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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

And in other news, the sun rose in the east.

Predictably, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union is suing to prevent the newly approved provision requiring voters to show photo ID before voting.

"Much like a poll tax, Indiana residents will have to pay to vote," [ICLU attorney Ken] Falk said.

Yes, it's exactly like a poll tax, except there's no cost, and the government is going out of its way to ensure that everyone who needs a photo ID will be provided one, again at no cost.

When will the ICLU stand up for MY right for my vote to be counted, and not diluted by illegal votes?

Hurrah! We're not stupid hicks!

No longer will Indiana be known as the state that isn't smart enough to observe Daylight Savings Time. We will be springing forward next year! By the barest margin, the bill passed.

There's one reason I've long pushed for Indiana to be on Eastern Daylight Time. Sunrise: 5:15 AM.

No more sunlight when most people are asleep! More sunlight when most people are awake!

Now, part of the bill calls for hearings on where the border between Eastern and Central time should be. I don't care if the western counties want to be on the same time as Illinois, as long as you don't affect the Indianapolis metro area!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Carnival of the Vanities

The new Carnival of the Vanities is up at John Bambenek's new site.

All Your Iraq Are Belong To Us

A redone version of the famous Zero Wing spoof video, starring Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, and members of the U.S. military.

Is voter ID needed?

Some people (suspiciously all Democrats) say that requiring a photo ID to vote isn't necessary, that no one would try to steal votes, especially in a place like Indiana.

Think again.

Andrea Neal's latest column quotes someone with more experience monitoring elections than you or I, former sheriff Kelly Bachman of South Bend. Her experience:

"Having served as a sheriff during the election years of 1998-2000, I have first-hand experience with probable voter fraud," she said. "Especially during the 2000 election. Because we couldn't ask for an ID, I was unable to act upon my suspicions when a voter would have to ask the guy next to him, 'Now what is my name again?' or another says, 'Now my address is such-and-such, right?' It was pitiful."

Remember, an illegal vote is like someone putting a gun to your head and preventing you from voting.

PC... is your child at risk?

Driving through a nearby neighborhood, I saw a sign: "Vision impaired child area."

Now, back in my less PC youth, my neighborhood had a deaf child. There was a sign there, too. It said in big, bold letters: "Deaf Child."

The PC sign mentioned above is printed with significantly smaller text. Four lines, not two. It doesn't have as big of an impact on your vision as you pass.

I wonder if a driver, new to the area, is more likely to miss the sign. If so, doesn't that increase the risk for the child the city is trying to protect?

Acceptable risk

Walter Williams nails it in his current column. In discussing the great strides mankind has made to improve our standard of living, he refers to Thomas Sowell's discussion on "doers" and "talkers." The "talkers" are busy attacking the progress that is the result of the doers.

His concluding paragraph:
If we developed the practice of removing products from the market because some people are harmed by them, we might starve to death. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal reaction that some people have to foods such as milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, fish, shellfish and eggs. Each year, food-induced anaphylaxis sends about 30,000 people to hospital emergency rooms and about 200 of them die. Since many people are harmed by these food items, should they be removed from our supermarket shelves? If not, why not?

I'm often confused about the way some people focus on eliminating the smallest risk. Saccharin was banned in Canada for a cancer risk that was probably smaller than many natural carcinogens, including cooked bacon or the aflatoxin from peanut mold. These natural foods are risky too.

Part of the problem is the lack of cost/benefit analysis. Many of the people leading the fight for bans on carcinogenic compounds (or protecting wetlands, or saving endangered species) expect the allegedly limitless pocketbook of the government to cover it. If they approached a goal with a limited budget, then they could decide on how to get maximum benefit out of limited resources. I suggested earlier that spending an amount of money on free mammograms for the uninsured will probably save more lives from cancer than would pushing down the arsenic levels in New Mexico drinking water a few more parts per million.

We need a less litigious society and a more informed society. Let someone decide for themselves if the benefits of the antiinflammatory Vioxx outweigh the small risk.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The rich... getting soaked!

Instapundit links to this post by TaxProfBlog, which links to a Wall Street Journal editorial that shows that, from 1979 to 1999, the rich paid a greater share of federal taxes, considering both regressive Social Security and Medicare taxes and progressive income taxes. Even after the Bush tax cuts, the richest Americans are getting soaked, compared to that economic heaven (*snicker*) of 1979.

In between me first seeing this post and now, Instapundit posted a response from Brendan Nyhan, who points out it's because the rich are getting richer. Hey, I'm all in favor of seeing an increase in the number of people earning a level of real income that makes them quite comfortable. It's the ultimate demostration of the success of the American economic system.

In every debate on taxes, you will hear a very consistent portrayal of numbers from the two sides. The left will say that some percentage of the tax cut went to the "richest 1%," without mentioning how much of the tax burden they have. The right doesn't want to say that, so highlights how the rich will pay an even greater percentage of the total burden, even if they are getting a significant benefit from the tax cut. The left never says where that 1% or 5% or 10% level break is; chances are, many people wouldn't think of that as rich, particularly those living in places like New York City. And of course, both sides supports their tax policies by picking an example of the person who does best.

I just want to scream, "You're both right, and you're both biased!"

The debate should come down these points:
-What should the top marginal tax be? What's the most someone should pay to the government on a dollar they earn?
-How should the burden be shared?
-Most importantly, when you propose a tax change, what do you expect the results to be?

A tax increase or decrease should require an estimate of the tax revenue that will be collected after the change, under a variety of economic scenarios. "If taxes are increased 5%, and the economy grows 3%, then tax revenues will increase 5%." With predictions like these, we might be able to settle the debate on whether static or dynamic scoring is more appropriate.

Evolving again!

At least for a short time, I'm a Slithering Reptile in the Truth Laid Bear ecosystem. Thanks, everyone, for your links!

Criticism of history textbooks

Chinese textbooks are "extreme" in their interpretation of history, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Sunday, a day after China's president demanded Tokyo do more to improve relations damaged by new Japanese textbooks that allegedly whitewash wartime atrocities.

Machimura meanwhile hailed the Saturday meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao in Jakarta, saying it has paved the way to start repairing attered ties that have led to anti-Japan protests across China.

"From the perspective of a Japanese person, Chinese textbooks appear to teach that everything the Chinese government has done has been correct," Machimura said on a TV Asahi talk show. "There is a tendency toward this in any country, but the Chinese textbooks are extreme in they way they uniformly convey the 'our country is correct' perspective."

Machimura also defended Japan's textbooks, saying they don't gloss over Japan's invasion of other Asian countries as alleged, and expressed dismay with the lopsided view of history taught in Chinese schools.

Well, well, well. Let's see how big of hypocrites the Chinese government makes of themselves.

Via Riding Sun, who says:

I'm sure China is eagerly awaiting Machimura's full report. Any bets on how long it takes for China to condemn his intrusion into its "internal affairs"?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

If you ran General Motors....

Here's a discussion thread at ChicagoBoyz.net, asking people what they would do if they ran General Motors. There's a lot of good ideas here.

Rob Read: "GM is a [sic] underperforming pension fund that happens to manufacture cars." Heh.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Signs of spring

Forget the vernal equinox and other "official" definitions. Here are the real signs that spring is here:

  • Forget the first robin. It's the first dandelion that really means spring is here.
  • You see blossoms on the trees, smell their unusual odor, and suffer from their allergies.
  • You finally pull out the lawn mower, but need to wear a sweater when mowing the lawn.
  • You think about planting your garden, then think better of it - another day of frost is sure to come.
  • You pull out white clothes not seen since Labor Day.
  • You have to turn on your car's air conditioner, even though it's chilly outside, since the sun has baked your car's interior all day.
  • You need to push aside one of the blankets from the bed. You don't dare put it away, since you know the temperature can drop at any time.
  • You get the first juicy bug splattered on your windshield.
  • There are only 8 teams still fighting for playoff spots in the NBA.
  • Gas prices rise. (Also a sign that summer is here, that fall is here, and that winter is here.)

Update: Welcome, Carnival of the Vanities readers. Some of my favorite posts are here.

Have a problem with your job?

I Work With Fools will be happy to share your misery with the world!

I don't have anything for them; I can't complain about my job. But these stories are interesting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Carnival of the Vanities

The new Carnival of the Vanities is up at Conservative Dialysis.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Deconstructing Sullivan

No surprise: Andrew Sullivan is disappointed by the choice of the new Pope, as he won't liberalize the church as he desires.

