January 24, 2015
"A Truly Persuasive Work"
The previous post dealing with the "compatibility" of capitalism and Catholicism prompted dagny in a comment, and me in my thoughts, to consider the morality of capitalism.
Those thoughts included a recent review corner entry where it was suggested that a flourishing humanity progressing toward ever more prosperity and justice can be achieved by convincing people it is, a) a good thing and, b) achievable through free trade, i.e. capitalism. (More specifically, through the unfettered use of "fossil" fuel energy sources.) And that, c) presenting a moral basis for the primacy of humanity is "a new vulnerability to defend, not reinforcement."
I believed I had found an author who gave a moral basis for humanity to dominate nature in this Michael Shermer book whose "exploration of science and morality ... demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral" and did so without resting his case upon a foundation of Objectivism. It appeared that his justification was rooted in widely accepted principles of science and morality, and not a new vulnerability. The book is 439 pages and I've not read it but this reviewer was left wanting.
The reader is constantly reminded that it is Shermer who is driving this bus, authoring this heavy tome. When he fails to wrangle with hard issues, there is nothing the reader can do about it beyond reading on and hoping for something better in a later chapter. But that something better never came for me. I was not satisfied with the author’s overbroad reach, his irrelevant details, his glossing over the toughest issues, his very human but unfortunate tendency not to see the fallacies in his own reasoning and the failure of his own assertion of the facts. The book seemed not so much scientific and rational to me as opinionated. Perhaps the author has been too successful for too long and has become complacent. But I did not see in him a consistent ability to question his own thinking and hone his argument in order to achieve a truly persuasive work.
This illustrates my point that people long for a moral basis to justify their beliefs, and ultimately their actions. (No great leap of insight there, for this is the chief factor in the historic success of man's many theistic traditions.) Failure to justify the moral basis for human flourishing will, eventually and always, crumble in the face of some unchallenged moral basis to the contrary.
January 23, 2015
Koch Brothers to Acquire Catholic Church and all Subsidiaries
Who says there is no good news?
The dean of the Catholic University of America's School of Business and Economics recently approached me with an idea: A research and educational program focused on the compatibility of capitalism and Catholicism. On Thursday the university announced a $3 million grant to fund this vision.
To their immense credit, Catholic University president John Garvey and Business School Dean Andrew Abela said
I'm being goofy but it is a serious and informative article.
January 19, 2015
Roth People: You're Mad!
I like to belittle conspiracy-theorists. I get a clean, close comfortable shave with Occam's Razor and Super-Foamy Shave Cream®
But I tighten my tin-foil hat and peer over my left shoulder for black helicopters when somebody suggests I invest in a Roth IRA. They make a compelling case, but it is entirely predicated on trusting the government to ignore a huge pot of money. You pay your taxes and lose liquidity, but you get a nice note from Congress that "they promise!"
Nossir, I don't like it. Not at all.
The President's "FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE!" initiative has a financing mechanism that is germane to my concerns: "Hey, let's just tax all those 529 education accounts we 'promised' not to tax. I see a big pot o' money and I am just itchin' to give some away -- who's with me?"
Americans for Tax Reform lists $320 Billion in new taxes the President will ask for in his SOTU. Number four:
Tax Increase on Families Saving for College
It's almost as if responsible people who plan and save and play by the rules are subject to fleecing to finance the irresponsible. I know, crazy.
January 5, 2015
The Worst Newspaper Story of all Time
Bold, provocative headline, huh? You think I cannot back it up. But you have not read Denver metro drivers continue to turn away from cars in the Denver Post. To say the data supporting the headline's thesis is thinly sourced would be generous to the thin.
There is a reference to a reduction in miles driven over the 2006-2011 time frame. If those dates don't make you peckish for cherry pie, know that the supporting data set is supplied by COPrig, a far-left environmental interest group in Colorado. They could produce a study supporting their position without cherry-picking recessionary cycles.
The beauty of the piece is that it is a COPirg press release. Car sales are up! National miles driven are up! But none of this, whatcha-call, data matters because some activists at COPirg disagree. They say the new age is upon us and we're all going to follow the millennials (who presumably cannot afford cars in the Obama-Pelosi-Reid economy) and avoid the foul smelling personal automobile. And use bicycle-sharing services like Denver B-Cycle -- the story gives five paragraphs to Rick Plenge, a 39-year-old transportation engineer who uses bike sharing to get to his downtown job. He and his wife might sell one of their two cars someday, when the light rail goes to the airport (like Dave Berry, I assume you think I am making this up -- I am not).
How bad is the article on a liberty/freedom axis? The bureaucrats at C-DOT are the heroes! (Still not making this up.)
But planners say growth patterns fuel the need for more pavement in Denver. I-70 in northeast Denver handles traffic for several rapidly expanding areas including downtown Denver -- which will add more than 21,000 new housing units and 47,000 new jobs by 2020 -- and DIA -- which is expected to add 13,500 jobs by 2030.
C-DOT -- Hayekian heroes! I'm going back to bed.
(I will add this to the Rant category for its intemperate punctuation. Apologies to all who were offended.)
UPDATE I: Corrected COPrig to COPirg (Colorado Public Interest Research Group) -- thanks, Refugee!
UPDATE II: I have to give the Post some props for "A man proved his innocence in a Denver court by dropping his pants to prove he did not have the wanted man's Scooby Doo tattoo."
January 1, 2015
New Year's Resolution
In the interest of all the creatures of the world except myself, I herewith resolve:
- To become a vegetarian,
I realize that this is, in itself, not enough to atone for my selfish lifestyle for the past five plus decades, but it is only a beginning and I intend to redouble my efforts again next year. And I don't even consider it a sacrifice, as it is for the good of all life on earth. (Well, maybe not so good for plant life but we can't all be winners, right?] I have no doubt about the power of my intellect to wean myself from the unhealthy foods made from other creatures, like hamburgers, steak, chicken wings, bacon, ... ... ... nevermind.
December 29, 2014
Why it Matters
Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world's 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.
The Guardian's embrace of papal infallibility is interesting -- I dare say unprecedented. The "superman pope" (that is an actual quote, though the quotation marks are in the original) is going to finally bring the moral authority to the UN to fix things. Francis I is kickin' denier ass and taking fracking names!
Were his holiness more into "render unto Caesar," I would be more forgiving of his bad, Marx-sympathizer economics. I've heard a lot of apologies based on his personal background (Argentinian crony capitalism) and doctrine. But at the end of the day, the best defense has been that "it doesn't matter." He doesn't have a seat on the FOMC or a cardinal on the Ways & Means Committee.
But ideas matter. Economic ideas matter. Here, he will build on his bad ideas to promote worse ideas that will harm millions of people. If you'll pardon flippancy, it's a good thing he loves the poor -- he's going to create a whole lot more of them.
I just started Alex Epstein's "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels." Every ThreeSourcer will want to read this (though curiously, it will get stars subtracted for "too much Objectivism.")
Epstein points out the misery, death, and suffering we avoided by not listening to the catastrophists of the 1970s and 1980s, how humans have flourished and risen from poverty pari-passu with their energy consumption, and how vital energy is to life itself. A heartbreaking story of two specific babies lives' lost in a clinic in Nambia because the generator cannot be run all day.
Pope Francis is going to have a part in preserving and possibly expanding that poverty which is defined by lack of access to reliable energy. It matters.
December 18, 2014
"The Terrorists Have Won"
In the wake of Sony Pictures decision to mothball their movie "The Interview" in the wake of terror-like threats against movie theaters, even so far as invoking the images of 9/11 (what, are they going to fly jetliners into the Cineplex?) the punditry today has turned to criticism of Sony for "backing down" or "caving in" to terrorists.
Let's think about that for a moment...
Has this happened before?
And did it work then too?
Weakness in the face of those terror threats was arguably the foundation for the Sony hacking, and for the strategy the state-worshipping North Koreans chose for spiking the film about their "Dear Leader."
December 3, 2014
Once Burned, Twice Shy
I know the Entertainment Division of ThreeSources is thinly staffed, but one cannot help being intrigued by the meteoric fall of Bill Cosby. The Huxtables came along in an avowed anti-TV period of my life, so I missed all that. But I enjoyed his old show with its Quincy Jones theme ("Hoo Lawd!"), his standup comedy, and his indefatigable support of the Jazz medium.
I am a fan of due process and sense some bullying and career destruction based on circumstantial evidence. I have not followed it closely, but Matt Welch pointed out the complete lack of dispositive suggestions: nobody has come out and said "oh no, I worked on the show and Bill was an angel!" Evidence may be circumstantial and improvable, but I understand it to be overwhelming and common over multiple sources.
So I demur on defense. But it might be driven by my to-the-bone-marrow defense of Lance Armstrong. That did not work out so well for me (or Stan on South Park).
December 1, 2014
How to get Keystone XL Approved
Tell the Democrats it's light rail!!Okay, so I think I'm witty . . . but this was inspired by the piece on T. Boone Pickens that Brother jg shared. Mister Pickens' (he's wealthy enough to get a singular possessive like Jesus' and Moses') last big plan was to cover 1/4 of Texas with windmills and have the gub'mint build transmission lines across the country to all his potential customers.
The Golden State actually did impede light rail with environmental concerns, but generally, it seems like incredibly dubious proposals like the Ivanpeh tower, Pickens' transmission lines, and the eyesore windmills in Rocky Flats, South of Boulder get a quick pass. The pipeline however, needs to conform to the fragile Niobria water table and sacred concerns of tribal lands.
October 17, 2014
Libertario Delenda Est!
May I rant? It's been a tough week.
The midterms are shaping up pretty well. I've no crystal ball or hot line to pollsters (I did get queried by Quinnipiac last night). But whatever happens, I am pretty proud of the GOP. Just this once. We did not nominate a Todd Akin this time; Colorado it seems has done a decent job deflecting the #waronwomen trope. Fundraising seems pretty good.
Democracy is good for only one thing and that is retribution. When "the bums" pass legislation you don't like, "the bums" can be thrown out. As Glenn Reynolds says "the purpose of the Sword of Damocles is that it hangs." The difference between an actual democracy and a sham like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Kim Jung Un's North Korea, or Richard Daley's Chicago is that you can lose; who cares if the occupant won -- it's real if he or she can lose.
Poised with the chance to send a brutal message to the House, Senate, and Executive which foisted the PPACAo2010 on us, I would think we could line up the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea. Yet my success with big-L libs, whom I expected to be responsive to reason, is comparable to my successes convincing progressives. Videlicet, the big goose egg.
I've had some fiery exchanges with a bright Facebook friend this week. He's a great guy, but he has located every nutjob in every State House or Dog Catcher race. While the GOP did not have a Todd Akin in a major race, there are some down-ticket doozies. And my friend has posted every MSNBC, Mother Jones, Gawker, or Slate Post saying "See! The Tea Party really is racist and homophobic! How can you possibly vote for such a party?" I had the same conversation with Andrew Sullivan once. It's a big beautiful country and I will not be responsible for what everybody in it says.
This same week, I watched absolute meltdowns by libertarian and independent candidates. And this is where I start to get prickly. The third party gadflies are so many magnitudes removed from serious contention that there is never any vetting or substantive criticism. The GOP candidate for state district E-I-E-I-O on Oklahoma gets a microscope. While...
