So it's a trumped up shopping holiday. So what if there are good sales and good prices? And even if you aren't a member of Amazon Prime, this might be a good time to try out their 30-day free trial.
So it's a trumped up shopping holiday. So what if there are good sales and good prices? And even if you aren't a member of Amazon Prime, this might be a good time to try out their 30-day free trial.
If you want to catch up on what is happening in Greece, what led to the financial debacle, and what some possible implications are, this is a pretty good piece. It is long, but then the situation is not all that straight-forward either.
One fascinating point that I often try to make about bailouts is that it is usually the lenders, not the borrowers, who are bailed out from bail-outs.
This last part is the original sin of Europe's bailouts. See, back in 2010, policymakers were petrified that the euro zone was like a line of dominoes just waiting to get knocked over by the weakest link. If Greece defaulted on its debt, the French and German banks that had lent it money might go bust, and the banks that had lent them money might, too, and, well, you get the idea.
This chart from the BBC shows who owns how much of Greece's debt.
No wonder Germans are concerned about the size of their loans to Greece and about Greece's inability to even meet the interest payments on those loans.
Repaying the loans is not the issue. So long as a borrower can obtain new financing, the loans can be rolled over in perpetuity.
But when lenders begin to suspect/fear the borrower cannot or will not be able to obtain new financing to re-fund the debt, when borrowers reach a point at which they can no longer service the debt (i.e. meet the interest payments on the debt), default is inevitable.
Now let's see if, like some major financial institutions in 2007, Greece is too big to fail. Will Greece be treated like Bear Sterns or like Lehman Brothers? My guess is Lehman Brothers. The major lenders fear that if they bail out Greece, that will create incentives for Portugal, Italy, and Spain also to resist austerity programmes.
The rosiest possible scenario is one that I tried out on Facebook last evening:
Prime Minister Tsipras will use the "No" vote as a bargaining tool. Greece will end up re-negotiating a deal that is nominally less austere but not much less. Tsipras will hail it as a new beginning for Greece, and Greek voters will hail him as a new hero. Meanwhile creditors will get most of what they offered last week.
The trouble with this scenario is that Tsipras and his gubmnt are basically and fundamentally redistributionist interventionist socialists. They will not cut pensions; they will not reform labour legislation; they will not implement supply-side reforms that will permit and encourage economic growth. And in the end, they will renege on their financial commitments.
And possibly seeing this problems, the lenders will not strike a deal with them.
Bankruptcy doesn't "Loom" as The Washington Post alleges. It isn't just "a real possibility". It has happened, and it happened some time ago.
The negotiations for the past several months, or years really, have been about how to handle the bankruptcy.
Greece has been unable to pay its debts for years, and so they did what happens in many bankruptcies -- they negotiated a repayment scheme that would allow the creditors to receive some fraction of what is owed them.
This is the same thing that happens with many bankrupt firms that have some promise for "reorganizing" and "restructuring" their debt. This is what happens if the firms have some promise for the future. Otherwise they go into liquidation.
I don't see liquidation as a viable option for Greece ;-) , but something akin to it might well happen as the major powers vie to see who can win and buy favour with the Greek voters.
More importantly, people both inside and outside Greece must accept the fact that Greece is bankrupt and has been for a long time. They are merely arguing about what to do for the future.
The outcome will determine not whether, but how the residents of Greece will have to deal with austerity. They cannot continue to live beyond their means.
Look for Greece to repudiate its debt and go off the Euro. That might not happen, but it seems the most likely possible outcome. Look for the Greek gubmnt to print more drachmas, then, to finance itself as lenders shy away from buying Greek debt.
And if it doesn't get pensions, tax evasion, and other fiscal problems solved domestically, Greece's printing of more and more drachmas will create ever-increasing inflation.
What is even more worrying for me, though, is that if the inflationary scenario unfolds, the gubmnt in Greece could then impose price controls, leading to Soviet-Union-Venezuelan-type shortages, massive queuing, and even more social unrest.
Whether through austerity required by the creditors through restructured loans, or through an inflation and devaluation implicit tax, Greece's residents will have to tighten their belts.
I love this statement, quoted in part by Steve Horwitz on Facebook with his introductory sentence:
Hey other traditionalist religious groups, this is how you do it in a pluralist liberal democracy (it's also why I'd never be an Orthodox Jew, but...):
"“In response to the decisions announced today by the United States Supreme Court with reference to the issue of legal recognition of same sex marriage, we reiterate the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages. Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable. At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.
