December 31, 2006

Happy New Year to All! (and the Story of a Great Song)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 4:01 pm

NOTE: This will be the only post today. Regular blogging, other than Positivity Posts, will resume on Monday afternoon or evening if there’s blogworthy news, otherwise early on Tuesday morning.

HT for the following story, timely for a New Year that brings with it so much anticipation yet, as always, potential for disappointment, goes to frequent commenter Excelsior.

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Horatio Gates Spafford (1828-1888) was the author of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul“. There are many authors of many hymns, but it is perhaps the story surrounding Horatio Spafford’s life when he wrote the hymn which makes the author’s story so exceptional and enduring, and the words of his hymn so forceful.

Spafford was born on October 28, 1828, in North Troy, New York.

First tragedy: His loss of property in the Great Chicago Fire

In 1871 he and his wife Anna were still grieving over the death of their son. Horatio was a lawyer in Chicago, and friend of the famous preacher D. L. Moody. He had invested heavily in real estate. So when the Great Chicago Fire happened, it meant that he lost almost everything he owned.

Second tragedy: The four daughters died

Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a holiday in Europe, and knowing that Moody would preach in England in the fall, he decided to take his family there. However, he was delayed because of business, so he sent his family on ahead of him: his wife Anna, and his four daughters Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie. On November 21, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, the ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford’s daughters. Somehow his wife, Anna, survived. On arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Horatio with the words “Saved alone.”

Spafford then himself took a ship to England, going past the place where his daughters had died. According to his daughter, Bertha Spafford, the hymn was written in 1873 in mid-Atlantic.

Below are the lyrics of the hymn It Is Well With My Soul done by Spafford. The original manuscript has the four verses below, but Spafford’s daughter states how later another verse was added and one of the lines of the original was slightly modified.

It Is Well with My Soul
(Music and slide show;
Original Hymn Manuscript)

1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
“It is well, it is well with my soul”

Chorus: It is well (it is well) with my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. (Repeat chorus)

3. My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross,and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! (Repeat chorus)

4. And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound,and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.(Repeat chorus)

The music, by Philip Bliss, was named after the ship on which his daughters had all died, Ville Du Havre.

The American Colony in Jerusalem

In August 1881, the Spaffords set out for Jerusalem as a party of 13 adults and 3 children and set up an American Colony there.

From The Library of Congress Exhibition Overview:

Moved by a series of profound tragic losses, Chicago natives Anna and Horatio Spafford led a small American contingent in 1881 to Jerusalem to form a Christian utopian society known as the “American Colony.” Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work amongst the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives–thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations of the eastern front by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures.

A Toast for the New Year to Two DC Circuit Appeals Court Judges

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:02 pm

Here’s something to toast as the New Year rolls in: Pretense has consequences.

This news should greatly please anyone who is irritated by presumptions of privilege asserted by those who either don’t deserve it or no longer have it. But readers who recall Ohio’s Second District GOP primary battles of 2005 and 2006 will especially appreciate the deliciousness of this Saturday Wall Street Journal editorial gem (bolds are mine; requires subscription), and the situation that gave rise to it:

The Former Magnificent Seven

As the clock moved toward midnight in the judicial year yesterday, two federal appeals court judges (from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — Ed.) issued an exquisite, brief ruling that should have members of the legal fraternity clucking from Manhattan to San Francisco.

Judges David Sentelle and Ray Randolph ruled that the amicus briefs filed by seven former federal judges on behalf of dozens of Guantanamo detainees in their lawsuits against the U.S. government were impermissible. Why? Because the erstwhile judicial seven had appended the title “judge” before their names in the filings and thereby stood, or sat, in violation of Advisory Opinion No. 72 of the Committee on Codes of Conduct, which holds that a former judge should forbear using the title “judge” in the courts.

….. Indeed, a footnote to Friday’s ruling quotes Advisory Opinion No. 72, warning against the special aura such amici may emit: “A litigant whose lawyer is called ‘Mr.’ and whose adversary’s lawyer is called ‘Judge,’ may reasonably lose a degree of confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

To say the least. We see little reason why that endless roster of former judges, ambassadors, generals and the like shouldn’t approach the bench as do the rest of us. These seven should feel free to refile their opinions, as Mr., Ms., or whatever.