LOTR-F favorite Mayor Michael Dunafon is running for Governor. He's a strip club owner and liberty activist. I missed his talk but watched the video -- it's great. But he was brought back for a debate with Libertarian Matthew Hess last Monday. But he canceled -- not because of a fan -- but because he had the chance to go smoke weed with Snoop Dogg. People gave him money and put his signs up and pushed him on Facebook and he cannot be bothered to attend a debate. Who cares if he gets 0.9% or 0.89% of the vote anyway?
That's Monday. Tuesday, Gov. Gary Johnson is on The Independents in his "hi" T-shirt to promote his marijuana branding company. He gets a fawning interview. Is he running in 2016? Yeah probably. Oh boy. (You know, he ran for NM Governor as a Republican, won, and advanced the cause of liberty. His career as a big-L? Not. So. Much.)
Wednesday they had the Libertarian Senate Candidate and Pizza driver Sean Haugh of North Carolina. Like Montana in 2006, he might spoil the race for the Democrat.
My Facebook (and real live corporeal LORT-F) friend and I want the same things. The Independents's hosts and I as well. But the free passes handed out to these gadfly candidates are too much. Libertario Delenda Est.
October 16, 2014
Perhaps if we started executing some WaPo journalists for rank stupidity -- whether warranted or not -- the salubrious effects on Ezra Klein the others and would make it worthwhile.
UPDATE: A more measured take from Jonathan Chait.
September 5, 2014
If You Won't do it for the Gay Muslim Whales...
I follow Phys.org on Facebook and enjoy their posts. They highlight little research-y tidbits and interesting studies on nanotech, particle physics and lots of good clean nerdy fun.
Yet I suspect they have some inverse Koch (Dark David Matter?) funding stream that dictates they must do at least two Climate Change Rah Rah stories each week. Whatever, it's their feed. But I about spit out my bacon jerky when I saw this::
If Americans altered their menus to conform to federal dietary recommendations, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases tied to agricultural production could increase significantly, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.
Um yeah, because, let's see, how can I put this delicately... BECAUSE GOVERNMENT DIETARY ADVICE HAS BEEN SO MAGNIFICENTLY ACCURATE! LET'S SEE IF WE CAN HITCH CLIMATOLOGY TO THAT RISING STAR!
They've been wrong about everything for decades -- and wrong to the point where they have contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths. And yet, without any trace of irony, we're told if we follow the Feds' bad dietary advice, it will align with their climate change guidelines.
August 28, 2014
I'm intrigued by the economics of air travel. Discomfort is in the news thanks to deployment of a "knee defender" and the concomitant contretemps. [You get the editing you pay for at ThreeSources. More correctly "ensuing" and better omitted...]
But. While everyone complains, I do not think efforts to "buy up" comfort have succeeded at all. In short, we all holler about being packed in like sardines, but we all get on expedia.com and pick the flight that costs 124.75 over the one that is 135.50.
I did buy up a prime package on United last time that gave me one checked bag and a near door seat with some extra room. That was really nice even on a short flight and I was disappointed when it was not offered on the return trip. I've speculated on a "2nd class" (still focus-grouping the name) that is 1.5 to 2x the price of coach but gives you a little gorram room. I would go for that, and I would pay for a guaranteed empty middle seat when the lovely bride and I travel together. Five or ten X for business or first class is not "on my color wheel" but I am both big and medically prone to discomfort.
Perhaps that cannibalizes business and first class for carriers that offer. But Southwest? Frontier? A $300 flight with space vs. $179 in the cattle car?
Bright though I consider myself, at the end of day, surely some very smart people who do this for a living have looked at this and found it wanting The minor improvements like I mentioned or that Frontier was pushing don't seen to take hold. I have to accept that the economics are just not there. And it follows that the whiners are a bit hypocritical.
August 4, 2014
I Going to Cry Now
It seems Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were underserving the smug, smarmy, fake news segment. The free market, being ruthlessly efficient, brought in John Oliver. You know he is smart because he delivers fake news in a poncy british accent,
I hate this format more than Socialism and Ebola combined and am disappointed to see a third star rising. Perhaps it is no more damaging to this great republic than bad pop music, but my Facebook feed disagrees. "John Oliver PERFECTLY Destroys <subject>" reads a typical post. Then poncy-man lectures us wee folk for a few minutes on climate change or gun violence or whatever. I was inuring to it.
But today, the Wall St Journal's CMO Today includes a clip (eleven ghastly preening minutes if you've the stomach) in which Mr. Oliver lectures us on the pernicious effects of native advertising. Nasty Corporations ruining saintly journalism.
I think it may be a special outside the paywall page, but here is the Oliver Clip just in case.
The people who are destroying Journalism, rising to protect its integrity. Pass the barf bag.
July 26, 2014
Not as in Mick Jagger's singing "Meta gin soaked bar room queen in Memphis." Meta as in:
I have a probably very non-political Review Corner coming up someday for Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray. I am about halfway in and it is very good.
Biology was never my strong suit. The highlight of sophomore bio was when I was chosen to go to the board and draw the cell from a cheek swab. I had not completed the assignment and borrowed the lab book of my lab partner Bobbi (as in Roberta...) I boldly drew the XX chromosomes to the raucous laughter of a class that assumed "class clown" was in on the joke.
Let's say I have some catching up to do. Bray describes the inner workings of cells and single-cell organisms with analogies to microchips and electronic circuits. Very interesting stuff.
While the review will be non-political -- unless he turns to the phenyl-alkaloid proof of Socialism in Chapter Eight -- I had a political thought while reading. I was reading about the electro-chemical processes in nerve cells, placing them into the author's thesis of circuitry -- all the while reading the book which I had downloaded onto my Kindle.
Had I succumbed to legal Centennial State weed, this would have been a moment for an extended "Woooooah!" and possibly a break for a snack. But I do not do that. I instead enjoyed the meta moment of the author's transferring his synaptic activity to mine via the Amazon Cloud.
And my thoughts turned to anti-Saganism. Carl Sagan's trademark was telling humans that they were insignificant based on their infinitesimal size on galactic and universal scales. My (predominantly lefty) friends love to post Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes that highlight this. A favorite is a picture from Voyager: the small speck that is Earth is pointed out and we are invited to think of our insignificance. I always reply" "Jeepers, we sent a spaceship all the way out there, had it take a picture, send it home, and you posted it to the Internet. We're actually pretty f-ing awesome critters!
So I boldly proclaim arrogance, not for myself, but for my species, for our self awareness. Bray does not claim for his entire branch of science a comprehensive understanding of even a lowly amoeba. But they're working on it. And he wrote a book. And I bought it and downloaded it onto a small computer based on the circuitry he compares to brain cells. So, suck it, Carl.
July 3, 2014
It's Art! It's a Rant! No, it's an art-rant.
There are a million great lines in "Buffy," but if pinned down to a favorite, it might be Spike in "Becoming Part 2." Angel (as wicked, evil, brooding Angelus) has got a plan to destroy the world. Spike jumps sides to prevent this. As he explains to Buffy:
"We like to talk big. Vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?"
I like people for different reasons. I am overwhelmed with joy that people create art.
I'd perform a DIY root canal with a dull bit before I'd watch most of the singing reality shows like Idol, Voice, America's Got Talent, &c. They all have a bad incentive structure. You have to impress an audience in 30 seconds, which may be entertainment but I question whether it is conducive to art. I don't mean to be snobbish, there are some good folks who come out of that scene sometimes. But I know for a fact that anybody I call a hero would be laughed off in the first day so the judge could display sardonic wit.
And yet I find I really enjoy the cheesy summer replacement for Idol: "So You Think You Can Dance." I know nothing of dance. Every dance I ever attended, I was either on stage playing or sneaking beer in the parking lot. I enjoy Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire, but it is like watching Gaelic Rules Football -- interesting and enjoyable, but I understand only the surface layer.
SYTYCD is bring my appreciation chops up a bit, at least for choreography -- the fine points of performance still elude me. But these kids, and they're all kids, work so hard and dedicate so much to an ephemeral bit of joy. The show forces them out of range: the hip-hoppers have to tap and the tappers have to do ballroom. The competition and voting seem a necessary evil which I avoid. There was a local girl a couple years back for whom I sent a few texts, but I just watch.
The performances are frequently breathtaking for their beauty. I was thinking last night that, like Spike, I love people. Then this morning [uh, oh, tortured segue alert!], a friend of this blog and Facebook friend celebrated a recurring street fair in his adopted hometown:
I love Thursdays on First! Folks are setting up tents, unpacking merchandise, firing up their grills and getting hard work done in anticipation of a beautiful day. There is so much creativity in an event like this from the glazes on a pot to the spices in a recipe. The human spirit thrives in a market place. I know to some that might sound crass and materialistic but it is true nevertheless. We gather with our crafts, our food and our music. We buy and sell, eat dance and engage each other in peace. Free people, free markets and fish tacos...I'm digging it.
In spite of the court decisions that do not go our way (I was only doing 39...) and our friends' gross misinterpretations when they do, it is good to be people.
Happy Fourth, Y'all.
June 26, 2014
Clearly, it was the Weather
First quarter revised GDP growth is -.2.9%. Edward Prescott and Lee Ohanian on the WSJ Ed Page point out that productivity fell at 3.5%. Not good.
Lagging productivity growth is an enormous problem because virtually all of the increase in Americans' standard of living is made possible by rising worker productivity. In our view, an important factor contributing to declining productivity growth is the large decline in the creation of new businesses. The creation rate of new businesses, as well as new plants built by existing firms, was about 30% lower in 2011 (the most recent year of data) compared with the annual average rate for the 1980s. (The data is the Census Bureau's Business Dynamic Statistics.) The decline affected nearly all business sectors.
I've been hearing much about "The Polar Vortex" to explain this away. You have to give points for trying, don't you? Not only is it not ObamaCare's fault -- but we can blame it on Global Warming!
Prescott and Ohanian see more systemic problems and urge tax and immigration reform plus fixes to Dodd-Frank. I can hardly argue against that, but find it interesting that they do not mention the PPACAo2010 as impeding startups and new business formation. My opposition to the PolarVortexers' explanation is that we have winter in some form every year and Obamacare is a brand new exogenous factor. Taxes and immigration policy certainly suck rags (pardon the econ jargon) and certainly contribute to tepid growth, but this sudden contraction correlates pretty closely to the more egregious aspects' of the ACA kicking in.
UPDATE: This is a guest editorial -- The Ed Page is ready to finger ObamaCare®
January saw the formal launch of the Affordable Care Act, and its attempt to transform U.S. health insurance and medical practice. So it's notable that a major cause of the sharp downward revision in first-quarter GDP was a decline in consumer spending on health care. Lower exports and investment also played a role, but the overall decline in health spending from the previous quarter was a startling 6.4%.
UPDATE II: Obama Voter, Megan McArdle says "Big Losers in GDP Report: Democrats"
The most worrisome potential explanation is that health expenditures fell because, well, health expenditures fall when the economy is contracting. I'm not exactly ready to call recession yet -- consumption was still basically healthy, and the weather was awfully bad. But I'll be crossing my fingers until the next report comes out.
June 24, 2014
Yeah, What Penn Says
June 9, 2014
GOP Policy on Energy and Climate
"We will address our energy needs and any externalities with science and innovation; they will use politics."Maybe it is too late, or the media narrative too established, but I think Republicans could expose the lefties' anti-science predilection and possibly turn the tables.
I know Solyndra was about 11 scandals ago. But the Democrats (read The Mark Udall for Senate Campaign) have designs on playing up "denialism." How can you consider voting for a troglodyte, flat-earther who doesn't even believe in Climate Change?
To combat this, I offer, free of charge (excepting my normal Koch Brothers stipend), a GOP Energy and Climate Plan for 2014 & 2016:
Addressing Energy Needs and Climate Concerns with Science
The non-distortionary nature of a prize makes it harmless. The cost for any of these producing significant advancements would be good value. And you're supporting research institutions and American can-do-ism.
2. Defined metrics for regulation.
3. Funding for Climate Science
We're not denying anything -- except that our opponents schemes have been more about science than rewarding political constituencies.
UPDATE: So, if I include a link, it is not "a Rant?"
The proposed EPA rules would cost approximately $51 billion a year and destroy 224,000 jobs each year through 2030. The poor and people on fixed incomes will be hurt the most. And all this pain will be for absolutely no gain: It will have no impact at all on the global climate, according to reports published by the libertarian Heartland Institute--based on peer-reviewed climate science.
June 7, 2014
Negotiating with Satan
I call this a rant because it comes straight from my thoughts, without any supporting hyperlinks.
I hear many commentators discuss the implications of America's recent decision to negotiate with terrorists in the trading of five Islamist war criminals for the feckless Bowe Bergdahl. "This will only endanger our troops as it encourages the enemy to attempt taking more of our soldiers as hostages."
What I don't hear is anyone contemplating what this exchange has done to the Jihadis. Here are some observations:
- Dealing with their enemy with dialog instead of bullets weakens the "purity" of the "all infidels must be killed" ideology. UBL seemed to be more ruthless in this ideology than the Taliban, and their leader Mullah Omar, now seem to be.
- Trading value for value is capitalism. This is the path to peaceful coexistence. Capturing more Americans to trade for other things they want is, while distressing, an improvement on the strategy of "kill enough of them that they lose their political will and flee."
Our soldiers' presence in their primitive lands seems to have effected a sort of "Peace Corps" effect as they learn that, individually, Americans are not devils.
May 28, 2014
On Human Freedom
I live and think and act under the premise that the universal natural state of man is freedom.
I asked a friend recently if he thinks that liberty is a universal ambition of every person. He wasn't sure. So I asked him if he had to choose between total liberty and total control, which he would prefer for himself? Would he prefer to work and earn and choose which "hovel" (his word) to rent, or to be given some sort of "hovel" by someone else with no freedom to choose anything about it. His delay in answering suggested an attempt to evade the question asked, which he did by replying that being given a hovel is better because he would know that more people are thus able to have similar hovels and fewer people would be homeless.
There were other beliefs expressed, such as "man is no better than nature" and "humanity can't expand without harming nature." I relate this story because it gave me insight into the thinking of lefty Facebook Friends: "I believe we are all sailors on the same ship, and we have to work together for the common good. The earth is our ship and the universe is our ocean." I didn't think to remind him of the myriad mutinies and riots that happen when order breaks down during long and indeterminate journeys, but I did ask him to consider my original question only in terms of his own desires. His own needs and wants, notwithstanding the effects of his choice on anyone else.
"That's not fair," he replied.
It wasn't that he couldn't answer the question, I think, but that he didn't believe he had any right to consider the question in such a way. I wasn't suggesting - yet - that he actually live his life that way, but merely asking him to think about how he might do so. He stood up, said he couldn't do this, and walked away.
You have permission, lefty Facebook Friends, to stop worrying about everyone else every moment, with every act you take or sentence you utter. I'm not saying you may be inconsiderate, only that you are an end in yourself. Why does that threaten you so?
May 24, 2014
"McDouble My Wages"
Sign at a minimum wage rally outside a McDonald's restaurant:
"Just Double My Wages"
One tried and true rebuttal is, "Why not triple them?" But I thought of another one that I think may be new.
Doubling your wage is like paying you one wage for working and an equal additional wage for doing nothing. Would you then quit your job and expect me to continue paying the second wage?
May 21, 2014
I am working on a new "Elevator Talk" for Climate Change (or DAWG, as it 's known around these parts). The issue is still politically fraught with peril -- every day, my Facebook includes Sen. Mark Udall's asking Rep. Cory Gardner to "sign his petition affirming climate change." It is a crude distraction from ObamaCare®, but don't think crude does not work [insert random Mencken quote here...]
My position has evolved somewhat over the years: not enough to effect policy, but I have softened pari passu with that big Antarctic sheet of ice.
"So, jk, on a scale from 0-10 where zero is 'it's a hoax' and ten is 'metaphysical certitude: we're all gonna die!' where do you stand on Climate Change?"
Does it have to be an integer? I'd say about 4.5 [Who is unreasonable now, baby? I'm a moderate!] Hoax requires mens rea and I will accept that a preponderance of the scientists are genuinely concerned. Politicians probably run the spectrum from following along to "yes, this'll meet my needs," but I'll accept the scientific concern as legitimate.
That gets me to two.
The science of Physics suggests a 1.3° C temperature rise to accompany a doubling in atmospheric CO2. I'm a big fan of Physics -- I have all their albums [pause for laughter as needed here...] Seriously, that is well founded and experimentally reproducible. I accept, therefore, a projected 1.3 degrees of man made warming over the next 50 years.
I think that gets me to four.
Now, the practitioners of climate science take that 1.3 degrees and multiply like a Keynesian at an all-you-can-eat buffet. They show, through computer modeling, that as it gets warmer, there will be more barbecues, and people will eat more meat, and that increased bovine flatulence will raise the temperature 300 degrees and we'll all broil. Okay, it is not that bad, but they are taking fundamentally good science and taking some liberties with it.
The climate science, unlike the physics, is not reproducible or empirically provable.. In fact, the experiment we call the real world diverges substantively from their models.
This puts all the numbers >= five off limits.
But there is a beta, if I can borrow from finance. There is a non-zero chance that they are right. The introduction of more heat to a complex, chaotic system could start a cycle of warming. I multiply the very small beta of probability by the very large coefficient of suckage should this transpire and get 0.5: ergo 4.5.
SecState Kerry suggests that there is no great cost to overreaction and great costs to under reaction. I purport the exact opposite.
If I -- and Physics -- am right, there is a 1.3 rise, which is well within normal fluctuations. Nobody would have noticed had VP Gore won Florida in 2000 and had other things to spend his time on than movies. If I am wrong, don't we want to be richer and smarter? If we waste our time and innovation on government-directed green boondoggles, we will not have the technology or resources to really tackle it if it is bad.
Well, that's it. I've had this in my head for a few days, but was inspired to try it reading the Guest essay by Steven Burnett on the WattsUpWithThat.com site. Burnett has a degree in Psychology and one in Chemistry. He compares the rigor of soft and hard science.
If I may wax poetic for a moment, the hard sciences are like a rock while the soft sciences are like sand. They are fundamentally composed of the same stuff, but it's the structure that makes them different. You must find a comfortable spot to rest on the rock but sand conforms around you. An uncomfortable rock must be dealt with, sand can simply be brushed away. Rock climbing requires training and equipment, a walk on the beach does not. I have had the opportunity to do both, and from personal experience, rock climbing is both harder and more fulfilling.
UPDATE: In case this post wasn't long enough for you... But I had to share the WSJ Ed Page's answer to Sec. Kerry:
The "worst that can happen" is that we spend trillions of dollars trying to solve a problem that we can't do anything to stop; that we misallocate scarce resources in a way that slows economic growth; that slower growth leads to less economic opportunity for Boston College grads and especially the world's poor, and that America and the world become much less wealthy and technologically advanced than we would otherwise. All of which would make the world less able to cope with the costs of climate change if Mr. Kerry is right.
Having read your thoughtful response concerning MMGW wherein you begin with a "0" to"10" what if, and end with a coolly (warmly?) calculated "4.5", I wish to perhaps precipitate a thaw in your math.
There are three distinct areas of focus, however blurred, for a consciousness. They are ideas, things, and people.
The hallmark of the first is the imagination. It is preoccupied with, in addition to whatever may arise to temporarily occupy its focus, envisioned (visionary?) manifestations of "what ifs."
The second area of focus are "things." The hallmark of this consciousness is curiosity. What, how, and why, are perpetual questions to which such a consciousness endlessly seeks answers.
The third area is people. The hallmark of this consciousness, when whatever imagination (ideas) or curiosity (things) might have initially been at play is/are determined to be of relatively little value, it invariably chooses people as the objects of its focus. The hallmark of such a consciousness is politics.
Of course we each are, in differing proportions, amalgamations of all three. On one end of the spectrum lies the occasional Einstein, exploring the intergalactic vortex while working as a clerk in the patent office, never losing sight of his reverence for science and the requirement that his imagination can only become validated when confirmed by reality.
Representing the other extreme, the likes of Barrack Obama, who, apparently never having had an original thought in his life, merely adapted to playing the political game in which he found himself at birth, consistently through to its current manifestations.
The rise of the idea of man-caused destruction of the Earth is the product of politics. It has no basis in actual science itself, and little in its relatively new and larger arena of science, Climatology.
However, since its political postulation, first as MMGC in the early seventies, then as MMGW, recently MMCC, to now, where I indicated at the last LOTR meeting I heard the first snippets of MMCD (disruption replacing change - the boring and virtually imperceptible pace of change giving way to the far more dramatic and dire term, DISRUPTION ((film at eleven!)), the proponents have been joined by sincere and credible consciousnesses who are honestly trying to investigate said claims. To the extent these additional voices remain credible, and are not shown to be seeking renewed funding or new Grant money, they tend to provide a veneer of respectability to what was/is, on its face, a "modern" vehicle for the destruction of individual freedom and Capitalism.
Now, I do not wish to be what I am arguing against. I always remain open to the possibility that the claim of MMCI (influence replacing whatever might be the latest fashion) is in fact occurring. One of the nasty traits of we humans is that certainty stops inquiry. However, I insist that the motivation for inquiry be imagination or curiosity, not arising from the sewer of politics!
The high priests of the "settled science" of MMCI are certain of their inquiry, and denounce, demean, or discredit, any heresy to the contrary. I therefore am resting comfortably at a .0014, awaiting further demonstrable, repeatable, evidence - not simply the computer modeling of premises.
Dave, the denounced, demeaned, "discredited" denier, Walden
May 20, 2014
Falsus Libertario Delenda Est!
Having recently escaped Colorado's Second Congressional District, I consider myself well-informed about Rep. Jared Polis (Libertarian? - CO).
He is currently the darling of the big-L Libertarians who are certain to have discovered the elusive "Libertarian Democrat:" cryptozoology's greatest prize! Rep. Polis is a regular on "The Independents" on FOX Business Channel. He received positive coverage in Reason:
A conventional Democrat in some respects, he also supports many causes that matter to libertarians: legalizing marijuana and hemp, restraining NSA surveillance, reforming copyright and patent laws, and making space for the virtual currency Bitcoin.
"A conventional Democrat in some respects." Yes, the obligatory disclaimer for interviewer Scott Shackford. Let me help you, Scott. He is a conventional Democrat EVERY FREAKIN' PLACE AND EVERY GORRAM TIME THAT IT COUNTS. Minority Leader Pelosi does not have to worry about his vote (including yea on ObamaCare on March 21, 2010).
When he's on his own, he pens a Libertarian Editorial in the WSJ. And he accepts campaign contributions in Bitcoin! He's like Mises reincarnate!
If they looked a little deeper, they'd see not only "A conventional Democrat in some respects," but a wellspring of dirigisme. The Blueprint [Review Corner] chronicles Polis as one of four überfunders of statehouse races providing the Democratic legislative majorities in Colorado which brought us draconian gun laws and insane regulations on energy -- especially to rural Coloradans. Thanks, Jared! Or shall I call you Murray Rothbard?
Today, he is in the press for using his considerable funding to force his energy views on the entire state. (Remember when Hayek did that?)
DENVER -- Democratic Rep. Jared Polis reminded Coloradans Monday why it's tough to tangle with a rich guy, outraising his pro-business foes in the latest campaign-finance reporting period on his proposed statewide anti-fracking initiatives.
Those damned oil companies and the nefarious Koch Brothers outspent in one day! By a statist who is feted as a "Libertarian."
If that's what they're like, I definitely want out! Libertario Delenda Est!
February 13, 2014
Defining Opression Down
Quick. Name the most oppressive place on the Earth. Now, hands up all who chose "the makeup aisle of our local Target store." Two, three . . . a couple guys in the back . . .
And, of course, Dr. Kelly Flanagan's friend. Flanagan is a licensed clinical psychologist and happy father of three. He writes inspirational letters to his young girls and posts them on his blog.
I actually find that endearing. Please don't construe this missive as objecting to positive self image for young girls. Buuuuuuuut, I wonder is the Doctor is not a bit over the top:
Dear Little One,
You know the rest. The models on the magazine covers are pretty and well below the median BMI of Target shoppers. The same magazines offer advice on flat abs and . . . The accompanying photo shows a bunch of them together to engender maximum outrage.
I am all for good self-image. But anybody who is "oppressed" looking at a magazine cover needs a psychologist -- even if he is one. Or, perhaps the advice of a software developer and guitar player.
Dear Big One,
February 6, 2014
Immigration, English, and Coca Cola
We've heard many opinions on the multi-lingual Coca Cola Superbowl ad "America the Beautiful" including here, here and here. I'd like to share one more viewpoint. This from a son of Chinese immigrants who also happens to be a Republican candidate for congress in the Colorado district that encompasses Boulder (CO-2).
If you like it, or him, be sure to "Like" his Facebook Page. I did.
February 5, 2014
Makes One Question the Whole Community Organizing Profession
I have good friends drooling with excitement that Trader Joe's is opening stores in Boulder and Denver. I'm happy for commerce but lack the experience to elicit ecstasy. But, you gotta like a company that "goes Galt" before kowtowing to a lot of demands.
I'll stick with admiration for the company, but the story is as sad a one as you're gonna read today. Expanding into Portland, the company deliberately chooses a location in the less affluent Northeast section of town. Here come jobs, fresh food, property values, rich hipsters to patronize other area stores. This is going to be great. Oh, wait...
The company selected two acres along Martin Luther King Blvd. that had been vacant for decades. It seemed like the perfect place to create jobs, improve customer options and beautify the neighborhood. City officials, the business community, and residents all seemed thrilled with the plan. Then some community organizers caught wind of it.
Score a big win for the PAALF! Yaay team.
Hat-tip: Insty, who points out "Trader Joe's isn't cool anymore because it is successful."
February 3, 2014
One More Commercial...
Who knew the opening safety was going to be the highlight for Broncos' Fans? Ah, well, I still bleed orange & blue. I just did not know there would be so much of it to clean up...
One controversy remains. There was a slight tweet-storm over the poly-lingual Coke commercial. I liked the commercial a lot and was surprised and disappointed at negative response
January 31, 2014
Not Using My Tune in a Beer Commercial! (See Update)
It was pretty popular in my day to freak out when a popular artist's music appeared in a commercial. I don't know if times are more enlightened now or not. But I offer a pragmatic consideration:
The music in the Bud commercial I love is from Passenger. "All the Little Lights." The particular track seems to be pretty popular [see UPDATE for an important contradiction]:
The whole album on MP3 is $5 and I am diggin' it.
UPDATE: I've been the last guy to the party before. Passenger is Michael David Rosenberg who adopted the name after the band broke up. And, mea maxim culpa, he had some success with the tune before the King of Beers came along:
I do not retract my props for the All the Little Lights" album. It's quite good.
January 30, 2014
Seen it? When Brother Keith posted it on Facebook yesterday, it was a little over a million views. I just watched again (okay a few times...) and it is 13,183,691.
I ranted a bit on FB but I need a little room and a safe place to stretch. This is awesome. There's the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh's Houses at Auvers has always been a fave, Beethoven's Fifth, John Coltrane's Giant Steps . . . and this year's Budweiser Super Bowl commercial.
The left may whine about corporations and capitalism and consumerism and materialism and irritable bowel syndrome and FOX News and that goofy trapezoid behind the goalie out of which he cannot play the puck. But this masterpiece validates all I hold dear.
First let us apply some Adam Smith and Leonard Read. How many people were required to make this? And to bring in a little Yaron Brook, how many were creative and artistic? Art Directors, writers, sound engineers, costume, makeup, lighting and cinematography, The music on its own is masterful, and that paid the bills of several players, composers, and engineers.
I love art jobs, but let's salute the agents, accountants, advertising execs, project managers and those who made and brought coffee. A little Hayekian spontaneous order makes all those goods and services available on demand.
All funded by the good folks at Anhueser Busch to sell more beer. It's an "institutional ad" to promote the company without product mention. Nobody can be certain if it works. But the camera guys and singers and lighting techs will get paid to do something they love instead of sustenance faming.
Thanks Capitalism! And GO BRONCOS!
UPDATE: Corporate stooges slogging through another day at work:
January 20, 2014
Happy Martin Luther King Day, ThreeSourcers. I assume we all have the day off and will be shopping for mattresses -- based not on their color but on the content of their support.
My problem with the holiday and the hype is that the wrong elements of Dr. King's achievements are celebrated. We see the crowds at the Lincoln Memorial listening to the superb "I Have a Dream" speech. That is a great moment and a great speech. But I draw a line from it to the election of President Obama. No doubt many supporters of King and the President would be happy with the suggestion.
But -- as you've probably guessed -- my intentions are a bit more nefarious. The heroic King is shown as the speechmaker. He got up and gave a great speech to a huge crowd, and the country was better for it. All true.
But I was deep into my 40s before I understood the heroic leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And I got it not from a gauzy PBS special but from Robert A Caro's Master of the Senate. LBJ is in the Senate and in confederacy with the other Southern, white, Democratic senators successfully kills ever civil rights bill that shows up on the floor. To show the change a nation would demand, Caro provides one of his many lucid expositions on the boycott.
In his depiction we see a different MLK. There were speeches and sermons, yes. But the heroic King was not a politician. He was a field general and a pastor. He held the boycott together, managed violence both by effectively protecting the boycotters and preventing retaliation that would have damaged the cause. The end result was a moral victory upon which the nation could build. Even ol' LBJ realized that his presidential ambitions required that he bring "a Nigra Bill" up for a vote. Thus is one of our great civil rights leaders born.
Some on the right, reflexively reacting to media hegemony and hagiography, point out MLK's failings. Against the politician MLK model, that is fair game if not necessarily effective. But the MLK of 1956 was the real deal. I love David Mamet's line of his protagonist who fought in the Civil War "to broaden the definition of those who were created equal." Dr. King fought to reify those gains.
I just wish we would celebrate heroic leadership and not political oratory.
January 9, 2014
Real Book Software: Awful, Awful, Awful!
I bought a product so startlingly bad I need to post a review, both for catharsis and to perhaps prevent another from buying it. I did find a forum where people have been complaining about this for a few years. Spread the word.
I saw a banner ad for Real Book Software. The Real Book is a popular and famous book of charts for Jazz songs. It is a play on the term "Fake Books" which provide rudimentary enough chords to let you "fake it." The Real Book had meatier arrangements and actual transcriptions of solos. It is pretty interesting story [Wikipedia].
The Real Book Software was a good idea: put the book on tour computer, allow search and sort of the charts by genre, composer, title, performer, yadda yadda. They even package mp3s of the tunes so you can listen, and -- big draw for me -- versions of each in Band-in-the-box, a popular software I use to print charts but it also plays the songs for you to play along.
The ads and docs looked funky; that should have been a warning. But it fit into a new educational direction of mine and I was intrigued enough to PayPal $127 (Oww!) Wish I had searched online before paying. If you find this, I strongly advise you to steer clear.
The worst thing about Real Book Software:
Second worst thing about Real Book Software:
A very bad thing about Real Book Software:
Please feel free to link and share. I see from the forum that they have been defrauding naive players like me for a few years. Knowledge might be power.
November 26, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving, Shoppers!
Perhaps an anti-rant is by definition a rant. The opposition-to-retail-on-Thanksgiving contingent on Facebook seems to be growing. George Takei has now weighed in (he's agin' it).
Teevee news last night unironically ran a story on the "controversy" of Black Friday's incursion into Thursday -- and followed it with a story on the growing trend of eating the big meal out. I guess food workers don't have families, that is just the retail sector. Kitchen help is staffed from orphanages or something. This tickled:
Now, a boycott or Facebook group whine is a part of the free market. Shaming corporations to improve treatment of workers and customers is valid and non-coercive. I should applaud. But I think this contretemps is misinformed and I know that the Deirdre McCloskey appreciation for Bourgeois Dignity and commerce will not receive a fair hearing (I'm just posting this here).
I am betting that a lot of young people will get some additional hours that they'd like and that most will pay holiday premium wages. The assumption of helpless Dickensian urchins cowering before their cruel employers is a bit much.
November 13, 2013
If you did not care for my Typhoon rant, I bet you won't like this:
If you feel it's urgent to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, then deep in your heart you also support Obamacare. -- Matt Miller
November 12, 2013
A Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber?
Great Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons last night! The lovely bride and I have missed several to care for dear Harriet, and it was good to get back.
The program featured three winners of the Leadership Program of the Rockies' "Defending Capitalism" speech contest. We heard three great speeches and multiple ideas to reach those not immediately disposed to the wonders of liberty. The (excellent) crowd also coughed up $800 to supply impressionable youth with Ayn Rand books and their teachers with instruction materials.
None of the speakers seemed to be radical big-O Objectivists, but Rand's writings were obviously influential -- and I believe are a sizable part of the LPR curriculum. National Defense came up in the Q&A session. Only one of the speakers was anarchist enough to suggest private defense.
When I got home, and saw that a US Carrier and supporting ships were headed to the Philippines for typhoon relief, I wished I had asked the group about plunder and taking money from my neighbor at gunpoint to fuel a carrier group on a relief mission.
