Saturday, July 14, 2012

From The Department of WTF?

Cedar Rapids Gazette (h/t Lambert Strether):

Iowa Republicans plan to choose another candidate to run in Senate District 34 against Democrat Liz Mathis, after Randi Shannon bailed on the race to pursue leadership in an alternate form of government.
Shannon, who describes herself as an entrepreneur and homeschooling mom, released a four-page message Friday saying she is now the senator of the Republic of the United States of America and the Republic for Iowa.
The group believes that America’s original form of government, a collection of republics, was usurped in 1871 by a corporation called the United States Corporation, according to the group’s website.
What in the hell are these people talking about?  United States Corporation? 1871? WTF? This woman had a real possibility of being an Iowa State Senator?  I realize that there are some real loons in the state legislatures, but holy shit, are they this crazy?  Here is part of the group's timeline of the history of the United States:

Guys' Wedding Toasts Versus Girls' Speeches

A question from the mailbag gets Katie Baker on the subject of toast speeches:
We go up in large groups at a time and break out novelty speeches that might as well be ripped out of the magazines we read and the TV shows we watch ("25 Reasons Why Molly and Matt Are the Best Couple EVER!" featuring a rotating five-person panel of talking heads). We assume that the inside jokes that make us cry with laughter when we're poolside or at brunch are going to appeal to everyone — anyone — else. We think that the more obscure the memory, the more it proves how strongly we're BFF4evs. (The scene from Bridesmaids with the engagement party toast one-upmanship is a good example of that.)
The guys' speeches, on the other hand, while always imbued with the crackling danger of marriage-ruining downside — if you find yourself about to utter the phrases "former man-whore" or "never remembered their names," for the love of God STOP — are generally shorter and sweeter and less grandly conceived. They come a lot closer to following the simple "3-1-2" format recommended at the very end of this useful guide to giving good toast. They do a better job of sticking to what I've always considered to be the best rule of thumb: If you're not going to be funny, be brief.
Of course, it's a little unfair, because the guys have this distinct advantage: Literally the only thing they have to do to bring hands to hearts and tears to eyes is to tell the bride she's so beautiful and she's the best thing that's ever happened to their buddy. Seriously, next time someone says this, look around and watch the room literally melt. It's not fair.
One of the funniest, most uncomfortable speeches ever?  When my roommate's brother made up the entire best man speech because he really didn't want his brother to marry his sister-in-law, and wanted to give all of us in the know some classic entertainment.  One of the wierdest?  When my other roommate's brother started talking about turds.  There are a number of other classics, almost all delivered by guys (with a couple notable exceptions).  Good times. 

The Sedition Act

July 14, 1798:
The Sedition Act becomes law in the United States making it a federal crime to write, publish, or utter false or malicious statements about the United States government. The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution and during an undeclared naval war with Britain and France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams. Opposition to Federalists among Democratic-Republicans reached new heights at this time since the Democratic-Republicans had supported France. Some even seemed to want an event similar to the French Revolution to come to the United States to overthrow the Federalists. When Democratic-Republicans in some states refused to enforce federal laws, and even threatened possible rebellion, Federalists threatened to send in an army and force them to capitulate. As the paranoia sweeping Europe was bleeding over into the United States, calls for secession reached unparalleled heights, and the fledgling nation seemed ready to rip itself apart. Some of this was seen by Federalists as having been caused by French and French-sympathizing immigrants. The acts were thus meant to guard against this real threat of anarchy. Democratic-Republicans denounced them as being both unconstitutional and designed to stifle criticism of the administration, and as infringing on the right of the states to act in these areas, though they did use them after the 1800 election against Federalists. They became a major political issue in the elections of 1798 and 1800. They were very controversial in their own day, as they remain to the present day. Opposition to them resulted in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves, authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, which were foundational to the states rights theory.
Four separate laws constituted what is commonly referred to as the "Alien and Sedition Acts"
  1. The Naturalization Act (officially An act supplementary to, and to amend the act to establish a uniform rule of naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed on that subject; ch. 54, 1 Stat. 566) repealed and replaced the Naturalization Act of 1795 to extend the duration of residence required for aliens to become citizens of the United States from five years to fourteen years.
  2. The Alien Act (officially An Act Concerning Aliens; ch. 58, 1 Stat. 570) authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." It was activated June 25, 1798, with a two year expiration date.
  3. The Alien Enemies Act (officially An Act Respecting Alien Enemies; ch. 66, 1 Stat. 577) authorized the president to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States of America. Enacted July 6, 1798, and providing no sunset provision, the act remains intact today as 50 U.S.C. §§ 2124. At the time, war was considered likely between the U.S. and France.
  4. The Sedition Act (officially An Act in Addition to the Act Entitled "An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States"; ch. 74, 1 Stat. 596) made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or certain officials. It was enacted July 14, 1798, with an expiration date of March 3, 1801 (the day before Adams' presidential term was to end).
With all the talk that Obama must be defeated so that America as we know it won't come to an end, you have to wonder when America as we know it actually existed?  You mean back when African-Americans were held as slaves?  Or when African-Americans were barred from voting and were treated as second-class citizens?  Or when Japanese-Americans were interred?  Or when the federal government limited speech critical of the government just 11 years after the Constitution was written, and seven years after the Bill of Rights was ratified?  We sure have an interesting history, and I don't think that the re-election of Barack Obama is going to end the United States as we know it.

The Comeback Economy

The Economist makes the case that the U.S. economy is sitting better than Europe or China (h/t Ritholtz).  I found their prescription for whoever wins the Presidential election interesting:
What should the next president do to generate muscle in this new economy? First, do no harm. Not driving the economy over the fiscal cliff would be a start: instead, settle on a credible long-term deficit plan that includes both tax rises and cuts to entitlement programmes. There are other madnesses brewing. Some Democrats want to restrict exports of natural gas to hold down the price for domestic consumers—a brilliant strategy to discourage domestic investment and production. A braver Mr Obama would expedite approval of gas exports. For his part, Mr Romney should back off his promise to brand China a currency manipulator, an invitation to a trade war.
Second, the next president should fix America’s ramshackle public services. Even the most productive start-ups cannot help an economy held back by dilapidated roads, the world’s most expensive health system, underachieving union-dominated schools and a Byzantine immigration system that deprives companies of the world’s best talent. Focus on those things, Mr Obama and Mr Romney, and you will be surprised what America’s private sector can do for itself.
Raise taxes?  Fat chance a President Romney will do that.  Hell, it's unlikely Obama would do that.  He'll end up folding up on letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire.  I'm surprised The Economist can take seriously the idea that Republicans might end up in charge and not totally fuck things up.  I wish I could be that optimistic. And where would the private sector be today without the government bailouts?  But, anyway, at least somebody thinks things aren't as bad as our politicians tell us they are.

