Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Claire: You two spoke over the Internet for two weeks, divulging personal intimate details. You leave out the fact that you're under three feet tall. Do you think that's honest?
Bethany: Look at him. Did I get Mel Gibson?
[Denny makes a pose]
Bethany: Maybe I did.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: I love dwarves! I was actually hoping you'd be one.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Jeffrey: By the way, you are?
Denise: Drop dead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

ffrey: Standing real close. It's okay. I'm a personal guy myself. As a matter of fact, I like to talk to people directly and not read their reports. That is why I went to see the coroner. Chatty little fella. Okay, that's a little too close now.
Jonathan Winant: Here's the deal.
Jefrey: I love deals!
Jonathan Winant: ... ... Do I make myself clear?
Jeffrey: You do. And if you think I've broken the law, arrest me. And insist on it. You're staring. That's cause you can't think of anything to say or Richmond told you that works. You know, when my mind goes blank, I just like to go with my old standby which is, of course,' Go screw yourself. Do I need to include instructions with that?' Everybody gives me the look.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

CO2 Facts

Meteorologist Brian Sussman points out the insanity of the "Climate Change" crowd, convinced that the "debate" is over and that we're all going to die unless we make drastic, large scale and expensive modifications to modern civilization. Yes, between the years 1970 and 1998 there was a small upward temperature trend of .34 degrees F. Since that time? Not so much - in fact all of the observed warming has since been reversed over the last decade.

Here's some of the facts about carbon dioxide:

"All of these insane moves by the government are being imposed upon us because of carbon dioxide -- which is not a problem. CO2 accounts for less than 4/10000ths* of our planet's atmosphere (.00036%). And what percentage of the miniscule amount of CO2 is produced by human activity, including the utilization of fossil fuels? According to a thorough analysis by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center -- a research wing of the U.S. Department of Energy -- only 3.207% -- all of this global whining over an atmospheric component so tiny, it is difficult to comprehend.

Allow me to repeat this critical fact:

Carbon dioxide comprises less than 4/10000ths of the earth atmosphere and of that amount, a mere 3% is generated by mankind. And how much has CO2 increased in the atmosphere over the past 150 years? Approximately 35%. A 35% increase and still the gas comprises less than 4/10000ths of earth's atmosphere."

Sussman also raises another disturbing and incredibly salient fact. The largest component of all greenhouse gasses is not carbon dioxide, but water vapor. Water vapor is responsible for 95% of the greenshouse effect. Yes, it's true - water vapor composes all but 5% of greenhouse gasses. We also know water vapor as humidity, which we experience in spades during the summers here in Nebraska. Humid air tends to hold in heat, and its a real benefit that it does so or the Earth would likely be a frozen mudball devoid of life. Here's Sussman's kicker:

"Curiously, research I culled from the Department of Energy fails to list water vapor as a greenhouse gas. This is incredibly disingenuous, given that, in reality, water vapor is the 600 pound gorilla in the greenhouse. After water vapor, the remaining five percent of the greenhouse gases are, in order of concentration: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and a variety of other minor gases, including ozone, carbon monoxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. However -- stay with me here -- it must be noted that methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 when it comes to retaining the sun's heat, and nitrous oxide is 310 times more effective than CO2. Carbon dioxide is actually a puny player in the greenhouse game."

He goes on to calculate the effect human activity has on just the non-water sources of the greenhouse effect as 2.33%, accounting for the individual concentrations and potencies of the other greenhouse gases. He then does the math including water vapor, reducing the effect to .117% - just over one tenth of one percent. And for all this we are being asked to give up fossil fuels, fork over mountains of cash for "sustainable/renewable energy sources" and radically change our lifestyles.

I'm not sure there has been a larger hoax in the history of mankind with the possible exception of organized religion.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denise: [to Shirley about Jeffrey] Excuse me, but did you say this man is a partner?
Jeffrey: She did. I could be your partner.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nuclear Power Overseas

William Tucker of The American Spectator reports that while the US nucelar industry is moribund, it's full speed ahead overseas. Sad to say, but the one remaining domestic manufacturer of nuclear technology (GE) does the vast majority of their business in foreign lands.

"GE, the last man standing from the earlier nuclear era, now does most of its business in partnership with Hitachi. Newcomers such as Hyperion are blazing a trail by building miniature reactors (60 megawatt as opposed to the standard 1,000). But the horrible truth remains that, if there is a nuclear renaissance going on in the world, it is happening mostly outside our borders, pioneered by companies that never were or are no longer American."

