Saturday, February 23, 2002

KIBOLOGY UPDATE: James Vandenberg explains why text-messaging is more popular than cell-phone conversations in Australia. And Kibo reviews "2001: A Space Travesty."
LIABILITY CONCERNS force the cutting of an 85-foot giant sequoia. Even this decision resulted in a lawsuit.
BAD IDEA JEANS: Carolyn Condit sues the National Enquirer for libel.

The first thing the National Enquirer does in any libel case is notice relevant people for deposition. That would include husband Gary here, and somehow not a single press outlet has considered the delicious possibility of a civil lawyer questioning Rep. Condit under oath. I give the suit an over/under of December until it's dropped, and that long only because there will be motions to throw the suit out before any depositions can take place.
NOW OSAMA'S IN TROUBLE. The New York Times reports
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the government's analysis put the speeds at 586 m.p.h. for the United flight and 494 m.p.h. for the American one.

In both cases, the planes were flying much faster than they should have been at that altitude: the aviation agency's limit below 10,000 feet is 287 m.p.h.
Mass murder's bad enough, but don't mess with the FAA speed regulations.

This is unfair to the Times: the article's actually quite interesting, especially if you're into forensic engineering. In particular, it's theorized that it's just dumb luck that the hijackers hit the south tower square on.
SEPTEMBER 11 has affected the blind and the baseball world in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
A former socialist's lament at leftist kneejerk responses to Afghanistan in the wake of September 11 and the loss of a friend.
JOURNEYS WITH GEORGE: More on the new Alexandra Pelosi movie.
SLOBO-GOOGLING: Matt Welch calls for an expose of the 1355 idiots who signed a petition to free Slobodan Milosevic. Here's #576, Nicholas Tanery in Pravda:
The Heroin pipeline running though the Balkans from Turkey is estimated to account for some $600 million a month in revenue easily dwarfing any legal corporate enterprise I can think of. The Agency now has its thumb in a Balkan cash pie that was once a thin trickle dominated by corrupt politburo hacks. Kosovo and Macedonia not only represent a C.I.A./BND encroachment on Russia's possible resurgence in the region. 75% of the Heroin feeding Western Europe comes from Turkey with Kosovo and Macedonia as the land route: an estimated 6-8 metric tons each month.

Incidentally, Dick Cheney’s cement firm has the contract for a 25 square mile concrete in-fill helicopter base in Kosovo. [...] If anything the Albanians are much like the “White Trash” Down South which after the American Civil War saw their former slaves regaining basic human dignities.
Random quotes doesn't do this guy's ranting full justice. Mr. Tanery claims to be a "journalist," but I hope this is poor Russian editing rather than illiterate English writing. He'll still need help for utter ignorance, though. (Scarily, Mr. Tanery was also the head of Amnesty International at Portland State University. I guess they can't screen for loons.) Oh, and scroll down in this link to see Mr. Tanery bragging about his 100% pure Greek blood.
WHAT WOULD WITTGENSTEIN SAY? Carolyn Hax is mystified that people would use the term "dating" as a euphemism for something else. But see this ABC News profile of Bebe Buell, who gained fame for her dating.
THE HUMAN STAIN: A movie based on Philip Roth's novel starts filming next month, starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, with Gary Sinise in the Richard Benjamin role. If you've read the novel, you can see why I don't see Anthony Hopkins as Coleman Silk, but perhaps they whited that part out.
Here's one for the books: dentist Eric Thomas sues auto company, claiming air bag killed his wife. The wife's sister calls the auto company with information. Auto company's pathologist discovers the wife was strangled. Dentist, who was eventually forced to admit to an extramarital affair, drops suit after unsuccessfully suing auto company for libel. Latest word: prosecutors refuse to charge man with murder on grounds that evidence is inconclusive. The case can be reopened if new evidence arises.
JEWISH NAZIS: I'm looking forward to the release of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, an academic study of Jews who fought in the German army during World War II.

