IF MCCAIN DID THIS: Marc Ambinder comments, "But if John McCain did this -- if he mistakenly said he'd visited 57 states -- the media would be all up in his grill, accusing him of a senior moment. Just saying...."Looks like these guys missed a few!
UPDATE: L.A. Times: "Barack Obama wants to be president of these 57 United States."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Elia: "Personally, I don't think it was a 'tired mistake' as much as this is just how Chicago Democrats are used to counting during elections and election campaigns..."
MORE STILL: Can he spell potato? "This is much worse than anything Dan Quayle ever did." But there's no Obama-is-stupid narrative for it to reinforce.
STILL MORE: Dreaming of empire? "Grand Strategist (and likely Obama supporter) Thomas P.M. Barnett in his seminal work 'The Pentagon’s New Map' urged America to add several states to the nation, perhaps as many as a dozen. . . . I'm shocked that Obama apparently believes in a hyper-muscular 21st century version of Manifest Destiny. Truly, I didn't see that one coming."
FINALLY: Reader Jeff Cauthen emails: "Somebody should ask him to name all 114 US Senators."
Saturday, May 10, 2008
It looks like I'm not the only one who has been having this problem. It's not a bug, it's a feature!
Rather than relying on Word, I have primarily been using a combination of my Neo and EverNote for preparing my notes for exams this semester. Both have their limitations, but the pros far outweigh the cons for each. I plan to write more on my experiences using EverNote soon.
In the meantime, back to Criminal Law!
I've only been able to watch the first 5-minutes of the video so far, but it looks excellent. I look forward to watching the whole thing once I get my Criminal Law exam out of the way on Monday. I also look forward to picking up a copy of his book -- it's been getting many good reviews.
Here are examples of how where you live affects your chances of finding a spouse and graduating high school.
Richard Florida was here at George Mason University until last year. We really lost something when he left for Toronto. It seems like GMU does a great job at attracting top talent, but not such a good job holding on to them...
P.S. -- In case you're interested, here's where Florida chose to live when he was working at GMU.
At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, AAFS president Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story:
On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. The decedent had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his despondency). As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this.
Ordinarily, Dr. Mills continued, a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended. That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide. But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.
The room on the ninth floor whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and pellets went through the window striking Opus. When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B.
When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was his long standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her - therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.
The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple’s son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.
There was an exquisite twist. Further investigation revealed that the son, one Ronald Opus, had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother’s murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a ninth story window.
The medical examiner closed his case as a suicide.
Whether you're flying a jumbo jet at night or working on a crossword puzzle in the dark, the Pilot's Pen is a nifty solution. The LED-powered penlight illuminates the page while you write, or you can retract the ink and just use it as a mini flashlight—useful for checking a map or locating something in the night driver's glove compartment. The Pilot's Pen will set you back 20 bucks, and it's available at Amazon.Pilot's Pen [Cool Tools]
Friday, May 09, 2008
Foreign Policy is having a vote for your favorite public intellectual out of their selection of the top 100. They will publish their top 20 list in their July/August issue:
They are some of the world’s most introspective philosophers and rabble-rousing clerics. A few write searing works of fiction and uncover the mysteries of the human mind. Others are at the forefront of modern finance, politics, and human rights. In the second Foreign Policy/Prospect list of top public intellectuals, we reveal the thinkers who are shaping the tenor of our time. We chose the first 100 (click here for our criteria). Now, it’s your chance to choose who should receive top honors by voting for the world’s top five public intellectuals.Two things that struck me about the list:
1) I was pleased to see economists making such a good showing.
2) I am surprised by how many of these people I have never even heard of before. Of this list, I knew about a third of the names and have only met one of them. (I took a seminar by William Easterly last year.) These are people at the top of their respective fields and who are still unknown to most of the world. It underscores the importance of Arnold Kling's advice about being careful how you measure success. Even if you make it to the top, you're unlikely to be influential or known beyond a relatively small group. Something important to keep in perspective as you plan your career and weigh the sacrifices you're willing to make along the way.
The Wall Street Journal reports one of the most pernicious ideas I have heard of late:Speaking as someone who has lived his entire life south of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi, I think this sounds like a great idea. Not only would moving south help Harvard evade taxes, but it will likely put them much closer to a Cracker Barrel too!If this were to pass, here is what I would consider:
Massachusetts legislators, demonstrating a growing resentment against the wealth of elite universities in tight economic times, are studying a plan to levy a 2.5% annual tax on the portion of college endowments that exceed $1 billion.
