Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Link via Instapundit.
On the other hand, I don't even recall hearing anything about a platform coming out of the DNC. Looking at Kerry's wishlist, I can't go that way either.
The first comment on the post drives home my feelings on the whole election quite well:
Maybe we can capture one of the two parties, or maybe one will be so fractured it will die and be replaced by a new one, but for the near future us fiscal conservative, socially liberal hawks don't have a home.
Update: I just realized that I hadn't finished this one yet. Sorry.
Anyway, with the dwindling pool of undecideds, I don't think that either party can count on turning enough to their side to swing the election out of the courts. The only way for one side or the other to win is to energize their bases and demoralize the others. As if I didn't already have enough reason to wish it was November.
Monday, August 30, 2004
I do give kudos to the author for including The Graduate on the list. I have often referred to that line in describing Materials Science.
What should have been on the list, leaving aside thermodynamic concerns much the way Flubber does, is The Core. I might give the author a break in that the movie required more suspension of disbelief than a John Edwards (the medium, not the VP candidate) performance. The material that the deep-earth delving Daedalus was made of supposedly turned the ambient heat and pressure into energy for maintaining structural integrity was named Unobtainium. Too cool, even if laughable.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
1. Both indoor and beach volleyball gave the best examples of world class athleticism out of all of the Olympics.
2. Obviously the Italian coach did not sweat as much as the Brazilian coach. Otherwise, that natty suit the Italian coach wore would have collapsed under its own weight.
3. A Brazilian player by the name of Heller? I wonder what his Granddaddy did during the War.
Goodbye, Athens. Despite the doomsayers (myself included), and pending the Closing Ceremonies, you did a hell of a job.
What strikes me is that there are none of the "attaboys" that were showered on the blogosphere that there were when bloggers did the parsing of Trent Lott's words at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. You'd think that their take is entirely dependant on which bull is getting gored.
Friday, August 27, 2004
He said one executive order would give acting CIA Director John McLaughlin "interim" authority to perform many of the functions of a proposed intelligence tsar in overseeing 15 intelligence agencies.
Before they got to this detail, however, the BBC let us know what was really important.
But correspondents note there is also a political angle to the timing of the executive orders, which do not need Congressional approval to be implemented.
It is no coincidence that Mr Bush will sign the presidential orders on the eve of a Republican Party convention in New York where national security will be a key issue, the BBC's Nick Childs in Washington says.
I think I have the rule straight here. Anything the President does to show that he is doing his job in the time leading up to Election Day is merely a political ploy to convince people that he is doing his job. If he were truly above using his office for political gain, then he should do nothing.
Don't get me wrong. I believe that the government doing nothing is the right course of action in virtually all circumstances. Defending our country against terrorist, however, is the exception that fits nicely in the void left by the "virtually".
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
The issue arose at a campaign town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa, when a woman in the audience asked an unusually pointed question: "I need to know, what do you think about homosexual marriages?"
The vice president was candid in his response. "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with," Cheney said. "We have two daughters, and we have enormous pride in both of them."
The statement marked the first time Cheney has publicly addressed the fact that his daughter Mary — who helps run his campaign — is gay, although she has been open about it.
"With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone," he added.
Glad to see that someone in the Bush Administration gets it.
Link via Virginia Postrel
Unfortunately, it seems that Trapper John is not in the least bit interested in having a discussion.
Not only did the takeaway get pushed off the front page by the SBL, but the coverage was a object lesson in the poverty of contemporary journalistic "objectivity." The AP story actually opened with the classic "some say this - some say that" line, "Paychecks could surge or shrink for a few or for millions of workers across the country starting Monday." Please. There is no genuine debate on how the changes will affect workers. As Matt Yglesias notes, "When you have the US Chamber of Commerce saying, de facto, 'this measure will be bad for employers, but good for workers and we strongly support it,' and the AFL-CIO says, 'this will be good for employers, but bad for workers and we strongly oppose it' then the AFL-CIO has infinitely more credibility than the US Chamber of Commerce . . . When the Chamber is pretending to operating against the interests of its members, we can tell that it's analysis is worthless -- the person talking to you is either a liar or else doesn't know how to do his job."