We are grateful that we live in a democratic society, in which all religions are free to express their opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse. That morality, expressed in what has broadly been labeled Judeo-Christian ethics, has long had a place in American law and jurisprudence.
We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect." [EE: emphasis added]
Now let's hope the processes they have given so much respect to give that respect back and allow them to have, in their words "appropriate accommodations and exemptions for institutions and individuals who abide by religious teachings that limit their ability to support same-sex relationships."
I do have some difficulties with the last paragraph, however. If a religious organization had discrimination against blacks or Jews as one of its tenets, on the one hand I would argue the state should dominate; on the other I would favour freedom of association. And that leaves me in a state of limbo. I expect the same might well be true in the case of religions that discriminate against LGBTs, or religious orders that admit only one sex into membership, etc.
This is all a very rough impression, but I have long had the impression that NASCAR is dominated by crackers with southern accents, many of whom would be happy to fly a confederate flag. I may be wrong, and I acknowledge this is just an impression.
How many confederate flags used to be sold at NASCAR events? How many will be sold in the future?
And finally, let me ask: What is the racial makeup of people working in NASCAR? I googled the question, but wasn't happy with or informed by any of the links that emerged.
Update: My friend Chris posted this link on Facebook in response to this post. Some relevant snips:
"As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate Flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.” ...
This is not the first time NASCAR has stood up in protest of the Confederate Flag in recent years. Bubba Watson, a two-time winner of the U.S. Masters, was set to drive the famous 'Dukes of Hazard' General Lee at Phoenix in early 2012.
But because of the large Confederate Flag on the Dodge Charger's roof, the plans were trashed with NASCAR saying then, "The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive."
And see what Josh wrote in the comments:
Among the top 15 drivers in the NASCAR points standings, there are only two southerners (Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (NC) and Denny Hamlin (born in FL, but grew up in VA)). There is one Cuban-American (Aric Almirola). California - 3 Wisconsin - 2 Michigan - 1 Washington - 1 Connecticut - 1 New Jersey - 1 Missouri - 2 Nevada - 1 North Carolina - 1 Virginia - 1 Florida - 1
After I posted this piece late last night, there were numerous comments and discussion points raised here on the blog, in email, and on Facebook. As I wrote on Facebook after the Charleston SC shootings, I wonder if churches, synagogues, schools, etc. should post signs like these:
Note to all crackers: more than a few members of our congregation have conceal-carry licenses. How do you rate your chances?
Here are some further thoughts:
Addendum: Even if John Lott receives no direct support from pro-gun lobbyists, I would be very surprised if he does not receive at least indirect support from them via those who do provide financial support for his work. But that wasn't the point I was trying to make with my previous post. The important point is that most of his work has stood up to near-rabid criticism.
Nearly 10 years ago, I lobbied long and hard for UWO to hire John Lott, but was unable to persuade my colleagues that he would be a valuable, interesting, stimulating colleague. He is a challenging person. I told him at the time, I knew that if he were hired by UWO, I would have to work harder than I had worked in a long time.
When I was President of the Canadian Law and Economics Association, I tried to persuade others that John Lott would be an interesting keynote speaker for one of our annual sessions. Again, I was unsuccessful. My vague recollection is that the general feeling was that he would be too controversial. My reaction was that if he's wrong, show it. Let's encourage more research in the area.
Keep in mind that I had been pro-gun-control most of my life. John Lott's work made me re-think my views on guns and gun control. And at the very least his work challenges the pollyanna-isms and nirvana fallacies of "Gee, wouldn't it be nice if the bad guys had no guns."
Please, if you favour gun control, read some of the work by John Lott.
I favoured gun control until I began reading his studies. Recently I posted something about this on Facebook, making the point that now, given the extent of gun ownership in the US, Lott's points and his evidence make good sense. States with conceal-carry permits have less gun violence and fewer gun deaths than states that do not allow conceal-carry permits.
After I posted this, a Facebook friend posted a series of accusations and ad hominems about John Lott. Let's get a few things straight:
But most importantly, his research had stood up (I use the past-perfect tense because I have not followed recent developments).