I've long said that the Nazi murder of millions of Jews was qualitatively different than the Nazi killings of millions of, say, Poles and Russians. The Nazis killed millions of people in the process of prosecuting a war, but they prosecuted a war to kill millions of Jews. Even as German soldiers suffered frostbite and hunger on the Eastern front for want of an adequate supply chain, the Nazis were devoting hundreds of scarce trains to population relocation to death camps. And, as this book seems to promise to detail, the Nazis were busy winnowing their undermanned army of thousands of experienced troops who happened to have Jewish ancestors.
MIKE TYSON press coverage in the US has been somewhat circumspect about quoting his rant against a boxing writer at the press-conference brawl. The British press has no such qualms of reproducing every last three-through-six-letter word.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM SHENANIGANS: Gregg Easterbrook points out that once all the blatantly unconstitutional provisions of the McCain bill are struck down, the remaining provisions will not remove the role of money from political speech. The real effect may even be to increase the role of money. Even without being struck down, the law is full of loopholes.
THE DEEP POCKET: Daniel Pipes suggests to 9/11 families that they sue the Saudi Arabian government as both he and the New York Post come perilously close to committing legal malpractice. While I'd certainly prefer to see Saudis, rather than American taxpayers, pay $6 billion, it's doubtful that such a lawsuit would get very far.
ACCURATE TARGETING: Apparently Tim Conway and Don Knotts were fighting for the Taliban. The Washington Post reports:
Sometimes, the nature of the war made targeting easier. Many Afghan Taliban and Northern Alliance soldiers were friends who had found themselves drafted into opposing armies. They would communicate over rudimentary radios, sometimes taunting each other in the heat of battle.

"Your bomb missed us," one would say, recalled members of Team 555.

"Where did it land?" a Northern Alliance officer would respond with some coaching from the Americans.

Five hundred meters to the north, would come the answer. Or 1,000 meters to the south. The combat controller would immediately recalculate the coordinates and pass them to the nearest aircraft, which could restrike the target within minutes. Team 555 members said that in a week, they killed many Taliban commanders this way and destroyed much of their communications network.
Meanwhile, the Indian press is reporting another American strategy that I have to hope is untrue. (But it's on the Web! It must be true!)
PICKERING UPDATE: Dickie Scruggs, of all people speaks out in favor of the Pickering nomination, in a move that could impact John Edwards's future political career. The major east-coast newspapers have also found the smear campaign wanting.
BIG VERDICT UPDATE: The Southern District of Indiana throws out a $140 million verdict in a patent infringement lawsuit. The expert witness in question just had his testifying career ruined.
RED AND BLUE: Since 2000, there's been a lot of punditry about the two Americas, "red and blue," referring to the television maps showing the swath of Red from Montana to the Deep South that voted for Bush, and the coasts that voted for Gore. Here's a map that gives a more accurate election-view, by taking percentages for Bush (red), Gore (blue), and Nader (green) for each state and coloring appropriately. The US comes across as much more purple, except for Utah.

Side note: Gore won the popular vote because the major parties were devoting resources to winning electoral votes. Thus, for example, voter turnout in Texas was low, costing Bush millions of votes. California voter turnout was high in the Gore landslide in that state, because the clever Republican party there made sure that the November 2000 ballot contained obnoxious sure-fire-loser propositions that would motivate extensive Democratic turnout.
IT'S ON THE WEB, it must be true: a "CNN web page" on the "killing" of Bill Gates is a movie publicity stunt. So I won't mention the movie.
NINTH CIRCUIT FOLLIES: The Ninth Circuit invented a new legal doctrine to strike down a law that Congress passed but the judges didn't like. All nine justices of the Supreme Court seem less than convinced. Note that Justice Thomas asked a question, contrary to stereotype.
CLEAN DRIVING: A surprising source, Michael Fumento, defends hydrogen fuel-cell engines. Fumento underestimates the extent to which government regulation or the hope or fear of government regulation is motivating such research, but he has good points in discussing why the technology has a future.
MIDDLE EAST LINKS: A good Village Voice piece about increasing reverse-aliyah from Israel. There was an terrorist incident over the last week that almost killed dozens of Israelis, but got little publicity. Here's a transcript of an Israel Supreme Court argument on targeted killings of terrorists.

