Showing posts from February, 2010

Daniel Gilbert on Happiness

If this is true, I'm in big trouble:
One of the things we’ve been studying the last year or two is mind-wandering - how happy people are when their minds wander away from the task they’re doing in the middle of the day. First of all, we found about half the time people’s minds are wandering. We also found we are happiest when we are thinking about what we are doing - almost regardless of what we are doing. Our studies suggest that having your mind wander is never good, never makes you more happy than you already are.My mind is almost always wandering. One of the few times it isn't is when I'm actually performing. Then I'm thinking about only what I'm doing. Maybe that's why I like it. I should probably cultivate greater focus.

When the US Government should get serious about budget defecits

Warning: I know almost nothing about macroeconomics. I'm kinda talking out of my ass here.

There's been a lot of harping about the budget deficit recently. A lot of it comes from Republicans who didn't seem to mind deficit spending when George W. Bush was president during relatively stable economic times. But now that Obama is president and there's a major recession, suddenly they feel that we have to tighten our belts at this very instant or the economy will explode or something.

Here's the thing: last time I checked (i.e. just now), the U. S. Government could borrow money at about 3.8% by selling 10-year T-bills. If you're willing to lock up your money for 30 years, they'll give you 4.7.%. This is pretty damn cheap. (Especially when you take into account inflation: because the future dollars the government uses to pay back the loan are worth less than the present dollars they receive, the real interest rate the government pays is actually lower.) If I want …

Palin is a very unpopular figure

For those of us who are getting scared of Sarah Palin, it's important to keep the following in mind: she's not very popular, and she's getting less popular. Here's The Washington Post:
Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House. Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party's presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified f…

Fiorina (R) accues Campell (R) of being evil robot sheep

Here's one from the not-The Onion bin: This ad, which Carly Fiorina is running against Tom Campell in her quest for the Republican nomination for US Senator from California, has to be one of the worst campaign ads ever. Chait:
The funny thing about this ad, aside from the clumsy over-the-top quality, is the metaphor. The message of the ad is that Campbell is an ideological deviant. All the other Republicans signed Grover Norquist's no-taxes-ever pledge, but Campbell refused. Campbell went off on his own and made a budget deal in order to prevent a fiscal collapse. And what's the metaphor the ad uses?Sheep. But not in a disparaging way. The good politicians are sheep, doing what Grover Norquist tells them to do. Campbell, the ad tells us, is only pretending to be a sheep, but he's really a wolf. So vote for the sheep.
The evil robot sheep doesn't appear until 2:26. But it's worth the wait, I assure you.

UPDATE: The Fiorina campaign apparently thinks this ad was a g…

Remember the Roki Tunnel?

Remember back when Russia was invading Georgia, and I wondered why the Georgians hadn't shut off the Roki Tunnel that connected Russia to South Ossetia? Well, apparently the Bush administration discussed (and thankfully rejected) the possibility of doing this for them:
With desperate Georgians begging for American help in closing down the key route through which Russian soldiers were pouring into the country, Bush’s national security aides outlined possible responses, including “the bombardment and sealing of the Roki Tunnel” and other “surgical strikes,” according to a new history of the conflict and independent interviews with former senior officials. I'm very glad we did not get into a direct military conflict with a nuclear superpower over a small territorial dispute in which no vital interests were at stake. I guess I have to say kudos to the Bush administration for making the right call on this. That's one war they did manage to avoid.

Republicans generally have a different worldview than I do

DailyKos commissioned Research 2000 to do a nationwide poll of self-identified Republicans. Many of them have a very different view of things than I do. Some examples:
Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?Yes 63
No 21
Not Sure 16
Oh dear. I guess "socialist" is Republican for "centrist establishment Democrat quite willing to have a former Goldman Sachs executive as his treasury secretary and to re-appoint George W. Bush's selection for Chair of the Federal Reserve."
Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?Yes 53
No 14
Not Sure 33 Obviously, we have different ideas of what qualifies one to be president.
Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?Yes 23
No 58
Not Sure 19 Egad. 23% of Republicans want their state to secede from the Union? 19% aren't sure? Hammering out policy compromises with representatives of these folks is going to be rather difficult.

It goes on. Now remember, this was commissioned by Dai…