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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crisis of 2025

Contrary to Jeremy Stein's scenario, I'd think a financial crisis of 2025 would have more to do with out-of-control entitlements and downgraded sovereign debt than with windpower derivatives (unless perhaps that crisis will already have hit when the windpower one arrives). Excerpt:
Washington, D.C., May 27, 2025. Just four months into his first term, President Scott P. Brown faces what is rapidly becoming a severe financial crisis, with the collapse yesterday of yet another Stable Wind Farm Trust. The failed institution, Magna-SWIFT, is the largest thus far, with over $90 billion in assets. Rumors also continued to swirl about the condition of the Houston Power House, one of the nation’s largest clearinghouses specializing in weather and power derivatives. Experts warned that a major clearinghouse failure could have devastating implications.
More here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hamilton, Burr and their banks

My newest at Research: "A Tale of Origins," on how outsized personalities and political tumult created some major financial institutions. Excerpt:

When Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr dueled at dawn on July 11, 1804, the fight was not just between a former Treasury secretary and a sitting vice president, two political heavyweights of the early American republic. It was also between two founders of major financial institutions that are still in existence (following mergers and name changes) over two centuries later.

Indeed, the animosity that led to the duel that took Hamilton’s life and turned Burr into a political outcast was exacerbated by their respective roles in setting up some of America’s first financial firms.
Whole thing here. Also, I'll be discussing this article on the Gabe Wisdom Show on Wed., 5/26 at 7pm ET, which can be listened to by radio or Internet at the show link and later here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Random links

Things that have gotten my attention at times on a sunny Friday afternoon:

-- John Guardiano declaims against anti-Rand Paul reactions at FrumForum, where he and I write.

-- Stuart Kauffman on NPR on "The Actual, the Possible and What's Real."

-- An absorbing interactive package at (my sometime employer) Scientific American about "12 Events That Will Change Everything."

UPDATE: And the Kauffman piece above leads (though I had to find the link) to a fascinating (notwithstanding density) discussion of "Five Problems in the Philosophy of Mind."

Planetary journalism

Congratulations to George Musser, friend, colleague and occasional blog commentor, on winning the American Astronomical Society's Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fusion voting, gnostocracy

It looks like a busy week. Here are a couple of quick links:

-- Bruce Bartlett on how "fusion voting" could give third parties some sway. It strikes me as an attractive proposition at a time when a third party plausibly could be less ideologically extreme than the first two.

-- Walter Russell Mead on how efforts against climate change represent "gnostocracy," or rule by experts, which he dismisses. But aren't there some subjects about which the experts genuinely know much more than the general public?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Soylent Green

The chief of child psychiatry where I work is a quirky fellow. Hes a psychiatrist, but is also interested in collecting coffins at antique shops, singing in a choir, and seeing offkilter movies. But I think he maybe onto something especially when it comes to the environment. He was talking about Soylent Green which is made from sea plankton and maybe helpful for the environment. Although it may taste like "nautilus crud" it may be the answer for the ambiguous hole in the ozone layer. You can also read more about it Here

Dan Summer

UPDATE: Or just watch.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anti-Ron Paul update

Not long ago, Ron Paul was denying that auditing the Fed would mean "interference in or dictation of monetary policy by Congress or the GAO."

Now he's complaining that current legislation does not allow "a full and ongoing audit of all of the Federal Reserve's lending and monetary policy activity."

What's the point of Congress auditing monetary policy if not to affect it, and what plausible effect could this have other than to make it more inflationary?

More on Ron Paul and monetary policy: here and here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Contentious magazine

Review copy received: Running Commentary: The Contentious Magazine that Transformed the Jewish Left into the Neoconservative Right, by Benjamin Balint. I may have something on it at some point. I've had my differences with the magazine over the years, but the first time I got a book review published there, in 1992, was a truly happy moment for a 20-something opinion journalist.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Conservatives 'at war'

My latest at FrumForum: "Conservatives Aren't 'At War' With the Left." Excerpt:

Surely, there are many people who are amenable to conservative arguments but averse to the overheated style in which these are often presented. Moreover, the “we’re at war” talk is a gift to the left, as it provides handy citations for convincing the center that the right is crazy and irresponsible.

Better to win calmly than to lose hysterically.


Whole thing, including a mention of the once-great Instapundit, here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sci blog

New blog: Rennie's Last Nerve, by John Rennie, former editor-in-chief at Scientific American. With a double-headed lizard.

Radio rationality

Recommended reading; "The Bravest Man on Radio," Tim Mak on Michael Medved.

UPDATE: On other hand, as a commentor there points out, he does work here.