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February 28, 2015

"Why Bibi’s Speech Matters"

Matthew Continetti:

What the opponents of a bad deal with Iran have witnessed over the last few months is the transference of Obama’s domestic political strategies to the international stage. A senior administration official is on record likening an Iranian nuclear agreement to Obamacare, and the comparison makes sense not only in the relative importance of the two policies to this president, not only because both policies are terrible and carry within them unforeseen consequences that will not be manifest for years, but also because of the way opponents of both policies are treated by the White House. If they are not ignored or dismissed, their motives are impugned. They are attacked personally, bullied, made examples of.

UPDATE: See also "Obama’s Failure".

Stellarium

Cool little free astronomy program.

"How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?"

Adam Davidson, New York Times:

The reason a majority of movie studios still turn a profit most years is that they have found ways to, as they say, monetize the ancillary stream by selling pay-TV and overseas rights, creating tie-in video games, amusement-park rides and so forth. And the big hits, rare as they may be, pay for a lot of flops. Still, the profits are not huge. Matthew Lieberman, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, expects growth over the coming years to be somewhere around 0.6 percent.

February 27, 2015

"14 Overrated Tourist Attractions Around The World — And Where To Go Instead"

I have no personal knowledge of any of these except for the thumbs-down--which I second--on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

See also the probably more controversial "The 16 Most Disappointing Places To Visit On Earth".

"An Honest Letter from Your I.T. Department"

Short and funny.

Although we refer to this as an upgrade, it is, at best, a lateral move. The software does the same things as before, except your favorite features have been moved to a place where you will never find them again.

"Who Would Win If A Hippo Fought A Rhino? A Question For The Ages"

I've written it before, I'll write it again: I love the Internet.

February 26, 2015

"Obama’s nuclear vow to Iran a potential catastrophe"

By Michael Goodwin, New York Post. Very unfortunately, the headline is not overstated.

Reports that President Obama agrees Iran should be free to make a nuclear bomb in about 10 years put the lie to his repeated vow never to allow an Iranian nuke. The broken promise is the international twin to his domestic whopper that you “can keep your doctor.”

You can’t, but Iran can keep its enriched uranium, making this lie an even bigger bombshell. As in, bombs away.

It is impossible to overstate the potential catastrophe of the emerging deal. If the terms reported by The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and others become final, it would mean the United States and leading UN powers give their blessing for the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism to have the ultimate weapon, effectively rewarding Iran for decades of criminal behavior and acts of war against America, Israel and others.

For more on the wonders of our current foreign policy, see also the absolutely scathing "Obama's Libya Debacle"--lest you think the author is a right-wing "nut," he worked for Rep. Foley and Senator Schumer--and "The Mosul Offensive".

"A little post mid-week motivation can be good for you"

Made me laugh, particularly #6 and #9.

"What advantages does Scott Walker offer?"

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post lists ten.

Maggie Gallagher, on the other hand, isn't impressed yet.

UPDATE: Second link now fixed. Thanks to Edward C.

"Bang for your buck: Best handguns under $500"

You know the saying: the best defense is a good offense.

February 25, 2015

"The Danish Don't Have the Secret to Happiness"

A nice follow-on to my earlier post ("Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias").

"When Environmental Policy Backfires"

Terry Anderson, writing for Hoover:

With over 2,000 listed endangered species, only 1 percent have been saved.

Environmentalists contend that the success rate is low because of economic development. According to WWF Global, “Habitat loss poses the greatest threat to species. The world’s forests, swamps, plains, lakes, and other habitats continue to disappear as they are harvested for human consumption and cleared to make way for agriculture, housing, roads, pipelines and the other hallmarks of industrial development.”

But the low success rate can be better explained by the fact that the ESA has been used more to stop development than to encourage species preservation. . . . 

Gadgets I want (if they work)

"We Tested the World's First Automatic Calorie Counter, and It Works!"

"Scanadu Scout™: Imagine a future where you can know yourself best."

"Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil a new kind of battery to power your home".

And a small thing, but I agree with completely: "Wanted: A Better Shower Controller".

 

"Is Detroit Open for Business?"

As if Detroit didn't have enough problems.