The effort takes aim at one of the primary economic engines of the state, which is home to nine universities with endowments that surpass the $1 billion level, led by Harvard University's $35 billion cache, the nation's largest....
Supporters said the proposal would raise $1.4 billion a year. Based on the most recent size of Harvard's endowment, the university would have to shell out more than $840 million annually.
1. Instead of expanding the university into Alston, Harvard could create a second campus in another state. Call it Harvard South. (Put it in a better climate than Boston, and I would be one of the first faculty to volunteer for the move.)
2. Transfer much of the endowment to Harvard South. Support Harvard North by slowly selling off land in Massachusetts.
3. Eventually, make Harvard South the main campus, and Harvard North the satellite. If Massachusetts state lawmakers remain hostile, close Harvard North down entirely.
I have often wondered what the efficient scale of a university is and, in particular, whether it would be better to create a second Harvard with the university's wealth than to expand the first one. Maybe the Massachusetts state legislature will give the powers-that-be at Harvard an incentive to consider more radical expansion plans.
P.S. -- Richard Florida shares his thoughts:
And if states and cities are willing to pony up billions for convention centers and stadia, and hundreds of millions in industrial incentives for factories, how much do you think they much come up with for a Harvard, or MIT, or Stanford, or Oxford relocation. Universities are already setting up foreign campuses. Trust me, it's just a matter of time until this game gets big.P.P.S. -- More thoughts here.
Well, now it looks like the next time I'm in Japan, I can enjoy another round of fugu with less fuss (and less glory). Some clever Japanese researchers have figured out how to raise non-poisonous fugu:
Blowfish or fugu (ふぐ) packs a lethal punch in the form of tetrodotoxin, an extremely potent neurotoxin that paralyzes its victims while they are still conscious. To put things into perspective, this means that you are fully aware as your throat closes, your lungs deflate and you drift slowly into death's arms.
There is no known cure.
However, Japan is a country of safety and order, so thankfully the majority of deaths occur when untrained people catch and prepare the fish, accidentally poisoning themselves in the process. The most dangerous culprit is the liver, which has been illegal for centuries despite being the tastiest morsel of the blowfish - it is often compared to the highest-quality foie gras (fatty goose liver).
Of course, all of this is set to change now that Japanese fish-farmers have found a way to raise non-poisonous blowfish.... that are 'as harmless as goldfish.' In fact, the advances are so significant that farmers have even been successful in producing completely poison-free fugu livers.
Of course, not everyone in Japan is happy about this development. The fugu lobbyists are doing their best to put a stop to all of this:
Sadly, Mr. Noguchi's research is being suppressed by powerful interests in the fugublowfish will jeopardize their monopoly.It looks like public choice analysis explains a lot in the poisonous blowfish industry too.
"We won't approve it," said Mr. Hisashi Matsumura, the president of the Shimonoseki Fugu Association and vice president of the National Fugu Association. "We're not engaging in this irrelevant discussion."
Sigh. Looks like thrill-seekers in Japan are going to have wait a bit longer to legally sample fugu liver. Of course, there are certain places in Japan where you can get your fingers on some fugu liver, though be sure that your affairs are in order before you dig in!
Much more on the fight for fixing fugu in the New York Times.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Oshiya or 'pusher' is an informal Japanese term for a worker who stands on the platform of a railway station during the morning and evening rush hours, and pushes people onto the train. This video is a good example of just how crowded it gets on Japanese trains.Remind me not to complain when I start commuting into DC by subway this summer...
TEN HEALTH-TECHNOLOGY BREAKTHROUGHS. And here's one that's not even newsworthy: My mother-in-law had cataract surgery, and now has implanted toric lenses. She says she sees better than she did when she was 12.
I just made an appointment for my annual check-up at the NIH next week. A couple years ago, I participated in an experimental way of donating bone marrow. Basically, they injected me with some kind of hormone for a week which caused my body to over-produce stem cells. Mom and dad drove me into the NIH where they hooked me up to a machine for a few hours and pumped my blood through it -- extracting what they needed and returning the rest. About the only side-effect I had was I felt exhausted that afternoon. Last I heard, the recipient remains leukemia-free.
A few years ago, they would have had to perform invasive and painful surgery to extract bone marrow from my hip. Not long before that and the lukemia would have been 100% terminal for the patient. This kind of progress doesn't make the news either.
P.S. -- If you’d like to learn how to help, the National Bone Marrow Donor program has instructions on how to join the registry, contribute financially, and a list of other ways to help. You can also find out some more info about bone marrow transplants here.
I honestly have no idea how the exam went. Everyone seemed to walk out moaning: "What was that?" I suppose it's a good sign I'm not the only one who feels this way?
