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    • No The Solution To Ending Mandatory Masking Isn’t "Well YOU can still mask”
      Few things make more more tired or contemptuous of someone than, when a masking mandate is removed, someone saying “well, you still have the choice to wear a mask, we’re not effecting you” or some variation. Masking is not primarily about protecting yourself. Only a respirator and a well-fitted N95 offer good protection from Covid if other people aren’t mask […]
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Thursday Morning at The Confluence: Browsing at Nini’s Corner

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

In your mind’s eye, join me for a leisurely morning browse through the Nini’s Corner newstand in Harvard Square. Before the internet, it was great place to find local, national, and international newspapers and periodicals. For now the monsoons have stopped and Harvard Square is warm, sunny, and welcoming. We can buy a selection of newspapers, grab a cup of coffee and a muffin, and find a comfortable place to sit outdoors and catch up on what’s happening in the world. Many thanks to MABlue for sending along some recommended links.

Sotomayor Confimation Hearings

Legal experts’ views on the Sotomayor hearing

At Stake in Hearings Are Post-Sotomayor Nominations

After three days of testimony, Judge Sotomayor appeared to have made no major mistakes that would jeopardize her confirmation in a Senate dominated by Democrats. So both sides are trying to use the Judiciary Committee hearings to define the parameters of an acceptable nomination in case another seat opens up during Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Charlie Savage is such a good reporter–a real throwback.

Franken Stumps Sotomayor

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was breezing through her third day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee when she was tripped up by, of all people, the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.

The comedian, in his second week on the job, noted that Sotomayor had, earlier in the day, said she was inspired to become a prosecutor by watching “Perry Mason,” who, in all his TV episodes, lost only one case to the nefarious Hamilton Burger. Franken’s question was deft and devastating: “What was the one case in ‘Perry Mason’ that Burger won?”

For the first time all week, the future justice was stumped.


“Didn’t the White House prepare you for that?” he asked with incredulity.

I remember that case. But I think Perry Mason won it on appeal.

Coburn might have some “splaining to do”

Of Pride and Prejudice: Latinos celebrate a milestone that Judge Sotomayor’s critics struggle to understand (h/t MABlue)

State Department

For Clinton, ’09 Campaign Is for Her Turf

Declaring that “no nation can meet the world’s challenges alone,” Mrs. Clinton said the United States was pursuing multifront diplomacy with a host of countries and other players, even adversaries like Iran. She condemned Tehran for cracking down on postelection protests, saying its actions were “deplorable and unacceptable.”

With a few exceptions — during the presidential primary campaign, she had derided the idea of engaging Iran — the speech sounded like one Mrs. Clinton might have given as a candidate, when she sought to make her foreign policy credentials a trump card over the rival who is now her boss.

She even marshaled a cheering section of special envoys and other senior American diplomats in the first few rows at the Council on Foreign Relations. Faced with a White House that has tended to centralize control over policy, Mrs. Clinton is defending her prerogatives as an influential, but loyal, member of the president’s team.

Watch Hillary, read the transcript of her speech and the question and answer session here.

NPR: Clinton Emerges, Reasserting Her Diplomatic Stature

Health Care

Obama on health care policy: ‘No free lunch’

let me talk about what I think the American people are going to have to do.

First of all, the American people have to recognize that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Right? So, we can’t just provide care to everybody that has no cost whatsoever, you don’t end up having to make any decisions.

So, obviously, we’ve got to have a system that controls costs, gives people choices, but makes sure that we’re getting a good bang for the buck. And we’ve got to have the American people doing something about their own care.

What a pompous, frickin’ sourpuss! Excuse my French….

As Obama presses health reform, GOP unifies (h/t MABlue)

President Obama on Wednesday made it clear that he will spend at least the rest of July trying to urge Congress to push healthcare reform over the legislative finish line.

Mr. Obama wants both the House and Senate to pass versions of health legislation before they leave for their August recess.

“We are going to be continually talking about this for the next two to three weeks,” said Obama at a Rose Garden ceremony that also honored the contributions of nurses.

But success is far from a foregone conclusion. If nothing else, the health effort at this point faces unified Republican opposition. That was also made clear Wednesday, as GOP senators held their own public event at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to express their displeasure with the way the health effort is proceeding so far.

Jonathan Cohn: Rube Goldberg Already Lives Here

GOP legislators are trying to make the Democrats’ health care plan look really really complicated. The trouble is, our system is already complicated. Click the link to see a chart of our current system.

Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Thomas Szasz: Universal Health Care Isn’t Worth Our Freedom: What would Thoreau have made of the current debate?

Wait a minute. Thomas Szasz is still alive?! No way! He must be 100 years old. Nope, he’s only 89.


Let’s stop worrying about inflation (h/t MABlue)

Inflation worries are wired into the collective psyche of the banking profession–and into the fiber of the institutions that guide western economies. Central banks were designed to guard against inflation even in the face of angry public opinion that viewed higher interest rates not as a tonic but a punitive tax on their hard-earned wages. Given the legacy of the 19th and 20th centuries–with regular periods of hyperinflation arriving like the plague to sweep away gains and threaten social stability, fear of inflation is understandable. Unfortunately, it is very likely misplaced and misguided. The levers of interest rates and money supply may have worked for inflation of the 20th century but will be blunt and ineffective as tools in the 21st.

The secret capitalist economy of North Korea (h/t MABlue)

Twitter is not for teens, Morgan Stanley told by 15-year-old expert (h/t MABlue)

World News

Report Claims Israelis Used Palestinians as Human Shields (h/t MABlue)

…26 soldiers interviewed said they used Palestinians as human shields during the military’s more than two-week long ground operation in Gaza earlier this year.

“In some cases a civilian would be forced to walk in front of soldier while the soldier places his gun barrel on the civilian’s shoulder,” the report states.

Other soldiers talk about destroying buildings even though the structures posed no direct threat. They also said that white phosphorus was used in densely populated areas and describe the rules of engagement as “permissive.”

Behind the mind games in the Gulf (h/t MABlue)

Psywar is the name of the game with Iran and both Israel and the United States appear to be raising the ante significantly with a combination of military exercises and public pronouncements that could be taken to suggest that all options are now firmly back on the table.

While the growing psychological pressure being exerted has so far had little clear discernible effect on Tehran’s government, the same cannot be said of the mullahs.

Within the ranks of the secretive religious leadership in the holy city of Qom there appears to be both confusion and disagreement about the after-effects of the disputed presidential election in June that saw President Mahmud Ahmadinejad re-elected, and in the response to international pressure over Tehran’s continuing nuclear development.

The Honduran Crisis: Making Chums of Chávez and Obama? (h/t MABlue)

Kenyan Ex-Leader Says Don’t Look to Obama for Answers


It’s official: Deep freeze at Fenway

The NHL today officially confirmed the worst-kept secret in the hockey world: Fenway Park [map] will host the third annual Winter Classic. The Bruins [team stats] and Flyers will face off in an outdoor game at the storied ballpark on New Year’s Day at 12:30 p.m.

“A unique event deserves a unique venue, and we are delighted the Bruins and Flyers will renew their rivalry with the Green Monster providing the backdrop,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at a press conference today at Fenway.

As was the case in the inaugural Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo and last year’s outdoor game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, a temporary rink will be installed on top of the existing playing surface. A layout of the rink yesterday ran across the diamond, roughly covering the distance from first base to third base and extending behind the pitcher’s mound and into shallow center field.

TV Ratings for Baseball All Star Game

The first hour of baseball’s All-Star showcase won its time slot with 12.05 million viewers. The second hour slipped to second place in the time slot against ‘America’s Got Talent’ with 12.59 million viewers, but the third hour charged back into first place with an audience of 13.02 million viewers.

{Yawn….} It is getting to be boring…The so-call “senior-circuit” never really puts up a fight.

Where will Roy Halliday end up?

Roy Halladay got a warm greeting from St. Louis fans during the red-carpet parade for the all-star game. They chanted “We want Roy!” as he sat on the back of a vehicle and waved.

Get in line. The Blue Jays ace is sure to be a popular guy over the next couple weeks.

Halladay’s future is the most pressing question as baseball revs up for an intriguing second half, with muddled division races that once again could come down to the final days. General manager J.P. Ricciardi is listening to offers for the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, making the right-hander the biggest chip on the open market ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Halladay could tip the balance in the AL East if the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays make the best offer, or boost Philadelphia’s chances of winning a second consecutive World Series. Contending teams across baseball are salivating at the thought of inserting the ace into their rotation.