Detroiters’ suspicion about outside money isn’t unique. New Yorkers have been known to look askance at foreign billionaires buying up high-end real estate in the Big Apple. But Detroit’s insularity has been particularly destructive; the city’s lack of economic diversity, after all, contributed mightily to its decline. Unless the Motor City makes peace with outside investors, don’t expect a real recovery anytime soon.

February 24, 2015

"Same Performance, Better Grades"

"Academic achievement hasn't improved much, so why are college-goers getting higher GPAs than ever before?"

Clearly, the author needs to visit Lake Wobegon: all the students today are above average.

(More seriously, I'd speculate that a substantial part of the problem comes from poorly designed student evaluations of professors, which weren't around when I was a student.)

"Why We Need to See the Stars"

Good argument.

Throughout all of history, the stars have served as humanity's quintessential source of curiosity.

What happens when we are shielded from celestial inspiration, and from truly seeing our place in the Cosmos? Do we look down and wonder less? Do we lose our sense of scale? Does our ingrained drive to explore dwindle?

Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

"Alzheimer's breakthrough as scientists discover how to stop disease in its tracks, paving the way for 'statin-like' drug"

Let's hope it proves out.

See also another possibility: "A Bold New Experimental Treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia". (This link courtesy of Michael Greenspan.)

"Forget Climategate: This 'Global Warming' Scandal is Much Bigger"

James Delingpole, doing his thing.

But if this data cannot be trusted, all bets are off. I’m not saying there has been no 2oth century global warming, I think there probably has been, but I don’t honestly know. The worrying part, though, is that neither – it would appear – do the scientists.

(Link via Michael Greenspan.)

"There are way more young single men than young single women in US cities"

The key to this surprising finding is "young".

February 23, 2015

"San Francisco Bay Bridge’s troubles: How a landmark became a debacle"

Yet one more reason why the other 49 shouldn't imitate Cali.

Many of the problems are linked to the bridge’s unusual complexity, according to a panel of engineers that looked at the project last summer for the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Their report concluded that California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) engineers had warned at the time that the bridge would be a technical nightmare. The design panel chose the configuration, the report said, because of “aesthetics” and “without a full appreciation” of its challenges.

All but one of the bridge experts on the selection panel opposed the final design, but they were outvoted by those with no bridge knowledge or experience.

Two more reasons:

"You Didn’t Even Know Just How Stupid The LA School District’s Plan For iPads Was".

"Northridge Quake 20 Years Later: 5 Lessons Not Learned".

"Low-fat diet advice was based on undercooked science"

"Damning report says the 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States should never have been introduced." So who do I sue? See also "We should never have told people to stop eating fat".

And see also "The glorious return of the egg: Why Uncle Sam is a horrible nutritionist".

And James Delingpole makes the important connection to climate change: "So Butter is Good For You. Just Like Global Warming, Then."

"12 Reasons Why Dating in LA is Different Than Anywhere Else"

Yet another tribulation of living on the Left Coast.

"The Time Everyone 'Corrected' the World’s Smartest Woman"

The short version of an amazing stain on the American professoriate.

(I think it's a terrific example to use in stat classes. There's even at least one entire book about it.)

"Aging water mains a $1-billion headache for DWP"

Another look at what happens when city governments run out of money.

About one-fifth of the city's water pipes were installed before 1931 and nearly all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 15 years. They are responsible for close to half of all water main leaks, and replacing them is a looming, $1-billion problem for the city.

See also, from February 18, "Water main break floods Hollywood Hills neighborhood, submerges vehicles".

Two on where the stock market is going

More interesting than most such pieces:

"The Outlook For Buy-And-Hold Returns Over The Next Decade Is Terrible".

"Quant Guru Ray Dalio Talks Up Risk Of Ruin At Bill Ackman's Stock Picking Summit".

February 22, 2015

Even better than the "New" Nixon . . .

Remember that? Prepare yourselves--maybe--for "Hillary 5.0".

"Vindicating Standard Oil, 100 years later"

Fine, short piece explaining why the 1911 Standard Oil decision is not the huge triumph for antitrust it's made out to be.

"The Most-Thanked Names in Oscar History"

"God is a giveaway at No. 6. Can you guess the top 5?"

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