Other Israelis are taking matters into their own hands by different means of deterrence: coating the body of a suicide attacker with pig-fat.
MK Tzvi Hendel said, "If these primitive murderers stuff their brains with nonsense about Paradise and who-knows-how-many virgins waiting only for them, then they certainly believe in the other nonsense that being buried with pigskin blocks their way to Paradise."
Meanwhile, Egypt is becoming increasingly anti-Semitic as the government there encourages scapegoating to divert political dissatisfaction, but it doesn't bode well for peace. And Benny Morris, one of the major leaders of the Israeli peace movement, and author of Righteous Victims, has come to the now-obvious conclusion that Arafat does not want peace.
Hey, this site has been boring the last few days, hasn't it? Sorry -- I was writing a couple of briefs. But that just means more stuff for today. Example:
"We usually hire a stripper about once a week ... but (in fraternities) it's not something that anyone talks about," Diener said. "But this wasn't even the least of headquarters' worries."

Diener said the last straw came when the national office discovered the chapter's recreational boxing tournament in which members recruited local homeless persons, "liquored" them up, gave them large boxing gloves and "let them go to town."

The junior in hotel and restaurant management said events such as these happened frequently in the past decade, but the new national officers would not allow it.
Ah, the charms of fraternity life.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

A PROMISING SIGN: the Bush administration is supporting efforts by some California Republicans to take the party away from the extreme right, and backing the pro-choice pro-gay-rights candidate over the traditional conservatives who inevitably lose in landslides.
THE FIRST MOVE of the newly created Transportation Security Administration is to make flying more inconvenient without any increase in security. Next time I have a business trip less than 300 miles, I'm driving or taking the train.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE, the LA Times reports on Oscar's efforts to rein in the people who claim to be producers. The article claims the shift was made two years ago, in response to Harvey Weinstein bogarting Ed Zwick's acceptance speech, but I distinctly recall a small army of Europeans cavorting over the "Gladiator" Best Picture Oscar. My memory's wrong, though: the web knows all and shows three.
THE FUTILITY OF trying to direct traffic in Kabul. There's a stereotype of traffic in Asian/African/poorer Latin American countries that corresponds to this article, and I haven't heard anyone ascribe these descriptions to racism. But compare the anarchy of the roads described here with, say, Americans or former-British-empire countryfolk sitting docilely at a red light in the middle of the night on a deserted road, waiting for the light to change. What's the civilizing influence that makes the difference?

As frenetic as Manhattan drivers are or those on LA highways, it's nothing like this. A game theorist needs to wonder why tit-for-tat strategy has completely broken down, and everyone, despite being repeat players on the roads of Kabul, is choosing the me-first approach that ensures that no one gets anywhere. Is there a tipping point of rude driving where it all falls apart and never comes back together?
GOOD BAR BET: 1025 Americans were asked who the greatest president ever was. What's the over-under on people naming a living president? I don't know the answer, either, because this ABCNEWS poll doesn't let one analyze the data, but the partial results they publish indicate that at least 29% of Americans named GW Bush, Clinton, or Reagan, and who knows how many named Carter, Ford, or GHW Bush. Clinton was the "overwhelming" #1 choice among African-Americans, which leads me to believe that either (1) the poll was poorly worded (the web site seems to imply the question was "Who's the greatest president?" which might well produce a different response than "Who's the greatest president ever?") or (2) the American education system is failing its citizens worse than I thought. Of course, the lack of a breakdown makes it unclear what "overwhelming" means. The white vote pushed Lincoln to a six-point victory over Kennedy, who was in an earlier version of the story identified as the #1 choice by Democrats.