Sorry Barry, But the San Francisco Giants’ Ship Has Sailed Without You

Should the Giants try to sign Barry Bonds instead of trading away a player they might need down the road? If they did, could Barry handle not being “the man” anymore?

Ted Williams’ legend built on more than numbers

He won two Triple Crowns. No one has won one since 1967. He missed most of five seasons, thanks to World War II and Korea, and still hit 521 home runs.

He superseded the numbers, but they enhance him, too. He was on base 48.2 percent of the time and had an OPS of 1.116 — for his CAREER. And today’s hitters can only gawk at Williams’ 2,021 walks, set against 709 strikeouts.

In 1941 he walked 147 times and struck out 27 times, and hit .406. In 1994, a season truncated by lockout, Tony Gwynn hit .393, and in 1980 George Brett hit .390. Among the top 50 single-season BA’s of all time, those are the only two that have happened since ’41, and the .400 mark might become as inviolate as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game streak.

Just imagine what Ted’s numbers would have been if he hadn’t fought in two wars!

For 2009 British Open, Tiger Woods works on his Turnberry twists

Woods missed last year’s British Open with a bum knee. Now, he’s healthy and plotting how to tackle a tough, wind-plagued course that few of this year’s Open competitors have played.

You look fabulous: Golf goes couture _ and garish

Big John [Daly] showed up for a practice round at the British Open on Wednesday wearing striped pants, and we’re not talking subtle. Black, brown, pink, orange, with a dash of beige thrown in for good measure, and held up by a pink leather belt. Daly is probably the only one who would even attempt this ensemble at this staid ol’ event — that is, unless Sonny and Cher have a history on the links that no one knows about.

Odds and Ends

Debris Strikes Endeavour During Liftoff

As the space shuttle Endeavour lifted off into orbit Wednesday evening, several pieces of debris fell off the external fuel tank and at least one hit the orbiter.

Astronauts in space and engineers on the ground will be spending the next few days examining and analyzing the damage to see if it might pose a danger to the Endeavour on re-entry.

Why Music Moves Us

Music’s simultaneous activation of diverse brain circuits seems to produce some remarkable effects. Instead of facilitating a largely semantic dialogue, as language does, melody seems to mediate an emotional one. When a composer writes a lamentation or a toddler exuberantly bangs out a rhythm on a pot, that person is not only revealing his or her own emotional state but also causing listeners to share those feelings. Several pieces of research indicate that music reliably conveys the intended emotion in all people who hear it. In the late 1990s neuroscientist Isabelle Peretz and her colleagues at the University of Montreal found that Western listeners universally agree on whether a song using Western tonal elements is happy, sad, scary or peaceful.

Music’s emotional content may even be culturally transparent. This past April neuroscientist Tom Fritz of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues exposed members of the Mafa ethnic group in Cameroon who had never heard Western music to excerpts of classical piano music. The researchers found that the adults who listened to the excerpts consistently identified them as happy, sad or scary just as Western listeners would. Thus, the ability of a song to elicit a particular emotion does not necessarily depend on cultural background.

The musical tongue may also transcend more fundamental communication barriers. In studies conducted over the past decade, cognitive psychologist Pam Heaton of Goldsmiths, University of London, and her research team played music for both autistic and nonautistic children, comparing those with similar language skills, and asked the kids to match the music to emotions. In the initial studies, the kids simply chose between happy and sad. In later studies, Heaton and her colleagues introduced a range of complex emotions, such as triumph, contentment and anger, and found that the kids’ ability to recognize these feelings in music did not depend on their diagnosis. Autistic and typical children with similar verbal skills performed equally well, indicating that music can reliably convey feelings even in people whose ability to pick up emotion-laden social cues, such as facial expressions or tone of voice, is severely compromised.

Lots more at the link–a really fascinating article from a psychological standpoint.

Jefferson would not have supported intelligent design

Fetal Short-Term Memory Found in 30-Week-Old Fetuses

The calorie delusion: Why food labels are wrong

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89 Responses

  1. O.M.G. Franken will certainly liven things up on capitol hill.

    “Didn’t the White House prepare you for that?” he asked with incredulity.

    That was funny!

  2. I can’t believe you missed the biggest story of the day!!!

    Nick and Jessica are getting back together again.



    • Nick better act quickly cuz I’m fixing to make my move.

