Monday, January 26, 2015
You don’t have to be a vegan to be repulsed by an account in The Times revealing the moral depths to which the federal government — working as a handmaiden to industrial agriculture — has sunk in pursuit of cheaper meat and fatter corporate profits. The article, by Michael Moss, examines the little-known U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, financed by American taxpayers, which employs the sophisticated tools and scientific expertise of modern animal management — apparently without a conscience.
I read this article and it was pretty gross, though what I would expect from the federal government managing thousands of head of livestock. No private rancher would permit such wasteful and inhumane practices. The ranchers I've known take a practical and humane attitude toward their critters' suffering. Not so the evidently mad scientists at the federal meat laboratory. Still, this is the New York Times, so take it with some salt, as you would a good steak.
I am a climate lukewarmer. That means I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future. That last year was the warmest yet, in some data sets, but only by a smidgen more than 2005, is precisely in line with such lukewarm thinking.
This view annoys some sceptics who think all climate change is natural or imaginary, but it is even more infuriating to most publicly funded scientists and politicians, who insist climate change is a big risk. My middle-of-the-road position is considered not just wrong, but disgraceful, shameful, verging on scandalous. I am subjected to torrents of online abuse for holding it, very little of it from sceptics.
I was even kept off the shortlist for a part-time, unpaid public-sector appointment in a field unrelated to climate because of having this view, or so the headhunter thought. In the climate debate, paying obeisance to climate scaremongering is about as mandatory for a public appointment, or public funding, as being a Protestant was in 18th-century England.
Matt Ridley is a very smart guy. He writes good books. If he were a climate alarmist, I would seriously rethink my position. But he's not. He's a lukewarmer. I might be one too if I thought it made sense to dive into this stuff. But there's no sense losing my cool over it.
“There appear to be no rules anymore. If you can do it, do it,” said Patrick Griffin, who recalls nothing quite like this even in the tempestuous times Griffin served as White House liaison between President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), herself a former speaker who oversaw similar joint meetings for foreign guests, said the management of the invitation was “inappropriate” and Boehner risks squandering his power in a fit of “hubris.”
The real reason this is happening, I suspect, is pique by Obama staffers and a lack of supervision by their boss, who is too busy with wool gathering and golf to play President.
Bank robber Willie Sutton is said to have explained his career this way: "That's where the money is." Whether Sutton ever really said that, it's an aphorism that, according to Bloomberg's Megan McArdle, explains President Obama's plans to go after middle class assets like 529 college savings plans and home appreciation.
Though millions of Americans have been putting money into "tax free" 529 plans to save for their children's increasingly expensive college educations, President Obama would change the law so that withdrawals from the plans to fund college would be taxed as ordinary income. So while you used to be able to get a nice tax benefit by saving for college, now you'll be shelling out to Uncle Sam every time you withdraw to pay for Junior's dorm fees.
I was glad when Sarah Palin was first selected to be a VP candidate. I had only just heard of her and thought she was good VP material. President, no. But VP's don't frequently have to step into that role. The fact that it was nearly centigenarian McCain rather changed that calculation. But she seemed well, at least she was different.
Now she's not anymore, but she still thinks she can be president. I can see why Obama would convince just about anybody that they could be president. We could argue about which gaffe by which person reveals a profounder ignorance of what they should know to be president: Obama's 57 states versus Sarah's being able to see Russia (which she can't). But I think the GOP should hold out for somebody minimally qualified, which, God bless her, Sarah ain't. I suppose you could say Hillary Clinton is qualified -- it is more that what she thinks and what she would do are bad. Maybe she is actively unqualified, while Palin is passively unqualified. I don't know.
This is just so depressing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, once slandered by an unnamed White House official as a “chickens***,” does not seem so timid anymore. The White House did not feel that it was especially necessary to even investigate who made those insulting comments in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, and they will almost certainly not investigate recent controversial statements made by another unnamed White House official. But they should. Whoever in the administration gave Haaretz their most recent set of quotes has cast this White House in a distinctly unflattering light.