Merely citing that a position is held by a group you agree with and opposed by those you don't does not mean that the debate is over. I can just as easily say that the AFL-CIO leadership has a vested interest in keeping its members's incomes as high as possible, damn the macro-economic consequences. Therefore, such an irresponsible group is not a reliable source of information, and its position can be reasonably excluded from my figuring. I could, but I won't. I would rather look at their data and determine which of the competing economic models put forth will most likely reflect reality. Too bad there isn't a way to do a blind taste test of theory.
Here's a topic that might be worth discussing: While the new overtime rules might result in more people losing money than gaining money, might it not also happen that a large number of employers might take some of that money and add more employees to their payrolls? Granted this could result in an overtime double whammy, not only are people not getting paid for the overtime (been there, done that, as a salaried engineer in California) but that new people would spread out the available overtime even more. Of course, if some people are no longer getting paid for the OT, further dilution only cuts down the amount of time they are not getting paid for. Should it be true that a change in the OT rules would lead to an increase in people having jobs, it would seem rather non-progressive for those who are wealthy in employment to hoard their wealth from those who lack. "We've got ours," they seem to be saying, "And too bad for you."
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
While I don't disagree with them on that point, I take more of the approach that few problems are ever solved with more rules. The only things that more rules accomplishes is to make the methods of infraction harder to follow. Giving money to political candidates is seen as effective in advancing one's political agenda. Therefore, people will always try to do it. The only way to clear the air is to remove the rules, and put the burden on the campaigns to account for who gives the money and where it goes.
The only rules I would suggest (I'm a Minarchist, remember) is that all donations go into one account, all expenditures come out of the same account, and all contributions shall be signed by an individual and not a "legal entity", ie corporation or PAC. The primary means of enforcing the rules will be from a net-impartial media. Net-impartial meaning that while a particular journalist may be biased to one side, there would be another journo who will pursue the other side just as vigorously. Far from perfect, but at least this way the rules breakers could be more easily spotted and smoked out by the media, which at this point is the weak link in the chain.
What I came to realize is that while the motives of the accuser might give rise to questions as to the validity of the accusations, looking at the motives alone can not answer those questions. If the accuser can not deliver any evidence backing up the accusation, then yes, the motivations might be elucidating. But if there is evidence, then the motives can not be given more weight. If some Baath Party member were to come forward with a videotape showing President Bush performing unspeakable acts upon a Girl Scout, the mere fact of the Baathist's allegiance does not automatically discredit the tape.
As for the whole Swift Boat story, weight of numbers would not normally be a method of swinging weight for me. However, it was Kerry and Edwards who have been saying that you can gauge Kerry's character by the opinions of those who served with him. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have an extremely limited definition of "served with". Given that his impressiveness does not seem to extend beyond a very small circle around him, I think that those critical of him would have had the separation that virtually everyone who works for the executive branch shall have.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Sometimes one can have too much wealth, typically assessed in the eyes of others, like in the case of this poor schmuck. Something like that could happen with other wealths. Imagine a case where a pharmaceutical firm is considering taking on a disease that has had a huge impact around the world, for instance, AIDS. As the company sinks more and more funds into the project, you start to hear rumblings about how important it is that everyone get the future cure or vaccine, so important that it would be immoral to leave it to those who can afford what the drug company might choose to charge for it. Some in various governments begin discussions on breaking the patent on whatever drug might be developed. As the company, the return on investment has just been eviscerated, leaving it questionable as to whether or not the cost of the development can be recouped. Not only will the company be hurt in term of current financials, it will be hurt in the work it can not accomplish in the future that would have been paid for with current profits.
If one such company should go down to such governmental schemes, any future pharmaceutical corporations will become very shy about developing products that can help a great many poor people. Unlike the diamond miner in Guinea, a drug company can choose not to look for wonderful, amazingly useful medicines.
The point I am slowly coming to is that it is possible for a person or a company to become, through happenstance or effort, wealthy in potential wealth. The diamond miner may have had a 182 carat diamond, but in that he can't get paid for it without someone else taking it from him. The drug company would be denied the freedom to convert the potential for health embodied in its discovery into money that could be used to reinvest in other projects or pay off investors. In the case of the drug company, and in many other cases of boneheaded interference, the government forces one side to accept a worse trade off than would have been agreeable to both parties, thereby skewing the results.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment where I will take on corporations.
I watched the competition that night, so I also got to see the athlete bio piece they had done for her. I have to say that that was the first time I had seen one of those and wanted that person to lose. If ever there has been an athlete so wrapped up in themselves prior to this, I can't recall.
