In The Beginnings: March's mortgage originations were the fewest in the last 14 years. This is not a good sign. They were down 26% from 4Q13 and 60% down y/y. The recent surge in sales was mostly based on cash investor transactions, and that train has left the station.
Remembering The Maine: It now seems likely that the sarin nerve gas attacks in Syria were not carried out by Assad, but by elements of the rebel movement with the active aid and assistance of the Turks, who hopped to lure the US into a 'humanitarian' war in Syria. Somehow – mostly pure luck – Obama didn't fall for it.
Rotten To The Common Core: National educational standards are always going to fail. First it means relying on tests, which means teaching to the test, which is not teaching, it's training. Rote or damned close. And it fools everyone into thinking the numbers measure what they purport to, which is not true. Well intended (except for those who want to use testing to privatize educational tax funding), it removes those who know what to do and how to do it from the process and encourages automatons who turn out children whit little knowledge and less curiosity.
Shock And Aw Shucks: Emails have come to light that suggest that it was Bob Corker's staff and not Volkswagen that went all out to crush the UAW in Chattanooga. It was a matter of idiotology.
Says And Does: The IMF (the research arm) says that decades of real-world experience show that austerity policies do far more harm than good. The IMF (operations arm) has been devising even nastier versions of its austerity
A Quiz: The survey asked folks if they could cover a $2,000 unexpected outlay next month. 36% said they were certain they could and another 22% thought they probably could (put it on a card?). But 15% thought they would be in big trouble and 27% said “Are you kidding?”
Trickling Down: The common wisdom is that technology is favoring the college grads and technically trained and driving the less educated into unemployment. But the data show that the unemployment rates for high-school grads and high-school dropouts are lower now than twenty years ago. Why? Because the whole employment picture has moved down – we've got a lot more low-paying service jobs now – thanks to technology paying the few better and making room for the rest at the bottom.
Timing: It's National Autism Awareness Month, and Chili's has become aware that the public isn't falling for the vacinations-cause-autism crapola any more. So they quickly backed down from supporting an outfit which tries to convince parents that if they vaccinate their kids they'll become autistic overnight. Chili's saw the light, overnight.
Shake, Rattle & Roll: Friday and Saturday parts of Oklahoma were rattled by a series of 2.5 to 3.8 earthquakes, and a bunch of smaller ones. In 2009, there were about 50 quakes in Oklahoma. In 2010 that jumped to 1,000 and this year is well on the way – with 253 so far – to a new record. More than a few seismologists say are “tied” to fracking.
Times, Changing: The FDA has approved a heroin overdose first aid kit for use in the home. Better than the Pulp Fiction approach.
Lies, Wishful Thinking & The EIA: The Energy Department's Energy Information Agency claims 1) they can see 20 years into the future and 2) by 2037 the US will be energy independent, producing all of our liquid fuel – 13 million barrels a day - from tight oil formations, hundred year old petroleum pools, and corn. Or switch grass. Whatever. Their fortune cookie said so.
Price Tags and Pretence: Two blind tests have shown that world-class violinists either can't tell a Stradivarius from one from the local instrument store, or prefer the new one. Good thing no one's done this with wine...
Porn O'Graph: What goes up, goes upper.
The Parting Shot: