Monday, June 30, 2014

BRILIANT — AND AND DAMN RIGHT: The 15 Most Annoying Expressions in Politics.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

GOOD THING THAT, unlike Europe's austerity, Obama's expansive policies has left the financial crisis behind, eh?

The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter by the most since the depths of the last recession as consumer spending cooled.

Gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annualized rate, more than forecast and the worst reading since the same three months in 2009, after a previously reported 1 percent drop, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. It marked the biggest downward revision from the agency’s second GDP estimate since records began in 1976.

THE PROBLEM with collective action:

Government, we are sometimes told, is just another word for things we choose to do together.

Like a lot of things politicians say, this sounds good. And, also like a lot of things politicians say, it isn't the least bit true.

Many of the things government does, we don't choose. Many of the things we choose, government doesn't do. And whatever gets done, we're not the ones doing it. And those who are doing it often interpret their mandates selfishly.

Take, for example, the Veterans Administration. The American people -- most of us, anyway -- did "choose" to provide first-class medical care for our veterans. But we didn't do it. We set up the Veterans Administration to do it. And the Veterans Administration -- or, more accurately, some of the people who work for and run the Veterans Administration -- had a stronger interest in other things. Things like fat bonuses, and low workloads in comfy offices.

Thus we find that, even though veterans were dying, and books were being cooked, every single VA senior executive received an evaluation of "fully successful" or better over a 4-year period. That's right. Every single one. Over four years. At least 65% of them received bonuses ("performance awards"). All while veterans around the country were suffering and dying because of delayed care. The executives got these bonuses, in part, because they cooked the books, because the bonuses were more important to them than the veterans' care.

It would be nice to believe that this sort of problem is limited to the VA, but there's no particular reason to think that it is. The problem with the VA is that, like every other government agency -- and every other human institution -- it's not a machine that runs itself. It's a collection of people. And people tend to act in their own self interest.

Keep reading.

HYPOCRISY PART TWO: Democratic Candidate for Governor Sued for Paying Women Less than Men.

HYPOCRISY, DEFINED: Greenpeace executive flies 250 miles to work:

Each round-trip commute Mr Husting makes would generate 142kg of carbon dioxide emissions, according to airline KLM.

That implies that over the past two years his commuting may have been responsible for 7.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions - the equivalent of consuming 17 barrels of oil, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

SCOTUS IS RACIST: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday limited the president’s power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments, ruling in favor of Senate Republicans in their partisan clash with President Barack Obama.”

THE COSTS of climate alarmism:

Exactly how much climate alarmism and economic scaremongering will people endure before they turn off and decide to drive to the beach and otherwise have a good time, global warming or no global warming? Nobody knows, but a group of U.K. scientists said Tuesday that the tipping point may have already passed.

In a report titled Time for Change? Climate Science Reconsidered group of eminent British academics from various disciplines and associated with University College London (UCL) warns that “fear appeals” may be turning the public against the climate issue as “too scary to think about.”

If that’s true, U.S. President Barack Obama and his billionaire activists buddies — Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg and others — are on track to destroy their own campaigns.

A whole chapter of the U.K. report — chaired by UCL Professor Chris Rapley — is dedicated to “The Consequences of Fear Appeals” on public opinion. “Alarmist messages have also played a direct role in the loss of trust in the science community,” it says. “The failure of specific predictions of climate change to materialize creates the impression that the climate science community as a whole resorts to raising false alarms. When apparent failures are not adequately explained, future threats become less believable.”

Continue reading.

SORRY, AMAZON: Delivery Drones Grounded by F.A.A.

SALES of Hillary's book crashing on the second week already?

Monday, June 23, 2014

I THOUGHT that only happened in Washington D.C.: “There are twice as many rats as people in NYC

JUST AS SHAMEFUL as the old kind: “A ‘new anti-Semitism’ rising in France”.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A SIGN THAT the end of the world is nigh: “Harley—Yes, Harley—is Making an Electric Motorcycle.”

I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED: “Russia 'secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking'; Nato chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says Moscow mounting disinformation campaign to maintain reliance on Russian gas”.

DAMN RIGHT: 58 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Everything We Do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

FASCINATING: The Fake Rooftop Towns of World War II: “They were devised by Hollywood set designers, assembled like stage props and “inhabited” by actors, but entertainment was far from the agenda. Photographed taking a sunny stroll down a seemingly suburban avenue called Synthetic Street, these ladies are actually on the rooftop of the B17 Bomber factory in Seattle Washington in 1941, camouflaged by nearly 26 acres of suburban American fakery.” Pictures at the link.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

ATTENTION, GREENS: How Much Energy Will the 2014 World Cup Consume?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

TESLA is liberating all its patents. If I'm not getting this wrong, it's really a HUGE deal.

NO, Our Skulls Didn’t Evolve to be Punched.

Monday, June 09, 2014


For those in Washington obsessed with reducing income inequality, the standard prescription involves raising taxes on the well-to-do, increasing the minimum wage, and generally expanding government benefits—the policies characterizing liberal, blue-state governance. If only America took a more "progressive" approach, the thinking goes, leaving behind conservative, red-state priorities like keeping taxes low and encouraging business, fairness would sprout across the land.

Among the problems with that view, one is particularly surprising: The income gap between rich and poor tends to be wider in blue states than in red states. Our state-by-state analysis finds that the more liberal states whose policies are supposed to promote fairness have a bigger gap between higher and lower incomes than do states that have more conservative, pro-growth policies.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

THE ERA of negative interest rates has begun:

In a bid to counter weak growth and prevent deflation, ECB chief Mario Draghi has lowered main interest rates.

Specifically, the ECB cut the deposit rate to -0.1%, from 0.0%, effective from June 11, 2014.

This is a historic development, as it's the first time a major central bank has cut any main interest rate to negative in a bid to spur lending and spending.

The refinancing rate was lowered by 10 basis points to 0.15% which was a slight disappointment.

Finally, the marginal facility interest rate was lowered by 35 basis points to 0.4%. This is the rate that banks pay to borrow from the central bank.

These cuts were largely priced in so markets have moved modestly higher in response to the news.

70 YEARS: 5 facts you may not know about the Normandy invasion.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

I'M JOSEPH, so my secret is pretty safe: How to Tell Someone’s Age When All You Know Is Her Name.

Monday, June 02, 2014

After nearly 40 years on the throne, King Juan Carlos I of Spain will be stepping down, the country's prime minister said Monday.
Crown Prince Felipe, 46, will succeed his father, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced in nationally televised address.
Rajoy did not offer a reason for the king's planned abdication. The king is expected to issue a statement later Monday.
He's been a crucial man in a crucial period of the country's history, and no one can take that away from him. The question is whether that period was or not over.

I'm not a monarchist by principle, but a constitutional monarchy, as Spain's, doesn't bother me. Contrary to what some critics say, the fact that a head of state —basically a figurehead without constitutional powers— is unelected and inherited doesn't mean per se that the country is not a real democracy, because the democratic power lies on the executive cabinet. Take the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, Norway, and so forth.

And unlike most of those countries, he was actually voted in: even though he initially was appointed by Franco as his successor, he shook off that heritage and was appointed King by the new 1978 post-dictatorship constitution, which was overwhelmingly supported by the citizens in a referendum. Yes, he was a part of a whole package (people didn't just vote 'king or no king'), but you could argue that he has some kind of voting legitimacy, which is something that few constitutional monarchies can say.