Thursday, March 31, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Let's Eat the Rich!

Is America really broke? Michael Moore (and others) tells us that there are oceans of cash being hoarded by the wealthy. But Iowahawk ( did a little addition, and armed with these statistics Bill and the 'Hawk blow a hole in the "hoarding" lie big enough to fit a fat documentary filmmaker through.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friedman on Poverty and Equality

"You can only aim for equality by giving some people the right to take things from others. And what ultimately happens when you aim for equality is that A and B decide what C should do for D. Except that they take a little bit of commission off on the way."

Tsunami ravaging Kesennuma port

Incentives Matter... But So Does Eudaimonia

This video is based on the work of Daniel Pink. In contrast to what Pink recommends in this video, most companies remain locked in a hierarchical factory model complete with the micromanagers and people positioned as static cogs. Budgets and decision rights remain at the top. Task lists and drudgery remain at the subordinate layers. Middle management is asked to execute what may be a poorly conceived strategy -- so they get both abuse from above and low morale from below.

The focus in these hierarchical organizations lies mostly in faithful executing of plans -- like the Soviets had. Then, management evaluates inputs rather than results. Performance evaluations reflect this backward methodology. Productivity suffers.

Seniority remains a poor proxy of experience in these firms and compensation is often tied to it in a kind of corporate socialism that can creates incentives to remain comfortable and quiet. For these orgs, not much has changed since the 1960s, even though they have the Web. They can often trundle along, but the high-performance organizations of the future -- their competitors -- are going to change their internal rules so they look more like networks than hierarchies.

In my experience at managing people and motivating, I believe financial incentives matter more than given credit in this video in both a positive and negative way.

Purpose-driven work allows the workers to feel they are part of a bigger whole doing good for their institution and making the world a better place. Giving people more autonomy over their requires a considerable degree of trust. You have to give employees decision rights -- which means giving them more control over resources and greater acknowledgment for results arrived at through means other than corporate plans or issued directives.

HT: Ideas Matter

Monday, March 28, 2011

Patagonian Time Lapse

Made in America

What does the rational consumer do? They buy the best quality product at a price they can afford regardless of where it is made.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When the Elk Come to Town

Every summer the town of Estes, Colorado is terrorised by rutting male elk so fired up they invade the streets and charge at the tourists.

Sunday Verse: W. H. Auden

Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

~ W. H. Auden

Breughel's Icarus

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Suze Orman at Google

I have mixed feelings about Suze Orman as a financial expert. The arrogance, self-promotion and know-it-all attitude is a little tough for me take at times. Ric Edelman, no stranger to arrogance and self-promotion himself, likes to ridicule her for this exchange:
Q: Is there anything you don't know when it comes to money?
Suze: No, there is nothing that I do not know. That I am sure about.
In spite of such statements, I found this talk at Google from January 27, 2010 to be very informative, especially the parts on how she got started in her career; 401ks, emergency funds, and Roth IRAs for young professionals; and how FICO scores are really calculated and what a person can do that helps or hurts there FICO score.  She also says that everyone should have a will and a revocable living trust, the majority of people should only buy term life insurance, nothing else, and the best way to save for a child's education is a 529 plan (see   Suze closes with these 10 points:
  1. Focus on people and money will follow. 
  2. It is better to do nothing than something you do not understand.  If you get investment advice you don't understand, don't invest based on trust; 9 times out of 10 you will get burned.
  3. Being rich is better than being poor.
  4. Democracy and the deficit-- Let's hope it all works.
  5. You don't need to be on Wall Street to make money.
  6. You can make money without doing evil.
  7. There's always more money to be made out there.
  8. The need for money crosses all borders.
  9. You can be the world personal financial expert without ever wearing a suit or being a man.
  10. Being wealthy is just not good enough, it is what you do with that wealth that counts.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quote of the Day: Warren Buffett

I would recommend against buying long-term fixed-dollar investments. If you ask me if the U.S. dollar is going to hold its purchasing power fully at the level of 2011, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years from now, I would tell you it will not. I would much rather own businesses. It’s very easy to take away the value of fixed-dollar investments.

