Friday, October 29, 2010

Capt. Picard escapes

I was pleased to attend a function at Flanders House tonight for My Countdown: The Story Behind My Husband's Spaceflight, meet some nice people, and get the book autographed by the author Lena De Winne and her cosmonaut spouse Frank De Winne. My only regret is not managing to ask Sir Patrick Stewart to sign it as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How hedge funds began

My November article in Research magazine on "The Birth of Hedge Funds" is out, about how Alfred Winslow Jones created a new financial industry. The piece is online at the magazine's partner portal AdvisorOne. Excerpt:
Alfred Winslow Jones was a financial journalist before he became a wildly successful investor who would be known as the father of the hedge fund industry. The moment of transition is captured in a March 1949 Fortune magazine article Jones wrote, titled “Fashions in Forecasting.”
A brief intro to the piece mentioned that Jones’s “initial interest in the new methods of market analysis described in this article came from a small investment in one of the services mentioned,” an outfit known as Market Action. That gave a hint that Jones was inclined to be not only a journalistic observer of the investment world, but a participant.
Whole thing here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rand Paul for Senate

A number of FrumForum contributors offer their one wish for the midterm elections. Here's mine: victory for Rand Paul. Excerpt:
I’ve never been to Kentucky (unless you count a few minutes between planes in the Greater Cincinnati Airport) but from the New Jersey suburbs I choose the Kentucky Senate contest. My wish is for Rand Paul to win. This is not because I am an enthusiast for the candidate — who seems to have inherited a conspiracy-minded ideology from his father, given it not much thought, and then modified it for political expediency. Rand Paul’s remarks about how “In 1923, when they destroyed the currency, they elected Hitler,” struck me as a notable descent into inanity.
Perhaps not the most ringing endorsement, but there's more.

UPDATE 10/26: "Paul Debate Stomping Caps an Odd Campaign." Sadly, some of my fellow Paul supporters are thugs and cretins.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ideological flux links

Several diverse links that promote some needed rethinking of ideological labels and categories:

"Neoconservatives: The True Centrists," by Mark Cantora, American Thinker. I don't agree with all of this, as I think some neoconservative thinking on foreign policy is indeed immoderate; but leftists who think "neocons" are the far right may benefit from some historical and ideological reorientation.

"The Populist-Progressive Grudge Match," by David Frum, part of a fascinating series at FrumForum on two terms often resurrected, conflated and distorted.

"Introducing 'climate hawks'," by David Roberts, Grist, and "Climate Hawks Take Wing," by John Rennie, PLoS Blogs. These involve an interesting attempt to relabel and rebrand those who think (as I do) that climate change poses serious risks that need to be addressed. I hope the term has some effect in getting Republicans and conservatives to rethink the climate issue, but I'm not sure it will--especially if the "Climate Hawks" show a reflexive contempt for the right. We'll see.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paranormal Jimmy Carter

The skeptics' movement that first arose in the 1970s in opposition to paranormalism has always tended to have a somewhat liberalish, Democratic political coloration. Perhaps that would have been different if Skeptical Inquirer magazine and its allies had known about this:
Even with all of the press coverage of Jimmy Carter's latest book, "White House Diary," a strange and interesting nugget of history went ignored: Carter, as president, was enthralled by and impressed with the Central Intelligence Agency's use of parapsychology in intelligence gathering (the field and practice of parapsychology explores various psychic abilities).

Hide and Sikh

C'mon, Barack Obama. This is lame:
Barack Obama has become a Sikh joke. The 44th president of the United States, a man who offered himself up to the world as the cosmopolitan alternative to the Little Americanism of the Bush years, has dropped plans to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar—the Vatican, as it were, of the Sikh religion—on his state visit to India in early November. As The New York Times reports, the president would have had to cover his head with a knotted handkerchief on his visit to the shrine, in keeping with Sikh religious tradition, so the White House invertebrates scuttled plans to go there out of fear that images of Obama with a cloth on his head would reignite rumors that he is a Muslim.
I visited the Sikh Temple in Delhi last year. Do I have more leadership potential than the president of the United States?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monsoon book

Review copy received: Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, by Robert D. Kaplan, for which I'd been waiting. I've just started it but it's already very absorbing and now has priority on my reading list; I hope to write about it before long.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Non-wingnut readings, cont.

A couple of very worthwhile political readings:

"What the Tea Partiers Really Want: The passion behind the populist insurgency is less about liberty than a particularly American idea of karma," by Jonathan Haidt, WSJ. I guess I didn't get the right kind of karma when I was drinking Kangra tea last year.

"The Roots of Lunacy: How not to understand Obama," Andrew Ferguson, The Weekly Standard, taking on the book-length version of the risible Dinesh D'Souza thesis recently praised by Newt Gingrich.