      (I’m tired of waiting for Tim to mess up with Faith)

      • I used to like Faith Hill until she rolled her eyes on camera when Carrie Underwood won the CMA award they were competing for.

  3. This is just astonishing:

    China grows faster amid worries

    China’s economy grew at an annual rate of 7.9% between April and June, up from 6.1% in the first quarter, thanks to the government’s big stimulus package.

    Americans explain why they approve or disapprove of president’s performance

  4. I heard author Ian Halperin in an interview yesterday discussing his newly released book:


    “Unmasked – The Final Years of Michael Jackson.”

    Apparently he’s been working on it for 5 years in conjunction with Michael and it presents significant solid exculpatory evidence concerning the pedophile accusations. It was supposed to be released in conjunction with his upcoming tour as part of a come-back strategy.

    Halperin noted all of the excessive drug use being foisted upon him by his handlers and predicted, in print, six months ago, that Michael would not last the year.

    It may be an interesting read.

    • A lot of information is coming out now about his physical condition too: he definitely had lupus and vitiligo. When he burned his hair in the Pepsi commercial, it caused damage that never fully healed, which started his drug addiction. He also lost his hair (due to the burn and lupus) and had to wear wigs, and the lightening procedure for the skin condition caused his skin to turn white. That’s also why they used the umbrellas to protect him from the sun, which is very damaging with that condition. It’s sad–like a perfect storm of fame, wealth, and media insanity. If he truly was innocent, and just clueless about how to defend/present himself, can you imagine what a nightmare that would have been–to want to help children and be accused of that in front of the world?

  5. Huckabee warns Palin: Don’t leave the GOP.


    First they abuse her, then they threaten her if she leaves? Sounds like perpetrator threatening a battered woman.

    • He was threatening her? Sounded to me like he was encouraging her to stay in the party because he thinks she’s an asset. There was no warning in what he said. CNN wrote a sensational headline that has no basis in the story. Shocking! Their journalistic integrity has always been of the highest caliber.

  6. Thanks so much for re-introducing me to the news as I slowly adjust from the jet lag.
    I got into a debate with AnnieNYC – did Hillary betray us by letting go of championing healthcare?

    • That’s nothing new….during the primary, Obots claimed Hillary “betrayed” us in 1993 on healthcare – and would do it again as president!

    • They need to look INWARD, look at who bailed on Single Payer…OBAMA! He told them what they wanted to hear and then Bailed on them…

  7. here’s a link to an article in Vanity Fair about Allen Stanford — Sir Allen (unless Antigua takes away his title).


    Interesting reading — with details of how his banking career started in Montserrat. Before that he was in the health club business in Texas. I’ve seen his banking empire in Antigua — you can’t miss it if you fly into Antigua. He is a huge cricket fan and promoted the sport.

  8. Obama’s healthcare bill is really awful. They’re trying to pass it off as a public option even though healthy employed adults are probibited from choosing it.

    This might end up being one of those ironic situations where the only way to stop Obama’s republican agenda is with a filibuster made up of an alliance of liberals (think Bernie Sanders) and Republicans.

    Of course, it would have been nice for the Democrats to have gone with the rational, ecenomically efficient model (single payer).

    What’s odd to me is the whole news narrative that Obama is some kind of liberal on this issue. Truly bizarre.

    • It sure is.

    • It’s not a public option, then. It is merely an expanded and extended version of Medicaid, which sucks.

    • What they’ll do is let the insurance companies pick the healthy people, shove the poor sick off onto the “public” plan, which will of course make the cost per patient higher. Then they’ll use that as “Proof!” that a govt plan is “less efficient” than private plans.

      That being the case, I’d like to see this whole “public option” thing fail, because they are going to RUIN it for real reform in the future.

      • Yup. If I were a republican I would probably be praying that Obama’s health care “reform” would pass (even though in public I would be opposing it). And the fauxgressives who support Obama are just playing right into their hands. Very sad.

        • Yes, it makes me literally cry to think we could have had a Single Payer Plan under Hillary, the best candidate that just happened to be a woman. 😥

  9. Feds: Domestic violence victims may get asylum
    By PAUL ELIAS – 7 hours ago

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Department of Homeland Security has opened the door to the possibility that immigrants who have been victims of domestic violence could qualify for asylum.