Second District voters can logically add “former congressmen” to the list in the Journal’s last paragraph, and savor the moment. The US District Court should call this its “Bob McEwen Ruling.”

Seems like I’m not the only person annoyed by people who try to hold on to titles they’re not entitled to claim, whether they’re “approaching the bench,” or “approaching the voters” (McEwen in 2005, McEwen in 2006). Plus, in the case of elections, we’re not talking about a “Code of Conduct,” or common courtesy, we’re talking about the law [scroll down to 3517.21(b)(1)].

So, let’s raise our glasses to Sentelle and Randolph. I know it’s early, but Bottoms Up. :–>

__________________________

UPDATE: This has generated quite a bit of the “clucking” the Journal anticipated over at Althouse.

Positivity: Top 10 Youth Sports Stories of 2006

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:59 am

Dan Abrams, a law professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, does a list like this every year (last year’s was a Positivity post here).

This year he concentrated on exemplary conduct seen in youth sports. Good for him:

Kids in Sports: Who Did Themselves Proud
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

They continue to make headlines: parents facing jail time for assaulting coaches, referees or other parents at games for children as young as 6. Some observers take these incidents as evidence that participation in sports actually can damage the character of children as they grow up.

I disagree. After coaching for nearly 40 years, I know that most parents and the adults who supervise kids in sports successfully teach fair play and instill good values through athletic competition. My annual “Top 10″ list profiles youth athletes who demonstrated these values from coast to coast in 2006:

10. Sophomore Aaron Boss lost in the finals to Michaela Hutchison, the first girl to win an Alaska state high school wrestling title against boys. “I don’t look at it as losing to a girl,” said Boss. “I lost to a wrestler.”

9. The South County (Va.) Raptors football team was disqualified from the playoffs after the league commissioner fired the team’s coach. The coach’s offense? Shifting the commissioner’s son from defense to offense for a game. “I own the league,” the commissioner reportedly said, and “the entire league exists so he can play defense.”

The commissioner offered to hire another coach so the team could compete in the playoffs, but the kids rejected the offer. According to 13-year-old linebacker Michael Holland, the fired coach “is nice. He listens.” The commissioner subsequently backed down, rehiring the coach (and his staff) for the playoffs.

8. Freshman distance runner Sarah Lopez of Hacienda Heights (Calif.) was named the winner of a high school race after the initial winner was disqualified for cutting her off. But Lopez knew that the fault for the incident was hers, so she gave her medal to the disqualified opponent. Said Lopez’ coach: “Kids will make the right decision” when given the opportunity.

7. The Roberson High School (N.C.) boys’ soccer team scored an apparent goal to defeat a rival battling them for the conference title. But when Roberson players told their coach that the ball actually never crossed the goal line, the coach declined the goal, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. “I’d rather have a tie than win on an unfair call,” said John Mitchell, the student who took the shot.

6. Drew Cvancara disqualified himself from his North Dakota high school’s regional golf tournament by reporting that his recorded score of six on one hole should have been a seven because he hit out of bounds twice. If the senior had remained silent, he would have qualified for the state tournament by one stroke.

5. Teams of the Central Missouri Eagles Youth Hockey Association – I serve as their coaching director – collected hundreds of stuffed animals and delivered them, one by one, to hospitalized, abused and neglected children. The Eagles “play to win,” said 12-year-old Haley Bartow, “but we also play to help other kids out.”

The Jefferson City-based Eagles received an “Honor the Game” award from the national Positive Coaching Alliance at Stanford University and a special proclamation from the Missouri Legislature on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

4. Senior Kevin Pawlos, an honors student and hockey all-star at Bishop Canevin High School near Pittsburgh, won a $500 scholarship for his athletic accomplishments. He donated the money to his coach, whose wife had just given birth to a disabled child.

