December 30, 2013

Belated Thought About the Obama Selfie Incident

At the Mandela memorial service, Obama took a selfie with the attractive Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. It's disputed whether Michelle was angry (but note that the previous link does not mention her changing places with Obama who thereby was no longer sitting next to the PM).

I am no fan of Michelle Obama:
Michelle Obama’s scowl is so ingrained that, figuratively and maybe literally, it is her expression in repose.
That said, one wonders if perhaps she has reason to scowl. At first blush it seems unthinkable that Barry would fool around like FDR, Ike, JFK, LBJ and WJC did. Why? (Another possibility is that Barry has reason to fool around.)

December 28, 2013

The WW1 Christmas Truce & US Partisanship

Worthwhile read about the truce here (HT: Ace). Two reactions:

1. Note that the truce only happened early in the war. Subsequently high commands clamped down and the misery of war took its down on latent goodwill.

2. The extracts of wartime propaganda reminded me of (much but not all) commenting in the political blogosphere. For example, the derangement at Little Green Footballs continues apace. Not a promising indicator for the future of American democracy. Ben Franklin warned that at some point a citizenry brings despotic government upon itself.

December 24, 2013

"Inequality: Government Is a Perp, Not a Bystander"

That's the title of Dean Baker's piece posted by a leftist think tank (HT: Instapundit). Public choice theory is not mentioned; unsurprisingly, people with political axes to grind are not enthusiastic about clear-eyed exploration of their motivations.

Also unmentioned is my notion about taxes and inequality:
From time to time I point out that, given a graduated income tax, income inequality maximizes the government’s revenue, all else being equal. In that sense, notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, income inequality is in the government’s interest—and the politicians know it.
(Otoh, that comment's concern about a VAT proved unfounded. So far.)

IMHO Baker is correct to write that:
Inequality did not just happen, it was deliberately engineered through a whole range of policies intended to redistribute income upward.
But he doesn't go far enough.

(When billionaires ostentatiously call for their taxes to be raised---but don't make donations to the Treasury---, I don't think they expect to lose money in risk-adjusted terms. IMO they are proposing a quid pro quo whereby the government protects their wealth from the vagaries of a market economy.)

Addendum 20140103: Roger Simon chimes in with some good lines, but IMO he doesn't go far enough. Per this post, Simon's "Soros Socialists" get a net benefit from the policies they espouse.

Is this a step toward full socialism? Maybe, maybe not; not immediately, anyway. Even if the statist crocodile eats the sorosians last, for the time being it protects them from attack via the free markets---and fattens them up.

December 12, 2013

Appalling, If True

A cancer patient who complained about his health insurance coverage being dropped, and an activist who tried to help him, have both been hassled by the IRS. (HT: Neo-Neocon and Ace).

Also astonishing is the claim that existing federal law does not allow cancellation of health insurance to people with life threatening conditions. The question, I suppose, is whether the Obamacare legislation preempts the previous law.

December 2, 2013

Orbital Tourism for ~$150K?

Eventually, according to Elon Musk.


And he'd like to get to Mars for $500K.

Though I wonder if the biological challenges, e.g. breeding and growing up in nonterrestrial gravity, may be more difficult than the astronautical ones.

November 28, 2013

November 26, 2013

Self-Recording Police?

No-brainer! Yes!, I say. Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin (HT: Instapundit) agrees: she required that stop-and-frisk encounters be recorded in parts of NYC with high incidences of such encounters.

1. The Reason article notes that such recordings are a win-win which deters both police abuse and false accusations by unscrupulous citizens. It has plausible suggestions for fine-tuning the policy.

2. It's too bad that this had to be imposed by a federal magistrate, rather than by the mayor or city council. I'm guessing that the elected officials are deterred by the clout of police unions.

November 14, 2013

Obama's Insurance Turnabout

I'm seeing claims that insurance companies can't adjust their business plans fast enough to correct the situation, even though they're being allowed to.

It's not what goes wrong that concerns politicians, it's who gets blamed. It's entirely possible that the Democrats are already gaming how to blame Republicans and insurance companies for next October's rate hikes, thereby using the debacle to gain votes. It's less likely that the Republicans are on to the possiblity.

Addendum 20131115. I had a little more to say here:
Howard Dean, yes, Howard Dean, was saying he isn’t sure the President has legal authority to allow the cancellations to be revoked.

Iirc, in his swing vote upholding Obamacare, John Roberts said it was not the job of SCOTUS to rectify bad legislation, only to rule on constitutionality. That statement should be put to the test.

Obama’s action should be litigated.
Litigated with a fast track to SCOTUS urged because this might be the most urgent situtation since Bush vs. Gore. And, importantly, litigated while remedial legislation is being pursued and publicized to the extent possible

Addendum 20131116.. This post was in good contemporaneous company: see Via Meadia and compare Politico.

Unfortunately True

This (boldface in the last sentence is mine):
Words that think for us

An accusation of “denial” is serious, suggesting either deliberate dishonesty or self-deception. The thing being denied is, by implication, so obviously true that the denier must be driven by perversity, malice or wilful blindness. Few issues warrant such confidence. The Holocaust is perhaps one, though even here there is room for debate over the manner of its execution and the number of its victims. A charge of denial short-circuits this debate by stigmatising as dishonest any deviation from a preordained conclusion. It is a form of the argument ad hominem: the aim is not so much to refute your opponent as to discredit his motives. The extension of the “denier” tag to group after group is a development that should alarm all liberal-minded people. One of the great achievements of the Enlightenment—the liberation of historical and scientific enquiry from dogma—is quietly being reversed.
HT: Judy Curry.

November 6, 2013

Cuccinelli Lost. Good!

Today's news: the sun rose in the east, and the Stupid Party stupidly lost another election they should have won.

Upon learning about his meddling with Michael Mann, I had no use for him. The notion of an ideologically motivated prosecutor using State power to assess unwelcome research is horrifying. My low regard for Michael Mann does not enter into the picture.

As I noted here and here, apparently Cuccinelli got the GOP nomination process reconfigured to his advantage. His people changed the process from an open primary not to a closed primary, but to a convention which his people packed.

Like George MacacAllen, Cuccinelli got what he deserved.

November 5, 2013

PJ Media Gets An Early Jump

Normally the Right waits until after they blow a winnable election to complain that Democrats cheat, but PJ Media's Bryan Preston makes the claim even before Virginia's polls close.

A naive commenter foolishly suggests that maybe Cuccinelli's situation has something to do with his being a terrible candidate. Predictably, a couple of people jump down his throat: Cuccinelli's problem, it seems, is that he is too doggone nice.

I've been tempted to reactivate my PJM registration. Note to self: stay resolute.

For Mayor-Elect de Blasio's Urgent Attention

I gather that deB will end or rein in the program because of racial profiling...and yet, African-Americans are, um, overrepresented in violent-crime statistics. What to do, what to do?

Simple once you think of it: race norming!

Hire a bunch of police to stop & frisk all racial groups in equal proportion. That will be a whole lot of police, but no price is too high to pay to avoid racial profiling. You'll also want to replicate the experience of being frisked by an officer of different race, so most of the new hires will be minorities.

Hurray for diversity!

November 1, 2013

Unfortunately This Great Idea Has Not Yet Been Implemented Properly

Marxism? Well, that too, but I meant Obamacare.

Maybe this post should have been titled Nobody Ever Lost Money By Underestimating the Intelligence of the American Public.

Another poll, by Rasmussen, is here; NBC poll, here.

The mixed signals from the polls imply that the issue is spinnable. No doubt the political pros, especially the Democrats, are taking heed. Note to the Stupid Party: it's spinnable by competent operatives, which includes you out.

October 30, 2013


The old: The buck stops here.

The new: What difference, at this point, does it make where the buck stops?

The newest: Whatever.

Addendum 20131103: "I won’t be surprised to see the Clintons claim, with a straight face, that everything was fine until Hillary left the State Department."

October 24, 2013

Civilizational Suicide: The Latest Fashion

Disdain and shaming of couples with more than two children. Instapundit calls it fecundophobia (here too).

Before the financial crisis, Wall Streeters were having lots of kids. So the signals are mixed.

(But of course we can't criticize never-married welfare mothers with multiple children and multiple fathers. That would be racist.)

October 23, 2013

I Didn't Know This

From a reader review of Harvey Silverglate's Three Felonies a Day:
... between 2001 and 2007 the Department of Justice (DoJ) opened investigations into seven times more Democratic public officials than Republicans.
Curious, isn't it, that this goes unmentioned by the people beating the tom-tom's about the Obama administration's abuse of the IRS?

That corruption is bipartisan does not make it more excusable. On the contrary, the fact that it is systemic makes it more serious.

Denmark Is a Happy Place

In fact, supposedly the happiest country in the world, according to HuffPo.

Why? Gender equality and support for families, among other things.

Sooo...what's the birth rate among these happy Danes? Not at replacement level. Odd that HuffPo doesn't mention that.

NB: I'm not dismissing what the Danes are doing. Maybe they're on to something. I wish them well. They're worth watching. However, it's not yet clear whether they have a sustainable society or whether,drawing down the social capital accumulated by previous generations, they're gracefully extincting themselves. Until their native population becomes self-sustaining (or not), the jury is still out. Their current birth rate makes their solution incomplete, and Incomplete is the grade I give.

They Named It the WHAT?!

Nowadays my life is a solitary one. I neither get out much nor keep up with trends.

Nevertheless, passing by a McDonald's, I was stupefied to learn that the company recently introduced a product they call the McWrap. The director of US marketing explains:
She added that the Premium McWrap platform itself was an example of a menu idea from other areas of the world that McDonald’s imported to the United States.
I'm guessing that they don't speak colloquial English in those areas of the world, nor, apparently, do they do so at McDonald's headquarters.

However, if the few reviews I've seen are any indication, the name is well chosen.

(The only comparison that comes to mind was told me by a plausible source back in the 1980s: some advertising genius pitched to An Wang, the founder and CEO of Wang Laboratories, the slogan Wang: The Chink In IBM's Armor.)

October 22, 2013

America's Future: California Shows the Way

Poverty. California's is highest in the nation. (HT: Instapundit.)

The GOP's corporatism is little better, if what I read about North Carolina is true.

The problem is the size and reach of government, not which party is in charge. They're both corrupt.

October 20, 2013

Obamacare and Obama GOTV

Legal Insurrection notes the discrepancy. I couldn't say it as well as David Gerstman did.

In fact I didn't say it as well, but I said it a week earlier.

October 17, 2013

A Religious Kook, I Suspect

A stenographer disrupted the House. Instapundit says she sounds like an Obama supporter. From the biblical flavor of her rantings, I'm guessing a religious nut. (Could be a congregant of a preacher like Jeremiah Wright, and thereby both.) We'll know soon enough.

Added before posting: Yup, she shouted "Praise be to GOD".

October 15, 2013

Here'a a Crazy Thought

The USA wouldn't be tied up in knots about the debt crisis if the government didn't have any debt.

Completely nuts, I admit. If anyone should happen to read this, please don't have the mental health authorities track me down.

I mean, who could have possibly foreseen today's precarious mess back when our wise, compassionate and prudent elites were making all those "investments"?

October 10, 2013

Planning for the Shutdown

Dinocrat notes that detailed planning was required to set up the annoying, visible, and unnecessary shutdowns. Who did it? Who gave the orders?

Yours truly
chimes in that this seems a promising plot (pun intended) for digging with the FOIA.

The Queen of Self-Reliance Didn't Tell Me This

States most affected by the federal shutdown include:
—D.C., Maryland, Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia have the most federal workers per capita and are disproportionately affected by the shutdown's immediate impact.

—D.C., Virginia, Alaska,New Mexico and Maryland receive the most federal contract money per capita, which means people in those areas stand to lose even if they don't technically work for the federal government.

—Small-business owners from the Dakotas, Colorado, Alaska and Michigan who are seeking funding are hurt most by an inability to garner Small Business Administration loans, as those states have displayed the highest small-business borrowing rates in recent years.
(Cf. Forbes...and consider the amazing resemblance between the CNBC piece and the prior Forbes one.)

Dukakis and Palin: the kind of "reformer" whose real complaint about the machine is that they're not in charge.

October 9, 2013

On Commenting in the Blogosphere

Thoughts here:
Yes, some people behave as though being too toxic to interact with means they “win”.

A thought or few have lodged in my brain to keep me sane online (to the extent that I am):

1. I am not obliged to have the last word. Getting (or foregoing) the last word does not mean I’m right and it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

2. For certain discussions: If an onlooker buys into my interlocutor’s “argument”, anything I say will not change their mind.

3. Some things are not worth the time to talk about.

4. I like to talk with people who have something to offer me, whether or not we agree, whether or not I persuade, am persuaded, or neither. If they have nothing to offer me, why am I talking with them?

And if my counterparty doesn’t view me similarly—it’s highly unlikely that they are Richard Feynman, posting anonymously from Beyond—, why are they talking with me?

5. Unfortunately, my belief in suasion by reason has declined since I went online. Some people in effect demand to be manipulated. (Nor am I necessarily always immune.)
I quit smoking a long time ago. Before taking the last and hopefully final plunge, I knew I'd have to quit eventually but wasn't ready. I'm developing a similar attitude toward comenting online.

That attitude is probably suboptimal. What I should do is develop a thick(er) skin about ignoring people with whom engagement doesn't advance my understanding.

October 6, 2013

A Simple Reason Why Republicans Lose

... swing voters distrust both parties wrt hidden agendas. That being so, they understandably vote for the party that offers them free stuff.
Abusive behavior directed at me in that thread was tolerated by the blog owner, whose position it supported. A few months ago I decided between subscribing to Hoyt's site and joining Ricochet. Apparently I chose wrongly and, unless something changes, will correct the mistake unless something changes by renewal time. Yet another reason why libertarians and conservatives lose: they either have forgotten or are unwilling to emulate what Reagan demonstrated about disagreeing without being disagreeable.

October 4, 2013

WWII Memorial Wired Shut


Sometimes a little thing is more revealing than a big thing.

Miriam Carey

1. Carey was the individual shot by DC law enforcement. An investigation should be conducted to determine whether unnecessary force was used. Was there a prospect of her gaining entry to high-value government facilities? Was there a plausible risk that she would do harm to high-value government personnel?

2. I'm thinking that some people are disappointed by how this turned out. Case in point (boldface mine):
Dr. Matt
10/04/2013 7:04:16 am PDT

Clint Van Zandt was reporting today that she was paranoid about the government and thought President Obama was spying on her. Wonder how this paranoia was fueled…….,.
The Tea Party made her do it!

3. What was involved in the "lockdown" of the Capitol? Were members free to leave if they wished? It would be a very bad sign if they weren't.

