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A Guy In New York



A Guy In New York is an online magazine / blog about good (and affordable) places to eat and fun things to see and do in Manhattan, by a guy who has lived in New York since 1968 (with a little help from his brother-in-law). This online magazine / blog inc



Published: 2010-07-11T10:27:05-05:00

 



How Do You Solve a Problem Like Evan Goldstein?

2010-07-11T10:27:05-05:00

(From a friend who wishes to remain anonymous) What are we to make of Evan R. Goldstein? According to his recent article in The Wall Street Journal [“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mel Gibson?” The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2010] (a publication that seems to be a rising purveyor of gossip and pseudo-intellectual analysis of gossip), Evan R. Goldstein believes that the rest of us are too-little concerned about the "tirades" and "outburst"s of a Mel Gibson. Who is this scold and guardian of moral truth who seeks to protect us from the outbursts of a Hollywood celebrity? "Mr. Goldstein is a staff editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education." And with no disclaimer that his concern and high dudgeon are his own, he obviously reflects the views of the Chronicle of Higher Education. When did the Chronicle of Higher Education, a periodical that concerns itself with preserving the government supported higher ed bubble industry, become so concerned with the babblings and outbursts of Hollywood celebrities? Maybe the Chronicle is preparing to enter the gossip rag field and compete with RadarOnline and TMZ? Possibly because they see the writing on the wall, so to speak, that the increasingly shrill and increasingly irrational pushing of all high school students into "higher ed" is going to come to a not so glorious end similar to the bursting of the housing bubble? Rather than concerning himself with Hollywood celebrities, maybe Mr. Goldstein should focus more of his efforts exploring whether we should be shoving so many high school students into "Higher Education" and a life of non-dischargeable debt and its subsequent wrecking of adult lives. But then that would not allow Mr. Goldstein to mount his high horse and harrumph with high dudgeon about meaningless Hollywood celebrities. And it might upset his cronies in academia and government who continue to inflate the higher education bubble. Patrick Welsh, an English teacher at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, recently wrote in “Is College Overated?”: A new study from the Pew Research Center reports that "freshman enrollment at the nation's 6,100 post-secondary institutions surged by 144,000 students from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008. This 6% increase was the largest in 40 years, and almost three-quarters of it came from minority freshman.The trend is certainly a boon to the education establishment. High schools like mine, always eager for good press, can boast that they have prepared an ever greater percentage of their charges to move on to the halls of academe. And though colleges blame us in the high schools for sending them kids who are woefully unprepared, they blithely pocket the tuition from such students lest they have to downsize and lay off professors and administrators.But how much students with low skills, little motivation and lousy study habits are going to profit from going to college is not so clear. Over the past five years, I have seen students who didn't have the skills one would expect of a ninth-grader going off to four-year colleges where fewer than 30% of entering freshman graduate.That means that 70% of the freshman class is likely to end up not with a diploma but a pile of debt. In these days of tight budgets at every level of government, it's also hard to ignore that these schools are heavily subsidized by the federal government. Mr. Goldstein seems to have taken William Hazlitt's observation in The Pleasures of Hating to heart: "without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action." Mr. Goldstein needs to find another outlet for his "superfluous bile". We suggest that Mr. Goldetein focus on the ever increasing piles of non-discharageable student loan debt that college graduates, and many more who drop out of college, incur at the behest of higher ed administrators and other insiders, "educators," and government employees. Now there is a task worthy of a higher ed insider--and deserving of some bile. Hazlitt wrote wisely in The Pleasures of Hating: It is well that the power of such[...]



Dictionary of Received Ideas

2010-07-09T08:47:19-05:00

That's the name of a feature by Justin Evans in the new periodical The Point (issue two, Winter 2010). It's a bit like Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary and I found it to be the funniest article I have read this year. (It doesn't seem to be on-line.) Here is one set of consecutive entries:

Economics: actually explains everything

Economy, the: completely incomprehensible

I also liked this one:

Debt: i) public -- is inexcusable;

private -- drives the economy.

ii) public -- drives the economy;

private -- is a failure of social safety nets.

Dictionary of Received Ideas, Marginal Revolution, July 9, 2010



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Assorted Links 6/27/10

2010-06-27T19:37:04-05:00

Brown Bailout Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 21, 2010 Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 22, 2010 Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 2-3, 2010 Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 4-6, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." Undercover Operation: Strippers Take Clothes Off! - "Here is a truly wonderful story: After a six-month (!!) undercover sting operation, the men of Charlottes's finest have concluded that strippers take. their. clothes. off.Thank goodness we have a police force, to protect us from dangerous naked women. I think Mr. Fall has it right, below:" Rolling Stone - "This sort of thing is what happens when a senior officer and his aides, under pressure, blurt out the truth. Biden is indeed something of a stuffed shirt, and the president has been disappointing to many people who once hoped for more.Update: Most of the general’s dissatisfaction appears to have been generated by friction with US ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who was himself a 3-star general and former commander of US forces in Afghanistan. The sometimes controversial COIN changes that McChrystal has instituted are changes to Eikenberry’s policies, while the ambassador has declined to release funds to sponsor the kind of local anti-Taliban militias and infrastructure upgrades in Kanduhar that made the Sons of Iraq game changers in the Sunni-dominated Iraqi province of Anbar. As for Holbrooke and Jones, well: Too many cooks spoil the broth.. . .Update 5: The Rolling Stone article itself. Read for content -- and not for the reporter’s reflexively anti-military spin -- it’s not so bad, really. The 'Biden who?' thing was about keeping his mouth shut if he had to answer a question about his previous disagreement with the vice president at a dinner party in Paris." Does McChrystal Rhyme with MacArthur? - "Look past McChrystal, a man who has given his life to the military, and has much to show for it. Look at the enlisted guys who are just beginning their careers, or the NCOs or junior officers who are in the third or fourth tours (in either Iraq or Afghanistan). They’re growing frustrated. They’re in an impossible situation. They are fighting a war that depends upon strong support here in the United States, and that aims to boost support for a government that no one believes in. And while they understand COIN as preached by McChrystal, they struggle with the rules of engagement that COIN requires." Greenberg: For-Profit Schools ... Subprime Redux? - "But [Steve Eisman of FrontPoint Partners]’s comments were the most direct. Key claims include: * 'Until recently, I thought that there would never again be an opportunity to be involved with an industry as socially destructive as the subprime mortgage industry. I was wrong. The for-profit education industry has proven equal to the task.' * With Title IV student loans, 'the government, the students and the taxpayers bear all the risk and the for-profit industry reaps all of the rewards.' * 'We have every expectation the industry’s default rates are about to explode.' * 'How do such schools stay in business? The answer is to control the accreditation process. The scandal here is exactly akin to the rating agency role in subprime securitizations.'"Steve Eisman & FrontPoint Partners Ira Sohn Presentation: Subprime Goes to[...]



Assorted Links 6/20/10

2010-06-20T16:27:54-05:00

Here Come Da Judge! Andrew Napolitano on Lies The Gov't Told You & His New Fox Business Show Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 21, 2010 Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 22, 2010 Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 2-3, 2010 Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 4-6, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." DWI Convictions Due to Faulty Breathalyzer Calibration - "There is good reason to question the foundation of DWI laws and enforcement. Radley Balko makes the case that the federal push for reducing the national DWI BAC standard from .10 to .08 achieved little for public safety in Back Door to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) founder Candy Lightner regrets the no-tolerance direction her organization has taken: '[MADD has] become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned… I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.'" Now they finally have something to fight about - "The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.The previously unknown deposits -- including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium -- are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.People, this could make the Dutch disease and blood diamonds look like kid's stuff, no? We have already seen all the years of violence, all the corruption and now there is actually something valuable in play. Kudos to the NYT reporter for recognizing this:Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.Not to mention how it will affect the US and our willingness to keep soldiers fighting and dying there." Congress to Big Biz: Lobby more, or else - "Congressmen, especially Democrats, like to attack lobbyists and lobbying. They also supposedly hate corporate influence through campaign spending. Why, then, are they always criticizing businesses that don’t lobby or give enough in the form of campaign contributions? Apple is the latest corporation in the crossfires for insufficient influence peddling/brown-nosing. Check out these nuggets from today’s Politico story:While Apple’s success has earned rock-star status in Silicon Valley, its low-wattage approach in Washington is becoming more glaring to policymakers….It is one of the few major technology companies not to have a political action committee….Compared with other tech giants, Apple’s lobbying expenditures are small. In 2009, Apple spent only $1.5 million to lobby the federal government, less than Amazon, Yahoo and IBM. In 2009, Google, for exampl[...]