Here is what I wrote about Lott (and the false accusations against him by Steve Levitt and that are unfairly repeated by too many people) many years ago:
Lott v. Levitt
August 17, 2006 — eclectecon
When I first heard about the defamation suit John Lott launched against Steve Levitt, I wondered if maybe Lott was acting a bit crazy. Now that I’ve read this (courtesy of Tyler Cowen) I wonder if Levitt was perhaps a bit more than injudicious (my take on the article is apparently different from that of the first commenter at Marginal Revolution). I realize there is a sizable gap between “more than injudicious” and “defamation”, but where does this fall? And the debates continue — be sure to see all the comments at Marginal Revolution. It sure looks as if there is considerable animosity between the two economists and between their supporters/champions.
Lott’s lawsuit hangs on two seemingly simple but academically fraught statements: the research was not replicated and the special issue of the journal was not peer refereed. …
In May 2005, an economist in Texas challenged Levitt’s characterization of Lott’s research and pointed out that Lott had guest-edited the October 2001 special issue of The Journal of Law and Economics, published by the University of Chicago Press. As a whole, the ten articles in the journal backed Lott’s conclusions. According to the lawsuit, Levitt e-mailed back: “It was not a peer refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this.” …
Lott contends that “‘replicate’ has an objective and factual meaning in scholarship”—it means that other researchers using the same data in the same way will get the same results. Thus, he says, Levitt’s use of the term amounts to “alleging that Lott falsified his results.” Levitt’s lawyers reply that Freakonomics is written in “everyday language” and is aimed at the general reader.
“Peer refereed” (or “peer reviewed”) refers to the standard practice at scholarly journals of sending a potential article to several other scholars to vet and approve before the work is published. To uphold academic impartiality, the writer does not know the peers’ names. In an e-mail to me, Lott said, “If you were to look at a physical copy of the journal you would see that all of the papers thank anonymous referees for refereeing their papers.” (As for whether he was able to “buy an issue,” Lott says in the suit that he “raised funds for” publishing the special issue.)
The “best friend” editor whom Levitt mentioned in his e-mail was Austan Goolsbee. “I was the lead editor at the time that special issue was printed, but not when it was prepared,” Goolsbee says. The journal collected papers delivered at a conference sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy at Yale Law School.
“In one sense,” Goolsbee says, symposium papers are peer reviewed “in that the articles sometimes go out” for critiquing. “But Steve Levitt is quite right that the standards are infinitely lower on a conference volume. The acceptance rate for papers at The Journal of Law and Economics is something like 8 to 10 percent. This issue had something like ten papers and like most conference articles, none [I believe] were rejected. That’s a one-in-a-billion event that you would get all of those papers in.”
At least two contributors, however, told me that their papers were indeed reviewed. Bruce Benson of Florida State University says he made “significant revisions” in the article he coauthored to address criticism from two referees. “I was surprised when I heard that Levitt made this claim because I actually had guessed that he was one of the anonymous reviewers of my paper. . . . Apparently this was not the case.”
T. Nicolaus Tideman of Virginia Tech, coauthor of another article in the journal, saw his paper at first rejected by a referee, but he rewrote it and then it was accepted. Tideman said the article analyzed Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime data in two different ways and the data held up both times.
I knew John Lott back then. He is very smart and back then was very careful with his research. Further, I am not aware of any good research that has refuted his initial findings. And the replications also have not been refuted so far as I know.
As I said at the outset, given that there are guns in the US, I'd be more comfortable being in places where someone from the NRA has a gun than being in a so-called "gun-free" zone.
Note: I have fired a gun twice in my life (when I was a boy scout in my early teens). I am not a gun owner. I probably should not post this, but I disclose it possibly to influence my creds.
I have friends who have guns and who have concealed-carry permits. I am confident they continue to train and practice. But more importantly I am confident I would stand a better chance in a potential terrorist attempted mass shooting if they are around than if there are no gun owners present.
We don't often read about the attempts at mass killings that are thwarted because the shooters are deterred or shot by legal gun owners. The MSM [main-stream media] doesn't report these events, but the gun-lobby-fringe does, of course.
Mostly I urge you to read the work with an open mind. Some of it does seem to push too hard (so far as I am concerned). But it is compelling.
Update: I had and have no specific evidence that John Lott received funding from pro-gun lobbyists. In fact I have no idea about his financial backers. I thought I remembered that he did, but he denies it, writing to me,
If you have evidence that I receive support from pro-gun lobbyists, please provide some evidence of that. Have I lost jobs because of my research? Yes (one example, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/02/01/scary-encounter-chicagos-mayor-richard-daley.html). Have I been offered chances to do consulting on gun cases? Yes, but I have always turned them down. If you have some evidence for your claim, provide it.
