The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Global Warming Is Heating Up

It seems that global warming may soon replace immigration as the hot topic of the day. I've been hearing ads for Al Gore's movie, and they are actually trying to make it sound scary. I don't object to anyone trying to raise global warning awareness, but I still object to environmental scare tactics which also seem to have reentered the mainstream.

First we got this op-ed from the erstwhile TMQ, Gregg Easterbrook in the NYT. I've read more of Gregg Easterbrook's work than almost anyone, (including A Moment On The Earth) and while Gregg may think that this op-ed constitutes some big change in his position, it really doesn't. He simply advocates what he usually advocates for environmental problems: Creating tradeable credits for the pollutant in question. Gregg says that he now accepts that global warming is real (about time) but he's always left the option open in his previous writings. I actually paraphrase one of his arguments fairly frequently when I argue with conservatives:

We don't know what kind of a world will result from global warming, but we do know that the world in its current form is well suited to our existence, and as we have that information at our disposal we should make reasonable steps to ensure that the earth stays that way.


This was, in my opinion, a very strange editorial. Its main feature seems to be timing. In just the last few days, in addition to the Easterbrook story, the NYT has featured this article about two studies linking global warming to an increase n storm and hurricane ferocity, and this laughable story on a potential increase in poison ivy ferocity. Global warming is all the rage.

However, this strikes me as being quite similar to the immigration issue. Global warming is a problem, that much is true, but it's not a significantly larger problem than it has been at any time in the recent past, and the methods that we should use to go about fixing the problem are still up for debate.

I still think that our best bet is an x-prize style incentive for the development of environmentally friendly energy-generating technologies, as well as an expansion of our nuclear capacity. Conservation, especially US conservation, will simply be too costly and extremely ineffective. We will not be the dominant producers of greenhouse gas over the next 25 years. That honor will fall on China and India (not too mention the African nations that are fortunate enough to escape the third world). These nations are unlikely to forego helpful technology in the name of environmentalism, and it is hard to blame them.

That is why it is essential that we invent our way out of this problem. It may not be a perfect solution, and it may not even work, but I believe that it is the only palatable solution, especially for the developing world.

(Clarification: Conservation should be a part of the solution, and this post is not meant to argue that you should run out and buy an SUV. The problem is that conservation alone will not be enough to solve this problem, and the costs associated with massive conservation efforts will be quite large. However, voluntary conservation is good for the environment, there is no doubt about that.)

Also, read this post by Tyler Cowen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More Ironhead

Here is a related Onion article.

Here is Deadspin's eulogy.

(And while you're at Deadspin, ask yourself this: Was Joe Winkelsas high last night?)

What's With This Thingy?!

Craig "Ironhead" Heyward died of brain cancer this past weekend at the age of 39.

He ran over linebackers, paired up with Dalton Hilliard to form a superior Tecmo Super Bowl runningback-by-committee, and starred in one of the greatest commercials of all time for Zest body wash. He will be missed.

(And if anyone finds a link to a video of the commercial, please leave it in the comments section.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

X-Men 3: Review In One Sentence

X-Men: The Last Stand contains too many plots, but not enough plot.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Fun Friday, Drunk Edition

I picked up this book on a whim yesterday, and already it is paying dividends:

The cogener denounced as the main culprit in a hangover is methanol. Humans metabolize methanol in a similar way to ethanol, but the end product is different. Ethanol generates acetaldehyde, but when methanol is broken down, a major product is formaldehyde, which is more toxic than acetaldehyde and can cause blindness or death in high concentrations. Ethanol inhibits the metabolism of methanol; this may be why drinking "the hair of the dog" can alleviate hangover symptoms.

Studies have found that the severity of different drinks' hangover symptoms declines in this order:

Brandy, red wine, rum, whiskey, white wine, gin, vodka, and pure ethanol.


The book was published by the excellent New Scientist.

Fun Friday, Part 2

I love the 80s. This is a collection of 80s videos via YouTube.

(Tip o' the cap to Ace.)

Fun Friday, Part 1

As a general rule, I like anything that compares The Simpsons to anything. Here, we have a nice rundown of every major college football team and the Simpsons' character that they most resemble. Wisconsin?

Wisconsin: Barney Gumble

Stout, hard-drinking, the life of every party -- yet even when things are going well, they're never very far from total collapse. (Also one of those great-minds-think-alike situations.)


Michigan State?

Michigan State: Gil the Salesman

All together now: "Damn, that felt like a Big 10 championship season!" It always begins the same with these guys, so hopeful, so full of promise, but they always manage to blow it sometime before the deal is closed. Since Gil is supposedly based on Jack Lemmon's sad-sack character from the film adaptation of "Glengarry Glen Ross," we have some advice for the Spartans: Coffee is for closers. (Thanks to ryno for the suggestion.)


