ask him how this is an exaggeration....'Look, you either are or you aren't,' [Mary] says....'And he aren't,' Ron says, nodding with relief."
Monday, June 16, 2008
The exoplanets other the past decade have tended to be very large and very close to their stars, due to a selection bias in the detection method. With each new round of planets, astronomers move away from this bias, bringing us closer and closer to detecting an Earth-sized planet at a reasonable distance from a star.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Goddard is spot on that Todd is perhaps the only journalist at NBC with the breadth and depth of political knowledge to be successful in that role. Furthermore, Todd has the potential to grow into the guy of everyman-gravitas that Russert so beautifully embodied.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Read festival co-founded and Columbia Physics Professor Brian Greene in yesterday's NYT.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
A side note to why this is so important to this blogger: Throughout my life, I've had the privilege of knowing many adult same-sex couples. Some were teachers, some were doctors, some were professors, some were administrators, and some were clergy. They came from many different religions and cultural backgrounds. All of them were in monogamous, long-term relationships that from my perspective seemed as sincerely committed as any of the adult heterosexual couples I've known.
As a result, I've been a strong advocate for government recognition of same-sex relationships, so that these individuals could enjoy all of the legal rights and privileges that my heterosexual friends receive. To deny them these rights is baseless discrimination, on par with historical discrimination based on race, gender, religion, and national origin.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
It's been open for less than two weeks, and so is still relatively uncrowded, so one shouldn't have trouble getting a table.
(Hat tip to VFB.)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
For more, read tributes here and here.
"As part of the deal, 11 of the 30 ministers in a national unity government in Beirut will be Hizbullah members, giving the Shiite organization the right to veto any decision."
"The sides also agreed to appoint Lebanon's army commander, General Michel Suleiman, the next Lebanese president."
"Another important achievement for Hizbullah was an amendment to the current election law: The sides agreed to return to the 1960 Election Law, which includes a change in the election districts, and particularly in the Beirut district which will be divided in three. The current law allowed the anti-Syrian camp to win the elections."
Hopefully this will bring peace and stability to Lebanon.
The results show Obama/Edwards and McCain/Huckabee being the strongest tickets. Obama/Rendell does well in PA (no surprise), and all of the McCain tickets do relatively well in New Mexico.
Ideally, Survey USA would run polls like this in every state, which would give more data toward the question of whether vice presidential nominees matter. These two polls seem to suggest that they do.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Here are also a few older pieces from Freakanomics and the New Yorker for those you that just can't get enough of academics talking about pirates.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Novick relased the following add, which is worth watching (hat tip to JHE):
Looking back over the past 40 years, the winning VP candidate has always carried his home state. (The losing candidate has not.)
2004 - Cheney - Wyoming
2000 - Cheney - Wyoming (Also, Lieberman carried Connecticut)
1996 - Gore - Tennessee
1992 - Gore - Tennessee
1988 - Quayle - Indiana
1984 - Bush - Texas
1980 - Bush - Texas
1976 - Mondale - Minnesota
1972 - Agnew - Maryland
The last time that that a winning VP candidate did not carry his home state was 1968, when sitting Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew failed to win his home state of Maryland. (The Nixon/Agnew ticket lost by 20,000 votes, compared to 178,000 for independent candidate George Wallace, so we'll never know what would have happened in a two-way race.)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Scott Kleeb won the Nebraska Democratic senate primary. He faces off against former governor and Ag Secretary Mike Johanns. This will be an interesting senate race. Nebraska's other senator is a Democrat, and Kleeb beat expectations in the 3rd district's congressional race in 2006.
Finally, here's a fun one. What do the 97 senators not currently running for president have to say about being their party's VP nominee? Read about it here.
Also The Atlantic's Josh Green has a great piece on Obama's fund raising machine (or, more accurately, fund raising mob).
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
A Faraday Cage is a metal container that takes advantage of the following effect in electro- magnetism: If a conductor (e.g. a metal container) is put in an electric field, the electrons in the conductor move according to the forces from the field until they are in equilibrium (meaning that any further movements would increase the electrical potential energy of the charges).
This allocation of charges also has the effect of creating a field that exactly counters the external field. The effect of this is that inside the Faraday Cage there is effect from the external field. So, if a large charge were transferred to the surface of the cage (e.g., from lightning), the charges on the surface would reorient themselves in a new way that exactly cancelled out the external force, leaving anything in the cage unaffected by the charge surge.
Monday, May 12, 2008
It won't dent Obama's chances of the being the nominee, and should actually help him, since he saves face by losing to Clinton while she's running (as opposed to losing to Clinton after she's dropped out).
The only catch to this is that since 9/11/01, all packages must have a return address before the post office will mail them. So, the junk mailer will know where the package came from, and so may either take you off of the mailing list, or may retaliate with more junk mail, albeit without "No Postage Necessary" envelopes.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
North Carolina: Obama, by more than 10%
The engame is now set. There is no way that the Clinton campaign can catch up in delegates (assuming that even if Michigan delegates were alloted that Obama would get some proportional to the "uncommitted" vote). Her error was that she disregarded smaller, less populous states in February and March, such that Obama was able to wrack up giagantic margins and take a lead in delegates (since we've all seen from the past few primaries that winning a large primary by 10% doesn't really help a candidates margin much).
That said, Obama will not get a majority of the delegates without a significant surge of superdelegates. It is looking more and more likely that this will only happen if Clinton concedes.
So, one more month of Clinton trench fighting until the calls for her to drop out grow to a deafening roar. At which point she has two options: drop out and let Barack be the nominee, or bloody him further that the party turns to an even bigger Clinton family enemy: Al Gore.
It's your call Hillary.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
It's expensive - two individual pizzas and wine will run you over $60 - though when did a filling spectacular dinner in Manhattan cost less than that? Una Pizza is certainly worth a trip.
Here's the simple question: If I can legally buy cigarettes and a restaurant can serve raw fish, why can't I buy unpasteurized milk? If the government thinks that, with appropriate labeling about the risks I'm taking to my health, I'm mature enough to choose my smoke and my fish, why can't I do the same with my milk?
Furthermore, why can't we just test all unpasteurized milk for the most harmful bacteria and then pasteurize the milk that is above safe level. This way, we're allowing people to benefit from drinking unpasteurized milk without exposing them to undue risk.
Let's start with the ideal. In this fantasy, there would be a national database. Each potential voter would present him or herself for identification (be it photo ID, fingerprint, retinal scan, or cheek swab), and then after verification, he or she would be allowed to vote. Registering for identification would be as simple as registering to vote, or as simple as getting a birth certificate. Every citizen would have the appropriate means of identification, at no charge and minimal inconvenience.
Now let's return to reality. Every voter does not have equal access. Government issued photo ID are expensive, and odds are if someone doesn't have the money to get them, he or she certainly doesn't have the time to jump through the necessary hoops to get one for free. Furthermore (which is why it always seems to be Republicans pushing for these laws), the voters most affected by these laws are likely to vote Democrat, making this far more about partisanship and far less about combating voter fraud.
So, ideally, should states require ID to vote? Yes. Given our current system of access to government identification, can we equitably require ID to vote? No.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
So, the risk to American jobs from this agreement is minimal, since any outsourcing to Colombia has mostly already happened. On the other hand, lowering tariffs on exports to Colombia should help America's trade deficit, since it will make its exports more competitive compared to exports from other states around the world.
One thing that the article does not mention is that in addition to all of the conflict of interest and underlying data problems, the rating agencies also could not keep up with the plethora of new structures being created. They could not adequately model each and every new structure, and so we were forced to make even more approximations when determining default profiles for securities.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Their first stop was the Wynnewood train station, where a crowd of 6500 gathered to hear Obama. This station, along with many of the others between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, has been in nearly continuous operation for over 150 years. It is now on SEPTA's commuter R5 rail, which carries commuters to and from downtown Philadelphia every day.
Obama gave his standard stump speech at the event, which was nothing short of electrifying. If he wins Pennsylvania today, it will be on the backs of these suburban supporters who will likely turn out for him in droves.
However, Obama missed an opportunity at this rally. One solution to this country's energy problems is to re-invigorate its trains. Trains have the lowest carbon footprint per passenger-mile than any other form of transportation, and dollar for dollar are often the most comfortable.
At the very least, we need a high speed train line between Washington DC and Boston, which can rival air travel for efficiency. Other countries have had high speed trains for years, yet the American ones travel only twice as fast as they did one hundred years ago.
Beyond this, faster local trains can link communities currently only linked by car. The trains around New York City are the best example, but the ones around Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington also serve their purpose of efficiently transporting commuters from near their homes to near their offices. Cities like Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami could drastically decrease their carbon footprints by investing in rail infrastructures.
