Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Falling gold piece

My latest at FrumForum: "Beck Didn't Warn Me Gold Can Fall!" Excerpt:
The gold market meltdown — with prices plunging in recent weeks from over $1,900 an ounce to under $1,600 — is a reminder that the precious metal is a volatile, speculative commodity. It also signals a bear market in credibility for the many right-leaning cable-news and talk-radio hosts who have touted gold relentlessly in recent years as a hedge against economic calamity.

“If you’ve been watching for any length of time, and you still haven’t looked into buying gold, what’s wrong with you?” Glenn Beck said in a video on his website in 2009. “I think you’re nuts.” His TV show, meanwhile, featured frequent calls to buy gold, interspersed with commercials for gold retailers.
Whole thing here. It's getting comments at a brisk pace; people get emotional about gold, which is a problem.

UPDATE: A rejoinder by Brad Schaeffer: "Numbers Don't Lie, Gold Has Done Well."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Resilient greenback

My latest at FrumForum: "Still Sound as a Dollar." Excerpt:
Conservatives nowadays routinely worry about the dollar’s strength and stability. The dollar, however, refuses to cooperate. Instead, it lately has been rising in foreign-exchange markets, as it typically does in times of international economic and financial stress.

The dollar serves as a safe haven. Investors tend to transfer funds into dollar-denominated assets, such as U.S. Treasuries, at moments when financial markets around the world are being buffeted. This occurs even if the U.S. economy is not in good shape. As long as the dollar and dollar-denominated assets are seen as relatively safe, the dollar will tend to strengthen in times of trouble.
Whole thing here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Debate 9/22

Over at FrumForum, live-blogging the GOP debate.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nepal starry night

Our 2009 trip to Nepal, including the Annapurna region, included many wonderful sights (see here, for instance), but I don't recall seeing much of the night sky, as it was fairly rainy and overcast on nights we were camping. Bad Astronomy and io9, though, have a remarkable photo of the Milky Way as seen from Annapurna. Take a look.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Space debate question

What would I ask at the GOP debate this Thursday? A space policy question:
One subject that’s been almost entirely absent from the campaign is space policy. The Obama administration scrapped the Bush administration’s plans for a return to the moon, and the end of the Space Shuttle program has left the U.S. currently without the ability to send astronauts to Earth orbit, let alone beyond. There’s little consensus about what NASA’s next steps should be or what role the private sector might play. Do you have a vision for what the United States should do in space, how to do it and how to pay for it?
More questions by others here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rocket to nowhere

Over at FrumForum, my latest: "NASA's New Rocket Won't Reach New Frontiers," about the just-unveiled plans for the Space Launch System. Excerpt:
The impetus for this rocket was congressional pressure. First the Obama administration scrapped the Bush administration’s Constellation project of renewed lunar exploration, and as the Space Shuttle Program began to end. In response, lawmakers pressed for a new heavy-lift rocket that, far from incidentally, would preserve some NASA and contractor jobs, particularly in states such as Texas and Florida that are heavy with space facilities.

There is tremendous uncertainty about future space funding and whether any future administration — or for that matter, the Obama administration — will take seriously the President’s stated goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars at some later time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Posting may be light as we get through the tall grass of catching up on various projects. But you can never be too sure what's coming -- there were deer in this scene a split second before I took the picture.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A look back

Myles Dannhausen Jr., journalist at the Wisconsin Peninsula Pulse, spoke to me about 9/11. Excerpt:
Ten years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks killed 2,977 people and shook the nation to its core, Ground Zero is still a construction site, the United States is still embroiled in two wars, and our defense budget is conservatively pegged at more than twice what it was before the attacks.

Yet, Ken Silber, an economics and politics writer and native New Yorker, says that the state of the nation today is "pretty far to the optimistic end of the spectrum."
"If you had told me then, in the days after Sept. 11, that life in America would be the way it is now, I would have said that it was a relatively good scenario."
 Whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Debate 9/7

I participated in FrumForum's liveblogging of tonight's GOP debate. The transcript is here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Perry vs science

My latest at FrumForum: "If it's Perry: Anti-Science Label Sticks." Excerpt:
If Rick Perry is the nominee, we will hear stepped-up criticism that there is a Republican “war on science,” that the GOP is anti-intellectual and antipathetic to facts and analysis. Such criticism will resonate with many voters, precisely because Perry’s nomination will be evidence that it’s true.

In August, shortly after entering the race, Perry generated controversy with comments about climate change and biological evolution. He dismissed anthropogenic global warming as an unproven assertion by scientists who have “manipulated data” to spur funding for their projects. He described evolution as a theory with “some gaps in it” and said that it’s taught alongside creationism in Texas (which if true would raise questions about the constitutionality of Texas’ science curricula).
 Whole thing here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ten years later

In the September issue of Research, I look back to 9/11 and ahead to future crises: "Wall Street at War."

Cover art by James O'Brien.