Tuesday, June 15, 2010


So long to fish.

Michael Pettis lays down the knowledge on China and inflation. Similarly, Mike Konczal lays down the knowledge, re: the Volcker Rule and a case study.

Does intensive farming ameliorate climate change?:
Between 1961 and 2005, the global population increased by 111%, from 3.1 billion to 6.5 billion, but agricultural yields went up by 135% over the same period, according to the researchers. As a result, global cropland increased by just 27%, from 960 million to around 1.2 billion hectares.

To work out how much land would be required to feed today's world using yesterday's technology, the researchers froze agricultural yields at 1961 levels and then allowed population and living standards to increase apace. Although emissions from fertilizer use were lower than in the real-world scenario, the amount of land required to grow food expanded by nearly 1.8 billion hectares. In a second scenario, both the yields and the standard of living were fixed at 1961 levels; the effects in terms of agricultural-land conversion and greenhouse-gas emissions were roughly half those of the first scenario but were still higher than actual impacts in the real-world analysis (see 'Greenhouse-gas emissions').

A Chipotle burrito is more unhealthy than a Big Mac; some speculation as to why you might be surprised:
How an organization known for promoting responsible food choices can get away with serving a signature meal that exceeds our daily sodium allowance—while the avatar of industrial food actually offers a counterpart that's not quite as bad for you—is a situation that makes me wonder: could the rhetoric of food sustainability be distracting us a darker reality? Put differently, does Chipotle's admirable decisions to support small farms when feasible, source all its pork locally from welfare-approved operations, and buy half of its beef hormone-free exonerate their barbell of a burrito from attacking our bodies with obscene levels of cholesterol, saturated fat, and salt?

I shouldn't ask this question of Chipotle alone. Take the famous IN-N-OUT Burger. The organization does an impressive of job of tracking its beef from farm to fork, even going to far as to inspect, butcher, and grind its own product. No outsourcing necessary. This rare example of vertical integration has earned the burger chain well-deserved praise. But stack a standard IN-N-OUT burger against a standard McDonald's burger (both with onions, ketchup, and mustard) and the IN-N-OUT loses on every recorded nutritional point. Calories: 310 to 260. Total fat: 10 grams to 9 grams. Sodium: 730 milligrams to 530 milligrams. Cholesterol: 35 milligrams to 30 milligrams. Carbs: 41 grams to 33 grams. And so on. (All figures are from calorielab.com.)

The culinary domain where I really see the rhetoric of sustainability obscuring heroic amounts of fat, cholesterol, and salt is gourmet dining. One can hardly enter an upscale restaurant these days without being lectured about the locally sourced, sustainably raised, and eco-friendly items on the menu.

Hollywood presses for more original content.

Why Diego Maradona is like Sarah Palin (the headline for the original story is both: the most uninspiring ever and profoundly not SEOed. I'm not sure whether to congratulate the WSJ or not.)

More on the Human Genome Project and pharmaceuticals.

Did the world get microfinance wrong?

After pointing out the ridiculousness of the nomination process—some nominees wait a year before getting unanimously approved—this is a very cogent point:
Please: don't think this is just a problem of Republicans stalling. That's part of it, but the overall statistics for District Courts tell a difference story. Subtracting these three spots, there are now 82 openings at the District Court level, and only 29 nominees pending. The numbers are better for appellate judges, but even there six of the current eighteen openings have no nominee. The numbers are better, but given the importance of these posts, it's perhaps even more negligent of the Obama administration to not even bother to nominate anyone before the Senate becomes more hostile to its choices next year. By my count, eighteen of these spots have been open during the entire Obama presidency. I haven't looked to see if any of those openings had nominees who withdrew, but barring that there's just no possible excuse for failing to even put a name forward, especially on the Court of Appeals spots.
The Obama administration has been a disaster on all things legal: whether you’re talking about, you know, actually appointing judges (Obama does realize he might get beaten in 2012, right?), or the whole—a minor matter really—war on terror framework being extended, it’s been pretty ridiculous for a former Constitutional law professor, overall.

Time to nationalize Frannie and Freddie?

10 Mexican federal police die in a shootout with the cartels.

Ah, Sharron Angle. You’re so crazy.

The story of SIRI and SRI (the latter is more interesting).

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