Links 1/14/09

The classic British bulldog is to disappear under a reform of breeding rules Times Online

Carbon cost’ of Google revealed BBC. Oooh, this almost makes up for the fact that I don’t own a car.

Worst Apartment Rental Ad Ever [Funny] Consumerist

Some States in a Pinch May Raise Gasoline Tax New York Times. This is terribly regressive and way way overdue.

Junk bond rebound adds to credit thaw; levels still distressed MarketWatch

Panic on the campus as graduate jobs disappear Independent

Massive Taxpayer Backlash Over Pension Crisis Is Coming Michael Shedlock

HSBC may need $30 billion: Morgan Stanley Reuters (hat tip reader Michael). HSBC had been considered one of the better capitalized banks.

Yes, We Can Make the Stimulus More Stimulating Dean Baker. Among other things, he wants more holidays!

Bernanke on the Fed’s balance sheet Jim Hamilton. This is very pointed by his (typically understated) standards.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Earl):

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  1. Richard Smith

    The Google story must surely be duff. Crude measure of duffness: browser clients (100M?) far outnumber the Google servers (1M?). So the emphasis is wrong at least.

    Neither Google (unsurprising) nor the researcher (more tellig) agree with the way this was reported.

    The energy required of computation certainly is worth a look though.

  2. Anonymous

    Love the Apt advertisement, reminds me of how people with enough money in L.A., could spend their jail time in Aspen CO. YES lady’s and gents you could spend more on a jail cell than than a holiday in 5 star accommodation, just so you don’t have to hang with the crew in L.A. county. Aspen has Cable and your own kitchen, grocery supplied by fancy Wholefoods or flown in from Gelsons of Beverly Hills.

    I do miss the Gelsons bagels though, it always said something about the home owner to have a bag proudly displayed in their kitchen.


  3. Stefano

    Some States in a Pinch May Raise Gasoline Tax.

    Why not to name it a ‘street maintenance fee’ instead of a gasoline tax?

  4. Anonymous

    Good point about Google and the transcendantal energy consumption and related carbon dioxide emmissions. However, I would argue well worth the expenditure but creates an incentive to save on operating costs.

    A much bigger issue is the cost of excess and non-synchronized traffic lighting. Every time my city and your city needlessly forces traffic to stop or slow and then reaccelerate causes a minimum of 25 pct increase in gasoline consumption. Just read the fuel consumption difference between city and highway driving on your vehicles’ sticker.

    Not to mention the power consumption to operate them and fuel consumed servicing them. Of course, that’s guv waste so it really doesn’t have to comply with the spirit or the letter of the new greenery.

    Here’s a sweet irony. My city has twice weekly garbage and recycle collection. Nice if your WM and have the contract but sucks as an environmental practice.

    Another sleeeper is that electric coffee pot. Most have at least a one kilowatt heating element. I calculated that it cost me $25 per month to keep the pot on 10 hrs/day.

    Think about all those blinking diodes and LED’s, on power 24/7. Lots of ubiquitous and embedded CO2production goin round.

  5. Richard Kline

    Critter: “Look folks, it’s no contest: I’ve got ugly so nailed I can hold position longer than the Christ. But seriously, I was born to go parasailing, and there the best is yet to be. Updrafts, I’m all over ’em! Just take a hit of pheactim like the word verification says, and we can go flyin’ together.”

  6. Jojo

    Awww – don’t see aardvark’s often! Cute looking animal but look at them claws. Don’t think it would work as a pet.

  7. Anonymous

    seven cups of coffee -re Bloomberg-
    and a small dose of pheactim have
    left the poor critter in a tentative

  8. Anonymous

    Where does Dean “Only I *really* saw the housing bubble” Baker think that all those experimental drugs needing trials come from? Under his proposal, the government funds trials and in return owns the patents. Who, exactly, funds the research under this regime? How does this bag of whiny resentment and half-baked ideas remain employed, much less prominent?

    The baby aardvark is adorable.

  9. Anonymous

    Google searches and common sense: if you compressed all the energy needed to boil a kettle of water into the few milliseconds that Google takes to process a request, why, there’d be a rather large explosion. As should seem fairly obvious….

  10. Peripheral Visionary

    Most of Dean Baker’s proposals boil down to one idea: nationalizing the intellectual property system and expropriating the profits. It’s classic killing the goose that lays the golden egg mentality, and it is absolutely guaranteed to fail.

    The Soviet Union did essentially what he is proposing, with full state control of research and development (and the arts), and it was an abysmal failure as they fell far behind the U.S., ending up stealing most of their technology. And ending up with a load of lousy artwork, rivaling even the junk subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts, and that’s saying something.

    The other problem being, of course, that the intellectual property sytem is protected under the Constitution, but that never seemed to slow down a thinktank employee with a “good” idea.

  11. scott m

    Went to the Shedlock article and left pretty quickly. I stopped reading his site after it became clear that he had three main themes: regulations bad, taxes bad, and unions worst of all.

    I have never understood why it is ok for a CEO to negotiate for a higher pay package but if you got 2 or more non-CEOs doing the same thing at the same time, then it is the WORST THING IN THE WORLD. I’d agree that the unions probably had a bit too much power in the 40’s and 50’s, but that era is long since past.

  12. mxq

    RE: google searches

    Don’t everybody rush to flog themselves just yet. The guy that did the study didn’t even cite google. In fact, his stats overstated Google’s actual effect by several orders of magnitude.

    Google Adresses it here.

    The harvard phys. guy restates what he meant to say here.

    (aside…its amazing, a not surprising what media companies will do to get a headline!…thank heavens for NC and many other blogs)

    (long goog…argggh)

  13. Anonymous

    I have to agree with the other poster.

    Dean Baker should retire. He is misguided in his beliefs. I’d say ideas, but he appears to have none of his own.

  14. Benedict@Large

    I have no idea how to comment at Mish’s, so I guess I’ll just do so here. Maybe someone can forward my observations.

    When I saw the link here to Mish’s article on pension problems, I perked right up. That pensions would be in serious trouble was obvious to me, and at last, a review article by a top econoblogger? What could be better? Then I read it… And re-read it. Ouch.

    I’m sure Mish is a fine economist, but he doesn’t know squat about the pension business. In his very first paragraph alone, he makes three serious mistakes, and things don’t get any better as he goes along. I would probably run out of comment room if I tried to address them all, so let me just address the one I found particularly offensive.

    Mish seems to have some sort of philosophical hatred of defined benefit pensions. Throw the risk on the old people, I guess. Our math just can’t handle it! Sorry, Mish, YOUR math can’t handle it. Our math can do so just fine. It’s been doing so for 150 years.

    You see, defined benefit pensions are nothing more than annuities with a payment schedule, and the payment schedule is nothing more than a simple regression. This has been done in the annuity/pension business and money has been made at it almost forever because it’s not that hard (well, for an actuary) and because contractual obligations have been met well enough to not have too many folks get mad.

    But suddenly it can’t be done? After 150 years, everything is wrong? And this is a pension failure? Throw everything out that has worked for so long? This is a new world?

    The only thing new about this world is that we’ve just had a black swan event, and that sort of thing messes everything up. But pensions did not cause that black swan event, and screwing with them will not prevent future black swan events.

    I would suggest to Mish then that he spend his time trying to solve the whys of black swan events, something that economists are supposed to try to do, and leave the pension stuff to those who better know the business. It’s not time yet, as he seems to think, to start building the Soylent Green factories.

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