Added: Instapundit quotes Da Tech Guy along the lines of my #1. Not surprisingly, some of his commenters are frothing-mouth crazy.

Addendum 20131008: Instapundit and PJM's Jack Dunphy defend the police, but some commenters at each link aren't buying it.

October 3, 2013

The Bush-Rove-Delay-Lott Crowd's True Colors, Again

My post at LI:
Trent Lott trashed Ted Cruz…to a Mother Jones reporter.

The prominence of people like Lott and Rove in the previous administration is one reason why my contempt for Bush has not diminished despite the passage of time and his catastrophic successor.
Obama's disaster does not mitigate Bush's failure. "Miss me yet?" No.

Oh Yeah, the Snowden Affair

I haven't joined the Republican screeching about Snowden's accusations because I recall that Bush started, or accelerated, this stuff.

Lately there haven't been too many stories about evil Chinese hackers compromising our security so giving more power to our wise and good government was the only recourse. (Yes, Chinese hackers probably are compromising our security...and some people see that as an opportunity to further erode our liberty.)

September 24, 2013

September 18, 2013

Bush and Obama

Both had failed Presidencies, and there are no grades such as F+ and F-. Nevertheless, a distinction can be made:

During a placid interval in USA history---either Bush, for that matter---Bush would have been an unexceptional mediocre President whereas Obama would have been a disaster anytime.

Pigs Attack Chicken

Chicken, Alaska, population 17, was swarmed by an armed government "task force" in body armor. (HT: Instapundit and Fox News.)

Hegel, Insight, and Hindsight

Thread here at ATH. Is criticism of Hegel overdone because Marx adapted him? Dunno. In any event, the line
The owl of Minerva takes flight only at the onset of dusk.
is a fine one.

September 12, 2013

Marissa Mayer, Microsoft CEO?

It sounds improbable, but aspects of her personality seem Gatesian: the intelligence, the arrogance, the relentlessness, the insane workaholism, the insensitivity...

September 11, 2013

August 23, 2013

Very Belated Thoughts on the NBA Finals

1. I don't begrudge high salaries to people who excel. Too many professional athletes don't excel, and collect anyway. Too many are thugs.

Apparently LeBron James is shaping up as an exception. It's good to watch him (hopefully) mature and grow out of his juvenile arrogance.

2. It was a very good series played by well-managed franchises which expressed mutual respect. The saying that It's too bad somebody had to lose applied. A heart wrench for Tim Duncan.

3. The decisive seventh game almost went to overtime. That would have been something else.

4. The whole thing about championships has gotten grossly overdone in American sports. It's reasonable in the pros (though how statistically significant is a narrow win in a seventh game?), but at the college level it's become completely crazy.

August 21, 2013

Coptic Self-Determination? Arm the Copts?

Makes sense to me, but not to the doofi or worse who are ignoring the Iranian Green Movement.

Bad as their situation is, the Copts may be better off without American support: cf. the fate of Iraq's Marsh Arabs.

The US is not doing enough on behalf of religious communities (Christian, Hindu, Buddhists, etc.) which externally funded Islamists attack. NB: I am hesitant to interfere in internal conflicts, which is why I specified 'externally funded'.

Addendum 20130823. Megan McArdle suggests we offer asylum to the Copts. I had the same thought, but in contrast to McArdle (and Instapundit), I looked up how many there are: over 7 million.

I gradually have been getting disenchanted with McArdle. My guess is that a lot of knives have been sharpened for the release of her book.

August 18, 2013

The Religious Right: A Glimmer of Sanity?

Maybe. Rising Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore acknowledges that the Religious Right has lost the culture wars. (HT: Rick Moran/PJ Media.)

On protecting the unborn, Mr. Moore says he is a "long-term optimist" but "a short-term pessimist." He doesn't get excited every time a poll shows that more Americans are pro-life than pro-choice...

But he also believes that this battle will not be won in Washington: "You have to take it to a personal level." He touts the many faith-based pregnancy crisis centers that not only try to talk women out of having abortions, but also help with child-care, job training and housing—"all of the things that have brought them there in the first place."
Yours trulyy, after the 2012 election:
Social conservatives should stop trying to impose their religious views via the federal government. They should work to devolve social issues to the states: abortion, drugs, gay marriage, assisted suicide, etc.

Or maybe not: it's not clear whether the Religious Right understands why they lost the culture wars in center-right country that Reagan left them. Still, Moore's views are a hopeful development---hopefully not too late---and bear watching. Too bad that socons didn't think this way all along.

Speed Traps Are Sooo 20th Century

Why issue a ticket when you can seize the car and everything in it? In Tenaha, TX for example. The ACLU Apparently has stepped in. (The fever swamps have spilled into reality: I found the previous links here, at a conspiracy forum. Maybe one should say that the expansion of the authoritarian state has carried it into the fever swamps.)

The justification is the Drug War, yet this kind of action is only taken against the vulnerable. As the New Yorker piece notes, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid was not seized although his sons used it as an "emporium of drugs".

Stillman's New Yorker article makes me wonder about linkage between the Drug Warriors and the Religious Right.

August 17, 2013

Intelligence and Ideology

Unfortunately, the point is not whether liberals are smarter than conservatives/libertarians (or vice versa). The point is under what kind of system the ruling class is more prosperous.

IMHO a nation with market-based economy requires greater intelligence to govern than a state-directed economy---but the ruling class fares better in the latter. The American Founding may have been an exception.

The NSA Allegations

1. Diane Feinstein says everthing's fine. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, also Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, say it isn't.

2. Somewhere, Brezhnev is laughing.

August 15, 2013

Obama and Egypt

After the violence involving the Muslim Brotherhood, Barry is cancelling military exercises with Egypt.

Is he trying to reestablish Russian influence in Egypt, and to establish Chinese?

No, but with the like of John Kerry, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice steering foreign policy, he might as well be.

This is a tough, take-no-prisoners bunch. If you know what's good for you, don't disagree with them---if you're an ally or an American citizen.

Addendum 20130817. Amid their solicitude for the Muslim Brotherhood, has the Administration forgotten that Egypt's military leaders are also Muslims? Just askin'.

Addendum 20130821:
While this post was being written, there were already reports of contact between Russia and Egypt.

August 8, 2013

America's Arrested Development

Radley Balko reports that in 2011 there was one arrest per 25 Americans (HT: Instapundit). The great majority of these were not for violent crimes.

Is this country still a free and democratic society? Seems doubtful, though I'd like to see the historical numbers and comparison to other countries.

Stop Ogling Kate Upton, You Slavering Animals!

The poor lamb was distressed after her first Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue cover:
"After my first Sports Illustrated cover, I felt terrible about myself for a solid month," Upton tells Elle in its September issue. "Every single guy I met was either married or about to be married, and I felt like I was their bachelor present or something. I'm not a toy, I'm a human. I'm not here to be used. I am a grown woman, and you need to figure your s**t out."
So distressed, in fact, that she posed for the cover a second time.

Sad to say, Upton seems to be Republican. Is she positioning herself to run for office once the modelling/acting money dries up?

August 7, 2013

They Got Me Again!

A week or two ago, cross my heart, I had the idea of proposing that arrests for various crimes be race-normed for "fairness".

But I've been dawdling because the idea seemed abrasive and ridiculous, even for today's craziness.

Well, here it is, for real. They're already doing it in Maryland. I haven't seen anything that so flagrantly reveals that Obama is deliberately dividing the country rather than uniting it.

Richard Fernandez:
...It is not too late. Not yet. But the craziness has to stop now.

If there’s any hope within this editorial it is that the first glimmer of fear is now openly appearing within the liberal establishment. They’re beginning to suspect it’s not going to work; that survival is not guaranteed; Detroit can go broke, the pensions can be forfeit, their writ may no longer run in Cairo and American dominance — indeed their own jobs and lives — are not a given. It has finally occurred to them that the US can lose in the Middle East and beyond; that America can be defeated after all, if they behave stupidly enough.

But one must let them come to this realization themselves, just as if they were the first persons to think of it. Their vanity must be given its due. Because it is all they have. It impelled them to make history’s most stupid luxury purchase: the elevation of Barack Obama to President of the United States. That memory is embarassment enough for anyone. Let them eat crow in peace.
In principle, it is not too late. As a practical matter...

August 2, 2013

July 28, 2013

Chinese Genetic Research

Wired on Chinese wunderkind Zhao Bowen, who is researching the genetic basis of intelligence (HT: Instapundit):
He and his collaborators, a transnational group of intelligence researchers, fully expect they will succeed in identifying a genetic basis for IQ. They also expect that within a decade their research will be used to screen embryos during in vitro fertilization, boosting the IQ of unborn children by up to 20 points.
The claim must be taken with salt, given the level of BS in cognitive science. However, IMHO it's likely the timetable, not the outcome, which may be wrong. And there is the potential for catastrophe: see Philip K. Dick's Our Friends from Frolix 8.

American religious kooks will not like this at all. They also won't like the opening of the Wired piece:
Zhao Bowen is late for a Satanic heavy metal concert.
(Satanic heavy Beijing? Really? This ain't your ancestors' Confucian austerity.)

The nation that invented go is putting down chips where they expect the future action to be. Success is not assured, but one wonders whether or if corresponding efforts are proceeding in the West---and whether there would be political pressure to the contrary (the Precautionary Principle in Europe and America, also the religious kooks in the about strange bedfellows).

Addendum 20130801. When Westerners sailed into Asia centuries ago, they found the locals entangled in religious and political systems that rendered them unable to resist the incursion. How the worm has turned.

July 15, 2013

Zimmerman Verdict

Rapper Lupe Fiasco suggests the black community take a hard look at the many cases of black-on-black violence. His tweet got more support than I expected. The forces of chaos are winning, but the forces of good are still around.

July 10, 2013

Make Valerie Magic Even More Magical!

Background here, here and here, for example.

A couple of suggestions, posted here as a public service.:

1. President Obama, direct America's Poet Laureate to compose an Ode to Valerie Jarrett to be read on prime time TV while video of Jarrett's slum properties is shown.

2. Have the words, or separately commissioned lyrics, set to music and sung, in prime time of course, by a diverse™ choir. Someone whose link I didn't save suggested that the tune be 'To Know Him Is To Love Him'. I suggest opening with that, then breaking into a gospel beat.

July 8, 2013

"Administrative Searches"...Using SWAT Teams

Radley Balko reports. The raids are misrepresented as administrative exercises so the police don't have to satisfy the criteria for a warrant.

Balko has a book out, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's not within my current budget but I hope it does well. I'd like to hope that people will pay attention.

However, I have a quibble about the title. Warriors fight people who can fight back. Warriors persevere under danger and adverse odds. Heavily armed people in battle armor who break into neighborhood poker games are not warriors. A mot juste escapes me; every phrase I can think of is, to put it very mildly indeed, highly indecorous. Addendum 20130711. Maybe it's not a mot juste, but goon is a word that comes to mind.

America's governance is no longer legitimate.

But we have to give law enforcement the tools it needs, right GOP? Democrats, what have you criminalized today?

Welcome to Another Episode of...Celebrity Urination!

Or defecation.

What else is left to do?

How brave. How transgressive. How challenging of preconceptions.

When they're flouncing around in bondage outfits---but don't call them sluts---(and Fifty Shades of Grey is a bestseller), what else is left to do? Get the American flag involved, I suppose.

NB: I acknowledge the right of consenting adults to do as they please in private. However, a society which tolerates this kind of behavior in public (or has to use the force of the State to forbid it) is in trouble. Decadence.

Addendum 20130710. Reading this, I acknowledge that celebrity masturbation might precede the above. Already sexual fondling can be seen in public.

July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday & Get Well Soon

My July 4th greeting for the country.

Addendum 20130708: From the Diplomad:
I always have loved the 4th of July. It is pure Americana. No other nation on earth traditionally has shown such joy in celebrating its creation. I have been to lots and lots of national day celebrations around the world. Most are at best joyless affairs, e.g., lift a glass to the monarch, and many involve a lot of whining, e.g., everything bad is the fault of the colonialists. Ours, however, was always an optimistic, happy event...

For the first time, I am having a hard time, very hard time, recapturing that air of optimism. Everywhere one looks, one sees the ravages of the semi-totalitarian ideology that has seized our ever-growing government...

Sexual Assaults in Egypt

From Mubarak's ouster until now, I have viewed Egyptian political turmoil with reserve.

While the Islamists were ascendant, there were at least three Western journalists sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square (I stopped reading the Google output at three): here (Lara Logan), here (Natasha Smith), and here (Sonia Dridi).

Another one
during the recent anti-Morsi protests. According to Human Rights Watch (via Drudge) and others, sexual assaults continue to be widespread. They are reasonably well organized wrt how the victim is isolated and her would-be rescuers fended off.

Who is responsible? Is it just Islamists or does a substantial minority of Egyptian males feel free to act this way?

July 1, 2013

Algeria...and Egypt?...and maybe Turkey?...Iran??

A few years ago, iirc, it was reported as inevitable that Islamists would take over Algeria via a combination of electoral success and insurrection. Yet the military prevailed.

The Algerian example had slipped my mind while I watched the goings-on in Egypt. I wish (sane, decent members of) the Egyptian people well.

I bet Erdogan is watching.

Some dominos are resisting the efforts to topple them.

As events unfold in Turkey and Egypt, what side is Obama on? What side was he on in Iran?

Afterthought: Include Hillary in those questions about Obama.

June 30, 2013

The Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

I can take homosexual marriage or leave it. Discarding millennia of tradition in a burst of enthusiasm is something I have reservations about. (Millennnia of tradition were discarded when slavery was abolished. Yeah, yeah.)

My fundamental concern is not about the decision's merits or lack thereof, but about what it says about American culture. Seventeen years ago, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed overwhelmingly (Senate totals are here and House, here). Now we are dropping a bedrock assumption of our culture because of the efforts of a small but highly influential pressure group (not because of the merits of legitimate pro & con arguments or the fundamental importance of the issue...spare me).

The DOMA decision suggests the same cultural frailty which the redefinition of 'gay' did.

It also suggests that the country as a whole does not buy the stupidity, corruption, hypocrisy, incompetence, and lunacy of the GOP's religious kooks social conservatives. (Maybe Ted Cruz has the savvy to whip those clowns back into a winning coalition. Though wishing him well, I'm not sure anyone can do it at this point.)

Somewhat OT: Back in '09 I described Meghan McArdle's discussions of gay marriage as classic. Those links no longer work, but the material is archived here and here. Maybe McArdle got tired of paying server costs for her defunct site, or maybe her views have evolved.

Also somewhat OT: I'm for civil unions. When the country is divided on an issue, except in very exceptional circumstances I favor keeping the feds out as much as possible and leaving the matter to the states, or to the people. However, this post is about the cultural implications of the SCOTUS decision, not about the issue itself.