France's widepread adoption of nuclear power has it paying the lowest electrical rates in Europe, and has it posiitoned as a leading energy exporter within Europe, and importing half the natural gas that Germany and Britain do from Russia. Finland is busy building the first new reactor in Europe in twenty years, an dFranc eis building an identical plant. Sweden has reneged on its 1980 pledge to shut down its reactors by 2010, and Intaly has announced plans to build new reactors as well. Bulgaria and the Baltic states have also announced plans for new reactors.

Outside Europe, the UAE and the Saudis are looking to build plants, Japan has 55 reactors producing 30% of its electricity and building a huge 1300 megawatt plant, South Korea is aiming to reach French percentage levels of nuclear electrity production and has 11 new reactors being constructed and Taiwan has four plants producing 20% of its electrical power. China has 21 plants in the planning stage and India expects to build 18 to 20 stations over the next 15 years.

While there are 28 Amercian plants being planned, many of the suppliers are now foreign, such as steel reactor core vessel maker Japan Steel Works or Toshiba, which purchased one time GE rival Westinghouse in 2006. The fears of nuclear power in this country and the idiocy surrounding "nuclear waste" has withered the American manufacturing base for nuclear power to the point it has - there is definitely work to be had in the industry and it's sorry to say these jobs won;t be filled by American workers.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan: Hello.
Claire: I know who you are. You're a little horny toad. Horny toads give me warts. Hop away, horny toad.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CROWS

Too freakin cool to be believed. Strategy page outlines the advent fo the CROWS remote controlled turrent gunner system, which came into play abvout three years ago. We now have remote controlled turret guns on many of our military vehicles today, and the young people assigned to control them are actually quite adept at using them due to the fact they grew up playing vidoe games. Even better, by withdrawing the availalbe targets from the top of the vehicle, the bad guys tend to get a bit disheartened, even going so far as to describe the system as "American magic".

"The remote turret tends to begin delivering accurate fire right away, and is much more immune to enemy fire than a human gunner. If the vehicle is a Stryker, the enemy will soon find themselves dealing with half a dozen or so heavily armed infantry, who get out of the vehicle and come at the ambushers. Iraqis don't like that. They also don't like how some of the CROWS turret equipped vehicles will come after them. All those accurately aimed bullets coming their way, and no enemy soldiers in sight, is demoralizing."

CROWS costs aobut $26k per vehicle, can be outfitted with either a M2.50 cal MG (good 'ol Ma Deuce), a MK19 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, a M240B 7.62mm machine-gun or a M249 5.56mm squad automatic weapon, any of which could totally ruin your day if you're on the receiving end. So far, the Army has ordered over 9000 of the systems.

Asia Ascendent?

Jens F. Laurson & George A. Pieler talk about the economic crisis and point out that economics is not a zero sum game - and they believe Asia stands as the most likely to benefit from the retrenchment likely across the European and North American economic zones.

"Absent coercion, economic activity is by definition for mutual benefit, and the more people benefit, the greater the benefit. It works almost like a perpetuum mobile, except better. The more money and goods flow, the more wealth is created in the process. If economics were a car you might say: the faster you go, the more quickly your tank must fill."

As they correctly point out, the President-elect appears poised to declare winners and losers, with more regulation, higher taxes, and more protectionism. Such behaviors in the polical sphere are likely to extend the suffering. Higher taxes on capitla, energy, and interference in corporate decisonmaking through a European style industrial policy enforced through regulatory environmentla restricitons are in the offing.

Asia stands to benefit from its already lower production costs, less intrusive rgualtory environment (think India/South Korea/Taiwan more so than China) and rising domestic consumerism. Interesting parallel thoughts to those who have already declared the 21st century to inevitably be the Asian century. Of course, the US stands to benefit from its developing and increasingly close strategtic and trade partnership with India, and the new administration will eventually after either four or eight years, go the way all administrations go. It will be interesting to see how the centrists in the cabinet react to the stated policy proposals of our new chief executive.