Your friendly blog Deepak-Lallian libertarian has no problem with this. I wonder if others do have a problem or how they rationalize it if they do not. This is a tertiary at best relation to actual defense, but it is important to the maintenance of a Liberal International Economic Order. Of benefit to all taxpayers:
Do I have a fight? Robbing Peter to help Pinoy? Or is this valid use of our defense infrastructure and budget?
September 12, 2013
A blog friend shares a Jon Stewart quote on Facebook.
I get that Fox opposes a Syria peace plan because its modus operandi is to foment dissent in the form of a relentless and irrational contrarianism to Barack Obama and all things Democratic to advance its ultimate objective of creating a deliberately misinformed body politic whose fear, anger, mistrust and discontent is the manna upon which it sustains its parasitic succubus-like existence. -- Jon Stewart on The Daily Show Tuesday night
"Nicely distilled ..." says our friend.
I'll give anybody points for using "succubus," but after that I wonder if we are living on the same planet. That and widespread flooding across our normally-arid high dessert plains give me pause.
Now wouldn't you know it, I missed Stewart last Tuesday. I will take <redacted> at his word that the transcription is accurate. It certainly seems in character. To make things worse, this was approbationally linked by another friend who added "So very true! Keep your critical thinking caps on folks! Don't let any media outlet tell you what to think! Investigate and think it all through!" Great advice.
Maybe it is the continual rain but I. Just. Can't. Take. It.
-- The "Syria peace plan?" Again, I missed mister clown-nose on, clown-nose-off on Tuesday, but is that the "peace plan" where we rain down a billion dollars worth of high-tech ordinance on an impoverished nation? Is that the peace plan those damnëd FOX people dare oppose?
-- We have a difficult time finding a friend in the contretemps (I'll see your succubus and raise you a contretemps!) Assad is a tyrant who gasses his own people, the rebels are interleaved with al Qaeda and desecrate the corpses of their opponents.It is pretty difficult to tell who the good guys are. That is one of my first problems with action in the theatre. But: we sure know who the enemy is, do we not? FOX and its viewers!
I am frustrated by the lack of reason and I am frustrated at yet another ad hominem attack. People who oppose the "peace plan where we blow a lot of shit up and then just bask in the peace after" clearly have no legitimate grievance with the C-in-C or plans as outlined. No, there is no room for honest disagreement. They are evil and anti-peace.
I typed but removed incriminating evidence that could identify these two; it is not about them. The whole blessed Church of Stewart-Colbert surely nodded along, not noting that the President's "peace plan" has been attacked by Democrats and supported by Republicans. No, that is not interesting to those who find us un-nuanced.
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down...
September 9, 2013
These People are Animals!
We hereby pause from our Syria coverage (well, now that Vladimir Putin is going to ride in and save the day, we mightn't return).
The antecedent in the title is the whole gorram Kennedy family! Every few months, I read of some absolute depravity: JFK whorring out 19-year old interbs, Chris Dodd & Teddy sandwiching a poor waitress, the younger males all with rape lawyers on speed dial. Helen Maria! What gives with these people?
A diary belonging to Robert F. Kennedy Jr has emerged containing details of encounters with 37 different women during 2001
Camelot? Caligula's Palace is a better analogy. Brutal, murdering rapists all of them -- at least Papa Joe was an honest bootlegger.
September 3, 2013
Wampum Generating Idea
Wampum. Even when I come up with a serious idea, I cannot avoid the puerile. Put that racist transgression aside and hear me out.
You can get the jump on a future Review Corner by picking up Sagebrush Rebel by William Perry Pendley. It is the story of President Reagan's environmental stewardship, his universally maligned Interior Secretary James Watt, and the primacy of good energy and mineral policies. And it is very good.
I had a side thought, not suggested in any way by Pendley. But among Reagan's achievements was a respectful and honest relationship between Reagan's Interior Department and the governments of indigenous Americans: a "government to government" relationship.
Reservations are sovereign nations are they not? Why not trade in the casinos and cigarette sales for a Libertarian Utopia? I saw the folks on Stossel who were mooring a cruise ship 12 miles off San Francisco to populate with engineers who can not get H1-B visas. (Sort of a Pirate Radio for geeks -- were I a younger man...)
Instead of a million dollars for a ship, weather concerns. and expensive transfer of supplies from the mainland -- why not New Mexico or Oklahoma? Lay some fiber optic cable and develop world class business facilities. Tenants would enjoy non-restrictive immigration policies and lenient taxation. The reservation would attract capital. jobs, and educational opportunities.
UPDATE: The seasteading venture is Blueseed, and its founders are interviewed by John Stossel (~20:20)
August 26, 2013
Don't Want to Hear it!
My Twitter feed was abuzz with high dudgeon (in 140 character increments) with people who were upset at the raunchiness of last night's MTV Video Music Awards.
With all due respect, world, what were you expecting? I get offended less easily than you and I wasn't watching. Why were you?
July 15, 2013
I don't know if you guys have heard about this Florida trial...
Apologies in advance to those who have been enjoying ThreeSources as a "Zimmerman Free Zone;" this breaks the streak.
On one hand, the trial says nothing about anything. To quote Edna St. Vincent Millay:
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
As Insty remarks, it's a case about race except the perpetrator is "blacker than Homer Plessy." Jacob Sullum, and many others have pointed out that it is not about "stand your ground" laws. And Taranto reminds that it fits nowhere into lynching or mob rule cases.
It is one single and tragic case.
At the same time, it is about everything, because everybody (at least on my Facebook and Twitter feeds) have imbued everything into it. It's not about stand your ground laws, but it is clearly about using a gun for self defense: not in a clear case of zombies kicking down your door, but in public at a confrontation of one's choosing.
To those not involved directly, it a media event first and foremost. NBC's shameful editing of the 911 launched this endeavor. And MSNBC and FOX have kept the embers aflame for months. A pox on both their houses.
Post verdict social media has been an exercise in sad. My famous lefty FB pals are ready to leave the country or burn down the local Chick-Fil-A. Our blog friend Lattesipper has changed his profile pic to Trayvon's -- and yes, he uses the adorable cherub of 15, not the more current gangsta audition pictures.
One lefty work friend posted a very humble, mirror-image-of-my-thoughts blurb on Facebook. She admitted she had not seen the whole trial and that she didn't have personal knowledge of what went down and what was right. But she was upset at Facebook friends who consider Zimmerman a hero. I was going to post that we were mirror images but shared some humility about dictating to the rest of the world what really happened and what each person really thought. In the 15 minutes it took me to come back to it, her friends had filled the post "Hero?? You mean sad f^&*in jerk loser of all time!" Repeat, adding sanctimony and intensity.
I demurred and will continue so to do. A lot of people are upset. A young African-American I played hockey with as a lad was quite upset. I am going to be uncharacteristically quiet.
But ThreeSourcers know I am a terrible person already -- and I have a segue.
One can view this in the Arnold Kling/Jonathan Haidt prism. FOXNews and MSNBC have played this up. To the FOX viewer, it is Civilization vs. Barbarism. GZ is a community watch guy -- defender of civilization. Martin was a dope smokin', street fighting hood. One defends the property owners, one is a punk and a problem.
To MSNBC (and to be fair, all of the not-specifically Conservative media), we have oppressor/oppressed. A 17 year old boy tragically loses his life -- shot by "a wannabe cop," who was probably a racist.
I guess I will be true to my libertarianism. I don't know what happened. I don't know what any of the participants were thinking. But I believe in due process. The State of Florida threw everything they had at this case (because of media malfeasance, but we work with what we have). And six good people of Seminole County Florida -- unanimously -- said that the state had not made its case.
I sure as hell do not want to make it much easier for prosecutors to indict. I do not think the young African-American community would be well served by advances along that line. Personally, I am happy because I thought the decision to prosecute was political. I consider Zimmerman a tragic player and not a hero.
I guess I take my lefty friend at her word, she always complains of a right wing lunacy flood on her feed. I find it somehow hard to believe that she has more and wackier right wing friends than I do. I certainly suspect a strawman; this kook tsunami is claimed more than it is seen. But I follow Taranto's Best of the Web on Facebook, and there were some pretty happy people posting there. Perhaps the worst lesson is just how easily people can be played by the media.
UPDATE: I do love this country: Juror B-37 gets book deal.
July 13, 2013
The "Producer's Pledge"
"I am proud of my company's product and the profit we make by selling it to others - freely, and to our mutual benefit. Since certain government entities have materially restricted my ability to produce and profit it is no longer beneficial for me to sell my product in the jurisdictions of those government entities. I therefore pledge that I will no longer sell my product through distribution channels that serve the state, county, or local governments that restrict or prohibit my ability to produce my product."
The idea here is that when the voters of, say, Boulder County, Colorado, find their gasoline prices spiking and supplies becoming scarce they will finally make the connection between their voting habits and the supply of daily conveniences that they have come to take for granted.
If you are interested in the supporting "rant" for this idea, read on below.
Ayn Rand said,
"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result."
Anyone who has ever felt the gratifying sense of an accomplishment after making or building something has a hint that this is true. But the central purpose? The central value? To answer those questions ask this one: What else, other than productiveness, gives man pride?
Just as the passage of the 2009 "Stimulus" Bill precipitated a civil uprising known as the TEA Party, the partisan overreach of Colorado's 2013 legislative session produced a movement advocating that many rural Colorado counties secede from the rest of the state. Practical problems with that idea spawned a call to rearrange Colorado's legislature such that every county is represented by its own state senator, regardless of population, as is the case regarding the several states in the United States Senate. But this too has a practical problem. The same problem that led to both the 2013 Colorado legislature and the 2009 United States legislature being controlled by a single political party. The problem is something Americans have long been taught to hold as a virtue. The problem is democracy.
Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Democracy is the idea, not that people decide how to live their own lives, but that a large enough group of people can decide how everyone is to live his life. To understand if an idea is virtuous or not imagine its extreme. The extreme of democracy is ochlocracy. (Look it up.) The extreme of freedom is, liberty. And to understand just how mixed up and turned around political philosophy has become, consider the fact that those who once advocated for extreme freedom, whether from a monarch or from a religion, were called "liberals" but those known as liberals today are advocates of "social equality" and/or "environmental protection" via democracy - a decidedly anti-liberty prescription.
The men and women of rural Colorado have many reasons to seek separation from their neighbors in the urban counties but as one county commissioner said, "The mandate that tells us what kind of energy sources we may use was the last straw." And understandably so. In addition to producing food that feeds the urban county populations, many of the rural counties produce another valuable export product that results in billions of dollars in wealth creation and millions of dollars in tax revenues to state and local governments. That product, actually many products, is known as oil and natural gas.
For economic reasons the fastest growing process used today to extract oil and gas in the United States is hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. (Also spelled "fracking.") The only real difference between fracking and conventional drilling is that a water-based solution is pumped into the well after drilling and before pumping to create pathways through which the oil may escape to the well bore. That's it. It's not polluting and it's not sinister, although its detractors do everything possible to convince us, the people who vote, that it is both of those things. And many people are convinced. One such person is Washington County resident Steve Frey who said, "I don't want be [sic] in a 51st state. I don't want any part of their fracking that they're doing in Weld County."