There is another possibility that Svetlana has yet to realize. Perhaps the fix was in, but rather than being for Carly Patterson, the judges were motivated by an Anyone-but-Khorkina sentiment.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Saturday night urged President Bush to ''stand up and stop'' what he called personal attacks on him over his combat record in Vietnam.
At a fund-raiser, Kerry said the attacks by a group of Vietnam veterans and former swift boat commanders have intensified ''because in the last months they have seen me climbing in America's understanding that I know how to fight a smarter and more effective war'' against terrorists.
''That's why they're attacking my credibility. That's why they've personally gone after me. The president needs to stand up and stop that. The president needs to have the courage to talk about it.'' Chicago Sun Times
Maybe Kerry does have a better way to fight terrorism. He certainly seems to understand the value of fighting with a looser set of rules than he allows for his opponent.
There are many types of wealth, money is just one of them.
I think I might be getting through to them.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Just thought I should pass it along. She is one of the reasons I got off my metaphorical duff and started this blog. If you were were one of the people who was missing her, you might want to be careful with the entry entitled "Oh, My Aching Ass". Whether or not it strays into the land of Too Much Information is strictly a matter of personal taste.
Friday, August 20, 2004
After all of the scandal that the Church has faced over the past years, one might think that they would be at least a little flexible rather than be "my way or the highway to hell." Unless of course the Vatican claims that God told them the He needs gluten in the wafer to achieve the miracle of transubstanciation. Somehow I would doubt that.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
I'm all for people being happy with their bodies, and that it is entirely a person's right to change what they don't like about it. I'm also glad to see a group use persuasion rather than legislation to change peoples attitudes about themselves.
However, I'm also for the US doing what it can for those who serve in uniform. That being said, I don't really mind the military paying for surgeons to practice reconstructive techniques on willing volunteers for little to no cost. Not being female myself, I take it on authority that breasts can be as important to women as, well, you know, to a guy. So if a female soldier is wounded and maimed to the breasts, I do not think that it should be too much for the military to have surgeons who are practiced and capable to perform the reconstruction.
Now I shall spare you any further blogging as I proceed to drain one of Sammy's brothers dry.
Please returning to your previously scheduled browsing. Thank you.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
On a related note, I wonder how many Olympians will be going home with heretofore unrealized allergies to laurel?
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
I once had a kit in my car, packaged in a fanny pack, that came pre assembled at the local Pep Boys. It had water in juice boxes, very calories dense nutrition bars, bandages, and thermal blankets like the ones the give at the end of marathons. Why not create larger packages for household use? I can just picture the shelves at Wal-Mart stocked with a variety of packages: from a small box for bachelor pads to the Catholic/Mormon Econo-Box that would require a hand cart and carry-out service.
Please contact me via the e-mail address to the right. I can set up Pay-Pal to receive any royalty payments that should come as a result of this.
Especially if he keeps the chainsaw.
Link via A Small Victory
Update: From Brucecampbell.com
Hockey Mask, yes... Bladed Glove, Yes... Boomstick, Probably not... (06.02)
Jason vs. Freddy vs. Ash? That's the rumor floating around this pile of clutter we call the internet.
My advice, don't hold your breath. Chances are, we'll be seeing Joanie Loves Chachi Loves Ash first.
In other words, nothing to report on our end.
Pity, this would have been cool.
Monday, August 16, 2004
And as to the locals who will be out of jobs, sorry. Somehow, though, I think that the Germans actually want at least some of our forces where they can keep an eye on them. Lord knows with their flub on saying that Iraq had WMD's, their intelligence services won't be able to see past their own back yard.
I was having a discussion with a friend who holds that government has to have the power to intercede in private industry should that industry act in a manner damaging to the community. He believes that the government can mandate behavior in such a way that society reaches a utopia of mutual respect. I pointed out that even if government could deliver such a thing, which I don't believe that it can, it would only happen if those in government were coming from such a position of mutual respect. Given that politicians are seen as somewhat less respected than lawyers, it could hardly be true that our leaders can be counted on to lead us there. Put a number of ordinary people in those positions of power and you will find that the Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.
Later, I was playing around with that old cliche in my mind. I wondered what would happen if you turned it around. Can the Road to Heaven be Paved with Bad Intentions? If one were to call Heaven a society based on mutual respect, then certainly not when the Bad Intentions would dictate actions in directly opposite direction.