~ Warren Buffett, in New Dehli, 3/25/2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cartoons of the Day: Libya


I generally try to steer away from too much political conversation, but it is hard not to have an opinion on Libya. I don't know anyone who is a Gadhafi lover, but what the heck is the US doing in Libya in the middle of a civil war, and in the middle of another conflict in the Middle East that may turn out to be a protracted affair? I'm of the mindset that the US doesn't need to spend taxpayer dollars this way (it must be in the hundreds of millions already for this mission) given the financial state of the country, and I don't think the American taxpayer should be saddled with the cost of rebuilding another country. I'm in favor of the US unwinding its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and concentrating the country's efforts on becoming significantly less dependent on Middle East oil for our energy needs. The sooner we extract ourselves out of this "coalition of the unwilling" the better.

How to Spot a Liar

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Symphony of Science - The Poetry of Reality

Walter Williams: Up From the Projects

In 1981, Secretary of Health Education and Welfare Patricia Harris wrote in the Washington Post that libertarian economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell are “middle class” so they “don’t know what it is to be poor.”

In fact, Williams grew up in a single-parent household in a poor section of Philadelphia. He was raised by his mother, who was a high school dropout. The family spent time on welfare, and eventually moved into the Richard Allen public housing project. (Sowell, whose father died before he was born, was the son of a maid.)

Drafted into the peacetime Army, Williams eventually earned a PhD from UCLA in the late 1960s and quickly became a sought-after researcher and public intellectual. His best known book, 1982’s The State Against Blacks, argues that a major cause of black unemployment is government intervention in the labor market.

Williams’ contrarian views have had wide exposure through documentaries, public appearances, and for the past 30 years, a syndicated weekly column. Since 1992, Williams has also been a frequent guest host of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. Now a professor emeritus at George Mason University, Williams has taught at Temple University, California State University-Los Angeles, and other universities.

His new book, Up from the Projects: An Autobiography, is a fascinating look at his childhood, his half-century-long marriage to his recently departed wife, his unusual career path, and the genesis of his views on race, economics, and politics.

Throughout his career, Williams has used his own life to illustrate how government regulations often work to deny opportunities to poor blacks, and his memoir is no exception. For example, Williams recounts that when he was a teenager, he was fired from a great job at a hat factory when a fellow employee complained to the Department of Labor that his boss was violating child labor laws.’s Nick Gillespie recently sat down with Williams to talk about his life, how his experiences have informed his scholarship, his lead role in turning George Mason University into a center for libertarian scholarship, and whether the Obama presidency has improved the lives of blacks in the United States.

Williams is also an emeritus trustee of the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that produces

For more on Williams’ new memoir, check out Damon Root’s review, which calls the book “a revealing and sometimes hilarious account of his rise from Philadelphia’s Richard Allen housing projects, where his neighbors included a young Bill Cosby, to ‘brown bag’ lunches at the White House where he gave advice to President Ronald Reagan and his staff.”

Happy 80th Birthday, William Shatner!

Some classic Shat moments.....

I'm losing command

Kirk vs Gorn

Nobody does a song like the Shat......

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds


It Was a Very Good Year

Gun Control

Who Wants to Live Forever? Dr. Stephen Coles on the Secrets of the World's Oldest People

UCLA's Dr. Stephen Coles studies the oldest people in the world. Hitting the century mark isn't enough to pique his interest because Coles' research focuses on supercentenarians, that is, those at least 110-year-old. Today Coles recognizes only 88 people worldwide as supercententarians, and the list is available at the Gerontology Research Group website (

Dr. Coles sat down with's Ted Balaker to explain why supercententarians live so long, what eventually does them in (it's not old age), and what could be done to help them (and the rest of us) live longer lives.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quote of the Day: Donald J. Boudreaux

Most modern “liberals” believe that domestic economic problems are caused chiefly by unsavory characters – “business people” – who impose their destructive rule on masses of innocent workers and consumers yearning for more prosperity, and that the best solution to these problems is government force deployed using armies of regulators to subdue these bad guys and to keep close watch over them and their successors. Failure to intervene is immoral. These same “liberals,” though, believe that foreign problems are typically the result of complex forces that can be understood only poorly by American-government officials; it is naïve to suppose that even well-intentioned foreign intervention by Uncle Sam will not have regrettable unintended consequences.