Professor Bainbridge clearly identifies the real reason Sullivan is upset.

Who's balanced? Who's biased?

The recent elevation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI is a story no news outlet could ignore. It provides a case study of bias in news media. You have liberals claiming Fox News makes a mockery of the motto "Fair and Balanced." You have conservatives saying the bias in the mainstream media is so obvious that one must be willfully blind to deny it. So let's see how they compare on this story.

First, Fox News:

Ratzinger, 78, served John Paul II since 1981 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In that position, the man described as a conservative guardian of church doctrine disciplined church dissidents and upheld church policy against attempts by liberals for reforms.

The new pope had gone into the conclave with the most buzz among two dozen leading candidates. He had impressed many faithful with his stirring homily at the funeral of John Paul II, who died April 2 at age 84.

Now, the New York Times:

He has been described as a conservative, intellectual clone of the late pontiff, and, as the dean of the College of Cardinals, he was widely respected for his uncompromising - if ultraconservative - principles and his ability to be critical.

As cardinal, he had shut the door on any discussion on several issues, including the ordination of women, celibacy of priests and homosexuality, defending his positions by invoking theological truth. In the name of orthodoxy, he is in favor of a smaller church, but one that is more ideologically pure.

Now, a news article shouldn't editorialize. Both articles state he is described as conservative. This is a statement of fact, although it would be much better to state who describes him as conservative. Not being familiar with the common analysis, I will accept that observers agree that he can be described as conservative.

But look at the New York Times quote again. His principles are described as "ultraconservative." That's an editorial comment, one with a negative connotation, and using the superlative prefix "ultra-."

Compare how Fox News refers to upholding church policy and New York Times refers to shutting the door on discussion. Which is a more accurate description of what the leadership of the Catholic Church does?

Now, answer the question: who's the biased news source?

The French Diet

According to Mireille Guiliano, French women stay slim by eating quality meals and smaller portions. They rarely overindulge and don’t skip meals or count calories. They take the time to enjoy their food, while Americans frequently speed through meals or eat on the go.

No, the reason French women stay slim is they smoke.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Canada's terrorist threat

I'm demanding action from President Bush and our government. For too long, they have ignored this terrorist threat.

They come across our porous borders with our northern neighbor. They just fly across, and we've done nothing to stop them.

They come. They congregate. They send out their calls to their brethren all throughout the day. Some even raise a family here, right in our midst. Yet all remain hostile to us. It takes very little to arouse their ire, to get a hostile response. They attack us, and yet we're supposed to ignore it.
They come, attacking our resources, threatening us with deadly chemicals.

It is time to act.

Post continued here.

Carnival of the Vanities controversy!

I considered submitting a post to this week's Carnival of the Vanities, but didn't like the attitude of the blog hosting it. Turns out it was a good idea not to make a submission. There have been many complaints. The link at Wizbangblog includes a summary of the expectations for a Carnival and a link to another, proper version of the Carnival.

Slanted Media Coverage

Looking through some old books, I found Murphy's Rules, a collection of humorous rules from various strategy and roleplaying games. One, though, was quite prescient.

"In the Vietnam roleplaying game RECON (RPG, Inc.) journalists and TV cameramen can be found only in bars."

With so much reporting outside the embedded reporters coming from hotels and from alleged tips from the enemy, this rule may very well appear in a future game about the War on Terror.

You know you've been in Japan too long when...

Something for a foreigner who's lived in Japan. I've never been there, but this list is still funny. Examples:

... you converse in Japanese with your gaijin friends, even though you both speak English.
... you believe that seafood and rice cakes are perfectly normal pizza toppings.
... you think it's normal for motorcycles to drive and park on the sidewalks.
... you think a city of 175,000 is a "country town."
... you have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in words like 'building'.
... when you no longer find anything unusual in the concept of "Vermont curry".
... getting ready for a trip you automatically calculate for omiyage and you leave just the right amount of space in your suitcase for them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

24 Body Count

At Sandcastles and Cublices, they're keeping track of the deaths on the current season of 24. I haven't watched the series at all. My standard VCR program, capturing the Fox Sunday night shows, picked up a hated "encore presentation" of the show from the 4th. I chose to turn off the TV at that point (so I could blog!).