3. Adam Callahan, a varsity wrestler at Carlisle High School in Ohio, also plays soccer and tennis. Born with dwarfism, he stands 4 feet, 8 inches tall. When he was 12, he declined surgery to make him taller because “this is the way God made me.”

2. After winning a tournament, the Whitestown (N.Y.) Wolfpack pee wee hockey team voted unanimously to send its trophy and a sympathy card signed by the 11- to 12-year-olds to a team that had withdrawn from the tournament a week earlier after one of its players died.

1. Eleven Centralia High School (Ill.) varsity football players were working on a community recyling project when a pickup truck slid off a hydraulic lift at the store where they were collecting used tires. A mechanic was trapped underneath. The players lifted the multi-ton vehicle off the man, saving his life. Player Travis Patten dismissed suggestions that they were heroes. “If I was in that spot,” he said, “someone would have done it for me.”

* * *

Sarah Lopez’s coach is right about kids making honorable choices, but those choices are result of values instilled in them by millions of parents and coaches. Those adults join the children as quiet heroes of youth sports for 2006.

December 30, 2006

Weekend Question 2: What’s Wrong with Allowing ‘Card-Check’ in Union Drives?

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:41 pm

ANSWER: It depends on whether you believe in free, fair, and secret-ballot elections. If you do, “card-check” is a disaster.

___________________________________

This issue was mentioned here a couple of months ago, and deserves to be brought up again.

Thomas Bray succinctly stated what it’s all about in his Thursday OpinionJournal.com column:

….. not-so-Big Labor, which has dumped millions into organizing campaigns without much success, is scrambling for new ways to beef up its membership rolls. The latest hot idea is “card check,” in which unions demand to be recognized as the bargaining unit for a workplace if a majority of the workers merely sign a card indicating their support. Under current law, companies are required to recognize a union only after a secret ballot of the workers–and unions have been losing an increasing number of those elections.

….. Sen. Kennedy, whose bill is titled the Employee Free Choice Act, claims federal card check legislation “would level the playing field” by removing “large loopholes” in existing labor laws that supposedly allow employers to fire union organizers and intimidate workers prior to organizing elections. Union officials like Stewart Acuff, the AFL-CIO’s organizing director, complain that elections “just don’t work.”

But it’s more than a bit odd for union leaders, long proponents of what they are pleased to call “industrial democracy,” to object to the secret ballot. As for Sen. Kennedy’s claim that he merely seeks a choice for workers between card-check and a traditional ballot, imagine you are Joe Lunch Bucket on your way to work. A beefy organizer greets you at the plant gate and asks you to sign a card in favor of representation by a union. Are you really going to say no?

The fact that unions now call card-check their No. 1 legislative priority should be seen as a sign of weakness rather than strength.

The final statement from the excerpt is so true. The union movement should be able to organize via secret ballot. Workers in a few industries I can think of right away would actually benefit from being organized. The mystery is why organizers can’t make their case. Please don’t tell me it’s intimidation by employers; in most circumstances, their human-resource employees or advisers are not counseling aggressive opposition (unless attempts at treating people well count as that).

There is one reason why organizing drives aren’t cutting it that is becoming self-inflicted, and is a total mystery to me. I don’t understand why the unions don’t realize that their recent embrace of illegal immigration is undermining their attempt to organize the industries that would be the best candidates for unionization. They don’t understand why people might be reluctant to embrace a union when there is so much underpriced competition, legal and otherwise, out there. And they can’t seriously believe that unionizing illegal workers is a winning strategy — can they?

Speaking of mysteries: Why would the party of Taft-Hartley acquiesce in such an obviously undemocratic exercise as card-checkoff? Giving in, which some observers believe may happen, would be a sellout of historic and monumental proportions.

There’s a reason a secret ballot is secret. Sometimes the employer has the coercive hand; sometimes union organizers do. The secret ballot means that neither hand gets to guide the hand the employee uses to casts his or her ballot.

Stem Cell News They Don’t Think You Can Use (123006)

Filed under: Business Moves,Life-Based News,Marvels,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 12:20 pm

BizzyBlog readers can infer from the title that the news will be about adult stem cells.