Unfortunately, I have to keep studying tonight. My Criminal Law exam is on Monday and I still have lots of ground to cover to prepare. I cannot wait until Monday afternoon and have this first year of law school behind me!
P.S. -- The books I bought the other day did help, especially the E-Z Rules for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It does a great job summarizing the rules in a format that highlights the essentials in an easy to glance at format. Highly recommended!
The existing home sales figures released today offer little cause for optimism. Sales fell 2%, and the inventory of unsold homes ticked upwards--there is now enough supply in the housing market to satisfy almost ten month's worth of demand.
A deflationary mindset has entered the market. Buyers are holding out because they think house prices will go even lower, and this is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've been thinking about buying a house recently, and a number of people have told me that I should wait until it bottoms. Some of them are the same people who back in 2004 were telling me to buy before America ran out of houses.
Trying to time the bottom is a fool's game, and anyway I want to live in the house, not flip it. But as long as most people feel as they do, the housing market will continue to crater.
Indeed, the economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal suggest that the problem may be even worse than we think, because so many homeowners are holding back from selling until they can get what they think of as a "fair" price--i.e. at least 10% above what they paid for it in 2005. The people who are selling now are the ones who really have to sell, either because they can't meet the mortgage payments or because they have to move to another city. I looked at eight houses last Wednesday, of which two were foreclosures. All of them had been on the market for two months or more. The agent told me about one client who was moving to another city but couldn't sell his condo because he'd have to show up at the closing with a check for $40,000.
Eventually some of those people who are holding onto their houses by their fingernails will have to sell too, into a market where most buyers are demanding super bargains. If you don't have much equity in your house, now would be a good time to tighten the belt and start paying extra on the mortgage.
Elsewhere, The LA Times claims over $6 trillion dollars has disappeared from housing wealth:
A Washington think tank is warning that housing prices are falling at an accelerating level, destroying wealth at a pace that will cost the average homeowner $85,000 in lost wealth this year alone.
The projections by the Center for Economic and Policy Research are based on the numbers in Tuesday's Case-Shiller home price index, which showed accelerating price declines in most big cities.
The annual rate of price decline over the last quarter was 24.9% in the 20-city index and 25.8% in the 10-city index," the center said in its Housing Market Monitor today. "At this rate of price decline, the excesses of the housing bubble will have largely disappeared by the end of the year. At the same time, the price decline implies an incredibly rapid loss of wealth. In real terms, the rate of price decline in the 20-city index would imply a loss of almost $6 trillion in real housing wealth over the course of the year, an average of $85,000 per homeowner."
I haven't seen the actual data but wonder if this article is overstating the true situation? If the "excesses of the housing bubble" are what's being lost, how much of a loss is it really? Financially speaking, the true loss of personal wealth is measured by what people bought their homes for compared to how much they are worth when they sell it. Psychologically speaking, a significant dip from peak value on paper still feels like a loss -- even for those who aren't currently trying to sell. Unfortunately, a lot of people over-invested in real estate because of rapidly rising prices and borrowed against their increased home equity only to see it vanish, leaving many in genuinely poor financial shape.
I am very glad I ignored the advice of many of my friends and did not buy a home a few years ago prior to coming back to school. Some even encouraged me to do so for an investment as I was heading back to school. Had I listened to their advice, I probably would have had to drop out of school by now in order to try salvaging my financial situation and avoid bankruptcy. I feel badly for my friends who bought (or refinanced a significant portion of their home's value) near the peak.
Like I've said before, renting has its perks.
I've written on the virtues of dual monitor set-ups before. The problem for most of us laptop users is that we only have one VGA port available for adding a single monitor (using the laptop's screen as a second monitor). While that's a great solution, it's not quite as nice as having two identical screens side by side. Samsung had one potential work-around to this limitation, with their USB monitors and Matrox had another with their Dual Head2Go (which tricks your computer into thinking two monitors were actually one).
Now comes what may be the best solution yet -- USB video cards:
We're all about multi-monitor setups...once you go dual, single feels a fool. But if you're on a laptop, or don't have any slots available for another video card or just are on a budget, then an external USB vid card like this one from UV Plus+ might be the solution for you...You can buy them for $81 online.
The diminutive USB 2.0 powered accessory uses Displaylinktechnology, supporting both DVI and VGA at up to 1280x1024/1440x900 (UV12) or 1600x1200/ 1680x1050 (UV16) screen resolution. The units are even magnetic, so they can be safely and securely stacked.
