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Home October 2011
October 2011

Say What You Will About the Republican Campaign

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... the campaign ads are setting a record for being entertaining.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 29 October 2011 14:22

What a Game 6!

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Game 6 of any World Series has a built-in drama; one team can win the championship in that game, and the other has to win to get a seventh game. And so it was last night, as the St. Louis Cardinals had to win to survive in the Series.

I watched a lot of baseball in the '60s and early '70s but drifted away, with a short revival during the years of Blue Jay excellence (mid-80s, early 90s). I started watching this Series largely because the Cardinals were the team of my youth, and I had enjoyed watching the Rangers last year. Last night, I had no particular favorite, though as the night wore on, I began to cheer for a seventh game!

This had to be one of the two greatest and most entertaining baseball games I can recall. It had just about everything. The only competitor I have seen is the final game of the 1960 World Series, and also ended with a home run, though not in extra innings, but with the same score, 10-9, as last night.

And last night's was amazing; twice the Cardinals were two down with only a strike needed for elimination and twice they scored two runs to tie. After finally holding Texas scoreless in the top of the second extra inning, David Freese (who had tripled in the bottom of the ninth to save the game) hit a lead-off home run to center. But the earlier innings had also been entertaining, featuring the best and worst of baseball, with a moderate amount of seesawing in score. As for mistakes, with Freese on third in the bottom of the ninth, the pitcher made quite a bad throw and Napoli, the Texas catcher, had to make quite a stop to save a winning run.

Add to the drama that Freese was a local boy.

All in all a fabulous, and very long, night of entertainment.

I will surely be back tonight!

Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2011 10:47

The View From My Hotel Window This Morning

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Yes that white stuff is snow; I am just south of Boston now. It is a very clear sunny morning so there was likely a fair bit more of the stuff a while ago.


Dancing With the Stars this week

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I've not been posting much on DWTS this season as I have not watched consistently enough, and have had trouble forming an opinion about the dancers, and have been baffled a bit by some of the early exits, especially Kristin Cavallri and Chynna Phillips, both clearly not adequately fan favorites.

As the show runs opposite other shows I like to watch, I see only fragments of each show. Mondays I try to catch all the scored dances, and Tuesdays I simply try to catch the last five minutes or so, as the results show is ful of phony suspense, which may be fun for someone desperate to see whather a particular couple is 'safe'. I don't get too emotionally involved in any particular couple, so I just want the facts, man, who is not coming back to the competition.

In any case, it WAS fun in a bizarre way watching the Chaz Bono and Hope Solo dances Monday, and even more fun watching the consequences of the judge's comments. Bruno seemed to me out of hand, though possibly playing his ABC TV Bruno role, in referring to penguins and Ewoks, though the dance was pretty awful. I did not think the judge's comments on Solo's dance were off the mark; I had high hopes for her, and she has not really seemed to 'get' dancing in a funny way. But her dance was not so bad and that she scored only one point higher than Bono seemed ludicrous to me. Maksim's response, complaining about 'marking for effort', was spot on, and he pointed out that everyone is putting in a lot of effort. His outrage was evident, I thought justified, and it does make me wonder about the relations between some of the judges and the pro dancers. There must be history after so many seasons.

In any case, I had been figuring the only way Bono had survived several previous weeks was an existing groundswell of fan support (how else could we have lost Cavallari and Phillips, both quite competent, sometimes excellent?). I assumed Solo was doomed. So imagine my surprise when I toggled to ABC after NCIS LA, almost immediately to see Bono voted off the island!

I was sorry for two reasons, one that he was an interesting guy (in a way the Woz of this season), and the other that Lacey Schwimmer is one of my favorite pro dancers on the show. But on the other hand, in my view, he was running out of time and was lucky still to be there, and besides, I prefer looking at Solo, and I enjoy Maksim's explosiveness (Lacey just seems sweet). I do wonder if the voters were confused because both celebrities have four-letter Italian surnames ending in 'o'.

I look forward to therest of the season; I have been multiply surprised already so far. Who'd have thought Ricki Lake could put on such fine performances? And Nancy Grace is better than I expected, though I'd likely vote her off next, though I would miss watching her kids being excited. Rob Kardashian I had thought of only in terms of his surname, so expected little, but he has impressed me and seems a rather decent guy. I don't recall ever noticing David Arquette in a performance, but his volatility is entertaining (this week I thought he was on something), and it is nice to see Courtney Cox and CoCo.

The guy who has really amazed me is J.R. Has he put in a bad dance? (Everyone else has.) Has he amazed? Almost every week. So if I lean to an outcome it is his victory.  We shall see, and I plan to be watching. And voting, if perhaps strategically.