I could not possibly agree more with Mr. Frey's contention that he has a right to be free from every aspect of the oil extraction process called "fracking" that he disagrees with, for whatever reason he chooses to do so. Industry must begin taking immediate steps, doing everything in its power, so that those who oppose its practices must not be forced to accept the severance tax revenues accorded to their local government by fracking. Unfortunately, government holds the reins on virtually every aspect of this unfair treatment of Mr. Frey and others similarly situated. Industry has but one thing it may control. Namely, to whom and to where it chooses to sell its product.
July 10, 2013
"saucily exhibiting Kelly Slater's package"
There are many reasons to embed the preceding promotional video. I'll try to hit them all, in no particular order.
Product placements for HTC phones and Windows Phone OS, which they refer to as "Surface" at the end of the promo.
A hip soundtrack, featuring a group I'd never heard before.
Feminist schadenfreude. After all, has there ever been, in the history of advertising, a man who complained that a woman in a commercial was "sexualised?" The commenter's mindset is clearly revealed by the term "typical blonde size six surfer girl." Jealous much?
Equality. This one nearly provokes me to profanity. It is fast replacing altruism as, in my opinion, the most dangerous and dispicable idea in human thought. To wit:
So what exactly is so offensive this time, as the surfing giant is merely using a tried and tested marketing approach? Probably the fact that this little voyeuristic semi soft-core porn clip is representing a professional sport which has been fighting a long and ongoing battle for gender equality.
Please. Men and women are - wait for it - differ'nt. Commercial advertising is as free-market as anything else left in this world and its practitioners have discovered a formula that works. You may not like the formula, and you may not like that it works, but no amount of snippy commentary will ever change those facts.
Freedom. Freedom to voluntarily participate in a promo video featuring ass shots, of your own ass. "12 butt shots in one minute and 46 seconds exactly." Huzzah! Perhaps you'd prefer if she wore a burka, Ms. Salvo? As a father of daughters, I have no objections whatsoever to this promo. Natural, athletic beauty is nothing to hide or to battle against using shame, much less the government regulation that is so routinely resorted to in such matters of "inequality." You, who claim to seek "gender equality" would have more credibility if you didn't object to the same "offenses" as does the Taliban.
Did I mention badonkadonk?
May 11, 2013
A beloved relative posted this today. I cannot embed, but you'll want to go read the headline on Upworthy.com. "The Earth-Shatteringly Amazing Speech That'll Change The Way You Think About Adulthood."
For those who do not have progressive friends on Facebook: a) what in the hell do you do for aggravation?, and, b) know that Upworthy.com belches out a constant stream of stuff like this which is fawned over by Facebook Progs in search of something really deep. I'm being mean and petty -- but you have not yet watched the video. Watch it coast to coast and tell me I am being harsh.
It's humorous in a David Sedaris -NPR kind of way; you can hear the chattering classes tittering in the audience. Talk about first world problems -- the wheel on his shopping cart sticks! Can't Harry Reid do something about that? Children ride in these carts ferchrissakes!
Yes, life sucks so bad. Your sweet car gets stuck in traffic, and the supermarket is so full of plenty that you have to walk through clean and "over-lit" aisles full of inexpensive varieties of goods to get what you want. The f***ing humanity!
But the solution, kindly provided (that's what makes it soooo amazing!) is to realize everybody else's life sucks too! Maybe worse! Damn, I feel better.
How about you appreciate the affluence that a bad shopping cart wheel is the worst part of your food acquisition experience (vis-a-vis hunting down a mammoth with a spear...)? Or hows and aboutin' you plan ahead to shop at a less congested time. Or order online? Or start a company that delivers groceries to the others who find this unpleasant?
I came here to rant, but I left a comment for my dear cousin:
"I hope this guy does not work the 'suicide hotline.'"
February 6, 2013
A Rant is Clearly Required
Ranting is not my thing, but we sit back and let "them" push "these things" through.
We know better. We knew about ethanol mandates. We knew about plastic bag bans. We knew about the moronically foolish inefficacy of Kyoto. And yet, these predictable policy train wrecks keep happening.
San Francisco's Plastic Bag Ban Kills About 5 People A Year
Ponnuru offers a novel; suggestion: how about leaving people alone?
The authors argue, not completely convincingly, against the idea that regular washing and drying of reusable bags would solve the problem. They point out that the use of hot water and detergent imposes environmental costs, too. And reusable bags require more energy to make than plastic ones. The stronger argument, it seems to me, is that 97 percent figure: Whatever the merits of regularly cleaning the bags, it doesn't appear likely to happen.
Like ethanol. There is NO BENEFIT (see, it is a rant if you use all caps!). It is a non-solution to a problem that may or may not exist. Yet, undeterred, they'll be on to their next big fix, ignoring the hungry Guatemalans and dead infected Americans in the wake of previous "successes."
December 20, 2012
Sarah Hoyt - "Ungovernable"
Sarah Hoyt, who grew up in the Socialist Paradise of Portugal and is a successful author of many a fine SF/F novel, sees the future...and has faith that the American people will weather the difficult times ahead with some measure of style:
I’ve said before that I became an American by reading Heinlein books. This is true at least to an extent, though I’d be at a loss to explain the process to you. I mean, if you knew how to do that, book by book, chipping away, so someone starts out wondering what’s wrong with all those Americans who don’t like taxes (don’t they know taxes are civilization? And have always existed) and ends up thinking getting a Don’t Tread On Me tattoo is a brilliant idea, even while immersed in a socialist, communitary system, we’d have no problems. We’d just use “the process.”
Finally, let's note that Sarah is from COLORADO. There's just something about that place. Rand didn't choose it to be a star of Atlas Shrugged out of thin air.
November 5, 2012
Albert Jay Nock: The Masses and the Remnant
Have you read the Book of Isiah lately? As we head into tomorrow and the Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, I recall what the great Albert Jay Nock had to say in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1936:
It was one of those prosperous reigns, however — like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington — where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash. (...)
One may, if one has actually had a semblance of an education, recall that the Founders made sure the masses would not have a real voice in how the United States was to be run. As in every Republic in history, this gradually broke down. 1913, 1933, 1965...each step in the process seemed right at the time. There were good reasons; all the best professors at America's finest universities taught them.
And so we have come to this pass. Tomorrow, I expect that the masses will reelect the President and accelerate the time whent he Remant must again rebuild a failing society. Take a deep breath, Three Sourcers. We are a piece of the Remnant and better put on our armor and sharpen our swords, for truly the Scheiss is coming.
October 25, 2012
Joda Vida Loco
Colorado has been in the national news again for the past weeks, and for another horrific reason. Ten year-old Jessica Ridgeway disappeared on her way to school October 5th and was found dead some days later. I hung on every bit of news with an uneasy combination of need to know, fear, and a simmering rage and hatred for the unhuman monster who could perpetrate such a crime. I was not surprised to learn that the confessed suspect is a maladjusted male who was teased mercilessly by classmates, including girls, and with bizarre interests such as medical examination and mortuary science. I was surprised to learn that he is but 17 years old himself.
I haven't written anything about this before now since I'm confident my thoughts and feelings are universal, particularly amongst parents. But today I want to cite a coincidence that I think is at least a partial clue into the devolution of a human mind to the level we witness here. Last weekend, while harvesting the season's final hay crop, I found a book discarded along the county road that passes our farm. I picked it up. I was mildly taken aback by the doodled word-cloud that covered the outside in half-inch tall red letters:
FEAR, PAIN, SICK BOY, Tourtcher, MADDNE$$, Die By The Sword, DEATH, suicide, I For AN Eye, Blood For Blood, F*** The World, Vengeance I Demand, War, MEth, F*** Sleep, Murder, CRip, KillER, No Mercy, Lust, NO $URENDER, HATE, Rage, REtROBution.
I have no idea whose this is, or how it got on the side of my road. But it seems obvious to me it is a school-aged rant. I remember my high school years. It wasn't easy trying to fit in and be myself all at the same time, particularly when I didn't even really know how to "be myself" or who I was. I scribbled kill this, kill that. But this seems beyond anything I ever thought or felt. It brings my constantly integrating mind back to one thing: The crippling of young minds.
Teach your children. Teach them well.
September 25, 2012
jk Takes a Contrarian Position
Brother jg and I both enjoyed the political pundits we follow on twitter mixing up replacement-ref-bashing and politics. You can see a few in the #3src Twitter widget. (By the way, if you have four characters, add it to your tweets -- this is not an exclusive club and I see a lot of blog friends' tweets that I wish they had tagged.)
But I am not abandoning my position of taking Capital's side against Labor. Even after that horrible game. Even after the Interc-- I mean touchdown that ended it. I encourage the owners to be reasonable but hold firm. And I decry that the entire sum IQ of the nation's sportscasters (over/under?) has been devoted to demanding capitulation.
Yes, they suck -- but they suck in a fair, random and chaotic/unpredictable way. Too bad about the bad calls in the last two minutes, Packers, but as my friend routinely tells his kids after a close loss: you want to avoid close losses, score more points. One of the nation's premiere quarterbacks was sacked eight times and held without a touchdown pass. You can't blame that on rookie refs.
I was at LOTR and just caught the last quarter. But I assume if the other games I have seen are anything to go by that lads in green and gold benefitted from a questionable call or two. Suck it up. Score more.
After the teachers' strike in Chicago, I do appreciate that the referees' walkout is legitimate, legal and moral. You guys cannot do this without us, they claim, and many think they are right. I am going to continue to be a stooge for capital and encourage the owners to stand firm.
But damn -- that was a bad call.
August 30, 2012
"Straight Outta Rand"
"That’s straight out of Rand, and ’50s anti-Communist paranoia."
To the tune of, well you know:
You are now about to witness the strength of reason
Verse One: Paul Ryan
Straight outta Rand, crazy m*********** named Ryan
July 5, 2012
I Don't Need Your (Culture) War. However...
In response to my post Law of the Day on Tuesday, Brother jk notes "I tend to run from this stuff because it is tainted with "The Cuture War" which I avoid."
Amen, brother. The "Culture War" belongs with the Wars on poverty, drugs, cancer, etc. They aren't "wars" and they can't be won. However, neither can we disconnect our love of liberty from the culture that sustains it.
I'm not planning to make this an wide-ranging essay, just a few observations and assertions that can be tested and critiqued. I am a huge fan of Paul Johnson's epic Modern Times, and on the Fourth of July Ed Driscoll of PJ Media taps it, if only to partly disagree with Johnson's main thesis.
It's a great, wide-ranging piece, but I don't think Driscoll has quite hit the nail squarely on every point, this time. The New Man theme, the "starting from zero" conceit, got its big debut with the French Revolutionaries, not the scientific socialist eugenics technocrats of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. About a million died in that 18th century effort to change the very nature of humanity, admittedly a pittance compared to the tolls of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and their heirs, but given the old technology the French had available, pretty large, non?
One of the many, many wonderful things about the U.S. of A. is that we managed to have our culture "wars" over the last five decades with hardly a handful of persons actually killed on either side. Lots of court battles, from Griswold to Roe to Lawrence and all points in between, have broken the legal power of the State to ban birth control, abortion, adultery and sodomy. The battle in most educational institutions to "celebrate" homosexuality, teenage oral sex and condoms for every 12-year-old has been won, and our third graders are being drilled on how "proud" people should be about, well, you know, THAT.
