November 29, 2007

The Rich are ewww Breeding...

People who can afford it are choosing to have several children, and sages in the media are sneering:
In richest Manhattan, an alarming trend has risen from the primordial ooze that is hedge-fund money. This trend is flooding the chic nursery schools,clogging the fashionable secondary schools and sending many a billionaire from a sports car into a giant gas-guzzling Denali. Yes, the hot accessory of 2007 is children—but not just one or two. It seems that fashionable women in Manhattan just can’t stop popping them out...

But I believe (subscribing to the maxim that the rich are just like us, but with more money) that there is more to this boomlet than just showing off. Perhaps they are trying to keep their numbers up so their kids don’t have to venture to Second Avenue for a play date. Perhaps the loneliness and isolation of wealth in the face of global suffering is causing the baby blitz.
See also:
It seems the rich are pumping out children (almost) like it’s 1899. Yes, the latest conspicuous consumption is conspicuous reproduction - uber-rich women giving birth to the beginnings of a softball team: three, four, five, even six, children.

Hey, what’s the biggie if they can afford it? Well, the question is, can the rest of us?

There’s something in this that stinks of what I call “show brats”: children as the latest fashion accessory. Less well-to-do people have them, too — they just have fewer of them, and are less apt, simply by virtue of income, to pass their children’s rearing off on “the staff.”
Is such writing the sign of a social conscience, or are very different attitudes embodied in the wannabe-hip NYC commentary?

I can't think of a better prognosis of a civilization's vitality than its people choosing to reproduce. Coming among many troubling cultural indicators, this news is extremely welcome.

Encounters While Grocery Shopping

I ran into Barack Obama at the supermarket and he asked for my support. When I declined, he asked if it was because he was black. No, I said, it was because it is irresponsible of him to run for President without executive experience, ideally as governor.

I got in the deli line behind Condi Rice, who told me she could never be bothered to run for President, but might accept the office if people asked her very very nicely. I said I wouldn't be asking her. Condi inquired if that's because she is black and female, and I replied that it's because she already seems in over her head running State. I did thank her for helping me realize how important an executive track record is.

In the checkout line, I told Fred Thompson he had my good regard but not my support. When Fred asked if the issue was his Southern accent, I said I'd just had that discussion with Barack and Fred should get a replay from him.

On my way out, Hillary Clinton demanded my vote. I raised the executive-experience issue and she snarled that she had a successful governorship and Presidency to her credit. Then she shouted that junk food would be illegal when she had something to say about it, grabbed my shopping bag, and threw it in the trash. Mike Huckabee was nearby, smiling during Hillary's tirade. He looked like he wanted to chime in but decided not to.

I really wanted to get home, but John Edwards came up to me in the parking lot. I said, "Look! What happened in the mall? An ambulance just drove in there," and he ran off.

All this time Jeb Bush had followed me around without saying anything, but he nodded effusively every time I mentioned experience. Mike Dukakis was collecting shopping carts in the parking lot, so I called him over and introduced him to Jeb. As I got in my car, a babbling Al Gore pointed at it and tried to block my way; he barely jumped aside as I ignored him and drove off.

November 24, 2007

A Transcendent New Metascience:
Quantum Ecocosmology

I founded it after reading "Mankind 'shortening the universe's life'" (here).

In Peter Woit's post, commenters WB and anon. come to the edge of the crucial conceptual chasm, but unfortunately they shy away from--anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it re the Templeton Prize--the bold cognitive leap which I take herewith:

The Multiverse is an All-Nurturing Overmother Who shelters Gaia and her sister worlds. Negative thinking releases cosmic cognitive pollutants that threaten not only Gaia but also her sisters and the Overmother Herself.

Toni Vernelli is on the right track, but stronger measures are needed.

Think globally multiversally, act locally.

Afterthought. Although biology and, arguably, computational science are ascendant, traditionally physics has been first among the sciences. Perhaps, like some civilizations, a science decays from within before it is overthrown from without.

November 19, 2007

Noteworthy Speech By Giuliani


Afterthought. Consider this extract about Clinton and the Spitzer proposal for driver's licenses for illegals:
First she was for the idea and supported Governor Spitzer who wanted to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Then she was against the idea. Then she was for and against the idea and then finally she said it should be decided on a state-by-state basis.


This is the only time in her career that she’s ever decided anything should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

You know something? She picked out absolutely the wrong one.