Here's a photo showing the monitor port to give you an idea of how small they are:
The question is -- how well do they work?
U.C.L.A. researchers have uncovered a link between the grocery gap and rising obesity, the Los Angeles Times reports.Maybe living so close to so much isn't quite as good as I thought it was?
The study found that neighborhoods with dramatically more fast-food restaurants and convenience stores than supermarkets also have significantly elevated rates of obesity and diabetes.
The relationship holds true across demographic lines and income levels.
(HT Richard Florida)
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Who needs a gas tax holiday when your car gets 235 miles per gallon!
There’s been talk about the VW 1L concept for years. Since VW built the original, fuel economy, safety, price, and release date has been speculated upon and argued about, and I’d finally stopped thinking it was ever going to happen. However, according to VW’s CEO, it should hit the market in 2010.
The VW 1L is so named because, in theory, it only consumes one liter of fuel per 100 kilometers traveled. For those of us in the US, this translates into about 235 MPG. Definitely far and above anything on the market currently. The concept, developed in 2002, actually got better fuel economy, scoring a sweet .89L/100km in VW testing. It’s likely to use more fuel in real world use, but with that kind of mileage in testing it’s unlikely that anyone would complain about an “unsatisfactory 200 MPG.”
The thing is, that kinda of fuel economy comes at the price of riding in an extremely small two seater, with the two seats being one in front of the other, a la jet plane, rather than a standard side by side. The 1L also looks frighteningly close to the ground, which is part of how it pulls off a drag coefficient of .159, much better than any current production vehicle. While the final design isn’t done, VW will probably power the car with a 1 cyclinder diesel engine of displacement lower the .5 L, meaning the car’s speed will top out at 120 km/h.
The other obvious issue is the one I’m sure you’re all wondering about too. How safe is this thing? While I’m not usually one to complain about small cars, the 1L is extremely light and low to the ground. If it were released in the US I could easily see it being run over by any old F150 or Hummer. Nothing is out right now about safety, but as the production date nears, I’m sure VW will be doing lots of testing to reassure the public.
2010 isn’t that far off, in fact, it’s about the same time the Volt is supposed to be hitting the streets, so you’ll likely hear a lot more good and bad about this car in the coming months.
Here's more on how they've managed to squeeze out so much fuel-efficiency:
To accomplish such a feat, VW’s engineers had to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. They knew that fuel efficiency depends on aerodynamics and weight, so they created a bullet-shaped, ultra-lightweight (640 lbs) carbon-fiber car powered by a new, completely redesigned diesel engine. To save more weight, they didn’t even paint it.
Speaking as a mechanical engineer who has studied a lot about momentum transfer -- at only 640 lbs, I'd hate to be in one of these if it got hit by another car. Having said that, it's still probably much safer than riding a motorcycle.
It's amazing to think that I could drive down to Florida and back on less than 8 gallons of gas. Put another way, if you drove one of these on the 11,000 mile journey across the US my dad and I made a few summers ago, you could do it on less than 50 gallons of gasoline. Incredible! (The question is would it be comfortable enough to sit in for a long road-trip?)
Glenn Reynolds writes:
It is kinda low and small. But if they keep the Jetsonish look, it'll sell. If they shift to something more boring, it won't.
I think he's right. Right now, it looks kinda like a fighter plane cockpit -- only without the gas, the guns, or the glory. (Not only that, but with the way the door opens, it looks perfect for time-travel too.) If Volkswagen styles and markets this correctly, I think there are enough grown-up little boys who would love to fly... I mean drive one of these, they just might sell like hotcakes.
48 States. 5 Days. 3 Men. I don't know if I think this is more silly or cool? A little bit of both, I suppose...
This morning, when there was one woman (me) in one car (a Toyota Corolla) going along 3 streets in 5 minutes on my way to teach a class, I heard about these 3 guys who are in a car traveling this week to all 48 states in the continental U.S. They're not traveling through each state, but are at least crossing borders to say they've been in each one.
One of the guys, Joshua Keeler, was being interviewed on the radio about the trip. Originally, years ago, this was going to be his father's trip. His dad, James, had mapped out the journey, but James' mother's death kept him from going. Joshua got hold of the maps and corralled his two friends Joey Stocking and Adam Gatherum to go along with him on this journey they are calling, "The Great American Road Trip." There is an attempt to break the Guinness record for a similar trip, although, Guinness no longer keeps such records for road safety sake.