Michigan?

Michigan: Kent Brockman

Huge television draws both, and because of that, you just can't quite get away from either the Wolverines or Brockman; they demand your attention. Yet neither is quite as relevant as they think. At least three losses in six straight seasons? Now, at the risk of being unpopular, this reporter places the blame for all of this squarely on YOU, the viewers.


There's much more.

(Hat tip, Mike)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Skilling and Lay Go Down.

The Conglomerate has all sorts of Enron coverage, including:

In the early reports on the Enron verdict, one fact leaped out to me: Jeff Skilling was found guilty of fraud, but not of insider trading. What's up this that? (Larry Ribstein wonders, too.)

As it turns out, Skilling was convicted of one count of insider trading, which relates to a trade on September 17, 2001 (after his resignation as CEO of Enron). All of the other counts related to trades in 2000.

All of the counts against Lay related to actions taken after August 2001, when Skilling resigned.

But many of the fraud counts against Skilling relate to the filing of fraudulent financial statements in 2000, as well as statements to analysts in 2000.

So the question remains: how could he have been engaged in fraud during 2000, but not been engaged in insider trading?

Pro Life? Believe That Life Begins At Conception?

You may want to read this:

If all oral contraceptive users converted to the rhythm method, then they would be effectively causing the deaths of millions of embryos.

Similarly, regular condom users, whose choice of contraception is deemed to be 95% effective in preventing pregnancy, would "cause less embryonic deaths than the rhythm method," he says.

"...the rhythm method may well be responsible for massive embryonic death, and the same logic that turned pro-lifers away from morning after pills, IUDs, and pill usage, should also make them nervous about the rhythm method," he contends.

Quote of the Day

He had a theory, Walt, that the religious life, and all of the agony that goes with it, is just something God sicks on people who have the gall to accuse Him of having created an ugly world.


-Salinger, from Franny and Zooey

Fact of the Day

Immigrants do assimilate:

Spanish titles or resources for learning English accounted for half of the top 20 most popular audio books. They had a noticeable but less striking presence on each of the other lists.


(Hat tip, MR)

Blind Man Outed.

Head on over to Ace's place for an early Fun Friday.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ewwwwww.

Yuck. Ewww. Blech:

Reversing a state Court of Appeals ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday approved Milwaukee police officers' use of laxatives in their 2002 search of a man who swallowed a bag of heroin during a drug bust.

By a 5-2 margin, the court found that police didn't violate the constitutional right against unreasonable searches when they gave Tomas R. Payano-Roman, now 36, cups of a liquid laxative called "Go Lightly" every 20 to 30 minutes so they could retrieve the drugs from his stool to use as evidence. Plainclothes officers investigating a tip had spotted Payano-Roman in the 1500 block of W. Mitchell St. April 12, 2002, and they saw him swallow a bag while they approached him.

After the recovered drug was allowed as evidence, Payano-Roman pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and was sentenced to 60 days in the Milwaukee County House of Correction.

In the court's majority opinion, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote that the search was reasonable in part because it involved medical professionals - Payano-Roman had been taken to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa after the arrest and handcuffed to a bed - and because the importance of using the drugs as evidence outweighed the intrusion for Payano-Roman.

No Fun In Texas

The high dive is outlawed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Bottom Line

The first bottom line is that if you get pulled away from blogging to go to a meeting, make sure that you hit the "save draft" button, and not the "publish post" button. But, what's done is done, poor spelling and all.

The second bottom line is that I asked Jay for an overarching principle on the logic of the public school system, and he responded by claiming that lawn mowers suck, and should not be purchased at Wal-Mart. This may be a fine system for purchasing lawn mowers, but it doesn't really speak to the question at hand.

The fact of the matter is that the system I advocate created Snapper lawn mowers. The whole of American commerce does not take place at Wal-Mart, after all. Jay wrote:

I'm not suggesting that the feds, the state, the city, or anyone else start subsidizing lawnmowers. Whether or not I toss my cheap lawn mower when it breaks is of no concern to the greater community: Only a handful of people ever have to look at my lawn. But my child--well, I don't have children, so, let's say your child--if your child has had nothing but a disposable education, your child would be little more than a burden on society. Multiply that by the many tens of millions who cannot afford--or don't care enough to find--non-disposable education for their children, and you have not the greatest country in the world, but the dumbest.


But I never mentioned anything about subsidizing education, I criticized control of education and educational policy. I even advocated subsidies for poor families. I think that most people would agree that a government designed lawn mower would be a debacle. It would be similar to the days when we rented big heavy phones from the government and attaching an answering machine was illegal.

But I'm conceding too much here. Jay asserts that competition produces lousy lawnmowers. Even if that's true, it is still better than the alternative, but it is not true. Competition produces wonderful lawnmowers. They're easy to push, they have several settings for getting your lawn picture perfect, and as Jay states, (wrongfully in the negative) they're cheap.

If education had grown as fast in quality as televisions have over the past 30 years, we would likely be much smarter as a society. There is no reason that this cannot be.

Education is a service. Most people have, at some point, been wronged while dining at a restaurant. Perhaps the food was cold, or the waiter was rude, or a hair was found. Most restaurants will go out of their way to offer restitution for such transgressions, and they will generally reprimand (and sometimes fire) the responsible party. They do so because they care about getting your business back. It is how they make money. Services cannot afford to be "disposable." If they are, they will cease to exist as services, leaving their superior competitors to reap the rewards.

I'm still waiting for a reason to support public education. "We don't want tractor builders running our schools" isn't good enough. It misses the point. Competition, first and foremost, provides that which people want. People want disposable tractors, often for very good reasons. No one wants a disposable education, and competition would not provide such a thing.

And, as usual, it all boils down to Jay calling all of you stupid.

A Quick Response To Jay

This will be brief, and perhaps I will expand on this theme later, but I feel an immediate response is necessary.

Jay Bullock responded to my earlier post about the lack of a coherent philosophy supporting the notion of government-run schools with this post. He made one good point that I should address.

Schools do in fact produce secondary benefits for society, a point which I should have made more clearly. The problem with freeways is not that they produce secondary beneficiaries, but that they produce only secondary beneficiaries. With regard to the education of your child, there is a strong incentive for the primary beneficiary, (or at least the 1a beneficiary, the parent), to seek out a great education. This is an important distinction, and I should have mentioned it.

Jay then takes up the unenviable position of arguing against competition's ability to supply quality goods to nearly everyone. He tells a tale of a quality tractor, and of the decline in quality of the electronic sector. Let's deal with the TV first.

In the year 1975, the finest television set that could be purchased at Sears cost $750.00, or, adjusted for inflation, $2,655. A black and white TV was $488 adjusted for inflation.

Today, you can get a state of the art TV for that price, and some nice looking smaller sets for the price of a black and white. Old TVs aren't even in the same league as modern HD sets, or even modern basic sets, and we have competition to thank for it.

Jay never addressed my central point. He made no defense of the current set-up of the public school system; he merely attacked the market. (And I should point out that I didn't even advocate a truly free-market solution. I'm OK with government funding, as I wish to see all children attending school. I am against monopolistic, government run schools. I'd like to see the K-12 system more closely reflect the college/university system.)

He also makes a faulty analogy regarding lawn mowers. I'm happy that Snapper makes a quality lawn mower, but Snapper does not operate apart from the market. They likely would not have developed absent competition. And Jay is trying to imply that many schools under my system would be cheap, throw-away schools. However, the incentives for schooling would exert different pressures than those for lawn mowers. It's good that some lawn mowers are "disposable." Some people have smaller lawns, some people might not want to be locked into a lawnmower long-term in case it becomes obsolete, and some might not be able to afford a Snapper lawn mower. It's good that Snapper exists, but it's also good that the cheapies exist.

And it would be nice to have a variety of schooling ideas exposed in a market setting, because it would produce a wide variety of choices, most of which would likely be superior to the status quo, just as all modern televisions, even the extremely cheap televisions, are superior to old-fashioned televisions.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Sun-Loving Incas

From New Scientist:

We know the Incas liked a bit of sun, but can this really be a coincidence? The capital of the sun-worshipping Inca civilisation was Cuzco, in modern-day Peru. Five hundred years later, a team of scientists armed with the latest satellite data has established that the spot on Earth blistered by the highest UV levels is... you've guessed it, Cuzco.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Cultural Racism of Libertarians

Check out the Seattle Public School System's definition of "cultural racism":

Cultural Racism:

Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.


(Emphasis added.)

Wow.

(Hat tip, Volokh)

Fun Friday, Part 3

I first learned of They Might Be Giants via Tiny Toon Adventures, and these two animated shorts:



Fun Friday, Part 2

How about an old-school style text based adventure game?

Education, Television Sets, and Freeways.

When I think about whether a certain product should be left to the private sector v. the public sector, I usually think about TVs and freeways. TV's are products that are purchased by many individuals who benefit directly from owning the TV. Freeways, on the other hand, have many secondary beneficiaries, and are therefore subject to the freerider problem. The incentives to build things like freeways are spread among many disconnected parties, and all of them have an incentive to let the other parties do the work for them. As a consequence, nothing gets done. It's sort of a reverse "tragedy of the commons." (Note: I know some people who believe that the private sector would do a fine job with freeways too, but let's ignore them.)

In general, I think that most things should be left to the private sector, but if I believe that a certain product closely resembles a freeway, (national defense, certain infrastructure, sewers, etc.) I am more inclined to let the government have a role. The government still doesn't do a great job with many of these responsibilities, but the alternative is to not have these products and services at all.

We treat education as a freeway in this country, but I think it is clearly more like a television. Parents have an interest in purchasing a fine education for their kids, and so it seems that the best way to provide education would be in the free market.

This is the logical and philosophical argument for keeping the state out of schooling. What I never hear from those who are in favor of public education as it currently exists, such as Jay Bullock, is any logical or philosophical justification underlying their arguments. Jay is a champion debater, but he hits you with a thousand bb's, whereas I tend to hit with one giant missile. He'll drown you with information, little examples of public school successes or failures of privatization, but there is no underlying coherence to his arguments.

Which is not to say that they are bad arguments, of course. There may very well be some underlying reason to support public education, but no one is bragging about it.

I also want to be clear that I am not talking about government funded schools, but government run schools. When subjected to competition government schools seem to do fine, especially at the college level, and I would like to see our K-12 schools benefit from the same system.

Is there anyone out there that wants to see the format for public education applied to the broader market? Would we accept this system for our food production? Except for a few on the extreme left, I suspect that no one would endorse this system.

So, I would seriously like to know, why are schools more similar to freeways than TVs? What makes education so special as to require so much government oversight? If it is such a good system, why does the prospect of using it for other goods seem so unattractive?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fun Friday, Part 1

To believe for all the world that you were my precious little girl.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Three Baseball Notes

1. Aren't you glad that the Brewers have Billy Hall?

2. Here's Russell Roberts on a new book about fielding.

3. Ethan's baseball notes are stellar, as usual:

message to russ springer: you are an embarrassment to pitchers everywhere (and not just for having beef with a batter you've faced only 3 times in the last 5 years). it takes you 5 pitches to hit a batter?! none of those 5 were to "set up" the hbp so you could claim it was an accident either, and your target is about as agile as an rv. that's weak, man. very weak.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's The Knicks!

The new sitcom that's sweeping the nation, starring:

Stephon Marbury as "Stephon"
Steve Francis as "Steve"
Larry Brown as "The Coach"

and Isiah Thomas as "Zeke the Landlord"

Who can turn a silk purse into a sow's ear?
Who would trade their cow for a few magic beans?
Who would trade Crystale for a sixer of cold beer?
It's the Knicks!

They gladly would have traded Ruth back to the Red Sox,
and thrown in old Lou Gehrig just to sweeten the deal,
When the guy in charge is an egomaniacal dumb jock,
It's the Knicks!


Zeke - Hey guys, I just traded the washer and dryer for a this lava lamp! This could really spice up the place. Yep, you're going to have a real chick magnet here...

Stephon - But Zeke, how are we going to attract any ladies if our clothes smell?

Zeke - Oh no! Well, I'm sure that coach can figure something out. He always makes it work! Hey Coach! I traded the washer and dryer for this lava lamp and I need you to teach the guys not to stink.

Larry - (enraged) You did what?! Zeeeeekkkkkeeeeee!!!!!!

Everyone - Oh no, not again!

And on next week's season finale...

Zeke - Well guys, I'm going to have to evict Coach.

Larry - I'm not going anywhere! Not for 20 million dollars.

Zeke - How about 30?

Larry - Goodbye everyone.

Steve - But Zeke, who will live with us if coach leaves?

Zeke - (Pointing at himself) Meet your new roommate guys.

Everyone - Oh no, not again!

Next week, on It's the Knicks!

A Big Day

I graduated from law school on Friday. So I'm finally a real person after 8 years of being a college student of some sort. It's good to be done. In the University of Wisconsin tradition, the graduation ceremony was pretty informal and the speakers pretty mediocre. Wisconsin congresswoman Tammy Baldwin was our keynote speaker. Her commencement speech sounded a lot like a recycled campaign speech and she seems to have a bit of an ego problem. Our faculty speaker was funny at times and moving at others but seemed to stray way too far off topic for a graduation speech.

One of my fellow grads came complete with several television news crews. And deservedly so. Chris Ochoa spent 12 years in a Texas prison for a rape and murder he didn't commit. He was freed by students and faculty from the Wisconsin innocence Project using DNA evidence. He then got his degree from the University of Texas-El Passo and then started law school at UW where he worked for the innocence project. He was one of our commencement speakers on Friday.