Is Black History Month overwhelming any thought of taking notice of President's Day? Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the Union. Clinton got the Family Medical Leave Act passed and was impeached in less than seemly circumstances.

I do applaud the character, the one in a thousand, who cast his vote for Millard Fillmore. ABC News is mystified, but I have to guess it was a protest against the Masons.
KIBO LED ME to notice this article about the Muslim Women's Games. Opening ceremonies are in a full burka, and all sporting events requiring Western dress are held indoors in no-men-allowed arenas. No, it's not a story from The Onion.
A WEB SITE that is a little bit spooky lists the religious affiliation of U.S. Congress members.
FOR FOURTEEN MINUTES, I was the lead bidder for a Segway at auction. The price has since gone up by more than an order of magnitude.
SCARY PIECE ABOUT the Chinese Internet and American corporate complicity in censorship.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION about Gary Condit in The San Francisco Examiner.

Monday, February 18, 2002

According to Chris Kahrl, no one in the history of baseball salary arbitrations has ever used PowerPoint as a visual aid. This is a job for McKinsey!
William Safire is appropriately critical of the proposal to turn Washington, DC into an Orwellian security-camera zone. Anyone know if London's cameras have caught any terrorists?

If they took half of the people that they're going to need to watch these cameras, and had them walking the beats doing Bratton-style quality-of-life policing, the city would be a lot safer.
Asbestos plaintiffs' lawyers are increasingly scraping the bottom of the barrel with "victims" who aren't even sick, but still driving companies bankrupt with runaway juries. The article exposes what appears to be the subornation of perjury. The workers of these companies who've lost retirement savings aren't getting Congressional sympathy, as Walter Olson points out.
AN OBITUARY FOR a man who was a television journalist before it became an oxymoron. Howard K. Smith also knew when the vaunted "neutrality" of the press was inappropriate, as when he was forced from CBS over his insistence on criticizing Klan beatings of civil rights marchers.

LILEKS found another 1950s ad to deconstruct.

Fascinating Los Angeles Times piece on prop-locators.

I had two dates with someone in late 1999 who was convinced that the prop-locating she was creating would make her a millionaire. Don't think that happened.

Today's has good analyses of the Pickering nomination fight and of shoddy reporting on campaign finance reform.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

A GUIDE TO New York etiquette.

YOU MIGHT REMEMBER the scandal over the Chinese purchasing a presidential plane and finding it full of listening devices. Turns out, says the Washington Times, that the bugging was an internecine affair.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

THIS NEW YORKER article is why I'm never, ever giving money to the Red Cross again.

ENGINEERS TRY TO simulate/re-create the original Wright Brothers plane.

I like Ken Layne's take on Noam Chomsky, though I'll give Noam credit for actually accomplishing something for once.

EXCITING EVIDENCE of macroevolution.

I couldn't care less about the figure skating scandal. The Olympics have well-publicized bogus results fairly frequently, such as the 1972 Soviet basketball victory or the 1988 boxing match where Roy Jones lost to a Korean he had mashed for three rounds. I can only conclude that they also have lots of bogus results that aren't so well-publicized. And, as Gary Huckabay says, figure skating is
a criminal waste of network time that could better be spent covering more interesting pursuits, such as live coverage of Ray Romano's back being shaved, or a panel debate on budgetary rules and appropriations prioritization methods featuring the surviving Spice Girls. Add in network coverage and planning that makes Wonder Bread seem spicy, daring, and substantive, a dash of reflexive jingoism, and an advertising/content ratio comparable to a Tom Vu infomercial, and you have an entertainment product that's less likely to draw my viewing time than a special all-creepy-porcelain-doll episode of "Antiques Roadshow."
But I was fascinated by the Washington Post's report that the Chinese delegation protested the awarding of a second gold medal on the grounds that it was a reward that only those countries with an active media could hope to obtain. The Chinese Olympic delegation had earlier made its mark by complaining to Utah officials that Taiwanese flags could be found flying in Salt Lake City, and demanding that members of an apartment block take theirs down. I hope we boycott the 2008 Games.