This morning the trio were in South Dakota. They started in Vermont on Sunday, and tomorrow they will end their trip at Four Corners, the spot where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet. You can see the path these three took and get more details about them at their Web site greatamericanroadtrip.us
Keeler said they are eating a lot of cold canned soup and snack packs. There really isn't any time to stop except for gas and to use the toilet. They've noticed a 50 cent fluctuation in gas prices and have found that their 2005 Toyota Scion is perfect for the journey.
See photos from my own journey across America with my dad in 2005. We only saw 28 states and it took us 30 days, but we got to stop, relax, sleep, and enjoy experiences in each one. We also got to see a ton of friends and family along the way. (No comment on if we ate better than these guys...)
I wish these guys well with their journey. It actually sounds like a ton of fun!
You can check their progress on their blog.
Japan celebrated a national holiday on Monday in honor of its children. But Children's Day might just as easily have been a national day of mourning.
For this is the land of disappearing children and a slow-motion demographic catastrophe that is without precedent in the developed world.
The number of children has declined for 27 consecutive years, a government report said over the weekend. Japan now has fewer children who are 14 or younger than at any time since 1908.
The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report. In the United States, children account for about 20 percent of the population.
Japan also has a surfeit of the elderly. About 22 percent of the population is 65 or older, the highest proportion in the world. And that number is on the rise. By 2020, the elderly will outnumber children by nearly 3 to 1, the government report predicted. By 2040, they will outnumber them by nearly 4 to 1.
The economic and social consequences of these trends are difficult to overstate.
Japan, now the world's second-largest economy, will lose 70 percent of its workforce by 2050 and economic growth will slow to zero, according to a report this year by the nonprofit Japan Center for Economic Research.
Population shrinkage began three years ago and is gathering pace. Within 50 years, the population, now 127 million, will fall by a third, the government projects. Within a century, two-thirds of the population will be gone.
I find it difficult to fathom why some people continue to think over-population is going to be a bigger problem for the developed world than under-population.
See my related posts:(HT Instapundit)
P.S. -- It drains my battery much faster than I would have possibly imagined too!
Gack. Now Obama is ranting about how he's going to make the corporations give us super fuel-efficient cars, find awesome new sources of oil, make renewable energy affordable, and invent a really delicious fat-free ice cream. However did we manage to get through the first 200 years without Barack Obama to beat some progress out of the corporations that have been holding us back?That's funny, I was just wondering the same thing about Hillary...
NCMSNBC's Tim Russert says this means "we now know who the Democratic nominee will be":
OBAMA 890,705 56%
CLINTON 657,943 42%
IN [99% PRECINCTS]
CLINTON 637,389 51%
OBAMA 615,370 49%
Not that there's been much doubt.
P.S. -- Hillary has dropped to single digits for the first time in the prediction markets:
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
More photos here. (Or you can watch them as a slideshow.)
While I was at the bookstore, I also found a couple of unintended, last-minute reference books that should help out on my open-book, open-note Civil Procedure exam. One of them is the E-Z Rules for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which sums up each of the rules in an easy to read, in-depth outline format. That other is Acing Civil Procedure which has short checklists and summaries of each of the topics we covered in class this semester. I expect both books to help me polish off my notes and (particularly the E-Z Rules) be an invaluable reference on the exam. I could have probably gotten a lot of the same benefits by starting earlier on finalizing my outline for the class, but with time running short, I thought substituting capital for labor and buying the books was the wiser path to follow.
P.S. - It is such a gorgeous day today, I decided to go for a nice walk after leaving to bookstore. I am typing this on my Neo sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I'll post this with my Treo in a few minutes and add hyperlinks and photos when I get home tonight. In the meantime, I plan on hanging out here for awhile to finish studying Glannon.
P.P.S. -- I just finished Glannon!P.P.P.S. -- Photos from today have been posted.
You can also see the photos I took on the trip here.
That's me paddling in the front!
(HT Alex Tabarrok)
All politics stink. Even democracy stinks. Imagine if our clothes were selected by the majority of shoppers, which would be teenage girls. I'd be standing here with my bellybutton exposed. Imagine deciding the dinner menu by family secret ballot. I've got three kids and three dogs in my family. We'd be eating Froot Loops and rotten meat.
But let me make a distinction between politics and politicians. Some people are under the misapprehension that all politicians stink. Impeach George W. Bush, and everything will be fine. Nab Ted Kennedy on a DUI, and the nation's problems will be solved.
But the problem isn't politicians -- it's politics. Politics won't allow for the truth. And we can't blame the politicians for that. Imagine what even a little truth would sound like on today's campaign trail:
"No, I can't fix public education. The problem isn't the teachers unions or a lack of funding for salaries, vouchers or more computer equipment The problem is your kids!"