    The move, a change from the Bush administration, came to light when the government asked that the case of a Mexican woman who claims she was severely beaten by her common-law husband be sent back to an immigration court for further review.

    Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler said Wednesday the agency “continues to view domestic violence as a possible basis for asylum in the United States.”


  10. What do you think of this?

    Associated Press
    WASHINGTON — The country needs more secure driver’s licenses to thwart terrorists, and a new Obama administration program supported by governors across the country would do that and save money, Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.

    If Congress agrees to modify the law, the new secure license would replace the Bush administration’s proposed Real ID card with something called a Pass ID card.
    Under the current law that the Real ID plan was meant to implement, by Dec. 31 states would have to certify they are complying with the Real ID standard for validating immigration status in order to issue a driver’s license. Residents of states that do not certify they are complying with this standard will not be allowed to board airplanes with their driver’s licenses after the end of this year.

    "By Dec. 31, no state will have issued a Real ID compliant identification document," said Ms. Napolitano, a former governor whose own state of Arizona voted not to participate. "We cannot have national standards for driver's licenses when the states themselves refuse to participate."

    But under Ms. Napolitano's proposed Pass ID plan, people wouldn't need the new driver's licenses to board airplanes.

    Real ID-compliant driver's licenses also would have several layers of security to prevent forgery, such as verification of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immigration status.

    Pass ID, by contrast, would exempt the home addresses of victims of domestic violence or people in the witness protection program from being included on licenses. It also wouldn't require that birth certificates be confirmed with the agency that issued them.


    • I think we are living in a virtual police state.

      • And it’s getting less “virtual” all the time. I hate the whole idea of a National ID. It’s too much like having to carry your “papers”.

    • Already they have problems with the RFID chips in the passport cards, I wonder if the Pass IDs have them. All of this freaks me out.


      • I read that! You can just drive by and scan the chips of people you pass. No security at all.

    • I guess I’ve never really understood the opposition to a national ID per se. Several European countries have had such IDs for a long time, and I don’t see how that makes them more or less “surveillance states” than the U.S. is.

      There are many ways for the government to track us already. A national ID is a tool like anything else. The issue, IMO, has more to do with the people running the government.

      To me, the national ID’s best use would be in providing more economically efficient ways to provide government services to people.

      • I don’t necessarily have a problem with a national ID. But I don’t like the idea that you have to have it to get on a plane or that it will contain a chip that traces all your movements.

        Of course I have already decided that I’ll never fly on a plane again. I’m not going to expose myself to the airport ordeal anymore.

        • I agree. I don’t mind the ID, but the chip thing is too easily hackable for identity theft, and too easily abused by govt.

          • Definitely agree that identity theft is a big issue, and a chip that is too easily hackable isn’t good enough.

            But on the other hand, our current credit cards/bank cards are also easily hackable (my partner’s bank account was hacked into a few months ago; fortunately the bank refunded all the money, but they had to freeze his account for several weeks in order to fix it), and the tools already exist to trace our movements (look, for example, at those cameras being set up at intersections, ostensibly to catch speeders).

            To me, computer chips and such are tools. The question is not whether the tools will be implemented (for better or worse, it’s inevitable). The question is how good are they, and who has access to the information, and what safeguards are in place.

    • As long as the id also serves in order to vote, as it does in Europe.

      That would save a lot of tax dollars going to Acorn, and similar orgs.

      • I don’t have a problem anymore with requiring an ID to vote (I did in the past).

  11. Bank of America is under “secret sanction.” Is that like “double secret probation?”


  12. IDF says Gazans were not used as human shield, despite testimony of Israeli solders.


  13. John F. Kennedy, Jr. died ten years ago today.


  14. Hey, wasn’t it northwestrain and someone else who were noticing and talking about the lack of shipping in the ports and train yards near them?

    Port Traffic Declines In June After Hopes Of Improvement
    by Ryan ZumMallen | Long Beach News | 07.15.09 |

    Container traffic moving through the Port of Long Beach fell in June after encouraging months in April and May, recently released statistics reveal. Traffic fell by 2% between May and June during a period when traffic typically experiences a surge due to increased shipping in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.

    Traffic this June represented a 28.7% decline compared to June of 2008. Similarly, in the first six months of 2009, traffic numbers have hovered around a 28% decline compared to 2008. June statistics remain consistent with 2009 statistics, but insiders had predicted continued improvement this month.


