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July 2007

Not content with having cruelly and utterly unfairly assassinated the character of Charles Pickering, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee seem prepared to oppose Leslie H. Southwick for a seat on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ABA's judicial evaluation committee--not exactly an outpost of the VRWC--unanimously rated him "well qualified".

He was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary committee for a district court position.

In fact, Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy allegedly promised confirmation before Memorial Day. But that was before the Human Rights Campaign and People for the American Way found "problems" in two of Southwick's 7000 opinions.

Sigh. This is getting old.


If Tyler Cowen makes it in New York, can he make it anywhere?

Congratulations to Tyler Cowen whose new book, Discover Your Inner Economist, is well reviewed by New York magazine. And it's always nice to see a mainstream journalist sneeringly assert that economics began, more or less, in 2005.

Not so long ago, economists not named Milton Friedman mostly kept to themselves, impressing each other with their inscrutable theories. Now they’re the pop stars of academia. Spurred on by Freakonomics, the 2005 best seller by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, economists realized that, if only they can learn to communicate normally, they have the tools to explain people’s lives to them. Like, why won’t my teenage daughter wash the dishes?


I've mentioned DonorsChoose before. My wife and I think it is a fine charity and we have contributed again this year.

Here's some interesting news: American Express is having a contest--called "The Members Project"--to award $5 million to a single charity. DonorsChoose is the group of five finalists for the award.

Between now and August 7, the winner will be determined. The winner will be determined by vote of American Express card holders (cards issued by American Express itself; bank card holders aren't eligible to vote).

If you have an American Express card, I urge to go to The Members Project page and vote for DonorsChoose. $5 million is approximately one-year's donations for them, and I think the prize would have a wonderful impact on U.S. public schools.


So have you gotten any e-mails recently touting Viagra? No? How about V.i.a.g.r.a or V!A6RA? How many ways are there to spell Viagra, anyway? One answer is 6 times 10 to the 20th. That prompts an interesting essay by Brian Hayes on spam and spam filtering.

Diseases tend to evolve from an epidemic to an endemic state. For the first population exposed, the infection is dire and deadly; later, everyone gets a little sick but survives. It's not really in the pathogen's interest to kill the host; and although the host might well like to exterminate the disease, that seldom happens. The future of spam may be a low-grade fever.

Even if you haven't gotten a Viagra spam, I'd almost bet you've gotten a "You have received a greeting card" spam. One e-mail security company says there has been at least 275 million of these, just this month.


Yep, that's macro as I remember it

Kik on the blog A Mutual Coincidence of Needs writes:

After finishing a month-long series in "old-school" macroeconomics <insert IS-LM memories here>, a professor in grad school pulled together all of the differential equations and their neat, closed-form solutions on the board and said, "well, that is all good and well, except in real-life you don't know where you started, you don't know where you are, you don't know what previous shocks are still working their way through, and you don't know where you are going."

Macro doesn't seem to have changed much since I took it over 25 years ago.