Most modern conservatives believe that domestic economic problems are typically the result of complex forces that can be understood only poorly by government officials; it is naïve to suppose that even well-intentioned economic intervention by Uncle Sam will not have regrettable unintended consequences. These same conservatives, though, believe that problems in foreign countries are caused chiefly by unsavory characters – “dictators” or “tyrants” – who impose their destructive rule on masses of innocent people yearning for more democracy, and that the best solution to these problems is government force deployed with armies of soldiers to subdue these bad guys and to keep close watch over them and their successors. Failure to intervene is immoral.

Talk about a conflict of visions.

~ Donald J. Boudreaux

Quote of the Day: Yuval Levin

All over the developed world, nations are coming to terms with the fact that the social-democratic welfare state is turning out to be untenable. The reason is partly institutional: The administrative state is dismally inefficient and unresponsive, and therefore ill-suited to our age of endless choice and variety. The reason is also partly cultural and moral: The attempt to rescue the citizen from the burdens of responsibility has undermined the family, self-reliance, and self-government. But, in practice, it is above all fiscal: The welfare state has turned out to be unaffordable, dependent as it is upon dubious economics and the demographic model of a bygone era.

~ Yuval Levin, Beyond the Welfare State

Climategate Explained

The speaker is Berkeley physicist Richard Muller.

The Bernank Translated by Adam Smith

From The Daily Capitalist:

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Not So Bold Proposed House Spending Cuts Put in Perspective

Why I Bought Japan Last Week

I believe the best bargains are found at times of maximum pessimism. Perhaps one of those opportunities presented itself last Tuesday when the Japanese stock market plunged over 10% in a single day due to the effects of the earthquake and resulting tsunami. While my heart went out to the people of Japan in their time of tragedy and need, I also saw the potential for recover amid all the wreckage. Many TV stations were airing personal videos of the tsunami:

At the same time the news media was stoking fears of a possible nuclear meltdown:

To many it looked like Armageddon had struck Japan and a large swath of the island was about to be contaminated with radiation. While the ultimate outcome is still unknown, I decided things couldn't get much bleaker than last Tuesday. At that time, I knew there would be some nuclear fallout. I also knew the government of Japan was not being honest about the true condition of the damaged reactors or the risks. In these uncertain conditions, I placed my bet buying into the Japanese market as a whole with a 3 - 7 year investment horizon in mind, instead of trying to bet on individual companies whose fates I did not have any specific insight into.

Why did I decide to invest in Japan? Because, though the situation was bleak, I though it was being misappraised by the media pundits, and the images that I saw on TV made me believe in:

  1. the ability of the Japanese people to bond together and recover more quickly from this tragedy than anyone would ever expect.
  2. the character of the Japanese people (who did not loot or lose any notion of socially acceptable behavior during this tragedy) and their work ethic and ability to sacrifice for the common good.
  3. the nuclear situation was not as bad as the worse case scenarios and that the recovery from any fallout or radiation would not be as severe as the media hype indicated
  4. and the increased spending to rebuild would provide a multi-year uplift to the Japanese economy and just might shake them out their multi-decade doldrums.
Whether this bet will ultimately pay off only time will tell.  I will be pulling for a Japanese recovery not only because my money is invested in their companies, but because I would like to people who have endured so much tragedy and loss of life through an act of God rise up from the ashes and rubble to rebuild a new and prosperous life for themselves.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mankiw's Ten Principles of Economics, Translated by Stand-up Comic Yoram Bauman. Ph. D.

Sunday Verse: Noriko Ibaragi

When I Was Most Beautiful in My Life

When I was most beautiful in my life,
the cities crumbled down,
and the blue sky appeared
in the most unexpected places.

When I was most beautiful in my life,
a lot of people around me were killed,
in factories, in the sea, and on nameless islands.
I lost the chance to dress up like a girl should.

When I was most beautiful in my life,
no men offered me thoughtful gifts.
They only knew how to salute in the military fashion.
They all went off to the front, leaving their beautiful eyes behind.

When I was most beautiful in my life,
my head was empty,
my heart was obstinate,
and only my limbs had the bright color of chestnuts.

When I was most beautiful in my life,
my country lost in a war.
"How could it be true?" I asked,
striding, with my sleeves rolled up, through the prideless town.

When I was most beautiful in my life,
jazz music streamed from the radio.
Feeling dizzy, as if I'd broken a resolve to quit smoking,
I devoured the sweet music of a foreign land.

When I was most beautiful in my life,
I was most unhappy,
I was most absurd,
I was helplessly lonely.

