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« December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

January 31, 2008


As many of you know, I don't think much of the rigid investing style boxes that Morningstar has done so much to promote. They probably cost investors hundreds of basis points per year in returns (and therefore cost the market considerable sums as a result of inefficiencies). They also cost the government millions in enforcement, to make sure that when someone says, "Large-Cap Value" they mean "Large-Cap Value," even though nobody can agree on what "Large" and "Value" mean.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this in the very first reading of the CFA Level II Statistical Methods section:

Style Analysis Correlations ...For the 20 years ending in 2002, the correlation between the monthly returns to the Russell 2000 Growth Index and the Russell 2000 Value Index was 0.8526. ...Because the returns to the two indexes are highly correlated, we can say that very little difference exists between the two return series, and therefore, we may not be able to justify distinguishing between small-cap growth and small-cap value as different investment styles.


January 30, 2008


After Florida, we're now officially in the semifinals. With Giuliani and Edwards dropping out after finishing third - Rudy's best and Edwards's normal, it's McCain vs. Romney, and Clinton vs. Obama.

In fact, I'm sorry to see Giuliani and Edwards drop out just before Super-Mega-Hyper Tuesday. As a sincere semi-supporter of Rudy, I won't surprise anyone with the Republican half of the statement. But I'm sorry to see Edwards go for much the same reason - voters should have a chance to express their preferences and their support, and the system we have now is simply too hasty.

In primaries, polls often have a self-fulfilling quality, as nobody wants to waste his vote on a loser. But the end result is a bit like voting in the Florida panhandle while the networks release exit polls - the Heisenberg effect of elections.

And yet, to some extent, primary campaigns are a self-validating process. Fred Thompson's failure to have run anything showed early and often. If Rudy could misread the political dynamic to such an extent, making such a catastrophic strategic error says something about his national viability, no matter his positions.

As for Edwards, well, his supporters (cough) will cry, "poor" from here until Tax Day, but he could have largely self-funded by renting out one or two vacant wings of his house, or maybe by filing an asbestos lawsuit. He was, as Powerline likes to say, the man so fraudulent he shocked even John Kerry. Major, earthshaking political speeches by definition are heard by someone other than the speaker.

When I was studying for the Series 7, the instructor noted that since the exam was almost all memorization, if you ran out of time, time wasn't your problem. When you've been running for President for over four years, if you run out of money, money wasn't your problem.

January 28, 2008

Clinton vs. McCain

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline claims to have a hard time imagining how the Clintons would be able to smear John McCain, given his war record and status as a near national icon. Here's how:

She: Neither Senator McCain nor I want this race to be about age or gender.
He: I said I couldn't make Hillary younger or prettier. Fortunately Sen. McCain does both those things for me.

As she denies that age is an issue in the campaign (he'll continue to refer to it), count on a compliant media to spend at least a week on message on this one.

That bit about the media is tremendously important. Sen. McCain is used to getting favorable press treatment, and I suspect he's completely unprepared for the reversal on that front, which could well make his much less, "electable" than many of those voting for him suspect. On that score, a Republican who's used to dealing with the hostile media, such as Giuliani or even Romney, may well stand a better chance in November.

January 23, 2008

CFA Level I

Level I: Pass

For several weeks, the CFA Institute had been emailing me, telling that Scores Will Be Available OnLine on January 23, 2008, at 9:00 AM ET.

And so, Sunday, just as Tynes lined up to take that fateful kick, the monks loaded up the oxcarts, securing the last of the packages for their trip back down the road the Charlottesville.

Now, when you log in, the page is dominated by a large ASCII text table, breaking down your results into 9 categories and 3 results, <50%, 50-70%, and >70%, and they expect you, at bleary-hundred hours, to see and interpret the difference between this: - and this: *. Hmmm, that looks like a lot of these: *, over in the >70% column...

And then, just when you're asking yourself, "So do I get to the next Level, or was I slain by the troll hiding around the corner?" you see, not in big flashing neon red, but in dark, understated, color-scheme compliant blue, the letters:

Level I: Pass

This is a good thing. This exam represented a considerable investment in time and money over the last 6 months, and the soccer-like pace of the grading didn't add to the anticipation so much as deaden it. In fact, all those "*"s over on the right were correct. The only subjects on which I didn't pass individually were Derivatives and Alternative Assets, so naturally I'll spend the next five months obsessing over those, wonder where, oh where I could have gone wrong.

Five months? Yes, because that's when the Level II exam is.

January 13, 2008

Road Trip - Coda

But wait, there's more! Sometimes, the real camera either wasn't available or would have held up traffic, so the ever-preent camera phone had to do.

Gee, I didn't even know we had pastors...

In the old days, Howard Johnson's would have used this to deliver the food.

Why on earth don't these people have more cultural sensitivity towards themselves?

Must be that they are comfortable with who they are. A brief language lesson from the Bashas in Kayenta:

Finally, the Eagle Diner:

And yes, you Diner fans:

Preview of 208

With the 208 Commission due to report just in time to prevent opposition to its recommendations form forming, it's worthwhile remembering the socialist mentality of those seeking to "reform" the system:

Mayor Thomas M. Menino embarked on a highly public campaign yesterday to block CVS Corp. and other retailers from opening medical clinics inside their stores, an effort that exposed a rift between Menino and the state's public health commissioner, a longtime ally.

Menino blasted state regulators for paving the way Wednesday for the in-store clinics, which are designed to provide treatment for sore throats, poison ivy, and other minor illnesses.

The decision by the state Public Health Council, "jeopardizes patient safety," Menino said in a written statement. "Limited service medical clinics run by merchants in for-profit corporations will seriously compromise quality of care and hygiene. Allowing retailers to make money off of sick people is wrong."

So allowing retail health-care providers to make money off of sick people is "wrong?" I guess that wold include primary care physicians, their nurses and employees, hospital ERs, and doci-in-a-box clinics are "wrong" to make money. Non sequiturum delinda est.

I particularly like this quote, towards the end of the article:

Still, members of the commission said clinics inside retail stores might only exacerbate long-standing problems in the healthcare system. Dr. Paula Johnson, a board member and physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said episodic visits to a drug store clinic could defeat efforts to provide patients with a reliable continuum of care.

In other words, our lack of a solution to the problem could be precluded by their solution.

Day 8 - Finally!

Finally. Hey, save the best for last, and then make 'em wait.

A couple of trivial observations from someone who mostly knows about the Navajo from Tony Hillerman novels. First, they're incredibly patriotic. Signs outside of tribal government buildings honoring the troops, the ever-present awareness of the Code Talkers, the KTNN radio show that signs off with the "Stars and Stripes Forever." One of those "Adopt a Road" signs along US-160 that's in memory of "James Tsotse, Our Veteran."

Secondly, apparently country music is a big hit there. KTNN, the big station out of Window Rock, mostly plays country, although they do seem to have a show or two of Navajo chants in the afternoon. And while you can get just about every important Front Range radio station before dawn, during the day Monument Valley doesn't have much in the way of selection.

The talk part of KTNN is interesting in its own right. Navajo's an old language, but it's not like they have words for much invented since, oh, 1400, so there's a lot of English interspersed, which sounds to the English-speaker like, "codetalkcodetalkcodetalkcodetalkcodetalk GM Certified Technicial codetalkcodetalkcodetalkcodetalk Uranium Workers codetalkcodetalkcodetalk 1942 to 1971 codetalkcodetalkcodetalkcodetalk."

So, getting up before dawn (on vacation), to get to Monument Valley by dawn, I passed Agathla Rock. This is a stereo pair, so it helps if you have lazy eye:

I spotted this on US-163 as I got near the Utah state line:

Wow. Need to stop and get that before the fog burns off. I needn't have worried:


A couple of formations called, "East Mitten" and "West Mitten." I can't keep them straight, either:


As the fog rolls in:


This one's a little artiste-ic, but I still like it, so you're stuck with it, too:

Since redrock dirt trails have a tendency to turn into mud and quicksand when wet, I was a little concerned about driving down into the Valley, but again, I needn't have worried. I ended up driving the Jeep down, and following the Navajo guide's truck for the tour.