June 25, 2013

Triskaidekaphobia Done Right

As dicussed here, it is superstitious twaddle to fear the appearance of the sequence (1,3). However, avoiding all numbers which are evenly divisible by...a certain just sturdy mathematical common sense.

June 23, 2013

Illegal Bulletproof Vest?!

For what possible reason would body armor be illegal? It's harder for the cops to shoot you?

If the government could, it would remove citizens' right to self-defense. It's doing its best.

When Crazies Make Sense... know things have really gone to hell.

Maybe the greedy businessmen now running the Republican Party should talk with their Hispanic maids sometime. Ask Juanita if she'd like to have seven new immigrants competing with her for the opportunity to clean other people's houses, so that her wages can be dropped from $20 an hour to $10 an hour.

A wise Latina, A.J. Delgado, recently explained on why amnesty won't win Republicans the Hispanic vote -- even if they get credit for it. Her very first argument was: "Latinos will resent the added competition for jobs."

But rich businessmen don't care. Big Republican donors -- and their campaign consultants -- just want to make money. They don't care about Hispanics, and they certainly don't care what happens to the country. If the country is hurt, I don't care, as long as I am doing better! This is the very definition of treason.
Boldface mine.

AVOID THE NEED FOR SPYING USING ONE NOT-SO-WEIRD TRICK, i.e. don't accept as immigrants the populations from which domestic terrorists are recruited.
We have created two huge problems where none existed before -- domestic terrorism and government spying -- all to help the Democrats win elections by changing the electorate.
IMO the ruling class is not not in the least squeamish about spying on its citizens. They've always wanted a pretext and now they've found one. They're not happy about domestic terrorists of course, but they may feel, even if they don't admit it to themselves, that the benefits---to them---outweigh the drawbacks. How do the police justify a police state without threats?

Rubio and the American Worker

Rubio aide:
“There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,” the Rubio aide told Lizza. “There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly."
The image at the link captures Rubio's inner sleazebag well.

Ah, don't worry, Marco. Make a speech bashing abortion and all will be forgiven.

What's next? Will the ruling class hire foreign mercenaries to protect them from their own citizens?

June 22, 2013

Does 'Peer Reviewed' Mean Only Peers Get Reviewed?

After being recently published in prestigious psychology journals, papers from prestigious institutions were resubmitted to those same journals under the names of fictitious authors with fictitious, non-prestigious bylines. 25% of the papers were caught at submission by a small minority of editors and reviewers. The great majority of the remainder, which passed through the regular refereeing process, were rejected for publication. (HT: Instapundit. See also yours truly at ATH.)

(Senior author Stephen A. Ceci studies, among other things, sex differences in cognitive performance.)

...continues surfing for info & links...

Oh, good grief! Speaking of shoddy review practices, Reynolds neglected to note, and possibly to notice, that the Ceci-Peters article was published over thirty years ago. Given contemporary beliefs like Global Warming, No Global Warming, Creationism, Diversity, Blastocysts Are People, etc etc etc, the overall situation might have deteriorated since then (notwithstanding cyber-resources which have become available to check for plagiarism).

Here is a (relatively) recent examination.

June 20, 2013

Kenneth G. Wilson 1936-2013

My reaction is here:
During roughly the same time frame in which Wilson was doing his scaling-based work, Mandelbrot was formulating (and popularizing) fractals.

In my amateur opinion each was uninfluenced by, and possibly unaware of, the other’s progress. but in a sense they approached the same monolith from very different directions.
Maybe, in part, I did not make a post about Mandelbrot's passing because I prefer a researcher who sticks to his last to one who trumpets in self-promotion.

Even though Mandelbrot's flogging of fractals was arguably necessary to get the concept on the map, his (distinctive and undeniably important) work always struck me as a bit tainted by flakiness and not as deep as he pretended. Wilson, otoh, worked on very hard problems and a cheering section was needed to bring his work to wider attention which remained mostly restricted to the scientific community. Mandelbrot was his own cheering section.

Like commenter King Ray wrote at Woit's blog: Lightspeed, Kenneth Wilson.

Morally Rudderless

1. When the Western democracies are lectured on foreigh-policy morality by a Russian despot, things are very awry.
...After his meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, in opposition to arming the rebels, Putin declared: "You will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras. Are these the people you want to support? Is it them who you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to humanitarian values that have been preached in Europe for hundreds of years."
(HT: Instapundit.) Humanitarian values preached in Europe for hundreds of years? That choice of words would leave a mark if the Europeans had any shame left.

2. There was a kerfluffle recently about Putin supposedly stealing the Superbowl ring of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; for example, see here, here, and here. Obviously there is room for doubt, but in this post I'll take the accusation at face value. Three comments:

a. The pressure put on Kraft to keep silent is yet another indicator of the Bush administration's fecklessness.

b. Discrediting election opponents by getting confidential records is how Obama won elections in Illinois. Speaking of fecklessness, is he trying to operate that way against Putin?

c. Some acrimony existed back when Patriots coach Bill Parcells---not widely viewed as a knight in shining armor---left the team. Iirc columnist Will McDonough wrote a pro-Parcells piece claiming that Kraft's behavior was less than exemplary during the affair. Kraft is an Obama donor. Just sayin'.

Addendum 20130729.
Re #1: But David Cameron is for gay marriage, so no biggie about the cannibalism thing. Priorities, you know.

June 16, 2013

Socons Identify Winning Issue...Abortion?!

The message at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference: Don’t stop talking about abortion and marriage. “The Republican social issues we believe in are more popular than our economic agenda,” said one speaker.
He may havea point, but not the one he thinks he has.

There are worrisome trends in American culture for which a serious social and political price may be exacted from the nation. However, just because something is a bad idea does not mean it should be made illegal. Just because something is immoral does not mean it should be made illegal.

Moral derpitude is not the answer to moral turpitude.

Computer-Generated Proofs

Despite the all to evident, and dangerous, flaws in our society and human civilization, there are areas where progress continues.

A few years ago, Microsoft researcher Georges Gonthier and INRIA (France) collaborator Benjamin Werner recast the computer-combinatorial proof of the Four-Color Theorem into a logically transparent format Last year, Gonthier and collaborators completed a computer-logical proof of something called the Feit-Thompson Theorm, which has an important role in modern mathematics.

Why might Microsoft be funding this kind of thing?
But the research could also have an impact beyond mathematics. Microsoft hopes to develop a similar system for checking the logic used in computer programs, which could pre-empt some unforeseen bugs that cause programs to crash.
(Also, Bill Gates took Harvard's hardest undergraduate math course before he dropped out.)

Abstruse Goose: All math is applied math...eventually.

June 15, 2013

Strangling the Space Industry?

The Economist reports (HT: Instapundit):
The first obstacles facing any astropreneur, in the West at least, are America’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations, known as ITAR. Like guns and tanks, almost all rocket systems and space components require a licence for export. This includes shipping them abroad, but a licence is also needed if components are worked on, or merely shown to, a non-American. Tight ITAR controls on commercial satellite technology are reckoned to have almost halved American satellite manufacturers’ global market share since 1999. Space-tourism firms may even need export licences to carry foreign passengers on sub-orbital spaceplanes. Virgin Galactic, one such firm which hopes to start operations in New Mexico later this year, received an exemption from ITAR by designing its procedures so that passengers do not see what happens behind the scenes. But ITAR seems likely to complicate the company’s long-term plan to launch from a spaceport in Abu Dhabi.
Having believed that low-cost foreign entrants had taken away business, I hadn't realized that ITAR had been that devastating.

The article also mentions insurance.

And regulation:
SpaceX, a company that has already made two successful cargo deliveries to the ISS, is modifying its Dragon spacecraft so that it can carry up to seven astronauts. This means working alongside and ultimately being certified by NASA officials, who are writing regulations literally on the job. SpaceX hopes to launch its first manned mission by 2015. If it does not get airborne before the FAA’s certification exemption expires, whether in 2015 or later, the company may face two sets of regulations. “When the FAA does step in, if they have safety requirements that are completely different from the ones NASA has put forward, then we have a big problem,” says Garrett Reisman, a former astronaut who works for SpaceX.
It's likely that FAA and NASA will start a turf war, so expect a big problem.

Finally, of course, the UN.

Commercialization of space is one of the few things that Obama supposedly was good on. But, to quote Instapundit, consistency is not his strong suit. But, to be fair, no one has ever really demanded it of him.

June 13, 2013

A Retro-Upgrade to the Spoils System?

Honestly, we might be better off abolishing the civil service and going back to the spoils system. At least then there’s no pretense of fairness, and you know who to blame.
Civil Service professionals overwhelmingly donate to the Democrats (HT Instapundit). When the system has been captured by a single party, the rationale for a nonpartisan, permanent Civil Service has disappeared. In fact, we might be better off with election-induced turnover.

Term limits for senior civil servants? If they're so competent, they will have ample opportunities in the private sector.

There's no good solution because high-level expertise truly is necessary. However, when the system gets partisan enough, the question arises of how much expertise there actually is.

June 12, 2013

I Knew About Obama and Chris Matthews' Leg...

...and David Brooks and Obama's pants crease. I just learned about Sarah Palin and Rich Lowry's starburst.


How many guilty men should walk free so an innocent man is not convicted?

How many fraudulent votes should be tolerated so a legitimate voter is not barred from voting?

How many illegal aliens should be allowed to stay/enter so a legitimate immigrant is not ejected/barred?

Nobody wants to talk about tradeoffs.

June 9, 2013

Should the USA Control the Internet?

Not only do the recent NSA revelations hurt American Internet companies, they give grist to the mill of the repressive regimes and UN bureaucrats who keep trying to seize control of the Internet. I look for this to emerge as a talking point.

Yessir, America's intelligence professionals sure are smart. As are Americans who are making exaggerated allegations for partisan or business reasons.

Addendum 20130612. It begins. According to Instapundit, the Europeans are not pleased. IMO there will be more. Bureaucratic attacks take time to set up.

Addendum 20131017. It continues. (HT: Instapundit.)

June 2, 2013

Porn and Copyright

This kind of trolling makes me think that Taiwan has it right: pornography should not receive the protection of the State via copyright.

Newsflash for control freaks: that it shouldn't be subsidized doesn't mean it should be outlawed.

And yet...

Is it out of the question that someday the sex industry will participate in pioneering technologies, e.g. immersive experiences with sex robots, that will be adaptable for socially beneficial purposes? The key word is someday. The burden of proof lies with those who want to turn the power of the corporatist State should not be unleashed against consumers, which should never be done lightly.

North Carolina, a Model Conservative State

Last November the GOP won both houses of the legislature and the governor's mansion. And here they go:
Tesla Motors is fighting a bill in North Carolina that would effectively ban the company from selling its electric cars in the state, pitting it against auto dealers who say the car maker has an unfair advantage selling directly to consumers online.
An LGF commenter:
...Now we get to see what a conservative, free-enterprise government can achieve.

It all depends on what the meaning of ‘free enterprise’ is. In NC, it means that enterprises like car dealerships are free to bribe Republican legislators to keep superior technology from being offered to their constituents.

Afaic this is exactly how the Republicans operated under Bush/DeLay/Lott. And this is exactly how they’d operate if they got the White House and Congress back.

They’re not the party of free markets, they’re corporate whores.
More Republican governance.

Not that the Democrats, given their way, would be better. That's not the point. The point is that both major parties have Big Government agendas among which the overall welfare of the nation is a minor concern. It's not a partisan problem, it's a ruling-class problem.

Ayn Rand, Marxist?

Ingenious take at LGF:
In my opinion, she is a Marxist, or more correctly the Marxist equivalent of a Satanist. She accepted the Marxist worldview, but inverted it. Good became evil and evil, good.

Her works read like Soviet propaganda, save that the villains in Soviet works, the individualistic capitalists are the heroes in Rand’s.
Perceptive. It may well apply to libertarians and conservatives other than Rand, especially in today's polarized environment.

June 1, 2013

Mexico > USA ?!

It's the tenth-happiest country in the world. America is not on the list.

I don't necessarily take this at face value, but it's a reminder that neither should the depiction of Mexico as a a corrupt backwater run by drug gangs be taken at face value.

The USA also is not one of the Economist's top ten countries to be born in today.

May 30, 2013

Obvious Question, Obvious Answer

Where are the moderate Muslims? Why don't they oppose Islamist terrorists more strongly?

This and this aren't authoritative references, but I've read elsewhere and it seems plausible that most Muslim violence is directed against other Muslims.

While that answers the question, presumably there's more to the situation.

Unlikely Pair

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Cynthia Tucker and the Hoover Institution's Michael Finn.

Cynthia TuckerVoting Rights Act: I was wrong about racial gerrymandering
Unfortunately — like so many measures designed to provide redress for historic wrongs — those racially gerrymandered districts also come with a significant downside: They discourage moderation. Politicians seeking office in majority-black or –brown districts found that they could indulge in crude racial gamesmanship and left-wing histrionics.
As Richard Harpootlian (cq), chairman of the South Carolina Democratic party, told me: “When the only issue is race, idiots win, black and white.”

...Particularly lamentable is to see academic standards for fourth graders turn into a “tea party” issue that’s used to bludgeon GOP office holders to repudiate a sound reform out of fear that they’ll be clobbered from the right during the next Republican primary. (One sorry outcome of both parties’ twenty-year quest for “safe” legislative seats is that nearly all of today’s credible electoral challenges come from the fever swamps and fog banks within the parties.)
The thrust of Finn's piece is that grassroots conservative activists are wrongly opposing a voluntary set of educational standards that was developed in a federalist spirit.

Give the Position to the Best Qualified? Fascism!

Via Instapundit, Advice Goddess, and Michael Kinsley, the dean of Johns Hopkins Medical School commented on Ben Carson's disapproval of gay marriage:
"It is clear that the fundamental principle of freedom of expression has been placed in conflict with our core values of diversity, inclusion and respect," Rothman said.
I didn't get the memo, or see it in the Constitution, that diversity and inclusion are core values. They certainly aren't mine. (Respect, yes, because of the fundamental dignity of each human being.)

...My analysis is that, at a crucial moment, the dean failed to defend a real core value of the university: tolerance.”

Free speech and tolerance were only important back when communists and gays were being gone after. Now that the worm has turned, those bourgeois values no longer obtain.
Free speech, free inquiry, and tolerance were viewed as vulnerabilities and exploited accordingly. Common decency is for naifs.

Totalitarian propaganda contrasts hypothetical utopias with the imperfections of democratic republics. When the audience is dumb, who can successfully argue against utopia?