It's time that a presidential candidate make upgrading the nation's train structure a campaign priority. Obama has put energy policy in the center of his campaign. It's time to add trains too.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Today, however, every cabbie seems to have a GPS navigation device (often Garmins). Beyond that, many still even ask for directions. Two weeks in a row, Philadelphia cab drivers have been unable to get from the Airport to the suburbs, and even find themselves asking for directors once they get near their destination, unable to trust their Garmins while unable to get to their destination.
A colleague of mine even had a New York cabbie who couldn't get from the east side to La Guardia airport. He turned on his Garmin and subsequently began making following its advice to make seemingly random turns that got him even more lost.
The art and skill of cab drivers used to be instantly knowing the fastest route to your destination and being able to lightning-quick in game changes whenever needed. Today's cabbies seem to be one step up from a guy with a rent-a-car and Garmin.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
One fascinating point toward the end is McCain's warm relationship with fellow Arizonian Democratic Rep. Mo Udall.
This is a great glimpse at McCain before he began his first run for president.
Yale sophomore Eli Bildner has been building a campaign urging Yale to use its newfound influence with China (from recently ramped up collaborative programs with univerisites and government official) to speak out against human rights abuses in Tibet.
Monday, April 7, 2008
A fascinating analysis comparing the Pennsylvania presidential primary to the last competitive Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, where now Gov. Ed Rendell beat now Sen. Bob Casey Jr. Ironically, Clinton does well in places where Casey did (who supports Obama), and to win, Obama will have to replicated Rendell (who supports Clinton)'s concentrated success around Philadelphia.
Finally, a piece about the making of the Kennedy/Johnson ticket, which could be a forebearer of an Obama/Clinton ticket.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
There are two reasons for this shift in viewpoint. First of all, the gross out gags with bodily fluids that were so out of control ten years ago now look relatively tame by comparison.
The second, and more interesting reason, is the prevalence of monogamy through the series, and especially in the last movie. For the most part, each character only has sexual relations with one other character. There is next to no infidelity on the part of anyone in the major cast of the movies. Despite all of the nudity and high school/college antics, each character remains true to his or her sweetheart.
Aside: The other interesting thing about the movie is that the traditional frat boy's nemeses are not the administration. They are the members of the geek fraternity. However, this is the non circa 1990s geek as seen in Saved by the Bell. These are geeks with a better house, more money, and more attractive girls. Perhaps in a 21st century era of Google, hedge funds, private equity, being a big geek isn't so bad after all.
It has been well known for a few years that the Patriot Act has been far more effective at fighting prostitution and other more mundane crimes than terrorism. In the wake of the Spitzer scandal, however, this is now a pattern when the Patriot Act has been used to bring down politicians, including Spitzer and former AL Gov. Don Siegelman.
In most of the these cases, the perpetrators are criminals would should be brought to justice. However, most of these are cases where under pre-9/11 consensuses about privacy and civil liberties, they would not have been caught. The question remains whether the waning of civil liberties that the public agreed to in the wake of 9/11 is justified for fighting non-terrorism crimes.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
"Obama is narrowing the gap with white voters, trailing just 49-38, while maintaining his
customary significant advantage with black voters. He leads that group 75-17.
Obama also leads among all age groups except senior citizens, with whom Clinton has a
50-34 advantage. The poll shows the standard gender gap with Obama leading by 15
points among men while trailing by 10 points with women."
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
"Some of the dollars I'm sending to Washington are now being used to backstop Wall Street investment bankers, hedge fund and private equity managers, and anybody else associated with a borrower that's too big to fail. The reason they're too big to fail is they've borrowed so much from me and from you - from our pension funds and money-market funds - that if they went bust, our savings would disappear. Even the danger of them going bust might make us so anxious we'd demand our money, which would close down the entire financial system.
"The reason they've been able to borrow so much from us without putting up much of their own capital is they're unregulated, and don't have to put up their own money. The tax code also rewards them for borrowing rather than investing, by letting them deduct interest payments on the money they borrow. The tax code also allows them to treat the earnings they get on the investments they make with the money you and I lend them as capital gains rather than ordinary income. So many of them are paying taxes at a lower marginal tax rate than you and I are paying.
"Finally, when the risky investments they've made with our money go bad, we get a housing crisis, and the value of our homes - our biggest assets - plummets. And our pension funds get socked. Yet most of them continue to pull in whopping incomes. James Cayne,the former CEO of Bear Stearns, left the company with a $232 million pay package. That's because when they place risky bets that pay off, they get the windfall, and when their bets go bad they're bailed out with our tax dollars.
Monday, March 31, 2008
The article avoids the even more important point: that a strong background in science and math can immensely help graduating seniors in the job markets, in a wide variety of scientific and business fields.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Two laws in particular failed to pass the PA legislature this past year: one "to limit handgun purchases to one gun a week" and one to "require handgun owners to report lost or stolen weapons."