Assorted Links 6/11/10

2010-06-11T08:07:53-05:00

Battleship Island & Other Ruined Urban High-Density Sites Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 21, 2010 Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 22, 2010 Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 2-3, 2010 Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 4-6, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." Impact of Decennial Census on Unemployment Rate - "My estimate was that the 2010 Census would add 417,000 payroll jobs in May; the actual was 411,000 payroll jobs.My preliminary estimate is the Census will subtract 200,000 payroll jobs in June - and most of the remaining temporary Census jobs (564,000 total in May) will be unwound by September." Baltimore Police Officer Fires 13 Shots, Kills Unarmed Man - "An off-duty Baltimore police officer and a former Marine had a disagreement about the Marine’s advances toward the officer’s girlfriend. The officer ended it with thirteen rounds fired from his service pistol, six hitting the Marine and killing him. Baltimore police have confirmed that the Marine was unarmed. The officer refused a breathalyzer at the scene. (HT Instapundit)It gets better. The officer was involved in another shooting five years ago, which was determined to have been justified, but the officer was disciplined… for being intoxicated.. . .Of course, anyone recording the exchange that led to the shooting could be prosecuted for a felony under Maryland’s wiretapping law. Just ask Anthony Graber." The education of Peter Beinart - "Perhaps you haven't paid attention that in the last 25 years, since this older generation has faded, you've seen the growth of Islamic extremism on a global scale, much of it aimed at Israel. And they are not so much interested in the territories, as such. They are interested in the very existence of Israel, as they openly state. So I don't see how you can dismiss the sea of hostility. It’s in front of your face every day. It’s not the professors at the Sorbonne and it’s not The New York Review of Books that we're talking about. It’s Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and Syria and Islamic extremists from one end of the globe to the other.So you’re talking about a very deeply threatened country. It’s not threatened because of one policy or another or the personality of Bibi Netanyahu or any other single thing. The pro-Israel organizations -- I worked for one, AIPAC, for 23 years, I ought to know -- see themselves as part of an activist effort to fight against that tidal wave." U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested in Wikileaks Video Probe - "Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he’s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charg[...]



