Undoing Griswold: "The Bush Administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition
of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely
used methods of contraception as abortion."
A further thought on the death of dying in the obits: how can people say with such assurance that the dead, er, passed have gone to be with the Lord? Isn't that decision up to the Lord? Mightn't the Lord have some specific information about even the most righteous-seeming among us that would consign that person to Hell?
Seems to me the theology in these obits is as suspect as the vocabulary.
Senator Richard Burr held a phone conference with bloggers this afternoon on energy policy (or lack thereof).
Short version: We need a comprehensive blueprint for energy independence, but debate in Congress is being stymied by Democrats who don't want to contradict Obama's positions. Drilling now would push down petroleum futures, which would provide near-term relief at the pump. Nuclear, alt-fuels, and conservation are parts of the long term solution. Prices of food and other consumer items will continue to rise.
After the jump, a closely-paraphrased version of Burr's opening statement and the Q&A that followed.
In 1957 my grandparents built one of the first houses in Browntown. I've mentioned its architecture here. Another distinguishing feature was that the large lot was unburdened by a single blade of grass.
The yard was beautiful and scrupulously maintained -- I spent a lot of hours working there myself -- with a mix that included ivy and pachysandra, rhododendron and boxwood, and many large trees.
My dad was no fan of grass, either, although he kept a bit in sunny parts of our yard. I've followed that pattern, delawning much of my own property and waging a passive-aggressive battle against the remaining turf.
Which brings me to this article by Elizabeth Kolbert, itself a handy reference guide to works that may help free your mind -- and your yard -- of the pernicious grass habit.
And yet our relationship to the Beautiful remains vexed. As the
anti-lawnists correctly observe, the American lawn now represents a
serious civic problem. That the space devoted to it continues to
grow—and that more and more water and chemicals and fertilizer are
devoted to its upkeep—doesn’t prove that we care so much as that we are
[Munger] also risks
the scorn of his own party by repudiating much of the "libertopian"
rhetoric — you know, "Let's cancel the government tomorrow" — that
keeps it on the fringes...
himself as "a pragmatic libertarian," convinced that government has a
hard time doing things better than markets, but not that it's always
bad. He is more interested in persuading others than in ideological
...Much of his
agenda, he confesses, makes him "a terrible Libertarian." Maybe. But it
also makes him an important voice in a state that could use some fresh
The question back in December, when E*Trade unloaded its big basket of crap for about 27 cents on the dollar, was whether the deal set a price floor for distressed securities.
I guess not. Merrill's fire sale values its securities at about 22 cents on the dollar. Factor in ML's enormous loss in market cap over the intervening months, and hanging onto the junk looks like an even worse decision.
More: "Monday's deal is likely to set a precedent for other insurers and
financial institutions that are facing steep losses from subprime
mortgage securities created over the last few years."
"We have enough capital" has become the Wall Street CEO's version of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
Orson Scott Card writes in the Rhino, "Because I oppose the legalization of 'gay marriage,' I am often attacked as a homophobe."
He's far too modest about his own oeuvre, which goes well beyond opposing gay marriage (and using quotation marks like latex gloves to avoid touching the icky term):
Laws against homosexual behavior
should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against
anyone who happens to be
caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear
message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual
behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable,
equal citizens within that society.
The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people
from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in
their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence
of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and
The short version: "Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales broke the law by using politics to guide their hiring decisions for a
wide range of important department positions, slowing the hiring
process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility and
The WSJ has a thumb-sucker on whether we are in a recession ("Maybe, maybe not") and a somewhat more relevant piece about the duration of whatever the current unpleasantness is called.
More useful: this NYT article about unfolding events in the real (i.e., non-economist-modeled) world: "Banks struggling to recover from multibillion-dollar losses on real
estate are curtailing loans to American businesses, depriving even
healthy companies of money for expansion and hiring."
There is no housing bubble in this country...What we do have is a serious housing shortage and housing affordability crisis...Anyone waiting for prices to collapse before buying a home is likely to be in for a
disappointment... housing prices are likely to cool off slowly, if at all.
This is good, too:
Sages from Warren Buffett to Alan Greenspan have warned of the increased risk from the use of new mortgage products, particularly adjustable-rate mortgages and interest-only mortgages. The theory here is that buyers are extending themselves to make payments, and when their mortgages reset they will be in trouble...these concerns are wildly overstated.
So we stopped for a Pennsylvania Dutch lunch in Shartlesville, PA, where the first inn opened in 1765 and thus probably saw earlier generations of Guilford County-bound travelers taking on much the same route we were taking home.
Anyway, when the waitress asked "have youse decided?," I asked about a side-dish: potato filling.
"It's like bread filling, but made with potatoes," she said, which was no help, since I was up to speed on the potato thing and needed an explanation of "filling."
I guessed that it was a regional variation of stuffing, and it pretty much is. Good, too.
For reasons involving the timing of a family birthday party and my work schedule, we made the 740-mile drive from VT in one day. Not as bad as it sounds, although I wouldn't choose to do it often, and a beautiful trip almost every mile of the way.
Pity the professional covering Howard Dean in GSO: "I'm all for citizen journalism (really!), but if you're going to wander
into the scrum, could you at least observe some protocol? I can backpedal down a spiral staircase with three other guys I don't
even like and still not spark fisticuffs. Can the cat lady with
crochet-covered camera-phone please dig her elbows out of my spleen? I got a family to feed!"
PIMCO estimates a total of 5
trillion dollars of mortgage loans are in risky asset categories and
that nearly 1 trillion dollars of cumulative losses will finally mark
the gravestone of this housing bubble. The problem with writing off 1
trillion dollars from the finance industry’s cumulative balance sheet
is that if not matched by capital raising, it necessitates a sale of
assets, a reduction in lending or both that in turn begins to affect
...the cost of credit is going up, not down,
in contrast to prior cycles, because astute investors recognize the
myriad of global imbalances that threaten future stability. In addition
to home prices, $130 a barrel oil and their resultant distortion of
global wealth and financial flows head that list. For now, investors
should remain in high quality assets.
Related: "Disappointing housing data...a surprisingly bleak report from the Labor Department...no stabilization in sight for labor markets."
N&O has more on the big money flowing to McCrory from the RGA:
Most of it has come from a handful of contributors who have shown
little or no interest in North Carolina politics in the past...
has made a centerpiece of his campaign changing the culture of state
government, which he says is controlled by big-money special interests.
But his campaign is welcoming the association's help...
...One contributor, Dan L. Crippen, a consultant from Bethesda, Md. for
Schaller Anderson, a health care company, said he did not know his
$25,000 contribution was going toward the North Carolina governor's
Wake me up in November, please: "Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins."
If Wachovia was a cartoon character then Golden West would be the bomb hidden inside a giant piece of cake that it ate in one bite. Ka-pow!
A commenter at the QC daily says Charlotte would lose a lot if Wachovia gets bought. That's true, as people in Winston-Salem can tell you, and odds are good that Charlotte will find out what it feels like.
Meanwhile, a prediction that the housing swoon will last longer than previously anticipated.
McCain and Obama oppose drilling in ANWR, Schwarzenegger opposes drilling off California, so a lot of the "drill now" talk is just...talk.
What I'd like to see is an energy plan presented on a simple chart, showing how different elements (including domestic production, nuclear, alternative fuels, conservation) fit together in a decade, two decades, and so on. Anyone seen something like that?