The news in the past 30 days about the relevant work of Cellerant Therapeutics is outside the realm of what any casual news consumer might normally come across: a company press release that ended up being posted at three different PR news services (here, here, and here), and this article in Forbes’ December 11 issue, which I have excerpted:

Rebooting the Body
Cellerant Therapeutics aims to use purified adult stem cells to cure a host of wrenching diseases.

In a darkened laboratory off Silicon Valley’s Highway 101, a machine called a flow cytometer is sorting through 300 million white blood cells, one at a time, at a rate of up to 60,000 per second. The sorter, housed in a glass box the size of a big fish tank, is looking for blood-forming stem cells, the precursors to the body’s red and white blood cell lines. It’s a laborious process, requiring half a day to fill a chilled vial with 50 million to 150 million stem cells. But the work may be worth it. What’s inside the vial has an outside chance of being a miracle cure for a host of diseases.

The lab, run by Cellerant Therapeutics in San Carlos, California, has yet to prove anything, but its promise is great: Inject purified doses of adult blood-forming stem cells, which normally regenerate from inside bone marrow, to revive the diseased bloodstreams of sufferers of sickle-cell anemia, lupus, Crohn’s disease and Type 1 diabetes. It’s the biological equivalent of rebooting a crashed computer.

The serum’s purity is crucial: Traces of the immune system’s T cells could set off a lethal rejection by the recipient, but an absolutely pure dose of adult blood-forming stem cells can, in theory, be used in any patient without fear of rejection. Cellerant has dosed radiation-ravaged lab mice with other mice’s purified stem cells and watched them recover to full health in months. “We’ve learned enough biology to start curing diseases,” says Cellerant Chief Executive Bruce Cohen. The company has raised $25 million from seven venture capital firms including MPM Capital and Allen & Co.

A trial in humans is slated to begin in January on 15 to 20 sickle-cell anemia patients, for whom the current curative treatment is a bone marrow transplant, assuming they can find a donor. Cohen also hopes to begin a trial next year with advanced-stage breast cancer patients to boost their red and white blood cells.

….. Cellerant’s claims of better medicine through purity may crumble under closer inspection. Several previous attempts to purify bone marrow for sickle-cell transplants have failed. “Some of the cells that are removed in purification are important,” says Dr. Mark Walters, head of the Blood & Marrow Transplant Program at Children’s Hospital Oakland in Oakland, California. “Can you overcome this? That’s what they need to show.” Cellerant says it might succeed where others have failed by giving patients larger numbers of purified cells. Walters, one of the principal investigators on the trial, says it will be clear within six weeks of the transplant if the purified cells take root. “If it works, it would be a big advance,” he adds.

…. Because Cellerant is transplanting unaltered human cells–a process similar to an organ transplant–the company does not have to go through the traditional three-step clinical trials to get U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval. The FDA just has to verify that Cellerant’s purification process meets its good-tissue-practice standard. Cellerant is performing the work at a lab that already has such approval.

The possibly-imminent “big advance” in adult stem cell research (ASCR) described here has been ignored, except by Forbes, which saw an entrepreneurial angle it could use in the story (previous issues of Forbes have lamented the dearth of money being directed towards life-destroying embryonic stem cell research [ESCR]). Yet the formerly Mainstream Media coverage of what was ultimately shown to be an overhyped non-advance by Advanced Cell Technologies in ESCR several months ago was overwhelming.

ASCR is the area where real progress is being made continually, but it gets little, if any, respect. ESCR gets covered as soon as the PR people start dialing out to their media contacts.

Why?

Weekend Question 1: How Did the Stock Market Do in 2006?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 9:53 am

ANSWER: Pretty well. We’ll take repeats of this performance any time. It would be nice if NASDAQ had done a bit better.

________________________________

After the close of trading on Friday, here’s where things stood:

DJIA 12463.15; up 16.2% for year
S&P 500 1418.28; up 13.6% for year
NASDAQ 2415.29; up 9.5% for year

For dividends, add a couple of percentage points for the Dow and S&P, and maybe one point to the NASDAQ, if you’re scoping out total yield.