How ironic would it be, how sweetly delicious, if the first billionaire senator of the twenty-first century was not a Republican but a Democrat who stood against consumers, unions, Canada, and impoverished Third World nations; whose hobbyhorse is at the bottom of public priorities; whose inspiration is the fringe author and cross-country skier Bill McKibben; who owns, among a gazillion other things, an 1,800-acre coastal property in California known as the “TomKat Ranch” that includes “a long-waist high granite pool filled with koi, the remains of an unsuccessful attempt at sustainable fish farming that now doubles as a huge outdoor dining table”; whose decades in finance involved such questionable investments and dodgy moves as an attempt to manipulate the Russian economy, ties to a $67 million Ponzi scheme, coal plants that the New York Times says “will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades, to come,” and a plot to steal water from Colorado ranchers worthy of Daniel Plainview; whose behavior was so rapacious and so ethically suspect that a divestment campaign was organized to combat it; who donated to politicians and think tanks that advocated for subsidies to green energy companies while he and his hedge fund profited from those very policies; who admits that environmental radicalism is an “opportunity to make a lot of money”; whose separation from his fund, announced in December 2012, was “ongoing” as of June 2014; who so well represents the new liberalism, its hypocrisies and aristocratic bearing, its moral sanctimony and group-think and apocalyptic fever, its almost awe-inspiring capacity to delude the affluent, entitled, privileged, conformist, and banal into thinking that they are the confederates of the poor, the boosters of the downtrodden, intellectual rebels and oh so quirky and special.
Everyone else seems to be somewhere between confused and aghast. One comment in particular struck me, as I saw it several times on social media and in writings: "How would you feel if they did this to Roth IRAs?"
I knew this was coming and I'm still appalled.
The elation over wage increases in private business reported in last month’s job report has been replaced by disappointment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Jan. 16 that average hourly earnings fell five cents in December, eating up most of the six-cent increase in November. Between 2010 and 2014, the average real wage fell 1.1%, a poor showing after rising 3.4% between 2006 and 2010. What accounts for this performance?
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Convening to ring the alarm about global warming, our putative betters and would-be rulers convened in Davos, Switzerland, filling the local general-aviation hangars with some 1,700 private jets. Taking an international commercial flight is one of the most carbon-intensive things the typical person does in his life, but if you’re comparing carbon footprints between your average traveler squeezed into coach on American and Davos Man quaffing Pol Roger in his cashmere-carpeted intercontinental air limousine, you’re talking Smurfette vs. Sasquatch. The Bombardier’s Global 6000 may be a technical marvel, but it still runs on antique plankton juice. The emissions from heating all those sprawling hotel suites in the Alps in winter surely makes baby polar bears weep bitter and copious baby-polar-bear tears.
This makes me want to fill up the Suburban with premium. It's the most I can do.
The Wisconsin Republican governor delivered a pitch-perfect speech to a room packed with influential Hawkeye State conservatives on Saturday, walking them through his robust resume and ideology with a passion that surprised many.
I like Walker. I'm almost certain he was born in America.
Prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz speaks to Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman after Virginia Roberts claims in a sworn affidavit that he had sex with her while she was an underage "sex slave" of Palm Beach financier Jeffrey Epstein.
He kept his underwear on and doesn't like massages particularly, so I guess Dershowitz is in the clear.
Friday, January 23, 2015
The NFL released a statement on Friday acknowledging there is an ongoing investigation into the use of under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game.
Perhaps what happened is the balls were inflated to proper pressure in the warm locker room then taken out to the cold field. After being outside for an hour or so in the cold, their pressure would have naturally decreased. How much, I don't know. Perhaps enough to go from 12.5 to ten pounds per square inch.
The dean of the Catholic University of America’s School of Business and Economics recently approached me with an idea: A research and educational program focused on the compatibility of capitalism and Catholicism. On Thursday the university announced a $3 million grant to fund this vision.
It makes perfect sense that CUA would want to teach this topic to business leaders. Free markets have liberated more people from poverty than any other force in history. But they must also be buttressed by moral principles, such as those taught in the Catholic Church.
The left has tried to avoid the anti-American stain it acquired in the Vietnam era by making sure to mouth platitudes about supporting the troops while criticizing the war. The reaction to American Sniper seems to suggest this pose is insincere. Either you’re rooting for Kyle and his fellow soldiers or you’re rooting for AQI. There is no middle ground in American Sniper. The film simply asks audiences to consider the motivations of American soldiers on the ground in Iraq, and then asks whether or not these motivations make them heroic. This may be a difficult question for Michael Moore, but the film and its rapturous audiences answer it with a resounding yes. In a scene taken straight from his autobiography, when Kyle first meets the woman he will marry, she tells him she doesn’t date military men because they are self-centered. “Why would you say I’m self-centered?” Kyle asks, genuinely surprised. “I’d lay down my life for this country.”
On May 20th, 2009 Jordan's King Abdullah officially opened the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC), a facility set against a dramatic pocketed plateau on the northern outskirts of Amman. It is called the most advanced special operations training complex in the world and it looks like a life-sized GI Joe dream set.
