Monday, November 24, 2008

Market Meltdowns and the Wisdom of the Crowd

Instapundit ran across an interesting set of graphs from, the political futures market, the other day. They track the market's fall as Obama's politcal fortunes rose. It's an interesting analysis, wich concludes as follows:
"Call it a crisis of confidence. Call it a Fannie-inspired meltdown. Call it what you will, but the markets appear to have reacted to Obama's promises of economic "fairness", "spreading the wealth" and raising taxes on the job creators of society.

This thinly disguised form of class warfare, the policies of which many have termed socialism (fairly or unfairly), has had a definite impact on the markets.

The markets represent the ultimate collective intelligence engine on the planet.

The markets have spoken on the stated policies of Barack Obama.

Sorry, folks, there are no do-overs."
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Is Almost Here - It's Chestnut Soup Time

I posted the recipe for Chestnut Soup a couple of years back. It is my favorite soup. I always make this for Thanksgiving and often for Christmas dinner too. Well, it's that time of year again, so it's time to roast some chestnuts!
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Evidence That "Gun-Free" Zones Actually Attract Killers

Cincinnati station WCPO reporter Brendan Keefe ran this story about gun free zones and their attractiveness to "active killers," e.g., the kind of killers that go into a place like a school or a post office and kill a number of people before ultimately turning their weapons on themselves. It seems they actually seek out these designated gun-free zones for their crimes because they are pretty much assured their victims will be defenseless.
The other statistic that emerged from a study of active killers is that they almost exclusively seek out "gun free" zones for their attacks.

In most states, concealed handguns are prohibited at schools and on college campuses even for those with permits.

Many malls and workplaces also place signs at their entrances prohibiting firearms on the premises.

Now tacticians believe the signs themselves may be an invitation to the active killers. The psychological profile of a mass murderer indicates he is looking to inflict the most casualties as quickly as possible.

Also, the data show most active killers have no intention of surviving the event.

They may select schools and shopping malls because of the large number of defenseless victims and the virtual guarantee no on the scene one is armed.

As soon as they're confronted by any [my emphasis] armed resistance, the shooters typically turn the gun on themselves.
Trying to protect people by designating a place as gun-free makes sure that the only people who don't have guns are the people who are law-abiding/rules following in the first place and is no deterrent at all to someone bent on mayhem.

A couple of the commenters chided the reporter for referring to his sources in generalities. In the comments he responds by naming his experts and providing links to his data sources.

(via Instapundit and Arms & the Law)
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Monday, November 17, 2008

No Bailout for the Big 3

Powerline has a post this morning arguing against the bailout of the Big 3 auto makers that puts the issue in perspective. Giving them $25 billion would be throwing good money after bad. It's time for Chapter 11. Only if the auto makers can get rid of their crushing legacy costs will they have a chance to recover. A bailout will just delay the inevitable.
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The Case for Global Warming Looks Shakier All the Time

Via Tim Blair we have this latest screw-up by NASA's James Hansen.
"This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year."
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mark Steyn Is Back

Mark Steyn had been on hiatus for a while but now appears to be back with his regular weekly column in the Orange County Register. This one is about the election, of course.
"While few electorates consciously choose to leap left, a couple more steps every election, and eventually societies reach a tipping point. In much of the West, it's government health care. It changes the relationship between state and citizen into something closer to pusher and junkie."
Need I say it? Read the whole thing.
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama is the Wrong Choice

How much more evidence does anyone need?

This guy does not have America's interests at heart.

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Why Incentives Matter

The Instapundit posted a link yesterday to an article in the Wall Street Journal about younger Japanese workers refusing promotions. It's a good article but the second update to Glenn's original post is what I find most interesting. A reader wrote:

"It's not just Japan. I work for one of the big 3 aerospace/defense companies at a Los Angeles area location, and though I wouldn't say it's nearly as evident as in Japan, young workers in our industry are asking the same questions. We have no hope of achieving the same standard of living as the droves of retiring Boomers and Silents, and the 2% raise differential afforded by a promotion simply isn't enough of an incentive to work 20-30% more hours a week.

If the industry paid overtime, or offered significant bonuses to rank and file employees (bonuses are only available to upper management), a lot of young engineers would respond enthusiastically. In fact, we've asked the company to do these things in recent employee forums. We'd all like to buy homes in the area and raise families here, but the older workers own all the real estate, and most of us assume that we'll give things a few years, but get out of the area once we need to settle down. It's simply too expensive to live in a metro area like L.A. Since the incentive structure doesn't offer us hope of achieving the same lifestyle as the older employees, we don't see much reason to devote our lives to these companies. As I said, the 2% differential doesn't make a whole lot of difference, so why bother with the extra stress?"

Having once lived in LA and later the San Francisco Bay area, I know exactly what he means. I could never have hoped to buy property in either of those areas for pretty much the same reason and when the time came to leave the area, I did so with mixed feelings. I was sad about leaving behind the friends my wife and I had made but also enormously relieved by the significant decrease in the cost of living, tax burden and all the other ways California has of nickel-and-diming one to death (and don't get me started on the rampant nanny-statist tendencies).

The other point the reader/commenter made was about the reasons for lack of loyalty to the company. I have only made significant improvements to my income by being willing to change employers (and to move where the jobs are). It's not that I disliked working for some of them but a matter of pragmatism. They were looking out primarily for their own self interest. I had to be responsible for looking out for mine.
That's the way it should be. Waiting for the company, or the government to notice your income isn't keeping up with the cost of living, and then actually be willing to do something about it, is a recipe for a stagnant standard of living. You make your own "luck."
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