Friday, April 23, 2010


Hope is not lost: Mike Konczal lists six things worth fighting for in the finance bill. Sadly, Consumer Finance Protection Agency isn’t listed, probably because it’s too weak to salvage. Michael Lewis also gives his opinion on the Goldman Sachs imbroglio.

Is the Obama administration’s economic forecast too gloomy? (May be plausible.)

Three quality book reviews adding several books to infinitely long reading list: this review of The Friends of Eddie Coyle, this review of Lionel Shriver’s work, and Tyler Cowen’s review of Last Call, a history of Prohibition.

Which summer blockbuster about mercenaries is right for you?

On a GM’s exaggerations in the NFL draft (the hypothetical GM is speaking):
"I cannot believe that I.M. Formidable was there when we were picking. No, I mean it. It is beyond belief. It has become clear to us here that every other team is run by idiots. I mean, some of the guys picked before I.M., frankly, we wouldn't have picked them out of a tryout camp. Apparently the rest of the league is scouting by looking at the back of football cards or something because this guy is so clearly awesome, and we're picking, what, 23rd? I'm serious, we had two guys faint in the draft room they were so shocked he was still there. We had to pull out the smelling salts, again. I mean it's not even fair how much smarter we are than every other team. To summarize: We rule."
The whole article was pretty amusing.

Disturbing note on Greece/the Euro:
The five year Portuguese yields rose from 3.84% to 4.26%. The five year Spanish bonds rose from 2.89% to 3.03%, and the five year Irish bonds rose from 3.74% to 3.97%. These are not minor moves for investment grade sovereign bond funds. This kind of change means, for example (and roughly), you lose 0.5% on the value of a bond in one day. These are bonds that just pay 3% per year – and one such day may be enough to cause “investment grade investors” to decide not to stay involved and not to come back for a long while.

If these bonds transition towards being held by “emerging market investors” (usually quite different people), and stronger European commercial banks decide to limit their exposure to the weaker government’s bonds, we could be in for quite a major increase in yields across the spectrum.
Eurozone problems still very present.

No shit Sherlock headline of the year: “Ratings agencies rolled over for Wall Street.”

Apps and the SF public transit system (the lesson here: SF public transit sucks.)

What country leads in trying to censor Google?

Asian carp and the great lakes. A funny note therein:
And if their voracious eating habits weren't enough, silver carp pose a direct threat to boaters. When startled, the fish launch themselves out of the water, turning into 40-lb. (18 kg) projectiles that could easily smash an unwary fisherman's nose. It's enough to turn a fishing trip into something worthy of the X Games, which may be fine for the extreme-angling participants of the wild Redneck Fishing Tournament in Illinois, where silver carp are the target and black eyes sustained from flying fish are a badge of honor. But your average day-tripping sportsman on Lake Michigan might not appreciate an airborne carp smacking him in the kisser. "They are living missiles, and that's not trivial," says David Lodge, director of Notre Dame's Center for Aquatic Conservation.
It's very serious, and yet very funny: flying deadly fish!

The coming problems in education and deficit controls. Relatedly, a nice article on education’s problems in the New York Review of Books.

A breakdown of the flex offense.

Social scientists and counterinsurgency, by Nicholas Lemann--self-recommending.

Here’s a big recommendation: It’s a site that curates longform journalism. That lead me to this Fast Company epic from 2008 on China’s African investments. If the topic sounds familiar to you, that’s because The Atlantic covered similar territory in smaller space in its current issue. The Fast Company piece concludes that China is investing in Africa in order to secure resources that will be scarce in short order in the future. It’s hard to disagree: check out this article in the Wall Street Journal on rising commodities prices, or this Slate article on how the volcanic eruption disrupted the global supply chain. Also, speaking of China, check out this Guardian article on China’s golf courses in the island of Hainan. Apparently there's rampant deforestation on the island as a cause of the building. If the subject sounds familiar to you, it’s because I linked to this Foreign Policy slideshow essay on China’s golf courses earlier. And, incidentally, this New York Times article on the expansion and aggressiveness of China’s navy includes the fun tidbit that the island of Hainan is also the site of an advanced submarine port which the U.S. tries to do reconnaissance on from time to time.

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