Apparently, John Ford used to sit on his deck chair for hours contemplating when the fog would lift:

The "Restricted Area," so called because whites aren't allowed to live there - No, not really! - so called because the tour companies have to have something to charge for, has the arches. It also has a family running sheep back there. Because of the weather, they elected to keep the sheep in the pens for the morning, leaving the dogs with a lot of time on their paws. They decided to try herding the trucks, and eventually, I had to honk to get them out of the way.


The guide, Joe, had a couple of Japanese tourists (yes, with very nice cameras) in his truck for the duration. I wonder if he told them about the Code Talkers...

In any case, the fog continued to thicken, so by the time we got to where the Totem Pole (known to the Navajo as, "Chimney Rock") should have been, someone from the art department had taken it for another set. Here's what the fog looked like on the way back out of the Valley:

On the way out of the park, the whole thing looked like the military was testing a dry ice bomb on the other side of the mesa:


On the way out to the North, you get the iconic picture, right out of a Chuck Jones cartoon:

And the "Three Sisters," now that the fog had finally lifted:

To the north, there's an area called Valley of the Gods. The rock is more worn away here, and it's not as dramatic as Monument Valley, but hey, you never know when you're gonna be back. Taking State Route 261 north, you climb up the side of Cedar Mesa, and get some breathtaking views looking back towards the valley:


And, we're back at Comb Ridge.

Now where have I seen that before? Oh, right...

And that dog-rattling Jeep track I took down the west side:

January 10, 2008

Live-Blogging the Debate

This is long, and copied from the Politics West Gang of Four.


Personally, and I say this as a sincere semi-supporter of Giuliani, I think he did very well, especially buying time for the tax-cut ad during the first break. In fact this was the first time that the majority of candidates started talking about tax cuts in correlation with the potential recession. Happy to see this. OK, I'm sick as the dog Colmes doesn't have in this fight, so that's all.

The Focus Group thinks Fred won? Ok, well, if they say so. But they keep saying he had facts and specific points. I didn't really see that, I'm afraid. The energy in his first answer apparently set the crowd's impression for the entire debate. Although I think Fox's showing a black, woman, Republican in South Carolina is something you won't see on CNN.

8:33 - Goler starts with crime-reporting, and then tries to expand it to more extensive non-reporting. Giuliani narrows it back down to the initial question. And then turns into the Energizer Bunny.

8:31 - Huckabee wants people to leave, and jst assumes that they'll do so. Er, why?

8:28 - Thompson: "High fences and wide gates." Good stump line. And addressing "sanctuary cities," by cutting off funding. Gee, we do do that for drunk-driving limits, don't we? Andrews will likeboth his and Paul's allusion to self-deportation, or the pull part of it. And Paul continues as the anti-war candidate.

8:27 -h Romney hits the "special path" issue. Good idea.

8:24 - Goler gets applause at the mentionof immigration. McCain gives a fine answer on this, but he was in fact a point man for a bill that everyone hated. He was a little reluctant to add in the whole fence thing at the time, and I'm not sure he gets this even now.

8:20 - Ron Paul's started out with a good answer...but "Robert Effing Taft???" This was one o fthe most irresp[onsible members of the Republican caucus in ther 50s, when it came to foreign policy. Again, what could have been avery strong answer was sabotaged by Paul himself. Because the whole Department of Education, lower taxes, lower spending, Constitutionalist message is the Republican message.

8:17 - Huck feeling sorry for himself about the religious stuff, but he's framed his campaign that way. This is a good answers, and it was kind of a silly question. But he turned it into a nice defense of marriage.

8:16 - McCain declines to attack Rudy, instead talking about hiimself. OK, good call.

8:14 - Rudy points out the value-neutral quality of "change," and he's going after Dems as much as Repubs. But he's completely avoiding the 9/11 question. Ford Administration committee on terroriam? Hmmm, have to look that up. And the normal recitation. Although he can repeat that part of throwing Arafat out of the Met again if he wants. That part ain't never gonna get old.

