27 August 2008

This month's Harvard Magazine has an interesting article by Larry Summers about the economic challenges facing the next president. I've always wondered why the Clinton economic team was so successful, and this article helps explain why: Summers is pragmatic, nuanced, and open to changing positions as the facts warrant. In particular, he seems much more concerned with income inequality than I would have expected him to be (he even promotes universal health care as one way of combatting it), and his views on free trade agreements and globalization seem to have evolved, as he now favors negotiating international corporate taxation and labor standards.

Of course, he's still Larry Summers, so he has to say something that is capable of generating a lot of smoke. This time, it's advocating against a reduction in energy prices (on environmental grounds): "with the economy getting used to far higher energy prices...it would be a great tragedy if prices were allowed to decline very sharply when the current crisis passes." Ouch. Something tells me that quote will resurface if he ever gets appointed to anything.

21 August 2008

Some readers may remember that I have, in my youthful days, used microwaves to put on light shows. Rumor has it I also have some experience with grease fires.

I was reminded of this when I read these comments on the Volokh Conspiracy, a law professor blog. The original post remarked that many household cleaners have a warning that failure to follow the directions is a violation of federal law; the blogger was curious what federal law that might be (the best suggestion was FIFRA, which regulates pesticide use). Many commentors, however, decided to speculate about which federal laws they could violate with cleaners and other household products. It looks as if there's some pretty potent explosives you can make; lest any readers worry, however, I think my pyromaniacal days are behind me.

19 August 2008

I heard about this on the radio this morning...the worst obituary ever, and apparently real - it was written about a woman from New Mexico who moved to northern California.

Note to self: if you're about to die, and your kid just got foreclosed on or something, tell them it's not necessary to write an obituary.

16 August 2008

I just saw this t-shirt today, and I have to say the design wasn't very well conceived - I thought it was one of these t-shirts until I puzzled through why the color scheme wasn't crimson and white. Apparently someone else noticed the problem and came up with these things as a joke.

14 August 2008

I just got back from a successful apartment hunt in Salt Lake City, and last night I stopped in Moab on the way back home. The place was chock full of European tourists, which I had not expected but which made sense once I saw it. What was more suprising was that the servers at both restaurants where I ate in Moab weren't native English speakers. This struck me as an odd coincidence, especially since I had noticed the same thing in Aspen a week before.

I dug around on the internet when I got back home and sure enough, it turns out that there's a government program allowing foreign university students to do seasonal work in the US during their summer vacations. There's also a whole slew of companies offering to pair these students with employers. While I'm not certain all my servers were part of this program, I'm guessing at least some of them were. The one thing I'm still trying to figure out is why I've never heard of anyone in Santa Fe participating in the program; Santa Fe has a very big need for seasonal hospitality workers, so I'd expect there to be some of these workers there. The program looks like it's been up and running since around 1999, but maybe Santa Fe employers just haven't caught on yet.

10 August 2008

Note to self: when you return home from a week in the mountains, smelling like a Superfund site, and your spouse is kind enough to not only greet you (despite said smell) but also to help unpack your filthy belongings, it is not a good idea to give your spouse a firestarter pellet (which is basically a clump of compressed sawdust) and tell her it's a macaroon. Apparently that's bad form.