Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
You may not know it, but war is blazing away on the Internet. Perhaps you've experienced some streaming delays on Netflix or Youtube recently. You may have been caught in the crossfire.
One of the combatants is a Dutch web-hosting company called Cyberbunker. The company's home page cycles a picture of Julian Assange with the caption, "Freedom of speech...is in the eye of the beholder." But they're quick to assure potential clients that Cyberbunker is not some kind of idealistic anarchist commune. Like all good capitalists, Cyberbunker puts the customer first. [Read more]
I've been debating about writing about Wal-Mart for a while now for one very good reason: If I write as a knowledgeable shopper, people will know I shop at Wal-Mart. Chicken of me, I know, but some of my best friends, relatives and acquaintances refuse to shop at Wal-Mart, and they don't like to be reminded that I'm not one of them.
When I worry about the future of my chosen profession, which I do too often these days, I take bleak consolation from the fact that every other profession I considered during my early years is also in crisis. Was it a mistake to become a university professor just as the job market for professors collapsed? Maybe. But if the original question was, "Should I become a professor, a lawyer, or a newspaper journalist?" then maybe not. Lawyers are having a hard time finding jobs; newspapers are laying off. And I can't say I would have been better off staying a high school teacher, as wave after wave of "reforms" make that job harder and worse.
So, the Governor of Florida set up a Task Force on higher education, and they decided that humanities majors should pay more than science majors for a college education. The thinking is that Florida wants more technology grads, and fewer humanities grads, and can get them by making humanities degrees more expensive so that students opt for science, math, and technology instead. They call this approach "market based," but its ignorance of basic economic realities is startling. [Read more]
Raymond Chandler’s legendary private eye, Philip Marlowe, will be back in bookstores next year. Chandler’s estate has authorized a new Marlowe novel from John Banville, alias Benjamin Black. But the real news is not that Banville gets to write the book. It’s that no one else is allowed to write one.
One thing that Barack Obama has done absolutely right for education is change the student loan program. Romney and Ryan have made it clear that if elected they will switch things back to the old way. This small policy difference demonstrates the larger difference between today's Democrats and Republicans.
East Liverpool, Ohio has long been known as the center of American dinner-and diner-ware. For well over a century, from the mid 19th century into the middle of the 1960s, it had been the home of some 300 potteries (partial list here), and included names like American Limoges, Homer Laughlin (across the river in W. Virginia but within shouting distance), Hall, Harker, Taylor Smith Taylor, Knowles, Pearl, Purinton, Royal, Sebring, Sterling, and Wellsville. [Read more]
The debacle at the University of Virginia, whose Board of Visitors hastily fired President Teresa Sullivan, has been a lesson in how business-oriented trustees can urge bad business practices. My earlier post listed some of the imprudent ideas that Sullivan was resisting: a big bet on online learning with no business plan or revenue stream; a desire to chase expensive star faculty from outside UVa instead of building in-house; and a drive to reallocate funds from profitable but unglamorous fields to sexier, less profitable enterprises that the Board of visitors preferred. [Read more]
The Obama administration has also been a major champion for plug-in electric vehicles and hybrids. It has pushed for even higher plug-in vehicle subsidies and incentives on the supply side and consumer demand side of the equation to get the fledgling industry flying on its own. Those plus CAFE requirements – not to mention European legislation beyond the purview of the American president – are expected to be key motivation in developing more electrified automotive solutions in coming years, but Romney said he sees failure written on the EV wall already.
The Obama-led government is, Romney said, trying to "to force a market to adopt a technology that people aren't interested in."
With my plantar muscles feeling better, I've been running a two mile route past a few apartment complexes and through a new development of 3,000 SF single family houses—perhaps 300 of them. A sign indicates that they sell in the $500,000s, but asking prices actually range from $544,990 to $619,990. There are no full-grown trees yet, but down in the hollows are hundreds of saplings tied to stakes and protected from deer with plastic netting. Once grown they should buffer the community from the main thoroughfare. There are a few more houses complete every time I run through, a few more families settled in, a few more kids riding bikes and scooters on the sidewalks. One owner has added, or opted for, a full complement of photovoltaic panels on his South-facing roof.
Back at home I read articles like Real Homes: Small, frugal, and green, in which, "Recent college graduate Ella Jenkins lives with her parents while she builds her 103-square-foot home in their yard." [Read more]
Tesla is about to release its Model S sedan. Despite operating at a loss, despite never having turned a profit, despite being the recipient of government loans (which the right wing hates about the Volt), despite its stock price dropping due to perceived competition from the Toyota RAV4 EV, some Wall Street pundits are still bullish on Tesla.
The Tesla Model S will give you significantly more range than a Nissan LEAF or any other practical all-electric car to date. The Nissan is EPA-certified at 73 miles on average. Tesla claims 160 miles for the base version of the Model S. ...
Tesla will also sell you an alleged 230-mile and a 300-mile version of the Model S. Each step up is $10,000 more.
In my previous post about college prices, I focused on the massive state spending cuts that have driven up tuition at public school universities and also made it easier to raise private tuition, because private universities no longer face serious price competition from the public sector. (See also tmmccarthy's excellent post on tuition and budget cuts.) In this post, I'd like to focus on the cost side of the question, and start with the private universities instead of the public ones.
Rush Limbaugh apparently isn’t the only one paying dearly for his misogynistic ways. Overstock.com boss Patrick Byrne, who has shown himself to be a first-class misogynist himself (“So, why exactly did you become a reporter? Giving Goldman traders blowjobs didn’t work out?” he once e-mailed business reporter Bethany McLean), is currently riding his Internet retailing company straight into the ground.
Happy New Year, all. My spouse and I spent part of yesterday evening at our local revival house, watching a classic New Year's Eve double-feature of The Thin Man and After the Thin Man. Then we adjourned to a favorite bar for midnight; after all, that's what Nick and Nora would do.
As Italy and Spain go tumbling after Greece into an abyss of insolvency, Germany has at last found the will to act boldly in defense of the European Union.
According to the New York Times, Chancellor Angela Merkel has launched a courageous effort to bail out Germany's struggling neighbors...with the International Monetary Fund's money.
Not that she's shirking responsibility. After all, Germany contributes a full six percent of the IMF pool.
And really, why should Germany be any more responsible for bailing out European debtors than the United States (17 percent) and the other 159 non-European members (60 percent). So Germany and Italy share the same currency, what of it? [Read more]
How do you alleviate economic inequality in America? It's easy to complain about greed and extravagance but much more difficult to come up with practical policies that would make a real difference in the long run.
The default proposal these days is to increase tax rates on top income brackets, starting with an elimination of the Bush tax cuts. That may help a bit, but as you can see from the following graph, the trend toward income concentration did not begin with Bush's presidency, and it would take radical tax increases to get back to 1970s levels. The government would have to strip an additional 30 percent from the incomes of the top ten percent and somehow put that money into everyone else's pockets.
After the Thanksgiving Day gluttony is over and after our teams have either won or lost (Our biggie between the Lions and the Packers went horribly awry for my loved ones, poor dears.) and after we've taken our tryptophan-induced naps, the next fun thing to think about, talk about or plan for is Black Friday, our annual Big Huge Shopping Extravaganza. It's the day when primitive survival skills kick in and the absolutely-must-haves traditionally go nuts and stampede in scenes that make even NatGeo watchers go "Wow!".