Friday, December 19, 2008

One qualification not apparently required of judges...

....is apparently to be mature enough to handle criticism, at least in California. How so?

The HSLDA report on how they got a California anti-homeschooling ruling overturned specifically notes that one of the critical things they did was to phrase the appeal in such a way to not offend the judges. A quote:

“We had to thread a needle, because we had to bring to the court’s attention these gross oversights that we knew weren’t necessarily the court’s fault because they hadn’t been presented to the judges in the earlier briefing,” Mason said. “We had to say, ‘Hey, you made a mistake,’ without offending the judges so much they dismissed it entirely.”

Now while I understand the necessity of being polite, but take a close look there. More or less, the speaker is saying that demonstrating a gross oversight in the law to a California judge is likely to get him to dismiss one's appeal without even considering its merit.

In some courts, that would mean that the greater the error by the court, the less its chance of being fixed. Sad to say, it explains some things I've seen. Is it too much to ask that judges also be mature enough to handle criticism?

Unclear on the concept, I think

A Florida woman, being told that her church was going to follow the final step of discipline of Matthew 18:17, has decided to work to "keep her privacy" by talking to Fox News and others. As if people at her church don't read the papers and watch Fox News.

I guess the pastoral staff at her church owe her a thank you for making her sin public and sparing them the trouble.

On the serious side, do pray for this hurting, confused woman, her boyfriend (ex?), and this church. These things do get ugly from time to time, and even if the church is completely in the right, things can get expensive if they lawyer up.

Praise for the White House auto bailout

No, I don't like it. Yes, I think that the UAW and others should have made some major concessions. Yes, I think that a guided bankruptcy--one that prevents the network of suppliers from needlessly going under--would have been a far better choice. Yes, I think that the prospect of the President unilaterally (and perhaps illegally) bailing the Detroit 3 out did prevent meaningful progress from being made in the Capitol. And yes, the eventual bill for bloated UAW contracts just got billions of dollars bigger. Don't forget for a minute that the government pays pensions of companies that go under with underfunded pension funds.

The bill is going to be huge, just like it was for the steel industry.

That said, do you think that things would have turned out better with a greater Democratic majority in Congress and Barack Obama in the White House? Do you think that Bush protected the UAW more than Obama and Pelosi would have?

As ugly as this is, it could have been worse.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another reason to homeschool

It appears that Arne Duncan, Obama's pick for Secretary of Education, once wanted to establish a "gay" high school in Chicago's public school system. It takes a Hahvid grad, apparently, to fail to figure out that if you want to reduce harassment of homosexuals, you don't put them into a letter jacket from "Barnett Frank High School" and require them to ride the bus an hour each way to and from school. Never mind the harassment their sports teams would endure, or the basic impropriety of taking a confused 13 year old kid--fresh from thinking girls have cooties--and putting him in such an environment.

On the light side, word on the street was that the proposed school would have no less than six mascots; a policeman, an indian chief, a military man, a construction worker, a cowboy, and a biker.

H/T SayAnythingBlog

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Uh-oh, I don't like this

Senator Norm Coleman is apparently lawyering up for a conflict about money allegedly paid to him through his wife by a top donor. I certainly hope there is nothing here, but if there is, I would have to wonder if the Minnesota GOP would have done well to tell him to get his financial house in order.

Again, I hope there's nothing here. Few Senators understand the harm of the United Nations like Coleman does. But if there is something, we can again remember that you can get a great idea of what's in a man's heart by looking at his checkbook.

Another Wednesday FAIL

Barack Hussein ARBJPWD Obama appoints the head of Chicago's government schools to be Secretary of Education. Even apart from an apparent grammar gaffe committed in an acceptance speech, I have to wonder about the wisdom of appointing the head of a school system where the average graduate reads only at a sixth grade level. Keep in mind, by the way, that about 40% of Chicago Public students drop out--so the overall reading level of recent former attendees of CPS is probably no higher than the fifth grade.

While it probably would be unrealistic to expect Sen. BHARBJPWD Obama to appoint a homeschooling mom or parochial school headmaster as Secretary of Education or even abolish the post, I would hope that one could insist that the Sec. of Ed. demonstrate an ability to get high school students to read at a high school level. Such school superintendents can be found all over, but especially among the rural districts of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Utah.

Where they do their best to ignore the Federal Department of Education, of course.

For more nausea-inducing FAIL, check out Time Magazine's hagiography of their Person of the Year. For those weak of stomach, no link will be provided.

Another way to marital "bliss" and Wednesday FAIL

Apparently, Drew Peterson (married four times, suspected in the deaths of at least two of his wives) has found another fiance. Now I realize that sometimes women want a man who is a little bit dangerous (and not a "Nancy boy" too common these days), but a guy credibly suspected of two murders?

And another epic "FAIL"; a couple in Pennsylvania is appalled that a store wouldn't put their son's name on his birthday cake. Dumb me, I thought that it was cruel for parents to give their kids a name like "Elvis", and here these rocket scientists name their bundle of joy after Schicklgruber.

It's almost as dumb as zero interest rate policy. Thanks, Ben.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Marrying too young?

My friend Terry noted on an earlier post that a distressing reality has shown itself among his friends who married young; a lot of them are getting divorced. Like Terry, I married a little bit older, and like him, I'm grateful that I was a little bit more mature when I married.

That noted, note the key word; it's not "age," but rather "maturity." What might Terry's friends have done to reduce their risk for divorce?

Well, I obviously don't know them, but I'd have to suggest that acting the part of a grown man might help a young man avoid divorce. Serve in a meaningful way at church--ushering, nursery, etc..--and don't simply settle for a "leadership" position in your age group. Find and keep a real job. Learn to save money.

And yes, give blood. Would it have saved every marriage? Doubtful, but it might have helped. Marriage is, after all, all about looking out for someone else's good, no?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Here's some irony

Captain Capitalism links to a Bloomberg report that 30% of hedge funds are supposedly going to be going out of business due to the downturn. Now pardon me for asking, but wasn't the purpose of hedge funds to be to "hedge" for crises such as this?

Seems like some fund managers needed to brush up on basics like "debt makes your assets more, not less, volatile."

Give blood, young man

One of the things that gets me to praying is to see a lot of my church's young people putting on years and waiting, waiting, waiting....to find a spouse. And so it was interesting when my wife and I donated blood...one of the phlebotomists noted that she was having an interesting time with guys who more or less expected the girl to ask them out.

And so Mrs. Bubba and I agreed that single young men could do little better than to give blood. Who knows--they could meet a pretty young phlebotomist who would be delighted to meet a young Christian man who's at least man enough to risk a needle poke.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Twitter-pated?

Hugh Hewitt (or is that Hew Hughitt?) is making a big deal of something called "Twitter," and is suggesting that unless the GOP masters the use of this "crucial new technology," we're pretty much doomed. Kinda like his Ohio State Buckeyes when they go to Pasadena, I guess, or the Cleveland Indians just about any year, or the Browns just about any year.

Now while he may be correct about this, I weep for my country if he's right. Aren't we illiterate enough as a nation without coming to the point where we can't understand anything with more than 140 characters? So if you love your country, read some Russian novelists and make sure you cheer for the black and gold on December 28.

Or, as Hugh was told in the immortal movie in which he played "Ralphie,"

You want Twitter for Christmas? You'll put your eye out!

Or, for those of you already "twitter-pated"; remember lex scribendus nocturnus; the first part of "twitter" is "twit."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Environmentalism so good you can taste it!

Aussies are being encouraged to eat camels and kangaroos. If you're wondering how to cook it, I'm told that kangaroo is a very lean red meat, and I'd guess that camel is about the same. Cook it using one of your favorite recipes for venison.

If you don't have a good recipe for venison, here are a couple of recommendations:

1. Lots of garlic and a bit of salt and pepper in a slower cooker works great, or at 250F in a dutch oven with a touch of water. Cook to taste.

2. A wonderful marinade for steaks is Italian dressing with a touch of brown sugar and soy sauce. An added blessing is that if you throw them on a hot grill, a cloud of steam can be thrown off that will cause your neighbors to wonder if they should call the fire department. (guilty)

3. Slow cooking in a barbeque sauce.

4. Ground venison/camel/kangaroo is an excellent protein for chili and spaghetti.

My apologies, of course, for taking this prototypically feminine blog into the masculine regime of cooking. I hope you will forgive me.

Top 11 reasons for men to be ushers at church

H/T to the Nihilist in Golf Pants for inspiring the "top 11" lists, of course. This list is inspired by someone who shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty--who argued that the function of greeting those coming to church, handing them a bulletin, and perhaps ushering them to a seat was somehow degrading. Obviously, I disagree, and here are some reasons why.

11. You get to actually meet people in your church outside of potlucks and the obligatory shaking of hands during the service.

10. Your wife might like how you look in a suit and tie. Or a person who could become your wife might like how you look in a suit and tie, if you happen to be single.