So I decided to live a long time, if I could,
like old Rouault of France,
who painted magnificent pictures in his old age.

~ Noriko Ibaragi

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Sorry Financial Condition of USA, Inc.

With the ongoing debate in Congress over spending and raising the debt ceiling, and all the resulting talk of the dire consequences of "draconian" budget cuts, I thought it might be a good time to review the real financial condition of the government. Anyone who reads this blog will know I am greatly concerned with the long term financial prospects of this country and the dollar. My sympathies lie with budget cutters, not the big spenders. Kleiner Perkins, the well known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, just released a stunning analysis prepared by their new partner Mary Meeker, a very well-known former Wall-Street financial analyst. Meeker spent about a year gathering publicly available data and refining an analysis of the dire debt and spending fiscal crisis facing the U.S.

The bottom line-- the US is spectacularly broke-- more broke than the worst shopaholic with 50 maxed-out credit cards:

The historical perspective is that spending has skyrocketed since the 1930s:

During this time, tax revenues have grown roughly in line with GDP:

TARP hasn't been what's busted the budget:

Defense spending hasn't busted the budget (though it could be lower):

Entitlements grew 4 times faster than GDP:

It gets even worse.  Unfunded future entitlements dwarf what is in the budget today:

There seems to be little choice but to cut entitlements along with scaling back the government bureaucracy in general. Currently, we are in better shape financially than the U.K., Spain, Ireland and Greece, but in worse shape than Italy, Germany, Belgium, France and Portugal:  

Please urge your local Congressman to cut Federal spending, and reduce the size and scope of government.  It's for the kids and those that come after us.  Let's not leave this country in financial shambles because of our selfishness in demanding that a paternalistic government take care of us, instead of us taking care of ourselves.

The entire study can be found here:
USA Inc. - A Basic Summary of America's Financial Statements

Drunk with Debt: A St. Paddy's Day Morality Tale

There are No Angels: The CNBC Commercial

Many of you may have already seen this commercial or the youtube video clip. The beauty of this classic exchange between Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue is how simply and how powerfully Friedman was able to articulate his views on capitalism and freedom.

There are few, if any, angels anywhere truly looking out for the interests of the common man or the poor. People have all sorts of motivations, but government has a way of distorting not only one's idealism, but transforming people into a creatures of compromise who trade away their souls just to keep the gravy train rolling.

When the controlling influence of government is minimized, and people are free to satisfy each other's wants and needs with honest exchange and philanthropy, the primary role of government is as a referee.

At the intersection of government and greed all we find is crony capitalism.

The Complete Friedman/Donohue Interview

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taimane Gardner and The Electric Ukelele

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Some St. Patrick's day traditions explained:

  1. Wearing Green -- According to some accounts, the original holiday color was blue. Sometime in the 18th century green became the mainstay, representing the lush landscape of The Emerald Isle, the nation’s symbolic shamrock and the traditionally green Irish revolutionary flags.
  2. Leprechauns -- In Irish folklore, leprechauns were cranky tricksters who you wouldn’t want to mess with. The cheerful, friendly ‘lil fairy most Americans associate with St. Paddy’s Day stems from a 1959 Walt Disney film called Darby O’Gill & the Little People. The Americanized, good-natured leprechaun soon became a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland in general.
  3. Pinch Me, I’m Irish -- In America during the early 1700s, revelers believed that wearing green made them invisible to leprechauns, who would pinch and, in some accounts, steal anyone they could see (i.e., anyone not wearing green). People began pinching those not wearing green on St. Paddy’s Day as a reminder to beware of the wily little sprites.
  4. Shamrocks -- You may have worn a shamrock tattoo or donned a clover-covered necklace on some St. Patrick’s Day past. According to Irish legend, St. Patrick used a three-leaved clover, or shamrock, to illustrate the idea of the Holy Trinity, versus the good luck associated with the four-leaved variety, a mistake many Americans make. 
  5. Kiss Me, I’m Irish -- Without a doubt the most popular Paddy’s Day T-shirt slogan, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” is a reference to The Blarney Stone. Legend holds that kissing the stone brings good luck. If you can’t make it to Ireland to kiss the actual stone, convention says the next-best option is to kiss an Irishman. I bet a guy invented this tradition.
  6. The River Dye -- Chicago has dyed its river green for St. Patrick’s Day every year since 1962, when city workers realized that the dye they used to trace illegal dumping would provide a fun way to celebrate the holiday. They released 100 pounds of dye into the river, which kept it green for an entire week. Chicago now uses just enough dye to last one day in order to be kinder to Mother Earth.
  7. Lights on the ESB -- To attract nighttime attention during the 1964 World’s Fair, New York City added floodlights to the top 30 floors of The Empire State Building. Since then, the lights have changed colors to match seasonal events, including St. Patrick’s Day, when the top of Manhattan’s tallest building is greener than a freshly picked shamrock.
  8. Parades -- The First St. Paddy’s Parade didn’t take place in Ireland but in the U.S. in 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the British military marched through the New York City streets playing music. In America today, New York, Boston and Chicago boast the biggest St. Paddy’s Day parades, with New York being the longest-running civilian parade in the world. (Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is a wee 75 years old.)
  9. Drinking … a Lot -- While Americans associate St. Paddy’s with binge drinking, the Irish consider it a religious holiday. Until the 1970s, a law required all Irish pubs to close every March 17th. Drinking on St. Paddy’s really only became popular in Ireland post-1995, with the start of a national campaign to attract tourists for the holiday. It worked — over a million people now attend Dublin’s five-day festival.
  10. Drinking Guinness -- Guinness Dry Stout was first brewed in Dublin during the mid-18th century and has become one of Ireland’s most famous exports. Though the company has no formal connection to St. Patrick’s Day, since the brew is tantamount to Ireland and Irish bars, it has become the unofficial drink of the holiday. With fewer calories than most light beers, you can toss a bunch back without feeling guilty.  It's one of the Grouch's favorites.
  11. Corned Beef -- Those who celebrate old-school by eating a meal of corned beef and cabbage are only really getting it partly right: The dish was originally eaten with bacon, not corned beef. Irish immigrants in America couldn’t afford the traditional bacon, so they substituted it with corned beef, a cheaper option they picked up from their Jewish neighbors.
  12. “Slainté!” -- You may hear revelers raise their stout and yell “slainté!,” the Irish word for health. Pronounced slightly differently depending on dialect (and drunkenness), shout out something phonetically similar to SLAN-cheh, and impress those who actually hail from The Land O’ Leprechauns.

Search and Rescue Over Miyagi, Japan

Top 10 ways to tell if you might be a member of a public-sector union...............

Drumroll please.............

10.) You take a week off to protest in Wisconsin and your office runs
9.) On a snow day, when they say "non-essential" people should stay
home you know who they mean.
8.) You get paid twice as much as a private sector person doing the
same job but make up the difference by doing half as much work.
7.) It takes longer to fire you than the average killer spends on
death row.
6.) The worse you do your job, the more your boss avoids you.
5.) You think the French are working themselves to death.
4.) You know by having a copy of the Holy Koran on your desk your job
is 100% safe.
3.) You spend more time at protest marches than at church.
2.) You have a Democratic congressman's lips permanently attached to
your butt.

And the #1 way to tell if you might be a member of a public sector

1.) You pay more in union dues than you do for your healthcare

HT: Theo

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fannie and Freddie’s Role in the Housing Crisis

A summary of the points made in the video:

Myth 1: The government-sponsored housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had nothing to do with the housing crisis. They were simply innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.

Fact 1: Fannie and Freddie contributed to the housing crisis by making it easier for more people to take out loans for houses they could not afford. Beginning in 2000, Fannie and Freddie took on loans with low FICO scores, loans with low down payments, and loans with little or no documentation.

Myth 2: Fannie and Freddie’s role in the housing market increased homeownership, especially for first-time buyers and lower income earners.

Fact 2: The small increase in homeownership rates were temporary and artificial, driven by unsustainable incentives. In the best case scenario, Fannie and Freddie may have increased the homeownership rate from 63 percent to 69 percent, but the rate has now fallen back to 66 percent. Moreover, Fannie and Freddie did not make housing more affordable and even priced many first-time buyers out of the market.

Myth 3: Fannie and Freddie are essential for maintaining a working mortgage market. Without them, interest rates will increase and homeownership will plummet as more people are priced out of the housing market.

Fact 3: Interest rates are likely to go up. Yet it is not clear what impact this will have on homeownership rates. In the 1980s, interest rates on the average 30-year mortgage were significantly higher, yet homeownership rates were almost the same as they are today.