According to this source, there are presently 20 vacancies in Canada's Senate, an appointed body:
Standings in the Senate
Conservative Party 50 Liberal Party 29 Independent 6 Vacant seats 20 TOTAL 105
So here's a guess about what will happen with the senate over the next six months. It is a conditional guess.
If the polls make it pretty clear over the next few months leading up to the next election that the conservatives will not only lose their majority but will also lose the ability to form a minority gubmnt, the conservatives and Stephen Harper will appoint quite a few people to fill those vacant positions.
And I want them to know that I am available. The mandatory retirement age for Senators is 75, so I wouldn't be serving for many years. But as the "Godfather of the Ban-the-Penny" movement, I think a senate appointment would be a fitting reward.
What's more, since I believe the best gubmnt is the one that does as little as possible, I would fit right in!
Heck I'd even set up a residence in PEI if required.
Well, he didn't quite say it that way.
President Obama is again acknowledging critics of his signature health-care initiative as the government continues to grapple with new, technologically complex demands.In an interview with Fast Company, Obama concedes that HealthCare.gov was a "well-documented disaster" and a kind of wake-up call for the way government relates to technology: Read full article »
Would that every person who dares to utter the phrase "market failure" would also be required to examine and discuss "gubmnt failure" as well.
I value freedom more than most other things. And while I guess I'd have no problem with polygamous arrangements between freely consenting adults, it is difficult to believe the parties are freely consenting in situations like this one. Forced marriages, accompanied by or following threats of kidnapping or other reprisals should not be acceptable.
The leader of Russia's southern region of Chechnya has urged men to lock up their wives and ban them from using WhatsApp after outrage over the forced marriage of a 17-year-old girl spread on the messaging service.
Married Chechen police chief Nazhud Guchigov, 47, wed Kheda Goylabiyeva last Saturday after threatening to kidnap the teenager and warning her family of reprisals if they did not agree to the marriage, according to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who had earlier backed the marriage in apparent violation of Russian laws against polygamy, used an interview with a local broadcaster to condemn discussion of the wedding on WhatsApp.
"Lock them in, do not let them go out, then they will not post anything," Kadyrov was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"The family honor is the most important thing. Men, do take your women out of WhatsApp."
The Chechen leader said in an Instagram post last week that the girl's parents had agreed to the marriage, and criticized Russian media coverage of "this fuss ordered by some liberals."
Polygamy is illegal in Russia, though it is permitted under Islamic law if both the first wife and any future brides consent, and their husband treats them equally.
David Henderson at EconLog has this wonderful post about a debate/discussion on global warming and climate change. It is worth reading his summary even if you don't listen to the actual discussion or read the transcript.
In his introduction, David writes:
In the area of global warming, it's hard to find a civil discussion between two experts who disagree. This is one. Partly, I think, it's because Russ [Roberts] does a good job of being even-handed and drawing out the facts and conjectures. But probably more important is that both Christy and Emmanuel are reasonable people.
I love that both speakers acknowledge what they do and do not know. They argue less from established positions and more from different interpretations and explanations of the data on which they agree.
I urge EVERYONE to read this post at the very least and preferably to follow the links to the original transcript.
My son, David Ricardo Palmer, has been working on this project for some time. It sounds like exciting stuff. I know he's been mighty busy on the project. More here.
I don't agree with everything he says, but the Pope is right about the Armenian genocide. From Wikipaedia:
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն Hayots Tseghaspanutyun),[note 3] also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, "Great Crime"),was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland which lies within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, [emphasis added] the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians and the Ottoman Greeks were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.
Raphael Lemkin was explicitly moved by the Armenian annihilation to coin the word genocide in 1943 and define systematic and premeditated exterminations within legal parameters. The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, because scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out in order to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.
Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. To date, twenty-two countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide, a view which is shared by most genocide scholars and historians.
Pope Francis described it as the "First genocide of the XX century", causing a diplomatic incident with Turkey. The bishop of Romedefended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honour the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were "senselessly" murdered by Ottoman Turks 100 years before he became Pontiff. He also called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize "the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes without ceding to ambiguity or compromise." 
I'm not always keen on things published in Townhall, but this piece by Victor Davis Hanson merits consideration. He warns that the intense desire by Obama and Kerry to get a nuclear agreement with Iran, any agreement at all, is dangerously similar to the agreement struck in Munich with Hitler by Neville Chamberlain and the West.
Most Westerners accept that the Iranian government funds terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. It has all but taken over Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Yet the idea of stronger sanctions, blockades or even force to stop Iranian efforts to get a bomb are considered scarier than Iran getting a bomb that it just possibly might not threaten to use.