Assorted Links 6/7/10

2010-06-07T08:07:00-05:00

Richard Feynman on Bigger is Electricity!, from the BBC TV series 'Fun to Imagine' (1983) Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 21, 2010 Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 22, 2010 Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 2-3, 2010 Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 4-6, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." The Hard Truth About Residential Real Estate - "Anyone who believes that housing is on the rebound, and that now is the time to buy, should take a very hard look at the numbers I dredged up for my spring lecture and luncheon tour.There are 140 million personal residences in the US. Today, there are 19 million homes either directly or indirectly for sale. According to a survey by Zillow.com, a real estate appraisal website, 5 million homeowners plan to sell on any improvement in prices. Add to that 4 million existing homes now on the market, 1 million new homes flogged by companies like Lennar (LEN) and Pulte Homes (PHM), and 1 million bank owned properties. Another 8 million mortgage owners are late on their payments and are on the verge of foreclosure, bringing the total overhang to 19 million homes.Now, let’s look at the buy side. There are 35 million who are underwater on their mortgages and aren’t buying homes anytime soon, nor are the 35 million unemployed and underemployed. That knocks out 50% of the potential buyers.Here is where it gets really interesting. There are 80 million baby boomers retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day. Assuming that they downsize over time from an average 2,500 sq ft. home to a 1,000 sq. ft. condo, and eventually to a 100 sq. ft. assisted living facility, the total shrinkage in demand is 4.3 billion sq.ft. per year, or 1.7 million average sized homes. That amounts to a shrinkage of aggregate demand for a city the size of San Francisco, every year. You can argue that the following Gen-Xer’s are going to take up the slack, but there are only 65 million of them with a much lower standard of living than their parents." Buy Vs. Rent - "Rent in Manhattan: Home prices there are way too high, says Trulia. (Ditto San Francisco.)Buy in Miami. And Phoenix. And Las Vegas. And most of the other places that have been flattened by the crash. Homes there are cheap compared to rents.The cross-over point is about 15 times annual rent, the company believes. In other words, as a rough rule of thumb, homes are probably fairly valued in a city when they cost about 15 times a year’s rent. So, for example, if you’re paying $10,000 a year to rent a place, think twice about buying a home that costs more than $150,000. Dean Baker, economist at the Washington, D.C. think-tank The Center for Economic and Policy Research, came to a similar conclusion in research on the subject in recent years. Fifteen times is the historic average, he said." DOD’s Guns Versus Butter Debate - "The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment’s Todd Harrison has a new paper out warning that DOD is fast approaching a difficu[...]



Assorted Links 6/3/10

2010-06-03T08:17:04-05:00

89 Dead In The NHTSA Complaint Database? It’s A Sham Immigration Law -- Up CloseThe vehicle is not stopped on a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion. As far as I can tell, all the cars are being stopped. The police ask about his immigration status and the driver declines to answer. The man in the car knows the law well and quickly makes it crystal clear that he’s not interested in a “voluntary” encounter with the police -- he wants to be on his way. The police repeatedly evade his attempt to clarify the situation. That is, if the police are detaining him, the driver does not want to flee or resist the officers (that’s a crime) -- but if the police are not detaining him, the driver does not wish to hang out with them and talk -- he wants to be on his way. Watch the police lie and/or illegally threaten that he will be detained -- until he answers their questions. Watch the police threaten to arrest the man for causing a “safety” hazard, or for “impeding” or obstructing their "work." Given those police actions, most people will come to the conclusion that they have no choice in the matter -- answer the questions and produce the ID papers. These are the situations that the courts rarely see. The citizen who was understandably intimidated by the threats may get mad, but it is not worth it to sue. If an illegal is discovered, he would be deported in a matter of hours. This video is thus a real public service announcement -- whatever your view is on the immigration matter, do understand clearly how the police will be are interacting with people. Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010 Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010 Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." Guest Post: Slouching Toward Despotism - "And the question we keep pondering is, 'Are we there yet?' Are we merely slouching toward despotism, or have we arrived? Are we already so corrupt so as to need despotic government, what with Vampire Squids and corporate/union-bought elections and Congressional bystanders and regulatory capture and Systemically Important Too Big To Fail and Gulf of Mexico oil well disasters?(Despotism, by the way, describes a form of government by which a single entity rules with absolute and unlimited power, and may be expressed by an individual as an autocracy or through a group as an oligarchy according to Wikipedia, the world's leading source of made-up information, which is good enough for us.)In previous posts we have observed the growing and discernible disconnect between several types of government-reported economic data such as Retail Sales and actual state sales tax collections, and the Employment Situation and withholding tax collections. Others also have made solid cases for these disconnects between statistical theory and economic reality and it occurs to me that, far from being isolated or random events, they are evidence of much more disconcerting forces at work.Fudging o[...]