Friday, October 15, 2010

No-nonsense type

One sign of a respect-worthy politician is a willingness to tell potential supporters things the latter need to hear but don't want to hear, and which don't flatter them at all. Case in point: "Daniels Tells Tea Party: Cool the Rhetoric."

UPDATE 10/18: And some further evidence Daniels is on the right track: "Norquist Compares Daniels to Nazi Reenactor." There will and should be a backlash against Grover Norquist instructing Republicans on the range of acceptable thought.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Knepper redux

One more note about Alex Knepper. As I've mentioned, I support David Frum's decision to discontinue Knepper's work for FrumForum. A writer should be an asset, not a liability, to a publication for which he writes, and the uncovering of genuinely offensive material posted elsewhere by Knepper makes that impossible at present. But I'm glad to see Knepper getting his side of the story out now. Moreover, as I've written, it seems to me plausible that this will become a legal case, and I hope that any parties that have made legally actionable statements will be held accountable. In that regard, while I'd become jaded about most of Ann Coulter's "shock" statements, I am genuinely shocked that she, a lawyer by training, would tweet about someone being an "actual pedophile" with an evident lack of regard as to whether that's a factual statement.

UPDATE 10/15: also see Michael Tracey's take on all this at HuffingtonPost.

Forward thinkers and non-wingnuts

Here are a few items that show some people are thinking beyond our current cramped political, economic and technological options:

"A Centrist Gets Fighting Mad," by Mark McKinnon, The Daily Beast. This is a 12-point program with a lot of appealing ideas.

"Post-Partisan Power," by Steven F. Hayward, American Enterprise Institute, Mark Muro, Brookings Institution, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Breakthrough Institute. This is a report on energy by an ideologically diverse alliance.

"Air Force cedes the Green lead--and the lede--to Navy," by Craig Hooper, Next Navy. There's nothing granola about alternative energy these days (and I like granola, by the way).

"Why a GOP Landslide Won't Save the Party," by David Frum, FrumForum/The Week. Beware the post-election-victory debacle.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Possible future lawsuit

Regarding the unfortunate and unpleasant subject of NewsRealBlog vs. Alex Knepper, I have some comments here and here.

UPDATE: Or possibly here; keeping a permanent link to a specific comment there seems to be tricky.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Publicity-seeking schmegegge

Nassim Nicholas Taleb says investors should sue the Nobel Committee for awarding prizes to economists he thinks contributed to the financial crisis (as if they forced people to use Modern Portfolio Theory), and that if no one else does, he'll sue the committee himself. Maybe I should've contacted my lawyer to sue Taleb rather than just review his overblown book.

Reading list

Current reading: The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose with It, by Alice Sparberg Alexiou. About a building at which an extremely important moment of my life occurred. Very interesting so far.

Next up: Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow, whose histories of Hamilton and the House of Morgan are great.

Skimming but finding much good material: Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Going Noble redux

Joe Marier, whose blog Going Noble initially seemed like it had been tossed nonchalantly by the side of the road, now is updating on a regular basis (and I guess I'm in no position to criticize anyone for not updating their blog often enough). There's a lot of interesting stuff there, including a recent post on centrist third parties. I still don't know what the blog's name means, but I suppose I can live with that mystery, for now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Columbus Day radio

I'm slated to be on the Gabe Wisdom Show on Business Talk Radio on Monday, Oct. 11, at 7 pm Eastern to talk about "Just Technicalities?," my Research magazine piece on stock-market technical analysis.

UPDATE: The podcast is here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Brief right note

Recommended reading for those interested in the prospects and schisms of the right: "Right as Ever: How conservative critics of conservatism are explaining the right's comeback," by David Weigel, Slate.

UPDATE: Also see "Why There Are No Reformers in the Conservative Comeback," by Max Fisher, the AtlanticWire (a site that has terrible tagline "What Everybody's Thinking"). It gives an ominous sense of a not-so-distant post-election-victory debacle for a revivified-but-not-smart-enough right.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Selling off AIG

My latest at FrumForum: "AIG Exit Plan Proves Obama's No Socialist." Excerpt:
Winston Churchill once entered a men’s room where his Labour Party rival Clement Attlee was standing at a urinal. As Churchill moved to the far end of the room, Attlee asked: “Feeling standoffish today, are we, Winston?”

Churchill’s reply went down in history: “That’s right. Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”

Attlee’s mid-20th-century Labourites advocated (and implemented) the nationalization of industries including railroads, coal, electricity, gas and steel. That was what made them socialists. It was also why Churchill’s riposte was funny.

But it’s not a joke that would make sense if applied to U.S. politics today.
Whole thing here.

UPDATE: "Socialist Obama Already Abandoning Socialism."