An Internet Map

From The Atlantic:

 The image above, as seen from the North Pole, offers the global view of the Internet's major cables. It depicts fiberoptic lines as they run between major cities, most of those cities also financial and trading hubs.
I know one thing, my home needs more than just dial up.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Birthday To The Northwest Ordinance

It's been 225 years since the most important piece of legislation passed under the Articles of Confederation came into being.

What Could Be Hotter?

Here's a disturbing way to start the weekend:

The Propaganda Machine

Via nc links, Columbia Journalism Review looks at one of the more quoted "small businessmen" in media reports:
Take one of the Times’s main anecdotes, Drew Greenblatt, who owns a small manufacturing firm in Baltimore called Marlin Steel Wire and who gets his picture in the Times. This was his third NYT hit in three months. Here are Mr. Greenblatt’s other press hits in June: The NBC Nightly News, PBS Newshour (twice), NPR’s Morning Edition, The Hamilton Spectator. So far this year he’s also been on CNN Newsroom and Fox Business (four times), and in the Financial Times, Reuters, and the Associated Press, plus a number of smaller publications. Two years ago, Greenblatt and his company were the focus of a flattering 2,300 word Atlantic profile and a couple of WaPo profiles in 2001 and 2007. This guy is like the Greg Packer of small manufacturers.
Last month, Tim Geithner popped in for a visit. All this ain’t bad for a company with revenues of $5 million. You’d think it was IBM.
Undisclosed in any of these stories is the fact that Greenblatt is an executive-committee member of the board of the National Association of Manufacturers, the powerful DC trade lobby. NAM not only pushes Congress for anti-labor policies (like banning picketing), it lobbies for government-funded workforce training programs (“to be led by the business community,” naturally).
Back in October NAM partnered with Deloitte to put out a report that used sketchy methodology to claim that 600,000 jobs are going unfilled because manufacturers “can’t find people with the right skills.”
Back in 2009, Greenblatt was upset that Congress and President Bush had upped the minimum wage from $5.85 an hour, telling Investors Business Daily that “The minimum wage (hike) is another anti-small-business and another anti-job plan.”
Last September, Greenblatt testified to Congress for NAM in favor of so-called free-trade agreements in Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Earlier in the year he testified to Congress for NAM in favor of sharply reducing corporate taxes, increasing foreign labor visas, and drilling for oil and against new labor regulations. He (NAM) was against new labor rules, consumer-safety rules, and environmental regulations.
And most of the media outlets fail to mention his ties to the National Association of Manufacturers.  It would be nice to hear from more businesspeople who aren't right wing nuts, but I'm not sure how many of them are out there.  Seems like every one I talk to is unhinged from reality.  As somebody commented on this story, maybe employers ought to be paying better wages to lure qualified candidates for open positions, maybe they ought to be paying more taxes to support the schools instead of slashing funding, and maybe they ought to be providing more on--the-job training.  Instead, they are just busy putting out propaganda.

The Make-Nothing Economy

An interesting statistic from the socialist Monthly Review:
Indeed, since the 1970s we have witnessed what Kari Polanyi Levitt appropriately called “The Great Financialization.”6 Financialization can be defined as the long-run shift in the center of gravity of the capitalist economy from production to finance. This change has been reflected in every aspect of the economy, including: (1) increasing financial profits as a share of total profits; (2) rising debt relative to GDP; (3) the growth of FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) as a share of national income; (4) the proliferation of exotic and opaque financial instruments; and (5) the expanding role of financial bubbles.7 In 1957 manufacturing accounted for 27 percent of U.S. GDP, while FIRE accounted for only 13 percent. By 2008 the relationship had reversed, with the share of manufacturing dropping to 12 percent and FIRE rising to 20 percent.8 Even with the setback of the Great Financial Crisis, there is every indication that this general trend to financialization of the economy is continuing, with neoliberal economic policy aiding and abetting it at every turn. The question therefore becomes: How is such an inversion of the roles of production and finance to be explained?
The financial sector has grown at an unsustainable pace.  Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has seen lower wages and higher debts.  This doesn't work.  Henry Ford realized that his workers needed to be able to afford the cars they were building.  Why don't executives realize that today?  A little bit more:

We can picture this dialectic of production and finance, following Hyman Minsky, in terms of the existence of two different pricing structures in the modern economy: (1) the pricing of current real output, and (2) the pricing of financial (and real estate) assets. More and more, the speculative asset-pricing structure, related to the inflation (or deflation) of paper titles to wealth, has come to hold sway over the “real” pricing structure associated with output (GDP).23 Hence, money capital that could be used for accumulation (assuming the existence of profitable investment outlets) within the economic base is frequently diverted into M-M, i.e., speculation in asset prices.24 Insofar as this has taken the form of a long-term trend, the result has been a major structural change in the capitalist economy.
Viewed from this general standpoint, financial bubbles can be designated as short periods of extraordinarily rapid asset-price inflation within the financial superstructure of the economy—overshooting growth in the underlying productive base. In contrast, financialization represents a much longer tendency toward the expansion of the size and importance of the financial superstructure in relation to the economic base, occurring over decades. “The final decades of the twentieth century,” Jan Toporowski (professor of economics at the University of London) observed in The End of Finance, “have seen the emergence of an era of finance that is the greatest since the 1890s and 1900s and, in terms of the values turned over in securities markets, the greatest era of finance in history. By ‘era of finance’ is meant a period of history in which finance…takes over from the industrial entrepreneur the leading role in capitalist development.”
In other words, the job creators aren't around.  What we have are a bunch of speculators making imaginary money on nonproductive activites, and keeping more for themselves to plow back into those "investments."  Don't buy the job creator bullshit, the bubble pumpers are in charge.

