Links 7/13/09

‘Sit! Stay! Snuggle!’: An Iraq Vet Finds His Dog Tuesday Wall Street Journal. Puppies Behind Bars, a not-for-profit that trains these dogs, is a very good organization.

Why the #$%! Do We Swear? For Pain Relief Scientific American

€400bn energy plan to harness African sun Independent (hat tip reader John D)

Swine Flu Packs Bigger Jolt for Obese as ‘Striking’ Link Found Bloomberg. Looks like it thins the herd, literally

Palin’s Route to Resignation: Missteps and Ignored Advice New York Times

Note by ‘teenage scribbler’ causes sensation Financial Times

Undermining the Home Ownership Imperative Michael Panzner

Boiling the Frog Paul Krugman

Lennar Confirms Bad Drywall in Homes Wall Street Journal (hat tip DoctoRx). Repairs cost $100,000 per home.

Complete Fleecing of the Sheeple Ben Bitroff

GE – Big Numbers This Week Bruce Krasting

Lloyds braced for £13bn writeoff Time Online (hat tip DoctoRx)

The Tipping Point: Fascinating but mythological? William Easterly. Important.

Why Negative Nominal Interest Rates Miss the Point Scott Fullwiler (hat tip reader Marshall)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. re

    Re the teenage scribbler. This kid has some form here in the UK. But they got his age wrong: he's not 15 yrs 7mth, he's 13 3/4, and his real name is Adrian Mole.

  2. Anonymous Jones

    Easterly's paper would be important if he had actually developed a test that, you know, could debunk the hypothesis he claims to debunk. This is not some sort of lab experiment with pipettes, etc. The segregation tipping point theory is a theory about a complex social phenomenon that is not necessarily supposed to be universal. I'm glad that the link was posted here, however, because it is exactly the same kind of over-reaching that every economist (and armchair-economist) makes based on the most minimal amount of data. Social groupings are extremely complex, and it is simply impossible to hold all variables constant (like quality of housing stock, historical racism, income levels (and whether they are rising or falling)), as one must do in a strictly controlled scientific experiment. The same thing happens with economics today. For just one example, we constantly try to make analogies to the GD, which did happen, you know, between two horrific world wars, much closer to the industrial revolution and in an economy that lacked the last 70 years of radical and immense technological change that has occurred in a parabolic manner. This is not the GD. It may be a depression, but it's sui generis. (And I haven't even talked about all the counterfactual lovers out there (hello, I'm talking to a certain subset of Austrians) who have no basis for many of their beliefs except they see that efficiency wasn't at its peak somewhere, so surely if we tried the opposite, everything would turn out to be utopia.)

  3. Hugh

    Krugman seems to be wearing his rose colored glasses today:

    "And while a major environmental bill has passed the House, which was an amazing and inspiring political achievement, the bill fell well short of what the planet really needs — and despite this faces steep odds in the Senate."


    "After all, supply-siders and climate-change-deniers no longer control the White House and key Congressional committees. Democrats have a popular president to lead them, a large majority in the House of Representatives and 60 votes in the Senate. And this isn’t the old Democratic majority, which was an awkward coalition between Northern liberals and Southern conservatives; this is, by historical standards, a relatively solid progressive bloc."

    The House cap and trade bill gives away 85% of its permits and it has a big offsets program to fudge things even further. Most of the big reductions will occur years after Obama has left office even if he manages to hang in for 2 terms. And even if they do occur, they will happen long after we pass the tipping point for moderate to severe climate changes. I can think of a lot of adjectives to describe this bill but amazing and inspiring aren't two of them.

    As for the second quote, Summers and Geithner are very much in the mode of Bush/Paulson and other practitioners of bubblenomics. And the idea that Obama and the Congress are "relatively solid progressive" is just completely wrongheaded. No one on the progressive side has ever accused Obama of being progressive. Even after 8 years of horrendously bad government by Republicans, he kept a Republican on at Defense, a department as big as the rest of the discretionary side of government combined. He has reached out to even really whacked Republicans on legislation, compromising even weak bills further. On the other hand he has done no outreach to progressives. Indeed this is something Krugman should know first hand having been right on many economic issues yet still frozen out by Obama.

    In fact, only about 10% of Congress would claim to be progressive, and several of these have caved on key issues, like the war supplemental and currently on healthcare. So even this 10% isn't all that solid. It completely misrepresents and misunderstands the whole political dynamic and philosophy of the Obama Administration to associate it in any way with progressives. I have no idea what Krugman was thinking or smoking.

  4. Richard Kline

    So Hugh, Paul the K. is a liberal, not a progressive. If you put on your Liberal Deionizer Bowtie, his positions are completely in focus; in street clothes, no so much. Occasionally Paul takes the Bowtie off, he has changed his mind—he's far less forgiving of Obama now than, say, six months ago and it's not a change in O. since he's changed nothing in three years. But yeah . . .

    And I'm with you that cap-and-trade is a crock; to me, it's worse than nothing. It was designed by industry to shield themselves both from a carbon tax and from enforcible cleaner emissions standards. In both respects, this bill serves industry well, and furthermore as th instance of 'something done' it will effectively block any stricter action for the remainder of Obama's tenure. Nice payoff to industry, hey? Oh, the polluters would prefer _no_ bill, but Obama couldn't deliver that and keep his hands green, so we get this 'fake environmentalism' will. It will do effectively nothing to reduce emissions, and have zero impact on the pace of global warming.

    Global warming will happen with the full impacts on climate it can achieve, and will happen far more rapidly than we estimate now.

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