Here's the Milwaukee JS article the day before graduation.
Here's an ABC News story.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Let's Rank the Wilburies*

It's a slow Monday, so we might as well rank The Traveling Wilburies. My list looks like this:

1. Bob Dylan
2. George Harrison
3. Tom Petty
4. Roy Orbison
5. Jeff Lynne

Some may quibble with putting Petty over Orbison, but I enjoy Petty's music more at this point. So, how would you rank the Wilburies, and why?

*Post inspired by The Simpsons, in an episode where Homer is attempting to feign interest in Lisa. In order to find out more about her he asks the following:

Who is your favorite Traveling Wilbury honey? Is it Jeff Lynne? What about your favorite cigar size? Is it "Robusto?" Is it?

K-12 v. Universities

The French university system is similar to our K-12 public school system. And guess what?

The United State's has one of the most admired university systems in the world and one of the most deplored k-12 systems. Could the difference have something to do with the fact that universities operate in a competitive market with lots of private suppliers while k-12 is dominated by monopolistic, government provided schools?

What would our university system look like if it operated like the k-12 system?

Look to France for the answer. The riots of 1968 forced the government to offer a virtually free university education to any student who passes an exam but as a result the universities are woefully underfunded especially for the masses. Amazingly, with just a few exceptions for the elites, students are required to attend the universities closest to their high schools. Sound familiar?



More here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Congratulations Danny!

As of 2:00 today Danny will officially graduate from law school and add to the dangerously low population of lawyers. So kudos bars to my brother. And don't forget to offer up a hearty congratulations to most of our Law Student Blogs section of the blog roll, as they have all done a fine job of keeping me entertained over the past few years.

Good work, everyone.

Fun Friday, Part 2

I don't want the world, I just want your half.

Fun Friday: Fensler Film

Pork Chop sandwiches!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quote of the Day

"I work in Washington and I know that money corrupts. And I and a lot of other people were trying to stop that corruption. Obviously, from what we've been seeing lately, we didn't complete the job. But I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."


John McCain, on Don Imus's radio show on April 28th. George Will mentioned it in his column today.

The CTA Conspiracy

Last summer the Chicago Transit Authority did a lot of whining and threatened to shut down a bunch of train lines if its funding was not increased. They claimed that rush hour service would be greatly reduced, inconveniencing me and thousands of others. This was all a bluff, of course. When you're trying to save cash you don't reduce your profitable runs, you reduce your empty runs.

Anyway, the state caved and gave them more cash. And how do they respond?

By spending $577 million on 406 new cars:

As soon as 2009, elevated train riders could experience a quieter, smoother ride on new rail cars because of a $577 million contract approved Wednesday by the Chicago Transit Authority board.


Now, the current cars are not great, I'll admit that, but $577 million seems like a lot of money. Heck, someone in Milwaukee just proposed building an entire train system (actually, it's some weird train/bus hybrid) for only $300 million (which is a ridiculously low figure, and clearly a lie. It was eventually vetoed.)

Still, if the improvements were great enough I might be persuaded, but instead this seems like a continuation of the CTA's plan to force everyone seated on a CTA vehicle to stare at the "junk" of the standing passengers. The old CTA buses had mostly front-facing seats until last summer, when they started replacing them with new buses with inward facing seats. Then they changed the Brown Line in the same fashion.

Now they plan to make the switch on every train:

The train cars, which will be tested for up to a year, will have aisle-facing seating and increased aisle room, making it easier for people to lug baggage on the train and spread out inside the car. While the number of seats--40--won't change, the new cars will have more amenities: two wheelchair positions, seven security cameras, electronic maps and destination signs, officials said.


Inward-facing seats are bad for two reasons:

1. They make some people sick, and there's enough puke on the trains already.

2. The aforementioned nad-staring problem.

And for what? To add an extra wheel-chair space? I'm all for supporting the handicapped, but I've never before witnessed two wheelchair bound people get on the same train car at the same time.

I should also note that one of their justifications, to "ease entry into the cars" is also a lie. The seats near the doors already are inward-facing.

I don't know what sick fascination the CTA has with the crotches of others, but I'm sick of them basing policy on it.

My Brother Just Became Legal in Oklahoma.

A silly law is overturned:

Oklahoma became the last state to make tattoos legal when the governor signed legislation Wednesday to license and regulate tattoo artists and parlors.

The measure ends a ban on tattooing that had been in effect since 1963. The new law takes effect Nov. 1.

"Regardless of one's personal views about tattoos, the plain fact is that tattooing is prevalent," Gov. Brad Henry said.

The legislation calls for sanitation and health guidelines for tattoo artists and parlors and periodic inspections by the state Health Department. Previous attempts to lift the ban over the past decade were fought on health as well as moral grounds.

The Health Department endorsed the measure after expressing concern about an increase in hepatitis infections related to unsanitary tattooing practices.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Guest Post: Kirk Cameron

When Kirk Cameron isn't busy discrediting evolution with bananas, he is hard at work making the Left Behind books into a big screen reality. The former Growing Pains star recently contacted us about writing a guest post in an effort to reach more skeptics, and we were more than happy to oblige.

Sex Ed

by Kirk Cameron

Sex is everywhere these days, and kids are becoming sexualized at younger and younger ages, Part of this is caused by our wicked culture, which every good Christian should resist, but a more sinister culprit is our schools, the very place where our kids should be safest.

Sex ed in school, and perhaps more alarmingly, in many homes, is a farce that must be stopped. We know that learning about birth control, STDs, and various unclean sexual acts encourages promiscuity, but this is a minor problem. These programs make a more fundamental error in their approach, and this error is the most destructive lie that our children will hear.

The media seldom reports this one disturbing fact; These programs teach our kids that babies are the result of a male sperm joining with a female egg, combining into one single cell, and gradually growing over the course of 9 months into a human baby. This is an affront to both God and logic.

The Bible teaches us that God created man in his image, which flies in the face of this modern talk of "zygotes" and "embryos." And besides that, it makes no sense! Let's look at the facts:

1. There are one celled organisms known as "amoebas." No amoeba has ever grown into a human.

2. Heathens claim that children are the result of sexual intercourse, however, scientists have found that the overwhelming majority of sex acts, even "unprotected" sex acts, do not result in children. What we have here is a correlation/causation problem. With all of the sex taking place in this country, some children were almost certain to be born within 9 months of a sex act.

3. Jesus himself was not the result of a sex act.

Think about it. People are complex creatures with many complex parts. The eyeball, just by itself, is far to complex to have grown from a single cell. Moreover, these people would have you believe that it grew out of the same cell that produced your arms and legs, but you can't see with your arms and legs, and you can't walk on your eyes.

It says in the Bible that we are created by God, in his image. It doesn't say anything about a complex process involving sinful sexual behavior and creepy one-celled "fetuses." Doesn't it make more sense that we were placed, fully human, into the wombs of our mothers? Clearly, we are created whole, just like Adam and Eve.

I'll leave you with this final thought. We all know that the Darwinist theory of evolution is false. A lie, made up by Satan to fool unbelievers. With all of the complexity in the world it makes no sense that complex organisms evolved from one-celled organisms over billions of years.

That being said, how could you possibly have grown from a one-celled organism in a mere nine months?

The very notion of natural sexual reproduction makes even less sense than this so-called "evolution" if you think about it rationally.

It is just silly.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

How We Supersize The Beast's Cheeseburgers.

Jonathan Rauch has an outstanding column in this month's Atlantic (subscription required) on the failure of "Starve the Beast" politics.

Republicans have long argued that cutting taxes will shrink government by forcing the government to reduce spending. There's just one problem with this idea:

Even during the Reagan years, Niskanen was suspicious of Starve the Beast. He thought it more likely that tax cuts, when unmatched with spending cuts, would reduce the apparent cost of government, thus stimulating rather than stunting Washington’s growth. “You make government look cheaper than it would otherwise be,” he said recently.

Suppose the federal budget is balanced at $1 trillion. Now suppose Congress reduces taxes by $200 billion without reducing spending. One result is a $200 billion deficit. Another result is that voters pay for only 80 percent of what government actually costs. Think of this as a 20 percent discount on government. As everyone knows, when you put something on sale, people buy more of it. Logically, then, tax cuts might increase the demand for government instead of reducing the supply of it. Or they might do some of each.

Which is it? To the naked eye, Starve the Beast looks suspiciously counterproductive. After all, spending (as a share of the gross domestic product, the standard way to measure it) went up, not down, after Reagan cut taxes in the early 1980s; it went down, not up, after the first President Bush and President Clinton raised taxes in the early 1990s; and it went up, not down, following the Bush tax cuts early in this decade.

Niskanen recently analyzed data from 1981 to 2005 and found his hunch strongly confirmed. When he performed a statistical regression that controlled for unemployment (which independently influences spending and taxes), he found, he says, “no sign that deficits have ever acted as a constraint on spending.” To the contrary: judging by the last twenty-five years (plenty of time for a fair test), a tax cut of 1 percent of the GDP increases the rate of spending growth by about 0.15 percent of the GDP a year. A comparable tax hike reduces spending growth by the same amount.


Tax cuts without spending cuts don't starve the beast at all. They simply subsidize government growth by insulating all of us from the true cost of government. If true (and it makes a great deal of sense to me) this creates an interesting catch-22 for both parties, as a tax increase may actually reduce the size of government, and vice versa.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fun Friday, Part 3

Isn't that just the irony of it all.

Well, no use dwellin' on it. Let's push things forward.

Fun Friday, Part 2

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be spontaneously sucked into a black hole? It would probably look something like this (Note: If you happen to be my wife, you might want to skip this one).

(Hat tip, Keith)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fun Friday, Part 1

Let's learn the story of Joseph Smith,
Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mailbag!*

It is time once again to dip into the always revealing EC Mailbag, reserved for those who find the comments section scary and confusing. Let's jump right in:

1. Dear EC,

I've been watching South Park on your recommendation, and while I find parts of it funny, I sometimes have to turn away from the screen. Is it always so gross and disturbing?

Mookie B


Actually, sometimes it's even worse. I think that the five most disturbing things in South Park, in order, are:

5. Cartman tells a story in which the kids have to teach baby animals to perform abortions. Etc.

I had to turn it off halfway through. It's actually much more offensive than the title would lead you to believe. It's also a Christmas episode.

4. Cartman makes Scott Tenorman eat his parents.

There's a special place in cartoon hell for Cartman, where he will be placed neck deep in water and given a terrible thirst for this episode, in which he gets revenge on an older boy by cooking his parents up in a bowl of chili (after indirectly/directly causing their deaths by tricking them into trespassing on a gun-happy farmer's property) and serving the dish to the unsuspecting teenager. You're not entirely sure where this episode is going until the very end, where it slowly starts to dawn on you just how far over the line they've pushed it. The episode also features a cameo by Radiohead who mock Scott for crying. In subsequent episodes, it is not uncommon to hear Cartman whispering "I'll make you eat you parents" under his breath when he is antagonized.

3. Cartman manually stimulates Ben Affleck to Climax

In this highly offensive episode, Cartman starts pretending/believing that his hand is actually Jennifer Lopez. Eventually, Cartman's hand outperforms the real Jennifer Lopez to the point that her label fires her and hires his hand. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds. Eventually Ben Affleck falls for his hand as well, and you can probably figure out the rest. This episode is offensive on many fronts.

2. Rob Reiner eating.

Anti-smoking activist Rob Reiner comes to South Park after a lame, school sponsored anti-smoking campaign causes the boys to want to smoke as soon as possible. Reiner is portrayed as an anti-smoking fascist, doctoring photos and attempting to kill people in the name of stopping the evil tobacco companies. But more importantly, he never stops eating. The visuals are disgusting enough, but the sound really puts this one over the top. It's just revolting.

1. Every episode containing Mr. Hanky, the Poo-Choo Train, his wife, and the Nuggets (especially Cornwallace).

I can't watch these anymore. They're so disgusting. Every time the Christmas Poo moves he leaves a little stain. I just don't have the words. As much as I like South Park, I really dislike these Christmas episodes. It's just too much.

Next Question.

2. Hey Pauly,

Why do you think that the immigration issue is "phony?" Isn't this a real problem that needs quick action?

Bob W.


Absolutely not, Bobbo. Think about every serious problem facing this country, from Iraq to Iran to New Orleans to government pork to energy prices (not that the government can do anything about them, but they probably affect you a great deal). The government could be taking on a lot more (or less, if you prefer that).

Immigration rears its ugly head pretty often when the ruling party starts to wane in popularity, and that seems to be the case here. After all, what spurred this topic? I don't recall a particular event relating to immigration in the recent past that would have sparked this controversy. It seems to be chugging along at the status quo.

There are many long term issues that you need to make time for when you're in government, of course, but should immigration be more pressing than Social Security or Medicare reform? Most certainly not.

The Republicans are simply pulling a "Mayor Quimby" with their "Proposition 24" like policy proposals.

And all to take our minds off of the Bear Patrol.

As always, the true solution to this problem is not to eliminate the immigrants, but to eliminate the Bear Patrol.

For more on immigration, try the Coyote Blog.

3. I'm thinking of becoming a rapper and I need a rap name. Any ideas?

Franklin Y.


If you happen to be African-America, I suggest Afro-dizzy-AK, it's a little long, but the first section draws attention to your cultural heritage, the last part will bring you street cred by referencing an automatic weapon, and the name in total will reference your effect on the ladies. Of course, you may not want to focus on all of these things. I can certainly understand wanting to take the AK out of rap, in which case I recommend a one-word name, since you'll probably end up being called one word whether you like it or not, like how Kanye West is just "Kanye," or how Fifty Cent is just "Fifty." I've been calling Sean Combs "Pee" for years now. I'd go with something like "Jettison" ("Jet" for short) or "Clockwork."

If you're just some white dude, you're better off coming up with a name for a group, you know, like Mike Skinner is "The Streets." There are also the Beasties. I know that they sort of have more individualist rapper names, but "Mike D" isn't really that memorable. Of course you could go with "Franky-y" or "Franky-Y-Not" (or Frankly-Y-Not), but you'll sound a lot cooler if you are known as "The Courtezans" or "Tiger Sharkz" or "The Sluburbs." You get the idea. I look forward to hearing you in the not-too-distant future Franky.

Next.

4. Dear EC,

Why are the Cincinnati Reds suddenly good?

Wily Mo P.


The Reds' offense was already top notch, but they lacked pitching. Enter Bronson Arroyo.

Bronson Arroyo's move to the offensively weaker NL has done wonders for his game, and getting a good starter at the top of your rotation makes the rest of your staff better, as they all get to move down a spot in the rotation where they will face inferior pitchers compared to last year. You also get to bump your worst starter into the bullpen. When you replace a position player you're just replacing whoever was playing there before, but when you get a new top-flight pitcher, you replace your 5th best pitcher, not your second best.

And if that's not enough, Ethan has been crunching some numbers:

-i said at the time of the arroyo-pena trade that the reds got the better end of the deal, so let's take a look at how it's working out thus far:

with the trade:

reds
arroyo: 6 starts, 5 wins, > 7 inn/start, 7.05 k/9, .89 whip.
aurilia (getting the ab's pena would've made since freel moved to cf with griff's injury): ~.880 ops

sox
pena, platooning with nixon: ~.850 ops
dinardo/wells: 4 starts, 0 wins, < 5 inn/start, < 5 k/9, whip > 2.

without the trade:
reds
replacement level starter: projects better than the dinardo/wells combo, but significantly worse than arroyo
pena, full time: probably wouldn't be doing significantly better than aurilia has thus far

sox
mohr, platooning with nixon: he has a ~.620 ops in limited playing time, let's say he would be ~.750 (career .745) if he was consitently spelling nixon in right
arroyo: even if you inflate his numbers a bit for playing back in the al, he would still be boston's 2nd best pitcher behind schilling.

it's obvious in the short term the reds got a steal here, and we haven't even considered pena's atrocious defense (though admittedly i've ignored aurilia's d as well, but i assume a former ss will be at least average at 2b). but even if/when aurilia and arroyo drop down some, it just makes no sense that boston parted with a middle of the rotation starter (especially when the majority of their staff is old and/or injury prone) for a platoon player.


Ethan's baseball analysis is always spot on, so read the whole thing.

5. Hi Paul,

I need a get rich quick scheme but I can't think of anything. At least, anything original. You seem like a bright guy, any suggestions?

Prescott H.


Let's see, that's a tough one. Presumably if I had such an idea I would be rich already, but I'll see what I can do.

Remember that "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book? It was this little piece of crap book that you could impulse-buy on your way out of the bookstore for five bucks and contained obvious and inane piece of worldly wisdom. Patriotism is really in these days, so what I would do is write a CSFTS-sized book about the wisdom contained in the US Constitution. Not real wisdom of course. What you want to do is take obvious, non-insightful cliches, and link them to the Bill of Rights. For instance, on one page you would have the text of the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) and then on the adjoining page you would write something like, "Stick up for yourself, because no one else will."

For the fourth amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


you could write something like "Don't go snooping around in other people's business."

Keep it short, put on an attractive cover, maybe faux-leather with gold lettering, and call it "Founding Wisdom," or something like that. You should be able to pull in a few thousand bucks. It might not make you rich, but it should help you out.

In fact, I'm starting to think that this isn't such a bad idea. I've got to get in touch with a publishing company! Prescott, you come up with your own idea, I'm going to have to take this one.

And look for Founding Wisdom in bookstores everywhere.

That will wrap up another EC mailbag. Good questions all. I hope I was helpful.

Until next time.

*All questions are fake, however, the answers are real.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If you came here via the BBA,

you can find my views on immigration here and here.

Hollywood needs to stop...

remaking perfectly good movies.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Regulation of the Day

The government is doing its best to protect you from...

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit hears a challenge to Louisiana's florist licensing system, which demands a one-hour written test and a grueling practical exam, graded with complete objectivity by licensed florists who pass judgment on whether their would-be competitors have what it takes to stick flowers in vases. The system, of course, is aimed not at protecting florists from competition but at protecting consumers from buying god-awful arrangements that they in their naivete think are rather nice. The florists challenging the system, represented by the Institute for Justice (who else?), argue that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process clauses, claims that a federal judge rejected last year. Check out I.J.'s map of "States That License Florists."


Reason has more.

I for one am glad that the government is protecting me from bouquets containing both posies and roses, when everyone knows that those who suppose that posies are roses suppose erroneously.


 
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