Friday, October 31, 2008

"In the face of Armageddon, I will not compromise in this"

Bush Makes Last Push to Deregulate.

Its always impressive to see people stick by their core values in the face of adversity, even when the adversity includes overwhelming empirical evidence and common sense. Allan Greenspan himself may have conceded that deregulation caused the banking crises, but Bushco stands firm in their belief in radically unfettered markets. I'd say there was a certain nobility to their doggedness, except for the fact that shit like this could get us all killed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The parable of the gift

Imagine a dude gives you a gift. I dunno what the gift is. Just imagine the most awesomest gift you can imagine. And the dude says "You totally deserve this man. Some chic gave it to me. I dunno why she gave it to me, but she said I totally deserved it."

Are you thankful to the dude? Are you thankful to the chic? Do you think, "there must be some first giver who started the chain"?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Am I Late to This Party?

Gogol Bordello is my new favorite band.

see also.

A while back I scored a bunch of good cds for a dollar each from sale by the SLU college station. Along with the CDs I bought I got like 20 free promos that people had sent to the radio station that they had no use for. I've just started listening to them now, 2 years later, and I've found some gems, including a compilation with the song "When the Trickster Starts A-poking." Now I'm all about Gogol Bordello.

Also this.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Google introduces new tool for making people look stupid

In honor of their 10th birthday, Google is letting you search their 2001 index. Fun game: Search for housing bubble. First two hits assert that the rise in home prices is sound and sustainable.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Much Coveted Helpy-Chalk Endorsements, Nov 2008 Edition.

The national offices are easy: Barack! Dennis!

State offices

Attorney General: Richard Cordray (D)

Current state treasurer. Five time Jeopardy! champion. Website full of platitudes. But I'm voting party line here. Also has union endorsements and Strickland's backing.

State Senator, 24th district: Gary Kucinich (D)

Brother of Dennis. Webpage says "Coming Soon". Leading hits for him include nearly empty entries at Dkosopedia, VoteSmart, and Political Base.

Another party line vote.

State Representative: Jennifer Brady

We get fliers about this race delivered to our door almost every day. Most are attacks on Brady's opponent, Nan Baker, using hot button accusations like "She voted for tax people for ambulance rides!" The political attacks were so generic that the only way I could figure out who was the Democrat and who was the Republican in the race was by looking at the fine print on the sponsorship of the anti-Baker fliers. Turns out they were from the SIEU, so they are on our side. The Obama campaign has also been asking us volunteers to give little shout outs to Brady. So basically Brady wins on these and other endorsements.

But what are the issues here? Brady has been behind a lot of the educational initiatives that have been shaping my worklife, including the Seniors to Sophomores program and the state tuition freeze. I have mixed feeling about those. The intent is good, but they do require my institution to do more work for less money. Quick google searches are not getting me to the bottom of the ambulance tax story.

County Level Elections

I'm going to vote party line on these. Given the paucity of quick information to be found on the statewide candidates, I don't think I'm going to do well here either.

Now for the nonpartisan offices

State board of education: Richard Javorek

Endorsed by teachers unions and the Progressive Majority. Denounces overemphasis on testing on his website. The other candidate Robin C. Hovis is an "investment representative" originally appointed to the Board of Educaiton by Republican Governor Bob Taft.

State Supreme Court Justice, race 1: Joseph Russo

Check out the issue in this race. Russo, the Democrat,
proposes that judges be required to recuse themselves from cases involving people who donated to their campaign. What, this isn't required now? Nope. Not only that, but Russo's Republican opponent is against the recusal rule. The only justification she gives for her opposition in the article sited is that such measures have not passed in other states. The NYT has reported that the entirely Republican state Supreme Court generally sides with campaign donors.

State Supreme Court Justice race 2: Peter M. Sikora

The issue here is the same as in the race above. The Republican in this race, Evelyn Stratton, is quoted in the NYT article above as saying donations from business interests are there to counterbalance the big influence of trial lawyers. She also attended more that 50 fundraisers in her last campaign. This is a judicial system? Christ electing judges is a dumb idea.

Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals: Sean Gallagher, Larry Jones, Patricia Blackmon, Kenneth Rocco.

Party line vote.

Court of Common Pleas: Micheal Russo, Nancy Fuerst, Nancy McDonnell, Brenden Sheehan, Eileen Gallagher, Nancy Russo, Timothy Flanagan, Leslie Celebreze, Anthony Russo.

These are all Democratic candidates in uncontested elections. I voted against Sheehan, Jones, and Celebreze in the primary election, that
I previously liveblogged

The website that I used for the primary judicial elections does not have guides to the general election yet. Am I voting too early?

Ok, the contested Court of Common Pleas elections

Court of Common Pleas, contested race 1: Steven J. Terry

Terry is the Democrat and gets a nice write up from the Plain Dealer.

Court of Common Pleas, contested race 2, 3,4: Lynn McClaughlin Murray, Deena R. Calabrese, and Laura J. Gallagher

Party line votes. I went against Calabrese in the primary. Looking at my decisions for these two elections, I wonder if I depend too much on endorsements for downticket races. But what other resources do I have?

Court of Common Pleas, contested race 3: Lance Mason

Mason is currently a state senator, so there is a lot of information about him out there. He gets a 100% rating for his votes the past few years from from NARAL, Ohio Conservation Voters, and PIRG. He gets an F from the NRA. A few years back the Sierra Club only gave him a 50%. His ratings from business groups vary from 42 to 100%. He used to work for Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. Meh.

Ballot initiative #1: A constitutional amendment tightening rules on getting initiatives on the ballot: Yes

This was placed on the ballot by a democratic state representative, who said he was motivated by problems the elections board had verifying signatures. Can't find much else on this. The ability of citizens to put issues on the ballot is great when handled well (Oregon) and terrible when handled badly (California). Lets go with yes.

Ballot Initiative 2: Issue bonds to conserve and revitalize lands: Yes. Ohio needs more green space.

Ballot Initiative 3: Introduce language enshrining property rights in the constitution, specifically giving landowners more control over groundwater and access to adjoining waterways: No.

As a dirty fucking hippie, I am always wary of increasing property rights. Turns out Ohio Republicans introduced this amendment in exchange for support for the Great Lakes Compact. The Great Lakes Compact is a deal between all the states and provinces around the Great Lakes not to tap any of the lakes and sell the water to Southern California or Arizona, or other uninhabitable desert when the residents there realize that whole cities are not environmentally sustainable.

In any case, property rights over groundwater usually involves someone's right to shit in the drinking supply. No to this one.

Initiative 5: To shut down the slavemaster ghetto banks payday lenders. Yes.

Initiative 6: Build a casino: No

Casino economies generate cash quick, but they aren't equitable or sustainable.

Initiative 127: Bonds for the Library: Yes.

Ta da! Democracy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

When are the electric cars rumored to come out?

These are really just notes to myself and Molly

The new Honda Insight: April 2009

The plug in Toyota Prius: 2009

Electric Mini Cooper Summer 2009

VW Golf 2010

Chevy Volt 2011

Friday, October 03, 2008

The solution to the credit crisis

Plenty of economists can brag that they saw our current financial crisis coming, but how many can say that they saw it coming in 2002 and proposed a solution at the time? Dsquared can.

In 2002 people were still worried about the bust of the dotcom stocks that had boomed in the 90s. D^2 realized that Alan Greenspan had the solution:
Basically, the solution's pretty simple and it involves screwing interest rates down to the floor until mortgage rates follow them down to Low Low Prices levels, and pointing out to the Great American Consumer that it's "Bye-Bye, Magic Stock Market Bubble Money!" but "Hello, Magic Housing Market Bubble Money!". Marvellous.
Now you might think that D^2 is here mocking Greenspan, and anticipating the current bubble bursting, but you would be wrong. D^2 sees how to take Greenspan's genius to the next level.
The problem with those curmudgeons who rant on about the "unsustainability" of asset market bubbles is that they're just not imaginative enough in thinking about what might count as an asset. So house prices might crash? So what, if 1977 Chevvy Blazers start selling for $25,000 a wheel, half of middle America will suddenly feel rich rich rich. It wouldn't even be that difficult to trigger a "classic" second hand car bubble with the right mix of tax breaks to the auto loan industry (I'm even thinking about political feasibility here!). When that one runs out of steam, we can have a bubble in baseball memorabilia! Or parking spaces! Basically anything that Americans have lots of and might be prepared to pay over the odds for. Guns, probably (particularly as in this case, intervention in the market would redistribute wealth to urban blacks and rural whites, while leaving the Fed with an armoury that it's probably going to need unless the economy gets better).

The whole fucking Beanie Baby thing proved beyond doubt that Americans have no real qualms about being manipulated into ludicrously undignified speculative bubbles if they think they might be able to get out at the top. We ought to harness this tendency for good. I'm not saying that this is a solution for the long term, but if we reckon on five years per bubble, then cars, guns, baseball and Beanies ought to last long enough for me personally to be either retired to the sunshine with a stack of gold and canned goods, or converted to pure energy and living forever on the Internet. Depending on my market timing, of course.
The man has us pegged. To honor the fact that D^2 is a genius on par with Alan Greenspan, I think we should name him an honorary "Person who has fucked Ayn Rand"