    • IIRC it was Dakinikat

    • Here’s another one. H/T commenter on Market ticker:

      Here’s a good weekly resource. Norfolk Southern reports weekly car loadings here. They are the largest on eastern seaboard,autos,bulk,intermodal. Loadings down ~25% y/y. Note these are car loads not revenue, so reliable count of goods moving. As Karl has said down 25-30% is the number that keeps coming out, CSX, Intel, Heartland Express, etc.


      • It breaks down carloads by type as well which is useful.
        Total carloadings down 22% YOY
        Lumber down 37% YOY
        Metals down 55% YOY
        Motor vehicles down 48% YOY
        Pulp & Paper down 22% YOY
        Chemicals down 21% YOY

        I don’t give a crap WHAT the stock market does, the ECONOMY is not in recovery until goods are moving and being bought, period.

      • Harley now expects to ship between 212,000 and 228,000 motorcycles to its dealers and distributors worldwide in 2009, down between 25 to 30 percent from 2008 shipments levels.

        DOWN 25 to 30% ding ding ding

        Funny how that 25 – 30% down number keeps popping up, no matter what sector you look at.

        • In Italy it’s around 22-25%. Very dismal.

          What first drove the recession home to me, was a news item by a BBC reporter in Rotterdam. (It being Europe’s number one port).
          He was standing there and showing all the ships at their moorings. 3 months back he said, it would have been impossible to find a cargo ship to hire. Then the rate per day was something like $240,000 a day, now prices had gone down to something like $40,000 but there were still no takers.
          (I can’t remember the correct figures but it was something like that).

      • “Containers do not move without someone paying for them, sales taxes are not paid except on actual sales, and truckers don’t drive without someone paying them to haul a load. These numbers are not subject to manipulation by the government and media – they are hard economic statistics that will tell you exactly what is going on inside the economy on a “right now” basis, and must form the foundation of any investment thesis when it comes to your macro-economic view on where we are and where we’re headed.”


        • July 1 (Bloomberg) — Supplies of diesel, the fuel that powers heavy trucks used to move goods across the U.S., rose to the highest in at least 16 years this month, as manufacturing inventories climbed, signaling a need for fewer deliveries.

          The CHART OF THE DAY shows U.S. diesel stockpiles rose 28 percent in the past six months, tracking an increase in the ratio of manufacturers’ inventories to sales.

          “Inventories are bloated,” said Tavio Headley, an economist with the American Trucking Associations in Arlington, Virginia. “Businesses are not taking many new deliveries, and that has a huge effect on tonnage volumes. The significant drop in tonnage volumes is also having a huge impact on domestic diesel demand.”

          There’s that 28% again. The spinners on financial TeeVee can spin all they want, and tout this or that financial firm’s record profits, but the numbers say the REAL economy is contracting in a massive way.


    • Yes I’m the one who mentioned the lack of shipping traffic in the Puget Sound/Seattle/Tacoma area. My remark was in yesterday’s D-kat’s essay.

      I was wondering if this would be reported — these stats are for Long Beach — a major shipping port. But I expect they are similar — or even worse for the Northwest port of Seattle.

      In September we were up near the Canadian border and that’s where we could see all the ships heading into Canada from the Pacific, along the Vancouver Island coast line. At the same time there were NO commercial ships coming in from the Pacific on the US side of the border.

      We’ve been sailing for years and this was the very first time that this lack of shipping was so obvious. When you are on a tiny sailboat compared to the huge ocean going vessels — YOU are very aware of shipping traffic.

      This weekend we saw NO commercial traffic going to or coming from Tacoma — and Tacoma is also a major shipping port just south of Seattle.

      • We used to sail our little Tanzer sloop on Charleston harbor. Yeah, you pay a LOT of attention to the the big freighters, and stay out of their lanes as much as possible.

  15. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203739404574288793998936838.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    “Americans trying to understand the nail-biting financial trauma of the past several months are flocking by the millions to a surprisingly lively source of enlightenment: blogs written by economists.”

    • “UNEMPLOYMENT: Consumers won’t start shopping again in earnest as long as the unemployment rate is at 9.5% and threatening to break into double digits. People who are out of work can’t spend, and people who fear being out of work won’t spend.”

      I certainly hope I’m wrong, but tend to agree with their call on unemployment.