Boston Legal Quotes

Claire: This is abusive. Making me leave New York. I'm gonna call my parents and tell them I'm being abused.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Big Three Bailout

Larry explains why the bailout negotiations for the Detroit auto industry failed. The plan put together by Senator Bob Corker likely would have worked, but he asked the union to restructure their contracts to match that of the average foreing onwed firms, but the union would not agree to any date in 2009, instead insisting that the existing contracts stay in place until 2011 when thye expire.In effect, the UAW beleived it would get a better deal after the new Senate convenes.

"If the Detroit carmakers are in dire straits, going broke in two weeks, right now in late 2008, how can the UAW wait until 2011 to make its concessions? The financial problem is today, not two years from today. The threat of liquidation, with perhaps a few million autoworker, supplier, and car-dealer jobs lost, is today's threat, not a 2011 threat. So what's the UAW waiting for?

That's easy. Gettelfinger is waiting for President Obama and a Senate with 58 Democrats. He also was playing a game of bluff with President George W. Bush. He knew Bush had $15 billion of TARP money ready to go, meaning the TARP was Gettelfinger's trump card. The tough-minded union leader never believed the White House would let GM sink and possibly force millions of job losses in the middle of a recession."

If the union had appproved of the plan, it is thought the Senate would have passed the ligislation with as many as 90 votes. What is interesting is the impact the negotiations have had on the image recognition of Senator Corker, a former businessman in the construction industry. He got a lot of credit from both sides of the aisle for putting such a solid plan together, and he may wind up being the big political winner out of all these events.

Boston Legal Quotes

Claire: Who do we complain to here? The old people?
[Paul and Shirley get wide-eyed]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Canadian Political Crisis

Great article at Maclean's explaining how the recent Canadian political crisis went down. Canda held elections quite recently in October, in which the Conservative party won a plurality and formed a minority government in their Parliament headed by Stephen Harper. Canada has three other major politcal parties, the Liberals (for many long years the most powerful Canadian party), the New Democrats (NDP) and the separatist Quebec party which often promotes the province's independence from the larger nation. Harper brought down the wrath of all three parties by proposing the end of party subsidies from government funds (based on the number of votes received from the last election). The Conservatives raise much more of their campaign funding from private sources than the other parties, so this caused the Liberals in particular to feel threatened.

The crisis erupted just a month after the election as the NDP and Liberals conspired to overthrow the Conservatives by threatening to bring a no confidence vote against Harper and form a coalition government of their own. However, the two parties alone would not have a majority in Parliament - only by including the Quebec faction would they succeed, and that may have proved their downfall. With some deft political manuevering, Harper managed to survive by having the Canadian Governor-General (Canadian Head of State) temporarily suspend Parliament. The failure of the move hastened the demise of former Liberal leader Stephon Dion and led to ascension of new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. It may have also exposed the NDP (led by Jack Layton) to permanent second rate status. The magazine sums up the article thusly:

"Whatever the outcome, the parties and their leaders all look different now. Harper survived into 2009 only through improvisation, occasional demagoguery, and constitutional brinksmanship. His reputation for strategic savvy is permanently damaged, as might be his party’s prospects among Quebecers who don’t view the Bloc as fair game for demonization. He still has only a minority, and now faces opposition leaders who distrust and dislike him, and long to humble him, more than ever. His advantage in facing Dion, a lame duck, is suddenly lost. Ignatieff might be tougher.

Layton’s long-standing behind-the-scenes interest in coalitions and co-operation with other parties is now out in the open. That will make it hard for him to claim in any future campaign, as he did in the last one, that he’s really “running for prime minister.” The distinction between New Democrat and Liberal aims is clouded, perhaps diluting the NDP brand. As for Ignatieff, he now takes over the Liberal helm, not after a bracing victory in a conventional leadership race, but through a rushed process that didn’t allow normal democratic input from his party’s members. He will have to struggle to validate his claim on the party’s heart."

Very interesting to see how things will turn out, Harper has bought himself some time until the end of January and it would not surprise me to see another election up north real soon. Opinion polling during the crisis appeared to indicate considerable suppport for the conservative government, with some 70% of Canadians disapproving of the Liberal/NDP consiracy.