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Walter Russell Mead:
...Those who die for freedom, or to protect their homes and families from invaders and aggression cannot be pitied and dismissed as victims. They must be honored and respected as warriors, as men whose service ennobled them and calls forth an answering sense of dedication among the living.
As should the conscripts who did not want to fight, but went and did their duty even unto the ultimate price.
Pity and compassion can be noble emotions, but wallowing in these feelings is not what Memorial Day should be about. Our duty to the fallen is not just one of remembrance, or of caring for the wounded or those the warriors left behind. We also owe a debt of emulation: to continue to fight and if necessary to die for the great causes of our time. To fight an ideology of hatred that masks itself as religion is a noble and a generous thing to do; those who give their lives in the fight against this great evil are not victims. They are heroes, and they deserve to be remembered as such.

...The generals who ordered those boys and young men into No Man’s Land in Flanders were incompetent bunglers more often than not. This does not vitiate the heroism or render meaningless the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives in that war.

The Americans who have fallen in battle, and especially those who have fallen since 9/11, demand more from us than our pity. Their sacrifice demands that we live up to the values for which they gave their lives. Their memory demands that we embrace the generosity with which they placed themselves in harm’s way for our sake and that we dedicate ourselves to the values of liberty and toleration whose banners they followed to the end of the world.

May 24, 2013

Randians Strike Me as Nuts, But...

...there's this. Multiculturalists...
...hold that the basic unit of existence is the tribe, which they define by the crudest, most primitive, most anti-conceptual criteria (such as skin color). They consequently reject the view that the achievements of Western— i.e., individualistic— civilization represent a way of life superior to that of savage tribalism.
(HT Instapundit. Boldface is mine.)

Sometimes the village madman is the sanest guy in the place.

Such times aren't the best of times.

May 21, 2013

Social "Conservatives" on the Administration Scandals

This is terrible! Our system of government is in danger! terrific! Now we can outlaw abortion and gay marriage!

(And impeach Obama, of course.)

The people who wrecked the Reagan coalition will blame anyone but themselves for the genuinely alarming condition of the country.

Ramesh Ponnuru gets it. (Last week I posted Is Impeachment Talk a Trap? Yes It Is!)

May 18, 2013

Omen? Metaphor for Embittered US Politics?

Two bald eagles fought in midair, locked talons, and crashed to the ground. One flew away; the other is expected to survive.

The national bird. Usually depicted as proud and dominant. The picture at the link is creepy.

It would have been really creepy if they'd died.

May 16, 2013

What the Hell Is Wrong With Me?

The Left screams that the Right is crazy. The Right screams that the Left is crazy.

From where I sit, they both look crazy. (Ditto for the libertarians, commies, etc.)

Who am I to criticize? I'm sure as hell no hero. No saint. No mental or moral giant.

What the hell is wrong with me?

I'm lonely.

May 15, 2013

Is Impeachment Talk a Trap? Yes It Is!

The Politics

Da Tech Guy warns that the Left is pitching in. He discusses the politics of Watergate, what had to happen and what had to not happen to bring Nixon down.

That's all valid, but IMHO the Clinton impeachment is at least as instructive. Consider the 1998 midterm elections:
The balance of the Senate remained unchanged at 55-45 in favor of the Republicans. Because of gains made in the House of Representatives, it was the first time since 1934 that the out-of-Presidency party failed to gain congressional seats in a mid-term election, and the first time since 1822 that the party not in control of the White House had failed to gain seats in the mid-term election of a President's second term.
The Democrats would looove to make the 2014 midterms a national election, i.e. a repeat of 2012. Protect the President! Protect the Constitution! Protect the nation! Protect them from evil Republicans, of course.

Is the Right dumb enough to fall for this? Well, there are reasons why they're called the Stupid Party. Some of them have been howling for impeachment all along, a fact which the Left will not decline to mention.

The Merits?

Obama is a Chicago machine politician with ties to race hustlers and violent radicals. His favored Senate-race opponents were destroyed with "illicitly obtained, lurid allegations from their pasts", so I am shocked, shocked at the recent revelations.

May 14, 2013

Famous Churchill Quote Is Outdated

Attributed to Churchill (?): A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

You wish. Modern communication technology makes the former speed of dissemination glacial by comparison. The truth also gets help from Google and such, but the lie's advantage during Churchill's time has grown enormously.

Moreover, the lie itself has been made obsolete by Frankfurtian bullshit.

May 12, 2013

Climate Analogs in the Laboratory?

Jack Risko is a smart, savvy aerospace CEO with an investment banking background who occasionally posts about climate change. He has interesting things to say although he persists in thinking he can crack the thing on the back of an envelope.

His latest is here. I am submitting the following as a comment:
1. This conference focuses on theory but Paul Williams' presentation, the second talk on the list, touches on the kind of thing you have in mind. See also Schumacher's talk and perhaps others.

2. I had a similar idea: build a miniature analog of the Earth and include the heat flow from the Sun.

How to scale everything perplexed me, though. For example, the stratosphere extends up to about 30 miles on a planet whose radius is 6000 miles. Not only that, the dynamics within the atmosphere is complex. How do you infer what happens on the Earth from what happens in the scale model (if you can even build it)?

Nevertheless, IMHO suggestions like yours have merit as exploratory research. How well can current scientific models characterize simplified heat transfer environments? If the models work well there, that somewhat enhances confidence wrt their applicability to the Earth. If they don't work well there...

May 10, 2013

Reynolds' Fourth Law: A Modest Proposal

The first three:

1. Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.

2. The more a government wants to run its citizens’ lives, the worse job it will do at the most basic tasks of government.

 3. Whatever politicians control, they will use against you to get what they want.

Actually, the third has been proposed by Will Collier. Reynolds has not explicitly embraced it.

So here is:

0., 3., or 4. When confronted with a public policy decision, politicians will prefer the option that maximizes graft.

The Right to Print Weapons is the Right to Be Free?

The federal government is trying to prevent CAD files for printable weapons from being displayed online. As Glenn Reynolds notes, they (the Clinton administration) tried to do this with cyptography.

Will they go SOPA on 3D printers by trying to cripple them and/or prevent the price from dropping?

Addendum 20130512: When I made this post, I was unaware that on 20130504162807, AR15 forum member grendelbane had written:
My new sig line may be, "The right to print weapons is the right to be free", with apologies to A. E. van Vogt.
The linked site does not assign addresses to individual posts, so click the link and search for Vogt.

May 6, 2013

Ted Cruz

He impressed me from the get-go. He's impressed James Carville too.

For once, no staircase wit for me. Per my LI link, I posted the following back in January:
What a brilliant individual. He emanates it. Listen to how quickly, how seamlessly, he reconfigures the questions.
My guideline is that, before seeking higher office, a politician should be reelected to their current slot by a greater margin than they were elected by.
Cruz heads my list of potential exceptions.
Time will tell.

May 5, 2013

I'm Too Late on Electoral College "Reform"

In January I commented:
Here’s a simple two-step recipe for a prosperous career as a leftist intellectual.
a. Write an essay titled The Electoral College: Mend It, Don’t End It. Follow with a book.
Argue that the Electoral College should be revamped with electors representing the classes of multicultural identity politics.
b. Hire an assistant to screen the flood of job offers from elite universities, foundations, and think tanks.
Alas, I was way too late. Mel Watt, former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, has been nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Daily Caller reports:
“There would be a substantial majority of white voters who would say that under no circumstances would they vote for an African American candidate,” Watt said Oct. 14, 2005 during a Washington hearing held by the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act should be expanded to “adjust districts to take [racially motivated voting] into account,” Watts said.
Such voters “need to be factored out of the equation,” Watt said, because “I’ve got no use for them in the democratic process.”
The former head of the CBC openly called for the disenfranchisement of voters whom he doesn't like. Let's see if he gets confirmed. I bet he does. (Given a choice between a white candidate and a black candidate, who, whites or blacks, are more likely to vote extra-racially?) 