Right? I mean this is one of the areas that is given to the federal government to deal with under our Constitution, the borders of the United States, immigration...
Is this a coded way of asserting that state and local governments cannot take action against illegals?

November 17, 2007

First Impression of the 2008 Candidates

Qualified: Giuliani and Romney.

Arguably qualified: Clinton, Thompson, McCain, maybe even Richardson.

At least the field is better than the Three Stooges of Bush, Gore and Kerry.

Help might be on the way.

November 13, 2007

To Secure--with Manacles--the Blessings of Liberty for Ourselves and Our Posterity

The AP reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) - A top intelligence official says it is time people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people's private communications and financial information.
This guy should be fired and barred from working for the government, and any government contractor, ever again.

I doubt that even J. Edgar Hoover at the height of his power would have dared go this far.

Kerr's speech is here. Note the chummy interplay with the moderator.

Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address is here.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Yes, there's a war on. Yes, technology changes things. But Eisenhower spoke when the threat--the external threat, that is--was far greater than it is today.

Hillary Rodham Nixon

I didn't read Morris's book, but some time ago I perceived a similarity between Hillary Rodham C and Richard Milhous N.

Afaic the similarity is pretty obvious...I'm just linkin' to my thinkin'...

November 12, 2007

Climate Change

I remarked at Dinocrat that
I’m a global warming skeptic, not a global warming disbeliever.
I view anthropogenic global warming as
...a great issue for aging boomers who ‘had issues’ in the 60s and continue to have issues today. Al Gore has written:

We have the opportunity to become the Greatest Generation, responding to our climate debate – but only if we take urgent action to limit global warming.
Given the demagoguery, looniness, and civilizational deathwish among alarmists, it’s hard to keep an open mind about anthropogenic global warming. I support research on climate modelling and measurement, and I support research on reversible climate engineering. For example, Gregory Benford seems to be thinking constructively.
Linking to a news report on geoengineering, Instapundit warns
Be cautious.
Indeed. That's why my comment above specified reversible climate engineering.

November 9, 2007

Who But a Bigot Would Oppose an Employment Nondiscrimination Act?

Via Instapundit and Volokh, I see that
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 — The House on Wednesday approved a bill granting broad protections against discrimination in the workplace for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, a measure that supporters praised as the most important civil rights legislation since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 but that opponents said would result in unnecessary lawsuits.

The bill, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, is the latest version of legislation that Democrats have pursued since 1974.
Golly, who but a bigot is against nondiscrimination in employment?

I do not believe that this issue is serious enough to warrant federal intrusion into the private sector. Similarly, I oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment's intrusion on the states. The number of Republicans and Democrats who crossed party lines in both pieces of legislation is roughly comparable.

Afaic ENDA, like the FMA, is grist for a partisan constituency, an episode in the culture wars, and pork for lawyers.

I don't view either the so-called religious right or the so-called progressive left as qualified to govern the most advanced society of the 21st century. Nevertheless I concede that these factions may dominate our governance. If so, the odds that America will not remain the center of gravity of human progress will become a near-certainty.

A plague on both their houses.

November 8, 2007

Recycled Imbalances, Imbalanced Recycling

Dinocrat warns:
The massive build-up of unrecycled liquidity in a few exporting nations is one of the preeminent financial dangers of our time, and so far almost no one seems to be talking about it.
A scenario: You notice that public- and private-sector mismanagement has made the US economy wobbly, so you convert your large trove of dollars into a currency that you expect to hold its value against the dollar. You use that currency as collateral for sustained cumulative shorting of the US stock market, converting the proceeds of the short sales into the robust currency. When your selling precipitates a market break, US equities and the dollar crash together and your short-covering yields a dual profit.

IMO this kind of financial warfare is not in China's interest at present, but perhaps some oil producers would find it to their advantage and maybe there are hedge funds that bet on such a double-crash scenario.

November 7, 2007

The Dollar Should Stock Market May Be an Election Issue

On 19 January 2001, the day before Bush was inaugurated, the S&P 500 closed at 1342.54. As I write twenty minutes before today's close, it is at 1482.93. In recent years the annual standard deviation has been about 10%; historically it's been more like 20%.

There seems to be at least a one-in-eight chance (my estimates for various scenarios range from one-in-eight to seven-in-twenty) that Bush will leave the White House with the market lower than when he took office eight years before--lower in terms of a dollar which has plunged under his stewardship.