Arms Control Treaties

Stuart Koehl at the Weekly Standard takes a look at the latest trend from the peacenik crowd - a proposal toward the banning of cluster bombs. 100 nations signed such a treaty in Oslo recently. Cluster munitions are small bomblets that are delivered by larger delivery systems such as an artillery round or rocket, aircraft bomb or cruise missile, and can be quite sophisticated (such as an infared heat seeking warhead designed to penetrate and destroy enemy tanks) or something relatively straighforward, comparable to a hand grenade. Koehl explains what is seen as the issue:

"It is the simpler type of cluster bomb which has given the nervous nellies of the international humanitarian community the willies, mainly because the earlier versions of anti-personnel submunitions had a high dud rate (upwards of 30 percent in some instances) but remained armed and dangerous for years afterwards, creating a hazard for livestock and civilians who might accidentally tread upon them or innocently pick them up."

Not good, and I'd agree that there are issues with such weapons; however, on the flip side, there is this little nugget. There is great military utility to these weapons, as they are a very useful and lethal way of killing entrenched bad guys, as those little bombs roll into their trenches. Such weapons proved extremely useful in the Gulf Wars and the Israeli conflict with Hezbollah. The big problem with the treaty is it treats all such weapons as the same, and there are significant differences in the stockpiles of nations that produce them. The US stocks, for instance, doesn't have the problem of leftover munitions as the bomblets are self-sanitizing and deactivate themselves after a few hours time. Such smaller munitions often actually allow for more precision in dropping the bad guys and reduce collatoral damage to buildings and the people in them, really a good thing when there are civilians in the area.

Keohl points out the technical side of the equation, pointing out that if you don't use lots of little bombs to get the job done, you've got to use a really big one:

"Submunitions were developed because unitary munitions are very inefficient: most of their blast and fragmentation effect is directed outward from the point of impact, which means that the lethal radius increases only as the cube root of weapon yield. Thus, a 500-lb bomb can create a crater some 25 meters across and can destroy soft targets in the open out to several hundred meters, but a 1000-lb bomb gets you only less than 100 meters more lethal radius for a doubling of the weight. At the point of impact, a unitary weapon produces massive overkill--but the effect falls off rapidly as one moves away from the point of detonation. Submunitions, in contrast, disperse uniformly over a large area. While each submunition has a rather limited blast effect (most dual-purpose submunitions weigh about 1-2 kg), because several hundred are sewn over an area of several hundred meters, the entire area has a uniformly high kill probability."

A 1000 pounder does the neighborhood really no good. Koehl says the issue reminds him of the landmine issue, which is admittedly another problem, but he also points out that it isn't one to which 9again) the US contributes. It's the irresponsible use of mines by aggressor states and their terrorist clients that are causing all the problems with civilian casualties. In a modern tactical sense, mines are very useful items to have around your perimeter to slow the enemy or to constrain the movement of the whatever bad guys you might be facing into prepared areas where you can pour down the thunder on them. Mines are probably one of the major items in preventing a renewal of the Korean War, making it very difficult for Dr. Poofy Hair's half million man army from re-invading the South. As the author puts it:

"Instead of banning mines, the international community should look to real cause of civilian mine casualties--the use of mines by unlawful combatant groups that don't care about civilian casualties anyway (I include the Soviet Union among these unlawful combatants, since they deployed in Afghanistan mines that were designed to look like children's toys), and the use of mines by badly trained armies that do not follow the well established procedures for laying minefields, including marking the extent of the fields, drawing diagrams of the fields so that they may be traversed, and removing the mines once their tactical utility has ended. We do all of those things; most of our enemies do not. Technology is helping to reduce the potential for civilian casualties due to "lost" mines. As with submunitions, most of our mines now have electronic fuses that operate off a battery with a very limited life. When the battery dies, the mine becomes inert. You would really have to work hard to set one off after that point. Since mines can be made from just about anything (the VC used a wooden box, a lump of C4 plastic explosive, a 7.62mm rifle cartridge and a nail), banning mines will really only affect Western standing armies, which for the most part use their mines in a responsible manner. It does nothing at all to inhibit people like al Qaeda, Hamas, or Hezbollah, who can always make their own, minus all the safety features."

Yet another empty gesture by the feel good crowd that accomplishes no real benefit to anyone and makes them feel morally superior and able to lecture the big boys, most of whom will just ignore them anyway. China, Russia, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Brazil, along with the US, didn't sign the treaty.

Boston Legal Quotes

Claire: Okay, before we start, I want it on the record that I am very uncomfortable deposing a dwarf.
Bethany: What's that supposed to mean?
Claire: It means I'm uncomfortable. I don't need any victims rights groups picketing outside my condo. Not to mention the fact you obviously have deep psychological issues to accept any date with a seventy-two year old man, let alone...
[stares at Denny]
Claire: Him.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coach Pelini's Six Strengths

Sam McKewon reviews the first year of the Pelini regime and also finds six strengths or items of note to the new Husker leader and his team.