May 4, 2013

American Entrepreneurs In Trouble?

So worries Via Meadia, commenting on an essay by Pethokoukis. (HT: Instapundit.)

My interpretation of this chart is that job creation at startups grew, peaked and began to decline under Clinton, declined under Bush, and declined under Obama with perhaps an emerging plateau or modest recovery.

My interpretation is consistent with the view that an elite ruling class is accumulating power and wealth without regard for the country's overall welfare.

The foregoing will be submitted as a comment to the linked Via Meadia piece. (Added: it's here.)

April 30, 2013

Consciousness After Death

Fingernails and hair grow for a time after death. 

Apparently consciousness, too, continues for a time in a fashion which is currently not understood. (HT: Instapundit.)

While there are spiritual and theological implications, the first conclusions my mind jumped to did not survive afterthoughts.

There are also implications for humane ways of execution and suicide. Perhaps, if there indeed is an as-yet-not-understood mode of consciousness, there are implications for abortion.

April 29, 2013

Intrade is Down

After loving Intrade for years, Instapundit linked to Bryan Caplan's huffing about how the CFTC shut out American customers from the service.

Now Intrade is down because of financial irregularities, yet neither Reynolds nor Caplan has seen fit to mention it. To be wrong is one thing; not to acknowledge it is egregious.

(Prediction markets sound like a good idea to me, by which I mean that under conscientious  management the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, e.g. steps will be taken to ensure that people who commit an atrocity do not profit from betting on it. However, good ideas can attract fraudsters.)

So I was wrong about the CFTC's decision. I was also wrong when I supported the Three Wise Men's Stooges' (Greenspan, Rubin, Summers) when they squelching of the CFTC's warning about OTC derivatives.

April 24, 2013

Deficits Are Less Bad Than Had Been Believed?

Supposedly a Harvard paper on which the deficit hawks have relied contains serious errors. Supposedly deficits are not nearly as bad for growth as Reinhart and Rogoff had claimed.

Henry Blodget gloats that deficit doves like Krugman have been proven correct. Yes, this is the guy who is banned for life from the securities industry.

Jeez, don't economists check each others' work when they debate issues of national---no, global---importance? Tell me again why ruling-class elites deserve their lifestyle, status, and pay? Can't anybody here play this game?

Rogoff and Reinhart respond here.

I'm not jumping to conclusions, but the Harvard duo doesn't look good here.

Me & Derb on Immigration

Me in January:
My long-term nagging suspicion is that (one reason why) legal immigration does not get reformed (is) because government knows full well it is too incompetent to do a professional job of regulating immigration. Cases in point: FEMA, TSA.
Derb just now:
Even if this new law were to get passed, and even if this administration, and the next, and the next, made sincere efforts to enforce it, they could not.
The USCIS people—and don’t get me wrong: they are nice people, dealt with me courteously, and I have no doubt are doing their best—cannot handle their current workload. Give them ten or twenty years to master this new bureaucratic extravaganza that Schumer, Rubio & Co. have cooked up, they might just possibly re-attain their current unimpressive level of mastery; but to imagine that the Act, once passed, will swing smoothly into action, all the things in it happening and being done, is wild fantasy.

Even If I Say So Myself

At Sarah Hoyt's:
A Hillary Presidency would be the Tantrum Boomers’ last chance to exact revenge for their inadequacy to the Great Generation. (Maybe those Americans who are zealous to tear down the country are driven, in part, by the knowledge that they lack what it took to build it.)
Especially the first sentence.

April 23, 2013

Comandante Rubio on Abortion

I call him Comandante because of this sentence in his victory speech:
It is a road that understands that the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest country in the world.
Here's Rubio on abortion:
“The issue of life is not a political issue, nor is it a policy issue. It’s a definitional issue. It is a basic, core issue that every society needs to answer.”
He continued, “The answer ends up defining society. That’s how important the issue is.”
Rubio said while people push pro-lifers to focus on the national debt, jobs, the economy and other fiscal challenges, “Well, we can’t do that.”
He said, “This speaks to more than just our politics. It speaks to what we want to do in our life to serve and to glorify our Creator.”
Well, at least he's (sort of) honest. He comes right out and says that abortion is more important than all that wonky limited-government stuff.

(While googling the acceptance speech, I came across this: Marco Rubio's personal finances clash with call for fiscal discipline.)

Online Sales Tax

I've presumed all along it's an effort by established businesses to use government to preclude competition from agile upstarts that cannot afford to comply with the regulations. See, for example, de Rugy's post at The Corner.

The same process of centralization of wealth and power that gave rise to SOPA.

The system is corrupt and illegitimate: the system, not one party or the other.

(Similarly, afaic the billionaires who "demand" to be taxed more expect more back in the form of crony-capitalist favors than what they would pay.)

April 22, 2013

The Derbyshire Firing One Year Later

I'll make this criticism: the guy so enjoys being a contrary curmudgeon that in effect deliberately dilutes his effectiveness, after which he is all O tempora! O mores!

I'd say much the same about Daily Pundit's Bill Quick.

April 18, 2013

Anti-Abortion Absolutists

Wikipedia is not a definitive resource, but it looks like there is a substantial number of countries where abortion is regulated more strictly than in the USA, or even forbidden altogether.

Some Americans believe that all abortion is murder and that the 50+ million US abortions to date constitute genocide.

Well, why don't they move to one of the aforementioned countries or at least make the effort to do so? I can't think of a reason that reflects creditably on them, and some that do the opposite come readily to mind.

(Perhaps to be continued.)

April 16, 2013

Dismay! Shock! Horror!

1. Former Volleyball Star Gabrielle Reece Ignites Controversy With Marriage Advice: Being ‘Submissive’ Is a Sign of Strength. (HT: Instapundit)
Gabrielle Reece, the former volleyball star and model who filed for divorce less than five years after tying the knot to surfer husband Laird Hamilton roughly 17 years ago, recently wrote a book explaining how she got her marriage back on track.
The key? In “My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper,” Reece credits an “old fashioned dynamic” and abiding by more traditional gender roles — and has created a firestorm in the process.
“To truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and –- look out, here it comes –- submissive,” she wrote.
OMG! OMG! shriek the usual suspects.

2. Dryden, as misquoted by Lord Chesterfield:
The prostrate lover, when he lowest lies,
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise.
Iirc similar sentiments are expressed in the Tao Te Ching. I'll dig them out later if time and memory allow.

3. If Reece's husband has a clue, he will recognize what's going on and accept it gracefully and gratefully.

You're a lucky man, Hamilton. If you have a brain, don't push that luck.

4. I'm assessing Reece's solution as a pragmatic one, not arguing that it applies across the board.

April 15, 2013

The Boston Bombings

Right off the bat, the online Right attacked the online Left, and vice versa.

This was a very promising day for the enemies of America.

April 14, 2013

Belated Credit When (And If) Due

Obama signed an executive order requiring cost-benefit analysis of proposed federal regulations. See here and here, for example. Obama signed the order in January 2011---soon after the election of 2010 expressed emphatic dissatisfaction about his policies.

Even if the order might leave operating room for agenda-driven rulemaking, it's a move in the right direction and a nod to doing the right thing.

It's "surprising" that I didn't notice this in the conservative blogosphere at the time.