Gingrich: "20-percent chance I am in..."

Newt Gingrich said on Hannity and Colmes tonight that he was getting a great deal of encouragement from people he meets across America to enter the race for the Republican nomination and that one week, possibly two weeks from Monday he would announce his intentions once and for all. I have always held the opinion that Newt is the most qualified and capable of all potential candidates, however until now it never seemed as if he was taking the possibility of getting in the race very seriously.

What makes me think that the former-Speaker is leaning toward getting in is the detail he gave when queried by Sean Hannity on how he would announce, saying, "I would probably announce early in the morning on C-SPAN and then come on your program later in the evening". These are the words of a man who has probably dreamed about that morning since high school, and will likely kick himself for the rest of his life if he passes on this, what might be his last real opportunity to make a run for the Oval Office.

It is entirely possible, based on Newt's past statements, that he thinks the GOP is doomed regardless of who they put up against the Clintons. If that is the case, he is unlikely to volunteer to be a sacrificial lamb, and might be the only sly fox left on the right, angling for the front-runner position to challenge the incumbent Hillary in a midterm election in 2012. This is just a thought, but Newt's willingness to at least acknowledge that he is still seriously considering a life in elected office can only leave one to conclude that the old Newt is likely back and as usual he is probably 5-10 steps ahead of everyone, pundits included.

Fred Thompson has been a joke in my opinion. I cannot understand why anyone has been excited by his lackluster campaign and uninspired demeanor on the trail. Perhaps I have misjudged the former-Senator and he may yet prove to be a formidable and exciting candidate. However, I have little faith that he is going to stand up in next week's GOP debate in Detroit, next to Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter and John McCain, and actually impress anyone who was not predisposed to support him because they are fans of Law and Order. Gingrich had previously indicated that as long as someone, with strong insinuation that Thompson was his preferred choice, entered the race to champion the conservative ideas and innovative solutions he has been promoting himself since leaving the House. I have little doubt that Gingrich is deeply disappointed in Thompson's showing thus far, and he is either going to take a more active role in his friend's campaign, or he is going to toss his hat into the ring and put the fate of the GOP on his shoulders as it takes on its most formidable opponents in 50 years, the Clintons.

Dan Proft on Chicago Tonight: Gambling with our children's future...


Global views of torture...

Some degree permissible by Country vs. Global views on torturing prisoners Against all torture

Torture is a subject that some might like to think is no longer an issue in the 21st century, but that would be a denial of reality, as much of the world still believes that torture is both necessary and justified. As this chart from Swivel.com and based on a survey from the BBC shows, torture is far from a universally reviled practice, even in supposedly "civilized" societies.

Nearly half of Israelis polled believe torture is to "some degree permissible", which is slightly higher than the percentage of Iraqis. Would anyone have guessed that based on the way these two countries are portrayed in the media? Iraq is made to look like a state embroiled in a barbaric civil war, where hundreds of civilians are killed daily and terrorists operate with impunity. Israel is a state that is the innocent victim of invading terrorists who wish the "destruction of the Jewish state"; hardly a picture of a people disposed toward brutal tactics.

It is very disturbing to see that there is only a slight drop-off in support for torture in some circumstances among the countries profiled above. I must admit that I can in fact imagine more than a few situations which would absolutely merit the use of extreme interrogation tactics, but I absolutely reject the arbitrary use of "torture" when questioning non-immediate threats to national/global security. I know this is a highly ambiguous position, but this is a highly ambiguous poll that provides stats that portray a very complex and nuanced issue as if it were a black and white affair.


Virtual Prediction Markets in a Web 2.0 world...

Yahoo has recently launched a high-tech prediction market online, which allots each participant $10,000 to start (play-money) and provides shares many of the most popular technologies. Below you will find my portfolio, which I could have put more thought into, but it largely reflects my personal view of how the emerging technology marketplace will play itself out.

I am a BIG Google and Firefox fan, as I see the future of the internet to be in the blending of the browser with the web service, a la Firefox extensions like the Google Toolbar. I am also a huge fan of open source software, Debian being my preferred Linux distribution. My personal laptop is a MacBook, and I eagerly anticipate the release of Leopard, Steve Jobs' new OS to compete with Microsoft's Vista. Recently I have tried to start buying shares in technologies that I don't have extensive experience with but have a general understanding of its purpose and capabilities. Since starting my account at the beginning of July, I have made a $3,300 profit. The following is my portfolio as of 9/24.
My Portfolio
Stock Market Qty Current Price Average Cost Unrealized Profit/Loss ROI
MAPAPI APICAT 23 $20.82 $20.92 $-2.27 -0.47%
MOZFF BROWSER2 131 $16.88 $15.42 $191.67 9.49%
YDESK DESKSEARCH2 52 $11.23 $11.06 $8.62 1.50%
GTALK IM2 366 $6.78 $6.64 $36.14 1.49%
NETBEANS JAVAIDE2 48 $18.80 $16.64 $103.47 12.96%
MACLPD MACVMIC 246 $4.77 $4.81 $-10.78 -0.91%
PANDORA ONLNMUSIC2 201 $9.41 $9.07 $65.30 3.58%
DELICIOUS SOCBKMARKS2 104 $13.60 $13.36 $23.27 1.67%
JOTSPOT WIKI2 19 $9.77 $10.15 $-7.33 -3.80%
FACEBK YASN 101 $8.29 $7.86 $42.87 5.40%
CLINTON DEMPRIMARY 372 $0.54 $0.54 $-0.03 -0.01%
GIULIANI REPPRIMARY 2409 $0.33 $0.33 $0.00 0.00%
$450.94 3.56%

You will notice that my final two holdings are Clinton and Giuliani, which I bought just this evening. Yahoo added markets for the 2008 presidential candidates on 9/16 and so far neither of my investments have reached the top of their party's market. Fred Thompson is at the top of the Republican field, getting 0.47 a share followed by Ron Paul at 0.45 a share. Obama is bringing in 0.59 a share, compared to Hillary's 0.54 and Edwards 0.32.

The most interesting news focused prediction market I was able to find, News Futures, gives users the option to buy contracts at a price they name. The below chart shows all activity for the last 30 days on the question: Will Nouri al-Malaki be the Iraqi Prime Minister through the remainder of Bush's presidency? The chart below tracks specifically contracts that bet he will not be prime minister much longer, which is exactly how I positioned myself on this matter. I have long held that only an Iraqi leader who speaks English and can target the American public directly will be a successful at earning its full support in the long term.

© NewsFutures

There is a general lack of imagination in the implementation of prediction markets when developing eLearning applications, particularly at the elementary level. Too many students grow up without even a remedial understanding of markets and market fundamentals, and the unique application of prediction market technology in the classroom at an early age may be what makes the difference in preparing students for life in a global-market economy. This is a topic that I plan to come back to after further research.

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