First, while the team often started slowly, falling behind 113-98 in the opening quarter, the defense made adjustments (an idea Kevin Cosgrove should adopt for certain) and allowed the offense to spark some furious come from behind efforts including wins against Baylor and Colorado as well as a near misses versus Virginia Tech and Texas Tech. This was something almost entirely lacking in the Callahan years other than the lone come from behind win against A & M in 2006.

Secondly, Pelini's defensive philosophy appears tailored well to the current times, with a defensive scheme designed to compete with the plethora of spread offenses, one in which the base defense doesn't have to substitute against offensive personnel packages.

"Pelini wants a fast, agile defense, one durable and flexible enough to withstand offensive personnel changes from play to play without making its own. Pelini was forced to use a whole array of packages and players in 2008, calling on guys like Matt Holt and Matt May, linebackers in safeties’ bodies, to attack spread offenses. Long term, Pelini wants two dominant safeties, active linebackers and a couple heroes in the interior defensive line. This how the great college defenses are generally built today, with a back seven who can cover and tackle in space, with two shortish fireplugs down low."

Darren over at Big Red Network has also noted the DT recruits being pursued appear to be short and thick types, while the defensive backs are tall guys who can run with the big wideouts prevalent throughout the conference. Four of the five DB commits for 2009 are over 6 foot. He also noted that NU is pursuing kids from big time high school programs that are used to winning.

Thirdly, McKewon sees that Pelini doesn't throw the kids or other coaches under the bus after a loss, he takes the heat himself, which is a nice change from the previous regime. Watson appears to have the same attitude, telling reporters after the CU game he made a "stupid call" when Ganz was sacked to set up the third and 25 that led to the 57 yd FG from Alex Henery to win the game.

Next he addresses the impact hire of S & C Coach Jim Dobson from Iowa, which has led to a much trimmer squad able run and swarm to the ball on defense. Quick, lean and athletic with explosiveness is the new watchword in Lincoln. Another major change noted is in "saving for the future" and not burning players redshirts for special teams play or a particular opponent. (The loss of LB Lance Brandenburg's eligibility due to a handful of special teams plays five years ago still burns particularly bright in many minds.)

Last, he covers the fact that Pelini "gets it" when it comes to the peculiar and unique fan base that comprises the Husker Nation, and the obvious comraderie that exists between Pelini and his staff and the rest of the university's sports coaches, such as Doc Sadler, Mark Manning and John Cook.

"Making allies comes easily for Pelini. He might be better at it than Tom Osborne was, to be honest. Inter-departmental relationships are not a small thing, folks.
Former athletic director Steve Pederson flunked that part of the exam and nobody, outside his coaching staff, really seemed to know Callahan. Pelini stops at a local coffee shop nearly every morning before he drops his kids off for school, signs autographs, orders his drinks – you know, the regular people stuff. Those little details are the glue that helps makes a football coach an institution, and not just the richest public employee in the state."

Such little things go a long ways towards creating an atmosphere of trust and admiration with his customers (us fans) all across the state. Callahan certainly didn't understand it. Bo most certainly does, and has already achieved near cult status because of it.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan: To next season, my friend.
Denny: Same night?
Alan: God, I hope.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: Yes your honor, he gets me off, I get him off.
Alan: We're like flamingos.
Denny: Don't ask, don't tell.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

3 European Undergrads Discover Planet

via Livescience, the satory of 3 Dutch undergradate students that have discovered a planet, and a mightly unique one as it it the first to be discoverdd orbiting around a fast rotating star and is also the hottest star (at 12,000 degrees F) ever found to have a planet.

"It is exciting not just to find a planet, but to find one as unusual as this one; it turns out to be the first planet discovered around a fast-rotating star, and it's also the hottest star found with a planet," said one of the planet's discoverers, Meta de Hoon of Leiden University in The Netherlands. The other Leiden-student team members included Remco van der Burg and Francis Vuijsje."

The planet called OGLE2-TR-L9b, is around 5 Jupiter masses and orbits the star devery 2 1/2 days, and was found by the transit method (measuring the slightly detectable drop in light as the planet passes in front of its parent star). It is extremely close to its star, only .03 astronomical units. Their discovery was confirmed by the European Space Agency's VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile.

Very cool achievement for these young people.

Buffalo Bulls and Turner Gill

Late congrats to the the MAC champion Buffalo Bulls and their Head Coach, former Husker QB and coach Turner Gill. Buffalo, winners of only 10 games in the seven seasons previous to hiring Gill, went 8-5 this year to win its first conference title. Facing previously unbeaten Ball St and given little chance to win the game, Buffalo forced four turnovers, inlcuding two fumble recoveries for TDs, to defeat the Cardinals 42-24.

"The Bulls (8-5) capped the program's first bowl-eligible season since joining college football's top tier of teams in 1999. Buffalo athletic director Warde Manuel said the school accepted an invitation to play in Toronto's International Bowl.

"To have the game an hour and a half away is a reward for our fans," coach Turner Gill said.

Manuel said members of Buffalo's 1958 team will join the current program on the trip because they turned down a chance to play in the Tangerine Bowl because their black players wouldn't have been able to participate.

"The 1958 team deserves a bowl experience," Manuel said.

Gill is supposedly under consideration for the open head coaching gigs at both Syracuse and Auburn, and is one of only four black head coaches at the BCS level (OWH story here). Gill faced a great deal of skepticism in interviewing for head jobs after leaving NU due to the fact he had never served as a coordinator, but the Buffalo AD (also black) took a flyer on the former NU star, who was the the Green Bay Packers of the NFL as Player Director after leaving NU under Bill Callahan. Also of note is the great job former NU LB/DE Jimmie Williams is doing as Gill's DC.

Boston Legal Quotes

Judge Sanders: Mr. Shore! The court instructed you not to poop!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Recession Started in 2007?

Randall Hoven @ The American Thinker questions the NBER's calling of the last two recessions, using their own data and definitions. The NBER is the "official" body responsible for announcing recessions.

"The rule of thumb for defining a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative real growth in GDP. This is now the second recession called by the NBER in the two terms of President George W. Bush, yet in neither case were there two such consecutive quarters. In fact, at no time in Bush's Presidency were there two such quarters.

Of all 11 NBER-called recessions since 1947, only one other involved no two consecutive quarters of negative real growth. That was the recession of April 1960 to February 1961. However, that recession involved one quarter with significant negative growth, -5.1% annualized, and a cumulative -1.0% growth for a whole year."

Neither the 2001 or 2007 recession had two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and both had year to year gains (Q4 2000 to Q4 2001, +.2%, Q3 2007 to Q3 2007, +.7%). In all other nine recessions since WW2, there was at least in quarter of year over year negative growth.

The NBER actually assignes the start of the 2001 recession in March, yet the first quarter of negative growth (-.5%) was actually in Q3 2000, under President Clinton. Yet the same figure in March under President Bush is called the beginning of the recession. The Q4 2007 number is better (-.2%) yet, but that is also a recession. ???

Hoven takes a quick look at unemployment figures, yet the 4.3% number from March 2001was better than every month of the Clinton presidency before March 1999. The December 2007 number of 5.0% actually improved over the next two months, and UE was still 5.0% in April 2008. But the NBER still calls it a recession, even though UE never dropped under 5.0% under Clinton until May 1997 - without a recession.

NBER says it also looks at the "income side". Hoven examines Disposable Personal Income (DPI) numbers in late 2000 and ealry 2001, and finds another curious result. Three of the last four months of 2000, DPI declined, but no recession. Yet in the first three months of 2001, DPI increased, and it was (supposedly) a recession. Strikes one as a bit odd, don't you think? Hoven looked at all the numbers from 1947 forward, and here's what he found.

"That is, without trying really hard, using real GDP data easily available from the St. Louis Fed only, and programming simple rules in a spreadsheet, I was able to match 9 of the 11 NBER-called recessions, with no false alarms and with, at most, one quarter mis-match in timing. The only two exceptions in any of this? The two recessions under George W. Bush."

Interesting. And as Hoven points out, there is no real transparency in how the committee determines recession, only "rules of thumb", which apparently in the case of the last President, don't really apply.

Boston Legal Quotes

A.D.A. Kupfer: Mr. Shore, I hope one day to speak at your funeral.

