Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

A Brief Interlude/PSA

by Ken Houghton

My article for Institutional Investor on the investment opportunities available in Emerging Markets Infrastructure, most especially in water and sanitation, is available on their website (subscribers only, it appears).

UPDATE: For those looking for discussions of water and sanitation that are not gated, angrybear frequently discusses the subjects.

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Is "Five Yeshiva Butchers" Good for the Jews?

Steve Waldman graduated Columbia the year after Barack Obama. His brother Mike was Bill Clinton’s chief speechwriter. So when Steve Waldman declared his suspicion that John McCain would get the highest percentage of the Jewish vote of any recent Republican, with a link that indicated it could put Florida solidly in the Republican column, I took him seriously.*

Via Gary Farber’s ex-girl friend,** I see the Sarah Palin nomination has caused him to recant this, reasoning (correctly, one suspects) that Jews prefer to vote for people they don’t trust instead of people who want them killed:

When Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment–you can’t miss it.

Or who refer to your most Orthodox members as “butchers.”***

Then I noticed, right out of the corner of my eye, five yeshiva bu[t]chers. Now, that’s the ultra-orthodox young seminary students. Maybe you’ve seen the pictures, you know, with the black hats and the black coats, and the side curls, you know. And they were walking towards us with a look of grim determination on their faces, and I knew we were in trouble….And I’m thinkin’, “That’s it. We’re gonna get martyred right here on the streets of Jerusalem.”

And who then reiterate that you are not the Chosen People until you are Christian:

Our Father in heaven,

We stand before You as a people who’ve experienced Your grace, and we acknowledge that that grace was first extended to our people through Your people, the Jews; that there is not a one here in this room who would know Jesus and serve Him if there had not been a Jew, generations ago, that spoke Jesus’ name to our people. Father, that comes full circle and we wish to extend Your grace back to Your people. And we pray and we ask that as a result of this time here, and as a result of this offering, there will be people among the Jews today who come to say the name “Jesus” with faith.

In His glorious name we pray, amen.

Now Steve Waldman may be—probably is—correct when he says “the standard preaching of many evangelical churches will be frightening to some Jews, just as the standard preaching of many African American churches were scary to whites.” And when he quotes Sarah Palin’s pastor saying, “You either receive the King that God has appointed for all mankind or you reject Him. There’s no neutral ground on that—none,” he clearly takes that as scary rhetoric.

But there is a difference between scary, “yeah us!” rhetoric, and being openly declared second-class citizens, or outright described as “butchers.” Or, as Brad DeLong so aptly put it:

John McCain wants to nominate his friend Joe Lieberman for vice president, is told that he cannot, and so he backs down and instead nominates somebody who takes their children to a church where they teach that suicide bombers in Tel Aviv are righteously executing God’s vengeance on Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ.

*That several people in private conversation have suggested doubts about Obama from a Jewish perspective supports the premise.

**Among other things. She’s also a long-time friend of my wife’s.

***Waldman posts the transcript as “buchers,” but bucher is Hebrew for “bookstores,” and it seems more probable, in the context, that this is a typo.

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Two Hours Later, All is Well

As noted last week, we are in Montreal, and Videotron was scheduled today to install telephone, television, and internet services.

They came through with flying colors.

Around 12:50, I called them, wondering when they were coming by. The representative noted that they were scheduled to arrive “sometime during the day,” not specifically in the morning as I had thought.* He also noted that they did not have my (current) cell phone number, so they had no way to contact me. And the apartment apparently doesn’t have buzzer service until and unless it has telephone service. So we established that there was no way for the tech to get to my apartment.

While we were talking, the tech (somehow) appeared at the door.

By 3:00p.m., everything was in and working, including installing new cables and working with some jerry-rigged electrical plugs from our side.**

The only problem was a “last mile” issue about the door buzzer itself. It took us an extra five or ten minutes because the (Bell Canada based) buzzer system uses a different entry code than the normal.

So I can safely say that the Canadian installation experience worked. But it appears I missed a plethora of really solid posts about fuels.

*Which turned out to be a good thing, since we went to Costco in the morning to buy a television and telephones.

**It is not a good idea to plug a power strip into another power strip, but it does work in the short term.

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Pluralising Anecdotes

In the grand tradition of cactus, I have arranged with Videotron for telephone, television, and internet service at our apartment in Montreal starting on Tuesday morning.

If all goes well, I hope to blog about it on Tuesday. If all does not go well, I’ll be blogging it sometime after the opening ceremonies of the Tiananmen Olympics.

Consider this an open thread.

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Action, Reaction

In honor of this post (from another blog whose political posts I’ve stopped reading; Hilzoy is in good company*), I have decided today to shave off my beard and mustache.**

After all, David (“Axis of Evil”) Frum is always right, as John Holbo originally documented:

This sentiment or intuition or feeling (whatever you call it) produces a strangely hypertrophic concern with what seem (to me anyway) like rather ornamental details:

“If I am bearded, and I notice that my boss and the last four men in my section to win promotion are clean-shaven, I will find myself slowly nudged toward the barbershop.”

which led to:

Frum: Just think about it. Our economy depends on a healthy culture.

BG: But you don’t even care about the economy. You said you don’’t.

Frum: I wish you hadn’t mentioned that.

BG: But I did.

Frum: Look, if you shave the beard, everything will be better.

BG: You’’re a moonbat.

Frum: It’’s all related to foreign policy and wheelchair access in public school, in ways that would take a long time to explain.

*Exception noted.

**This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with a much higher proportion of white hairs being prominently displayed in those two parts of the hair.

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Defining "uprooted"

It rained and stormed a bit yesterday.

After speaking with my insurance company, I am told the following:

  1. This is considered an “Act of G-d” (clearly, the OT version of same)
  2. Since the damage is almost all on my neighbor’s property (their fence, their swing set, their garage), it’s not covered under my policy.
  3. Since my policy doesn’t cover “land,” that big mud puddle that used to have a tree in it is also not covered.
  4. Since it’s an AoG, there is no point in filing a “liability claim” to cover damage to my neighbor’s property.

We’re inclined to believe that my neighbor’s insurance company will agree with this assessment.

I suspect many homeowners are about to find out that their insurance policy does not do all that they thought it would. Can a truly rational market exist in the face of persistent informational asymmetries?

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