  16. http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/1225-FLASH-Mortage-Insurance-BOOM!.html

    I’ve been waiting for more information about mortgage insurance. We bought our first house with less than 20% down, and I clearly remember having to shut down those premium payments once we reached 20%.

  17. From Denninger today:

    Another trucking company this morning:

    USA Truck reports a miss, 11 cent loss .vs. 4 cents estimated.

    Revenue 81.2m .vs. 99.6 estimated.

    Total miles 58.7k .vs. 61.7 quarter-on-quarter; a 5% decline this quarter .vs. last.

    I will reiterate what I have said dozens of times before:

    Look to the high-frequency data such as actual miles driven by truckers, tonnage loaded and transported by rails and roads, containers shipped across oceans (TEUs) and sales taxes collected by states to know when the economy is bottoming. Until those numbers start to move upward on an annual and quarterly comparison basis the economy has not turned and is in fact continuing to contract, no matter how loudly or often the crooners on CNBC claim otherwise.

    Containers do not move without someone paying for them, sales taxes are not paid except on actual sales, and truckers don’t drive without someone paying them to haul a load. These numbers are not subject to manipulation by the government and media – they are hard economic statistics that will tell you exactly what is going on inside the economy on a “right now” basis, and must form the foundation of any investment thesis when it comes to your macro-economic view on where we are and where we’re headed.

    • I love his blog, I don’t always agree with his outlook, but find great info there.

    • Exactly — ships are NOT moving. This weekend we saw two empty freighters anchored in Tacoma — not moving and not being loaded.

      And this means JOBS — people aren’t working.

  18. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31929715/ns/health-health_care/

    Re: no more free lunch

    I have to say I agree with BB on this. I can’t believe his arrogance. Maybe it’s time we tell our elected officials no more free lunch, free vacations, cheap mortgage deals, board positions for their wives, etc.

    It seems like he believes most Americans suffering from health care issues do so because of their own actions, such as eating too much and not exercising (never mind that they can’t afford healthy food or gym membership). He truly is becoming the lecturer in chief — wonder if all those twenty somethings will continue to support him now that he so often sounds like their mothers (although, at this point the twenty somethings probably think he’s lecturing the great unwashed masses, which they probably feel the same way about). He clearly showed his disdain for his fellow Americans in his autobiography, so I guess none of this should come as a surprise.

  19. I have some links from my morning prowl:

    Funny and true piece:

    Obama as Health Care Salesman: He Sucks!

    Dearth of a Salesman: President Obama gave interviews to a number of network health correspondents today as part of his health care push. Here is an “edited transcript” of his talk with Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC. As a health care sales pitch, it was awful.


  20. RD: this is for you—I know how much you lurv you some Corzine:

    Obama Stumping For Friend In Need

    Previewing tomorrow’s campaign rally with the New Jersey governor, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Obama considers Jon Corzine a friend, and that despite tough times he has earned a second term.


  21. For Clinton, ’09 Campaign Is for Her Turf

    In recent weeks, the administration’s top Iran policy maker was reassigned from the State Department to the White House’s National Security Council; Mrs. Clinton’s candidate to lead the United States Agency for International Development has been tangled up in a vetting process; and she has failed to get her choices into some plum ambassadorships, notably Japan, which went to a fund-raiser for President Obama.

    Still, her aides and people at the White House dismiss suggestions that Mrs. Clinton has been shunted to the sidelines. Her relationship with Mr. Obama is strong, they say, and she remains an influential voice in all key debates.

    Mrs. Clinton is said by her aides to brush off the scuttlebutt about her low profile. They note that she kept her head down early in her Senate career, too.

    She professes to be amused, if baffled, by a recent column on the blog Daily Beast in which Tina Brown wrote, “It’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.”

    Mrs. Clinton has told colleagues about a recent phone conversation with Henry A. Kissinger, a secretary of state who was not sidelined, in which he told her he could not recall a time when there appeared to be less friction between the State Department and the White House. Mr. Kissinger confirmed the account.


  22. Howard Dean Endorses Kirsten Gillibrand for US Senate in NY

  23. UK ‘pandemic flu service’ revealed “Diagnosed via the internet”

  24. Thomas Szasz commentary makes precious little sense. I wrote a short essay response to it, here, if anyone’s interested in a progressive viewpoint.

  25. Big blobs of mystery goo floating off Alaska coast (site has video of the goo blobs)

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