The Obama administration reportedly is fuming over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress in March regarding the Iranian threat, with one unnamed official telling an Israeli newspaper he will pay “a price” for the snub.
House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu -- and the Israeli leader accepted – without any involvement from the White House.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the states the “laboratories of democracy.” President Barack Obama ought to be glad that a handful of states are governed by Republicans doing lab work very different from his own. The economic gains registered in some of those states have played a significant part in pulling America out of its economic doldrums, allowing Obama, after six years in office, to give a State of the Union speech in which he could assert with some validity that the state of the union is “strong.”
I honestly don't know where guys 50 and over get the energy for this sort of thing. It's probably one of the things both parties just have to put up with. He wants to stay home and have a drink, she wants to go out and see her ridiculous (or really very interesting) friends. Meanwhile he finds the bar and has a drink and wonders whether it's worth the money. I probably am taking the cynical view, however.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Obama bounds into Republican Boise with his big State of the Union initiatives - The Washington Post
In 2008, he filled the basketball arena with 14,000 screaming supporters enthralled by his first presidential campaign, inspired by an energetic and youthful candidate’s vision of uniting Red and Blue America. On Wednesday, grayer and battered by Washington’s unrelenting partisan snarking, Obama settled for the smaller of the two venues, where the crowd fit, with room to spare, into a space that holds several thousand.
I'm sorry I'm not in Boise so I could not go see the President. But honestly, what is he doing there? Is this one of those, I visited every state things?
But the data also tells us something else: For instance, by nearly any measurement that matters, this was the greatest year in human history. And nations that use the most fossil fuel per capita generally experienced the least amount of poverty, have the healthiest populations, and the most freedom. As I’ve argued before, global warming was totally worth it. It is at worst a minor residual consequence of a grand moral project.
Man Rents Excavator, Bulldozes Home Without Telling Wife: "She's Aware of it Now; We're Good" | NBC New York
A New York man who rented a bulldozer from a local construction company and demolished the house that he lived in with his wife, whose name is on the deed and who did not know about the razing, told NBC 4 New York he did it because it was dilapidated and needed to come down.
Pope Francis is from Argentina. His political and economic sensibilities were formed in a very different context from our own. He pushes a lot of conservative buttons, but we should try to remember he’s not really trying to provoke us; there’s some mismatch of perspective here. With our homegrown liberals (and especially the Catholic ones) it’s another story. They’re baiting us. Be smart and don’t give them satisfaction.
The most insincere part of his speech was a monologue on his goal of keeping America as one nation, one people, and not a cluster of groups like blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives. Cynics who say he’s has failed – well, they’re just cynics, said the man known as the Great Divider. No wonder he’s famous for ducking responsibility for anything that’s gone wrong on his watch.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Furthermore, the predictable troupe of buzzwords you would expect to correlate with successful groups—"cohesion," "motivation," and "satisfaction"—didn't have much to do with effective teams, either. Instead, the single most important element of smart groups, according to the researchers, was their "average social sensitivity." That is, the best groups were also the best at reading the non-verbal cues of their teammates. And, since women score higher on this metric of emotional intelligence, teams with more women tended to be better teams.
This must be how we got the A-bomb ahead of the Nazis. Everybody -- lean in!
For perhaps the first time, many Western liberals were disappointed with Francis – for questioning the wisdom of blasphemy. But those who truly want to understand how Muslims feel about Mohammed could learn a lot from what he had to say. And those who routinely gripe about the moral conservatism of poorer peoples should understand that Francis’s blunt traditionalism also goes down well with those struggling to get by. Gay rights just aren’t as far up the political agenda in a country like the Philippines, where a quarter of the country lives on 60 cents a day and takes spiritual sustenance from a Church to which some 80 per cent of them belong.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has been in the Senate for only a few weeks, and while she has avoided the national spotlight so far, she is about to burst onto the scene via her designation as the Republican who will give the response to the president’s State of the Union address tonight. She hasn’t given her speech yet, but it is a given that the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media will not like what she has to say. And it is my guess that they will not like Ernst either. Predictably, she will quickly be marginalized as a right-winger — or worse — by the usual suspects on the left. But Ernst proved during the 2014 campaign that she is an articulate, thoughtful, capable leader. So why will the Democrats despise her?
Sounds like my kinda gal.
“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits — but no,” the 78-year-old Argentine told reporters while flying from the Philippines back to Rome, reports Reuters.
Growing up LWJ knew several good Catholic families that had 9 or 10 children, and all of them went to college. That was New Canaan in the old days. Now hedge fundies have one or two super children.
