Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smooth Operators

I am confused by the process that selects stories for the breaking news section of the Star's website. Currently, the top story in breaking news is that Sade is coming to town next year. What, nothing about Danny Pintauro getting a TV Role in 2010?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Billionaires Make Me Hungry

This headline from AP got me all excited for a second:
Gates, Buffett set to dine with China's rich
I read Gates, a word that looks a lot like buffet, and dine in the same sentence and I think something wonderful has happened. Turns out it's just two old rich guys having a dinner function. Damn.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coincidental Deaths

Coincidentally, I read about both of these on the same day.


Jimi Heselden, the owner of the Segway company, has died after riding one of the two-wheeled machines off a cliff and into a river.
And second:

The body of a sailor who disappeared off Jaws Beach – on an island where one of the "Jaws" movies was filmed – has been found inside the stomach of a shark.
Also coincidentally, I just watched part of Jaws this weekend.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maybe He Can

It seems the left is pretty fed up with the Prez these days. And of course, the right lost their collective heads about him some time ago. Yet, the president still has almost half of the people in the country behind him.

But what about me? I was an active campaigner for the man after all. If you ask my more conservative friends, you might understand my political persuasion as just to the left of the Chairman. On the other hand, I have some pretty liberal friends who aren't going to confuse me for a tea partier, but may not be totally convinced of my lefty bona fides. I'm certainly not middle of the road, but I'm far from an ideologue.

I figure that puts me probably in the camp of people most likely to be a firm supporter of the president. If he's lost me, he's probably in trouble I guess. Has he? Well, no. But he's not exactly wowing me either. Here's the rundown of what I think of him right now.

Healthcare - Nice job. Really. I think a lot of the left is so focused on what this Affordable Care Act isn't (national healthcare), they haven't paid any attention to what it is. That's a major step forward for those with medical needs. Take a look at this calendar from the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows what happens when in the Act.

Yes, it isn't perfect. But it's something that presidents have been trying to accomplish since the early 20th century. Now we have a start. I say that's worth something.

Climate Change - Not so good. This falls under the general category of stuff Democrats could have done if they were more concerned about the general welfare of the citizens than they were about getting reelected (which is likely going to be a problem for several anyway). The president could have stuck his neck out a little more to try and sway this debate. Some argue this could've made things worse, but I say the president is still, despite is unpopularity, the most popular politician in Washington. The most influential too. He decided to lay low on this one and it showed.

Civil Liberties - Disaster! Best I can tell, the administration recently made the claim they can assassinate U.S. citizens without due process and then keep it under wraps by declaring it a state secret. It's almost as if Dick Cheney never left.

The Economy - Well, the economy sucks. But really I don't blame the president here. The man has argued for more stimulus, but that isn't going to happen. He could have focused on it more, but I think healthcare was actually something that had a tighter window than fixing the economy (after all, everyone has an interest in fixing the economy right? Wait, don't answer that). Anyway, he hasn't magically fixed the economy, but he certainly hasn't made it worse... and he's had to battle every step of the way for what has been done.

Foreign Policy - Pretty good. The Iraq timetable was as promised. He's been aggressive in Afghanistan, and now needs a plan. But plans on Afghanistan have a long history of not working so well. So who knows? Our international relations have been better on almost all fronts, however, and that is good.

Not being the John McCain and Sarah Palin administration - A+ here. And really that is why I continue to be supportive. The president hasn't done everything I wanted him to do (and he's done some things I didn't want him to), but you always have to consider your alternatives. When you add that back in, the man has my support. But he needs to keep working if wants me to feel good about it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hockey Stick Reaffirmed

In case you still care about whether the Earth is in serious trouble, the infamous hockey stick graph has recently been exonerated by two new studies.

"The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last 1600 years."
Yeah, but who cares about that stuff anymore?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Healthcare is Expensive

Multi-part series are all the rage these days I guess. I'm glad to have them, because they actually give more than cursory look at serious issues. The latest is from The Incidental Economist blog on the topic of healthcare costs. It looks like the series could be pretty interesting, but this chart in their first post is most definitely interesting.

Yes, it makes sense for us to spend more on healthcare than everyone else. But that much more? You can see most other countries seem to have figured out similar cost structures. And, of course, we've been over before how all that extra spending has done virtually nothing to improve outcomes. This is why healthcare reform was important, and since they started with something that doesn't do much about cost, it remains important.