As noted yesterday, Forbes’ Rich Kargaard thinks that 2007 will be a pretty good year for the stock market. We’ll start finding out Wednesday, since the markets will be closed Tuesday in honor of the late President Gerald Ford.

Positivity: Climber Rescued after 60-Foot Fall

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:57 am

In Deep River, CT — That this person wasn’t hurt seems a near-miracle:

December 28, 2006

DEEP RIVER — Firefighters rescued a rock climber who fell nearly 60 feet from a cliff in the Cockaponsett State Forest on Wednesday.

Fire Chief Tim Ballantyne said Conor Dwyer, 23, of Madison, had been rock climbing when he fell 20 feet onto a ledge, bounced off and fell about another 40 feet.

Rescuers needed a brush truck and a pickup truck to reach Dwyer because he was about 5 miles from Route 9 down a narrow, dirt road in the pine ledge region of Deep River. The access road is used by the Department of Environmental Protection and DEP personnel were on the scene.

“He was conscious and alert upon arrival,” Ballantyne said.

Dwyer was taken by truck to Route 9, where a rescue chopper had landed between exits 5 and 6.

Ballantyne said emergency personnel shut down Route 9 at about 4:15 p.m. and reopened the road about 5:20 p.m.

Dwyer was flown to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition.

December 29, 2006

CNN.com Home Page Photo Gives Saddam the ‘Deceased Statesman’ Look

Words fail (direct image link):

CNNcom122906Saddam

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE 1: These 74 pages of images (warning: graphic) won’t fail (HT A Blog for All).

UPDATE 1A: Kuwait’s “Not to Forget Museum,” toured by Bill at INDC Journal, is also a must-see.

UPDATE 2: Michelle Malkin noticed.

UPDATE 3: Now THIS from Fox News (who else?; direct link to pic; Hot Air liked it too) is fair and balanced, with images of mass graves on the right balanced by an appropriate pic of Saddam on the left –

FoxSaddamHanged1206

UPDATE 4, Dec. 30, 10 AM — CNN’s home page is different, the original “statesman pic” is still here (saved here at host for future reference).

UPDATE 5, Dec. 30: Even the little things about CNN are maddening. “Symbol” of cruelty?

UPDATE 6, Dec. 30: Here’s a very important, yet slightly incomplete, history lesson from J.R. Dunn at American Thinker (HT Lucianne). After reciting a litany of 20th Century dictators and totalitarians and how they met their end, he notes:

Most of the great butchers of the 20th century died of old age, in their own beds, some of them honored by millions. Not a single one met justice in the sense accepted in free states across the world. The handful who died otherwise are aberrations, victims of strange events that act as models for nothing.

There is one single exception – the hanging of Saddam Hussein on December 30, 2006 after a careful, lengthy trial carried out under extremely difficult circumstances according to internationally recognized judicial norms. The state of Iraq has succeeded where the rest of the civilized world has failed. It is a singular achievement, and it will stand.

While Dunn overlooked Japan’s Hideki Tojo, who was tried and hanged in 1948, this bio importantly notes that Tojo did not stay in power, which is I’m quite sure why Dunn didn’t include him in his list:

Tojo, aware that Japan was unable to win the war, resigned from office after the loss of Saipan in July 1944. He shot himself in the chest just before he was arrested by the US Military in 1945. Tojo survived and after being nursed back to health was tried as a war criminal. Hideki Tojo was executed on 23rd December 1948.

Back on point: It is indeed the case that the trial and execution of Saddam represent an historically “singular achievement.” It is unfortunate that anyone must be executed, but in this case it was wholly necessary, completely just, and brought on by the perpetrator himself.

UPDATE 7: Scrappleface — “WMD Found Hanging from Rope in Iraq”

UPDATE 8: Not to be outdone, here’s the New York Times (HT Hot Air; scroll down, and look on left; direct link to pic is here; may require free registration; pic below is from my host’s hard drive):

NYTsaddamPic1206

Will Friday’s New York Times Editorial on Saddam’s Execution Lose the Manhattan Elites?

