MARRIAGE

Congressman Barney Frank was debating Jerry Falwell on CNN’s Crossfire. The occasion? Yesterday’s Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that denial of civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the Massachusetts constitution. Barney was making the point that it is not a bad thing for two people to love each other in a committed relationship, and Bob Novak broke in, testily: ‘We’re not talking about love, we’re talking about marriage.’

How silly of Barney to think they were related.

Stable, committed relationships are, of course, a good thing for society. But there is the fear that, once men see that it’s legal to leave their wives for other men, they will flock to do so, the family will collapse and, with it, civilization. If that’s true, I’m worried, too. But as Barney pointed out later last night, this fear would appear to be based on two seemingly incompatible assumptions: that straight men find gay men ‘inherently repulsive’ and yet ‘infinitely attractive.’

The fact is, Vermont has offered the equivalent of gay marriage for a couple of years now and nothing bad has happened. Canada offers the real thing and nothing bad seems to be happening. Why would it? Why discourage stable, committed relationships?

No one is suggesting any religious institution be forced to bless same-sex unions. We’re just talking about civil marriage licenses, issued by the state.

MBNA’s 0% INTEREST OFFER

Sandra Wilde: ‘I looked at their website, and cash advances were indeed 0% interest, but there was a 3% transaction fee. Did you have this, or are the offers that they send out a better deal than what you can find applying on your own?’

☞ Apparently they are doing this now – but not when I called to activate my card. It must be done selectively?

TIPS SLIPS

Floyd: ‘How would the price of TIPS react if interest rates rise because of government borrowing, not because of inflationary pressures?’

☞ Two things can knock down long-term bond prices: inflation (as you acknowledge) and deterioration in credit quality (meaning: people worry the issuer might go broke and be unable to repay). TIPS are protected from much erosion from inflation because they are indexed to inflation. And there’s no practical risk of default, so I don’t see their prices eroding for that reason either. Yes, excessive borrowing could lead to a weaker dollar, which in turn would lead to inflation – but TIPS should keep pace with inflation. And, yes, the ‘real’ rate of interest borrowers demand to lend long-term could rise above the 2.6% or so TIPS currently yield (I read someplace that 2.75% should be their ‘fair’ yield above inflation. And when they first came out, perhaps because they were new, they yielded 4%. But I don’t see the real rate of return rising that high and staying that high for long periods – although this is definitely not my field of expertise.)

BOREALIS

Dana Dlott: ‘Borealis is a stock swindle, pure and simple. You have chosen to participate in it in the hope of making some money. It’s up to you to decide whether this is moral or not. If you do end up making money it will be because of the ‘greater fool’ effect. This fellow Dr. Carman is a reasonably well respected technical project manager. The description of his credentials is a bit of a stretch…I am a world class expert in nonlinear optics, he has published a few routine articles many years ago. In your web page you make it sound as if having a fellow this distinguished work for Borealis lends more credibility to their effort. It is almost as if you are saying if Borealis was a stock swindle why would this caliber of guy work for them. The answer must be that he wants in on the money as well and has enough capacity for self delusion to work on the project. Probably in the ‘maybe the horse WILL sing’ motif.”

☞ I don’t even know what nonlinear optics are (seeing crooked?), let alone presume to understand any of the Borealis technology. And I have always said, and believe, that the most likely outcome here is that the stock will go to zero. But when Boeing issues a press release, as it did a year or two ago now, saying that the science seemed sound enough to warrant further study . . . and when Rolls Royce is willing to lend its name to a joint effort . . . and Semikron last month and this Harvard physicist Monday . . . it does make a layman wonder whether something might not conceivably be there.

22 RED

Ron Halleran: “In roulette [see yesterday], #22 is black.”

☞ Oops.

 

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