Spam in a Can

Those of you who are familiar with the history of the space program may well recognize the Mercury astronauts' reference to themselves. Though no astronaut, I could certainly sympathize after spending six of ten days curled into my car driving 4000+ miles out to Tucson, AZ and back.

Along the way I visited the 51st state. In fact I spent more time in the 51st state than I did in Arizona. I spent four days in AZ, but spent 6 days in "Inter-State", USA. Inter-State is that blur of Best Westerns, Days Inns, fast food, gas stations, on ramps and exits that twine across our country like asphalt ivy. Larger geography- states, regions and landscapes - doesn't seem to matter all that much; Inter-State is Inter-State. The occasional urban traffic scrum is even very similar whether it be Dallas-Ft. Worth, Memphis, or Atlanta.

Why P.J. O'Rourke doesn't understand science funding.

Yesterday, I was puttering around the office doing some mind-numbing tasks and decided that I would zone out to something on my iPod, which ended up being Wait Wait...don't tell me! There was a question that concerned a research study. The study on auctions showed that if you are able to get a potential customer to hold an object for 30 seconds, in this case a cup, they are likely to bid MORE than the retail value of the object. I believe they said in 4 out of 7 cases the person bid more than the retail value, knowing the retail value. The conclusion was that holding an object for even 30 seconds confers a sense of ownership to that person.

P.J. O'Rourke commented something along the lines of "Please tell me my tax dollars were not used to fund this study."

Which is a funny line, but shows a lack of how science is funded in this country and what is wrong with that system.

Rick Martinez' Holy War

Never one to shy away from putting his holier-than-thou foot in his mouth, pundit Rick Martinez makes a compelling case today for the separation of church and state. Acknowledging that the abortion debate is first a religious issue, he encourages Catholic hospitals to consider shut down in the face of a non-existent threat. You'll have to read for yourself to make sense of it.

House Moves to Improve Oversight on TARP

The federal bailout of banks and other financial institutions has received bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. There are many who are displeased with how it was carried out,even among those who support it. Bush may have asked for the money but it was the leadership of both parties in the House and the Senate who pushed the legislation in its current form and accepted the refusal of particpating institutions to accept oversight or conditions. Members of the House and Senate worked last week to fix what is wrong with TARP. The work continues this week as the 15 day waiting period ends and the money is released.

Discussion Thread for NCDP Chair Conference Calls

Please treat this as an open thread to pose questions that may be used on the conference call, and to discuss today and tomorrow's calls with the candidates for NCDP Chair as they happen. We are primarily focused on questions from young people or questions about how Young Democrats will be involved with the North Carolina Democratic Party over the next two years, but we will take questions from all-comers. Candidates have been invited to live-blog on BlueNC after the calls.

Thank you for participating in the future of our state Democratic Party!


Dannie Montgomery
8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 27
For more details, click here

N.C. Citizen-Soldiers Back In Harm's Way

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exacted a heavy toll on our men and women in uniform, and the family members left behind have not been spared from the suffering. I hesitate to attempt assigning levels of suffering and sacrifice, but the activation and deployment of National Guard and Reserve units carries with it an additional (and unique) set of circumstances that affect those involved, and the nature of their service is such that resources to deal with these issues often don't exist. North Carolina currently has about 500 Citizen-Soldiers actively deployed, but that is about to change:

Today’s Edition of the Circus of Situational Ethics

John Hood says we shouldn’t fix broken things, because we could buy new things instead of fixing broken things which still stimulates the economy, but just in a different way. Got all that?

Of course, hasn’t Hood always encouraged restrained government spending in the name of opportunity cost budgeting? Well, no.

However, if his column doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t matter. You’re just supposed to think he’s smart because he cites Keynes and Bastiat.

Blather available here

Erik Sorenson fears a class war that the rich won’t win. Even though he does frown on a $37,000 toilet, he’s frightened that $100,000 in salary just isn’t enough. I wonder what the janitors at MSNBC made when he led the company.

Comfort poor little rich boy here

Topic of the week: Paying taxes

Much has been written on all sides about the merits or lack thereof of taxes. But today I found a comment on Mark Binker's blog that might be worth discussion. The original post was about different proposals floating around the legislature to raise revenue. One commenter, a person named Doug Johnson, wrote this:

Most of us are just alike, we look to save money. Going to Tennessee today, fill my car up in Virginia, save a few dollars. When I leave Tennessee, will fill up again. Not only does NC lose gas tax, money we would spend at the gas station, they lose sales tax on it.

Who's In Charge of NC's Public Education?

Today's N&O frontpage features an issue that I've been meaning to write about for a while... The wacky way North Carolina manages our public education system.

In our strange system, responsibility for education is distributed across at least seven levels. The titular head of our education system, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, has the least power of anyone.

The North Carolina Public School Forum lists this as one of the top 10 education issues of 2009. It's one of those complex issues that has never really been addressed because none of the power brokers have a vested interest in making it better. You can guess at who might suffer from their inaction.

Here's my take on how it works, and what we can change.


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