We are in the middle portion of a vast experiment in yes, moral relativism. Nothing is bad, except "trying to tell other people what to do." The funny thing is, the Founders, who ranged in religious conviction from hard-core Christian to Deist to (closeted) atheist, all seemed to believe that individual liberty and continued self government would have to stand on a base of a moral people.
I consider myself a libertarian. I don't believe the power of the state should be used to enforce all of my personal beliefs about the Good, the True and the Beautiful. However, I don't believe that a culture that says it's beautiful to have children with no fathers and no means of support except the state, to screw who- or what-ever you want without social censure and to "tolerate" the intolerable is going to continue to thrive.
I don't want a war, for sure, but I want to be able to apply social pressure to meet the standards that allow for freedom and prosperity. These standards include some restraint and delayed gratification. I'll keep speaking up for those, call it what you may.
May 15, 2012
The Gay Marriage "Distraction"
It is a well travelled Republican talking point that the gay marriage issue is a distraction from President Obama's economic record. It's true of course, but the Republicans are as much to blame for said distraction as the Democrats.
A friend from suburban Wichita, Kansas emails a link to this story about a public school teacher posting his views against gay marriage on his Facebook page. He has every right to his beliefs, of course, and to speak them publicly. But by continuing to oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage we allow him to become the face of our conservative party. I will not stand silently by. How many of us have wished we could have been present in the face of an incident of racial discrimination in the segregated south and that we would have had the courage to say, "No, that is wrong?" Same story, different age.
My Kansas friend sent the link with the note "Need your comments here" to both me and my brother. What follows is my response, which rebutted my brother's.
[Brother] writes that it is "nonsense" that established law denies a right for same-sex marriage, then declares there is "no defined right for same sex couples to "marry." Which is it?
March 6, 2012
This clip is about much more than just Ron Paul.
Hat tip: M4GW
And then there's this Whittaker Chambers-esque rebuttal.
February 10, 2012
Two Minute Hate: Sen. Santorum Edition
Yesterday brought two events to wake me from my "Senator Santorum is okay...nothing to worry about...move along..." stupor. I must confess, I have given him too much benefit for a world of doubt. Blog sister dagny was right all along.
Event one: I don't want to speak out of turn, but a good friend of mine confided to be "done" with the GOP. I've heard this 100 times and said it seven or eight, but this was pretty serious. The confluence of an anti-gay-marriage initiative and Santorum's Tuesday Sweep was too much to bear. I'll leave out the back-and-forth but share the conclusion without permission. "I'll vote against Obama and puke in the parking lot."
We all get a little down; this is something worse. And what do I say "Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney!!!?"
Event two. I'm never sure what to make of Fox Business's Judge Andrew Napolitano. He puts on a good rant, but he never weaves it into anything pragmatic. Still, it's good to have truth tellers. [Side note: A guy put one of Napolitano's rants on FB and all his liberal friends said "That was on FOX? Boy I bet the censors were sick that day!" Umm, guys, he does that every day and I cannot think of another network that would put it on.]
Last night he had Reason's Matt Welch on for a brief segment to whack the Senator about his stated aversion to libertarianism. Santorum looked at the camera and said "I want to drive libertarianism out of the Republican Party." That stings a bit.
Then one remembers his debate performances. Rep. Ron Paul would make a statement. Speaker Gingrich would grind his teeth a little and wait for "Crazy Uncle Ron" to finish. Gov. Perry might roll his eyes. Gov. Romney probably did not play "Bizz-Buzz" in college, but he would have been good -- he combined a friendly smile with a blank stare, the essence of non-committal.
But Senator Santorum would pounce! High dudgeon and incredulity: "You really believe X?" While one can consider many of Paul's ideas out of the GOP mainstream, I suggest we at least join Senator Jim DeMint and give these ideas a basic respect to keep their believers in the party.
Perhaps life is good in a very bad year. Senator Sweatervest and Speaker Crazyman can split the non-Romney vote, each keeping the other out. We might well end up with Governor Romney (what, no disparaging sobriquet?) but maybe it is time for least evil. Ron Paul could continue to tell the truth and concomitantly place third or fourth.
And were Gov. Doginthecrateontheroof (who's your daddy?) to choose a Paul or Rubio for Veep, I might find some enthusiasm.
And, we've always been at war with Eurasia!
UPDATE: Kim Strassel suggests he needs a message beyond "Faith, Family, and Freedom."
November 13, 2011
A Liberal Progressive Government Organizer's Job is Never Done
To piggyback on a theme of the excellent Review Corner jk miscategorized as self-promotion, I'll indulge in some self-promotion. The extended family gathered at my brother's home in Boulder County Friday evening for dinner and viewing of Atlas Shrugged Part 1 (HD DVD - egads.) While driving back home to Weld County my talk-radio alter ego, Jon Caldera, was conversing with listeners (850 KOA, Denver's News, Weather, Broncos and CU Buffs Station) about the latest social engineering in Boulder - speed limits for bicycles in crosswalks. [Ponder the disconnect in that headline.] "Boulder goverment wants to regulate every aspect of our lifes," Caldera wistfully concluded. As a 20-year resident of the town, having just viewed the most "leave me alone" movie ever made, and having just been regaled of the woes one endures when attempting to add a couple of rooms to one's Boulder County home, I was compelled to call.
Final hour of Caldera's Friday, 11/11/11 show.
July 4, 2011
My Favorite Supraconstitutional Event
Call me names; throw jk from the train if you want. But I watch "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS every year. Steve Martin just brought his bluegrass band. I love it.
UPDATE: Ms. Jordin Sparks nails the National Anthem. I may have to start watching "Idol..."
June 23, 2011
An Insight Into ObamaCare®
Peter Orszag, of "bend the cost curve" fame, has now been demoted from US Medical Czar Plenipotentiary to "Bloomberg Columnist." For this, Lord, may we be truly thankful...
But he's worried, he is. You see, Americans are living longer than ever, and there are many important innovations in health technology and knowledge. He documents several of them in "How My Wi-Fi Scale Adds to America's Class Divide." Oh, the bright kids in the front see where this is going...
But it's worrisome, too, because the same technological change that allows any of us to walk around with all this personal data at a glance may wind up exacerbating the growing gap in life expectancy between people with high levels of income and education and those without.
If I may translate (I took a semester of Orszaggian in college): "exacerbating the growing gap in life expectancy" means that some people will live longer. O cruel world! Why, if we grow life expectancy to 150 years, that will exacerbate the longevity differential between those who die young.
And it is grossly unfair, because the people living longer are wealthy! They can afford a Wi-Fi Scale! Correct me if I am wrong, but causality might be what economists call "bassackwards" here. Professor Reynolds has suggested that Obama Administration members (Orszag, check) confuse the markers of middle class with the habits and skills that produce it. Give them a house, and they will have the same advantages that a person who works hard, saves and protects his credit rating has -- see, they both have a house! (To be fair, Reynolds directs this more at the ruling class, but I think it works.)
What about those damned, lucky rich people who are going to outlive their disadvantaged counterparts?
The leading explanations for this involve health behavior -- including diet, exercise and smoking. For example, men 50 and older without a high-school education are more than twice as likely to smoke as those with a college degree. Exercise behavior also varies substantially. Among 45- to 54-year-olds in one study, only 16 percent of those without a high-school degree exercised vigorously at least once a week, whereas 56 percent of college graduates did.
So, Pete, buddy. A guy could read that and see that guys who exercise, eat well and don't smoke are healthier and live longer. Might they also be more likely to buy a Wi-Fi scale and a medical ID bracelet?
Might -- and I know I am way out on a limb here -- might those serious. forward looking individuals be more likely to complete their education and be successful in careers?
I don't know about your senior year in high school, Mr. O, but mine did not have the magic health class that told me how to care for myself. You got much further in college than I did; maybe it was a 400 level course, or postgrad. But I have this sneaking suspicion that you describe a behavior and not a class.
Hat-tip: Prof Mankiw
UPDATE: I fixed the spelling of Orszag (was Orzag, mea culpa). Someday, I will tell you all the story of the Knoxville Law Professor I have proofreading for me. It's a good one...
May 28, 2011
A serendipitous review of the "Rant" category on this site revealed that, in its history, we've collectively published just FOURTEEN! Shame on us.
Here is the scoreboard to date:
It's a long weekend. The challenge is on!
March 11, 2011
The repercussions of the 7th largest earthquake in recorded history are just being understood but there's still time to take a shot at the happiest city in America and one of her sacred cows - windpow .. pow .. poof.
Whilst driving my one-ton diesel pickup (by myself) to pick up a lunch burrito I happened to pass Boulder's swank new "multi-use" development that occupies the old Crossroads Mall site. It's called Twenty-Nineth Street. (No, not 29th Street, "Twenty-Nineth Street.") On the most prominent corner of the property, 28th and Arapahoe, they've installed one a them newfangled "wind turbines." "Free energy from the earf" I think they call it. And on a day when wind had whipped a "controlled burn" out of control in the mountains, the weather reports warn of "60 mile per hour gusts" and the average wind speed at Atlantis Farm has been 15 mph or higher all morning the wind turbine is - not spinning. It twists in the wind alright, and the blades aren't completely frozen but if it completes a full revolution in a minute I'd be surprised.
Could it be that these things require, not just subsidized installation but subsidized maintenance? Stop. Stop! You're killing me!
October 1, 2010
Is This a Sick Joke?
While on assignment recently in Chicago, The Refugee had the occassion to drive on I-88 in the western suburbs. This would be unworthy of mention except that upon entering the highway he was greeted with a large sign proclaiming, "RONALD REAGAN MEMORIAL TOLLWAY." Seriously?!? Is this some Democrat pols idea of a joke? It's hard to imagine that The Gipper, who's signature issues were lower taxes and getting government out of the way, would want to be immortalized with a tax collection mechanism that impedes traffic.
April 11, 2010
"Capitalism is the only truth that keeps the nation healthy and fed."
I happened upon this on FNC's Huckabee show yesterday and have to share it, now and for posterity.
Actor Jon Voight, one year the junior of my 'mad-as-hell over the state of American governance father' uses his interview on the show as a platform for a ranting expose against the sitting President of the United States, except that he isn't ranting - he's sober as a judge and serious as a heart attack.
UPDATE: [12APR 12:38 MDT] I checked google news to see if any other media outlets were talking about the Voight letter. You can see all four related stories here. But you can't see the original story that I HT'ed anymore. Apparently AssociatedContent.com has blackballed it. And earlier today the original author, Marc Schenker, posted another story revealing the censorship. Of course that posting gets "The content you're looking for has been removed" treatment as well. But google saw it before it was yanked.
Associated Content Censored My Accurate Reporting on Voight's Criticism of Obama Associated Content - Marc Schenker - 19 hours ago today. As some of you have read, my article of today ACCURATELY REPORTED on Jon Voight's criticism of Barack Obama, which was delivered on Mike Huckabee's ...
Is this a genuine case of internet censorship? Anyone know how to access the google cache pages?
AssociatedContent.com "is an open content network. AC's platform enables anyone to participate in the new content economy by publishing content on any topic, in any format (text, video, audio and images), and connects that content to consumers, partners and advertisers."