The U.S. and its NATO partners are far stronger than Iran in every imaginable measure of military and economic strength. The Iranian economy is struggling, its government is corrupt, and its conventional military is obsolete. Iran's only chance of gaining strength is to show both its own population and the world at large that stronger Western powers backed down in fear of its threats and recklessness. ...
By reaching an agreement with Iran, John Kerry and Barack Obama hope to salvage some sort of legacy -- in the vain fashion of Chamberlain -- out of a heretofore failed foreign policy.
There are more Munich parallels. The Iranian agreement will force rich Sunni nations to get their own bombs to ensure a nuclear Middle East standoff. A deal with Iran shows callous disagreed for our close ally Israel, which is serially threatened by Iran's mullahs. The United States is distant from Iran. But our allies in the Middle East and Europe are within its missile range. ...
Finally, the Iranians, like Hitler, have only contempt for the administration that has treated them so fawningly. During the negotiations in Switzerland, the Iranians blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. Their supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, did his usual "death to America" shtick before adoring crowds.
I hope Hanson is wrong; I fear he is not.
I just posted a item urging The University of Western Ontario to fire it's prez, Amit Chakma, and to get back to striving for excellence instead of incompetence. Clearly the Board of Governors must go as well.
Here is why: They renewed his contract for another five years despite a record of incompetence. From the London Free Press:
When Chakma came to Western, he promised to boost its international standing and pointed to annual rankings done by The Times of London in England.
At the time, he thought the school was well positioned to break into the top 100.
“As a first step, it would be wonderful to be among the top 100 universities that The Times of London (lists). Western is very close,” he said in 2009.
But Western has since fallen in the rankings to between 225 and 250. Those behind the ranking don’t disclose the exact placement of schools not in the top 200.
Another ranking publication that splintered off the Times ranking had Western sinking to 199 and 191 the past two years.
Even the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western slipped badly: It ranked as high as 27th in 2007, ranked in the 40s the following four years, and this year dropped to 97th, hanging by a thread to a top 100 ranking.
A university spokesperson defended the school’s standing, writing that Western ranked in the top five in Canada and top 150 globally in philosophy, psychology, economics and accounting and finance.
“As for Ivey, all Canadian business schools are seeing a downturn in global rankings . . . That said, the most notable, recent business school ranking for Ivey comes from Bloomberg Businessweek, (which) ranked Ivey as the No.1 business school for MBAs outside of the United States,” spokesperson Keith Marnoch wrote.
Note: in the 1980s, when Stan Liebowitz and I did some serious ranking of economics departments, the UWO economics department ranked somewhere between 7th and 30th in the world, depending on the criteria used. [see this: "Assessing Assessments of Economics Departments" (with S. Liebowitz), Quarterly Review of Economics and Business 28 (Summer 1988): 88-113.]
The department is now in the top 150??? Sheesh. Not all the decline is due to Chakma, for sure. But being one of the top 200 economics departments claiming to be in the top 150 is nowhere near being one of the top 30 claiming to be in the top 20.
Amit Chakma is the reigning Prez of The University of Western Ontario (which he induced people to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rename as "Western"). He is clearly not the person who should be leading a major post-secondary education institution.
I really doubt that he has done anything illegal.
However, his so-called "leadership" has been incompetent, as has that of his administration.
In addition to the renaming farcical exercise, he has irritated numerous alumni, faculty members, students, and fellow administrators by having negotiated, and followed through with, a contract whereby he could draw double pay in lieu of taking an administrative leave. It turns out he did something pretty similar before coming to UWO.
As much as jaws dropped when people learned Western University paid its president nearly a million bucks last year, it wasn’t even his biggest pay day.
In 2009, Amit Chakma moved to London from the University of Waterloo, where he’d been a vice-president, and raked in $972,440 in salary and benefits, $5,000 more than last year’s total.
He did so by cashing in an unused academic sabbatical at Waterloo, raising the ire of some faculty. [EE: I haven't heard of faculty members being able to cash in unused sabbatical leaves when they change institutions. This is indeed rare.]
“There was quite a bit of alarm expressed by UW faculty over this, since if (a regular) faculty (member) resigns, they never receive anything for any unused sabbatical credit,” a retired faculty member recalled in an e-mail Wednesday to The Free Press.
Chakma was paid more than $741,000 by Waterloo in 2009 and another $229,000 in pay and benefits after his move to London. He became Western’s president in July that year.