Another wonderful example of fraternity bonding.
Authorities say they were shocked at the sight of Zeta Beta Tau members sitting on the porch of their fraternity house drinking beer Tuesday morning as police removed Klein's body from a creek behind the residence.
Chad Schwartz, another Zeta Beta Tau member, said two of the fraternity members were upset because Klein, in his drunken condition, had revealed secret traditions of the fraternity.

Friday, February 15, 2002

DOG BITES MAN: Reason on Rep. Gephardt's flip-flops on taxes. This is old news to anyone who saw his 1988 presidential campaign.

The post-Giuliani era begins.
To arrest a prostitute, officers must witness three attempted solicitations within 40 minutes, said Deputy Inspector Kevin Fitzgerald, the commanding officer of the Sixth Precinct.

This is why San Francisco is unliveable. It'd be a shame if New York returns to that status.

I'm as opposed to Bud Selig's proposal to destroy the Minnesota Twins as the next guy, but for the life of me, I don't understand what legal basis the Metrodome has to litigate with MLB over whether the team will continue to exist after its lease expires. That's like the landlord that has an individual K-Mart store as a tenant suing the local Wal-Mart for driving K-Mart under.

I know my brother would love the Jesus Action Figure.

Ed Mazza's weblog. It features an interesting diatribe against obesity: six Port Authority police died in the WTC trying to rescue "a still-unidentified obese woman, strapped to a special chair needed to bring her down the stairs." The best part is this discussion of a NY Daily News tale of penguins:
It seems the 10 female penguins of the New York Aquarium have been having sex with up to four of the nest's 22 male penguins per day — and penguins are amazingly monogamous creatures.

Penguin couples in the wild often spend the entire winter apart, zillions of miles from the nest. But when the mating season comes, both partners return to the exact same spot — even the exact same rock — for love and mating.

But not these penguins.

Well, there are two males who may not be participating in the New York Aquarium debauchery.

They have lived together for eight years, and "have the neatest nest in the colony," according to the story. Which is a nice way to put it.

Matt Welch suggests that Ralph Nader's problem is that he doesn't do enough to cast aside the pure lunatic left from the Green movement. This seems naive to me: excising the lunatic left from the Greens isn't a matter of shaving some rind from the cheese. Once you start cutting, there isn't a real coherent place to stop. Nader got a lot of votes from (1) people like Matt Welch who admire Nader's humor and work ethic and early career and didn't mind voting for him because he had no chance of winning and (2) people who couldn't stand either Gore or Bush. (Perhaps Welch is also in this second category.) I dare Matt Welch to imagine President Nader on September 11.

It's possible that Nader lost some votes to Gore because of how close the election looked like, but I dare suspect that he wouldn't have done much better in a landslide, and any other human being espousing the same platform in a third party would get a fraction of the support Nader did. Nader as a Democratic nominee would lose 65-35, and might have trouble carrying more than DC.

My goodness, the Web does have everything. The Farm Dole, a weblog (with a frighteningly familiar template!) devoted to the subject of farm subsidies.

Forbes takes up the cudgel I've been mentioning lately: the effect of stock-option compensation and actuarial assumptions on pension gains on profit-loss statements.

The article doesn't follow through on the implications, though. The issue isn't just that General Electric will have smaller pension gains in 2002 than in 2000, and lose a nickel in per share earnings. The issue is the substantial likelihood that the actuaries of a Fortune 500 company using aggressive actuarial assumptions are going to refuse to sign off on what turn out to be increasingly unrealistic assumptions, and a corporation is going to have to announce a multi-billion dollar adjustment in profits.

The credit protection market predicted the collapse of Enron and K-Mart before the stock market and the credit-rating agencies got a full sense of the impending problems. On the other hand, the same metric also predicted the downfall of J.C. Penney, which has more than recovered.