Friday, December 05, 2008

US-India Partnership

Investor's Business Daily has a good article on the growing strategic partnership between the US and the world's largest democracy, India. The article points out that not only Secretary of State Rice visited India last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen was in Islamabad talking to the Pakistani government, underscoring the criticality of the region to US interests.

"The entire picture shows something that isn't well-known: India is not just an ally but now a top ally in what the State Department calls a "priority relationship" with the U.S. It's bound to be good for the U.S., and may amount to a worthy end to the war on terror.

"I believe that this partnership will be for the 21st century one of the most important partnerships that our country, the United States, has with any country around the world," former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in a 2007 speech. "I would wager that in 20 or 30 years time, most Americans will say that India is one of our two or three most important partners worldwide."

This "natural alliance" started with the private sector, eventually tilting U.S. strategic interests toward India. In 1991, India opened its economy to the world, cutting tariffs and bureaucracy, and luring investment and talent. U.S.-India trade, $5 billion in 1991, hit $42 billion in 2007. The result: double-digit economic growth, a new consumer market and a billion people with a stake in peace."

While President Clinton visited India in 2000, it has been the Bush administration, in particular Secretary Rice, that has evolved the diplomatic relationship with the end of nuclear sanction in 2005 and the 2006 civilian nuclear agreement. The partnership also has a natural strategic focus given the issues found in neighboring Pakistan. With the inclusion of a major regional power like India in the war on terrorism, it become far less US centric and has the potential to shift the global perception toward one of simply defending the concept of free market democracies.

Secondly, in strategic terms it allows the US to maintain its military naval focus on the Atlantic and Pacific regions while allowing India to exert its growing strength in its home waters of the Indian Ocean, all the while keeping important trade routes open being in the interest of both countries as well as the world at large.

Boston Legal Quotes

[Discussing a case concerning cannibals]
Shirley: Because this case is disgusting, it's distasteful, it's repugnant...
Alan: Everything I stand for.
Shirley: I'll drive.
Alan: Shirley, is this about getting in a room with me?
Shirley: [sarcastically] Yes, Alan, I went out and recruited a cannibal just to get close to you.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Husker BB Still Undefeated

Doc Sadler's crew is still undefeated after winning 80-51 over Alabama State last night. NU hit 14 of 25 from 3-land (56%) and had a season high scoring effort with a nicely balanced attack.

"Steve Harley scored 16 points to lead four Huskers in double figures. Toney McCray scored 12, and Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry had 11 apiece. Miller and Paul Velander had nine apiece."

NU also had a season high in assists with 23 with only 11 turnovers. Huskers also outrebounded the far bigger St squad 35-28. Doc was also happy with the team's hustle and effort throughout the contest.

“It’s easy to get on the floor for a loose ball if it’s a two- or three-point ball game,” Sadler said. “But when we were up 25 or 30, we had two or three guys on the floor every time on a loose ball. I mean, guys, that’s a coach’s dream, and that’s the way these guys have been all year.”

Next up for NU is at #19 Arizona St.

Liberty on the Move?

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welsch examine the Libertarian movement and how far things have progresses in America since the party's founding in 1971. At that point, President Nixon was imposing wage and price controls on key sectors of the economy. But just around the corner was deregulation, free agency in sports, the beginnings of the computer age, including the Internet, and eventually the fall of Communist Europe. And while things may appear to a bit gloomy today, there is hope for optimism.

"We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment, the dawning not of some fabled, clich├ęd, and loosey-goosey Age of Aquarius but a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives, from 401(k)s to hot and cold running coffee drinks, from life-saving pharmaceuticals to online dating services. This is now a world where it’s more possible than ever to live your life on your own terms; it’s an early rough draft version of the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s glimmering “utopia of utopias.” Due to exponential advances in technology, broad-based increases in wealth, the ongoing networking of the world via trade and culture, and the decline of both state and private institutions of repression, never before has it been easier for more individuals to chart their own course and steer their lives by the stars as they see the sky. If you don’t believe it, ask your gay friends, or simply look who’s running for the White House in 2008."

Their point is that free markets have been adopted nearly world-wide as the best way to organize the economy, and democratic government is generally seen as the least objectionable form of political organization. The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom has seen only global increases in its ratings for over a decade now. Best of all, even if they've never heard of the term, the effect the Internet has had on world youth has been effectively, well, Libertarian. The world is becoming more free, more prosperous, and despite the best efforts of the radical Islamic movement, war and violence is actually declining globally.