How could this be so difficult? Who needs to buy more than one handgun a week? And how does it impinge on a lawful gun owner's rights to tell the state that he or she has lost a firearm that could now be the hands of a criminal?
It is amazing the lengths that Americans will go to avoid any method of curbing gun violence in this country.
Additionally, Barack Obama's tax returns are now available online. (Right click and hit save targe as - it's over 50 MB).
We're still waiting for Hillary Clinton's tax returns.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
The Obama one shows far more purple states in play, including Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Iowa, whereas the Clinton one shows Clinton competitive in the biggest toss-up prize of all: Florida.
It'd be a brilliant move on her part to out-Obama Obama. But there's no way she'll do it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Good for Paterson. He has acknowledged that his marriage wasn't always perfect, that he and his wife both drifted apart from each, and now have worked things out. The individual was not a prostitute, intern, political appointee, house page, or alter boy.
This falls entirely under Paterson's rights as a private citizen, and, by acknowledging it on day one, he has put it behind him and not let it jeopardize his administration going forward. Finally, an honest, humble politician.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Apparently, the British magazine does not realize that representing a Jew in the garb of medieval Christian knights who murdered thousands of Jews in the name of their G-d, preemptively absolved by the their Pope for the murders, would be a bit insensitive.
Spitzer may have been a crusader in the common, small "c" use of the word today, but that does not justify representing him in the white-and-red-cross garb.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Read more about the event here.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
This is yet another sign of the true trouble that exists in the securitized mortgage market, and the worry that more action needs to be taken to prevent more homeowners from defaulting on their mortgages and driving the market down further.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Do we need more evidence that every girl should be vaccinated for HPV for free? Boys should be vaccinated as well, since they can carry and transmit the virus.
Furthermore, do we need more evidence in this country that high school students need to be provided with free condoms? Most colleges provide them to students. Many high school students are sexually active, and so should be encouraged to be safe.
It's a lot better than 25% of teenage girls carrying an STI.
For more information on the Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who will succeed Spitzer on Monday, see the following profile from 2006.
Dina Matos McGreevey, former New Jersey first lady and ex-wife of disgraced former NJ Gov. Jim McGreevy's perspective on how politcal wives respond to scandals.
Prostitution experts on the myth that prostitutes are victimless.
How most species are polygamous.
The number of congressmen with a Ph.D. in physics has just doubled.
New Jersey's Rush Holt now has company.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Craig says that "She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue - not at 3 AM or at any other time of day."
Monday, March 10, 2008
Adam Rogers remembers him fondly in the New York Times, saying that "We live in Gary Gygax’s world. The most popular books on earth are fantasy novels about wizards and magic swords. The most popular movies are about characters from superhero comic books. The most popular TV shows look like elaborate role-playing games: intricate, hidden-clue-laden science fiction stories connected to impossibly mathematical games that live both online and in the real world."
Joel Stein agrees, adding "We didn't spend our time playing as much as fantasizing about playing in a fantasy world. Which is why "Dungeons & Dragons" is the best game ever invented."
Finally, Erik Sofge isn't so kind, saying that "When you cut through the nostalgia, Dungeons & Dragons isn't a good role-playing game; in fact, it's one of the worst on the market."
Also, the global (il)legality of prostitution, and how Spitzer was beaten at his own game.
1. If you're Jerry Springer: Everyone already knows you're sleazy, and so the damage has mostly already been done.
2. If you're Larry Craig: Everyone thought you were a clean, upstanding politician. You've hurt your image considerably.
3. If you're Bobby Kennedy: You've made your career fighting organized crime, taking down mafia bosses, white collar criminals, and prostitution rings.
Congratulation Eliot Spitzer: You get the Bobby Kennedy award, and have single handedly ruined your entire credibility and called into question whatever you were once admired for.
Spitzer may or may not resign, but, a la Jim McGreevy, may never recover from this.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
This horrible. Every world government, including the leadership of every Arab state and both Palestinian leaderships should condemn this awful attack on unarmed students.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the familes of those murdered, and may G-d grant swift healing to those injured.
Rose's conclusion is that:
"It is impossible to say for sure whether the outcome in Gaza would have been any better—for the Palestinian people, for the Israelis, and for America’s allies in Fatah—if the Bush administration had pursued a different policy. One thing, however, seems certain: it could not be any worse."
Yet again, the Bush administration has taken a bad situation and made it worse.