Then I tried another formulation: the Road to Heaven is Paved with Base Intentions. This one hit more on a good concept. People very often look down on those who do things in order to achieve a benefit to themseves. We hold in higher esteem those who volunteer than work for a fee. While the net good to the person recieving the service is less when a cost has to be paid than not, it is a true disservice to reject the smaller good for not being the greater. To say that a drive for profit on one side completely sullies the act is to deny what good was done.
What I am realizing is that the alteration of the old cliche is a variation of Adam Smith's conclusions upon Free Enterprise. The greatest good is accomplished when one helps another achieve both best results. There will have to be compromise along the way, but with patience both sides can progress. So long as compromise is possible, both sides will find themselves slouching toward Nirvana. What makes this plan a tough sell is that on the order of a society, progress can only be measured in lifetimes. There will be stumbles, and some will be lost on the way, but anyone who tells you that government can deliver the results quickly is trying to sell you something.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Coming off my rant regarding neither campaign providing any real substance for the media and the blogosphere to grind, I will now proceed to discuss some of the style.
Something that seems to be a recurring theme with respect to the Kerry campaign is that he keeps getting caught up in situations that result from sloppy prep work. Be it handing the Bush campaign a real softball with the "sensitive war" comment, to suddenly having to change direction as to the credibility of those who served with him. From an opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner comes an analysis that I found myself nodding to in agreement.
The worst part of this political fiasco is that it could have been completely avoided. With a little work, preparation and organization, Kerry or his staff could have shown these veterans a little common courtesy by finding out where they stand regarding his candidacy and asking their permission to use them as references. This was a huge mistake, and it's costing Kerry dearly.
I have gotten the impression that the Kerry campaign was counting on Anyone-but-Bush sentiment to carry them all the way to the White House. I think that they may have mistaken volume for population.
That Bush can be divergent from absolutely wrong gives Kerry the opportunity to screw up by being as wrong, if not more wrong, than Bush according to my values. Essentially, Bush has been as far wrong on social issues and spending as Kerry has been on foreign policy and spending. In one sense this makes me an Undecided, in that I have not chosen between the two. Given that I live in California, the only state that gives Massachusettes a run for its blueness, my vote is not going to count for much of anything other than adding to one or the other's general tally for the supposed "mandate".
The big caveat that I have to make in this matter is that I have to make my decision in a vacuum of real information. All that I am seeing are tales from thirty years ago standing in place of who these men are now. So, gentlemen, can we please have some discussion on what your economic plans are? In this request, I also call on the media to give the Nam stories a rest and get to the boring stuff. Lets talk about military allocations and budgets to social services. I would rather blast Bush for stuff like the Federal Marriage Amendment than for him not showing up to Guard duty. I would rather rip Kerry for having been wrong on every issue of foreign policy of the Reagan Administration than for him lying about being in Cambodia on Christmas Day of 1968. One set of data tells me what they might do for their four years as president, the other tells me what they were like thirty-plus years ago. So far as I am concerned, I care more for the next four years than what has happened before. Show me a plan that would work for me, and yes, let me see if I can trust you to carry it out, and I might be tempted to change my vote from Libertarian.
Update: Here's an easy way to pick up my vote: Legalize the possession of rocket propelled grenades for the purpose of blowing up cars with obnoxiously loud stereos. Granted, it does appeal to my baser nature and circumvent some of my inclinations toward the sanctity of private property, but damn, I could use the satisfaction.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
I am not one of those people who complain loudly about "activist courts". If anything, the justices in this case have limited the authority to decide issues of constitutionality to the courts. Say what you will about the courts, but if what they are abusing their authority by legislating through constitutionality, then it can not be a bad thing that that ability has been denied to larger swaths of government.
What I have had enough of is the line:
Cheney's comments, the Kerry spokesman said, are "driven by concern of the Bush campaign that they are in deep trouble and their poll numbers are sinking."
I have an insight for all of those involved in or commenting on the campaigning. The entire point of a campaign is to do or say what it takes to create some net improvement in your position relative to one's opponent. The subtext of the line is, "We know our opponent would be a gentleman if he felt secure in his lead. That he does not is proof that he is not secure." Since when has any elected official stayed positive throughout an election? I really can't say, because losers tend not to be memorable.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
9:50 am: the thermometer on the back porch, now in the shade, is reading 100 deg. F.