It's the economy, stupid. If the average citizen endures a recession or worse, it would intensify nostalgia for Clintonian prosperity--but how suitable is Hillary to cure a sick economy? Romney, on the other hand, has strong executive experience in the private, nonprofit and government sectors. Mitt's economic credentials are stronger than Giuliani's, and he seems a better choice than Rudy or Hillary to lead a turnaround. But if the Bush-Rove-Delay-Lott economic chickens are home to roost in 2008, how can a Republican, no matter how well qualified, be elected President?

Afterthought. Heaven forbid that the foregoing clears the way for a demagogue. A demagogic President would compound the damage while blaming Bush for the consequences.

November 5, 2007

The Dollar Should Be an Election Issue

This is disgraceful:
Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Gisele Bundchen wants to remain the world's richest model and is insisting that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar.

Like billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, the Brazilian supermodel, who Forbes magazine says earns more than anyone in her industry, is at the top of a growing list of rich people who have concluded that the currency can only depreciate because Americans led by President George W. Bush are living beyond their means.
Conceivably the damage that the Bush-Rove-Delay-Lott Republicans have done to America's standing in the world economy will eventually eclipse Bush's incompetence as a war leader.

This should be an election issue but, in the political big leagues, the straight talk required is probably perceived as electoral suicide.

Afterthought. During the Clinton-era Internet bubble, America was leading the world into the future; when the bubble burst, much of enduring value survived and continued to grow. During the Bush-era real estate bubble, America fabricated funny money; the aftermath is cruddy reposessed property.

November 4, 2007

The Pakistan Coup Etc

After a period of encouraging indications from Iraq, this wake-up call was unwelcome but probably inevitable. I remain inclined to believe that the Iraq invasion was a gross strategic blunder: that is to say, it would have been a strategic blunder if we had a strategy. While General Petraeus may turn a looming defeat into a victory, it's a victory in a battle that should not have been fought at this time.
Back when "Mission Accomplished" Bush was riding high, I would sometimes ask his supporters why we invaded secular Baathist Iraq when the enemy was Islamism. A typical response was that I didn't understand strategery guh-yuk guh-yuk.

Hear the wisdom of The Blessed Condoleezza:
Let me just say that we have an unfolding story in Pakistan. There appear to be authoritative sources, Pakistani television, saying that a state of emergency is going to be declared. We've not heard from President Musharraf, to my knowledge, yet.

I just want to be clear that the United States has made clear that it does not support extra-constitutional measures because those measures would take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule. And whatever happens, we will be urging a quick return to a constitutional order, we will be urging that the commitment to hold free and fair elections be kept, and we'll be urging calm on all the parties.
This tripe comes from America's top diplomat, who is a former National Security advisor and a former provost of Stanford University. What should our enemies and friends, and the American people, think?

Looking at the presidential line of succession, I go down to #5 (#6 if Bush is included) before seeing anyone likely to grow into the job.

Possible mitigations:
1. The military takeover in Algeria was not expected to block the ascendancy of Islamism there, but to date it has done so.
2. Bad leadership on our side does not mean that the enemy's leadership is superb.
3. An election is coming up. When I see a photo of Bush and Putin (or Bush and Vicente Fox, for that matter), I am embarrassed. I cringe. I might not feel that way with Hillary or Mitt in the picture, and I'm sure I wouldn't feel that way with Rudy. Thompson has yet to convince me that he wouldn't seem outclassed by Putin. Heaven save us from Obama and Edwards: like Gore and Kerry, they probably would be even bigger embarrassments than Bush. (And if we get another incompetent administration, embarrassment might be the least of my worries.)

November 2, 2007

"Lesbian" Hillary: Cui Bono?

Apparently Kausfiles was the pebble that triggered the Webalanche. Who tapped that pebble and who positioned all the dirt that is now sliding?

A Karl Rove hit job? It's true that Rove has left the White House, but it seems premature for the Republicans to go after Clinton this way.

Yet surely no diversity-celebrating Democrat would ever do such a thing...

(This post has speculated about the origin of the rumors, not about their validity or implications. Nevertheless, the possible Saudi connection warrants clarification. It's hard to see why the sexual allegation, whether or not it is verified, would be relevant to my voting decision.)

Afterthought. If Clinton were rendered toxic, Edwards' chances for a VP nomination would improve. The robotic Al Gore who blundered away the 2000 election couldn't have coordinated this kind of hit, but, come to think of it, I don't really know all that much about the upgraded model.

Second afterthought. And I was startled to realize that Obama's name never for a moment crossed my mind even though I've come to distrust him.