Apparently some content is less equal than others.
Mega hat tip: The patriot who youtubed the Huckabee appearance - "DouggieJ." It may only be a matter of hours before youtube blows him away too.
Note: As of this UPDATE, the video has 18,458 views (compared to 196,251 who viewed 'Obama can't name any ChiSox players?')
December 22, 2009
He Hate Me
Capturing my thoughts in the wake of the Nebraska (and Louisiana and Vermont and Massachusetts and Connecticut and NEVADA) windfalls.
December 2, 2009
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
Coach Josh McDaniels has apologized to the six million viewers who heard him use bad language when (Dave Barry would herein point out that the author is not making this up) yelling at professional football players.
Y'know, I'm a bigger fan of civility than my blog posts let on. I watch the 1956 Stanley Cup finals and believe that we are really missing something not having Joe Louis Arena populated with fans in suits and ties. Yeah, they're all male and white, but the boorishness of society does get me down. Freedom and civility need not be mutually exclusive.
But, darn it all, I don't think anybody is too surprised that a pro football coach might use a few salty bon mots after his team gives up 15 ^%&%@ yards in procedure penalties in the %^&*$@ red zone when the team is trying to snap a &^*%$@# four game losing streak.
The broadcast was done by the NFL network, which gets to follow cable rules. The local FOX affiliate rebroadcast it. If we must have a witch hunt, I think they should have probably caught it. Personally, I would just say "Shit Happens" and move on...
But forcing the coach to apologize? I saw some smarmy nanny-moms on TV who were aghast. There is something really wrong here, that we can feign this hyper-sensitivity in an ocean of crassness.
November 2, 2009
A Philosophical Ramble
Ulysses Grant drops an interesting line in his (awesome, awesome, awesome) autobiography. He says -- during an uncharacteristic digression in the middle of military history -- that he "always thought the South could profit from defeat." He explains that the Confederate States were built on an inferior economic system and that both slaves and non-property holding whites would be better off under the North's economic system.
I'd suggest that the bulk of the country today, myself included, agrees with that. I got to wondering why "enforcing our values and way of life" is accepted for slave-holding States who were following the United States Constitution, but it was not acceptable for us to impose those same values on the indigenous peoples of America who had generally far worse governments than Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama. I’m very sympathetic to those who feel that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were forced on the returning States. But I think that is a procedural question, the abolition of chattel slavery by force is accepted mainstream thought.
This is the kind of thought that will ensure that I never hold elective office. If anybody wants to throw their futures away in the comments, I'd be extremely interested.
September 7, 2009
I Love Oil
(And why everyone else should too.)
JK recently heralded America's Petrosesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the first American oil well. We are quite enamored of the "black gold" on these pages. And why not? 3.8 gallons of oil derived gasoline (you may have heard of it - it's been used as a primary motor fuel for nearly a hundred years) which can be purchased on any street corner for about ten bucks, produce as much energy as an average lightning bolt (about 500 megajoules.)
And the safety of this miracle fuel is such that anti-industrial zealots like those on Dateline NBC have had to use remotely detonated explosives to recreate accidental fuel tank explosions.
But there's more to oil than gasoline. Much more. Modern necessities made from oil include jet fuel, propane gas, plastics, asphalt, and dozens of petrochemicals essential to hundreds of industries we could hardly imagine living without. (Paints, fertilizers and textiles to name just a few.)
I went searching for the historical significance of the Petrosesquicentennial and found the following graph of world population and income since 1500. It shows a precipitous rise in population around the time of the Industrial Revolution. But the per capita world GDP rose only 31 percent in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution (1820 to about 1870). In the next 30 years however, inflation-adjusted individual incomes went up another 45%, and 20 years later nearly doubled from there. Finally, by the end of the 20th century, individuals earned a whopping SEVEN TIMES what their ancestors did at the time commercial oil production began.
While the Industrial Revolution began in the early 1800's without oil it "centered on improvement in coal, iron and steam technologies." The truly modern developments "steel, electricity and chemicals" were hallmarks of the Second Industrial Revolution which, though not clearly delineated from the first, roughly coincided with the commercialization of oil in America.
So if you love iPods, cell phones, jet planes, mass transit, modern medicines, supermarkets, artificial light, white collar jobs ... and the income to pay for all of these and more ... you'd best come to grips with your closet love affair with oil.
UPDATE [10:43a EDT]: As often happens, I omitted a key argument in the thread. The point of all this was to set up the assertion that the advent of cheap and abundant oil was not only coincident with the Second Industrial Revolution, but catalyzed it. Try to imagine the course of the industrial age without it. Certainly a gallon of gas could have been replaced, say with 121 cubic feet of natural gas or 9 pounds of coal, but extracting and using a liquid fuel proved far more practical and economical than those gaseous or solid ones, at least for some uses. And I contend those uses were - and remain - important. Add to this the less obvious fact that many chemical uses of oil may be irreplaceable.
Oil has clearly fueled prosperity. Not only that, it did so for everyone.
October 22, 2008
American Journalism Dismantled by ... a Democrat
If John McCain is going to win this election it will be with the help of great Americans like Orson Scott Card. A science fiction writer (who's work dagny likes) he's also a Democrat and a newspaper columnist published in North Carolina. And according to Rush Limbaugh (where I first heard this) he's far enough left to be pro gun control. And yet, he takes American newspapers apart:
I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
Every blogger should link this column.
Every American should send it to his local newspaper.
September 22, 2008
If You Think the Price of Arugula is bad...
The Refugee was recently shopping and noticed that the price of his favorite cheese has increased from $7 to $8. What do they make this stuff out of - petroleum?
July 26, 2008
An Olive Branch from One America to the Other
John Edwards' greatest legacy in American politics may be in revealing the existence of "Two Americas" that uneasily coexist with each other in the same time and space on this continent. I propose the following olive branch, from one of those Americas to the other:
"You let us legalize drilling for oil and we'll let you legalize pot."
Now that's what I'd call a real kumbaya moment.
October 12, 2007
Two Personal Attacks
Don Luskin says "Conservatism is Doomed."
...when even reliable warhorses like columnist George Will start swallowing the Left's lies about economics. First it was Will's puff-piece adulating Austin Goolsbee, Barack Obama's economic hatchet man. Will's column was too crowded with charming lifestyle details about Goolsbee to bother to mention his 2005 "paper" claiming that any benefits of the Bush administration's Social Security reform proposal would be consumed in fees earned by the investment industry -- when, in fact, the administration's proposal specifically ruled out precisely the high-fee investment vehicles that Goolsbee used in his "study."
Conservatism may well be doomed, but Mister Will is not a reliable indicator. Will is "conservative" on some level, but he is "Washington establishment" far more than ideological. Will's whacks at President George Herbert Walker Bush gave us President Clinton as much as Ross Perot. I trust Will on Baseball, but not on politics.
While I am handing out disapprobation. I fell for the early reviews on Austin Goolsbee. He was associated with the University of Chicago (moment of reverence) and was recommended by a lot of libertarian bloggers. He has been a regular guest on Kudlow and Company, and while he is no doubt a bright guy, he truly is a party hack. He doesn't attempt an academic distance from politics, he proudly parrots the Obama/Democratic line.
Let's see, who else is on my list here: the impressionist who sings "Take me out to the ball game" on TBS every 17 seconds...
Posted by John Kranz at 5:28 PM
January 7, 2007
What Can Brown Do for You?
We love to shop online. Living on a farm and spending most of our time in town doing the ol' 9 to 5, it's incredibly convenient to point and click and have our "must haves" show up on the back porch some predictable number of days later. It also has a nostalgic element as I imagine my grandfather ordering from the Sears catalog decades ago.
Online tracking services make the experience even better. Until there's a blizzard the week before Christmas.
I don't begrudge UPS having delivery delays during the storm of the century. Particularly out here where the roads were frequently impassable.
I don't even really fault them for sending their employees home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, despite the fact postal carriers worked both of those days to help make Santa Claus proud.
What I do hold them accountable for is the gall or incompetence or both to tell a customer (me) on Saturday that my packages were "on the truck for delivery today" and then, when they didn't arrive, to tell that same customer (still me) that all UPS facilities were closed and that "only air shipments were delivered yesterday."
Had they told me this on Saturday I'd have driven to their distribution center to retrieve the items myself. Perhaps they consciously decided to lie to people to discourage throngs of angry Santa's helpers arriving on their doorstep. Who knows.
What I do know is that the week before Christmas is for shipping companies what the day after Thanksgiving is for retailers. It's their Super Bowl. It's their chance to rise to the occasion and demonstrate their commitment to customer service and to win customer loyalty for life. As far as I'm concerned, UPS laid an egg.
Now my occasions for yelling at the television aren't limited to pick-pocketing politicians, they also include UPS commercials.
What can Brown do for me? "Go to jail. Go directly to jail. If you pass Go, do NOT collect $200."
September 24, 2006
(this is the part where I channel Jerry Seinfeld)
What's the deal with liberals and their nicknaming of people?
How many different variations of George Bush are there?
I think it's evolved into Chimpy McBushburton or something.
But here's a new one.
Let's break this down.
1) Felix. Some how appealing to the whole Jewish thing. Perhaps some latent anti-semitism. Hard to say.
2) Allen. To make the nickname work, you need the connection to Senator Allen.
3) Macaca. Apparently it's a vicious ethnic slur that can be found in high abundance on liberal blogs. Incredibly no one seems to know what it really is, nevermind using it on a regular basis. Unlike the other vicious ethnic slur that dare not speak it's name.
4) Jr. His father's name was George Allen. A football coach, hall of famer, too. Diminutive, however.
April 28, 2006
MySpace: The End of the Internet As We Know It
Web2.0 is a hot buzzword.
So everyone's got to get in on the hype.
But the focus on the collaborative nature of these sites has been nagging at me. Sites like Friendster and Blogger that promote sharing and friend-making have been around for years with nowhere near the mainstream success. I've got a different theory. YouTube and MySpace are runaway hits because they combine two attributes rarely found together in tech products. They're easy to use, and they don't tell you what to do.
YouTube is actually pretty cool.
But I'm convinced you have to have a high threshold for pain to be a MySpace user. As a result of this article, I decided I'd see if any people from my high school were on there. (Bensalem Township HS, Class of 1995, btw)
Yes they are. (21 out of 450)
Unfortunately they have no self control when it comes to these pages. Is it possible to open up a MySpace page that doesn't peg your CPU @ 100% or kill your web browser? Not everyone wants to hear your favorite song when you load the page!
I finally opened up the web page source and found the host that serves the music, lads.myspace.com , put it in my hosts file pointing to 127.0.0.1 and now myspace is pleasantly quiet.
But that doesn't solve the problem of garishness. Which is why I bolded the above line.
Anyone can build a webpage. It's like 1995 all over again, except instead of obnoxious blink tags, we have superflous flash animations, multiple embedded videos, Bon Jovi and black text on a black background!
I shouldn't want to punch my computer when I want to see what old friends are up to.
I'm all for making the internet and computers easy. We all benefit.
I guess that's the downside of freedom to do what you want. No one's stopping you from being obnoxious... especially if you don't even realize it.
Posted by AlexC at 11:17 PM