Inside the congressional hearings process: Not sexy perhaps, but necessary

2010-06-02T17:37:10-05:00

At this time of the year, Congress and its committees are in the midst of, or concluding, hearings on numerous topics, bills, and budget considerations. Authorization, budget, appropriations and oversight hearings abound on every conceivable subject. Later this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings to consider the President's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the other side of the witness table, company executives, association leaders, heads of non-profits, government officials, and presidential nominees alike are preparing for the experience of testifying before a congressional committee, an exercise likened by some to having a root canal. Recently we've seen automobile executives, energy company officials, financial industry representatives, and even White House party crashers take their turn to testify in front of congressional committees, with very mixed results and reactions. One need only consult policy periodicals or committee web sites for a schedule of the seemingly never-ending stream of congressional hearings that typically commence in February each year and run heavily through early summer.
. . .
For those engaged in preparation for a hearing, you might want to consider a handy checklist of the essential elements of an effective and successful congressional hearing, and of effective testimony, from the perspectives of both a congressional committee and a witness:...

"Inside the congressional hearings process: Not sexy perhaps, but necessary," by Bill LaForge, The Hill's Congress Blog, June 2, 2010


See also


(image)
Testifying Before Congress

Testifying Before Congress
A Practical Guide to Preparing and Delivering Testimony before Congress and Congressional Hearings for Agencies, Associations, Corporations, Military, NGOs, and State and Local Officials

By William N. LaForge

    As a practical guide to assist witnesses and their organizations in preparing and delivering Congressional testimony, this book is designed for use by anyone or any organization called upon to testify before a committee of the United States Congress, and for those who are providing assistance in preparing the testimony and the witness. This book can serve as a guide through the unique maze of the Congressional hearings process for virtually any witness or organization, including especially federal departments and agencies, the federal judiciary, members and staff of the legislative branch itself, associations, corporations, the military service branches, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private and voluntary organizations (PVOs), public interest entities, state and local governmental officials and institutions, and individuals who are chosen to appear as a witness before Congress for any reason on any topic.

Forthcoming Summer 2010
2010, 475-plus pages

Hardbound, $77
ISBN 10: 158733-172-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-58733-172-5

Softcover, $67
ISBN 10: 158733-163-2
ISBN 13: 978-1-58733-163-3

For more information, see TestifyingBeforeCongress.com




Assorted Links 5/28/10

2010-05-28T07:17:22-05:00

One Track Mind Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010 Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." FHA Commissioner: Housing on "Life support", "very sick system" - "'This is a market purely on life support, sustained by the federal government. Having FHA do this much volume is a sign of a very sick system.' Federal Housing Commissioner David Stevens at Mortgage Bankers Association Government Housing Conference (see Bloomberg, the FHA was involved in more transactions in Q1 than Fannie and Freddie combined)" Scene from an Airport - "TSA Officer: A beloved name from the blogosphere.Me: And I always thought that I slipped through these lines anonymously.TSA Officer: Don't worry. No one will notice. This isn't the sort of job that rewards competence, you know." Murphy's Law - "[T]he Haitians who interacted with our base was that the locals viewed us with suspicion. In particular, when they would see a team of HODR volunteers engaging in literal hard labor, using sledgehammers and wheelbarrows to remove rubble from a collapsed residence, many of the Haitians apparently resented the fact that we were "stealing their jobs." In other words, the Haitians -- where unemployment is apparently 90 percent -- thought they should be getting paid to remove the rubble from their collapsed homes.When those who were affiliated with HODR would explain to the people that we were all volunteers, some of them were still suspicious. They speculated that even if we weren't being paid right then, we would probably be paid when we returned back home.Now here's what struck me about all this: isn't it incredible that after their neighborhoods got wiped out, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians died, that many Haitians were apparently devoting a lot of mental effort to speculating on how much we were getting paid to cart away their rubble?..." Patrick says Obama critics are ‘almost at the level of sedition’ - "Governor Deval Patrick, even as he decried partisanship in Washington, said today that Republican opposition to President Obama’s agenda has become so obstinate that it 'is almost at the level of sedition.'" Mandatory Opinions on Public Campuses - "After serving as a trustee of The Ohio State University at Mansfield for the past nine years though, I have begun to wonder whether, in some very important ways, they are actually undermining and doing significant harm to these essential goals.Numerous surveys and studies show that the faculty and administrations of America's major public campuses are politically well to the left of the typical American. But it's not just one-sided campus opinion that's the problem. Even more so, it's the highly ideological programs, courses, centers and approaches to teaching and learning that these believers keep imposing on our students.. . .During its freshman orientation, Ohio State Mansfield has inclu[...]



Assorted Links 5/24/10

2010-05-24T07:37:09-05:00

Radley Balko Discusses SWAT Teams and Police Militarization on Russia Today Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010 Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." Report: Majority Of Government Doesn't Trust Citizens Either - "At a time when widespread polling data suggests that a majority of the U.S. populace no longer trusts the federal government, a Pew Research Center report has found that the vast majority of the federal government doesn't trust the U.S. populace all that much either.According to the poll--which surveyed members of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches--9 out of 10 government officials reported feeling 'disillusioned' by the populace and claimed to have 'completely lost confidence' in the citizenry's ability to act in the nation's best interests.. . .Out of 100 U.S. senators polled, 84 said they don't trust the U.S. populace to do what is right, and 79 said Americans are not qualified to do their jobs. Ninety-one percent of all government officials polled said they find citizens to be every bit as irresponsible, greedy, irrational, and selfishly motivated as government officials are." Newspaper Edits Politicians Out Of Bill Signing Photograph; Doesn't Get Why People Think That's Bad - "This is a newspaper that won't run photos of candidates running for election? It makes you wonder how they report on those elections. With illustrations? And then to claim that it's okay to edit a photograph by then calling it a "photo illustration" rather than a photo that's been edited seems a bit questionable no matter where you stand on the question of journalistic ethics." Any Excuse Will Do - "There is a law or regulation covering essentially every aspect of human existence. Over time, lawmakers with too little to do create the rules that keep us from bumping into one another by telling us to keep to the right. They protect us from ourselves by telling us to wear seat belts and helmets, and eat less salt. They appease grieving parents and outraged communities by crafting laws named after dead children that duplicate, triplicate, existing laws with minute additional requirements. In isolation, some people applaud these laws as serving a good function. Proponents are always well intentioned, but they become part of the vast mass of laws regulating us.For every regulation, there must be a consequence for its violation. When Harvey Silverglate wrote Three Felonies A Day, this could have been his inspiration, even though Scott's referring to petty offenses. The point remains that, as a society, we seek the elimination of crime and encourage and support the police in their efforts to enforce our laws. We do not, however, think much about the scope of our laws that render each of us a criminal, to some greater or lesser extent.If there was a machine that would detect every v[...]



Low Flow Showerheads

2010-05-23T11:07:22-05:00

Low flow showerheads (low-flo, low-flow) are an inexpensive way to save water. It's not just low flow, it's the law. In 1995, the National Energy Policy Act mandated the use of toilets that use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Since then, low-flow plumbing fixtures including toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads have been developed that save substantial amounts of water compared to conventional fixtures while providing the same utility.. . .Conventional faucet aerators don't compensate for changes in inlet pressure, so the greater the water pressure, the more water you use. New technology compensates for pressure and provides the same flow regardless of pressure. Aerators are also available that allow water to be turned off at the aerator itself. Showerheads use similar aerator technology and multiple flow settings to save water. Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures, from ToolBase Numerous models are available, but one that we use and like is the Ultra Saver Showerhead (manufactured by Whedon Products model USB3C), which can be purchased for less than $10 at most hardware stores. More WaterSense Showerheads - from the EPA American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water-Saving Tips - from AWWA Ways to Save Water - from the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection Water Use It Wisely Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures - from ToolBase (NAHB) The Best Low-Flow Showerheads src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=aguyinnewyork-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000H5YCS4&fc1=000000&=1&lc1=0000ff&bc1=000000<1=_blank&IS2=1&f=ifr&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr" width="120" height="250" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"> . . . src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=aguyinnewyork-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B0034UWXAS&fc1=000000&=1&lc1=0000ff&bc1=000000<1=_blank&IS2=1&f=ifr&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr" width="120" height="250" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"> . . . src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=aguyinnewyork-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B0034UN6L8&fc1=000000&=1&lc1=0000ff&bc1=000000<1=_blank&IS2=1&f=ifr&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr" width="120" height="250" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"> . . . src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=aguyinnewyork-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000LRC89I&fc1=000000&=1&lc1=0000ff&bc1=000000<1=_blank&IS2=1&f=ifr&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr" width="120" height="250" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"> [...]



