From shutdown to default

I remember the government shutdown of 1995 and the huge uproar it caused among the general public.  I don’t notice much of  that happening today.  The shutdown is not much of a shutdown, with over 80% of the government continuing as usual and the non-esssential offices, while closed, are, well, not essential.

The much bigger issue comes in 10 days when the government reaches the debt ceiling and will have to default on what it owes if Congress doesn’t approve the borrowing of more money.  How do you think that will turn out?  How should it turn out?  After the jump, China and Japan are threatening not to bankroll us anymore if we default. [Read more…]

Making the military cool again

Literature, including and perhaps especially the more popular varieties, does more than provide escapist entertainment.  It can also shape people’s imaginations so as to influence the actual world.  Case in point:  the recently departed author Tom Clancy, who, according to veterans Erin Simpson and Phillip Carter, was largely responsible for making the military cool again, after the disfavor it fell into with the Vietnam war, and inspiring lots of young readers to sign up. [Read more…]

Introverts strike back

The ideal in the business world, especially for corporate leaders, has been the glad-handing extrovert.  Consequently, private offices have given way to open cubicles so that everyone can mix and collaborate, even though that seldom happens.  Also, everyone has to go to brainstorming meetings, even though research has shown that the best ideas come not from groups but from individuals thinking alone.  But now a new appreciation for introverts in the workplace and in leadership positions is emerging.

Susan Cain has written a book on the subject:  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  After the jump, an interview with her about her findings.

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Madness and death in the nation’s Capital

A man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire on the National Mall in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.  Though bystanders, quite nobly, tried to put out the fire, the man died of his injuries.  As of this writing, no one knows who he was or why he did what he did.

The day before a mentally ill woman drove through a barricade at the White House, hit a Secret Service agent with her car (though he was not seriously injured) and started a car chase with Capital police that scattered tourists and put Congress in a lockdown.  The chase ended near the Capitol Building when the woman’s car went through another barricade and got stuck on a median whereupon she was shot dead.  It turned out she was unarmed, with a one-year-0ld child in the car. [Read more…]

The Obamacare rollout debacle

Obamacare got off to an inauspicious start as the website that people were supposed to use to sign up for health insurance kept malfunctioning–not letting users sign in, throwing up error messages, and crashing users’ computers.  To the point that hardly anyone has been able to sign up for the mandated insurance.  Are these mere technical glitches, a bad omen, or an example of the problem with the whole program?  Namely, that it is too complicated, tries to do too much, is poorly planned, and is being run by agencies that don’t realize what they are getting into.

After the jump, a discussion by Ezra Klein, who supports Obamacare, about just how bad the website is. [Read more…]

The playoffs

As far as baseball in concerned, to true fans of the game, this is the best time of year.  The playoffs tend to give us some of the best baseball and the most interesting games of the year.  This time we have some perennial powerhouses (St. Louis, Atlanta), a recently-developed powerhouse (Los Angeles), sentimental favorites (the two traumatized cities of terrorized Boston and bankrupt Detroit), a constant contender (Tampa Bay), and appealing underdogs (Pittsburgh, Oakland).

I am pulling for the Cardinals.  They are consistently outstanding year after year after year.  They seldom make mistakes, come through in the clutch, and keep coming back.  At least they have always been that way when I would watch them torment the teams I have followed lately (the Milwaukee Brewers, the Washington Nationals). [Read more…]