Both he and the people who hired him need to leave UWO. As it is, his presence as prez will detract from what the university needs to be doing and will seriously hamper fund-raising efforts by the university.
Even before all these shenanigans came to light, people were raising questions about his presidency.
A person whom I respect and whose information I tend to trust told me the other day that a major donor decided not to make a massive donation to UWO. In announcing the decision, the donor raked the UWO admins over the coals and said UWO would not get a nickel of donations so long as Chakma was the prez.
He clearly has to go. Buy him off and send him away.
At the same time, get rid of the people on the Board of Governors who hired him and who (amazingly) renewed his contract. The sooner they are gone, the sooner UWO can get on with higher education.
I am so disappointed.
It seems to me that April Fool's Day is little more than a socially sanctioned day during which people seem to think it is okay to tell you lies and then say "April Fool". Some of the lies are creative, interesting, and maybe even amusing, but April Fool's Day is also a time when people play games of "gotcha". I like humour, but I don't like gotcha humour.
This graphic highlights the enormous shift in immigration patterns into the US from pre-WWII to post-WWII. If you go to the source (here), the graph becomes interactive, showing actual numbers by country and by decade as you mover cursor over the graph.
Note that these are total numbers. As a percentage of the total population, immigratin is considerably less than it was in the 1920s. Note, too, that immigration dipped when there were sizable economic downturns.
Wouldn't it be interesting to see something like this for Canada! (or other countries, for that matter)
Jack reminded us the other day how poignant the introduction to Tale of Two Cities is:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way –
in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Lest you think from my various pro-Israel posts that I am an uncritical supporter of Israel, I'm not. In addition to questioning the continued expansion of settlements into the West Bank, I find some of the things mentioned in this article as disturbing as I would find them in any country.
The rest of the world was shocked, but the fact is that Israel has become a right-wing society where nakedly racist language is common. “Arab taste” is a well-known term for vulgar, ostentatious style, for example. Right-wing legislators have in recent years physically assaulted Arab Knesset members while they were giving speeches. There are many examples that would shock Western liberals but are shrugged off in Israel. Members of the Knesset have given speeches in which they referred to migrants from Sudan as “a cancer in our body.”
Right, left, it doesn't matter. What matters is the apparent racism.
There are many things in that article which seem stretched or slanted, but there is no excuse for racism nor for pandering to racism. That should apply in Israel (and the arab countries in the Middle East!), as well as the rest of the world.
I was surprised to see this Op-Ed in the NYTimes this morning. Surprised but pleased.
For nearly a decade I have been writing about the ethanol rip-off (see here, for what I wrote in June, 2005).
The NYTimes Op-Ed says it all very well, though. An excerpt:
[T]he indirect environmental costs involved, including growing, harvesting and processing corn into fuel, are significant. Ethanol diverts corn from the food supply, driving up food costs; it promotes inefficient and harmful land-use strategies; and it can damage small engines. But a more fundamental problem is its high cost when compared with conventional gasoline. And that higher cost is directly related to its lower energy density.
Ethanol contains about 76,000 B.T.U.s per gallon. Gasoline contains about 114,000 B.T.U.s per gallon. Therefore, to get the same amount of energy contained in a gallon of gasoline, a motorist must buy about 1.5 gallons of ethanol. ...
[V]ehicles running on the most common form of ethanol-blended fuel, E10 (which contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline), will typically get “3 percent to 4 percent fewer miles per gallon” than they would if they were running on pure gasoline. That mileage penalty — in essence, a tax — must be paid at the pump through the purchase of additional fuel.
And that takes us to the cost issue. Since 1982, officials in Nebraska (which is the second-largest ethanol producer, behind Iowa) have been monitoring monthly and annual wholesale, or “rack,” prices for ethanol and gasoline at fuel depots in Omaha. In December 2014, the rack price of a gallon of ethanol was $2.40, while a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $1.73. But recall that we need 1.5 gallons of ethanol to match the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline. That means you would need to pay about $3.60 to get the same amount of energy as from a gallon of gasoline, making ethanol about twice as expensive.
That’s not unusual. Since 1982, the price of an energy-equivalent amount of ethanol has, on average, been about 2.4 times the price of gasoline.
What was supposed to be a "green initiative" has been nothing more than a tax on gasoline users that benefits corn farmers and ethanol producers, that wastes land, and that drives up the prices of food products (thus disproportionately hurting the poor).
