Odds and Ends Vol 6

Odds and EndsWell, boys and girls, it has been a while since our last Odds and Ends. That may be because I’m just generally slowing down. The fact that there has been little real political news doesn’t help. But I’ve been lazy too, I think. Yesterday, I watched both The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and The Lost Skeleton Returns Again. I’ve also been cooking a lot. In fact, I have a couple of new recipes that I will publish when I’ve perfected them. One of them is the best potato chowder ever. Ah, food and silly movies!

And now the news.

  1. Are you as surprised as I am about what’s going on with BlackBerry? In case you missed it, the dying technology company was given a billion dollars to restructure. (It also happens that BlackBerry has $2.3 billion in cash on hand. This is one of the countless examples of all the companies that are sitting on huge piles of cash and doing absolutely nothing with it: no investment, no hiring. I’ve never heard a compelling conservative answer to why this is and how exactly Obamacare and “high” taxes are stopping them.) I just don’t get how this is a good investment. I don’t see how BlackBerry fits into the modern world. But we’ll see.

    But what I really don’t get are things like Sean Vitka’s article, BlackBerry’s New CEO Has Raised the Dead Before. Can He Do It Again? I don’t mean to put down Vitka, because I don’t think he necessarily buys into this crap. The main thing though it that I don’t. I think that good management is critically important to businesses. But the rock star mentality is totally bogus. It mostly comes from the fact that some CEOs are very good at marketing themselves. And some are just very lucky—being in charge during exactly the right years. (See, for example, Bill Clinton.) That’s not to say these guys aren’t good. An idiot can destroy even the best of luck. (See, for example, George Bush Jr.) John Chen is no more likely to pull BlackBerry back from the brink than any other competent manager. It isn’t rocket science nor is it witchcraft. It’s just management and larger market forces.

  2. It had to happen. A third person—this time a woman—has come forward with allegations that New Mexico authorities did the same things I’ve reported before. Basically: a dog indicated that the woman had drugs. So they took her to a medical office where she was x-rayed and anally probed. But I don’t feel like getting into that subject any more until we start seeing some actual court proceedings. Click over and check it out yourself, though.
  3. Matt Yglesias alerted me to the fact that quite recently, both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded the big banks. As I wrote last Sunday, the ratings agencies are awful. Yglesias at least partially agrees with me, ” I think they’re ratings of large sovereign countries largely reflect politics rather than real economic analysis.” He adds, however, “But corporate debt is close to their core competencies and I think people should take these claims from Moody’s and S&P seriously.” In the more recent Moody’s downgrade, they said they don’t think the federal government will save the banks anymore. In other words: “too big to fail” is over. Dean Baker has laid out why we shouldn’t have “too big to fail” banks and why TARP was unnecessary. So these downgrades are a good thing. But I am absolutely not sure that “too big to fail” is over. The federal government always looks out for the interests of the big guy.
  4. In case you haven’t heard, in the Virginia Attorney General’s race, after all the votes were counted, Mark Herring came from behind to win it by 164 votes. This may change, of course. I don’t think anyone trusts Virginia’s election process with Ken “I’ll do anything to protect zygotes” Cuccinelli in charge. And the margin is “wafer thin”: 0.007%. So there will be a recount. But in these situations, you would rather be up than down. And in general, you would rather be a Democrat than a Republican, because Democratic votes are more likely to go “missing.” This one’s for Herring’s opponent, Mark Obenshain, because even things that are “wafer thin” can be dangerous:
  5. The controversial IQ-race researcher Jason Richwine seems to have found a home at the National Review. Good for him, I guess. I don’t have it out for him the way a lot of liberals do. He’s just another conservative who does sloppy work. As for his IQ work, I don’t really accept any IQ work, but clearly he has entered into the field because he has an ax to grind. I mean, really, who would choose to look at racial disparities in IQ tests when you could look at the truly massive generational disparities. But whatever. I don’t think the guy deserves to never have a decent job again. This is something the Republicans are much better at than the Democrats. If such a scandal happened on the left, the guy would be working at a book store now.
  6. And finally, thanks to The Drinking Atheist, I know that lots of animals masturbate. In an article at I Fucking Love Science, we get the tenderly phrased headline, Self-Love in the Animal Kingdom. It provides a rather long but incomplete list of animals that masturbate with details that you never knew you were desperate to hear. For example, “Yes, even cute fluffy squirrels will take matters into their own paws and they even eat their own ejaculate when they are done.” And why not? The ability to masturbate is one of the few things in the universe that argue for a loving God.

Until next time, my friends!

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