In the credit protection market, which isn't widely reported by the business press, large banking institutions sell credit derivatives that lay off some of their risk of lending to corporate borrowers. If the market (and the credit-rating institutions) are operating efficiently, the cost of insurance in basis points should be equal to the basis point spread between the corporation's bonds and the risk-free rate. But Enron and K-Mart and Gap derivatives were trading at junk-bond rates well before their credit ratings (and their stock and bond prices) reflected their junk-bond status.

Unfortunately, the article only goes by anecdotes, so one can't tell whether a divergence in the derivative market from the credit ratings is really a leading indicator on the direction of the credit ratings. In other words, are the derivative markets more or less efficient than the bond markets? (On the one hand, they consist entirely of sophisticated players; on the other hand, one would expect these instruments to have liquidity issues.) This is the sort of thing that makes a good dissertation for a finance doctorate.

And then there's the other question, which is how the credit derivative market knew to downgrade Enron to below-junk valuation when the stock was still priced in double digits.

Notwithstanding the tacky framework, this French site has a good compilation of 9/11 WTC photos.

You know a story is good when a police lieutenant is quoted

Sunday morning, no one expects anything to happen to them, especially going to the grocery store to pick up some groceries.
Terror strikes the heart of Lowell, Massachusetts in the form of "supermarket rage."

Honda's robot. Mere quoting can not do justice to the mangled English translations. Well, alright:
We have revealed that the absence of toes has no significant effect on walking. More significantly, support is ensured by the base sections of the toes, i.e., balls of feet, and joint areas. Without the foot joints, one cannot feel contact with the walking surface. Therefore, one is not only vulnerable to back-and-forth instability, but also less stable when crossing diagonally over an inclined surface. It is also impossible to ascend and descend stairs without the knee joints.

Far from it for me to suggest that Honda revealed this by cutting the toes and knee joints off of underperforming employees.

Gregg Easterbrook suggests a viable Iraqi war strategy.

Lawyers take over the Pentagon. I saw this this morning, but InstaPundit beat me to blogging it, so I'll just crib his commentary, which duplicates my thoughts:
SPEAKING AS A LAWYER with great respect for my profession, I nonetheless believe that it's idiotic to have lawyers in the loop when missiles are being fired (or, sadly, not fired). Formulating rules of engagement -- sure. But applying rules of engagement? Idiotic. has a good piece, with lots of links, on how California is gutting the Prop 227 reform of bilingual education that has worked so well. Standard modus operandi: special interest group brings litigation, random federal judge, forgetting which branch of the government they're in, enjoins the practice, California state government comes in and "settles" the case by overturning the voters' will, then shrugs its shoulders. What could it do? It had been sued! There apparently needs to be a voter initiative in California requiring the state to actually defend its voter initiatives in court.

More on US intelligence failures that led to September 11. And to date, blame has been laid at Logan Airport for not confiscating box-cutters, but there's no indication that anyone at the FBI/CIA/INS has lost their job.

Bob Woodward's recent puff piece on the terrorist attacks had this anecdote:

"This has bin Laden all over it," Tenet said to Boren. "I've got to go."

He had another reaction in the first few minutes, one that raised the possibility that the FBI and the CIA had not done all that they could to prevent the terrorist attacks from taking place.

"I wonder," Tenet was overheard to say, "if it has anything to do with this guy taking pilot training." He was referring to Zacarias Moussaoui, who had been detained in August after attracting suspicion when he sought training at a Minnesota flight school.

I've seen no one follow up on this except other webloggers.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Charming Valentine's tale of married September 11 survivors.

My good pal Brian Brooks moderates what looks to be a tremendous forum on class action litigation, February 28.

Dangerous Valentine bears.

The Spectator alleges that Osama bin Laden got away because of worries of Western casualties. Scandalous if true.

A small victory for international jurisdictional principles.