The View from the Hotel Window

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Includes an unfortunate reflection of the photographer.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:49

Great Health Care Point from Chris Auld

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I see few studies that make this very relevant point about the relationship between the health practices of a  population and the costs of health care in that population. To quote only his title, "Healthy is good but it won't reduce health care dollars".

The simple point, missed in almost any journalistic discussion I ever see of this topic, is:

The basic problem with the argument that healthy lifestyles decrease health care use is it draws attention only to the gross costs of treating illnesses caused by unhealthy behaviors, but the relevant costs are netof the costs which would otherwise be incurred under a healthier lifestyle.

Basically, for example, if you incur health care costs by, for example, smoking, you also die sooner and so incur them for fewer years, while a non-smoker may encourage yearly lower costs but for a longer time. It is an empirical question with no obvious answer who costs more over a lifetime.

As he summarizes:

The zombie notion that promoting healthy lifestyles is a good way of reducing demand on the health care system should be put to rest.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 08:19

The View out my Hotel Window

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It's easy to see why we schedule our late October meeting here many years.


Breitbart Has This About Right

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As with so much else.

It makes me very sad though.


Comparative Advantage at Work

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There he is doing what he certainly does better and not trying to become PM, not trying to displace someone far better suited to that job!

Now if you want to truly understand comparative advantage, run this test: am I suggesting that Ignatieff is a better columnist than Harper would be?

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 October 2011 13:23

Unbelievable, on a Non-CBC Way

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No Muslim girls were killed in the making of this lovely video.

Even better, a seriously lost kitten was found!

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h/t BCF

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 October 2011 16:06

This Is Not the Stupidest Thing I have Seen Today from the #Occupy Folk

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But it sure is stupid, as they seem to be across the world.

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These are unpleasant human beings, who are contributing nothing to anyone's progress, likely not even their own.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 October 2011 05:46

What's Unbelievable for You?

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Rita Celli leads off a section on her show Ontario Today today by describing this story as 'unbelievable'.


The day the bodies were discovered underwater at Kingston Mills, I was driving along the 401 not far from Kingston and heard all the initial reports and almost immediately concluded we were looking at an 'honor' killing. Two factors fed my conclusion. First, all the victims were women, some of them teenagers, and they all had pretty obvious names for this vulnerability (e.g. Zainab Shafia). Second, the story, blandly repeated by police spokesmen, but clearly not believed for a second, is that these four women had all snuck off in the night and had an accident during a joyride. A joyride to Kingston Mills!? Had any reporters been to Kingston Mills (I lived in Kingston for a year and ran by Kingston Mills many times) I doubt they would have believed that for a second.

I don't know whether Rita Celli was being stupid or disingenuous; I would guess at the latter. I doubt it would help your career at the CBC to come immediately to the perfectly obvious conclusion (as evidently the police did) about what had happened. After all this is Trudeau's wonderful Multicultural Canada and all cultures are cool to the CBC, even the ones that arbitrarily and happily mass murder young women because they have started to enjoy their lives in Canada.

So I wonder whether Rita is stupid or wilfully blind. Either way it is not a good thing. Has she heard of Aqsa Parvez?

Of course, Rita could probbaly get appointed to the jury in the trial and it is clear I would not be after maybe one or two questions in voir dire.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2011 15:19

1994? Really? Amazing!

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It is unimaginable contemplating today a President who can engage in this way. Such a sorry degradation in under twenty years. The current US President would not even be able to engage. (Nor do I think W could do this, but I do think it is more likely; after all, he had run some businesses.)

And I don't think Cain is a slouch here, though the h/t is to Justin Wolfers on Twitter, who rhetorically asks "Who is the Better Economist Here".

My view - neither is an economist - we have a politician and a businessman.

But it is an astonishing piece of history, and as I said above, reminds us of how low the US discourse has sunk.

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My view - Clinton was largely more right, but he clearly screwed his effort up a ton by putting Hillary in charge.

Though I would far rather see her running the show today than the joke the US elected. And I suspect I'd be happier with Herman Cain too.

I do wonder what happened with Herman Cain's 'calculations'.

UPDATE: Clinton of course had only ever run governments (more than Obama has ever done with any success) so I think he underappreciates the private entrepreneur Cain's concerns. But it is still far above anything I can imagine Obama doing.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2011 15:43

Could Anyone Assemble a More Unpleasant Trio?

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Than Pat Martin, Wayne Easter, and Elizabeth May? (On CBC NN right now.)

And Wayne Easter is actually a bit cool.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:41

What a Day in Canadian Politics

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The Wheat Board vote proceeds, we have Supreme Court Justices named, and shipbuilding contracts are delivered.

The CBC does me the kindness of a show hosted by Rosie Barton and featuring Jennifer Ditchburn. I, a hardened CBC watcher, am delighted.

It would not be like this on CNN or FOX but I am cool with it.



Olivia Wilde is Insanely Beautiful

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... in no way that any of us think of us as classically beautiful. Thanks to the producers of 'House' for enriching our lives.

The Good Wife/ House

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TV is really so good now. We have lost Cuddy from House but she is now gracing The Good Wife as a superb foil to Will.

And I am truly relieved to see Remy back on House! A great actress and a great Tweeter.


Salim Mansur on MultiCulti

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His passion really is notable in this podcast.

It is really a great interview.


Yes This Puts it Very Nicely

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h/t sda

The Nasty Me

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... is reading a book.

I am no major fan of rap but this is truly wacky genius at work; h/t the always interesting Paul Kedrosky.

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"Don't you ever interrupt me while I'm reading a book" can sound rather menacing.

UPDATE: This guy really is funny.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 13 October 2011 09:18


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An utterly brilliant discussion of Ezra from the oilsands.

Anyone who pretends to be serious on the environment needs to look at this.


How Stupid is The Great Windbag

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Really stupid, it seems. Even the Japanese had to cut him off at the pass!

A silly little man, in love with making apologies, that even the recipients do not want!

What a pathetic fool!


#OccupytheMet - David Lomelli

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I was SO lucky; yesterday's drive was timed to coincide with the Q interview with David Lomelli. Though somewhat of an opera fan, I had not  heard his story and it is a delight.

You can listen to it here. (Choose the Oct. 11 show and go to about 19:35 And don't get upset at Brent Banbury's opera gaffes.)

This young guy seems to have struggled without an obvious job and prevailed. Not a waste of my time like many of those protestors!

I love the idea that you can get a scholarship to a Mexican university by participating in opera, and not necessarily football. Of coure both are somewhat athletic pursuits.

And I had never heard the great phrase 'park and bark'. This is almost as good a piece of professional jargon as when Neve Campbell used the verb 'pap' in an interview, also on CBC, that I heard in the car.

In the end, David Lomelli is no OccupyWallStreet whiner!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 03:05

I Love This Song

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And to think I learned about it from a tweet from an economist! (Stephen Gordon)

As painful as the Quebecois can be (not so painful I plan to put accents on the e's) they are also a constant source of delight!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 03:00

The Best "Occupy" Autobiography

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Most of the submissions I have seen are people shooting themselves in the foot. If anyone deceived them, it was their guidance counsellors and universitites, not Wall Street. But this is utterly perfect.


Do Something! Do Something!

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At least the NDP (maybe the Liberals too) are calling on the Harper Government to 'DO SOMETHING' about job creation in Canada.

As if the government could do a heck of a lot anyway.

But Stephen Gordon responds in more detail, noting that job creation in Canada right now appears to be at pre-recession levels. In that case, the likelihood of the governemnt having available much to do at all seems vanishingly small. 'Doing something' looks at the moment like busy work, just wasting resources on a problem that is not currently a problem.

There is much more interesting detail posted at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, including a pithy comment from Livio di Matteo. There are also comments from the other side.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 03:07

Occupy Fraudster Hard at Work

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If this kid cannot find a job in law, he might be able to get one in acting, though his performance is rather overwrought.

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After he dupes a large part of the world, all it takes is the Internet to expose him as a liar - in fact all the blogger had to do was phone his Mom.

Overall I do not lack sympathy for young people who cannot find work, though if they got degrees in MFA or anything ending in 'Studies', it seems to me they made their own beds.

This guy is not the most disturbing disruption to my attempts to feel sympathy for the various 'Occupy' protestors; it is the robotic chanting that convinces me these are not serious people where I see it. And God save us if those silly little wiggling fingers become standard in the public space. What a gang of weenies.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 09:07

Stephen Fry on Steve Jobs

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As usual, Fry has very interesting observations.

Fry gets to see a pre-announcement iPad, with Jobs (!), and does a nice job of describing the cult of Steve:

The excitement of him then handing me an iPad (after I had duly signed severe NDAs prohibiting my flaunting it in public until the embargo date had passed) and being able to play with it before the rest of the world had even seen one tickled my vanity and I would be dishonest if I did not confess to the childlike excitement, the pounding thrill, the absurd pride and the rippling pleasure I always feel on such occasions – emotions that have long been pointed out as pathological symptoms of the wilder shores of unreason that Apple idolatry induce in people like me and as a part of Steve Jobs’s almost Svengali like powers of persuasion, and Barnum-like huckstering.

But the article is definitely overall positive about Jobs' Apple, and it is worth a read.

And there is a rather nice bonus story at the end about a meeting that never did happen.


A Defence of Edison

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There was a lot of comparison of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison last week, and I thought as I saw it, how easily we forget, or at least what a ludicrous sense of proprtion we have.