The authors believe it is only a matter of time before the freedoms we are experiencing in economic and artistic matters express themselves in the form of politicla movements, and they could be correct. It is certainly an interesting take on current events and trends.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan: Excuse me, I realize you're new to this office but we have a zero-tolerance policy here when it comes to sexual harassment.
Claire: Ha! [points to Denny] Tubby over there groped me when I came off the elevator.
Alan: Did he grunt as he groped? Because I found as long as he's not grunting you're perfectly fine.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

[Melissa walks in on Alan and Marlene having sex in the photocopying room]
Alan: We're developing pictures.
Marlene: We're photography buffs.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Plate Tectonics Earlier Than Thought

via Astrobiology, news of research into Earth's ancient past appears to indicate the presence of water and the geophysics of the plate tectonic system far earlier than previous estimates. New analysis by UCLA geochemists of extremely early forming zircon chrystals found in ancient magma fields show that the chrystals formed at a much lower temperature than can be explained without the presence of water. Furthermore, the evidence seems to indicate that the crystals could not have formed anywhere but in a subduction zone, where colliding tectonic seafloor plates move underneath the continental plates.

"We are proposing that there was plate-tectonic activity in the first 500 million years of Earth's history," said geochemistry professor Mark Harrison, director of UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and co-author of the Nature paper. "We are reporting the first evidence of this phenomenon."

"Unlike the longstanding myth of a hellish, dry, desolate early Earth with no continents, it looks like as soon as the Earth formed, it fell into the same dynamic regime that continues today," Harrison said. "Plate tectonics was inevitable, life was inevitable. In the early Earth, there appear to have been oceans; there could have been life — completely contradictory to the cartoonish story we had been telling ourselves."

The crystal analysis was done by an ion microprobe, which shoots beams of ions into a substance to determine its precise chemical composition by means of a mass spectrometer. The analysis of the zircon samples found in Western Australia showed ages exceeding 4 billion years. The accepted theories of plate tectonics had the system starting much more recently, no more than 3.5 billion years ago. The Earth is thought to have formed around 4.5 billion years from today.

Boston Legal Quotes

Marlene: Brad, did you hear? Denise is getting married.
Brad: [to Denise] Really?
Denise: I was going to tell you.
Marlene: Sometimes it's easier to hear it from a third party.
[Denise attempts to hit Marlene, but she ducks as Denise's arm flies past]
Marlene: [emotionless] That could've hit me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Primary Election Process

Excellent article at Human Events by Jack Thompson on the failed primary election process and the issue of open primaries, where anyone is allowed to vote in either party's election. The issue was decisive in the selection of John McCain as the Republican nominee as independents and Democrats tilted severla races in his favor while actual Republicans voters selected candidates such as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. McCain never achieved a registered Republican voter majority in any state up to Super Tuesday.

"Dr. Marni Ezra, who teaches political science at Maryland’s Hood College, has proven and written that “closed primaries” -- ones in which only a party’s registered Republicans or Democrats are allowed to vote in their respective primaries -- produce winners more true to the ideology of their respective bases. Closed Republican primaries tend to produce more conservative nominees and Republican “open primaries” -- ones in which independents and/or Democrats can vote -- produce more moderate nominees."

Thompson asked three of the leading RNC Chair candidates about the issue, and two, both Michael Steel of Maryland and Katon Dawson of South Carloina, replied they are open to the idea of having only closed primaries being discussed. south bCarolina has an open system and Maryland's is closed, but Steel experienced the issue as Maryland experimented with an open primary whil ehe was state party chair.

What is really interesting is that the National Committee, rather than the individual state parties holds the legal cards. The Supreme Court has issued rulings that indicate that the constitutional right to free association gives the political party the right to determine its membership requirements, and any state which fails to do so could potentially face the prospect of not having its delegates seated to the national convention.

Very interesting, and probably long overdue in my opinion. The party;s cnadidate should reflect the desires and the beliefs of its memebers, and I think John McCain falied in that regard on several issues. The issue isn't just a Republican one either; a large number of Republicans crossed the lines to vote for Hillary Clinton in the primaries in order to sow chaos in the Democratic process.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan: There used to be a day when the pandering in our society was reserved for…
Denny: Politicians?
Alan: [laughs] Maybe that's what bothers me. Hollywood has sunk to the level of Congress.