Archive for January 2009

Stimulus 101

January 30, 2009

This Dummy Found It Enlightening

Megan McArdle explains (in plain English, no less) everything you need to know about stimulating the economy.  A sample:

Question #1 Will a fiscal stimulus work?

Define “work”. If the question is “Can borrowing money and spending it increase our measured GDP figure?” then yes, it is trivially true that stimulus “works”. So why don’t we borrow a zillion dollars and spend all of it? We could quadruple our standard of living overnight?

Because fiscal stimulus “working” is more than a question of increasing measured GDP. In every other context, liberals are all too aware of the limitations of GDP as a proxy for human wellbeing. In the context of the stimulus debate, however, all those reservations seem to fly right out of their heads.

When we ask “does it work” what we’re really asking is “Will it increase our overall well-being?”

It’s long, but definitely worth while.


Waiting To Yell “Thar She Blows!”

January 30, 2009

This Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Alaska’s Mt. Redoubt, which sits some 170 miles from Anchorage, is set to blow, but predicting these things to the nearest minute, hour even day is not possible (yet).  But it’s going to happen soon, and this revolution will be “YouTubed.”

Right now the Alaska Vocanoes Observatory is watching, but it’s server is down from all the traffic.  Pity.  We all hope it comes back.

One comment – You think it’s cold now?   Just wait until the ash hits the fan!  The 1 deg. F. drop that the earth experienced in 1991 after the Mt Pinatubo exceeds global warming estimates by about a factor of 5 to 20 (depending on whose estimate you believe) over a year’s time.

We thank Bob at The Drawn Cutlass for the link.

Best Beatles Tune

January 29, 2009

And Worst. List. Ever.

Wisconsin Law Prof. Ann Althouse points us to a list of 185 Beatles songs, listed in order of worst to best.  By someone’s opinion anyway, not mine. 
And I doubt by yours. 
But it’s a fun list anyway.

Ok, “Revolution #9” is the worst.  No argument here.  But “Good Day Sunshine” at 181 (out of 185)???  Naw.  And “I Am The Walrus” at #2???  No way.

It’s Unanimous

January 29, 2009

But Is Anyone United???

No one cares, particularly, about my opinion on the Bipartisan Stimulus Package that passed the House yesterday.  ‘sok – I have no special knowledge on the particulars of the bill (of course, I fear our legislators have no particular knowledge either…).

The fact that no (not one, zero, zip, zilch) Republicans voted for it, however, is an historically interesting fact.  I mean, usually someone (in either party) has reason to vote contrary to the wishes of his leadership, even if the reason is self-preservation.  Politically speaking, taking a stance on a highly visible bill like this is a carefully calculated and calibrated exercise in vote counting and dollar counting.  The politician is always asking himself: “Self? Does this help my next campaign more than it hurts, or not?”  This display of unity on the part of Republicans can be celebrated as a show of strength (or party loyalty, or the triumph of principles over politics):

Fortunately, the GOP held the line this evening in a remarkable, powerful way. They may have lost the vote, but they sent a lasting message. They took a stand for principle and posterity. They took a stand against generational theft.

– or it can be seen as something else; the actions of party that has sunk so low that it has nothing left to lose.

Either way, we’re living in interesting times.

It’s Madness! Madness, I Say!

January 28, 2009

And It’s Not Even March

Villanova Basketball

Villanova Basketball

We’re getting to that glorious time of the year, when one game takes precedence over them all.  One game, with that uniquely large ball, takes over office pools, Las Vegas parlors, television screens and conversations.

And it ain’t the Superbowl!

Soon, soon, college basketball takes over the stage with that form of insanity known in story and song, March Madness.  And today, this very evening, the insanity began in earnest.

Reggie Redding had a career-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead No. 21 Villanova to a 67-57 victory over No. 3 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night in the last college basketball game played in the Spectrum.

Dante Cunningham added 15 points for the Wildcats (16-4, 4-3), who beat a ranked team for the first time in five tries this season and they did it by coming up big on the boards and playing good perimeter defense in the second half.

You bet your sweet bippy they did.  The defense in the last 15 minutes was awesome.

Oh, and in another game of little note, (formally) #1 ranked Duke got beat by Wake Forest.

James Johnson ‘s layup with 0.8 seconds remaining helped No. 6 Wake Forest upended No. 1 Duke 70-68 on Wednesday night.

Johnson finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (17-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Madness, much?

I Blame George Bush, Myself

January 28, 2009

No I Don’t. But I Question The Timing

Your (not so) humble blogger got up early this morning, expressly to work out before work.  Bless me (whomever) – It’s been weeks since my last workout.  Almost.  I was suffering from a very bad, very lingering cold that kept me off the treadmill for most of these last three weeks, but I was able to get in a light workout just last Monday, two days ago.  It felt good.  I was really, really looking forward to doing it again today.

Then it snowed.  Then it rained.  And then it froze.

By 5 AM there was more than an inch of ice over everything (as I’m sure you’re aware, since this happened from Arkansas to Vermont), except on my car, which had the ice left over from the last glacial period on it.  <voice type=”Seinfeld Soup-Nazi”>No Workout For You!</voice>

Well, it only took me an hour to clean the windshield and get out of the parking lot and up the hill to the road exiting my townhouse.  It took less time to drive the rest of the commute, some 22 miles.  I’m counting my blessings – very light traffic, roads taken care of, no fenderbenders, no powerlines down, no hits, no runs and no errors.  I’ll take it.  Why getting out of the parking lot has to be an example of X-treme driving, I don’t know.  But in the Metro-DC area, it always is.

Unless you’re the mayor.

We will, of course, not laugh at the recurring coincidences of Al Gore Speechifying on behalf of Global Warming concerns and snow storms. It’s just too easy.

Catching Fat

January 26, 2009

It’s Not Just For Americans Anymore

There’s an interesting theory going around the tabloid press that contends the British obesity epidemic is really, well, an epidemic.

From The Daily Express:

OBESITY can be “caught” as easily as a common cold from other people’s coughs, sneezes and dirty hands, scientists will claim today.

Researchers believe that an airborne “adenovirus” germ could be causing the fat plague that is blighting Britain and other countries.

As many as one in three obese people may have become overweight after falling victim to the highly infectious cold-like virus, known as AD-36.

So how is this supposed to work? Can it possibly be true, or are we wishing this upon ourselves?

Dr Shahrad Taheri, clinical director for obesity at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, said: “Most people believe obesity is caused by environmental factors.

“But there is a lot of information about how things like the furring up of arteries could be linked to infections. It is not beyond reason to think about various different factors, including infections, adding into the mix about what causes obesity.”

Sounds like a positive, definite maybe!  If obesity is caused by an infection, then a vaccine is possible, which sounds like great news for lots and lots of people, all of whom seem to ride the bus at the same time I do.  But a viral infection cause is not the whole story and if you’re thinking that this let’s you off the hook with dieting and exercise, you may want to think again, though.

Tony Barnett, professor of medicine at the University of Birmingham, said: “These associations may give some clues but they detract from the basic message that we all need to take more exercise and eat a bit less.

“This kind of research needs to go on but we have to be cautious.”

You betchya.

Although this is now all over the ‘net, I credit Don Surbur for the link.