The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Big Yellow Unregulated Taxi

They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot,
When the Fed used Eminent Domain to seize that beautiful plot.

Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

Now those who used to visit enjoyed a majestic view
that didn't generate enough tax revenue.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

Hey there farmer, why'd you need those subsidies?
Where there now grows tobacco used to be a forest of trees,
Please!

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

Some folks detest that desire creates a price,
But that's what ensures that people won't destroy paradise,

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

Only government would be so stupid as to put up a parking lot.

While destroying the reason for the parking lot.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Ricky Gervais Show

The Ricky Gervais Podcast on Itunes really is funny, especially producer Karl Pilkington, who comes up with some of the strangest rants you will ever hear.

Karl's antics were written up in the NYT this morning, and it's worth a read.

Hat tip to Althouse, who has more.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Science Is Weird

Even for the crazy world of quantum mechanics, this one is twisted. A quantum computer program has produced an answer without actually running.

The idea behind the feat, first proposed in 1998, is to put a quantum computer into a “superposition”, a state in which it is both running and not running. It is as if you asked Schrödinger's cat to hit "Run".

With the right set-up, the theory suggested, the computer would sometimes get an answer out of the computer even though the program did not run. And now researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have improved on the original design and built a non-running quantum computer that really works.

They send a photon into a system of mirrors and other optical devices, which included a set of components that run a simple database search by changing the properties of the photon.

The new design includes a quantum trick called the Zeno effect. Repeated measurements stop the photon from entering the actual program, but allow its quantum nature to flirt with the program's components - so it can become gradually altered even though it never actually passes through.

"It is very bizarre that you know your computer has not run but you also know what the answer is," says team member Onur Hosten.


That is from NewScientist. You can read the rest here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fun Friday, Part 2

Revenge is sweet.

Fun Friday

Fur Traders.

We Must "Protect" The Right To Vote!

The time has come to outlaw voting by religious conservatives. If we do not take action now, the right to vote may be destroyed.

The right to vote, traditionally, has been restricted to those who engage in reasonable thinking. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote:

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816.


And in keeping with that spirit, the founding fathers took several steps to ensure that voters were informed, including the requirement that voters be rich, white, landowners. A limited democracy has been the base of stable civilization for all time.

On the other hand, religious conservative voters have led people on barbaric crusades, they have enslavemed women, and they've supported terrorism.

The act of voting is cheapened when we let everyone participate. If we allow this, it won't be long before dogs and children are voting as well. After all, it is easy to envision some activist court expanding this "right" under the equal protection clause.

Diluting the votes of the informed would eventually lead to the crumbling of society, but this is not just a practical issue, it is also a moral issue.

I've already laid out the traditional and pragmatic case for preventing the vote of religious conservatives, but even if it did not have any direct adverse consequences, would we, acting through our government, want to encourage and legitimize this behavior? Religious conservatism is, after all, a choice. What kind of message are we sending to our children if we continue to allow this? Do we really want the religious conservative "agenda" to infiltrate our schools? Our culture? Our very lives?

And I'm afraid that a law will not be sufficient. The same activist judges that would allow hamsters the right to vote would also interpret the Constitution in such a way as to invalidate a mere law. What we need is a Constitutional Amendment, and we need it soon.

This is important.

I mean, it's not like were just talking about two dudes getting married here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

15 Minutes

That's all I have, so this will be quick.

The UAE port issue? Not a big deal.

But still, ughh.

Both of these speed skaters are douchebags. Why don't they hold the team events after the individual events?

Irony Report: This man, who is an idiot, is going to spend three years in an Austrian prison for publicly denying the Holocaust.

Here's a nice story on the Presidential Library and eminent domain.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

February Madness

Some enterprising fellow in Madison is holding a Tecmo Super Bowl Tournament. I have to check my schedule.

AT&T's new marketing campaign.

If they just would have sent a 32nd...

A Truly Bad Movie

I love it when Roger Ebert reviews a terrible movie. It's generally his best work. The guys at the L&N Line are often forced to sit through bad movies, MST3K style, due to the nature of their chosen professions and they can sometimes give Ebert a run for his money.

Chris was recently forced (I assume) to sit through "Date Movie." His review can be found here. I like the visual aids.

Driving While...

Ahren offers some handy tips on driving while under the influence of, well, pretty much everything.

Milking Regulations

Great story in the Trib today about Hein Hettinga, a dairy farmer who has not only improved the efficiency of his business, but has also done so in a way that allows him to avoid anachronistic, depression-era regulations:

But what distinguishes Hettinga from other large-scale dairy farmers is that he also bottles the milk from his Arizona farms and trucks it to stores in Arizona and Southern California. At one of them, Sam's Club in Yuma, two gallons of Hettinga's whole milk sell for $3.99.

That's the same price as a single gallon of whole milk in Chicago, which is second only to New Orleans in the cost of milk.

By controlling all stages of production, Hettinga says he can produce milk so efficiently that he and his customers can make a hefty profit at dirt-cheap prices. Such vertical integration, as it is known, is increasingly popular in agriculture as farmers and processors try to find ways to eliminate costs and increase revenues.


Isn't this great? Hettinga has figured out a better way of doing things. I remember an episode of The West Wing that focused on flashbacks of President Bartlet's climb to power. At one point he is giving a speech to some dairy farmers who are complaining about the fact that he cut some of their subsidies. He simply replies that "Yep, I screwed you there," and explains that he did not want hungry children to be deprived of milk. I always liked that episode. As in The West Wing, some dairy farmers are not happy about this:

Major dairy cooperatives and milk processors successfully persuaded federal regulators to write new rules that would prohibit the business practices that Hettinga has so successfully put in place.

Under the proposed regulations, Hettinga could continue to process his own milk only if he agrees to participate in a federally regulated pool of milk revenues, which would essentially require him to pay his competitors to stay in business. A bill that would have a similar effect is working its way through Congress.


You've got to be kidding. Here is a friendly tip for any legislators out there who happen to be reading. If your proposed regulations start to resemble the regulations of an Ayn Rand novel, you may want to rethink them. Here's a quote from a clueless member of the Dairy Farmers of America:

He has said that if Hettinga were allowed to continue, it "will lead to the disintegration of the entire federal order system and consequently, to chaotic milk markets across the United States."


Damn those chaotic markets! It's amazing that we can buy anything in this country. Here is some further proof of Hettinga's genius:

English also argued that Hettinga had an unfair advantage over regulated milk bottlers because he didn't have to pay the federally mandated price for raw milk. The result is that Hettinga is stealing customers by offering prices that regulated processors can't match, English said.


Unfortunately, it looks like Hettinga is going to lose unless there is some sweeping reform, and we all know how well congress deals with sweeping reforms. This is crony capitalism at it's worst:

"The federal order system is driven by people with power, and that now is the co-ops and Dean Foods," said Charlie Flanagan, business manager of Mallorie's Dairy, adding that being forced to join the federal milk pool would cost his dairy $1million a year, more than its annual profits. "They shape the rules that everybody has to play by."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fun Friday

Better late than never, right?

Here's the "must see" show of the moment.

And, as usual, the Cowboy was loads of fun today. Although not as fun as Willie Nelson's gay cowboy tune, which I honesty thought was a parody for all of yesterday and most of today.

One of the great things about YouTube is that I can watch The Sifl and Ollie Show without digging through my VHS tapes. Here's one of my favorite interviews.

Sorry about the light blogging lately. I have been extremely busy at work, and may remain so for quite some time. I'll still post on a regular basis, just not quite as regular a basis as before.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Performance Enhancing Contact Lenses?

It will be interesting to watch pro sports handle this:

The lenses come in amber for sports like baseball and tennis where the wearer must separate fast moving objects from the background, and grey-green for sports like golf, where the background environment is what’s visually important. Both colors filter out a significant amount of overall light, but they also sharpen and improve contrast, so they have a brightening effect, says Alan Reichow, who invented the lenses and is a sports vision consultant for Nike.

The amber lenses also turn the wearer's eye's an unsettling shade of red. But when Nike asked players if they'd like to create a version that created less of an evil eye, the answer was an overwhelming "no."

"They felt it gave them a more intimidating look," Reichow said, "and thus an edge over the competition."


Virginia Postrel has more, including this interesting tidbit:

PixelOptics of Roanoke, Virginia, just won a $3.5 million Department of Defense grant to refine its "supervision" technology, which Blum claims could double the quality of a person's eyesight. "Theoretically, this should be able to double the distance that a person can see clearly," he says.

At the heart of PixelOptics' technology are tiny, electronically-controlled pixels embedded within a traditional eyeglass lens. Technicians scan the eyeball with an aberrometer -- a device that measures aberrations that can impede vision -- and then the pixels are programmed to correct the irregularities.

Å-holes

A portion of small cluster of Finnish islands known as Åland has an large amount of sway over the ratification of an EU Constitution, and as it turns out, they have some cause to flex their muscle:


Then Ålanders saw their beloved spring duck hunting virtually abolished. To the Ålanders' final outrage, local laws on consuming "snus" or Swedish chewing tobacco, are about to be quashed by the European Court of Justice....

Brussels is trapped in a "Catch 22" situation of the EU's own making. Snus, a form of chewing tobacco, has been outlawed by EU fiat in every nation except Sweden, which secured a -special opt-out as a condition of its joining the EU, and in every region - except Åland.

The Commission recently took Finland to court to quash Åland's snus law. But Finland has no power to change that law. Finland does not control laws covering health in Åland; Åland does.

Åland is not allowed to defend its law before the justices in Luxembourg because the court recognises only nations. So the court is set to convict and fine Aland, without allowing the island's government to plead its case....

The head of the Åland government, Roger Norlund, admitted that he did not even like snus. To him, the row is philosophical. "Åland finds small-scale solutions to its problems. But the EU model is one of large-scale solutions, and harmonisation."

Tomas Grunér, a navigator on the big boats, uses snus "24 hours a day". "It keeps me relaxed," he said. "I thought the EU was a good idea, but now I think it sucks."


As part of Åland's agreement granting them autonomy, they have the right to "veto" (although it is a limited veto, applying only to Åland) international treaties:

The Autonomy Act states that an international treaty of this kind entered into by Finland requires the consent of the Parliament of Åland to become valid also in Åland.


I'm not a fan of the EU, and I find this highly amusing.

Dan Drezner has much more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

I have nothing but love for all of you.

You're taking it to the sharks, you're publishing strange magazines, you're doing creepy stuff like this.

You make the world interesting, and for that, I thank you. Here's a scientific study on pick-up lines to aid in your V-Day conquests.

By the way, did this remind anyone else of a Bon Jovi song?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Disappointing Fact of the Day

"Balls to the wall" isn't what it sounds like:

Somewhat disappointingly, it has nothing to do with hammers, nails, and a particularly gruesome way of treating an enemy. The expression comes from the world of military aviation. In many planes, control sticks are topped with a ball-shaped grip. One such control is the throttle—to get maximum power you push it all the way forward, to the front of the cockpit, or firewall (so-called because it prevents an engine fire from reaching the rest of the plane). Another control is the joystick—pushing it forward sends a plane into a dive. So, literally pushing the balls to the (fire)wall would put a plane into a maximum-speed dive, and figuratively going balls to the wall is doing something all-out, with maximum effort. The phrase is essentially the aeronautical equivalent of the automotive "pedal to the metal."


Oh well.

Muhammad Cartoon Controversy Reaches Absurd New Heights

No excerpt will do this justice. Head to The Volokh Conspiracy, and behold the madness within.

People who are easily offended suck.

The Most Dangerous Game

Dick Cheney shot some guy while hunting. No, Antonin Scalia is just fine. No one has been able to say for sure whether or not Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight was in the vicinity at the time.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Misunderstood Trade Deficit

Don Boudreax is staying on this topic, and he makes several good points:

But doesn't a higher trade deficit mean that Americans are sinking more deeply into debt? Not at all. A trade deficit isn't debt. My young son, for example, received for Christmas several Chinese-made toys. These were bought with cash. If the Chinese toymakers invest their newly earned dollars in, say, that factory in Utah, the U.S. trade deficit rises but no debt is created. Neither I nor any other American owes any foreigner anything as a result of my purchase of toys from China and the corresponding Chinese purchase of equity in a company located in America.


More generally, whenever foreigners buy American real-estate or equity, or when they simply hold dollars in their portfolios, our trade deficit rises without creating debt.


Nor is it true that a higher trade deficit means that Americans are selling off assets. Whenever, for example, IKEA builds a new store in the U.S., a new asset is created. No Americans had to part with assets as a pre-condition for this Swedish investment in America.

Michael Hurwitz on NPR

The man who made Arrested Development can be heard here.

I'm optimistic that it will be picked up, as is Ace.

Paul and Jay-Z: A duet on the subject of Valentine's Day

Update: Apparently if you didn't watch the Grammy Awards this doesn't make much sense. If you can find a copy of the Linkin Park/Jay-Z/Paul McCartney performance, it will all become clear. Suffice it to say that Jay-Z's contribution to the performance was underwhelming.

(Paul is in regular print, Jay-Z is in italics)

People are great at turning holidays into giant parties. (Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh.) Even religious holidays sometimes open the door to booze-a-thons these days. Christmas now has a fair amount of imbibing, we celebrate Mardis Gras before Lent, and of course, St. Patrick's Day started it all. (Yeah, that's right.)

And, of course, the non-religious holidays like Halloween, the 4th, and New Year's Eve have all become celebrations of the vine, so to speak. (Uh-Huh, Yeah, Yeah.) It's really quite amazing that there are not more holidays devoted to sex (and love). (Uh, Uh, Uh.) I suppose that Mardis Gras covers the more low-brow aspects of sex, but Mardis Gras really serves as sort of a catch-all for vices. I'm talking about specifics. (Yeah, Uh-Huh.)

But we do have Valentine's Day, which reveals quite a bit about people. For instance, Valentine's Day confirms all of our suspicions that women are in charge. (Uh.) If Valentine's Day was more balanced, there would be less pink, less frou-frou, etc. But it is not.

But in a way this is a good thing. Some guys are mystified by women. (Yeah, that's right.) I'm convinced that a high percentage of men don't actually view women as people. They think that if they provide a certain stimulus (humor, good looks, money, etc.) that the women will respond in a certain way (sex) all of the time. (Uh-huh). Valentine's Day is the closest that we get to that actually happening. Everyone does all of the hard work of figuring out what she likes for you. Flowers are money. Candy is usually a winner. A diamond is a big winner. Those stupid Vermont Teddy Bears seem popular. And lingerie is A-O.K. Tickets to plays, nice dinners, perfume, etc. And it's all right in front of your face. You have to put in some real effort to screw this up. (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.)

If you simply pay attention to Valentine's Day, you're good for the rest of the year. Most of these things make good birthday and Christmas presents too. (Yeah, that's right) You just have to remember what they are.

We also know that if men were in charge of designing Valentine's Day, no women would show up. It would probably look a lot like the Super Bowl actually, but with some half-time sex thrown in. (Uh.)

(Thanks Jay-Z, you, uhm, added a lot. Just like that Paul McCartney duet.)

So, good luck to everyone. For the record I have the best wife ever. We're doing romantic-type stuff on Valentine's Day, but this weekend we're going to the Wisconsin-Ohio State hockey game at Lambeau Field.

Have a good weekend, and don't forget that the last four episodes of Arrested Development air tonight. Tape, Tivo, etc.

Fun Friday

Wow. Just...Wow.

(Hat tip, both MDS and Ace Cowboy.

Then go and learn about technology.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why Does Saturday Night Live Suck?

Perhaps it is because they require 7-year contracts:

I thought I was being asked to audition, but they had my tape and wanted me to come in. I checked with my manager, and he told me it was a test. It was down to the last 12 people, and I could have gotten on the show off this thing. I thought, "OK, cool." But I had to sign a deal in order to test, so I would have had to accept their offer--a seven-year contract--to test. I pulled out the day before the audition. I didn't want to be bound for seven years.


That's from The Daily Show's Demetri Martin (who also used to write for Conan O'Brien).

If you are SNL this makes no sense. You want the kinds of performers who are good enough to leave after 3 years.

(Hat tip, Mike K.)

Protesting the Olympics

TURIN (Reuters) - Hundreds of street protesters, denouncing the Winter Games, forced Olympic torch bearers to change route through the host city on Thursday on the eve of the opening ceremony.

Read the article and see if you can figure out what they are protesting. Laura Bush? Money? Maybe, but if you're standing in the way of the Olympic torch, aren't you protesting peace?

Will not work for food.

I thought this was from The Onion when I first read it.

In Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta and elsewhere in the country, union organizers are scouring shelters and recruiting homeless people to staff their picket lines, paying just above minimum wage and failing to provide health benefits.

The national carpenters' union, which broke from the AFL-CIO four years ago in a bitter dispute over organizing strategies and other issues, is hiring homeless people to stage noisy protests at nonunion construction sites.

"We're giving jobs to people who didn't have jobs, people who in some cases couldn't secure work," said George Eisner, head of the union's mid-Atlantic regional council in Baltimore.

This is the best part:

The union organizers allow the hired protesters to take two-minute breaks, Howards said, but dock their pay for the time off.

(HT to Cafe Hayke)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Lost World.

This is very cool.

"JAKARTA, Indonesia, Feb. 7 -- A team of scientists has discovered a lost world of rare plants, giant flowers and bizarre animals -- including a new species of honeyeater bird, a tree kangaroo and an egg-laying mammal -- on a mist-shrouded mountaintop in a remote province of Indonesia on New Guinea island. Flown by helicopter to a mountain preserve virtually untouched by humans, the scientists found more than 40 species new to science. They also spotted the legendary six-wired bird of paradise, a species with distinctive wiry head plumes that was first described in 1897 but that has proved elusive ever since."

And of course...

We're still learning a great deal from these cartoons.

Lessons From Cartoons

1. Performance Enhancing Drugs Are Your Friends.

Offenders: Underdog, Popeye, The Gummi Bears.

Many a world has been saved by the awesome chemical powers of Gummiberry juice, Spinach, and, the most egregious offender, the Underdog "Power Pill". At least the first two are organic in nature, and arguably supplements, although it is difficult to believe that Popeye's spinach is not the result of some serious genetic engineering, but is there any doubt that the same guy who was dealing "Power Pills" was also helping out Rafael Palmeiro?

All of these heroes are ordinary, and in some cases pathetic characters without their chemical aids, but the competitive pressures exerted by Simon Bar Sinister, Bluto, and Duke Igthorn, require them to risk their future health for the good of everyone else.

If you find your kid popping pills in the weight room, don't look to Mark McGwire. Look to humble Shoeshine Boy. Incidentally, it's also his fault that they like rap music.

2. Oil Dependence is okay.

Offender: Transformers

They truly were more than meets the eye. The evil Decepticons and benevolent Autobots came from the planet Cybertron, where the two sides have foolishly squandered their natural resources. They come to earth in search of a new home, and energy, which the Decepticons transform into "energon cubes" (through a tape player named "Sound Wave"). The Autobots are all cars, representing America's love affair with high-powered machines. The Autobot leader was Optimus Prime, a giant red semi-truck. Most of them were gas guzzlers, especially the popular guys. The most fuel-efficient of the bunch? Bumblebee.

On the other hand, the oil/energy craving Decepticons are all jets except for their leader, Megatron, who can transform into a gun. Read into that what you will.

3. Nunchuks are more dangerous than swords. But toxic waste is kind of cool.

Offender: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The four turtles use four different weapons. Leonardo uses kitana swords, Rafael uses the Sai, Donatello uses the Bo staff, and Michelangelo allegedly uses the nunchuks. However, if you are a careful observer of the Ninja Turtles, you will quickly notice that Mikey never actually uses this weapon. Instead, he tends to throw a hooked rope at his enemies, which, in defiance of all known laws of physics, flies in a circle around them and ties them up. I assume that they took the nunchuks away from Mike because they are fairly easy to construct if you are a small child, and they are also fairly hard to control, even if you are a large child. Many broken lamps and noses probably resulted.

But still, what a cop out. After all, when employed properly, the nunchuks look really cool, and the bo staff was at least as dangerous when in the possession of an eight year old. Moreover, recurring character Casey Jones beat people with a hockey stick. Then again they occasionally do this in hockey (McSorley) so I suppose that seed was already planted.

And, of course, toxic waste makes all sorts of neat stuff happen.

4. Contrary to what our president believes, animal/human hybrids rule.

Offenders: Thundercats, SilverHawks, Tigersharks, TMNT.

The Thundercats proved not only that animal/human hybrids were ok, but also that they need not where pants. And they had the guts to use the nunchuks (Panthero). Every Thundercat had some ability derived from a cat. Panthero was very strong. Which actually makes no sense. Since panthers, while possessing normal animal strength, have nothing on lions and tigers. And the tiger guy could turn invisible. Just like a tiger. Well, at least the cheetah was fast.

The SilverHawks were not only human/animal hybrids, they were also cyborgs. They probably used stem cell research in some way too.

The Tigersharks were part of a show called The Comic Strip that may have only been watched by me. Basically, instead of one Aquaman, there were five. And you know how cool Aquaman is.

5. If you have an incompetent relative, and the world may depend on that relative's ability to perform his duties, do not report him to his boss, but instead help him. Do this even if you are a nine-year-old girl.

Offender: Inspector Gadget

No one is quite sure how the inspector warranted the bionic adaptations installed in his body. Perhaps he was the only volunteer. Perhaps he was in some terrible accident. Or perhaps it is simply because his last name is Gadget. The bottom line is that without his niece Penny and her super-intelligent dog, Dr. Claw would have conquered the world several times over. That's pretty much everything that you can learn from this show.

6. Education can not, in fact, be fun.

Offenders: Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Histeria.

The former is probably one of the top ten worst cartoons ever produced. 5 multi-ethnic nerds with power rings (one of which has the power of "heart") can combine their powers to form Captain Planet, who probably lives a fairly miserable life waiting for 5 giant nerds to get in enough trouble to summon him.

Moreover, the good Capn' is invincible unless someone sprays him with sludge. Unfortunately, almost all of his enemies are either made of sludge, or command vast amounts of sludge.

At least we know that somewhere there is a landfill stuffed with discarded Captain Planet merchandise.

Histeria was an attempt by Warner Bros. to build on the success of Tiny Toons and Animaniacs by offering an educational show. All of the characters were humans, which is boring in a WB cartoon. One of them was a disgusting, drooling baby. One of them screamed all the time for no reason. It wasn't as pleasant as it sounds.

Shows can have educational messages if they are subtle. If they aid the advancement of the plot without being the plot. If you try to sell an educational show to 10-14 year olds, no one is going to buy.

7. If you have a weapon that will instantly kill your enemy, don't use it right away. Get pummeled for a while while using weaker weapons, and then whip it out to save the day.

Offenders: Voltron. All Voltron derivatives (Power Rangers.)

Two of the great mysteries of Voltron:

1. Why were their two Voltrons, one made out of lions, and one made out of jets, submarines, and cars, which could only remain Voltron for 5 minutes?

2. Why didn't Voltron just use the Blazing Sword immediately?

No one will ever know, but we do know that the Blazing Sword always worked, and that no matter how hard they tried, the bad guys simply could not come up with a Robeast powerful enough to withstand it. Alas.

8. Pants are unnecessary.

Offenders: Thundercats, Ducktales, He-Man.

He-Man was a very strange cartoon. He-Man had an alter ego named Prince Adam. You know how most super heroes have some sort of disguise to keep their identity secret? How Spiderman and Batman wear masks and Superman wears those stupid glasses?

He-Man wears a loin cloth. Adam wears tights. Otherwise, they look exactly the same. This is the most egregious abuse of a secret identity in history. It makes Clark Kent's glasses seem completely plausible. Disney's Ducktales is just keeping with longstanding pantsless Disney tradition. And if Ducks aren't going to wear pants, well, what do you expect from cats.

Speaking of secret identities...

9. As long as you are going to wear a mask, you may as well build weapons into it.

Offender: M.A.S.K.

Matt Tracker was a successful businessman. In his spare time, he built vehicles that could turn into other vehicles, built masks that would let the wearer lift up airplanes just by looking, or project holograms. And he fought evil. Specifically, he fought Miles Mayhem and venom, who just happened to be interested in the exact same hobby.

Matt Tracker was also very humble, as he took all of his crappiest inventions for himself. While some M.A.S.K. members got to drive motorcycles that became helicopters, or jeeps that became swamp boats, Tracker drove a somewhat sporty sedan. But it was no ordinary sedan. The doors on this puppy opened Lamborghini style, and by opening the doors, it would turn into a plane. Yep. A plane. By opening the doors.

And while his compatriots had cool masks, like Bruce Sato's "Lifter" (which could pick up a car) or Dusty's "Whiplash" (which sliced and diced) Tracker's mask, "Spectrum," let him see in infrared. Wow. And get this, he had a backup mask called "Ultraflash" which (are you ready for this?) produced a bright flash to blind the enemy.

10. If you have a bumbling, incompetent toady around, and he constantly screws up and almost kills everyone, keep letting him come along, for comic relief.

Offenders: Orko (He-Man), T-Bob (Mask), Snarf (Thundercats).

There are many others of course. Every show has its Gilligan, just to move the plot along if it becomes stymied. You need these people. They make everyone else seem less annoying by comparison, and that is a valuable skill.

11. Only one woman per village!

Offenders: The Smurfs, Thundercats, He-Man.

Weep now, or become incredibly jealous of, Smurfette, Tila, and Chetarah. They are alone, surrounded only by brawny men (or at least Handy and Brainy men).

12. We did not lose the Vietnam war, it's just not over yet.

Offender: Rambo

I don't know who thought that Rambo would make a nice children's show, but I applaud their vision. No one could be a better influence on a kid than a loner who lives in the woods, sets booby traps, and beats people with sticks. Plus, your child may learn how to cauterize a bullet wound.

13. Canadians are evil.

Offender: G.I.Joe

G.I.Joe can teach us a great deal, but that is an entirely different post. You can find it here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Where are all of those flags coming from?

The market in action:

When entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Dayya first heard that Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were being reprinted across Europe, he knew exactly what his customers in Gaza would want: flags to burn.

Abu Dayya ordered 100 hard-to-find Danish and Norwegian flags for his Gaza City shop and has been doing a swift trade.

"I do not take political stands. It is all business," he said in an interview. "But this time I was offended by the assault on the Prophet Mohammad."


By the way, is anyone else shocked that this is still news, and still inciting violence? Maybe it's just my recent increase in exposure to NPR, which mentions the story every 15 minutes, but I'm shocked that this hasn't fizzled out.

America is sometimes criticized for having a short attention span, but occasionally that can be a good thing. It means that we don't waste too much time on any individual piece of worthless garbage.

Monday, February 06, 2006

One More Time...

Worst. Super Bowl. Officiating. Ever.

Just brutal. (All links courtesy of The Outsiders.)

I feel cheated. Just an awful game all around. I'm not old enough to have seen every Super Bowl, but this has to rank as one of the worst (if not the worst) Super Bowls of all time. Everyone else has beaten it to death by now, and there's no sense in adding another whine to the pantheon. You saw it, I saw it. We were robbed of a possibly great game (Seattle kickers notwithstanding) by the men in stripes. Every member of that crew should be fired. I have extra special malice for the ref who flagged Matt Hasselbeck for a cut block. One of the worst calls in NFL history? Maybe not in importance, but certainly in incompetence. (Although the Troy Polamalu non-interception call in the Indy game was stellar in its own right.)

Next season can't come soon enough. Until then the foul stench of failure will besmirch all of my football memories.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Quick Reactions

Good Game: Hines Ward.

Bad Game: Jeramy Stevens.

Terrible Game: Officiating Crew.

And what happened to Darrell Jackson?

It's Almost Game Time

There will never be a better time to check in with Michael David Smith and the rest of The Football Outsiders.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Movies, Music and More.

The L&N Line takes on the Oscars, the new releases, some tunes, and much more.

Just in time for the weekend.

Fun Friday

Just in time for the big game, here's Frank Caliendo.

Super Predictions

It's time, once again, to check the EC crystal ball for an early look at the big game.

1. Antwaan Randle El puts up a stellar display on special teams, returning a punt for a TD, and eventually winning the MVP award. In an effort to capitalize on his success, the Chicago Transit Authority adds "Antwaan Randle" to the name of their train system. Jerome Bettis is reportedly jealous.

2. Bettis almost misses the game when he is sucked into a rap battle with a white kid named Rabbit.

3. Joey Harrington somehow manages to throw an interception.

4. The interception somehow manages to injure Lion WR Charles Rogers.

5. Matt Hasselbeck shows up with a full head of lush hair, and reveals to the world that he had actually been selling his hair to pay for RB Shaun Alexander to sign a new contract with the Seahawks.

6. In the game's most touching moment, Shaun Alexander reveals that he intended to re-up with the team at a discount, just to gaze upon Hasselbeck's brilliant mane.

7. Jake Plummer is seen trying to return some of his hair.

8. Ben Roethlisberger not only wins the Super Bowl, but also captures the world drinking championship.

9. The Rolling Stones are detained in nearby Windsor for attempting to carry drugs across the border. To the surprise of everyone, the drugs turn out to be prescription.

10. At the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, Tom Brady and his family are cursed when they disturb what appears to be an ancient tiki idol. Upon closer inspection the Idol is discovered to be Steeler WR Hines Ward.

What do I really think?

I'm very unsure about this game, which worries me because I've been very accurate on Super Bowls. I've also been flip-flopping all week, but I think I finally have it.

Mike Holmgren isn't an idiot. He actually managed to shut down Steve Smith, and I have confidence in his ability to adjust to his opponent. He also has a very good offensive line to work with. I think that the Seattle O-line neutralizes the Steeler blitz, and manages to hit a few big plays. They can then ride Shaun for the rest of the game, holding off a late Steeler rally.

I like Seattle, and I like Bobby Engram as a dark horse MVP candidate.

I also predict a very good game. This is the prediction that I would truly like to be correct about.

So at what point do they transfer them to the women's prison?

This is one of those "your tax dollar at work kind of stories."

"Four male Wisconsin prisoners who are trying to become women will continue receiving hormone treatments until at least August despite a state law prohibiting the practice, which took effect last week."

"The law - believed to be the only one of its kind in the country - prohibits tax dollars from being used to fund either hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery to treat a condition known as gender identity disorder. The four inmates assert that stopping their treatments would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. They also claim it violates their right to equal protection under law."

"The legal battle over Wisconsin prisoners with the condition began in 2003, when an inmate, who was born Scott Konitzer but now goes by the name Donna Dawn Konitzer, filed a federal lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections. Konitzer sought gender reassignment surgery, which the state has never allowed and can cost $10,000 to $20,000. Konitzer, who is serving 123 years for multiple armed robberies and for stabbing another inmate, has been receiving hormone therapy as treatment for gender identity disorder since 1999.

When legislators learned of Konitzer's suit, they wrote the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act, which was enacted Jan. 6."

The ACLU and Lambda Legal have filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the law. Even if these dudes (dudets?) do have a constitutional right to equal protection etc., can't we take those rights away from them when they are convicted, with all necessary procedural due process, of say... multiple armed robberies and a stabbing?

(HT Boots and Sabers)

Update: The World Keeps Getting Better

On Monday, Paul posted a link to a Cafe Hayek post in which Don Bourdeaux compared the number of work hours necessary to buy certain Sears products in 1975 versus comparable products today. The results seemed to show that it takes a lot less time at work to get the same stuff today than it did 30 years ago. An anonymous commenter had some issues with Paul and Don's analysis:

"Thank you China for providing us with all these low cost goods for us to enjoy. This trade policy, where we can spend less for more and just owe and pay someday down the line... Who looks at deficits anyway?

It's like the processed food nowadays -- such an abundance of good things. We can kill ourselves with consumption, and worry later when the bill comes due.

In fact, a few years back, an analogy re. Cheaper gas prices here might have been viewed as a good thing too.

You have to think of these things long term big picture Paul, not just about your household or when you are in the market for freezer or fridge. Your size and price comparisons are cute but limited, not true economic analysis, my friend."

Today, Don at Cafe Hayek is responding to similar arguments:

"Contrary to JR's suggestion, it's not true that, if things once made in the U.S. are no longer made in the U.S., Americans are borrowing more from foreigners. The relationships that JR implies in his post aren't real.

Most fundamentally, let's make the extreme assumption that everything Sears sold in 1975 was made in America and that everything it sells today is made not-in-America. This fact (if it were a fact) in no way implies, or even suggests, that Americans are borrowing from foreigners. It might well be the case that America's comparative advantage over the past 30 years has shifted from producing things such as hand tools, television sets, paint, and automobile tires into producing commercial aircraft, Hollywood movies, magnetic-resonance-imaging machinery, and other goods and services not sold by department stores. That is, Americans are exchanging MRI machines, Pixar animation, and Boeing jets for electric hand tools, tires, and lawn mowers.
Of course, the United States is running a trade deficit (as it has done since 1976), meaning that at least part of what foreigners spend their dollars on is not U.S. goods and services but, rather, dollar-denominated assets.


As I've written on other occasions, this fact, the existence of a trade deficit, does not mean that Americans are borrowing from foreigners. It means only that foreigners are holding dollar-denominated assets (including, possibly, dollars themselves) rather than cashing these out for U.S.-made goods and services.

Good or bad? We applaud when Americans don't rush to spend their dollars on goods and services but, instead, invest these dollars. Why in the world (so to speak) should we feel differently about foreigners doing the same? If it's good for the economy for Joe in Jackson Hole to save and invest in America, why is it not good for Gerhard in Gummersbach or Milton in Malaysia to do so?"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

For just a few dollars,

you can buy some church time for an atheist, here.


 
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