Via Kevin Drum.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marketing Wizards

So the Star's Dollars and Sense blog doesn't think much of the idea, but:

Now the company (KFC) is advertising its bunless Double Down non-sandwich on the bottoms of sweatpants worn by female college students. Besides wearing the branded sweatpants, the women recruited to market this stuff will pass out coupons to fellow students.
I think the Dollars and Sense blogger has let their own personal social preferences eclipse their business sense here. I mean, I don't have the market research, but I would imagine (having once been one) that college males are easily the best target demo for a sandwich in which two pieces of fried chicken form the bun of a bacon and cheese sanwich.

That being the case, I cannot imagine better advertising placement than on the backsides of college women. Faith in marketing - reaffirmed!

Not Exactly Breaking News

Kansas City is segregated.

On the bright side (I guess), we're not much worse than most other cities.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inequality II

If you read the series I mention in the last post, you'll find evidence that inequality has not always been the order of the day. In the middle of the 20th Century everyone's incomes were growing faster and the ones at the bottom were growing faster than those at the top. Since then, not so much. I missed this chart from Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their Winner-Take-All Politics that explains how things would look if the trend hadn't changed.

Via Kevin Drum.


A really, really good series on inequality that Timothy Noah wrote for Slate finished up today. It was a ten part series that covered all of the usual suspects in terms of reasons given for inequality, and then today made the case why that matters.

I would really urge you to read the whole series, but then I think inequality is a serious issue. I have a couple of friends, however, who disagree. I've had one tell me that rich people make decisions that make them rich and poor people make decisions that keep them poor. End of story. I probably don't need to point out to any of you that I think it is just a tad more complext than that.

But if you are one who things inequality is either a fact of life (a point dispelled pretty easily in the series) or simply unimportant, I'd encourage you to take this point from today's piece to heart.

The United States' economy is currently struggling to emerge from a severe recession brought on by the financial crisis of 2008. Was that crisis brought about by income inequality? Some economists are starting to think it may have been. David Moss of Harvard Business School has produced an intriguing chart that shows bank failures tend to coincide with periods of growing income inequality. "I could hardly believe how tight the fit was," he told the New York Times. Princeton's Paul Krugman has similarly been considering whether the Great Divergence helped cause the recession by pushing middle-income Americans into debt. The growth of household debt has followed a pattern strikingly similar to the growth in income inequality (see the final graph). Raghuram G. Rajan, a business school professor at the University of Chicago, recently argued on the New Republic's Web site that "let them eat credit" was "the mantra of the political establishment in the go-go years before the crisis." Christopher Brown, an economist at Arkansas State University, wrote a paper in 2004 affirming that "inequality can exert a significant drag on effective demand." Reducing inequality, he argued, would also reduce consumer debt. Today, Brown's paper looks prescient.
The last time inequality was this high in the United States was just before the Great Depression. We spent the next 40 years after working on the problem, and then spend the last 30 making it worse again. Perhaps we need to think again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Really White

If you've ever woken up on a Saturday morning read a bit of Tom Clancy, rode your Harley down to the local golf course, then watched Ghostbusters before heading out in the evening to see Van Halen in concert... then you are the whitest person you know.

At least so says Real Stuff White People Like, a post from the blog at OKCupid. The whole post is pretty funny, but it points out that white dudes loves dude rock, dude movies, and dude activities. White women basically want to get away from white dudes (but they love the Red Sox?). And other races have some pretty funny tendencies as well.

Here is the official chart for white men. Check out the rest at the post.

Via Matt Yglesias.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fantasy Football

As I do every year, I drafted a fantasy football team this year. As they do every year, my team discovered a new way to confound me. This year's twist is that they all put up great yardage but somehow figure out how to ensure none of those yards end up in the endzone. Good one team!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chiefs Prediction

Getting it in just under the wire... I'll say 7-9. Hoping for more, worried about less.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Timothy Noah has a great series going over at Slate that covers one of my favorite political topics - inequality. More to the point, it covers the growth in inequality in the U.S. over the past 3 decades. I hope to mention some specific pieces when I get a chance, but for now just go read it if you have time.

Speaking of...

Well, I know I said let's not get too excited about Mike Moustakas. I stand by that, but this baseball america report is still the best Royals news to come around in some time...

If you needed any more evidence that it was a great year for the Royals, here it is: Five of the 15 first-team all-stars figure to one day wear Kansas City blue...

C Will Myers
1B Eric Hosmer
3B Mike Moustakas
SP John Lamb
RP Tim Collins

While it is important not to get too excited about any of these guys... you have to think someone is going to pan out right? Right? Football!!!!

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