Peregrine Financial Scam Roils Futures Market

Peregrine Financial Group Inc. futures customers won’t have their losses covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corp. even if they were defrauded, the fund’s chief said.
The U.S. Securities Investor Protection Act provisions make customers of a futures commission merchant like Peregrine ineligible for payment, SIPC Chief Executive Officer Stephen P. Harbeck said today in a telephone interview.
Harbeck said his organization, an industry fund that covers losses from brokerage firm failures, has been told Peregrine’s futures business is in a company separate from the registered broker-dealer that’s covered by SIPC. Peregrine’s securities broker traded on a so-called fully disclosed basis where the accounts are held by a unit of Sterne Agee Group Inc., Harbeck said.
While securities customers can look to Sterne Agee, futures customers aren’t covered, he said. A representative of Sterne Agee declined to comment.
“SIPC has not been informed that it is appropriate to take action at this time,” Harbeck said.
If the information Harbeck said SIPC was given is borne out, the collapse of Peregrine won’t unfold like MF Global Inc. and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities Inc., where SIPC named trustees and paid the costs of the liquidation.
Peregrine filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in Chicago yesterday after being sued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which accused the firm and its founder, Russell R. Wasendorf Sr., of misappropriating at least $200 million.
I've been meaning to post on this for several days.  When on earth is the CFTC going to actually do something about regulating commodity futures brokers?  How many customers have to have their money stolen before people actually go to jail?  This and MF Global are on the Goldman Sachs Trust level of fraud from the Roaring Twenties.  This is supposed to be segregated money, and it is fucking gone.  What in the hell is going on?  How can retail customers trust any broker, when these brokers are supposed to be watching one another?  Clearly, the system is broken, and with the amount of money that has poured into commodities in the past few years, expect a lot more money to go missing.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Unrest In Belfast At Ardoyne Parade

Nine police officers have been injured dealing with trouble following the passing of a Protestant parade through the Catholic Ardoyne area in north Belfast.
Their injuries are not believed to be serious.
Petrol bombs and bricks have been thrown at police by nationalists and loyalists.
Police have responded by using water cannons to contain the crowds. Six plastic bullets have been fired.
Six men have been charged in connection with public order offences in the Broadway area of Belfast on
There have been two arrests although police expect more to follow.
Three cars have also been hijacked and two of them pushed at police. At least one of them has been set alight.
Police are continuing to deal with "significant disorder" in the nationalist Brompton Park and Balhom Road areas in north Belfast.
A short distance away police were attacked with bricks and bottles thrown by loyalists on the Crumlin Road near the junction with Hesketh Road.
On the other side of the Ardoyne flashpoint zone at Twaddell Avenue, bricks and bottles were also thrown at police by loyalists.
The Orange parades are just plain stupidity, and the fact that they are routed through Nationalist hotspots is absolutely ridiculous.  Can you imagine Klan parades through black neighborhoods, or Neo-Nazi parades in Jewish ones?  

A Failure of Leadership

During an extraordinary 45-minute news conference Thursday, Freeh said the janitors' fear of speaking up about a young boy's abuse is a telling indictment about the all-powerful culture of Penn State's football program. "They were afraid to take on the football program," Freeh said. "The university would circle around it. It was like going against the president of the United States. If that is the culture on the bottom, God help the culture on the top."
Page after page, damning conclusion after damning conclusion, the Freeh report lays out the story of a stunning and systemic failure of leadership. The evidence contained in the report, including emails from 1998 and 2001 when Spanier, Paterno, Schultz and Curley concealed the Sandusky allegations, is devastating to the reputations and legacies of each.
"In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity," the report states, "the most powerful leaders at the university -- Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley -- repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse."
In 2001, when then-assistant coach Mike McQueary reported an assault in the shower that he had witnessed to Paterno, the coach told him, "You did what you had to do. It's my job now to figure out what we want to do."
Paterno's decade-old words -- It's my job now to figure out what we want to do -- hang over the entire Freeh Group's report, indicating that the powerful coach and the university's leaders each had an array of choices to make about what to do about Sandusky, going back 14 years. Almost always, they chose to say or do little or nothing about Sandusky, seemingly more concerned about the "humane" response to Sandusky, as Spanier said in a February 2001 email, rather than how the longtime defensive coach's actions might be affecting children.
Freeh also charges that Paterno, Curley, McQueary, Spanier and Schultz failed to comply with the federal Clery Act by not reporting the 2001 incident to university police.
Penn State's leadership decided to follow the lead of the Roman Catholic Church and to conceal the fact that they knew a sexual predator was taking advantage of children.  The fact that the University President and Athletic Director deferred to the head football coach says all that needs to be said about the arrangement of priorities at big-time college football campuses.  It is just the worst example yet of athletics trumping decency at universities.  Look at Notre Dame's handling of accusations of rape committed by football players, or Gordon Gee's terrible joke that it was more of a question whether Jim Tressel would fire him than if he would fire Jim Tressel for other cases.  All of these incidents show misplaced priorities.

But the fall of Joe Paterno is the biggest failure yet.  His family may be trying to protect his image, but they are trying to bucket water out of the ocean.  He built his reputation on the idea that he was a successful coach, but that he was a better person.  And yet, when it came time to make a tough decision which would bring shame to his football program, and would ruin one of his friends, he chose to protect his friend and his program's reputation.  Because of that decision, several boys were allowed to be sexually assaulted.  Now, besides the damage done to those boys, and the financial damage which will befall the university, Joe Paterno will be remembered as the coach who protected a sexual predator.  That is a sad legacy for 61 years of work.

Babe Ruth In Pictures

From The New Yorker:

Ruth rides King Jess, a Holstein Bull, in Harrington Park, New Jersey, on November 9, 1922. FPG/Getty Images.
 That is a pretty damn large bull for back in the day. Would the Reds let Joey Votto climb up on a bull that size?  I'd guess not.