Vivaldi Four Seasons: Summer Theme

Who says The Grouch ain't got no culture?

Vancouver Drive Around

Driving around Stanley Park Vancouver BC Canada

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fun on the beaches of Israel

Cartoon of the Day: Unions and Politicians

So the Republicans in Wisconsin eliminated collective bargaining for public unions except on wages. The Democratic Secretary of State, fully within the law, is delaying making the law official for 10 days. This 10 days is giving us a great picture of the problem with public unions.

Why? Because the 10 days was explicitly to allow cities and counties to cut new deals with unions, since all deals before the law is passed are grandfathered. The fact that many city and county governments are rushing to take advantage of this window just proves that public collective bargaining is broken — no one is looking after the taxpayers. I have argued that public unions are basically on the same side of the table with governments in bargaining sessions. What could be better proof? If government officials really cared about the taxpayer or their fiduciary responsibility, why in the world would they be rushing to cut above-market deals with government employees when they won’t have to do so in just 10 days? Government officials are colluding with unions to race to transfer more wealth from taxpayers to workers before the window for such subsidies shuts.

~ The Coyote

Something Ventured

Robert Shiller: Quake To Ruin Recovery?

The Sound of Pi

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Moment the Tsunami Hit Japan

Spock’s Social Media

What's Your State Worst At?

Words of Warning from Lew Ranieri, the Father of Securitization

“If we go from 1.2 to 2.5 million foreclosures, the system will come apart at the seams. Putting that many people out of their houses, causing that kind of destruction…because remember, we have hundreds of thousands of vacant houses…a vacant house is a virus in the neighborhood, the house degenerates, it’s not like office buildings.......

If you look at some of the latest deals, so much of it is hospitality, which is one of the most volatile property types, and one of the most dangerous. And when you look at the ratings coming out of the rating services given the nature of the property types and then look at the pricing, at a risk adjusted basis its sort of like exactly back to where we were.”

~ Lew Ranieri

Japanese Proverb: Fall Seven Times and Stand Up Eight

Markets in Everything: Charlie Sheen Tattoos

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Funny or Die: Cooking with Charlie Sheen

Sunday Verse: Affa Michael Weaver

My Father's Geography

I was parading the Côte d'Azur,
hopping the short trains from Nice to Cannes,
following the maze of streets in Monte Carlo
to the hill that overlooks the ville.
A woman fed me pâté in the afternoon,
calling from her stall to offer me more.
At breakfast I talked in French with an old man
about what he loved about America--the Kennedys.

On the beaches I walked and watched
topless women sunbathe and swim,
loving both home and being so far from it.

At a phone looking to Africa over the Mediterranean,
I called my father, and, missing me, he said,
"You almost home boy. Go on cross that sea!"

~ Affa Michael Weaver

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cartoons of the Day

Turnaround Investor Wilber Ross on Natural Gas and Munis

Crazy U’s Andrew Ferguson on How to Get Your Kid Into College W/O Going Nuts!

Andrew Ferguson is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and the author of, most recently, Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College.

Drawing rave reviews from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Crazy U is a very funny yet very serious look at the higher-education industry, especially the status anxiety college invokes in parents. Ferguson roams the countryside with his diffident son, touring various campuses and meeting characters such as a sharp-tongued counselor who charges $40,000 to shepherd high schoolers through an increasingly competitive and byzantine admissions process.

Reason’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Ferguson and his son Gillam, who is now a sophomore at the University of Virginia (discussed as “Big State University” in the book and also the Grouch's alma mater). 

Ferguson is also the author of Land of Lincoln and Fools’ Names, Fools’ Faces. For more on those books and the author, go here now.

Natural Gas! Duh! Winning! Duh!: Exelon CEO John Rowe on the Energy Wave of the Future

While this isn't the most exciting interview I've ever heard, John Rowe CEO of Exelon, one of the nations leading nuclear power companies, explains why natural gas is the wave of the energy future. The current turmoil in the Middle East is a strong signal that we should be running our cars off of compressed natural gas, which is abundant in the country and cheap.

What Does $3.7 Trillion Buy?