Vaclav Smil, perfectly suited for this job, corrects the notion that they are at all comparable in their impact.

He initially distinguishes first-order innovation from the rest:

Any student of the history of technical progress must be struck by the difference between the epochal, first-order innovations that take place only infrequently and at unpredictable times and the myriad of subsequent second-order inventions, improvements, and perfections that could not have taken place without such a breakthrough and that both accompany and follow (sometimes with great rapidity, often rather tardily) the commercial maturation of that fundamental enabling advance.

When there was no system for elivering electricity, Edison created one.

Perhaps no contemporary testimony of his accomplishments is as revealing and as appreciative as the impressions of Emil Rathenau, a pioneer of the German electric industry, after seeing the display of Edison’s system at the Paris Electrical Exhibition of 1881:

"The Edison system of lighting was as beautifully conceived down to the very details, and as thoroughly worked out as if it had been tested for decades in various towns. Neither sockets, switches, fuses, lamp-holders, nor any of the other accessories necessary to complete the installation were wanting; and the generating of the current, the regulation, the wiring with distribution boxes, house connections, meters, etc., all showed signs of astonishing skill and incomparable genius."


But the electric system remains Edison’s grandest achievement: an affordable and reliably available supply of electricity has opened doors to everything electrical, to all great second-order innovations ranging from gradually more efficient lighting to fast trains, from medical diagnostic devices to refrigerators, from massive electrochemical industries to tiny computers governed by microchips.

First-order innovation at its deepest, and utterly pervasive very quickly in the twentieth century.

As for Jobs' contributions:

Consequently, Apple’s products are actually third-order innovations that use a variety of fundamental second-order innovations in the now vast realm of electronic components to assemble and to program devices whose greatest appeal has been due to their (choose your own adjective, or embrace all of them) sleek, unorthodox, elegant, streamlined, clean, functional interface design.

Smil points out something many like to forget:

And as for the “awesome technologies” that sprang from Jobs’s Apple laboratories, would not an impartial observer describe the iPad as just a small laptop computer without a keyboard and a cover (a boon for the makers of covers that people buy to protect the device) rather than an epoch-making innovation on par with electricity, vaccination, hybrid crops, or synthetic nitrogen fertilizers?

Yes, Edward Jenner, Norman Borlaug, more first-order innovators.

Smil conlcudes:

Instant history has its perils. Some 130 years after Edison’s remarkable creation of the electricity system, there still remains no doubt about the fundamental and truly epochal nature of his contributions: the world without electricity has become unimaginable. I bet that 130 years from now our successors will not be able to say the same about Apple’s sleek electronic devices assembled from somebody else’s components and providing services that are not fundamentally different from those offered by competitors. I have no doubt that the world without iPhone or iPad would be perfectly fine.

Smil writes extrememly well. I recommend the article and his books. You will learn something, and it will likely be sobering.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 06:08

Ramirez Strikes Again - The Great Windbag

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This cartoon just beautifully encapsulates the emptiness of the bloviations of the Great Windbag.


Scalia Dissects Gridlock

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Antonin Scalia expresses himself so well, and in the presentation referred to here he dissects what struck me during the debt ceiling negotiation as the utterly infantile preoccupation with 'gridlock' in the US government. The presumption among the pundits obsessed with this notion seemed to be that legislators (and in particular those identified with the Tea Party) were obliged somehow to abandon their own principles in favor of those of some higher good, which actually seemed to mean the convenience of the Great Windbag and his cohorts.

Scalia explains the merits of gridlock.

A nice piece:

I hear Americans saying this nowadays, and there’s a lot of it going around. They talk about a disfunctional government because there’s disagreement… and the Framers would have said, “Yes! That’s exactly the way we set it up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power because the main ill besetting us — as Hamilton said in The Federalist when he talked about a separate Senate: “Yes, it seems inconvenient, inasmuch as the main ill that besets us is an excess of legislation, it won’t be so bad.” This is 1787; he didn’t know what an excess of legislation was.

I doubt Hamilton could have imagined a 2000-page law that the legislators could not even read before a vote.

As Karl observes:

When they don’t get their way (usually some version of Euro-socialism), their solution is to radically alter our system of government, rather than to make better arguments or listen to their fellow citizens. Even Alexander Hamilton would shudder.

Of course the Constitution is an obstruction to those who want to run our lives.

(Nor is Breyer in the hearing a slouch!)

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 06:00

Poor John Lewis ...

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...looks utterly baffled.

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These people are utter nutbars. I got the feeling I was watching a Woody Allem movie but I was not sure which one.

Now I have it! Mighty Aphrodite! Ofcourse Allen MEANT to be hilarious.



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