9. You are forced to look people in the eye, shake hands, and interact with them. It's a great way to learn to work with people.

8. Learning to be comfortable in a suit and tie will serve you well in your career.

7. It gives you an extra incentive to get to church with enough time to settle your mind on the wonderful time of worship. No more skidding into the parking lot with seconds to spare while urging the kids to get out of the car NOW.

6. Seeing the faces of those people coming to church and interacting with them gives you more reason and ability to pray for them.

5. You get a chance to interact on a closer basis with other men who happen to be ushering as well.

4. You get to model the reality that church isn't just for women. There the men are; greeting, handing out bulletins, taking the offering, and helping people to seats.

3. You have an excuse to upgrade your wardrobe and get some exercise to be ready for Sunday ushering. Did I mention that your wife, or wife to be, just might like how you look in a suit and tie?

2. Worried about how someone might take advantage of churchgoers? You are part of the security team. (consider a carry permit where allowed, or at least pepper spray, just in case)

1. Did I mention that your wife, or wife to be, might think that there is something attractive about a man serving God as an usher while wearing a suit and tie?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another thought on Blagojevich

Reading the indictment, one ought to quickly become aware of the fact that the apparent motive for Rod Blagojevich's alleged attempt at getting a bribe was to ensure his financial well-being. Knowing that exactly the same motive seems to have been behind the Clinton family's mis-adventures in Blackwater, cattle futures, and such, I wonder what voters would have found if they'd taken a look at Blagojevich's financials.

I'm guessing that observers would have found that Mr. Blagojevich had not been a good steward of his finances, and that hence, it wasn't a good idea to put him into office. Just like the Clintons, just like Joe Biden, and just like Barack Hussein Jackson Blagojevich Ayers Rezko Daley Pfleger Wright Khalidi Obama.

Here is an article about his compensation. If he couldn't save money on that income, he had some very serious problems. I dare suggest that qualification #1 for political office is the ability to handle money. As pastors say, if you want to know where a man's heart is, look at his checkbook.

Have they ever heard of passbook savings accounts?

Apparently, some people are literally lending the government money at a negative interest rate. If any of them happen to be reading this humble site, do keep in mind that you can do better with a standard checking account, or even by hiding it in your mattress.

However, if you still desire to throw your money away, you can write me a check at....

:^)

H/T John Lott and Schadenfreude Now.

Not just awful pizza anymore!

Evidently, the new hot spot for assault and disturbances is Chuck E. Cheese's. "Come to watch your kids run amuck while eating gosh-awful pizza, leave with a black eye or a court date."

Faith in action

I hope never to find out, but to be as stalwart in the face of tragedy as Dong Yun Yoon would seem to bring honor to His name. Well done, brother. May He be your eternal comfort.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A fun thought

If we assume that the allegations against Rod Blagojevich are true, that would imply that any number of people are also implicated in OFFERING the bribes to him, no? One would infer that the Illinois Democratic Party might soon be able to meet in taxpayer funded facilities for free. Specifically, facilities featuring bars, guard towers, and concertina wire.

I can at least hope.

A point of rejoicing

My wife and I were talking a few days ago about how glad we were that we're not "smart enough" to realize what we cannot do. We didn't realize that we couldn't have a bunch of kids. We didn't realize that we couldn't homeschool with all those kids. We didn't realize that we couldn't start to learn Latin and logic with them. We didn't realize that we couldn't refinish a 1930 canoe, make quilts, pay off our mortgage early, learn smocking and knitting, teach the kids firearm safety, and any number of other things.

Being smart enough to realize these things seems like the ticket to a really boring life. I praise God that He chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

Suicide and guns

uBeR's inspired me to take a look at suicide rates in high gun ownership nations and low gun ownership ones. Here we go, courtesy of Gun Owners of America:

United States: 11.6/100,000
Japan: 16.7/100,000
Denmark: 22.3/100,000

So obviously gun ownership prevents suicide overall, except for the fact that Switzerland has good gun laws and a high suicide rate of 21.4/100,000.

So maybe trying to link firearm ownership with suicide is a fool's errand, as there's obviously a 700 pound gorilla called "culture" and "environment" working a little bit with the statistics. Of course, if the NAS (and perhaps yet uBeR) cannot figure out that the victim of a firearm suicide just might be likely to be the owner of the gun, this may yet escape them as well.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Another funny one

NightWriter evidently tested this humble site this weekend on "Genderanalyzer", and found that there was an 80% chance it was written by a man. I put up three posts on guns, pastoring, and bankruptcy, and now it says there's a 63% chance it was written by a woman.

I don't feel any different.

Here's some brilliant logic

I was told that a NAS study from 2004 had found that firearm owners were more likely to commit suicide using a firearm.

Well, yes, unless you assume that people are borrowing firearms to take their lives, I would guess you would have to assume that. "Hey, Bob, can I borrow your Glock? I'd like to take my own life--OK if it's returned with my brains all over it?"

"Sure, Fred. Just be sure to use hollowpoints so you don't damage the sheetrock. .40S&W penetrates, you know."

I looked it up, and I don't believe that the study actually claimed this, but it was really funny. (it also turns out that when the time-frame and other factors are changed for looking at suicide rates, the actual NAS conclusion that firearm ownership is related to to suicide rates in general also is iffy at best)

Correction: Uber writes and informs me that the NAS did indeed claim to statistically verify something that ought to be self-evident to anyone who has passed Logic 101. This of course puts a lot of doubt about whether their other statistical tests are worth anything, either.

This explains a lot....

....about politics today. Recently Republic Windows and Doors of Chicago declared bankruptcy due to their bank's refusal to extend credit, and now there is apparently a firestorm about what happens to the severance and vacation pay owed employees. Even President-elect Obama is feeling obliged to weigh on on the controversy.

And it says a lot about our society that there is a demonstration over this; reality is that in bankruptcy court, wages and such are among the first things to be paid, and if a company doesn't maintain funds to cover vacation and severance pay owed, that's warrant for putting the company's officers in jail. No need to demonstrate; just talk to the DA and the bankruptcy court, and things will get done.

It also says a lot that one of the displaced workers is worried about making a $1800/month mortgage payment. What kind of person told an immigrant worker (she was interviewed in Spanish) that she could afford such a home? What kind of math skills did it take for her to accept such a loan?

For those who will learn, there are a lot of lessons here.

Hoist him on his own petard!

Gabrielle links to some comments made by a man about why he does not like most Christians. He's probably got some valid criticisms, and hence I would encourage those who think like our dear brother to go to an erring brother or sister in Christ and gently rebuke them per Matthew 18:15-16. If this does not work, of course, he ought to go to the pastor of these people and arrange Biblical discipline.

The irony here is that the one who is complaining about the behavior is (ahem) himself a pastor, most likely THE pastor to at least some of the people he was complaining about. Let us take a lesson here; there are times when the latest technology--blogging, printing press, text messaging, twitter, whatever--is nowhere nearly as effective as simply talking to the offender or sending him a gentle note.

(and yes, I did....thanks to all for keeping ME honest here!)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good news in the National Parks

As someone whose car was searched to find evidence of an armed robber when I visited Yellowstone a few years back, this comes as very welcome news. No longer can criminals assume that their victims will be disarmed for their convenience.

The strangest thing, in my opinion, is that the rule dates back from the Reagan administration. I dare say the Gipper missed the boat on this one.

H/T Muckraker.

Love your wife as she is

After seeing Terry's comment about "real women have curves," I got to thinking a bit about how I appreciate my own wife, and that got me to thinking about the disdain for the imagery used in the Song of Songs that is too often prevalent in Christian circles today--along the lines of "what man would ever compare his wife's nose to a tower?!".

Now the usual explanation for this is that people just don't understand the Hebrew imagery. I'm not convinced that this is the case; I rather think that Solomon and his contemporaries had learned something that we've forgotten today; that a husband's job (or wife's) is to appreciate the wife (husband) he's (she's) got. In other words, we've understood the image, but have rejected it.

For example, take a look at verse 7:2; the husband compares his wife's belly to a mound of wheat. Evidently Solomon's wife didn't do enough crunches, right?

Yes and no. Yes, she probably wasn't doing a lot of crunches, but no, Solomon doesn't view it as a fault. He simply knew that this was what a real woman looks like, and that "belly bump" is evidence of her fertility.

In the same way, let's pick on the men in verse 5:14; the wife compares her husband's hands to gold rings inlaid with beryl, but his body is carved ivory. In other words, he's got a farmer's tan and somewhat wrinkled hands. Obviously, not enough sunscreen, and he needs to get some rays to the rest of his body, right?

As surely as he didn't use much "Hawaiian Tropic," I don't know that his wife was worried about her man's non-model-like looks. Rather, they represented how her husband provided for and protected her.

And so I think we might arrive at a very sound inference; that the reason many don't appreciate the Song is not that we don't get the images. All too often, we do, and we fail to appreciate that precisely this may be the beauty that God commends.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

How to be safe in an age of terrorism

Chad of Fraters Libertas posts a link to an article about how to stay alive in a hotel beseiged by terrorists. While I commend Chad's, and Mr. Goldberg's, interest in the matter and quite frankly helpful suggestions, they trouble me.

Part of me--the part that likes to see new parts of the world--isn't going to be exactly thrilled at seeing what kind of club sandwich I can eat in my hotel room that's virtually indistinguishable from what I could get anywhere in Iowa. Nothing against Iowans (my granddad grew up there), but if I'm going to bother flying halfway across the world, why not see some of it?

More importantly, if it's too dangerous to go to a train station or hotel lobby, or to eat in a hotel restaurant, why exactly are we doing business there? I know it's a small world and all that, but perhaps the biggest thing many developing nations need is the warning that there will be no dollars coming their way if they allow this sort of thing.

And yeah, the same thing goes for a lot of large cities in the United States.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Say what now?

Evidently, Dan Neil has never experienced Amtrak, and has never taken a look at the "successes" of five year plans of the USSR, China, and other Communist nations. He's also apparently never considered the "great success" of British nationalization of coal, rail, and other industries.

How do I know this? Well, to endorse nationalizing automakers, one must ignore the fact that things run by the government generally aren't run well. Looks like the LA smog has taken its toll on Mr. Neil's cognitive abilities.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lessons from Mumbai

I'll make this short and sweet; just like Columbine and Virginia Tech, the tragedy at Mumbai ought to remind us that when life and death is a matter of seconds, the police are only minutes or hours away. If you're not ready for a carry permit for whatever reason, pepper spray can be obtained in most places for less than $10 (can't carry it on a plane, though), and there are any number of places where one can get training in basic methods of self-defense.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A breathtaking lie

Ron Gettelfinger of the UAW tells the world that his union's labor contracts are cost competitive. Now while I realize that autoworkers and their union bosses are not exactly hired on the basis of their math skills, even Gettelfinger ought to be able to figure out that when his union requires 20% more hours to build a car and earns 15% more in base pay per hour, not to mention an additional $20/hour in burden costs due to pensions and medical care for retirees, his union's product is not cost competitive with the labor employed by Toyota, Honda, BMW, and others in this country.

His lie is almost as bad as the fiction that loaning the Detroit 3 billions of dollars is going to somehow fundamentally change their business from fundamentally unsound to fundamentally sound. It seems that we've forgotten Exodus 20:16 just at the time we need honest witness the most.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving



I can't decide whether the caption should be "May you be surrounded by friends this Thanksgiving" or "Budget cuts at PBS take a brutal turn."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish, Part MCMLX

Listening to WCCO this morning, I learned that Hormel is doing better than expected in part due to strong sales of SPAM. Now while I understand that SPAM has been traditionally a staple for a low cost diet, I don't know that (at over $2/can, over $3/lb) it's really that inexpensive a meat. Yes, it keeps well, but given what it does to one's health, I think it clearly falls into the "penny wise, pound foolish" category.

Also, if you're bummed about never joining a fraternity, consider the Sigma Pi Alpha Mu "mosey" this year. All you have to do to join is come up with a ludicrous sounding title for yourself, and you can be the official (ludicrous sounding title) of the "SPAMmies."

No need to buy your friends or drink yourself to death to go "Greek." You don't even need to eat this junk. No embarrassing initiation ceremonies, raucous parties until the wee hours, or even criminal investigations. Just the sheer pride of belonging to the nation's premier four letter fraternity.

I'm the emperor of Sigma Pi Alpha Mu, and I approved this message.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I think this violates the 8th Amendment....

...and if they're using this at Gitmo, OK, now I agree that it ought to be closed. There are just some things that civilized people just don't do, and this is about ten of them.

...and if you proved to me that Bush was making Gitmo inmates listen to Billy Ray, OK, then you've got me. I'll start comparing him to Hitler.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In honor of the proposed auto bailout

Here you go.

Sorry, Patti. I just couldn't resist. But in fairness, let's take a look at the numbers and see if they work out for a bailout package. According to sources found by Jim, Toyota has an appoximately $3800 per car profit advantage over GM. Let's see how it breaks down:

Labor; at $73/hour for 34.3 hours of labor for a vehicle, GM is paying about $1150-1200 more than does Toyota, which pays $48/hour for 28 hours of labor for its vehicles here. A bailout doesn't help this in the least, but Chapter 11 would help immensely.

Debt: GM has $44 billion in debt, meaning $3-5 billion annually to cover the interest alone. A bailout loan could reduce the interest, netting about $500/car. Chapter 11 would likely do the same.

What we find; unless a loan would fundamentally restructure GM (or Ford or Chrysler), it just buys time. Even bankruptcy only gets about $2000 back per vehicle. What is needed for the Detroit 3 to be profitable?

I'd suggest a repeal of CAFE standards would be a great start, along with other misguided regulations that make GM more of a regulatory compliance company than a car company. New blood in management wouldn't hurt, either.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why the institution of marriage is in trouble

This morning, on the cover of one of my engineering journals, there was a picture of young man and woman in a convertible, driving through a beautiful forest on a bright summer day. One can imagine finding the picnic spot, spreading the tablecloth.....

....until you look closely at the picture, and it turns out that the guy in the passenger seat is not paying attention to his beautiful companion, but is rather "googling" something.

Update

Visited my mom last weekend, and she's in good spirits, but obviously feeling the very major surgery she had. Her recovery appears to be a bit more rapid than expected.

Also, I learned about something we might get to live with as our latest Illini President takes office; the state of Illinois is about $4 billion behind on its obligations. Multiply by 50....but of course, if they simply stopped putting up "Rod Blagojevich, Governor" signs on every construction project (including most pothole repairs it seems), they could make ends meet within a week or two.

I dearly hope Obama does NOT take this bizaare Illinois custom to DC!

Bailouts explained

Advocates of bailouts might point to the Chrysler bailout of 1979 as a way of justifying an even more massive bailout of GM, Ford, and Chrysler today. It could work if....

....manufacturers use it to rework their cost structure, as Chrysler did--famously firing thousands of middle managers and reworking their product lineup. Now let's compare with today; unions and executives are more or less working to prevent the kind of re-working that Iacocca did today.

So my verdict; this "bailout" is like the loan you foolishly gave to your brother "Vinnie" (or other relative of your choice). "Vinnie" spends more than he earns, and by giving him $1000, you postponed the day he'd learn that a McDonald's janitor doesn't need a new car and three trips to the bar each week, right?

Same basic principle with the Detroit 3. You might as well throw $25 billion down the toilet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Barking up the wrong tree

Evidently, the case of parents dropping off teens in Nebraska due to an ill-conceived "safe haven" law has (thankfully) convinced legislators that the law need to be amended to allow only the dropping off of infants. Even that, though, probably misses the point.

How so? Look closely at the mother's testimony in the article. More or less, she adopted a girl from harsh roots, and when the girl acted as if those harsh roots had damaged her, social services pretty much refused to help her. My brother in law and his wife had much the same experience with twins they adopted; social services would do anything but come alongside those who desperately needed help.

Now I don't know whether I really want Social Services to try and help any more than they do. It would be far better if churches stepped forward and did what was needed. That noted, this illustrates what our libertarian friends have been trying to tell us for decades; government is a little bit better at "compulsion" and "command" than at "helping."

An interesting thought

Brian, quiet guest and occasional poster, pointed to the full NY Times article by Paul Krugman, in which he notes that the hypothetical "Paradox of thrift" is likely to be mitigated by the Federal Reserve working to increase the money supply. Let's take our hypothetical "cash in the mattress" person, and let's see with Bernanke and Krugman would do in order to coax that cash back into what they view as the economic system.

Or, for that matter, let's see what is being done now--pumping two trillion dollars plus the trillion dollar bailout into the economy--and consider its likely effects. Keep in mind here that printing money does not in itself generate economic activity--money is only the means of transaction.

Without arrogating to myself the job of guessing the exact extent, I would have to guess that prices would be higher than they otherwise would be. Anyone smart enough to save for the future loses from Marriner S. Eccles' attempts (oops, Ben Bernanke's) to avoid deflation. Can we say "moral hazard"?

On the bright side, the sheer scope of the disaster that may be now unfolding will either confirm or reject Milton Friedman's position that Eccles and Black's mistake was to "not do enough" to increase the money supply. Unfortunately, I think that at this time, this is one position of Friedman's that is going to suffer shipwreck on the rocks of historical data, just as anyone familiar with Japan's economic slowdown over the past two decades might also suggest.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Update on my mom

Left lobe of the liver largely removed, lymph node also removed, eight units of blood given to her (the liver is heavily vascularized, it cleans the blood), and she's recovering OK so far. Pray that the remaining liver keeps/regains its function, and that they did indeed get everything.

And pray that we would be as persistent in doing good as this cancer is in doing bad. This is my mom's third surgery, and if the liver recovers, she'll be in for a third round of chemo. Cancer is some nasty stuff.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick prayer request

My mom's getting prepped for surgery about right now. Two "fast-growing" sites on her liver, pretty sure at least one is cancerous. Pray that they doctors would get as much of both sites out as possible.

Thanks.

I'm so shocked!

Apparently, President-elect Obama is NOT considering the D.C Public (government) schools as an option for his daughters. Now while I can't blame the Secret Service for telling the incoming President that they really would prefer NOT to try to provide security in such a situation, I do think that any politician who opposes school choice ought to be REQUIRED to send his children (or grandchildren for older pols) to the local government schools. If it's good enough for the poor, it's good enough for politicians.

At the very least, voters ought to remember which politicians work against school choice while sending their children to private and parochial schools, and vote accordingly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Here's the Nobel (Riksbank) Prize Winner on Econ 102

Paul Krugman quoted by the Mises Institute today:

[O]ne of the high points of the semester, if you're a teacher of introductory macroeconomics, comes when you explain how individual virtue can be public vice, how attempts by consumers to do the right thing by saving more can leave everyone worse off. The point is that if consumers cut their spending, and nothing else takes the place of that spending, the economy will slide into a recession, reducing everyone's income.

In fact, consumers' income may actually fall more than their spending, so that their attempt to save more backfires — a possibility known as the paradox of thrift.

Now think about this one a minute. When you refuse to spend a dollar, something automatically takes the place of that spending. Specifically, you have saved that dollar, and it is available for debt repayment, capital formation, charity, or (yikes) taxation. Hence, Krugman's (and Keynes') premise is absurd; there is no dollar that fails to function in our economy. Even the wad of bills stuffed in a mattress sends economic signals (specifically; the owner expects deflation to make banks fail and prices to fall).

And so Keynes' ship "Paradox of Thrift" finds itself where it ought to be; crashing against the hard rocks of Bastiat's "That Which is Unseen." When we divert resources from their desired use to a less desired use, we reduce utility and deepen economic difficulties. It's scary that they give out prizes for thinking like Keynes'.

Sign of the times?

Evidently a Secret Service officer has been arrested after having tried to solicit a prostitute in his marked vehicle. One who, of course, happened to be working with vice officers.

What is hilarious to me; this guy did not figure out that anything was wrong when the "lady" didn't run away. He's a law officer, he's in uniform, and he's driving a marked car. In most any other city, I would guess that anyone driving a government-marked car can more or less watch prostitutes melt away as they drive down the street, given that it is after all an illegal activity. It's quite telling that DC prostitutes appear to have different expectations for at least the Secret Service.

Moreover, if this kind of behavior is widespread--as this particular "lady's" behavior seems to indicate--I would have to suggest that one of the big reasons for DC's high crime rate is that, ahem, authorities are literally in bed with criminals. The Secret Service might do well to throw the book at this guy for exactly this reason.

H/T Muckraker.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just desserts

Jim tells me that Circuit City has just filed for bankruptcy. As I predicted 18 months ago, Circuit City is learning the hard way that firing people for being good at what they do is a very expensive way to save money. Given their > 99% drop in stock price, I don't give them much of a chance of avoiding Chapter 7 in the not too distant future. The market is clearly saying that their recovery would be nothing short of a miracle.

An interesting, non-political poll

I got a call (ostensibly) from pollsters/researchers at Mississippi State U. (paid for by the American Academy of Pediatrics) about second-hand smoke. As one might expect, the questions were slanted heavily to "nudge" the "pollee" towards a position of pretty much not allowing anyone to smoke anywhere but their own home--and that only if children or pregnant or nursing women are not present.

Most interesting was a repeated hint that doctors might soon have some sort of test to detect second-hand smoke. More or less, the MSU researchers (and by extension the AAP funders) are trying to tell us that a doctor ought to be performing a fairly invasive test to figure out if the parents actually know whether their kids are around tobacco, or whether the parents do and might be lying to them.

Sorry, AAP; if I want to figure out whether my kids are around smokers or smoking, I have a high tech device called a "nose," and quite frankly, I'll handle this one. I don't need Mary Poppins with a six figure paycheck to work behind my back.

Friday, November 07, 2008

You would think...

....that the nation's first black president wouldn't try to overturn the 13th Amendment by passing a requirement for involuntary servitude, but you learn something new every day.

Mandatory volunteering--would someone PLEASE teach Barack some Latin, or at least English? Personally, I think it works better in the original German. We'll call it the "Obama Jugend."

Tip of the jackboot to SayAnythingBlog.

Forget about the big dogs

In a response to a comment on his site, Tim Bayly urges readers to forget about the big dogs. I think he's got a great point, as one of the biggest tragedies I've seen in life in Christ is the love of being "big" in church.

Why so? For starters, when one pastor preaches before thousands, how does he got to know them intimately and help them grow in Christ? Even if he rightly gets other elders to help, hasn't he just deprived them of the opportunity to learn by both counseling (which they get to do) and teaching (which they largely don't)?

It can get worse. Some pastors of huge churches don't delegate, and hence counseling never happens--again, the pastor can't know 10,000 people well. Worse yet, the pastor gets the idea that he is a big deal, and spends his time being a celebrity, not a servant of the Word. And finally, if we find ourselves again in "Rome" under "Nero," it's a lot easier to shut down a few big churches with popular pastors than it is to shut down hundreds of thousands of smaller, more intimate churches.

So I plead; let the big dogs lie. God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the humble things of the world to shame the rich. We should take note, and abstain from being impressed by the wealth, glamor, and fame that the world worships. Instead, let us celebrate sweet fellowship in the Word like our Lord intended.

On the light side,

...have you ever noticed that the art of Thomas Kinkade bears a striking resemblance in certain ways to the Smurfs' village? Luckily for Kinkade, Pierre Culiford is no longer with us and cannot sue. Watch out for his heirs, though!

Of course, those who truly love art always cheered for Gargamel. They still do, if you catch my drift.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

This doesn't bode well for Obama

Evidently, his campaign workers aren't getting paid what they were promised. (h/t Cathy) Wouldn't it be funny if because of this and Obama's pledge to eliminate secret ballots for unionization elections, Democratic campaign workers unionized and went on strike in 2010 or 2012?

Part of me is enthusiastic about the prospect of Obama breaking his promises made in the campaign--that would generally mean his politics moving towards mine. On the other hand, if he breaks his campaign promises, he's also likely to break the promises he'll make next January. That's not such good news, nor is it good to cheer at any rate at the (further?) descent of a man into gross violations of Exodus 20:16.

Pay up, Barack, and fire the people who reneged on their promises. You cannot afford their "help."

"Thou shalt not steal"

It is an interesting fact to me that so many liberals can live in places with high rates of welfare dependence, but not clue in to the fact that all that welfare spending isn't lifting those areas out of poverty. How is it that Barack and Michelle Obama spent a lot of time in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago (as community agitator and U. of C. worker--the U. is not in a good area at all) without figuring out that the "Great Society" wasn't helping?

I would suggest it might have something to do with Rev. Wright failing to adequately exegete Exodus 20:15, and for that matter, the fact that he won suggests that too many pastors (and parents) have failed to take God's Word into account on this matter.

Just because one can legally vote in a subsidy doesn't mean it's a moral thing to do, and if you fail to figure out that stealing via government is still stealing, you're also pretty likely to fail to figure out that the biggest problem your area faces is a failure to grasp the truth of Exodus 20:15 and Ephesians 4:28.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I can't help noticing...

....that the day after Barack Obama and Joe Biden won, the DJIA dropped almost 500 points. Now certainly that news isn't as big as it once would have been, but I have to wonder if the stock markets are taking this into account.

Also along those lines, I follow four stocks each day, three that sell mostly to the private sector, and one that sells mostly to the government. One of those stocks rose today. Guess which one it was.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts on the Fairness Doctrine

Evidently (h/t bunches of people, BTW) Chuck Schumer has figured that regulating political speech is about the same as preventing pornography. Apart from the obvious absurdity of that comment, he adds (digs) further by claiming that everyone would want the media to be "fair and balanced", as decided by a government bureaucrat. Let's test that theory.

Assume I have a talk radio show where I consistently argue that the "fairness bureaucrats" ought to be fired for participating in a blatantly unconstitutional activity. Am I to assume that the "fairness bureaucrats" will agree when I tell them that it's fine if up to 50% of media reports say they should be fired? Or is it more likely that they'll decide my speech is "unfair" and threaten to take my radio stations' licenses if they don't fire me?

The answer should be obvious; the Fairness doctrine isn't about "fairness," but rather about removing opinions unfavorable to those in power. Hopefully it remains as dead as it is today, or even more so.

Monday, November 03, 2008

More on Circuit City

They're going to close over 150 stores. After what they did to some of their best performing employees, I don't think this could have happened to a nicer company. Their stock? Down almost 99% (no that is not a typo!) since they decided to eliminate the jobs of their best performing employees, and they've been through a couple of rounds of firing their worst performing employees (executives) as well.

If people believe that getting to the corner office is primarily a matter of hard work and skill, and not of emptying the beer bong ten times at the frat party, Circuit City seems to be working hard to persuade us otherwise.

Note to executives; you do not ensure the long term prosperity of a company by firing people who have worked their way up because they earn fifty cents too much each hour.

Note to boards of directors; if you want executives to look out for the long term profitabiity of a company (and you should, it's your job after all!), tie their compensation not to stock price, but to long term profitability.

Voting guide

And now for a very quick voting guide: if a candidate favors unimpeded access to abortion, strict gun control, or tax hikes to increase what government is doing to us, vote for their opponent.

Yeah, I'm not going to be pulling the lever for any Democrats, that's for sure.

Let's clear the water

Here in Minnesota, an "astroturf" (so-called environmental) group is desiring to load down our state Constitution with a measure to devote a .375% of our aggregate sales to water pollution, the arts, and so on. The Taxpayers' League gives us 10 great reasons not to vote for it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't include the biggest reason not to vote for it; the state really doesn't have authority over the biggest water polluters, and hence they can't do much to clean up our water. This is a classic case of throwing money at a problem when the actual causes are well known.

That is, the main pollution sources are known industrial sources, leaky septic systems, and farm runoff. The EPA and the USDA pretty much take ownership of farm runoff and industrial sources, and the state....simply needs to revise codes and its own regular enforcement of septic system problems to solve the issues of leaky septic systems.

Again, classic case of money being thrown at an issue without a plan. Now if you really wanted to clean the water, you could actually do it for free. How?

Repeal the state ethanol mandate for fuels, thereby reducing the demand for corn, thus reducing runoff. And actually, it wouldn't be just free--it would save state taxpayers millions in gas taxes and maintenance on their cars.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

I'd guess most of my readers know this already, but today's the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door. If you wonder why the Pope got so angry, take a look at them. The very form of Luther's theses leads anyone familiar with the Scriptures to a position harshly antagonistic to that of Rome at the time.

You can celebrate with a good German supper, preferably followed by a copious release of anti-hypertension drugs. Luther is said to have joked that he kept evil spirits at bay by breaking wind. Now how that would work, seeing that those spirits have their home in a sulfurous Hell, is beyond me, but he said it.

Salvation and 120/80, man. It's time to celebrate!

Obama's friends

Here is a nice Wall Street Journal article about the friends of Barack Hussein Ayers Rezko Daley Wright Pfleger Khalidi Obama. If he's elected, he'll bring about change in Washington--specifically doing his best to bring corrupt Chicago politics to the nation as a whole.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You're welcome

Listing to the radio yesterday morning, I learned that gasoline prices here--about $2.10 to $2.20 per gallon--are a full 70 cents lower than they were a year ago. Looks like my (and Pentadad's, and Mitch's) bike riding has been having its desired effect. You're welcome. :^)

How much of an effect? Well, the EIA notes that in July, gasoline deliveries declined by 17.6 million barrels vs. a year before, a 5.7% decrease in overall usage. I would guess that August deliveries will be down in a similar manner.

Notice also that the previous big drop in consumption didn't start with the imposition of CAFE standards in 1975, but rather with the 1979 oil crisis. The next one occurred during the first war with Iraq, when obviously those supplies were not in production. Those who think that government regulations are the key to managing our energy supplies would be well counseled to take a close look at this graph.

Also in good news, I noticed a lot of "deals" at the grocery store while shopping last night. Try as I might, I don't think that I can take any credit for THAT--my appetite while riding is pretty hearty! Maybe people are using this time of short credit, low levels of free cash, and more to start their diets?

Pray for Gino

He's apparently in a very significant surgery right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More liberal "logic"

Took a look at Barack Hussein Rezko Daley Ayers Wright Pfleger Khalidi Obama's tax plan, and there are two very interesting things in it that you might want to note to your socialism-minded friends:

1. Apparently, BHRDAWPKO doesn't think that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire amounts to a tax hike. As one who stands to lose $400/child in child tax credits and $1000/family or so in a reinstated "marriage penalty," I beg to differ. This would be a massive tax hike for my family.

2. Apparently, BHRDAWPKO thinks that adding new tax credits to the tax code is the best way to simplify it and make it possible to file your taxes "in five minutes." Of course, anyone who has ever done his own taxes knows that five minutes is about the time it takes to simply fill out the first line or two of the 1040EZ form, and that every tax credit has its own form requiring about 15 minutes to figure out.

It's also instructive to parse out what is, and what is not, "blessed" by the BHRDAWPKO tax plan. Parents lose part of the child tax credit, but get some of it back if they put their kids into daycare. Parents get slammed with a reinstated marriage penalty, but get some of it back if Mom leaves her kids in daycare and goes back to work. Parents get slammed if they buy a vehicle capable of going on a family vacation (and say, towing the family boat or camper), but get a credit if they buy a hybrid.

See a pattern here? They won't admit it, but the BHRDAWPKO campaign is waging war on the traditional family with their tax plan.

Also, astute observers will notice I've added a new middle name to Barack Hussein Rezko Daley Ayers Wright Pfleger Khalidi Obama: Obama is evidently a good friend of Rashid Khalidi, even allowing this former PR man for the PLO and Yasser Arafat to babysit his children. If you think the public deserves to know about this (akin to a Republican kibbitzing with someone from Aryan Nations, really), send a note to the LA Times and see if they'll release the tape of Obama toasting him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Change?

In all of Senator Daley Ayers Rezko Wright Pfleger Obama's rhetoric about people desiring "change," one thing is forgotten; economic calculation proceeds best not in an atmosphere of uncertainty, but rather consistency. Even beyond the socialistic nature of the changes Senator Daley Ayers Rezko Wright Pfleger Obama is desiring, the very fact that he seems to desire change for change's sake poses a great hazard to economic security for a lot of people not lucky enough to have rich and powerful people paying their bills, as Obama has.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let me get this straight....

....government sets up Social Security, and despite a fourfold increase in the tax to support this Ponzi scheme since it was started, it finds itself with a ten trillion dollar debt (GAAP standards).

....government sets up Medicare and Medicaid, and it's got a forty trillion dollar debt by proper accounting standards only forty years into its existence.

....government sets up prescription drug coverage for Medicare, and it's already well over budget.

....and Democrats are telling us that the CURE to all of these problems is to trust the same actuarial models that grossly underestimated the costs of government involvement, and put effectively ALL medical care and ALL of our retirement into the hands of the government?

Apparently Democrats are learning logic from the same people who trained global warming "scientists," and believe that it doesn't matter that their models don't work, as long as they haven't been persuaded that there is a better one.

Compassion for the Wolverines

As someone who was born a Buckeye (Circleville), grew up a Hoosier, and became a Spartan by the Grace of God, sympathy for fans of the University of Michigan doesn't come easy. Yet this year, it seems to be coming to me--they've beaten their last years' performance of losing to Appalachian State by losing to a number of teams they're not used to losing to--Penn State, Michigan State, Utah, Notre Dame, and others. It looks like they've probably got a good flogging coming up in the horseshoe come November, too, and they may have compounded their woes by giving their head coach a contract extension (now if we can only get Gerry Faust back in South Bend!). So a little bit of compassion for our (least) favorite weasels might be in order.

So if you're a Michigan fan reading this (Go Blue, and take the Lions with you!), keep in mind that your favorite team is doing a great favor to its fans by stinking up the Big House; they're helping hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, control their blood pressure. Moreover, there is some more good news; American Standard has apparently just issued the weasels a bowl invitation!

Finally, a huge blessing; if you're a Michigan fan who has always wanted to invite your favorite player to a Christmas or New Year's party, this year the Wolverines will be available. Contrary to ordinary opinion, you don't need to double your order at the caterers, 'cause this year, they obviously ain't hungry.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The real shame...

...about Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe is not that apparently she's wearing $5000 outfits. People who NEED to look good every day have been doing that for decades--start with a pair of Alden shoes ($500), add a tailored shirt ($300-500) and a custom made suit ($2000 or more), hold it together with a great tie ($200) and belt ($100) and cover it with a tailored overcoat and hat ($1000 +), and you're pretty much there. Lawyers, politicians, executives, and others have been doing this for a long time--and if that's a scandal, let's send Barack, Joe, and John out in their Wranglers.

Eww....let's not. As others have said, there comes a time when most men really look best in a suit. Biden and McCain have clearly reached that point, so suits it is.

The same link tells us what the real shame is about Gov. Palin's new wardrobe. It's not that each outfit costs $5000; it's that the RNC evidently bought her 30 or more of them. Reality is, though, that a man really only needs a few good suits to look his best every day. A woman, maybe five to ten. Just enough to mix and match for virtually infinite unique looks, really.

In other words, the RNC should be ashamed for knowing clothes (each outfit looks great), but not wardrobes. It's a lack of the "big perspective" that...shows all too clearly in both political parties.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A hearty thank you to some atheists in England

By putting this ad campaign together, they've brilliantly demonstrated a philosophical point that Christians and others have been making for centuries; where there is no knowledge of God, men cast off restraint. The results, as prominent atheists like Mao, Lenin, and Stalin demonstrated well, are often horrific.

So a hearty thank you to this campaign, and remember--there are only 159 shopping days until International Atheism Day!

Expletive deleted, it's true

When I read Ann Coulter's column this morning, I thought that it couldn't possibly be true that Angela Davis was a professor of "History of Consciousness". No way a university could be that stupid.

I was wrong. She is listed here. If we doubt that our educational institutions are losing their contact with reality, this is exhibit A to the contrary.

Or probably exhibit CYJ, given the number of goofball things done in ivory towers these days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I use environmentally sound diapers for my son

Pampers disposables, of course. A British government study has revealed that in terms of energy use, wastewater generation, and so on, that old fashioned cloth diapers actually do more damage to the environment than disposables.

Now to those of you who were lugging a pail of stinkbombs to the laundromat every few days in a misguided effort to save the environment, I have just one thing to say.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

OK, I'll be fair; it is a GOVERNMENT study, so we need to treat the results with a grain of salt. But still:

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

Environmentalism. The world's best way to destroy the planet we live on.

God is so good!

Research indicates that if you want a long, healthy life, you'll do well to eat a lot of chocolate and drink a fair amount of coffee. And eat the delicious fruits of the land. It is as if He knew what He was talking about when He told Adam and Eve that they could eat of the trees of the Garden, save one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Carbon sequestration and organic farming

A while back, I suggested that one of the big reasons for losing topsoil--and also the key to retaining and increasing it--is to simply allow the land to grow the plants that are suitable for it instead of plowing it every year to grow grain for chickens, turkeys, and pigs. Let animals graze it directly instead of harvesting it with a tractor, and you'll soon find that you get both healthier meat, as well as healthier land.

Well, I may be insane, and this may prove it, but I can at least argue I'm not alone. In this article, Joel Salatin argues about the same thing; that if we abandoned the feedlot, we could re-sequester all of the carbon that has been emitted by human sources in the past century within a matter of years.

For fun, let's check his math. My family probably eats about half a ton of meat and dairy per year, meaning probably about ten tons of feed was used to grow it. Do it with forage, and we would conclude that about twice that amount would be used, and that an equivalent amount of roots (new organic matter) would be put into the soil. So if we changed to pasture fed meats and dairy products, we'd be sequestering something around 20 tons of carbon annually. We also could reduce the farmer's fuel usage by a few tons of diesel fuel.

In contrast, our family burns about 1400 gallons, or ~4 tons, of gasoline per year, and probably an equivalent amount of fuel for heat and electricity. So if indeed pasture based agriculture does put organic matter into the soil, and if indeed plow based agriculture destroys it, one great way of reducing atmospheric carbon would be to let grazing animals, you know, "graze."

It also might do wonders for water quality, seafood availability, and flood dangers. It is as if God wants us to know something about His Creation.

From the mouths of babes

Or, rather, 10 year olds. Three of my daughters are joining our church, and one of the subjects that our church has been forced to deal with in its constitution and other documents is how various forms of perverted sexuality violate Scripture. Hence, I've had to give explanations of what those big words mean--not in graphic detail, of course, but a basic explanation, say, that bestiality is treating an animal as if it were your spouse.

My oldest daughter's reaction; laughter at the absurdity of claiming to love a cow as if it were one's wife or husband. And so I wonder; if the people who are pushing these perversions are simply in need, as Andersen's emperor in the story, of a little boy (or girl) to say

The emperor has no clothes!

I don't think it would hurt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some good news

ColdFusionGuy noted a while back that he hoped that families would respond to the credit crisis by living within their means. Well, he and I are getting our wish, at least according to this; down payments on vehicles have gone up by a cool $1000 or so to a full 12% of the purchase price. So when people drive off the dealer's lot today, they're only slightly underwater vs. what the vehicle is worth. It's also worth noting that the purchase price now is about $25000 vs. $40,000 a few months ago, if the % financed and down payment statistics can be trusted.

Fun reference; the favored vehicle of actual millionaires (non-house net worth > $1 million) profiled in "The Millionaire Next Door" is the Ford Crown Victoria, a vehicle that could be had for less than $25,000. Maybe with consumers choosing more vehicles of this nature, there's hope for our country yet.

I don't get it

Evidently, the guy hired by Hank Paulson to dole out the $700 billion (or $850 billion, or $1 trillion, or whatever) bailout is also a former executive of Goldman Sachs. The man may be a genius, but all I can see is how he helped take his employer nearly to Chapter 7. As such, it's unclear to me why I ought to trust him with a hot dog stand, let alone with a bailout plan that could either rescue or wreck our economy.

It's really one of my persistent pet peeves; executives take their company to Chapter 11 or 7, and promptly get hired in another executive position, often one with more responsibility and pay. What ever happened to telling a man "Bob, you're very talented, but you took your last company down the toilet. It's time for you to re-start a few levels down."

On the down side....

....it appears that Barack Hussein Daley Rezko Pfleger Wright Ayers Obama wishes to declare carbon dioxide to be a "major" pollutant. (H/T Mark)

If so, well, it's time for B.H.D.R.P.W.A.O. to show some leadership here. Stop flying your private jet, stop heating your house, don't drive anywhere, and shut down your website, too. One of the biggest carbon sources, of course, is operating the masses of disk drives that form the backbone of the Internet.

No, we won't demand he stop breathing, but if he's going to call a harmless gas a pollutant, then he owes it to us to show that he's serious about reducing his personal contribution to emissions.

Yeah, that goes for you too, though in fairness, it looks like you've got a serious amount of carbon sequestered in your rear end.

Some good news in the political world

Hawaii is apparently ending their universal child health care plan after learning the hard way what any decent economist, or for that matter anyone educated in basic logic, could have told them; that given a choice between using their own money or somebody else's, people will use somebody else's money. Unsurprisingly--just like with Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare part D, and other attempts to provide health care for nothing, expenses exploded, and in response, the state shut the program down.

And yes, this is a remarkably similar plan in these respects to that of Barack Hussein Daley Rezko Wright Pfleger Ayers Obama. Hopefully voters and legislators realize that this kind of thing goes against basic human nature and vote him, and his plan, down before it's too late.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Government at work at the FAA

Apparently, the FAA has been sitting on a plan to implement GPS for airlines for over ten years. The details appear to be really incredible; despite the fact that most luxury cars have this, and despite the fact that the satellites are already up there, they're claiming that implementing GPS for airliners will require a new set of satellites and about $200,000 per plane, adding up to about $35 billion overall.

You, the taxpayer, will get to pony over $20 billion of this, while airlines will get to keep all of the $10 billion annually they'll save on fuel.

Call me simplistic, but I have to point out that military jets have been using the present GPS units for about two decades. I don't really think that they system is going to require new satellites, $20 billion from taxpayers, or $200k per plane to implement if they take a few hints from the good folks at OnStar.

More thoughts on the Krugman Nobel

It's not a completely direct link, but one of the outgrowth's of Paul Krugman's economic research is the concept that if indeed economies of scale have something to do with trade patterns and economic prosperity, then why not see if one can "prime the pump" and set up "enterprise zones" to get a "critical mass" of enterprise in one area to get things going?

Well, we've been doing exactly that in many ways--policy-makers didn't wait for Krugman's thesis and following papers to get started--and we've got the results in now.

Stadiums and convention centers in big cities ("they'll jump start downtown!") that not only haven't paid for themselves, but also are surrounded by virtual ghost towns. Acre upon acre of empty lots in New London, CT. Broken promises from Best Buy here in the Twin Cities. A half-empty, money losing Mall of America.

And then you've got the other side of the equation; solvent small businesses taxed heavily to bring these big "helpers" into town. In the 1990s, California saw a huge outflow as tax piglets left communities that would no longer let them suckle--many of those piglets coming to Colorado. Now many of these companies have either failed or moved on as well, leaving devastated downtowns behind.

Moral of the story; yes, Krugman was right in noting that trade patterns owed something to economies of scale, but no, you cannot create these by appointing a bureaucrat and giving him a budget.

Chicago crime rate to fall soon!

Mayor Daley will be shutting down city government for six days. Don't ever say I never said anything nice about the Daleys now. :^)

Sad to say, it'll be a temporary drop in the crime rate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have they ever heard of Lindt?

Evidently, a spokesman for Hershey (now threatened for market share by M&M Mars) has made the claim that "Hershey is chocolate," Saville said. "We've made the world's best chocolate for more than 100 years."

With all due respect, I suggest to Mr. Saville that he might do well to visit Europe and learn what real chocolate tastes like, or perhaps to even visit Hershey's own Scharffen-Berger division and learn what chocolate tastes like when it has more than 14% cacao.

Another reason to homeschool

Evidently, a high school literature textbook wastes 15 pages on Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father." Now no disrespect intended to the Senator, but it used to be that one would wait until at least after an election, if not a few decades before deciding that a particular work really belonged in the canon of great literature.

I would also have to guess that if I took a good look at this book (and I don't intend to), it probably turns out that the inclusion of Obama's work is one of the lesser sins of those who put the text together. After all, 15 pages for Obama is 15 pages that cannot be used for those "lesser lights" like Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Dickens, and so on.

H/T Bear Creek Ledger

Afterthought: it's probably worth noting that the very fact that schools would use a textbook to teach great literature, instead of the literature itself, ought to persuade us that our government schools have absolutely no clue about how to teach literature and writing!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Huh?

Paul Krugman's Nobel Prize in Economics apparently has to do with how economies of scale affect international trade patterns. Now I'll admit that I haven't read Krugman's entire body of work here, nor is it terribly likely that I'd be able to understand it in detail either without a lot of work, but seems to me that concepts such as comparative advantage and economies of scale were well discussed in the "recent" past by those such as Adam Smith and Fredric Bastiat, among others. Hence, it's not entirely clear to me exactly what his contribution is. (Shawn? you reading?)

And here's a list of laureates. Scary listing; Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich of the U.S.S.R. in 1975 for work on "optimal allocation of resources". One would think that a laureate honored for work in the "optimal allocation of resources" might have come from a country without long lines for bread and other essentials, but evidently not. I guess he had ample reason to know what didn't work.

(dare I suggest that some of these listings demonstrate that the Sverige Riksbank prize may sometimes mean little more than a Nobel Peace or Literature prize?)

Yikes

Apparently, biscuit-makers in Thailand and Sri Lanka have discovered the "magic" of putting melamine in food products. It is bizaare to me that one would use a chemical with a fairly complex (and toxic) synthesis in place of readily available and cheap foodstuffs, especially for biscuits--which tend to be made with lower protein flours to prevent being too chewy.

Ironically, adding melamine (which on initial analysis looks like protein) shows the product to be inferior.

So why do they do it? Well, look what melamine is made from; animal waste. I have to wonder if a big part of the problem is (government sponsored?) melamine factories near stockyards without sufficient legitimate demand for their product. Getting a price somewhat less than that for rice might be their best (short term of course) business decision.

Your best business decision, of course, just might be to avoid processed foods from Asia in general. If biscuit makers can't clue in to the fact that killing their customers is bad business, maybe they'll clue in to bankruptcy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another benefit of compact flourescent bulbs

Apparently, they give off UV light, which is a great way to get your vitamin D during the winter, and also stave off seasonal depression. Yes, the article doesn't make this connection, but given that they're talking only of a "little bit" of redness from these bulbs, it would seem that what we have here is a small, but real, way of getting the UV rays one needs in the winter.

Not a big issue for those of you in the Deep South--you know, places like Colorado Springs and Western Pennsylvania or Washington DC--but up here in Minnesota, where the entire population is said to be UV deficient in the winter, it just might be really helpful not only to one's electric bill, but also for one's general health.

Are you ready.....

....if the stock market crash turns into a severe recession? I'm going to indulge my "broken record" habits and remind my "vast" (ha ha) audience of Dave Ramsey's steps to financial freedom. The further you've gone on this, the better you can ride out the crisis, and if you're not very far, it's time to get cracking!

For those too lazy to use the link:

1. $1000 emergency fund in your checking account.

2. Use debt "snowball" to pay off your non-mortgage debt.

3. 3-6 months' expenses in savings.

4. Invest 15% of household income into pre-and-post-tax retirement funds.

5. College money for children.

6. Pay off home early

7. Build wealth and give.

I personally switched #5 and #6 to simplify my finances, but overall, this is a great plan for riding out the ups and downs of the economy. Notice also that if you've got a 15% cushion in the family budget (the retirement funds savings in #4), you're going to do a lot better with an income compromised by recession.

Here's some theological dissonance

Evidently, Louis Farrakhan, theoretically a Muslim, is saying that Barack Hussein Daley Obama is "the Messiah." I believe that would be blasphemy not just for Islam (which strictly speaking doesn't believe in one, let alone refer to one with a Hebrew name), but also for Judiasm and Christianity.

Calypso Louie should be very glad that burning heretics at the stake is no longer in vogue!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Global warming, or agricultural practices?

Mark sent me this; researchers are claiming that global warming will end the practice of eating haggis because warmer temperatures make a better climate for lungworms that effect sheep. Now it may be that warmer weather (not necessarily linked to human action) may make a better climate for lungworms, but there are two big weaknesses with the theory.

First of all, the article concedes that a large contributor to the epidemic of lungworm is the fact that farmers are no longer treating all sheep for this parasite--just as the failure of parents to vaccinate is leading to outbreaks of childhood diseases, the failure of farmers to treat their stock is going to lead to outbreaks, no?

Second, what of the reality that farmers worldwide are trying to squeeze the "last bit of blood out of the turnip"? That is, is this an issue with climate (Scotland has rarely had consistent harsh winters to begin with), or is this an issue with how sheep are raised today?

I'm guessing the latter.

How many illegals?

HUD estimates five million fraudulent mortgages have been issued to illegal immigrants. This would be, of course, a huge portion of those underwater and in default, and it would also suggest to us that 10 million is probably a very low estimate for the number of those here illegally.

This, in turn, would lead us to a revised estimate of the cost of illegal immigration; close to a trillion dollars over the past few years. I think that would pay to build a border fence and hire some more ICE agents.

How to be an injury-free musician

Well, I'm not a great musician, but one thing that I've noticed among friends who are good musicians is that an awful lot of them spend time in the infirmary for various maladies due to playing, especially carpal tunnel syndrome.

Enter Mr. Richard Dowling, who was recently in Minnesota to play a mini-concert at Crown College while on tour with the Piatagorsky Foundation to interest people in "flyover country" in classical music. It was strange to see a musician of his caliber eagerly presenting his work to an audience of less than fifty people--it was clear that this was a labor of love for him.

Very significantly, my daughters' piano teacher, who had told us of this (free!) opportunity, noticed the man's strength in playing, and asked whether he'd had any injuries. To our surprise, he said no, and explained how he did it; by taking a daily run in Central Park, and by doing an awful lot of walking. In other words, by training his whole body for fitness, he avoided overuse injuries peculiar to piano--and also trained himself to treat playing the piano as an exercise of the entire body, not just the arms. He even demonstrated how doing this led to an improvement in the sound from the instrument.

So if you want to be a great, injury-free musician, take a run. Also, if you get a chance to attend a concert by a Piatagorsky artist, do so. It is well worth your time!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

B. Hussein Daley

Apparently, the Democratic nominee has learned a lot from Chicago's first crime family, and no, I don't mean the Capones. Word has it that the graveyard vote is lining up 100% for Obama.

An interesting thought

While riding to work today, I had to use the pedestrian buttons in order to make a left turn--the stoplights don't detect my ride very well. Two walkers who saw me approach (and took mild evasive action, thinking I was heading for the sidewalk) suggested that I'd do well to use hand signals. I pointed out that with both hands on the brakes (kinda necessary for safe riding), it was difficult at best to give a hand signal.

Hand signals for stopping and right turns made sense, I guess, when every bicycle had coaster brakes and you could stop easily with one hand off the handlebars. Not so for anyone over the age of ten in the past thirty or forty years, though.

Banker of what resort?

Way back in the early 20th Century, a big argument for the establishment of the Federal Reserve was that it would serve as a lender of last resort. Let's check out how that's worked out with Wachovia Bank. (h/T Cold Fusion Guy)

According to a group working to get a higher price for Wachovia (than Citi will offer), Wachovia has $800 billion in assets (loans) and only $450 billion in deposits. Absent other reserves, that would be a -60% reserve ratio. Yes, that would be illegal. What does it mean?

It means that Wachovia has something around $400 billion in loans (again, perversely called assets) from other banks and the Fed. Now is the Fed the lender of last resort, or is it rather one of the dominant factors in the banking economy?

I suggest the latter.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A thought on fashion

KingDavid's latest demonstrates to me what I would call (sorry, Rush) #36 of the Undeniable Truths of Life; that fashion is not about how to clothe one's self well, but rather about how fashion designers are breaking the rules of good taste this season.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sarah Palin tax returns and financial statement

Here. My take:

1. Charitable giving is a bit low at 1.5-3% for 2006 and 2007, but it's (ahem) better by far than Joe Biden's, and comparable to superior to Barack Obama's--at least prior to Obama's book-writing.