A Strange Test Case

Scientific American describes the rise and demise of Telstar 1:
In 1962, a small spherical satellite weighing about 77 kilograms was launched from Cape Canaveral.  Its name was Telstar 1, and it was the first commercial telecommunications satellite—the first of a long line that have led to today's digitally connected world, where television programs and other media are easily accessible at locations across the globe.
By the following February, however, Telstar 1 had been completely fried by energetic electrons from a U.S. high-altitude nuclear test.
Walter Brown, a Bell Laboratories engineer who worked on the project, recalls Telstar 1’s triumphs and untimely demise. Currently a professor of materials science and engineering at Lehigh University, he says it was his job to “examine how radiation in space affects solar cells and semiconductors.” He got rather more than he bargained for.
The day before launch, the U.S. had set off a nuclear explosion at an altitude of 400 kilometers just southwest of Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean. The test, known as Starfish Prime, released the energy equivalent of 1.4 megatons (million tons) of TNT—creating a huge electromagnetic pulse that produced spectacular aurora over the Pacific.
"The people who set off the nuclear explosion were totally surprised by the huge number of high energy electrons that were released," Brown says. "They had no idea this would be the case until we started seeing this huge flux, a hundred times what was predicted."
The satellite unwittingly became an experiment to analyze the aftermath of a nuclear blast on electronic equipment. "We learned a lot about radiation damage from Telstar 1," he says. "Initially, Telstar 1 couldn't be turned on, some transistors had failed. But the electronics engineers figured a way around that and got it working."
Their efforts bought enough time for the satellite to prove its worth.
It is absolutely amazing that scientists were just setting off massive nuclear explosions without any real idea of what might happen.  That is a pretty major oops.  I wonder how many people died from cancer and radiation sickness over the previous 60 years because of those tests?  I would think it would be a hell of a lot.

Chart of the Day

Progressive Farmer looks at corn breakeven prices:

Uh oh, they don't show anything below 100 bushels. Well, you are guaranteed to collect crop insurance down there. I think we're going to be talking to the adjuster come September and October.

A Brewing Storm

The Atlantic features some awesome photos of storm clouds by Camille Seaman.  My favorite:

A massive storm cloud twists above wheat fields in western Nebraska, photographed by Camille Seaman on June 22, 2012. (© Camille Seaman

Click to enlarge.

A Different View Of The Economy

Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer:
Consider regulation. Under the prevailing assumption, regulation is an unfortunate interruption of a frictionless process of wealth creation in a self-correcting market. But Gardenbrain allows us to see that an economy cannot self-correct any more than a garden can self-tend. And regulation — the creation of standards to raise the quality of economic life — is the work of seeding useful activity and weeding harmful activity.
Is it possible to garden clumsily and ineffectively? Of course. Wise regulation, however, is how human societies turn a useless jungle into a prosperous garden. This explains why wherever on earth one finds successful private companies, one also finds a well-regulated economy, and where regulation is absent we find widespread poverty.
Or take taxes. Under the efficient-market hypothesis, taxes are an extraction of resources from the jobs machine, or more literally, taking money out of the economy. It is not just separate from economic activity, but hostile to it. This is why most Americans believe that lower taxes will automatically lead to more prosperity. Yet if there were a shred of truth to this, then given our historically low tax rates we would today be drowning in jobs and general prosperity.
Gardenbrain, in contrast, allows us to recognize taxes as basic nutrients that sustain the garden. A well-designed tax system — in which everyone contributes and benefits — ensures that nutrients are circulated widely to fertilize and foster growth. Reducing taxes on the very wealthiest on the idea that they are “job creators” is folly. Jobs are the consequence of an organic feedback loop between consumers and businesses, and it’s the demand from a thriving middle class that truly creates jobs. The problem with today’s severe concentration of wealth, then, isn’t that it’s unfair, though it might be; it’s that it kills middle-class demand. Lasting growth doesn’t trickle down; it emerges from the middle out.
I would tend to lean toward the garden side.  Taxes are not necessarily damaging to the economy, and some reasonable and well-crafted regulations are necessary for a well-functioning economy.  I get sick of hearing about we need free markets without burdensome regulations.  That might work great if there were only 20 people on Earth, but with about 300 million people in the U.S., we need substantial regulations.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Big Baseball Card Find In Defiance

The cards could be worth millions:
Frozen in time beneath a wooden doll house and a century's worth of dust, Mr. Kissner found a cardboard green box filled with baseball cards.
The names sounded familiar -- Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Connie Mack -- and he soon contacted an auction house in Dallas.
It was his family's winning lottery ticket.
Experts say the trove of about 700 nearly mint cards just might represent the greatest and rarest discovery in the sports card industry's history. The best of the collection is expected to fetch more than $500,000 at the National Sports Collectors Convention next month in Baltimore while the entire stock could bring in $3 million. The cards are part of a rare 30-player set distributed with caramel candy in 1910. Only 635 of the undersized rectangular cards from the E98 series were known to exist and most of those displayed significant wear -- a treasure so limited that even the most zealous collectors had long given up hope of piecing together a complete set.
That is pretty damn cool.  Here I thought it was neat when dad found about 60 cards of his from 1964 up on top of the granary in the bank barn back in 1984.  They were in pretty bad shape, but I do have a Pete Rose, a Juan Marichal and a Sandy Koufax out of those.  Mine are probably worth $30 instead of $3,000,000.

Taft Becomes Chief Justice

July 11, 1921:
Former U.S. President William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person to ever be both President and Chief Justice.
On June 30, 1921, following the death of Chief Justice Edward Douglass White, President Warren G. Harding nominated Taft to take his place. For a man who had once remarked, "there is nothing I would have loved more than being chief justice of the United States" the nomination to oversee the highest court in the land was like a dream come true. There was little opposition to the nomination, and the Senate approved him 60-4 in a secret session on the day of his nomination, but the roll call of the vote has never been made public. Taft received his commission immediately and readily took up the position, taking the oath of office on July 11, and serving until 1930. As such, he became the only President to serve as Chief Justice, and thus the only former President to swear in subsequent Presidents, giving the oath of office to both Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929).
Taft enjoyed his years on the court and was respected by his peers. Justice Felix Frankfurter once remarked to Justice Louis Brandeis that it was "difficult for me to understand why a man who is so good a Chief Justice...could have been so bad as President. Taft remains the only person to have led both the Executive and Judicial branches of the United States government. He considered his time as Chief Justice to be the highest point of his career; allegedly, he once remarked "I do not remember that I was ever President".
This very conservative father of Mr. Republican, Robert Taft also has this as his legacy:
To solve an impasse during the 1909 tariff debate, Taft proposed income taxes for corporations and a constitutional amendment to remove the apportionment requirement for taxes on incomes from property (taxes on dividends, interest, and rents), on June 16, 1909. His proposed tax on corporate net income was 1% on net profits over $5,000. It was designated an excise on the privilege of doing business as a corporation whose stockholders enjoyed the privilege of limited liability, and not a tax on incomes as such. In 1911, the Supreme Court, in Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., upheld the tax. Receipts grew from $21 million in the fiscal year 1910 to $34.8 million in 1912.
In July 1909, a proposed amendment to allow the federal government to tax incomes was passed unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 318 to 14 in the House. It was quickly ratified by the states, and on February 3, 1913, it became a part of the Constitution as the Sixteenth Amendment.
Now he'd be cast out as an enemy of today's crazy Republican party.

Why Are F-22 Pilots Choking?

Also on Tuesday, Warner and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) sent a letter to Air Force officials that cited data from an Air Force committee about a crucial Raptor component, the On-Board Oxygen Generating System, or OBOGS. The data indicates that the “quantity of oxygen” the pilots need “may, in fact, be greater” than what the OBOGS supplies. And Warner wants to know whether the data will reach a panel in charge of overseeing the investigation.

“I have to say at least I have concerns about the Air Force’s ability to get to the bottom of this,” Warner said.
OBOGS had long been suspected as a culprit. The way it works: Compressed air from the Raptor’s engines is sucked into the system, which produces a (theoretically) unlimited supply of breathable oxygen. If there’s a problem with getting enough oxygen, odds are there’s a problem with OBOGS.
But in February, attention focused on the F-22′s coolant system, which investigators believed could be leaking into the oxygen system. Another potential culprit was the pilots’ constrictive g-suits, which the Air Force ordered replaced. But with incidents still occurring, attention refocused on OBOGS.
“One of the things that the Air Force had indicated to us was that they were looking at the fact that the OBOGS, when it was originally designed, may have been designed to older standards of how many liters of oxygen per minute a pilot needed,” Warner said. “And that when you actually look at the extremely high workloads these pilots are enduring under high gees, heavy maneuvering type of flight, that it may be that they require more oxygen than the system was originally designed to put out.”
But that wouldn’t explain hypoxia-like incidents which occurred on the ground, Warner cautions. The truth may instead be a series of interrelated problems with no easy solution. Even attempting to fix the problem has created other problems.
Wow.  This would seem like something the Air Force would have under control.  Pilots have been provided oxygen since we were flying B-17s.  I can't believe they haven't been able to figure out what is causing it.  

Mining The Ocean Floor

NYT, via Ritholtz:
Scientists once thought the main source of wealth in the deep sea lay in beds of potato-size rocks that could be mined for such common metals as iron and nickel. In the 1960s and ’70s, entrepreneurs tried to scoop them up, but the rewards never offset the high cost of exploration, retrieval and transportation.
Things began to change in 1979 with the discovery of “black smokers”, sulfurous mounds and towers that gush blistering-hot water. The smokers turned out to dot the 46,000 miles of volcanic fissures that gird the global seabed like seams on a baseball.
Scientists found that the smokers formed as hot water rose through the volcanic rocks, hit icy seawater and shed a variety of minerals that slowly coalesced into eerie mounds and chimneys. One, found off Washington State and nicknamed Godzilla, stood more than 15 stories high.
The first wave of discovery showed that the volcanic springs harbored riots of bizarre creatures, including thickets of tube worms. The second wave showed that the mounds and chimneys — hot and cold, new and old, active and inactive — were composed of complex minerals that contained surprising amounts of copper, silver and gold.
Today, increasingly, mines on land lack rich supplies of copper, a staple of modern life found in everything from pipes to computers. Many commercial ores have concentrations of only a half a percent. But seabed explorers have found purities of 10 percent and higher — turning the obscure deposits into potential bonanzas. The same turned out to be true of silver and gold.
People love finding valuable things, even if they are miles under water.  This sounds like a giant headache to me.  I wouldn't want to jump through all the legal hoops, but that's why I'm not involved and these folks are.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Ridiculousness Of Baseball's All-Star Game

Charlie Pierce tears baseball down:
he reason I keep coming back to baseball's All-Star Game, as opposed to all the others, is that, no matter how much they gussy it up and try to make it "significant" and wax nostalgic about the days when it really seemed to matter, the All-Star Game remains the single sharpest hatpin aimed in the general direction of baseball's inflated sense of self. And nothing has a more inflated sense of self than baseball. By comparison, the NCAA is the heir to the Three Stooges and the College of Cardinals is the reformed Sex Pistols. All that drippy, silly faux-Americanism was bad enough back in the day. You know how you know how bad it is? The sabermetricians came in and, refreshingly, brought the first original discipline to the analysis of the game since the invention of chewing tobacco, and within three years they turned as arrogant as every other baseball institution is. (As always, Bill James, who is still funny and intellectually interesting — true crime now? Cool — excepted.) Which is where the All-Star Game comes in.
The All-Star Game is the annual banana peel, the yearly seltzer bottle, the most expensive whoopee cushion in the world and the largest dribble glass on the planet. It is baseball's great prank on itself, year after year. I mean, honestly, 10 years ago, the thing ended in a tie. A tie! And what a tie it was. There was Bud Selig, still the unlikeliest power broker since the ascension of Charles the Simple to the throne of France, in his brand-new ballpark in Milwaukee, the eyes of the baseball world on him, and it gets to the 11th inning tied at seven and nobody has any pitchers left. For you connoisseurs of baseball lore, Freddy Garcia struck out Benito Santiago for the final out. (Freddy Garcia was in the All-Star Game? Unkind souls might argue that the American League ran out of pitchers first.) And, never at a loss for the hilariously wrong phrase, Bud Selig defended his decision to declare a draw by saying that it was … wait for it …
… "a no-win situation."
I love baseball, but Pierce is right.  Baseball has tried to weld itself so tightly to ridiculously patriotic imaginations of what "Real America" is that it has become a parody of itself.  We are still celebrating the 11-year-old tradition of playing "God Bless America" in place of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" (itself cornily ridiculous) every Sunday in Cincinnati.  If that wasn't over-the-top enough, for the last few years, baseball sold Stars and Stripes versions of every team's hat, which they wore on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and September 11.  Way to stay classy.  But the worst deal was when known Anti-Americans Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins had the temerity to speak out that going to war in Iraq was a terrible idea.  For that crime, baseball cancelled their appearance at the Baseball Hall of Fame in honor of Bull Durham (itself a crazily corny movie).  Nothing like standing up for Apple Pie and Freedom of Speech.  I would like it if baseball turned down the hyperactive boosterism a little bit.  As for the All-Star Game, it's a pretty minor exhibition game.  But since it is the slowest day in sports, I'll watch a little bit.  Hopefully, RA Dickey will get a chance to pitch.

