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The Morning Grumpy – 12/19/12

19 Dec

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Last night, I needed a last minute gift and decided to adopt a roof tile. Weird? Not really. The Buffalo Central Terminal needs a new roof and they’re asking us to help them pay for it. If you have the means, I hope you consider adopting a tile as well.

In 1929 well over 13,000 concrete roof tiles measuring 2’ x 4’ and weighing 75 -80 pounds were mounted on the vaulted roof sections of the Buffalo Central Terminal.  Since then they have consistently been exposed to high winds, rain, snow, freeze, thaw and more.  Of course, anything – concrete or human – gets worn out after 83 years, and the wear and tear on these architectural elements has certainly taken a toll while also compromising the roof deck below.  Some tiles are worn down to the mesh while others are cracked and broken.  And, all the decay is now leading to interior damage to our beloved Concourse and its vaulted ceiling made of Gustavino tiles.

We need to act quickly to raise necessary funds for a $769,000 roof replacement in three phases.  Our first phase targets the areas most in need of a new roof that also compromises the interior architectural elements.  Our second phase will address roof areas that can make it until the Summer 2013, and the third phase will address all other flat roof areas left.

Adopting a tile costs $150 and comes with a nice 20×14 print of the Terminal and a certificate of adoption. An awesome gift for someone who has memories of the terminal or just simply loves Buffalo.

2. One of my favorite things is the Harper’s Index. A monthly compendium of interesting numbers, poll results, and odd facts. The highlight of this month’s index:

Percentage of Canadians who believe in global warming : 98

Of Americans who do : 70

Of Republicans : 48

Percentage of Republicans who believe in demonic possession : 68

Good times.

3. As it turns out, torturing our Al Qaeda captives seems to have slowed down the efforts to capture Osama Bin Laden, not hastened them as some (err, Dick Cheney) suggest.

“I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” said an Air Force interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander and located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.

It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander told The Huffington Post.

“We know that they didn’t give us everything, because they didn’t provide the real name, or the location, or somebody else who would know that information,” he said.

It turns out that proper interrogation techniques are simply more effective.

In a 2006 study by the National Defense Intelligence College, trained interrogators found that traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches are extremely effective with even the most hardened detainees, whereas coercion consistently builds resistance and resentment.

So, more Homeland style interrogations, less 24 style interrogations. Got it.

4. Reduce corporate income taxes and jobs will magically tumble from the benevolent CEOs just itching to employ people if only they had some certainty in their business climate! Not so fast, my friend. How do corporations which pay low or negative tax rates fare when it comes to growing jobs? Let’s check the numbers from the Institute for Policy Studies.

  • AT&T
  • Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 6.3%
  • U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 54,000
  • Verizon
  • Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -3.3%
  • U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 30,000
  • Honeywell
  • Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -14.8%
  • U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 4,000

Interesting data point.

5. An awesome podcast that I’d like to recommend for your listening pleasure. An interview with Chrystia Freeland, editor of Thomson Reuters Digital and author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else on the Harvard Business Review blog.

Fact Of The Day: There is a “cultish” offshoot of Christianity in China that believes Jesus is currently living in China as a Chinese woman.

Quote Of The Day: “You’re smart too late and old too soon.” – Mike Tyson

Christmas Song Of The Day: “Oi To The World” – The Vandals

Song Of The Day: “Unaware” – Allen Stone & Daryl Hall

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