Friday, January 18, 2008

Hyperbolic Discounting, or...

...My diet keeps failing because I am an irrational sponge.

Good article on hyperbolic discounting, the fact that we all behave as if this is our last day on the planet, despite constant specific medical advice to the contrary.

Tax Rebates

I didn't like it much when Bush engaged in a stimulus based series of tax rebates during a deficit. The Democrats had some good arguments against the idea at the time. Of course, rebates will still be bad when the Democrats pass them.

When the AP attacks!

Let's be honest, Mitt Romney was misleading at worst, but more likely speaking in platitudes when he commented that he "didn't have any lobbyists running his campaign". One thing I did learn from the many top-notch journalism students at UMC is that a journalist is not supposed to make the news. Occasionally columnists can, but a columnist is paid to have an opinion (usually that opinion sells more newspapers through its one-sided or inflammatory nature).

That is what makes the incident with Mitt Romney so amazing. The reporter in question was a reporter for the AP whose sole purpose was to cover the Romney campaign. Most "beat" reporters become more docile with their reporting the longer they cover their subject (see MLB steroid investigations 1990-2005), but Glen Johnson was not. It came off to me as a bit heavy-handed, and Romney handled it well, reportedly speaking with Glen on his airplane later about the incident. A video is embedded in the CBS News link, I'd like to know how the incident played in others' eyes.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton and the black vote

Hillary Clinton may have made a major gaffe in her attempt to erode support for Obama's message of hope. My understanding of the demographics of the democratic voter breakdown is that many black voters are holding back support for Obama until they believe he is widely accepted as a viable candidate.

If the pundits are correct and Hillary Clinton is pulling a large section of the black vote, then this might be a huge blow to her. I cannot imagine even those most removed from the Civil Rights movement would not be a little offended by the rhetoric that 'It took a president to get it done' in reference to Dr. King's dream. Sure the public is fickle, and President Johnson deserves more credit than he gets, but last I checked there was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, not President Johnson day. Its a delicate balance for Senator Clinton: she has to be strong without looking like a... uh... let's say 'witch', she wants to run on experience (which is important) when the electorate seems to be clamoring for change. I'd almost feel empathy for her and her claims of media bias if she didn't have weasels like Paul Begala and James Carville stumping for her once a week for the past 2-3 years.

In a related note, it looks like Claire McCaskill from the fair state of Missouri, may be ready to support Obama.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In case you were interested in the WGA strike

Quashing of dissent, financial core, and self-determination!,0,170282.story?coll=la-opinion-center\

I only have one thought, "So... the writer of the movie Undercover Brother is a contributor to NPR? Really?"

Friday, January 04, 2008

Billable hours

Slate has an interesting piece on an attempted move by the law profession away from the billable hour. I have mixed feelings on the concept.

On one hand, you have the often abused 'billable hour' where companies may not be getting a full hour's work for their full hour's payment (lawyer works for 8.25 hours and bills for 9, or lawyer gets taken to a baseball game, talks shop off and on for 30 cumulative minutes, and charges for the full 3 hours).

On the other hand, lawyers provide a service, and there are many companies that would just as surely exploit or monopolize that service if not reigned in by the threat of billing by the hour.

The author predicts a three way split of the profession in the future, with big-time deal breaker contracts being negotiated through the billable-hour system; small fry contracts being run by consulting firms and software programs; and a smattering of alternative contracts with less of a focus on billable hours taking up the middle of the road.