The sooner the the ethanol programme is ended, the better.
I grew up in Michigan. Back then we didn't go on Daylight Savings Time [DST], but Chicago did, and so that affected the times of some of the radio programmes we listened to from Chicago stations. Even though we didn't have to reset our clocks, we had to re-programme our brains for the different times for our favourite radio shows.
My first experience of living with and without DST was as an undergrad at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. I may be mistaken, but I had the feeling that Minnesota went on DST on dates different from the dates that other jurisdictions went on DST. Mostly what I remember liking was getting the extra hour of work time in the fall at the Faribault cannery.
Since then I have pretty much lived with DST. It has never made much sense to me, and with all the clocks, watches, and other timing devices we have, changing seems to consume at least a half hour in the wee hours after we arise on Sunday mornings, both when we go on DST in the spring and then when we go off it in the fall.
A few years ago, I lived and worked at The University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, a province that has steadfastly refused to use DST. The people there chortle about how idiotic everyone else is for having to reset their clocks twice a year. My own experience out there was that it was more difficult to remember that all the television programmes came on at different times than it would have been to reset the clocks.
Let's see now. The Sunday afternoon NFL games that begin at 1pm and 4pm in the east come on at 11am and 2pm here in Saskatchewan when everyone else is on DST but come on at noon and 3pm when we're all on standard time... or is it the other way around?
Honestly, I know it would be dark in the mornings, but I see no reason not to just stay on DST all year. Or for that matter to stop making the switch to DST everywhere; after all, I'm not that thrilled to have it still be light out at 10:30pm.
It turns out the changes have costs, and the explanations for making them seem to have been debunked, at least to some extent. See this from The Washington Post.
Here are some common myths.
1. Daylight saving time was meant to help farmers.
In fact, the inverse is true. “The farmers were the reason we never had a peacetime daylight saving time until 1966, [in Texas].... Dairy farmers were particularly flummoxed: Cows adjust to schedule shifts rather poorly, apparently.
2. The extra daylight makes us healthier and happier.
A little more vitamin D might be healthy, but the way DST provides it is not so beneficial to our well-being. Experts have warned about spikes in workplace accidents, suicide and headaches ... when DST starts and ends. ...
The literature on these health effects is far from conclusive, but spring sunshine does not outweigh the downsides of sleep disruption across the board.
3. It helps us conserve energy.
A study in Indiana actually found a slight increase in energy use after the entire state adopted DST (for years, only some counties followed it), costing the state’s residents about $9 million; the researchers believed that more air conditioning in the evening was largely to blame. That’s a far cry from the $7 million that Indiana state representatives had hoped residents would save in electricity costs.
4. DST benefits businesses.
The grill and charcoal industries, which successfully campaigned to extend DST from six to seven months in 1986, say they gain $200 million in sales with an extra month of daylight saving. When the increase to eight months came up for a vote in 2005, it was the National Association of Convenience Stores that lobbied hardest — more time for kids to be out trick-or-treating meant more candy sales.
But not all industries love daylight saving time. Television ratings tend to suffer during DST, and networks hate it....
Airlines have also complained loudly about increased DST. ...
DST might also cost employers in the form of lost productivity. A 2012 study found that workers were more likely to cyberloaf — doing non-work-related things on their computers during the day — on the Monday after a DST switch. Study participants who lost an hour of sleep ended up wasting 20 percent of their time.
5. Standard time is standard.
Guess what time we’re on for eight months of the year? Daylight saving time. In what universe is something that happens for only one-third of the time the “standard”? Even before the 2007 change, DST ran for seven months out of 12.
In fact, some opponents of DST aren’t against daylight saving time per se: They think it should be adopted as the year-round standard time. Because it basically already is.
I can definitely agree with #5. I don't see the benefits of the switch even though the costs to me seem fairly minor. But maybe I'm mis-estimating the costs if I am not aware of some of the emotional and productivity swings that come with the resetting of the clocks twice a year.
Here is one the many clocks we will be resetting tomorrow.
P.S.: don't forget to set your clocks an hour ahead tonight (or tomorrow morning).
Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past:
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?
which I read as saying, "Okay the wooing is done; the only thing left for young folks is to 'couple'."
Interestingly, lots of people wooing or already wooed seem to spend LOTS of money at Valentine's Day. From WaPo,
My husband and I have what I think is a romantic routine for celebrating Valentine’s Day.
On Valentine’s Day morning, I’ll turn to him and say, “Honey, do you love me?”
To which he replies, “Sure, I love you.”