8:13 - Ooops. Huck's serious, not laughing. Strong answer on welfare reform, pointing out he's run something, and Fred hain't.

8:11 - Thompson bring up the tax pledge, and Huck's mention of it. Good parrry, but Huck's writing. Clever laugh-line alert. More generalities from him, though. Another weak answer from Fred.

8:09 - Huck starts out well here, but..arrggh! "49th in the nation!" No wonder the NEA loves him. This is a list of achievements, but may not be what people want to hear.

8:07 - McCain: "Geez, could tee one up better for me?" McCain's listing changes hes made in the past, including some fairly small items he started out with. He played a weak hand fairly well there, I think.

8:06 - Romney on the vacant concept of "Change," but at least he's listing his particulars. The problem is, the President doesn't have the power to "take Washington apart."

Paul's probably got a coherent point here, somewhere, but he's letting his emotion rob him of his chances.

8:00 - Giuliani on Israel is strong, but it's what he's said before. And Thompson also makes the point of exactly who's on what side in Pakistan, re:Huck.

7:59 - OK, Paul's just corrected that from before: "Arm the Arabs, not harm the Arabs." This makes more sense. But carrying out bold, daring raids, is different from strategic defense.

7:59 - Huck: "Dan to Beersheba" has got to be a Biblical reference. But at least he's spot-on on Israel.

7:55 - Did Romney just say we'd support the Pakistani military in lieu of its government? That's a problem, and it may just have put this guy at risk. The rest of the answer's ok, but this will come back to haunt him.

7:53 - "Should we continue to support Musharraf even though he's down in the polls?" Stock line about Iraq and the NYT, but it plays well. Oh goodness. Some Democrat is going to talk about Musharraf firing judges and bring up Bush. But he's hit the key point - the nukes.

7:53 - Good, calm, response from McCain.

7:52 - "We used to be allied with Osama bin Laden?" Er, no. We didn't. He's completely off the rails here. He's ranting.

7:51 - McCain's point is well-taken.

7:49 - Paul calls for "getting out," but it's unclear what he means. Israel & the Palestinians aren't costing us lives. "Why do we harm the Arab nations and they're the enemies of Israel?" Israel could have taken care of Saddam? Or the Arabs? What the hell did he just say?

7:48 - Wendel Goler's smart, but he takes even longer than Andrews to set up a question. The question to Giuliani is about Israel and the Palestinians, and he sets down the right markets, but then, so did Bush before he went off the rails. Giuliani turns the question now to the surge, and McCain points out he was Surge before Surge was cool.

7:46 - McCain's giving a good defense of his and Lieberman's oped today. Defense is the one thing he really has going for him, and his recalling of his support for the surge. Nice touch on the Man of the Year thing? Did it come up in a blog conference call?

7:42 - A little lame from Romney, but Paul's "Making fun of me..." just looks like he's feeling sorry for himself. Then he nods to the people booing Romney's joke.

7:41 - Paul would urge caution, and invokes the Gulf of Tonkin. His answer isn't coherent, although the Paulites like it. He knows perfectly well that this isn't going to start a war, and if he had taken one look at the USS Cole, he'd know what a small boat can do to the thin skin of a ship. Paul just doesn't get the Iranian threat. Not sure what the laughter is; maybe they were all leaping at the mike.

7:40 - But again, there's really nothing he to say except what McCain just did - you can't go around second-guessing on-the-spot decisions. On the other hand, he's just made the case for keeping the Navy engaged around the world.

7:39 - Giuliani is now dismantling the NIE. Good move, since at least unlick Huck, he knows what it is. But now, sigh, sanctions.

7:38 -Thompson didn't really give an answer, did he?

7:37 - Now, Huckabee is talking tougher. Again, remember, this is South Carolina. 55% of families have members associated with the military. And they're like McCain more and more.

D'oh! Forgot to hit the Gang of Four button for this posting.

During the break, a word about the dollar. Academics believe that we can only correlate about 25% of currency movements to known factors. The dollar will certainly fall in response to an expected recession. Because people won't invest here, and the demand for dollars will fall.

Paul also brought up the easy lending practices, but surely he can't be calling for government to regulate those markets more?

7:30 - Paul's answer about the truthers apparently thrills his supporters, but it looks like more tapdancing. He's not a truther, but he won't tell them to go away except insofar as it hurts him. Now he's hit his stride. I'm sure he'll get applause for all this.

7:28 - Giuliani also hits the right note about leadership. Leadership, not managerial ability. The principles are timeless, but the policies have to be made for today's issues. Smart move. And trying to steal a little of the federalism message from Paul. Careful though. Electability isn't enough to get you elected.

7:26 - Huck gets some applause of his own. And here we are back to Huck's record. Wait! What's that? A Democratic governor of Arkansas in legal trouble? You're kidding me! A recitation of his record "correction," and more applause.

7:24 - Thompson fires off the first guns. Real energy here, because he knows who's in front in today's polls. And the first applause of the night.

7:23 - Romney gives a solid answer on the key question, but then goes back to the Reagan question. Look, I love Reagan as much as anyone, but the battle over his legacy is either over or doesn't matter. And this doesn't really answer the question.

7:21 - Another McCain chance to show off his spending hawk. Although I didn't realize that Climate Change was a Reaganite issue. A weak answer, I though.

7:18 - Now, all of a sudden, Huck's a tax-cutter. Please. But he's right about the guns. But it was Question 2 until he got around to the Evangelical identity politcs.

7:16 - Thompson brings up that the contagion has spread to the general credit markets. But this is a somewhat incoherent response. I get the sense that, like Paul, he's thought a lot about this, and is having a terrible time getting it into 1:30. UPDATE: he hit the tax cut reversal problem right, though. Businesses are already planning for higher taxes.

7:15 - Paul: Oy. Look, he's right about some of this, but the the problem he cites are just normal business cycle problems. The Fed didn't cause this with low interest rates, though. Long-term rates fell well in advance of the Fed's short-term cuts.

7:14 - McCain: Me too! Me Too! Only, not so much. Talk about spending. Tell me where they come from, though.

7:12 - Giuliani tries to steal a little of Romney's Club For Growth thunder. Finally, someone who understands where to cut taxes. Cutting spending will probably not stop a recession, but it's still the right thing to do.

7:10 - Huckabee continues as the populist. Not a single thing he mentioned causes a recession, and higher food prices owe as much to the corn ethanol subsidies he do love so well.

7:07 - McCain shows a weak grasp of economics, although a strong grasp of where the next primary is. That $400B buys the cheapest fuel available. Spending more on fuel, even if it's here, isn't going to help.

Romney starts off strong and then gets weak. Research into energy isn't going to avoid a recession. And right now, I'm looking for work. A middle class tax cut isn't going to increase my consumption, since I'm not paying anything right now anyway. Cut corporate taxes.

January 7, 2008

Day 7 - Snowbound in Kayenta

The (one) thing you have when you're out of work is time. And since whiteout conditions take the edge of a sightseeing trip, I decided to hang around Kayenta, field some job-related emails and calls, and take a few shots along US-160 that I had to pass up on the way south.

First, a couple of comments about this rather, ah, remote part of the world. As Lileks likes to note, the future never comes all at once. Bits of it, like satellite TV and wifi, have filtered in here, but cell phone coverage has not. Today, I heard an ad for a Christy Lane. No, it didn't mention the price of the 8-track, but had it been on TV, it would no doubt have been followed by Nanette Fabray blowing her hair out of the way and a spot for the latest Ronco innovation.

The other thing you notice is the dogs. They're not dangerous, they're just not...kept very well. They seem to be tame enough; one of them came up and immediately started playing chase with Sage. Of course, he also wanted to be fed. But driving up to scope out Monument Valley for tomorrow, I saw five or six running and playing by the side of the road. I wonder what the locals do to keep them from breeding out of control and going feral?

OK, on to the pictures. This, of Church Rock, about 6 miles north of Kayenta, and another a few miles up, shows what kind of weather I was up against:


There's a spot a couple of miles of from that called Baby Rocks. Apparently, it's a good place to start a failed business, since I saw both an abandoned garage and a decrepit hogan-shaped cafe. There's still a trailer, and a dog that I set off by stopping to take pictures, but that's all.


