Monthly Archives: June 2012

Two Chancellors in one!

Reuters: Merkel big loser in Euro crisis

Raul Meijer, The Automatic Earth: Angela Merkel is playing you for fools.

Meijer insists that Merkel gave away nothing and anyone who thinks she has is just plain dumb. No one ever lost money betting against the stupidity of the people of Reuters, so I’m going with Meijer.


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Old news hits England

Britain medical authorities warn against high doses of Celexia anti-depressant because of its deleterious affect on the heart.

Thought I remembered reading this before and sure enough, the FDA issued the same warning April 24, 2011.

This is what’s wrong with merely tossing information into a bottle and waiting for the Gulf Stream to deliver it.

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The best and the brightest aren’t, sometimes

My friend Mario a crook? I find this troubling

Bank of America’s purchase of Countrywide Mortgage has cost $40 billion so far and is still climbing. Oh – it also cost 30,000 people their jobs.

Bank of America Corp. thought it had a bargain four years ago when it paid $2.5 billion for tottering mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. But the ill-fated decision has already cost the Charlotte, N.C., lender more than $40 billion in real-estate losses, legal expenses and settlements with state and federal agencies, according to people close to the bank.

“It is the worst deal in the history of American finance,” said Tony Plath, a banking and finance professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “Hands down.”

If you remember John Sculley, the man who almost ruined Apple in 1983-1993, you may also remember that after Apple fired him he joined Applied Spectrum Technologies as its head, only to discover that the company was a nest of penny stock fraudsters. This was described as “the worst business decision of his life”, adding a neat bookend to Apple’s decision to hire him in 1983.

But here’s the point: if BOA had asked around the real estate community they would have heard enough alarming news about Countrywide’s lending practices to offset the corporate world’s view of Countrywide and its friend-of-Dodd Chairman Mario Mozili as a legitimate business. Had Sculley, instead of hiring a hugely expensive white shoe law firm to vet Spectrum, as he insisted he did, and asked a low brow securities fraud lawyer what the significance was of the Spectrum crowd’s NASDAQ disciplinary history, he’d have spared his reputation and a lot of cash.

You don’t need a thief to catch a thief, but asking someone who’s chased thieves their opinion of a particular individual or institution might yield information that will surprise you.


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Never trust a guy who lies on his resume

Bad guy

Jason Bohn, the lawyer who brutally beat to death his girlfriend last week, was previously described in a New York Times article as a Columbia Law School grad working a legal temp job for $33 an hour. Not the paper’s fault (although their fact checking staff could have done better, if the Times still had a fact checking staff), Bohn lied to them. The article was corrected after Columbia informed the paper that, while it was true that Bohn had attended classes at Columbia, his actual degree came from University of Florida. And see what happened.

Not too dissimilar to that lawyer who lied about being a member of the Harvard varsity swim team and, later, a Viet Nam combat veteran. Of course, he went on to the U.S. Senate, not Riker’s Island, but I wouldn’t go out on a date with the guy.


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Sounds more like parent abuse, to me


Women’s Studies graduates, 1890

Does luring students into taking degrees in “Sports Administration” and “Pop Culture Studies” constitute a form a child abuse?

How about college tuition, adjusted for inflation, soaring 72% since 2002?

Students are paying less and less of direct college costs, relying more on government grants and loans. That has encouraged universities to jack up tuition expenses, fueling a vicious circle reminiscent of the housing bubble.

U.S. universities charged students $190 billion in 2001-02 for tuition, fees, room and board and more, according to data from Sallie Mae. By 2010-11 that had more than doubled to $410 billion. Even after adjusting for inflation, student charges shot up 72%.

Of course, not every college student wastes her time on gaining useless knowledge. Here’s a Glenville girl who’s learning the one sure career out there, lobbying on Capitol Hill. Best of all, she’s cutting her teeth on what’s sure to be the governmental response to out of control college costs, subsidized housing for sororities. Then it’s on to lobbying for universal health care, no doubt, and the kid will be set for life.


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We can’t have election fraud, we’re Democrats!

Charlie at Disney World, awaiting Eric Holder’s arrival with the mai tais

Did Charlie Rangel steal his Democrat primary? Seems likely, and all without a single Republican involved. To hear Dollar Bill tell it, only Republicans steal votes (Bush/Gore! Bush/Gore! Cheney!). So okay, all together now, “We blame Bush!”

Before things went off the rails, Tuesday night had been an evening of celebration and vindication for Rangel, who seemed to have survived the most serious reelection threat of his 42-year career in the House. After initial tallies showed the congressional titan jumping to a 20-point lead over Espaillat, Rangel took to the stage at Sylvia’s, the famed soul food institution located on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue, to declare victory and then party late into the evening with boisterous supporters.

But as Tuesday turned to Wednesday and more votes trickled in, something strange happened: Rangel’s margin of victory began to shrink, first to five points and then, by midday Wednesday, to two points.


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Have you ever heard of Accelerated Reader?

I hadn’t until today and now that I have, I’m horrified. It’s apparently a computer-driven reading program used in schools to enable teachers to check up on whether or not a child has read an assigned book.

Educators have argued that the use of Accelerated Reader does not teach reading for comprehension; it only teaches reading for recall

Renaissance Learning, the product’s developer, has stated that its intended purpose is to assess whether or not a student has read a book,[4] not to assess higher order thinking skills, to teach or otherwise replace curriculum, to supersede the role of the teacher, or to provide extrinsic reward.

Concerns exist that in classrooms using Accelerated Reader that student reading choices are restricted to the quiz titles available in the software. …  Close to 150,000 book titles exist in the Accelerated Reader quiz database according to Renaissance Learning, Inc, to date (according to Google Books) over 168,000,000 book titles have been published,[23] over 7,000,000 of which have been fully scanned and cataloged by Google.[24]Thus, the ability for a student to explore books which are neither currently commercially popular nor part of major book lists is severely restricted in reality by the Accelerated Reader program. There are many reasons why a program like Accelerated Reader may choose to exclude certain titles. Books that don’t lend themselves to being read all the way through and quizzed on may be excluded. This includes books primarily used as a reference and books of songs, poetry, and jokes. Very old or outdated material, literature of very low quality, and books no longer in print may be excluded.

I can’t think of anything better designed to destroy a love of reading than a program that restricts kids to a committee – approved reading list made up of 150,000 titles out of 168,000,000 published! The joy of serendipitously discovering a book, or better yet an author, is something a reader of any age can experience, so long as he isn’t force fed and restricted to what the central committee has decreed he should read. This sounds awful and because it sounds so modern and “technological”, it’s probably in Greenwich schools. Anyone know?

UPDATE: It’s not. Good for Greenwich.


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