While I shouldn't complain about the heat because it has been unusually mild this summer and I have lived with summers like this all of my life, I will complain regardless. Normally there is enough wind to push the windchill into the low 90's on days like this, but it is dead calm right now. On the plus side, thank God there is no humidity.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Mr. Dean's lessons for practical libertarianism:
First, recognize the legitimate role of government in our flawed world.
Second, in the world of politics, take what you can get. You can always come back for more.
The biggest stumbling block to Libertarians in the US is that their leadership tries to push for everything at once. Anything that falls short is seen as a failure. A foreign example would be the publication of the Occupational Safety Guide for Prostitutes in New Zealand (yes, Samizdata is one of my favorite poaching grounds). Some of the commenters complained at how the regulatory impulse had tainted the gain of prostitution being legalized. Those folks are perfectly correct to complain, yet one should not disdain the gain made in the process. As Mr. Dean said, "You can always come back for more."
And a word to Mr. Julian Morrison, Samizdata commentor: Treating terrorism as a criminal matter has been so effective for the previous twenty years. [/sarcasm] While Al Qaeda may not have any obvious state sponsors, its aims (primary among which is the expulsion of Western influence in the Middle East) are largely coincident with several states in the region. If any state aids such a group in accomplishing such an attack on the United States or its allies, then it should be read that the complicit state should be seen as committing an act of war utilizing irregular forces. The conflict that is facing us today is of a different nature than has been seen before. So different, that I believe that we may need to revisit the concept and definition of "war" to properly describe it.
Monday, August 09, 2004
General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and current advisor to the Kerry campaign, has suffered an aparent stroke and is in intensive care. I offer my sincere hopes that he makes a full recovery.
To say that some people with their monomaniacal focus on politics are taking the ghoulish approach to this is to add to the nominees for understatement of the year. From the comments at Democratic Underground Forums we get these cheery little gems:
gotta take out all military opposition before martial law is declared..
bushgang motto: bully, bribe, blackmail, threaten and if all else fails, murder
works for them! we haven't stopped them from doing what they want, yet.
Probably the same kind of 'Stroke' that . . . .
. . .all the people close to the Kennedy assassination suffered. Hmmmmm!
Is it any wonder that I predict that some lone wacko out there will do his damnedest to make sure that President Bush experiences the Zero Year Curse. I think it very likely that someone will make a go at the President before the election, and almost certain between election day and January should Bush win.
I wonder if those lone wackos out there will appreciate the fact that if they should succeed then we will have Cheney as President. Of course, according to the theories, all that would happen is that which is de facto becomes actual.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Personally, with respect to the incident where Kerry supposedly earned his Bronze Star, I would like to see the after action reports of the other boats involved with the action. A compare and contrast would be most illuminating.
Friday, August 06, 2004
Say what you will about Ashcroft misusing the Patriot Act and I'd probably agree with you. The threats of lawsuits directed at the television stations, however, do send chills down my spine. I simply find it ironic that this is coming from the side that wails "Crushing of Dissent!" and "Questioning my Patriotism!" at the slightest criticism. Not surprising mind you, this is the side that wants the government to solve all of their problems for them.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Please read the whole thing while I leave you with Radley's question that sums up the whole issue very nicely:
The best example of the tragedy of commons occurs in the oceans. Why is it that we regularly hear about how we're running out of various species of fish, but we're always well stocked with beef, pork and poultry?
All I can say is, thank God I live in California where, unless said God delivers a miracle, the electoral votes are solidly blue. That makes it possible that I can vote for neither of these two statist yahoos and leave the polls without feeling the need to take a shower.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
However, I do feel somewhat inspired by the collision of ideas. I'm off to design a bustier that lifts, separates, and supports the lower back. Anyone interested in modeling the designs can contact me at the address above. Please attach a photo to all submissions.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Now, I am gald that they have passed on what they learned from the Al-Qaeda linked computer expert. What bothers me is that almost all of the big arrests in the war on terror have been in Pakistan. In some cases, these terrorists have been taking hospitality in the homes of influential Pakistanis. Eventually, one of two things is going to have to happen:
1) The US will get tired of the Goose-that-Laid-the-Terrorist egg method, especially if an attack occurs that can be traced back to planning in Pakistan.
2) The terrorists get wise to the fact that the Pakistani government is using them as tokens to keep the US off their backs. At that point, they will have to try to find another place that will cover their presences.