Sunday, April 26, 2009

100 Days, 100 Mistakes.

The country is in the very best of hands.

2. "There is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments." -- Obama during the campaign.

3. This year's budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.

4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million -- a whopping .0027%!

30. Timothy Geithner nomination as Secretary of Treasury was almost torpedoed when it was discovered he had failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes. He also employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. He was confirmed anyway.

31. . . . Not so lucky, Annette Nazareth, who was nominated for Deputy Treasury Secretary. She withdrew her name for undisclosed "personal reasons" after a monthlong probe into her taxes . . .
32. . . . or Caroline Atkinson, who withdrew as nominee for Undersecretary of International Affairs in Treasury Department, with a source blaming the long vetting process. Geithner still has a skeleton crew at Treasury, with no one qualified -- or willing -- to take jobs there.

The Full list is here.


Too Cool For Words.

Noteboek from Evelien Lohbeck on Vimeo.

The Crusades: myth and reality.

The Crusades issue is not so easy, after all. When correctly interpreted, it shows that there has been an over emphasis on what, on the Christian side, was wrong, negative, cruel, while what was positive and right has been kept quiet. And that Muslims and Christians did not only make wars.

It is also worth noting that several European authors claimed that not only did the Crusades era produce active intellectual exchanges between East and West in all fields of science and culture, but also that there has been direct, although discreet, contact between the spirituality of Islam and that of medieval Christian Europe, to say nothing about the supposed liaisons between Dante and the tradition of Arab mystical poetry, and between the so-called Christian “initiatory organizations” and the Sufism, which is generally understood to be the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.

More here.

California Politicians, to Citizens: It's Too Difficult to Tax You.

The state budget has jumped from $104 billion to $145 billion in less than six years, opening up an 11-figure (and technically illegal) budget gap. Spending growth has increased 6.8 percent a year under the current administration, compared to annual inflation-plus-population growth of just under 5 percent. Public sector unions dominate the political culture, fattening unstable pension programs and keeping public sector employment high. Sales taxes, income taxes, sin taxes, and various license fees have all recently been increased, and municpalities have been hiking their taxes and fees as well. And there are (insane) proposals on the table of a Democrat-led state legislature to do stuff like force resident businesses with websites–and their customers!–to pay sales tax on all e-commerce.So what's Calfornia gonna do?

Maybe launch a Constitutional make it easier to raise taxes.

More here.

Bound to Burn.

Cut to the chase. We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions—because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.

More here.

50 Years of Stupid Grammar.

Geoffery Pullum takes on Strunk and White's The Elements of Style:

It's sad. Several generations of college students learned their grammar from the uninformed bossiness of Strunk and White, and the result is a nation of educated people who know they feel vaguely anxious and insecure whenever they write "however" or "than me" or "was" or "which," but can't tell you why. The land of the free in the grip of The Elements of Style.

I have to say I completely agree. I've always thought The Elements of Style was noticeably terrible. I've always preferred The King's English by Fowler (free online copy here) or his later Modern English Usage.

The rest of Pullum's article is here.

Shoes and Nazi Bazookas.

A key part of Adidas early product line.

The German army was on the retreat on virtually all fronts, bombs were raining down on German cities and resources were running short. December 1943 marked the final blow for the town's shoe production. Hitler's regime ordered a halt to all civilian business operations, and the shoe-making machines in the Dassler Brothers' production hall were replaced with spot-welding equipment for making weapons. Before long, nearly everyone in Herzogenaurach was working for the military. The local lederhosen factory stopped making the traditional Bavarian leather shorts and, instead, started producing bread bags and rucksacks for soldiers. A nearby family business made torpedo parts for the navy.

More here.

How Can the World Be Blind to Israel’s Existential Threats?

Hamas is a terrorist organization that condones and facilitates suicide bombings and will kill every Jew on the planet if they have the chance. Meanwhile, Israel is an energetic democracy with a vibrant press. I could sit right here in Jerusalem and write bad things about Israel and Jews, and nothing would happen. Maybe I wouldn’t get invited somewhere or would be called an anti-Semite, but that would be it. Neither the Jews nor the Israelis would harm me, though they likely would write bad things about me. I came to Israel with no press accreditation and at the airport they knew that I was a writer. Yet they let me in and have allowed me to freely roam the country. Today I was in very close proximity to Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu talked about how, in this very hotel, Rehavam Ze’evi had been murdered just a few floors above our heads. The security seemed incredibly lax by American standards. Bernard Lewis and other extremely smart people were there.

Israel is a free country that abides by the rule of law. By contrast, if a writer were to go to Gaza or Iran, for instance, and start writing bad words, he might wind up on the news, dead. Israel allows Christians and Arab Muslims to worship freely, while Hamas wants to see us all at the bottom of the sea. Hamas, supported by Iran, is clear about their goals: they want to wipe out Israel completely, utterly, with finality. But it’s not just Israel that Hamas wants to kill; they want to kill all Jews everywhere. Complete genocide.

Read the whole thing.

Why Doesn’t The Stimulus Include Money For Painting Roofs And Roads White?

Readers of this blog know that I'm anthropogenic global warming skeptic. I tend to believe that whatever changes in climate we may face in the coming years, they will be caused by variations in solar output. If anything, the current decline in sunspot activity strongly suggest we are headed toward a period of global cooling. That said, I find ideas like this to be fascinating:

[P]ainting 100 square feet of roof space white offsets the effect of one ton of CO2 emissions. So an American family of four could offset their annual carbon emissions with 8000 square feet of white space. If cities around the world lightened all their roads, parking lots and roofs, it “would offset 44 gigatons of CO2 emissions” — or about 18 months worth of emissions for the entire human family. Overall, the three scientists figure their plan could delay the effects of global warming by 11 extra years.

The idea has been around for a long time three scientists have put some very compelling data behind it — and found that the effects involved are much larger than most people had figured. The findings only put more weight behind arguments like the made in a 2007 Business Week article that the money we’re spending on building solar capacity as a way to address climate change would be far more effectively spent on white paint to be splashed across WalMart rooftops and Food Lion parking lots. It’s kind of threatening to the techno-fix “someday we’ll all be tooling around in tidal-powered Hummers” mentality that often drives the debate around global warming solutions, but I haven’t seen any arguments that take on the substance of it.

More here.