Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here comes your brain dead city council

Apparently, the San Antonio, Texas, city council is considering passing an ordinance that says that no one shall be appointed to any position if the city council finds that they have "demonstrated a bias" against any group based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability.

Now I'm against bigotry, but quite frankly, if I can't make a credible claim that any Joe or Jane off the street has demonstrated some sort of bias after getting to know them for ten minutes or less, I've got to conclude that either (a) I am brain dead or (b) Joe or Jane is brain dead.  So what the city fathers are doing is to insist that new employees and/or city council members be either (a) fantastic liars or (b) brain dead.

I don't know whether that's a prescription for upcoming disaster, or possibly just a late admission of what already had become the case in that fair city and too many others.  I'm leaning towards the latter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Picture of problems with student loans

Today's edition of WorldNetDaily linked an article from the New York Times about a Puerto Rican immigrant who was duped into taking large amounts of student loans to become a hairdresser.  Now, given that there is a need for hairdressers, I'm not against student loans to become one if that in fact will tend to give someone a good paying job.  However, one thing in the article stuck out; Ms. Tejada was interviewed with a translator.

OK, so we're giving student loans to people who do not even know the main language of this country well enough to explain their loan situation to a reporter--a situation any banker with green eyeshades would tell you is not conducive to being able to repay student loans.  If we wonder why we have double-digit default rates for loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, it's insanity like this.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A quote you can use

From here

Being well-dressed is a beautiful form of politeness.

Now of course, different people mean different things by this, but hopefully we can all agree on the principle.  If my outward appearance is (within reason) pleasant and unoffensive, and does not unduly distract others, that is a sign of good manners--and a needlessly unpleasant, distracting, or offensive outward appearance is in turn a sign of bad manners.

Weekend update

Had a wonderful anniverary weekend with my wife, but apparently the walk to the Hubble House reminded her of the "little stretch of the legs" (it starts at about 1:50) scene from John Wayne's The Quiet Man.  Thankfully for my brother-in-law, he isn't holding on to my wife's dowry, or if he is, good for him that he's on the other side of Lake Michigan from us.  :^)

New tires, new brake and derailleur cables, new handlebar tape, and a heaping helping of elbow grease (along with a blister or two) got a young'un from our church's youth group on a "brand new to him" Schwinn Varsity.  You might look down your nose on it, but his previous bike was a Wal-Mart bike with nonfunctioning brakes.  It's the third bike I've been able to bring back from the dump for these kids.

Speaking of which, pray for teens all over.  I'm of the opinion that views like this one expressed by dear sister Elspeth have more truth in them than I'd like; many churches have substituted ministry for souls, and it's brutally apparent in some of the kids I'm privileged to try to serve and love.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Global warming update

It's the end of July, and the temperature is just shy of 60, about 12 degrees below average for this time of year.  Thank you, global warming!

It's a good thing that 17 years ago today, I got someone to snuggle with for life.  Otherwise I just might be freezing.  Thanks Honey!

Friday, July 26, 2013

News you can use

Apparently, there are a number of hot sauces, especially from Mexico, which have levels of lead that exceed allowable limits.   Unfortunately, the article does not make clear why that might be--from the soil, from handling, whatever.  However, the article makes up for that with the hilarious comment that parents might want to be cautious when giving hot sauce products to their children.

Well, yes.  And for the parents who can't clue in on another possible reason that their children might not want to eat a lot of hot sauce, here's a safe product from the fine folks at Gerber.

The first time I found this, I put a copy on a colleague's door, knowing that his wife made award-winning salsa.  He tracked me down and let me know his wife also did daycare.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Listening to the wrong people

President Obama, in comments made to "young skulls full of mush" at Knox College in Galesburg IL, noted that the media tend to be very supportive of his proposals.    Now, apart from the media's well-known tendency towards the left, it seems to me that Mr. Obama has a huge problem; he is listening to the wrong people.

You see, journalists are trained, well, to write within the confines of standard practice (e.g. AP Style) and the law, and this takes about 25% to 35% of the available credit-hours.  Add 40 credit-hours of required courses, and another 40 credit-hours of whatever else the student desires, and they have their degree.....and thus go out into the world having no in-depth knowledge of any subject. 

With such a background, it's no surprise that they're liberal, but more importantly, if Obama is listening to journalists for his feedback, what it means is that he's hearing only the voices of the uneducated. 

In short, he's in a very, very dangerous position.  Hopefully he starts listening to the economics faculty of George Mason University soon, to put it mildly, before we're sunk. 

And, for that matter, maybe it's time to reconsider how journalists are being trained and selected, as ironically, the profession that reports on reality is one with the lowest understanding of reality out there.