Disturbing piece on how British anti-Semitism is behind the lack of support for Israel. 10-1 you won't ever see it on the increasingly bizarrely anti-Semitic (and thus increasingly irrelevant) Robot Wisdom.

An exposé on speed dating.

Yassir Arafat, great democrat, charming as ever.

Life imitates Monty Python. He's since been convicted.

Texas researchers clone cat.

The future of Futurama is in doubt.

Rob Neyer on the 1943 Phillies, the 2002 Expos of their day.

Steve Wulf reports on the unveiling of the Barry Bonds Strat-O-Matic card -- 20 home run spots vs. rhp!

Brent Bozell's column is kind enough to let me know that I perhaps should be watching more "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Bozell is a real tease with this line:
There was even more graphic material on the February 10 episode [of "Sex and the City"] – and you don’t want to know what it was.
I don't?

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

OSCAR UPDATE: Daniel Frank informs me that Memento is correctly classified, because the short story it is based on was not published until after the movie's release. Here's the LA Times article explaining all.

A defense of including Iran in the axis of evil.

This is a world record we can probably do without.

I once convinced myself that a beautiful woman was my soulmate when we mutually confessed our forbidden preference for Mr. Pibb. Sadly, Coca-Cola is apparently discontinuing the brand in favor of "Pibb Extreme." Sounds like New Coke all over again.

But I have an excuse to link to Kibo's outdated fake Dr. Pepper roundup.

Will Saletan spins the "Intelligent Design" movement as a victory for science. It's an incoherent piece. Far better is the National Center for Science Education's work on the subject.

Among the many things A Beautiful Mind messes up is the Nash Equilibrium.

Chris Kahrl's latest Transaction Analysis. In terms of depth-of-knowledge-plus-readability, Chris is the best baseball writer today, which is pretty amazing given that it's his second job.

The Sierra Club pushes the Toyota Prius in Florida. Did I mention how much I like my Prius?

James Glassman on the Daschle hypothesis that government deficit impact the interest rate. Turns out that the marginal borrowing that's being discussed is 1-2% of American debt, too small to have the impact on interest rates that Daschle/Rubin ascribe.

Another Jewish celebrity is making her, er, mark as well. (Link from Joanne Jacobs.)

Nice Jewish quarterback strikes it rich. The article actually gives the real value of the contract: you hear these things reported at $24.5 M/5 years, when it's really a two-year, $6.525 M contract (with only two thirds of that counting towards the salary cap in the next two years) that will get renegotiated in 2004 unless Fiedler turns into the second coming of Kurt Warner.

A L&E approach to executive compensation issues. In terms of accounting reform, I'd be much happier if there was more disclosure of the dilutive effect of stock option compensation -- right now corporations have a perverse incentive to hide compensation in options. I'm not as agreeable with the proposition that this necessarily gives managers an incentive to inflate short-term performane at the long-term expense (this is true only insofar as stock prices reflect a preference for short-term performance, and the fact that is still trading in the double-digit range, inter alia, demonstrates that the market has a more distant horizon than for what the academics give it credit).

Cathy Seipp can program my VCR any day. This week, she covers Futurama.

Robert Samuelson makes the same point about Enron and campaign finance reform I did on Sunday.

And wouldn't you know it, Glenn Reynolds' readers point out a loophole in the campaign finance reform bill that benefits John McCain.

Courts have held that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (misidentified in this New York Times article) does not apply to the Tigua Indians in El Paso; the Supreme Court denied a stay, and their casino has been shut down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Why you shouldn't put your Palm in the oven.

Eric Mulkowsky correctly points out that Thora Birch was also overlooked for Ghost World, which was limited to a writing nomination.

If you take the ten Oscar nominations for Best Writing, subtract the five movies that are also nominated for Best Picture... well, put me on a desert island, and I'd probably rather have the five leftovers.

And, yes, I know, it's all just a popularity contest.

Speaking of desert islands, I saw a good thought question: if you could have any one actor's oeuvre with you on a desert island, which would it be? My gut reaction is De Niro. You get most of Scorsese's best films, a handful of comedies and a bunch of gangster movies, Brazil, The Deer Hunter.

Here's a page with a link to the KPMG theme song.

The British Telecom hyperlink patent.

Judge Kozinski is on the Ninth Circuit panel that will review the appeal of an order under the PSLRA striking Milberg Weiss as counsel over a fees issue. Interesting case; the SEC is arguing for affirmance, but the brief isn't on their web site yet.

Gene Simmons and Terry Gross battle to the death.

Say what you will about Jerry Falwell, he hasn't campaigned against park benches that could encourage public cuddling.

Gene Hackman was shafted. For those of you betting in London, back up the truck on Ian McKellen.

There's only three movies of overlap between "Best Picture" and "Best Director": I don't think there's ever been a winner in one without at least a nomination in the other. And since the winner won't be Gosford Park, that means it will be Lord of the Rings or A Beautiful Mind. And Oscar's a sucker for overcoming-mental-or-physical-challenge movies: geez, three of twenty acting nominations are for playing mentally ill-or-handicapped people, and two more are for the people who love them.

How on earth did Training Day get two acting nominations?

The Coen Brothers get a single cinematography nomination; Wes Anderson gets a writing nomination. Memento gets two minor nominations, and one of them is in the wrong category: the movie was based on a short story, but it's in the "Original Screenplay" category.

In its massive coverage of Enron, the New York Times actually writes something sensible about the impact of its lobbying and political donations.

In fact, for all the self-generated hype about its influence, for all the envy of competitors and detractors, Enron, it turns out, failed to score many victories.

Jacob Sullum echoes the thought I had Super Bowl Sunday. The commercials linking drug use to terrorism miss the real causal link: it's the black market created by drug laws that allows money to flow to terrorism.

Time on Journeys With George.

Gay Rights Victories. The surest sign of gay tolerance in America: beneficiaries of one of the Enron partnerships were an Andrew Fastow employee, Michael J. Kopper, and his "domestic partner, William D. Dodson." The scandal is that they each profited $10 million off of Enron executive self-dealing. Can anyone say that as recently as fifteen years ago that would be the angle that was played up? NB: This is a notoriously Republican company in a notoriously Republican state that still celebrates its founders, the men who rebelled primarily over Mexican anti-slavery laws. But the corporate culture was happy to include gay domestic partners in its largesse.

This is only months after the detail that John Walker Lindh went off the deep end shortly after his father left his mother to move in with a man quietly came out in the press. Again: no one prominently suggests post hoc, ergo propter hoc -- if America can accept men coming out of the closet, sure John Walker Lindh must have. (To complete the cultural zeitgeist survey, the only one of the six NBC Friends that has held down a real job for the entire series has the same family history, and any attendant emotional trauma is played purely for laughs. Then again, Chandler Bing is probably more representative of the thousands of children confronted with a suddenly gay parent than John Walker Lindh, who appears to be the only one who joined a an Islamo-fascist terrorist movement.)

Life imitates The Onion, Part LXVII: British telecom brings lawsuit claiming it invented the hyperlink. Unfortunately, the news story leaves out the interesting facts: I'll post more details when they become available, but the sketchy reporting makes it sound like a submarine patent.

More on Kirkland and the LJM partnerships.

In the event of a bioterrorism attack and a vaccine shortage that kills thousands, remember this lawsuit.

The Bush administion is strongarming Sen. Daschle against holding hearings on the intelligence failure that resulted in September 11.

I still don't understand how a 20-year-old dropout rebelling against his Marin County parents can infiltrate the al Qaeda, but the CIA couldn't.

Washington Post reports: "The [Enron] partnerships under scrutiny for possible financial irregularities were represented by Kirkland & Ellis, and a great big spotlight is swinging Kirkland's way."

Joe Bob Briggs explains Enron.

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