“Great,” I say to him. “We just saved about $8 because we don’t have to buy any greeting cards for each other.”
We laugh and go about our day. We don’t need stuff to show our love. I don’t expect flowers (they die). I love chocolate, but neither of us wants any since we are both trying to lose weight. It’s too crowded at restaurants. ...
The average person will spend $142.31 on candy, flowers, apparel and more this Valentine’s Day, up from $133.91 last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The group says total spending is expected to reach $18.9 billion.
Really? That's the average? Not us. We love to eat out, so we do dine out for Valentine's Day (and many other special occasions, such as "Would-you-like-to-go-out-to-eat? Day").
This year, though, we're going out for lunch on Friday rather than buck the crowds on Saturday. And lunch is almost always less expensive than dinner.
But $142 [US! These days that's the equivalent of, what? $7000 Cdn???]! We try to keep flowers or flowering plants around most of the time, so we make no big, special expenditure there for Valentine's Day. And if we have any chocolate for Valentine's Day, it will likely be purchased on sale after Valentine's Day.
The number of births per female in Iran dropped from nearly 7 in 1960 to under 2 in 2000, and it has stayed there. See this [via Alan]
The linked article makes several interesting points:
"One explanation for Iran's strikingly infertility rate is the high level of consanguineous (cousin) marriages....This surmise probably is wrong. Iran's rate of cousin marriage is about 25%, lower than most of the Middle East."
The article then points out that like many countries with low fertility rates, Iran is facing a long-term problem of an aging society with a small productive demographic base.
The head of a U.N. inquiry into last summer's conflict between Israel and Gaza said on Monday he would resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Canadian academic William Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.
Everyone knew of this person's biases long before he was appointed head the group. He had done paid work for the Palestine Liberation Organization and had gone on record as referring to Israel as his enemy.
And what timing!
The commission had largely finished gathering evidence and had begun writing the report...
So this person who is known to have extreme biases against Israel was left at the head of a commission until its work was nearly completed? How unbiased do you really think the report will be?
As the Elder of Ziyon says,
Everyone knew Schabas was biased. He referred to Zionists as "enemies." He participated in a kangaroo court against Israel. Even he admitted he was biased, but he claimed that he - unlike every judge on the planet - would be objective despite his having already formed his anti-Israel opinions.
This attitude was widely criticized by prominent lawyers, as are listed at UN Watch.
However, the sheer nerve that he shows here takes the cake. He finally decided to step down after Israel was ready to show evidence that he was paid by one of the sides that he was supposedly investigating. Instead of apologizing for hiding this very salient fact about his history when he was appointed to the commission, Schabas instead lashes out at those who exposed his utter contempt for the concept of impartiality.
Who just happen to be his "enemies."
The late-date move is a farce anyway. The commission has already written the majority of not the entire report by now. All of the evidence and testimony has already been slanted by Schabas' anti-Israel bias. If anything, his taking his name off of the commission might end up giving the slanted report a little more credibility after he has already poisoned it.
Here's one final question: If Schabas had planned from the beginning to be a new Richard Falk, and to use this UN commission to do everything possible to demonize Israel while paying lip service to the idea of fairness, would he have acted any differently than we have seen him act?
Scandalous and unacceptable. But not surprising, given the biases rampant throughout the UN.
Update: Check out the NYTimes bias in how they report it:
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, were killed, according to the United Nations, with 100,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. On the Israeli side, six civilians and 67 soldiers were killed.
No mention of all the tunnels from Gaza into Israel and scant mention of the rockets fired from Gaza. What a way to conclude the article. Don't tell me the NYTimes is unbiased and a legitimate news source.
Target has announced that it is withdrawing from Canada. I'm not surprised.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote:
No matter what rationalizations are offered, the simple reason Target is in trouble is that when you walk into and through one of their stores, you're turned off. The selection is limited, the prices aren't all that great, and there's a general feeling of malaise.
I had hoped that when Target took over many of the Zeller's outlets in Canada and then took SO long renovating the facilities, Target would provide a reasonable and viable alternative to Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Superstore. It hasn't. And it will take considerable work and effort on their part to overcome these impressions that apparently many, many Canadian shoppers have of Target.
Target Canada: A waste of money and a lost cause.
Numerous cartoonists have reacted to Islamic terrorist murder of the staff at a French publication that wrote satire, criticizing Islamic extremists. Many are summarized in the Washington Post.
My favourite captures the essence of the attacks on "Freedom of Expression".