URLs du Jour


Made it through Hurricane Sandy fine, thanks. But struggling to make up for some lost time at work. Anyway:

  • Riddle: why is a Fisker like a Gremlin? Answer: you shouldn't give either one of them water.

    Around sixteen extended-range luxury hybrid vehicles made by government-backed Fisker Automotive parked in Port Newark, N.J., caught fire and “exploded,” after surging water from Hurricane Sandy breached the port and submerged the vehicles, Jaloplink.com reported.

    Government-backed, you say? Why, yes:

    Fisker received a $529 million Department of Energy loan guarantee in 2010 and drew down on $193 million of the loan and the rest is contingent on the company reaching sales targets on its luxury Karmas.

    So: Your tax dollars near-literally up in smoke.

  • New content from New Hampshire's own Shawn Macomber has become scarce. But today, his musings on our political obsessions, fears, and over-the-top rhetoric are much worth reading.

  • patriotism Rich Lowry has a good column today, bemoaning the populist "economic patriotism" theme infecting political campaigns. You know: how dare American capitalism participate in the world economy? Lowry's last paragraph is worthy of Linda Richman:

    "Economic patriotism" is neither good economics nor good patriotism.


  • So we're down to the final few days of the presidential campaign. What do the closing arguments of Obama and Romney reveal? Find out the exciting answer in Peter Suderman's Hit&Run post: "Closing Arguments Reveal That Both Presidential Candidates Are Full of It". His summary:

    So as the election closes, here's where we're at: The incumbent president is positioning himself as a challenger to the status quo and an agent of change that his opponent is not, while the policy-details-averse alleged budget cutter is reminding people of the spending he wants to restore and inviting people to imagine the particulars of the way he would govern. It's a choice between bad policies versus no policies, between two candidates with little to offer but reasons why the other guy stinks. Neither has a real vision for the future, except to either protect or do over the past. So while both candidates are selling change to a dissatisfied public, their closing arguments serve as a reminder that whoever wins, the dismal reality of politics-as-usual is bound to stay the same.

  • Continuing in that "full of it" theme: Alex Tabarrok has an attention-grabbing headline: "A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit". The occasion for this insight is the New York Times' Nate Silver offering to bet his critics on the election outcome, with odds based on his model. (Which, as I type, has President Obama as an 80.9% favorite.)

    The NYT "Public Editor" is horrified. Because Silver might be seen "as a partisan who is trying to sway the outcome" of the election.

    But Alex notes that this is nonsense. Because Silver would (if he believes his model) be willing to take either side of the bet.

    In fact, the NYTimes should require that Silver, and other pundits, bet their beliefs. Furthermore, to remove any possibility of manipulation, the NYTimes should escrow a portion of Silver’s salary in a blind trust bet. In other words, the NYTimes should bet a portion of Silver’s salary, at the odds implied by Silver’s model, randomly choosing which side of the bet to take, only revealing to Silver the bet and its outcome after the election is over. A blind trust bet creates incentives for Silver to be disinterested in the outcome but very interested in the accuracy of the forecast.

    That's such an insanely great idea … that it almost certainly won't happen.

Last Modified 2017-12-02 5:39 AM EDT


[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The great Mike Judge wrote and directed. It boasts Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, and J.K. Simmons in major roles. It's fine, but I wanted it to be better. Don't get me wrong, it's hilarious in spots. Office Space is such a high bar to clear.

Jason Bateman plays Joel Reynolds, the owner of a small plant that makes flavorings, hence the title. It's an unglamorous job, but he has hopes of selling out to a big company. His wife (Ms. Wiig) is shutting down on the passion front at home. He drowns his sorrows at the local sports bar, where he gets uniformly bad advice from his bartender buddy, Dean (Ben Affleck). Also, drugs, which makes him more likely to take the bad advice.

Meanwhile, Joel's hired Cindy, a beautiful grifter (Ms. Kunis) to work on the factory floor. Also a freak slapstick accident has put one of the workers in the hospital with damage to the, um, nut area.

So there's a lot going on, and it kept me chuckling the whole way through. Characters in Mike Judge movies tend to occupy the range from "not very smart" to "very, very dumb." The exception here is Ms. Kunis's character, who's pretty sharp, but extremely dishonest.

Here's what bothered me: Joel's company is called "Reynold's Extracts". What's that apostrophe doing there?

Last Modified 2014-11-09 12:59 PM EDT