The paper’s editorial (requires registration) makes it clear, without having the courage to specifically say it, that it opposed the impending execution of the Iraqi dictator, even characterizing the three-year legal process as “The Rush to Hang” him.

The Times may have taken it too far this time. I would think more than a few in the Manhattan wine-and-cheese set, even those who oppose the war, will be astute enough to substitute the name “Osama bin Laden” and his “orchestration of the 9/11 attacks” for “Saddam Hussein” and his “vile and unforgivable atrocities” in the Times’ Friday editorial.

Many of the Times’ most loyal readers had family members or personally knew people who died in the Twin Towers. Can they, or can anyone else, really doubt that the Times will oppose bin Laden’s execution, should that blessed day ever come, with “creative” excuses like the ones it concocted for Hussein?

Is such a newspaper run by people who are so clearly out of touch really worth anyone’s time, attention, and money, especially when there are two perfectly acceptable alternatives in Gotham, and so many credible alternative resources online?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Memeo has coverage pegging off the related Hot Air post, and will surely have a long list of others following the story (i.e., Saddam’s execution) shortly (as Hot Air does currently).

Shameless Plug: Get Ready for What’s Just Around the Bend

Filed under: General — Tom @ 5:41 pm
cymnow

For many Americans, per Marshall Loeb at MarketWatch (requires free registration), that would be “the staggering holiday debt that often looms long and large after the season is gone.” Loeb goes on to identify a few useful suggestions: don’t do cash advances, negotiate with creditors, try to move debt to lowest-rate cards, etc.

The best thing you can do for yourself, though, would be to click on the symbol at the top right of this post. It will help you get a grip on your situation before it gets a grip on you. Of course, I’m talking about subscribing to CYMnow.com.

Predictions We’re Holding People To: Part 2 (Housing Prices)

Filed under: Biz Weak,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:31 pm

This set of predictions is courtesy of the gloom-and-doom division of Business Week (known as Biz Weak around here).

The magazine, in this slide show, reports the following 10 predicted housing price drops between November 7, 2006 and 2007, based on housing index for the next 12 months traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange:

Boston, -5.7%
Chicago, -4.3%
Denver, -4.6%
Las Vegas, -5.9%
Los Angeles, -5.1%
Miami, -5.9%
New York, -5.0%
San Diego, -6.0%
San Francisco, -4.7%
Washington DC, -6.0%

Unless comparable Nov. 7, 2007 actual data is available (I don’t know where one would find it; e-mail me or leave a comment if you have a suggestion), the above predictions will be benchmarked against the price changes in the four quarters that will end on September 30, 2007, as reported by the government’s Office of Financial Housing Enterprise Oversight.

It strikes me as pretty unusual that Biz Weak would decide to report the predictions based on an Election Day 2006 starting point. It seems like a pretty non-representative day to pick. I would think that pessimism on the part of relatively conservative traders on that day would have caused them to be more negative then than they might be on most other days.

But, we’ll see next year.

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UPDATE: Speaking of housing-market predictions and the OFHEO, here are some other prognositications for next year that will have to wait until February of 2008 to be checked on:

One housing bear, Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist of High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, N.Y., guesses that prices nationally could fall 5 percent to 10 percent from the end of 2006 to the end of 2007, going by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight housing price index. Using that same measure, Goldman, Sachs & Co. predicts a 3 percent decline from 2006 to 2007. Before 2006, the index’ worst performance since its origin in 1975 was a 0.3 percent increase in 1990.

Predictions We’re Holding People To: Part 1 (Rich Karlgaard)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 1:01 pm

The Trends Research Institute didn’t do so well on its 2006 predictions, and is issuing generally vague ones for 2007. So I looked for a prognosticator willing to stick his neck out with specific predictions for next year, and found Rich Karlgaard at Forbes (requires free membership that may be available now to non-subscribers).

I went to Karlgaard in early January to effusively praise his “World’s Worst Disease” column. Even though it was the beginning of the year, I called it the Business Column of the Year (requires free membership). 51 weeks later, I believe it remains at the top of this year’s heap. Here’s how it starts:

(The world’s worst disease is) …. not cancer or AIDS or avian flu; it’s a monstrously flawed idea. The sickest thinking–and the source of most of human misery throughout the ages–is based on the following beliefs:
• The Earth is running out of resources;
• People consume more than they contribute;
• Wealth is a zero-sum distribution game.

History overwhelmingly refutes these ideas; otherwise, humankind would still be living in caves, sharpening spears for the hunt.

It gets BETTER from there.

Anyway, here are Karlgaard’s predictions for 2007:

- U.S. economy grows at 3%-plus.
- Global economy grows at 4.5%-plus.
- American stocks do well.
- Global stocks do better.
- Big Tech has another good year.
- Web 2.0 inflates to bubble status.
- Bargains emerge in U.S. residential real estate.
- Tiny jets begin to ship.
- Hockey and soccer gain popularity.
- The New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl XLI.

I like all of them except the last.

His final prediction (not listed above) is a lock — FORBES magazine will turn 90.

I’ll come back to these at the end of 2007 to see how Karlgaard did. I suspect he’ll improve on Trends Research’s performance.

Correcting an LA Times Headline in Its Ramadi Follow-up Story

Headline:

Marines deny airstrikes used against insurgents in Ramadi

The corrected headline should be:

No Airstrikes Occurred at Ramadi, and We Don’t Have the Integrity to Acknowledge Our Original Error in Reporting Them

Patterico has noticed (“L.A. Times (Almost) Admits Ramadi Airstrike Didn’t Happen”) and promises much more later. Also, Hot Air has weighed in.

Here’s a reminder of original LAT headline and subheadline in its original Nov. 15 story:

Iraqi residents say US airstrike kills 30
Victims include women and children, witnesses in Ramadi say. The military has no immediate comment.

The current LAT story claims that even more civilians were killed:

Recent interviews by a Times correspondent in Ramadi supported earlier eyewitness accounts of civilian deaths during the clashes.

“The actual number eventually reached 35 people, including children and women,” said Yasir Hussein, 40, a Ramadi electrical worker. Hussein said the initial tally of 30 dead increased as injured people died of their wounds.

Memo to LAT reporter Solomon Moore: It’s been over six weeks since the incident in question. Has anyone bothered to get the list of victims’ names for verification purposes?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Memeo is on it.

________________________________

Previous Posts:
- Dec. 4 — Catching Up on Patterico’s “No Ramadi Air Strike” Story
- Nov. 25 — Patterico Investigates the LA Times’ Misreporting of an Incident at Ramadi

Following up on a Think Tank’s 2006 Predictions Last December

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:16 am

Last year’s USAT link is still there. Last year’s BizzyBlog entry suggested, “Let me be so bold as to suggest that businesses making decisions based on the idea that these things will occur might be making quite a mistake.”

I think that suggestion was sound. Here are last year’s predictions, with my comments in italics:

  • A backlash against the poor quality of recent movies and music. — Not anything really significant beyond what was already happening; Hollywood’s 2006 box office is actually a bit ahead, even after inflation, of 2005′s.
  • The survival business will boom for the first time since the Cold War as Americans perceive their government as incapable of protecting them from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. – Did not happen, although it’s understandable that some may feel that way.
  • Technology will continue to empower self-reliant, “off the grid” survivalists, who will seek to avoid payment of fuel, water, electricity and telephone bills. – Nothing significant occurred here.
  • Citizen-driven movements for states to break away from the union will arise. – Nothing significant beyond that of previous years occurred.
  • Global sales of products “made in the USA” will suffer after media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which greatly damaged the world’s view of the United States. — Did not happen.
  • Online TV, the ultimate in media convergence, will signal the decline of the communication industry’s monopoly on broadcast news and entertainment. — This was already happening in 2005 and continued in 2006, but it’s wayyyyyy too early to declare a definitive decline.
  • Real estate values in rural areas will continue to rise as it becomes fashionable to downsize from mega-mansions to log cabins. — Did not happen, especially the log cabin part (zheesh).
  • Entertainment that pokes fun at the consumption habits of the wealthy elite will become popular as reality TV’s projection of “real life” becomes increasingly inaccurate. — If anything, the fun is being poked at the newly-rich who can’t handle their newfound fortune, like that one idiot family on MTV (I don’t remember their names because I couldn’t last 5 minutes without wanting to pull what’s left of my hair out).
  • A new American labor movement will boost union power for workers in the lowest strata of the U.S. economy. — Did not happen, but minimum wage laws were passed in several states. They will help some, and perhaps many, will cause unemployment for others, and I expect will do little to help organizing efforts.
  • Hometown economies will benefit as fuel costs soar and consumers become less willing to drive farther to do their errands; if a pandemic such as bird flu hits, people will patronize local merchants to avoid crowds. — Some trip consolidation occurred during the $3 gas period in the summer, but that’s it.
  • Discovering reliable new sources of alternative energy will be the primary drive in science and invention. — Did not happen to any degree greater than previous years.
  • Americans will address environmental concerns such as global warming, food safety and recycling. – Global warming – no (which is good, because it’s bogus); food safety – as long as we’re not irradiating food sensibly, we’re not really serious about food safety; recycling, as shown a while ago, is (almost) all BS.

Better luck next year to The Trends Research Institute. You’ll notice that the predictions in their 2007 Trends teaser are a lot more vague — and therefore a lot more difficult to monitor the success of.

Ohio Armed Forces State Income Tax Exemption Passes!

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:34 am

Here’s some good news for the last business day of 2006. I held off posting on this until I could find a link and verify that Gov. Taft had signed the legislation involved, but I have confirmed that the State Income-Tax Exemption for Ohio Armed Forces members has passed!

I learned of the measure’s imminent passing into law when this comment got posted at the original BizzyBlog entry:

For everyone who urged the Ohio state senate to pass a military tax relief bill, please accept my thanks. Bottom line – they DID IT. On Thursday (December 14th), the bill was sent to the Governor’s office for signature! It is anticipated that he will sign it within the next few weeks. I will provide an update when it happens.

The bill exempts military pay of Ohio troops from state income tax when the troops are stationed or deployed outside of Ohio. It is estimated by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission that the bill will save troops somewhere between $20 million to $28 million. The bill won’t go into effect until next year, though.

I encourage Ohioans to send a “thank you” to Rep. Peter Ujvagi from Toledo – District47@ohr.state.oh.us, psujvagi@aol.com. Rep. Ujvagi sponsored the bill. He has a nephew in the Marines and another in the Army. Others to thank include Sen. Ron Amstutz, sd22@mailr.sen.state.oh.us from Wooster, and Sen. Kimberly Zurz from Green, Ohio senatorzurz@maild.sen.state.oh.us.

Another thank you goes to Blackfive and Bizzyblog for getting the word out.

Sincerely,

Steve Lynch, Lt Col, USAF (ret)
South Russell, OH

Any time, sir. Ohio-based credit really goes to Right Moment and others who got the ball rolling in response to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article on the bill’s then-dormant status.

I believe that Sgt. Lynch’s reference to “next year” means that the legislation will not take effect until January 1, 2007, though it could conceivably mean the beginning of the state’s next fiscal year. I will clarify and let readers know if the effective date is other than 1/1/07.

Proof of passage, which was otherwise not verifiable because there has been no discernible Ohio media coverage of this, starts at Page 30 of the “Ohio House of Representatives Journal” (PDF) of December 13:

SB73message121306

Matt at Right Angle Blog, who sent the link (thanks!) tells me in an e-mail that “It passed originally from the House on March 21, 2006, then we (the Senate — Ed.) concurred on Dec. 13th. It’s an act, which means Taft signed it.”

Thanks to all who supported this legislation and got the attention of legislators. Lumps of coal to those who, for reasons that mystify the mind, didn’t.