The Department of "Justice", apparently not content to ignore the Constitution's prohibition of double jeopardy and the recommendations of multiple law agencies in the case of George Zimmerman, and apparently not content to have ignored clear cases of voter intimidation by the "New Black Panthers" in Philadelphia, is proceeding to ignore the clear intent of the Supreme Court's decision invalidating large portions of the Voting Rights Act.  They are going to actually ask a federal court to require Texas to obtain DOJ approval in advance before changing voting procedures and regulations.

Um, isn't this exactly what the Supreme Court just ruled to be unconstitutional?   It would be nice if we could get an attorney general who actually followed the law.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Having a form of Godliness, and denying the power thereof

My friend Jim links to an interesting bit of guidance from a Baptist day school.  More or less, a church in the Twin Cities area is suggesting that all graduates of their day school need to go on to Bible college because it will be too dangerous for these "young skulls full of mush" to take a job or attend college elsewhere.

In a nutshell, what they're arguing is that 18 years of sermons, schooling, mandatory chapel, AWANA, youth group, summer camps, and the like is insufficient to prepare a young man or woman to face the challenges to their faith posed by their boss or professor.

In contrast, early Christians were known to the Roman pagans as those who would not give up their faith when confronted with the Roman philosophers, lions, and even being burned as a human torch.  In later days, the heroism of John Hus, William Tyndale, John Bunyan, and innumerable missionaries who were imprisoned or killed for their testimony is also well known.  Among the fruit of the spirit is endurance, no?

As baptistic and fundamental as I am, I've got to suggest that if a church truly believes that their members are incapable of confronting the world, they need to take a serious look at whether what they're preaching is really the Gospel, and whether the armor they're strapping on to young believers is really the armor of God.

And yes, I've got to say it; a lot of churches have a form of Godliness but deny its power.  From such stay away, even if they're quoting a lot of Scripture at you.

Angela Corey update

Apparently, in her response to a subpoena regarding a lawsuit filed by an employee terminated after revealing that Ms. Corey had failed to provide evidence to the defense team of George Zimmerman, she has failed to provide her former employee with evidence as well.

Looks like Ms. Corey has a habit of withholding evidence, and five will get you ten a few prisoners in Florida are going to have a chat with their lawyers.

Another great success for the NSA

Apparently having received a FOIA request to search employee emails about certain matters, the NSA has responded that they do not have the technology--this technology being something that most any good IT department at any private company can do--it's a critical part of defending a company from lawsuits.

So either the NSA has failed to implement basic systems for accountability (and heads should roll), or they are lying (and heads should roll), or they are completely incompetent at the art of managing a database (and heads should roll). 

No matter what the answer is, it's pretty clear that a number of people need to lose their jobs, and if we need phone records to track terrorists, we can simply use the system that Ma Bell has provided for free for a century, and save a few billion dollars per year in the bargain.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A question I've been asking for a while asked by columnist Mona Charen, who asks the obvious question; if women really like "hooking up" and "one night stands" (or is that too romantic in today's age?), why are they so consistently getting drunk or stoned before proceeding?

Along the same lines, a former colleague of mine who worked for a while in a strip club noted that the "performers" tended to use an awful lot of cocaine before going on stage. 

Yes, candy is dandy, and liquor is quicker, but I would hope that we would all agree, no matter what our political, religious, or other persuasion, that if sex requires intoxication, it isn't romance.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Update: Mayo Clinic Diet

I posted a while back to a quick review of the Mayo Clinic Diet, and figure that, having received an updated blood test (lipids and sugar), a few numbers ("In God we Trust, all others must bring data") might be in order.

Weight: down about 25 lbs.  (Mrs. Bubba is down about 10)
BMI: from 29.3 to 26 (not telling about Mrs. Bubba, but hers is way lower than mine)
Glucose: about the same
Triglycerides: down over 40%
HDLs: up 20%
LDLs: down slightly
Belt; down 2"
Cycling speed: up about 1mph to work
Knee and back pain; virtually eliminated

Non-numeric data:

Food budget; slightly up (more fish, vegetables, and fruits, less grains)
Taste: improved.  Substitute quality for quantity
Hunger: about an hour or so before each meal, there are hunger pangs
"Full" feeling after meals; I do not miss the over-full feeling I used to have after some meals.

Sustainability; this is not an Atkins or "cabbage soup" diet that you'll be glad it's done when you've lost the weight, and then you can move on to normal eating.  Rather, it's simply a better way of life that will reward your taste buds and your health for the long term.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's coming up for Social Security and Medicare?

Just look at what's going on in Detroit.  Apparently 19,000 retirees account for about ten billion dollars in unfunded liabilities, or about $500,000 per person.  If the bankruptcy goes through as planned, it appears that their pensioners will be getting about a dime on the dollar for their pensions.  Suffice it to say that not only Detroit, but also its suburbs and Florida, will be paying a price for this one.

Along the same lines, the actual national debt when calculated per GAAP standards is somewhere between fifty trillion dollars when Obamacare's ludicrous payment schedules for Medicare are used to about twice that when realistic payments would be made to doctors.  Yes, almost all of the debt is from entitlement programs. hundred trillion dollars divided by the hundred million pensioners we'll have in a couple of decades actually makes Detroit's financial woes look pretty benign in comparison.  So if you're under 60, you just might do well to prepare for the upcoming collapse of Socialist Insecurity and Mediscare.  Plan on less than a dime per dollar you've "invested."

And yes, this indicates why you want to work for a company with "defined contribution" retirement plans like a 401k, or invest in your own IRAs, and not trust pension managers to contribute enough to fund your pensions.   

A conversation every dad should have with his sons

In the wake of the end of the trial (for now at least) of George Zimmerman, here's a conversation every dad, red, yellow, black, or white, or a mix of shades, ought to have with his sons:

Son, you're getting to the point where you are looking a lot like a man, and I want you to start acting like a man.  So listen up; this could save your life.

If you choose to assault someone for whatever reason, remember that about one in twenty adults have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and that as soon as you're really "whoopin' ass", you might find out who one of them is in the worst possible way.

Your pride ain't worth your life, son. 

(and if the reader might think that your host thinks life might have been a lot better for a lot of people if Michael Jackson had been a little bit more plausible as a role model in "Beat it", the gentle reader would be correct)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A time for everything, including being disbarred

No, not me, as I'm not a lawyer, but rather a prosecutor in the George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin) trial who has claimed in his closing arguments that the main reason Mr. Martin is dead is because George Zimmerman is a "vigilante." 

Well, nice try, but having concealed his weapon until attacked, it seems to me that Zimmerman was doing a rather poor imitation of a rogue wannabe cop.  Are we to suggest that individuals do not have the right to approach another individual in public areas, then?   That the neighborhood watch is only legal until someone objects?

Quite frankly, I expect prosecutors to know and apply the law a bit better than this.  Hopefully the Nifong precedent is used here, and this becomes an object lesson in law school called "how not to make a closing argument."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A moment for repentance

It is interesting to read articles on how the Obama administration, despite Egypt's lapse from "democracy", is continuing military aid.  On one hand, that could be a good thing if the administration had realized that limited government is more important than exactly who is putting that government into place, and elected to support a republic.

Fat chance, of course.  That leads to another question; exactly why have we been providing billions of dollars each year in military aid each year since the 1980s when any invader would either be (a) Israel (which has never fought an unprovoked war) or (b) forced to cross either the Red Sea or hundreds of miles of desert?

I can understand some foreign aid, especially as a "thank you" to Anwar Sadat for his peace treaty with Israel, but quite frankly I'm having trouble understanding why we've been arming a country whose only plausible enemy of note is also one of our allies, while ignoring their very real need for economic development.  This is especially the case when I consider that poverty in Egypt might be the most likely driver for a renewed war with Israel.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Inadvertent lesson in logic

It looks like the problems for the prosecution in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case go much deeper than flakiness on the part of the prosecution's witnesses.  In the linked article, John Lott points out that the prosecution is arguing two points which have no relevance in the case; whether Zimmerman was badly hurt, and whether Zimmerman understood Florida's "Stand your Ground" law.

The trick here is, as I've noted before, Zimmerman had little chance of outrunning a decent high school cornerback (which Martin was), and he'd just been thrown on his back by the same person.  Hence, Zimmerman had every expectation that Martin would inflict death or grievous bodily harm--and almost all states allow lethal self-defence in such a situation.  "Stand your ground" and the seriousness of Zimmerman's injuries have no relevance here.

Now granted, I'm not in the courtroom, but given the apparent collapse of prosecutor Angela Corey's case against Zimmerman on basic standards of evidence, it would seem extremely likely that Ms. Corey is soon going to find herself in the position of Mike Nifong.

And, quite frankly, if I'm understanding the case correctly, she should be treated exactly like Nifong.  Her wiki page discusses two other cases following the same pattern; dismissal of the past history of the victims and refusal to admit that the "perpetrators" did indeed have fear of death or grievous bodily harm.  It's a pattern that--again if I'm understanding the cases correctly--needs to be stopped.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

College sports completely out of control?

News reports indicate that Aaron Hernandez, indicted for multiple murders in Boston, was also involved in an altercation in spring 2007 involving a fight at a bar--where interestingly Tim Tebow did his best to de-escalate the situation.  (and why was he in a bar at 1am?)

Now given that this was in April, when he was not yet a student, this more or less means he wasn't able to visit campus without committing at least two crimes--underage consumption of alcohol and assault, the latter being a felony.  If we want a picture of what's wrong with college football, it's a system where coaches look past clear crimes because they think a player can make All-American.  Urban Meyer was right on that score, but protecting Hernandez from the law in 2007 may just have cost several people their lives. 

About that doubling of student loan interest rates

Apparently, there is a hubbub about the great increase--a doubling--of student loan rates from about 3.5% to 6.8%, and it got me to thinking what the proper rate for a student loan would be.  Is it like a secured mortgage loan, where the default rate is 2% or less, or is it more akin to a semi-secured car loan, or is it really most akin to unsecured loans like those for credit cards?

Well, with unproven credit, no particular control on the part of the lender whether the borrower gets a marketable degree, only about a 50% graduation/success rate, and a default rate of 9.1% in 2010 (some schools have higher loan default rates than graduation rates), it would seem that apart from the fact that you can't discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, the best analogy for student loans would be that of credit card debt.  Instead of complaining about the "exorbitant" rate, students should be thanking the Good Lord that they're not borrowing at market rates from a bank.  I'm thinking that rate would be about 12-15% today.

And, for that matter, anyone contemplating taking out a student loan will do well to figure out for himself whether he's got a real shot of graduating, and whether his degree is worthwhile or not.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Just because you can,

.....doesn't mean it's a good idea is a great description for White House plans to generate electricity using soccer-balls.  No, I'm not making this up; there are evidently people who have concocted a soccer ball with a battery that kids can kick around all day, and at night they'll be able to light a lamp or charge a cell phone.

OK, so we're going to greatly increase the cost, and either we make it much heavier (and risk injuring people), or we make it lighter so it won't last a week, and whichever way we choose, it won't bounce like a real soccer ball, so the kids will go back to a real soccer ball as soon as they have the chance.

One would figure that the White House, having just visited Africa, might have been aware of the possibility of using that yellow ball in the sky to implement this 1960s technology with far less cost, but apparently not.  Nothing is too generous--or foolish--for those spending someone else's money and facing no particular criticism from a media that chose journalism because it didn't involve math, I guess.

Great moments in global warming theory.......

Pentamom has commented with an interesting link from NPR in which the economist more or less states that all that ails us in climatology can be alleviated by letting the economists make the decision, and that this decision would doubtless be to to phase in a carbon tax.

Now at the risk of "fisking" this, I've got to, well, do a little fisking.  Let's start by acknowledging that "all economists" would agree to a carbon tax is ludicrous, as many schools of thought have denounced exactly that in no uncertain terms.  Ten economists will have eleven different opinions on any given issue, after all.

Going further, sound economists (as opposed to Professor Jacoby) know that demand for fuels is notoriously inelastic with price; the only significant downturns in gasoline consumption are with recessions, not price, for example.  We stop using gasoline, electricity, and the like only when we lose our jobs, and trading in vehicles for efficiency is....really, pretty inefficient.

Moreover, one would also hope a reasonably intelligent economist might realize that getting politicians to give up power is, to put it gently, easier said than done, and one would hope as well that such an economist would realize that we have all kinds of government incentives for inefficiency that we might do well to address--hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare, daycare subsidies, student loans and grants for students who have no real hope of graduating, and the like.  So it's not a one page solution, but rather something that would make the Health Insurance Deform Act look terse in comparison.

No such luck with NPR, and per the stereotype of journalists choosing journalism because no real learning is involved, nobody at NPR seems to have caught on.  It sounded really profound and scholarly, though, until you started thinking about reality.

This is called "corruption"

Apparently, the state of California is spending millions to indoctrinate teens to promote Obamacare while the White House is pressuring the NFL to do the same.   With all due respect, I've always felt that using government resources to justify a particular policy is called "corruption", and I'm pretty sure that neither the NFL players' union or the librarians' union would take it kindly if they were told they were going to give up their gold-plated benefits packages to get insurance via an Obamacare exchange.

And, quite frankly, I'll only believe they're in favor of the Health Insurance Deform Act if they do.

In other HIDA news, pharmacies are predictably running out birth control pills as individuals are no longer seeing the cost.  Not that the law of supply and demand matters any more to Obama than any other law, of course.

Thoughts on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case

It appears that while the witnesses for the prosecution are being caught in perjury, those for the defense are and have been rock solid.  Now I'll admit that I don't know all the ins and outs of being a prosecutor, that not being my trade, but part of me has to wonder whether the prosecutor here is trying to railroad Mr. Zimmerman despite knowing that there really is no case.  Shouldn't a prosecutor be able to ferret things like this out?