A fine skeleton of an old hogan:

And finally, the snow-swollen Chinle Wash:

And that's it. Tomorrow, Monument Valley in winter. Hey, at least it's not 100 degrees in the shade.

Granite State Predictions

I've never been a fan of over-emphasizing the horse-race quality of primaries and elections. There's something that seems lacking in a from-a-distance, by-the-numbers analysis, sort of like looking at a profitable company and failing to notice that their CFO and CEO have both resigned to spend more time with their money families.

Nevertheless, here we go.

For the Republicans, I think Romney helped himself a lot last night, maybe enough to pass McCain. That's important, because Michigan is up next, and it's shaping up as a titanic struggle between the two main Republican political families there, one for Romney and the other for McCain. Rudy misjudged the overall dynamic of the campaign, and I'm afraid that the third-place finish for him is going to hurt rather than help. Look for Thompson to move up a little on the outside here, too. He also did well last night, and it's clear that he's surprised a lot of people, myself included, by the time he's spent over the years thinking closely about the issues.

For the Democrats, Obama's energy and sunny disposition win over a tired-sounding Hillary. (This may also hurt McCain, since they're both looking for independents to help them win, and should also serve as a big, red, flashing neon sign for Republicans who think McCain can beat Obama in November.) Hillary's Crying Game is going to hurt her, not because it reminds everyone of Ed Muskie, but because it reminds everyone of...her. Like having her 2nd-grade phonics teacher, or whatever it was, materialize out of nowhere in Iowa, it looks staged. Bill may have been good at charming the country, but his choices of proteges have suffered by the comparison. Edwards may even come in second again, but since he is as phony as she looks, it's unclear as to whether that helps him enough in the event of an Obama stumble in Nevada or later on.

In the meantime, once again, today we got a reminder that this country is at war, and it appears to have had virtually no effect on either side. This is bad news for Hillary, and may, unfortunately, be good news for Huckabee when the race heads south.

Refighting the Civil War

Those of you with long memories, that is, those of you who can remember back past the Iowa Caucuses a few months ago, will recall that Ron Paul tried to make the case to Tim Russert that we - that is, the Union - need not have fought the Civil War. He argued that the slaveowners could have been bought out. He claimed that the War engendered race hatred that took 100 years to overcome. And he claimed that Lincoln left the Constitution permanently disfigured by his conduct.


Paul's argument isn't right. It isn't even wrong. It misses so many fundamental facts of life in 1860 that it could only appeal to that narrow slice of the electorate whose civics education ended in 12th grade, but who actually remember what they were taught. You can't be completely ignorant and make an argument like this. Less than a year out of college, I tried to make this same argument. It says something about RonPaul that on just about anything outside of economics, he sounds like a refugee from a college debating society.

Lucky enough to be a Virginian, I know something about Lost Causes, and one of the lostest of causes is arguing with someone about religion. So I know better than to get into a spitting match with a RonPaul supporter. Especially one with a Google Machine powerful enough to scare up lots of quotes about how the South just wanted to be "Let Alone."

Buying out the slaveowners was an idea that had been seriously considered as late as the Washington Administration. (By,"seriously considered," I mean more seriously than Daniel Webster and Henry Clay batting the idea around over beers at the Old Ebbitt Grill, falling suddenly and uncomfortably silent when John C. Calhoun walked in.) Prior to that, South Carolina and Georgia threatened to walk out of the Consitutional Convention in 1787 and form their own country then, if slavery weren't protected. As Joseph Ellis points out in his leftish but still superb, American Creation, by Jefferson and Madison's time, slavery had already become essentially undiscussable.

The South had been relying on increasingly demanding Fugitive Slave Laws, passed and enforced at the, ahem, Federal level, as the physical support for this crumbling Peculiar Institutions. It had developed a complex racial justification for slavery, far more responsible than Union blues for sharecropping and the Jim Crow laws which stifled racial progress in the South.