2. Mortgage interest is reasonable at about $10k/year, and declining, not increasing. The Palins do not appear to be using their home as a bank account. The interest also suggests that they have significant (well over 50%) equity in their home.

3. Unlike Obama and Biden, the Palins do show consistent interest, dividend, and capital gains income.

4. Very unlike Obama and Biden, the Palins show very significant savings, including a number of mutual funds, Todd Palin's business, and more.

Overall, except for the charitable giving aspect, I give the Palins an A- on their financials, vs. an A for McCain, a D for Obama, and an F for Biden. We can probably trust her near a three trillion dollar budget.

Skwushy things and otherwise

In a brilliant scientific move, my almost four year old daughter learned (after cleaning out the kitty litter) that cat poop is skwushy. Thankfully, she found this out when it was in the bag, but I made her wash her hands anyways.

Also in the world of science, I learned that haggis isn't really half bad. It's just that anything to do with organ meats grosses us modern Americans out. I crumbled it into a skillet with some potatoes & fried it. Yum!

No melamine involved!

And for a spiritual thought on our nation's financial troubles, read the book of Haggai. Israel was punished with poor crops for its failure to bring the full tithe to the priests; I have to wonder if a great part of our nation's current distress is God graciously allowing us to suffer the consequences of our poor decisions. Perhaps this time we will learn.

Or, perhaps, we'll pass some more subsidies for Puerto Rican rum and bicycle commuting. Sigh.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Here's a hazard....


....of being good friends with missionaries to Scotland. It brings to mind a great work of Robert Bruce.
Fair fa your honest sonsie face
Great chieftan o' the puddin' race!
Aboon them a ye take your place
painch, tripe, or thairm
Weel are ye worthy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

We'll see how it comes out with potatoes and bashed Swedes (turnips).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

As we find melamine in children's candy, too....

.....check it out here, it's worth noting that a technical magazine to which I subscribe carries a listing each month of products recalled for known safety hazards. Want to guess where about 80% of them are manufactured?

I don't like to say this, but if you value your health, you'll do well to avoid buying products made there, especially if they're not imported under the supervision of a reputable company. People who don't care about the other effects of shoddy goods do indeed care about damage inflicted on their pocketbooks by those of us who refuse to buy.

The volatility of fractional reserve banking

Cold Fusion Guy links a very interesting piece from the New York Times about how things started to fall apart for major financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns in the past couple of months. Flight to quality can take a terrible toll, and very quickly.

The Mises Institute shares a bit from Murray Rothbard about why this is, and why we have business cycles. More or less, it boils down to the very nature of fractional reserve banking; the very nature of "leverage" via debt is to accelerate the ordinary ups and downs of life. For example, if you've got a mortgage for 95% of the house's value, you're going to be very concerned when the housing market drops 5%--or ecstatic when it rises 5%. Not so the man who owns his house outright, right?

And if you wonder why Democrats in Congress prevented meaningful reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the past decade, take a look at the American Spectator. Apparently, Barney Frank and others have been on any number of "events" paid for by the bankrupt companies, and it may even turn out that a fair number of them were not just metaphorically "in bed" with their executives.

What to do when Congress appears poised for a bailout? Remember that in reality, it may be a tradeoff between paying that money in a bailout bill, and paying out that money for a massive FDIC payout. We're probably on the hook for this either way, and what can be done, realistically speaking, is to take steps to reduce one's exposure to the volatility imposed by fractional reserve banking. In other words, listen to people like Dave Ramsey and take steps to reduce your debt.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Here's a CRA primer

Thanks to the Northern Muckraker, here's a little primer on why the Community Reinvestment Act didn't start to do any real damage until the Clinton administration. Keep this in mind when liberals try to tell you that the CRA bears no blame for the current financial mess we're in.

Not what we need right now.....

While driving to work today (legs will only take so much!), I heard a commercial for Norm Coleman pointing out that he knows what it's like to take out a second mortgage to pay for his kids' school.

Say what? A lawyer with 32 years experience, age 59, has not only a first, but also a second, mortgage? OK, he was having kids around 1980, so it might have been a few years back that he was doing this, but he still would have been above 50 at the time.

Maybe I'm a "throwback" here, but I've got this weird idea that after 25 years of a lawyer's income, a man ought to have paid off his mortgage, and have enough savings to pay for his kids' educations without applying for a loan. Coleman's apparent failure to do so doesn't tell me that he's like the common Joe, but rather that he also isn't terribly good with money.

Of course, it's nowhere near as bad as taking part in the pillaging of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, as his opponent has done, but it's still not something that will cause me to relax as I hold my nose to vote for him this November.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Here is an incredibly stupid article

The Red-Star Tribune puts out an article noting (correctly) that bicylist injuries and deaths are up sharply due to high gas prices. Well, maybe, maybe not?

Maybe not? Absolutely. You see, here in Minnesota, we have a neat phenomenon called "winter" that tends to put the kibosh on cycling from about, well, now until May. So the cycling injuries we have now are...more or less...pretty close to what we'll see in December. So yes, injuries are up, but...we're not really on a pace for 115 of them. Probably about 95 in Minneapolis proper, but it's....really within ordinary bounds.

It gets worse. The article cites an emergency room doctor telling about how dangerous cycling is. Well, yes, if somebody's Taurus ran me over, I'd probably be injured worse than the driver. That said, if statistics be trusted, this same doctor probably treats fifty to one hundred victims of auto accidents for every victim of a bicycle accident. And he's warning about cyclists?

If you work the numbers, injury and death rates for cyclists are....surprise....about the same as they are for automobile drivers. Although there is a big weight difference, there is a significant safety advantage to going more slowly and being able to see and hear everything around you.

Maybe one of these days, they'll teach "math" to journalists and emergency room physicians. I won't be holding my breath, though.

Update: A second look at the second page of the article indicates that 47 of the incidents in Minneapolis are hit & run. This would seem to indicate that, contrary to the claims of many drivers, a great portion of the fault lies with...those on four wheels.

Happy (late) Birthday, Professor Mises!

I've just learned from a comment at SCSU Scholars that the rejection of the bailout boondoggle came, appropriately, on the birthday of Ludwig von Mises.

As we contemplate the likely effects of government intervention into any number of industries, we need to remember one of Mises' chief accomplishments; the clarification of the principle that due to the absence of the economic indicator called "price," socialism would always fail to solve the problems of economic calculation, for which price is the dominant variable.

If you're not clear on this, take a look at what's happening in Atlanta, where laws against price gouging (as well as EPA regulations too, I'd bet) have prevented gasoline producers from profitably marketing their products. Or take a look at store shelves in Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, or try to get an affordable apartment in New York City, or....

I told you so!

Earlier, I revealed my hunch that Hillary Clinton was in reality none other than AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson. Now, a follow-up; the band has dates scheduled in Pig's Eye for November 23 and January 19. It is the band's first tour since 2001.

Coincidence that this tour coincides with the (at least temporary) end of Mrs. Clinton's political aspirations? I think not.

I also think that if Obama wins, they'll be turning the amps up all the way to eleven in honor of the nominee for "Highway to ....".

(disclaimer: for the humor impaired, this is called a "joke". I would never seriously accuse a fine, upstanding heavy metal vocalist of being a Senator from New York!)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Now tell me again....

....why it is that merchant ships go through pirate-infested waters unarmed? Yes, I realize that significant amounts of artillery on a ship today would qualify it as a man-o-war, but is it really unthinkable to allow, say, the crews of, say, a Ukrainian ship carrying 20 tanks and an unspecified amount of ammunition, to have a few .50 Brownings mounted on deck to suggest to pirates that they might do well to look elsewhere for amusement?

(or any cruise ship, or any ship carrying flammable items, or.....)

When life and death are a matter of seconds, the Navy and Coast Guard are only hours away. It's time to let merchant crews defend themselves if they so choose.

This is why it's important...

....that mother's milk be used for its intended purpose. Evidently in China, companies making baby formula have mixed melamine with their product. Evidently there is a long tradition in China of adulterating baby formula to increase profits. Earlier generations used rice powder, now they're using melamine.

Yeah, the first question that comes to mind for me is "what kind of sicko poisons infants' food for profit?" That noted, I've never had to wonder about the purity of what my children got from my wife when they were young, and if someone put rice powder, plaster, or melamine in a can of Enfamil instead of powdered milk, I'd never know the difference until someone got sick.

Come to think of it, that's a decent argument for eating unprocessed foods in general, isn't it?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Global warming update!

Congressman Alcee Hastings said this about Governor Palin:

Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through.

(emphasis mine)

Evidently, due to global warming, it's so cold in Alaska that even the moose are wearing parkas and coveralls during the moose season. Exactly how cold? Well, here's a hint; moose season in Alaska is in September. Imagine what those beasts wear come January.

Of course, this might just be the bigoted ramblings of a brain impaired Democrat from Florida, but I tend to prefer the other explanation. Take a drive, save a moose from freezing to death.