With the government borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent, a rational person might think it is time to cut back a bit on the spending like most households, corporations and state and local governments have done over the past several years.  Our illustrious Congressmen cannot even figure out how to reduce spending by 1%.  The first place I would start looking at  is frivolous and wasteful spending as well as duplication of programs.  Can you identify any duplication or redundancy in the list of agencies?  Or any agencies that are no longer needed or seem frivolous or trivial?  Or any businesses that the government shouldn't be in?  I bet you can without too much difficulty.  Why can't our Congressmen and the Administration do the same thing?

Below, how Big Government handles money:
·  Commerce Department ·  Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States · Commodity Futures Trading Commission ·  Comptroller of the Currency Office ·  Council of Economic Advisers ·  Department of the Treasury ·  Disability Employment Policy Office · Economic Adjustment Office ·  Economic Analysis, Bureau of ·  Economic Development Administration ·  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ·  Economic Research Service ·  Economics & Statistics Administration ·  Engraving and Printing, Bureau of ·  Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity ·  Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board ·  Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council ·  Federal Financing Bank ·  Federal Reserve System·  Financial Management Service (Treasury Department) ·  Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission·  Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, National Commission ·  Government Printing Office (GPO) · Government National Mortgage Association ·  Mint (Treasury Department) ·  National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform ·  National Credit Union Administration · National Economic Council ·  Office of Management and Budget (OMB) ·  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ·  Small Business Administration (SBA) ·  Taxpayer Advocacy Panel ·  U.S. International Trade Commission ·  U.S. Trade and Development Agency ·  U.S. Trade Representative
And “health”:
·  Administration on Aging (AoA) ·  Administration on Developmental Disabilities ·  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) ·  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry · Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee ·  Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion ·  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ·  Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board ·  Civilian Radioactive Waste Management ·  Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled ·  Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ·  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ·  Health Resources and Services Administration ·  Indian Health Service ·  National AIDS Policy Office ·  National Council on Disability ·  National Institutes of Health (NIH) ·  Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) ·  Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ·  Rehabilitation Services Administration (Education Department) ·  Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
And “Education”:
And energy:
And your food:
And your retirement:
And “science”:
And the border:
And this … this is how Big Government attempts to make everything better:
·  Arctic Research Commission ·  Appalachian Regional Commission ·  Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) ·  Chief Acquisition Officers Council · Chief Financial Officers Council ·  Chief Human Capital Officers Council ·  Chief Information Officers Council ·  Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee ·  Commission of Fine Arts · Commission on International Religious Freedom ·  Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements ·  Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) ·  Community Planning and Development ·  Corporation for National and Community Service · Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention ·  Council on Environmental Quality ·  Delaware River Basin Commission ·  Denali Commission ·  Domestic Policy Council ·  Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ·  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ·  English Language Acquisition Office ·  Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) ·  Federal Consulting Group ·  Federal Executive Boards ·  Federal Geographic Data Committee ·  Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight ·  Federal Housing Finance Board ·  Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds ·  Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer ·  Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service ·  Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board ·  Foreign Agricultural Service ·  General Services Administration (GSA) ·  Indian Arts and Crafts Board ·  Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor Commission ·  Innovation and Improvement Office ·  Institute of Peace ·  Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group ·  Inter-American Foundation ·  Interagency Council on Homelessness ·  Japan-United States Friendship Commission ·  Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries ·  Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies ·  Joint Fire Science Program ·  Legal Services Corporation ·  Marine Mammal Commission ·  Merit Systems Protection Board · Millennium Challenge Corporation ·  Minority Business Development Agency ·  Mississippi River Commission ·  Morris K. Udall Foundation: Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy ·  Multifamily Housing Office ·  National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency ·  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ·  National Mediation Board ·  National Technical Information Service ·  National Telecommunications and Information Administration · Northwest Power Planning Council ·  Office of Compliance ·  Office of Government Ethics · Office of Personnel Management ·  Office of Thrift Supervision ·  Open World Leadership Center·  Overseas Private Investment Corporation ·  Peace Corps ·  Presidio Trust ·  Regulatory Information Service Center ·  Rural Business and Cooperative Programs ·  Rural Development · Rural Housing Service ·  Rural Utilities Service ·  Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation ·  Southeastern Power Administration ·  Southwestern Power Administration · Stennis Center for Public Service ·  State Justice Institute ·  Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement ·  Susquehanna River Basin Commission ·  TRICARE Management ·  Trustee Program (Justice Department) ·  Western Area Power Administration ·  White House Commission on Presidential Scholars ·  Women’s Bureau (Labor Department)