No, the point of the cotton photos was that the western territories, where Lincoln understood that slavery could not be allowed to spread, could support a slave economy, too. By 1860, the battle was over slavery in the territories. With Lincoln refusing to issue any new public statements, the one candidate who was waging an active campaign on the issue, Stephen Douglas, was so unpalatable to the South, that the fire-eaters led by William Yancey torpedoed the Democratic Convention rather than let him be nominated. He then proceded to finish under 10% in most Southern states. Perhaps RonPaul forgot this fact, because it appears that Douglas didn't even appear on the Texas ballot.

The South chose disunion, because it believed by 1860 that life without slavery was inconceivable. It relied on federal support for slavery where it could (fugitive slave laws), and denied federal authority where it might limit (the territories). The slaveowners didn't believe in being compensated for an economic loss, because by 1860, slavery was as much a social as an economic issue.

One of the reasons I'm a Burkean Conservative rather than a Randian Libertarian is that Burke got what the libertarians miss: that people form societies, and are motivated by ideas and passions that have nothing whatever to do with economics. It's one reason liberals and libertarians are so ill-equipped to lead the country in the War against Jihadism, because if you can't even get the motivations of your own countrymen right, what chance do you stand in comprehending why healthy young men plow airplanes into the Pentagon?

And in the end, this debate isn't really about the Civil War, is it? It's about the current War against the Jihadis. Because if the Civil War was optional, then pretty much any war is.

January 6, 2008

Day 6 (Or Day 8, Depending)

Depending on whether you count non-travel days Friday and Saturday.

It's the rainy season south of the Mogollon Rim, and the snowy season north of it. I finally gave up trying to wait out the calendar, and decided to retreat through Sedona one last time, and take whatever the sky gave me. Since the sky had opened up the day before, Oak Creek was a little swollen:


The red rock still stands out, although it would still look better against blue rather than grey.


You see a lot of this in Sedona, though, the whole year:

And even in town, and north of town in Oak Creek Canyon:


Flagstaff has preserved a bit of Route 66, but only a very few of the older buildings still stand. A railroad-themed cafe that's part of a Howard Johnson's, for instance. In very un-HoJo-like fashion, the excellent coffee arrived at my seat almost before I did. The light inside wasn't great, so I couldn't get good pictures of the model railroad running along the ceiling a la F.A.O. Schwartz.

And no, I didn't stay here, but you can see the seasonal stuff I was up against:

This thing probably dates from the 30s, and if the exterior is any indication, the mattresses probably date from then, too. Maybe the only excuse for using the term "Ancient Puebloans." "Hotel El Pueblo." Like the "Hotel The Village." Someday, someday soon, a native speaker will take over management and correct the grammar.

Finally, north of Flagstaff, on the way to US-160, the sun poked through briefly and narrowly:

As I write, the hail here in Kayenta has turned to snow, it's sticking, and it should make for some interesting pictures tomorrow.

January 3, 2008

Day 5 - Tucson

More clouds over Sedona this morning, so it looks as though I'll have to go home that way if I want any decent pix from there at all.

In the meantime, pictures of the Saguaros, along with evidence that Ron Paul was wrong.



January 2, 2008

Day 4 - So This Is Scenic?

I had planned to spend today hanging around Sedona, taking pictures of blue sky and red rock. Except that the clouds blocked one and dimmed the other. So instead, I decided to spend the day driving around the eastern part of the state, seeing what AAA classified as, "Scenic."

Much of this part of the state is at a high enough altitude to be pine forest, and I get plenty of that in Colorado. But then, on US-60, you descend from Show Low to a place called, "Globe," and you're back into the serious desert.

January 1, 2008

Day 3 - The Road and the Rez

Today, the road. And the San Juan River.


On the way through the Navajo Reservation, I passed through a small town, Tuba City. Now, remember, this is on the reservation. There's a sign as you leave town to the west: "Tuba City High School, Home of the Warriors, Class 3A State Champs."

Warriors. Just so there's no mistake, there was a picture of an Indian chief.

New rule: If they don't care, I don't care.


Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud