31 August 2010

Why We're Screwed

The Republicans plan to campaign this fall against the economy. Even if they agreed with Democratic proposals to help the economy, it is in their best interest to delay, dilute, or prevent any palliative action. Disclaimer: if the party positions were reversed the results would be identical.

Even among economists, there is not unanimity about the right course, but it wouldn't matter if there were because partisanship would doom it.

Examining their actions, I have come to the conclusion that members of congress use the following prioritization: self, party, personal ideology, constituency, nation. Pretty much backwards.

The truth is that the bank bailouts were almost certainly necessary (if you think the economy is bad now, imagine it on top of a banking system collapse). The stimulus spending was about half of what most economists thought appropriate, but further stimulus spending is effectively impossible.

Regardless of political policy, the economy was going to suck for years. And it will for several more. The health care was, I believe, well intended, but I don't think it solved the systemic problem.

Oh, and I've read a headline that says one out of five Americans, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, believe that Obama is a Muslim. What are the chances that they're only irrational about that one question?

30 August 2010

26 August 2010

Europa League in Turkey

Hodgson is clearly not prioritizing this match ahead of the League.
Liverpool (from): Reina, Johnson, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Aurelio, Cole, Spearing, Poulsen, Lucas, Pacheco, Shelvey, Babel, Kuyt, Ngog, Eccleston, Gulacsi, Hansen.

My prediction:
Johnson Carragher Skrtel Aurelio
Lucas Poulsen
Kuyt Cole Babel

1-1, Liverpool advance.

24 August 2010

Death Panels

This is what was excoriated as "death panels". How did my father's party become so hateful and cynical?


Given the recent history between the two clubs, I should look at this really at no more than one point lost. Still, all of the concerns that my hope had tried to plaster over were there to be seen. Hodgson chose a 4-4-2 formation and while it is considered by many a classic, it is also out of favor. With Cole missing to suspension and Mascherano to petulance, Hodgson had no choice but to field a squad that was not the best XI. Torres, when fit, has been Liverpool's best player. Unfortunately, he did not look match fit yesterday. There was no understanding between him and Ngog. Agger is a poor substitute for a proper left back. As out of sync as Manchester City had looked against Tottenham last week, they had no trouble finding space in Liverpool's defense. City controlled the midfield as well. There are still thirty-six matches to be played, but it is difficult to be encouraged at the moment.

This doesn't make me feel any better, either.

23 August 2010

Skype thoughts

We just had a Skype video call with our son after his first day at college. Skype is really cool, but there's a little window that shows the image that's being sent to the other person. In that image I look older, skinnier, and balder than I prefer to think that I am. Also, my nose is huge and my glasses are tilted funny.

Manufacturing Jobs

Lately there has been a lot of rhetoric flying around about how we need to "get tough" with China to prevent more manufacturing jobs moving there. The graph in this article suggests that the decline of American manufacturing jobs has been going on consistently since the end of WWII. Worth a read if you have any interest in Econ (it's short).

14 August 2010


The visitors were second best and fortunate to come away with a point. Tevez, Hart, and Johnson played well, but for all the money spent, the team didn't look like title contenders.

I am going to try to watch more neutral matches this year.

13 August 2010

User Interfaces

I managed to lose my American Express card last week in Orlando. The card has been replaced with a new card number. Unfortunately, I used the old card for automated billing. I've had to log in to about 15 different web sites to change the card number.

About halfway through, I noticed that this would have been an interesting opportunity to survey the different policies on collecting my credit card information. Some wanted my full address, some just wanted my zip code, and some didn't ask for any of that. Several collected the CVV which according to PCI DSS they're not supposed to store. Ever.

The last one I did was XM radio. As you'd expect, the navigation to the form for changing the card differed by site, some better designed than others. For the XM site, the link is labeled "Change your Contact and Billing Information". From there, you can change the contact information directly, and there's also an edit link in the middle of the page (between the contact info and the billing info). At the bottom there's a button that says "update". I clicked on it, and it said something like "You havent' changed anything, do you want to update anyway?". I clicked on OK and it took me back to the main screen. Having failed at my assignment, I tried again and clicked on the billing information link, and got a pop-up that said "We are in the process of updating your account. Certain features will be inaccessible for the next 10 minutes. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause."

Ten minutes between updates? How are they connecting to the database, carrier pigeon? punch card? smoke signals? Hey XM, the internet from 1994 called, they want their screen scraping technology back. And it's called "usability"; you should look into it.


I am such a geek.