So you have probably heard that Henry Manne has died at age 86. A brief memory. I was at a conference at UCLA and was speaking somewhat in response to other speakers. This was at least 10 years ago. I was holding up the right end of the beam, so to speak. I was looking out over a mostly skeptical, scowling audience. But there in the front row was Henry positively beaming at me. I knew then I was on the right track. I didn't know him well though I followed his writings. I will certainly miss him. I was a student at his Institute on Economics for Law Professors (or something similar) in 1990 maybe, or thereabouts. I was even more insufferable then than I am now, but I had a really good time, in spite of the astonishing heat in Atlanta, Georgia in June.
My assessment of Justice Scalia’s reputation for sarcasm [UPDATED with response from Hasen] - The Washington Post
What would be more interesting would be some reflections on why Associate Justice Nino is so sarcastic. Not his background, etc., but as to why a rational person might think sarcasm is the appropriate response to the legal offerings of our highest court like entity. I think it an occasion of the perfect pitch meeting the perfect swing, so to speak. Yes, Scalia is very sarcastic, and often that's not exactly pleasant. But he is sarcastic in dissent and the majorities are so worthy of sarcasm.
They are painfully aware that they are in an era of what could be called the Incredible Shrinking State of the Union address. While still important as the only presidential report required by the Constitution, the television audience for the speech is down, the expectations are diminished, and the potential political payoff is limited.
This graph represents the output of a text mining program called Wordfish, which compares and contrasts the frequency with which different terms occur in documents in order to place the documents on a left-right political scale (e.g., terms such as “free” and “freedom” occurred more often in conservative speeches and thus pushed those speeches to the right of the scale, while “community” and “health care” occurred more frequently in liberal speeches and pushed those speeches to the left).
Clint Eastwood's “American Sniper” took aim at its box office rivals with a $105.3 million weekend blitz — but critics fired back, slamming the film as pro-war propaganda.
Maybe Michael Moore will just puff up and up and then finally explode.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
According to data collected from Vault’s 2014 Law Firm Associate Survey, a survey of nearly 17,000 associates from over 150 large and mid-sized law firms, out of the 20 practice areas surveyed, tax lawyers are the most satisfied with their jobs.
I always tell my students they should not resist any inclination they have to be tax lawyers. But not everyone can be a tax lawyer.
Then he adds, specifically, "Muslim leaders need to condemn anyone who commits these acts of violence and clearly state that these people are evil and are enemies of Islam. It's not enough to simply condemn violence, they must stand up and loudly proclaim that these people are not martyrs who will receive a reward in the afterlife, and rather they are murderers who are going to hell. If they refuse to do that, then they're part of the problem. There is no middle ground here."
Who exactly are the leaders of Islam anyway?
Friday, January 16, 2015
JANUARY 15--In a botched bid to ditch evidence, a Florida man allegedly threw a bag of cocaine out the sunroof of a vehicle in which he was a passenger, but the drug landed squarely on the hood of a trailing police car, according to investigators.
Please note facial hair.
Inside Canada’s secret world of medical error: ‘There is a lot of lying, there’s a lot of cover-up’ | National Post
“There was so much blood in there, it blew the eyeball out of my head. It was hanging on my cheek,” said Ms. Church, a razor-sharp 83-year-old. “The blood was just dripping everywhere … I was hysterical, the pain was so bad.”
Both incidents point to dangerous breakdowns in the Canadian health-care system. But don’t expect to find any public record of either apparent blunder — or of thousands of similarly harmful and sometimes deadly mistakes that occur in facilities across the country each year.
Most instances of the system hurting rather than healing patients, in fact, are not even reported by staff internally, a National Post investigation has documented.
Better than the US, though, if not quite so good as Cooba.
2014 was the hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA announced on Friday.
The year's average combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 58.24 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NOAA. This is 1.24 F above the 20th-century average. Global average land temperatures were 1.80 F above average, while ocean surface temperatures were 1.03 F above average, the agency said. Land temperatures alone were only the fourth-warmest on record, but ocean temperatures were the warmest, which helped to make 2014 the warmest year overall.
In an era that has seen the widespread commercialization of mountaineering, one in which a trip to the summit of Mount Everest is considered almost passé, serious climbers are hungry to find mountains that offer a rawer, some would say truer, spirit of adventure.
Few places fit the bill as squarely as the little-known Dandalika range, east of the Himalaya in northern Myanmar. And Hkakabo Razi (pronounced Kaka-bo Rah-zee), believed to be the tallest of these isolated peaks, has long stood as the biggest mountaineering prize of them all.