New food blog added - Heat & Knives

2010-05-21T11:17:38-05:00

We've added a blog to our Good Eats blog roll - Heat & Knives. Here's a bit about the proprietor:

My name is David Niemann, and I do the cooking here. The food is well-seasoned, but everyone has different tastes, so salt & pepper are allowed on the table.

I’m a line cook working in New York City, currently doing Italian food. In the past I’ve done Mediterranean, French, and Swedish. I was planning to go to culinary school, but since the majority of the people I talked to, including culinary school graduates, basically said it’s not worth it, I decided to save my 10 months and $30,000. Instead of going to school, I’m learning as much as I can on the job, reading books, and cooking at home.

Cooking is easy. Simple. You don’t need school for it. Anyone can do it, you just need to learn the feel.

Heat & Knives




Assorted Links 5/20/10

2010-05-20T17:27:17-05:00

Richard Feynman on Seeing Things, from the BBC TV series 'Fun to Imagine' (1983) Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, May 21, 2010 Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010 Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." Green: Obama is a victim of Bush's failed promises - "It’s all George Bush’s fault.George Bush, who doesn’t have a vote in Congress and who no longer occupies the White House, is to blame for it all.He broke Obama’s promise to put all bills on the White House web site for five days before signing them.He broke Obama’s promise to have the congressional health care negotiations broadcast live on C-SPAN.He broke Obama’s promise to end earmarks.He broke Obama’s promise to keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent.He broke Obama’s promise to close the detention center at Guantanamo in the first year.He broke Obama’s promise to make peace with direct, no pre-condition talks with America’s most hate-filled enemies during his first year in office, ushering in a new era of global cooperation.He broke Obama’s promise to end the hiring of former lobbyists into high White House jobs.He broke Obama’s promise to end no-compete contracts with the government.He broke Obama’s promise to disclose the names of all attendees at closed White House meetings.He broke Obama’s promise for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in all matters.He broke Obama’s promise to have chosen a home church to attend Sunday services with his family by Easter of last year.Yes, it’s all George Bush’s fault. President Obama is nothing more than a puppet in the never-ending, failed Bush administration.If only George Bush wasn’t still in charge, all of President Obama’s problems would be solved. His promises would have been kept, the economy would be back on track, Iran would have stopped its work on developing a nuclear bomb and would be negotiating a peace treaty with Israel, North Korea would have ended its tyrannical regime, and integrity would have been restored to the federal government.Oh, and did I mention what it would be like if the Democrats, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, didn’t have the heavy yoke of George Bush around their necks. There would be no earmarks, no closed-door drafting of bills, no increase in deficit spending, no special-interest influence (unions), no vote buying (Nebraska, Louisiana)." America 101 With Dean Obama: America is now a campus, and Obama is our Dean - "This is the strangest presidency I have seen in my lifetime. President Obama gives soaring lectures on civility, but still continues his old campaign invective ('get in their face,' 'bring a gun to a knife fight,' etc.) with new attacks [...]



