Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In My Country There Is Problem

According to this article in the UK's Daily Mail the White House is actually going to have diplomatic discussions with Kazakhstan because of Sasha Baron Cohen's "Borat" movie. Even if this isn't true, the article is hilarous. Best line is Cohen's response -- in character -- to the Kazakhstani minister's complaints: "In response to Mr. Ashykbayev's comments, I'd like to state I have no connection with Mr. Cohen and fully support my Government's decision to sue this Jew."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell in 17 syllables.

New Yorker too wordy? You could wait for Daily Irk to post snippets about the articles of note, or you could click on this site, where entire issues of the magazine are condensed into haiku form.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Khatami at Harvard

In case you haven't heard the news, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is speaking at Harvard's JFK School of Government later this afternoon. If you want to watch the event live, it should be available on the school's website starting at 4:00pm Eastern Time. Also worth checking out is Alan Dershowitz's op-ed in the Boston Globe regarding universities and tolerance specifically with regards to inviting someone like Khatami to speak. Does the fact that a guest will offend people suggest that he or she should not be invited to speak or do universities have a responsibility to promote debate whatever the cost?

Meet the Vice President.

Vice President Dick Cheney was on Meet the Press this morning. Kudos to Tim Russert for asking tough questions and not backing down and to Cheney for giving us insight into the Bush administration's view of the world. No matter what you think of Cheney, at least he does a good job articulating his point of view. The hour long interview is worth watching and should be available soon on the show's website. My favorite part of the interview was when Russert asked Cheney if he should be grateful that Cheney didn't bring his shotgun to the show. Cheney replied, "You're not in season, Tim."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


A quick analysis of content here at the Daily Irk indicates a propensity for us to go meta--our favorite topics include blogging, Internet fame, and the future of the Internet. It is once again a bit meta to post Safire's most recent "On Language", in which he unpacks the derivations of a variety of derogatory terms used for bloggers of the partisan political type. The Daily Irk has, of late, avoided becoming too heated in its political opinionation, but moonbat is likely the correct descriptor.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Another tipping point?

In a recent New Yorker article entitled The Risk Pool, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the Tipping Point, discusses one indicator of the health of a company's or country's pension system--the dependency ratio, the ratio of pensioners to workers. In short, he tries to argue that the as dependency ratios increase, companies and countries are more likely to fail. For examples, he points to the economic success of Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s. Once Ireland made contraception legal, the dependency ratio started falling and it's economic success started increasing. Similarly, G.M.'s dependency ratio is at an all time high of 3.2 to 1 while the company is in dire straits. He uses this as an explanation for why universal health care and pensions are the only way to go. Though this provides interesting food for thought (and there are certainly some merits to this argument), I found Gladwell's logic incomplete and hard to follow. For example, he argues that pensions require a company to worry about it's nonworker-to-worker ratio creating a perverse incentive for companies to hire more people when they should be downsizing to account for productivity increases. Is this really the case? It seems to me that they should be worried about their gross profits, not employment levels and that the problem stems from overly optimistic growth forecasts in an uncertain economic environments. Despite the flawed logic, the article is thought provoking and worth a read.