The Jedi Council

RA Dickey talks about the knuckleball pitchers' fraternity:
A knuckleball is confounding, both going and coming, because it's thrown with almost no rotation. The baseball's laces interact with the air, turning it into a Godard jump-cut of pitches.
Currently, Dickey is the only regular knuckleballer in the major leagues. It's a hard pitch to learn, but there is a fraternity of knuckleballers who can offer advice.
"The people that poured into me and lent me their wisdom and acumen were Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro," Dickey says. "And so speaking from that experience I can tell you that there's nobody on this Earth that knows more about it than they do."
Dickey calls those former major leaguers "The Jedi Council." In addition to throwing a quirky pitch, he loves Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings. He names his bats after swords in Beowulf, and the music he has cued up over the stadium PA when he walks up to bat is the theme to Game Of Thrones.
There's also Dickey's literary side. His revelatory memoir, Wherever I Wind Up, is clearly written by a lover of language who entertained thoughts of becoming an English professor.
And then there's the side of Dickey that wants to teach others his recondite skill. Though Cy Young award winner Frank Viola is the pitching coach of the Savannah Sand Gnats, the knuckleball is as baffling to him as string theory. But Dickey eagerly passed along what he knew to minor leaguer Frank Viola III." He's amazing," the elder Viola says. "R.A. invited him to the games he pitched, invited him to his side sessions to watch; they planned on having Frankie tape a couple workouts and then sending it to New York and having R.A. look at it to critique it and get back to him. I mean he just shared his wealth with Frankie."
It is nice that knuckleballers stick together.  Maybe they can console him on getting screwed out of starting the All-Star Game.

Texas Drought Hammers Ogallala

Texas Tribune, via Big Picture Agriculture:
The 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District reported this week that its monitoring wells showed an average decline last year of 2.56 feet — the third-largest in the district’s 61-year history, and three times the average rate over the past decade. Farmers pumped more water during the drought to compensate for the lack of rainfall, which was about two-thirds less than normal last year in Lubbock and Amarillo.
Further north in the Panhandle, along the state's border with Oklahoma, a second water district also registered large declines in the Ogallala. Steve Walthour, the general manager of the eight-county North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, calculated on Monday that the average drop in the Ogallala reached 2.9 feet last year.
"We’ve seen some pretty heavy declines," Walthour said, noting that the west side of his district got hit especially hard.
Meanwhile, NPR reviews the seven-year Texas drought in the '50s.  Seven years, I get killed by the idea of a seven week drought.  But lowering the Ogallala is really just water mining.  That aquifer will never be replenished as fast as it's used, and when it's gone, so is Texas panhandle agriculture.

Do Dogs Understand Us?

Better than I would guess:
But dogs do have many ways of telling us things. When a puppy wags its tail or barks or runs around in circles as we arrive home from work, we get the gist. I'm hungry. Let's go for a walk! Get off of my property. And mounting evidence shows that dogs understand human language better than previously assumed (except by dog lovers). They're about as smart as a 2- or 3-year-old child, the age at which most kids begin to initiate conversations and speak in simple sentences.
To acquire language, kids use a strategy called "fast mapping" -- forming quick, rough hypotheses about the meaning of new words after just one or two exposures. So do dogs. Recently, researchers found that a border collie named Rico was able to infer the names of more than 200 items using this method.
Four weeks after the initial exposure, Rico was still able to retrieve the items by name. Another border collie in South Carolina has memorized over 1,000 nouns. The dog, Chaser, reportedly loves her vocabulary drills.
A similar study out of the Max Planck Institute showed that puppies use human communicative cues to solve problems by as early as six weeks.
As smart as a 2 or 3-year-old, and at least as destructive.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Church Or Beer?

Floatingsheep has the following map showing whether tweets emanating from counties talked more about beer or church:

So in honor of the 4th of July, we selected all geotagged tweets[1] sent within the continental US between June 22 and June 28 (about 10 million in total) and extracted all tweets containing the word "church" (17,686 tweets of which half originated on Sunday) or "beer" (14,405 tweets which are much more evenly distributed  throughout the week). See below for more technical details[2] or just go straight to the map below to see the relative distribution of the tweets in the U.S.
My social media communications prior to the fourth involved serving beer in the church parking lot where people could watch the fireworks, so I should have been in the middle range.  I'd like to see this map correlated to the percentage of Catholics in each of the counties.

The Impact of Air Conditioning On The Economy

Brad Plumer:

Stan Cox, in his fascinating book, “Losing Our Cool,” offers a long list of ways in which air conditioning has transformed the U.S. economy. Here’s a description from the National Building Museum of the state of affairs in the 1920s, before the invention of AC:
Before air-conditioning, American life followed seasonal cycles determined by weather. Workers’ productivity declined in direct proportion to the heat and humidity outside — and on the hottest days employees left work early and businesses shut their doors. Stores and theaters also closed down, unable to comfortably accommodate large groups of people in stifling interiors. Cities emptied in summers…. Houses and office buildings were designed to enhance natural cooling, and people spent summer days and evenings on porches or fire escapes.
Everything changed after the discovery in 1928 of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were used as coolants in air-conditioning (and, we later learned, chewed a hole in the ozone layer). Retail stores could now operate year-round. Americans could flock to otherwise inhospitable regions in the South and Southwest. Cox has even argued that AC was a major factor in the resurgence of the Sunbelt-based Republican Party.
But there’s a flip side. All this AC could prove unsustainable. The amount of energy consumed by U.S. homes for air conditioning has doubled in the past 12 years, according to Cox, and now accounts for nearly 20 percent of our electricity use. What’s more, developing countries like China and India want in on what’s viewed as an utter necessity. The New York Times recently reported that sales of AC units are rising 20 percent per year in those two nations.
I definitely could see that on Saturday.  I didn't do anything more than I had to during the day, and actually headed home earlier in the evening than normal so I could open up the windows and try to cool down the house.  The heat was a major drag on my productivity.  I really think the use of air conditioning at present levels is unsustainable, so it may indicate a less productive economy in the future.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dickey Wants To Start

I'm not sure when LaRussa is announcing who's starting for the NL on Tuesday, but RA Dickey wants to pitch:
Dickey, who completed the first half tied for the National League lead in wins with 12 and fifth in ERA at 2.40, remains hopeful All-Star manager Tony La Russa will select him as the NL's starting pitcher.
"Look, I want to start the game. Of course I do," said Dickey, who had a 42 2/3-inning scoreless streak during the first half. "I think any competitor would like to."
Dickey said it "logically" would be beneficial for him to open the game with Posey so the San Francisco Giants catcher would have extra time to get acquainted with the knuckleball.
With Yadier Molina withdrawing from the game due to a bereavement leave, and with only two catchers currently on the NL squad, Dickey's only other opportunity for extra work with the catcher who will receive his knuckleballs would be to simultaneously enter the game with the Philadelphia Phillies' Ruiz.
"I think you have a better shot starting the game, because you get to go through the whole workout routine, the whole warm-up routine, the pregame bullpen -- all that -- before you ever go into the game," said Dickey, a first-time All-Star at age 37. "If I'm brought into the game -- because you only have two catchers now, and Buster Posey hasn't seen me at all -- and all of a sudden here he is with seven warm-up pitches, that's a whole different animal."
Regardless, Dickey is thankful that it seems he will be used in the game. Past knuckleballers have gone unused out of concern for how an unfamiliar catcher might struggle with them.
He's earned it.  If the NL has four or five passed balls, that just comes with the territory.  Winning home field advantage shouldn't matter much to LaRussa this year.

NASA Photo of the Day

July 6:

The Tidal Tail of NGC 3628
Image Credit & Copyright: Thomas V. Davis (
Explanation: A mere 30 million light-years away, large spiral galaxy NGC 3628 (center left) shares its neighborhood in the local Universe with two other large spirals, in a magnificent grouping otherwise known as the Leo Triplet. In fact, fellow trio member M65 is near the center right edge of this deep cosmic group portrait, with M66 just above it and to the left. But, perhaps most intriguing is the spectacular tail stretching up and to the left for about 300,000 light-years from NGC 3628's warped, edge-on disk. Know as a tidal tail, the structure has been drawn out of the galaxy by gravitational tides during brief but violent past interactions with its large neighbors. Not often imaged so distinctly, the tidal tail is composed of young bluish star clusters and star-forming regions.

A Hot Trend In DC (and elsewhere)

Washington Post:

In the past 17 years, record daily high temperatures have been broken or tied 27 times during the months of June, July and August. Fourteen of those records have been broken or tied in just the past three years.
Click to enlarge graphic. This is trend neither I nor my corn like.  I've lived in the same non-air conditioned home since 1998.  It was pretty bearable up until the last three years.  Since then, what used to be maybe 2 weeks of discomfort in the summer has increased to 6 or 8 weeks.  Even worse than the heat during the day is the heat at night.  Up until three years ago, we rarely had nights in the mid-seventies or higher.  Now it is commonplace.  That not only hurts my sleep, it hurts my corn yield.

Will Fire Change The American West's Ecosystems?

 National map of regional fire behavior deviation from historical patterns. Green represents minimal deviation; yellow, a moderate deviation; and in red regions, current fire behavior is unprecedented in paleoecological records. Image: Nature Conservancy/USGS/USDA/USFS/DOI

Some think it will:
“Then, when you look at the last century, you see the climate getting warmer and drier, but until the last couple decades the amount of fire was really low. We’ve pushed fire in the opposite direction you’d expect from climate,” Marlon said.
The fire debt is finally coming due. In the Southwest, fires are reaching historically exceptional sizes and temperatures. “The fuel structure is ready to support massive, severe fires that the trees have not evolved to cope with,” said forest ecologist Dan Binkley of Colorado State University. “When the extent of the areas burned becomes large, there are no remaining sources of seeds for the next generation.”
Filling the newly open space will be grasses, shrubs and aspen, said Binkley. The forests will be gone. Something similar may also happen in California’s high-elevation Ponderosa forests, though different plant species will take their place than in the Southwest.
In the greater Yellowstone region, of which Yellowstone National Park is the iconic centerpiece, fire suppression and grazing have less effect on fire dynamics than in the Southwest. Instead, it’s climate that’s changing how fire operates in Yellowstone, said paleoecologist Erica Smithwick of Penn State University.
In 2011, Smithwick was part of a research team that described how Yellowstone fires traditionally occurred on cycles of 100 to 300 years, with its lodgepole pine forests adapted to severe burns every few centuries.
According to the researchers, rising regional temperatures mean fires will become larger and more frequent, with areas burned every few decades. Conifers, which release seeds during fire, aren’t attuned to this pace: The next generation of trees will die before they’re old enough to release new seeds.
This is definitely an issue too complex for me to speculate what the outcome will be, but my gut feeling is that within my lifetime (or actuarially-anticipated lifetime) we will realize that climate change is massively impacting our way of life.  At that point, there will be a lot of people angry with the climate change deniers who hold so much sway on the Republican Party.

1988 High Temp Record Broken Saturday

Saturday was another record-breaker for temperatures, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Erica Collura.
She said the high Saturday afternoon was 102. That broke a record of 100 set in 1911 and 1988.
There was a severe thunderstorm warning near Sabina in Warren County. The thunderstorm did not cause any damage.  There were also a few isolated downpours reported in southern Greene and northern Clinton counties, but there were no warnings associated with those, according to Collura.

"A funny story Saturday, said Collura. "There was an erroneous temperature spike to 107 degrees a little after 1 p.m. at the Dayton Airport. A call placed to the observer indicated that it was an error due to explosions near the sensor from the air show."
The corrected temperature, based on five minutes of data, was actually 102.
Breaking a record from 1988, especially during pollination, is a bad sign.  The forecast for the week is also a bad sign, even though the heat is breaking.  If we don't get rain today, we're going to have a mess on our hands.  And even if we get rain today, it may be too late for much of the corn.

The Case For Gestation Crates

Director of external operations of Iowa Select Farms (is that a fancy name for PR specialist) and hog producer Howard Hill gives the pork industry case for gestation crates:
Hill said the public, not to mention animal welfare activists, is misinformed about gestation crates. The crates have been criticized because the sow cannot walk around.
“The crates are for the protection of the sow,” he said. “Impregnated sows are very temperamental. They’re not like cattle. Sows can become aggressive and vicious. They bite and fight each other, and occasionally one gets killed.”
Hill and other defenders of sow crates point to greater productivity and efficiency in hog births and growth compared with previous generations.
U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics released last week show that although Iowa’s sow population dipped slightly in the last year, the average sow now produces 10 pigs per litter and the state’s hog population is at an all-time high of 20 million.
“I understand the desire for people to return to the bucolic days of farming in the past, where the hogs were raised in the barnyard, but the economics of the business just don’t support that anymore,” Hill said.
Instead, big operators like Iowa Select dominate the industry. The company has about 1,000 workers in 34 sow farms and 500 finishing barns.
In a society where people treat their dogs like children, it is going to take a heck of a lot to convince people that holding hogs a couple of months in pens in which they can't turn around are actually better for the hogs.  Ask Mitt Romney every time somebody brings up him taking his dog on vacation.  It may be the most efficient way to raise pork, but if the H.S.U.S. is able to convince people they shouldn't buy pork because of gestation crates, you're better off being a little less efficient.

More On The Uncertainty Trope

Uncertainty has become a news media darling since 2008. The recession, credit crisis and market collapse drive lots of interest in the idea.
It does not take much deep thought to recognize the utter nonsense of this. Anyone complaining about a lack of certainty — in policy, in the economy, in markets or even the weather — simply reveals how little they understand about all of these things.
From the investor’s perspective, markets require uncertainty to function. Indeed, they thrive on doubt, imperfect information and a lack of consensus. Uncertainty drives the market’s price-discovery mechanism. Investing requires differences of opinion, for when there is broad agreement about an asset’s fair value, trading volume falls.
Without uncertainty, who would take the opposite side of your trade?
History teaches us that whenever the opposite occurs — when groupthink and consensus overwhelm doubt — the herd tends to be embarrassingly wrong. In those rare instances when there is a near-total lack of uncertainty in the market, the outcome usually is a spectacular disaster.
I love the part about groupthink and consensus.  As he points out, remember what happened when everybody was certain we had a new economic order during the bubble?  I get much the same feeling when farmers are certain that Chinese demand means commodity prices will rise forever, and farm ground prices will rise with them.  You know, they aren't making any more land.

But back to the uncertainty.  Republicans have been fueling this talk ever since Obama got elected (and long before that).  Business owners claim they can't make decisions because they don't know what tax rates they'll face in the future, or what the environmental regulations will be.  So what?  Do they know what the economy will be doing in the future?  Do they know if consumer wages will ever rise or if health care costs are going to slow their inexorable rise?  I bet they don't.  Are they going to be certain of much if Mitt Romney is President?  I'm not certain if Romney is for or against an individual mandate.  He's been both.  I'm not certain that Republicans aren't the real cause for much of this uncertainty.  Anyway, if somebody tells you that economic uncertainty is all because of the current President, I'd be skeptical of buying what they are selling.

Game On Dude Wins Hollywood Gold Cup

Odds-on choice Game On Dude repelled a major challenge from stablemate Richard's Kid to make Chantal Sutherland the first female jockey to win the Hollywood Gold Cup July 7 in its 73rd running at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Trainer Bob Baffert finished first and second in the $500,0000 Hollywood Gold Cup for the second year in a row. Game On Dude, the 2-5 favorite in the field of seven, avenged a nose loss to the Baffert-trained First Dude in last year's renewal of Hollywood's signature race. Sutherland was the first female jockey to ride in the Gold Cup last year aboard Game On Dude. Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre's Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody's Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude won at teh 1 1/4-mile distance for the second time in his career following the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap. His victory makes him the early favorite for this year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park Nov. 3. The Gold Cup is a Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the Classic and guarantees the 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding an all-expenses slot in the starting berth.
I enjoyed the headline at ESPN: The 'Dude' abides in Hollywood Gold Cup.

Agent Garbo

All Things Considered:
Juan Pujol Garcia lived a lie that helped win World War II. He was a double agent for the British, performing so well that they nicknamed him for the enigmatic actress Greta Garbo.
Author Stephan Talty tells the story of this unlikely hero in a new book called Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day.
"Pujol was the Walter Mitty of the war," a very imaginative daydreamer, Talty tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "In 1941, he had about as much chance of being a master spy as you and I have of winning the Olympic decathlon this year."
"Pujol had failed in almost everything he'd tried in his 32 years: student, businessman, cinema magnate, soldier. His marriage was falling apart," Talty says. "But in one specialized area of war, the espionage subworld known as the double-cross game, the young man was a kind of savant, and he knew it. After years of suffering and doubt, Agent Garbo felt he was ready to match wits with the best of minds of the Third Reich."
"The key memo he sent was on June 9th. This was the day Hitler and the high command were debating whether the Normandy invasion was the real one and whether to send all those reserves from Belgium and France down into Normandy and basically destroy the incoming divisions. And Pujol sent a very long detailed telegram saying "This is the fake, you have to believe me" and those panzer divisions were actually on the road, those troops were on the move, and Hitler sent an order turning them around. This was the key moment in the future of Normandy, in the future of that battle, and Garbo is really the author of that moment."
That is a fascinating tale.  I'll have to check the book out.