Assorted Links 5/16/10

2010-05-16T11:57:36-05:00

Noted Bear Bob Janjuah Sighted on Bloomberg Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, May 21, 2010 Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010 Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." The Dark Magic of Structured Finance - "In Too Big To Save Robert Pozen gives a clever example, based on an excellent paper by Coval, Jurek and Stafford, which explains both the lure of structured finance and why the model exploded so quickly.Suppose we have 100 mortgages that pay $1 or $0. The probability of default is 0.05. We pool the mortgages and then prioritize them into tranches such that tranche 1 pays out $1 if no mortgage defaults and $0 otherwise, tranche 2 pays out $1 if 1 or fewer mortgages defaults, $0 otherwise. Tranche 10 then pays out $1 if 9 or fewer mortgages default and $0 otherwise. Tranche 10 has a probability of defaulting of 2.82 percent. A fortiori tranches 11 and higher all have lower probabilities of defaulting. Thus, we have transformed 100 securities each with a default of 5% into 9 with probabilities of default greater than 5% and 91 with probabilities of default less than 5%.Now let's try this trick again. Suppose we take 100 of these type-10 tranches and suppose we now pool and prioritize these into tranches creating 100 new securities. Now tranche 10 of what is in effect a CDO will have a probability of default of just 0.05 percent, i.e. p=.000543895 to be exact. We have now created some 'super safe,' securities which can be very profitable if there are a lot of investors demanding triple AAA."From the comments: So is Congress like the Good Witch of the North? Auditing the Fed: “The Single Greatest Act of Bipartisanship Since Obama Took Office” - "Yesterday, I noted that there weren't many opportunities for conservatives to find themselves in agreement with the Congress' only declared socialist Bernie Sanders. But that's exactly what happened when the audit the fed amendment was attached to the financial reform bill on a 96-0 vote. Are the left and the right finally coming to agree that crony capitalism and rent seeking by big business has had a corrupting influence on our government?" U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Trey Grayson over Rand Paul in Kentucky Senate - "If anything could push the GOP towards some free-market populism -- opposing bailouts, standing up to lobbyists, cutting spending -- it would be the election of Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul, in Kentucky. The younger Paul has railed against bailouts and lobbyists, while the establishment of the GOP has rallied behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the primary.But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Trey Grayson, TPM reveals. I general[...]



Assorted Links 5/12/10

2010-05-12T07:27:06-05:00

Richard Feynman on Big Numbers and Stuff, from the BBC TV series 'Fun to Imagine' (1983) Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations, May 13, 2010 Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, May 21, 2010 Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010 Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010 Mark Twain on Copyright - "Remarks of Samuel Langhorne Clemens Before the Congressional Joint Committee on Patents, December, 1906 (Mark Twain on Copyright)" Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010 Wi-Fi Classroom - How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010 Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives - "Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president's desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction." Reform Bites - "I am not a fan of taxpayer financing of elections. If you want to get money out of politics, get government's hands off our money. The reason that election outcomes are so crucial right now is that government has metastisized into nearly every aspect of our lives." What Do The Economist’s Bloggers Think a Free Market Is, Anyway? - "I wonder what convinced M.S. that the new health care law is an entirely free-market-based reform. Was it the expansion of the government’s Medicaid program to another 16 million Americans? Was it the 19-million-plus other Americans who will receive government subsidies to purchase private health insurance? Was it the new price controls that the law imposes on health insurance? Or the price and exchange controls that it will extend to even more of the market? Was it the dynamics those regulations set in motion, which will reduce variety and innovation in health insurance? Was it the mandates that require private actors to spend their resources according to the wishes of the state? Or the new federal regulations that will shape every health insurance plan in the United States, whether purchased through the employer-based market, the individual market, or the new health insurance 'exchanges'? Was it the half-trillion dollars of (explicit) tax increases over the next 10 years? I wonder what it is about this law that M.S. thinks is consonant with the principles of a free market. Perhaps we have a different idea of what 'free' means." Greatest Fossil Fuel Disasters In Human History - "The fallout from the Louisiana oil rig explosion is continuing to be horrendous, and efforts to stop the damage aren't looking promising. But this isn't the worst fossil fuel disaster we've ever had. Here are 10 of the worst.. . . Largest Oil Spill Of All Time: Really, this list could be mostly oil spills. There have been so many. You only have to look at the Wikipedia page to see that enough oil has been splashed in the water to keep all our cars running for decades. The largest, in terms of volume of oil, was the Gulf War Oil Spill, in which Iraq opened the valves at its oil terminal and dumped oil into the Gulf, in an attempt to keep U.S. forces from landing. The resulting slick was 4,242 square miles, and five inches thick. It's between five and 27 times bigger than the Exxon[...]