If I had a free weekend and were feeling lazy, I might be interested in watching the whole series on a DVD Box Set. But since I typically miss many episodes of a series, I don't want to watch 24 in its original broadcast.

Local competition

After driving through the Appalachian snow, and seeing my car look as salt-drenched as it does during the dead of winter, I took it to a local car wash place. (Yeah, I know... wash it myself, but it's so much more convenient!) Here, almost all car wash places (outside of the worthless gas station ones) are part of the same local chain. Now, I've never patronized that chain, for the simple reason that I had head the quality was poor shortly after moving here. I have no personal experience to back up this assertion, but it does go to show the power of negative press.

Previously, I went to the car wash place closest to work, an independent business, but that place was closed down and replaced by... another branch of the local chain. So, I went down the street to another independent shop. This place was not shy about telling you what they thought about the chain; for example, they claimed the chain used recycled water, rather than fresh water, for its washes. The typical chain is very non-confrontative, so you never know what the head of McDonald's really thinks of Burger King. It was quite refreshing to see this in-your-face confrontation, of a local business more interested in getting business than being nice.

An unusual sight

Driving home, I saw a pickup towing a small trailer, advertising the owner's business: a farrier. Who nowadays even knows what a farrier is, anyway?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Mixed-age education?

Via Joanne Jacobs, here's a story about a British school that is experimenting with teaching students of like ability, regardless of age.

Here's a surprising quote:
"We found there were no problems with having older and younger children together. In fact, we were surprised about how well they bonded and learnt together," said the head....

I would have thought the stigma of being stuck with 7th graders when you think of yourself as an 11th grader would be a problem. But, as the article points out, these students already have the stigma of being the worst in their class.

I actually preferred the structure I grew up with, of having advanced and remedial classes for students of the same grade. I always found the advanced classes best, since there's no stigma for being smart and a hard worker when everyone's smart and a hard worker.

Giving the finger to criminals

Remember hearing about someone who allegedly found a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili? It turns out this person has a history of filing lawsuits, including one against another fast food restaurant after reporting that her daughter got sick.

Restaurant sales in the area are down, and the stock probably took a hit. If it is demonstrated that this person introduced the finger tip into the chili, then an appropriate punishment would be to fine her for lost sales and the loss of Wendy's market value. Several million dollars would likely be appropriate.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I just can't escape the snow!

More snow-blogging!

Last weekend, I ended up driving through some fresh snow in the Appalachains. This weekend, I went to Denver. The weather was just beautiful when I landed, and on Friday and Saturday. My vacation was interrupted by a friend commenting on the coming spring snowstorm. On April 10th?

Well, here's what the Weather Channel has listed for Denver for the evening of the 9th to the evening of the 10th:

Rain / Snow / Wind
Low 31° F
Precip: 100%
Windy with evening rain...then a mix of rain and snow overnight. Low 31F. Winds N at 25 to 35 mph. 1 to 3 inches of snow expected.

Heavy Snow / Wind
High 34° F
Precip: 100%
Snowy and windy. Snow will become heavy at times during the afternoon. Much colder. Temps nearly steady in the low 30s. Winds N at 25 to 35 mph. Snow accumulating 8 to 12 inches.

Snow / Wind
Low 31° F
Precip: 80%
Windy. Snow ending in the evening followed by a few snow showers overnight. Low 31F. Winds NNW at 25 to 35 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 2 to 4 inches.

Wonderful. I had to cut short my vacation. Fortunately, I was able to grab the last seat on the Saturday night flight home, meaning I didn't have to endure sitting in the Denver airport for all of Sunday and possibly all of Monday.

Out of curiosity, I'll check in tomorrow and see how bad the spring storm treated the airport.

Fair warning: I'll be in Chicago next Sunday. You may want to avoid that city. There's bound to be a surprise blizzard.

Update: Most flights Sunday were cancelled. Here's a news story from the Denver Post.

Update 2: As expected, ridiculous lines at DIA Monday. It turns out that the flight I was booked on Sunday did make it out, albeit two hours late.

Palestinians violently oppose freedom of assembly

Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters paraded through downtown Gaza City on
Friday, threatening to end a monthlong truce if Jewish extremists follow through
on a pledge to hold a rally at a disputed holy site in Jerusalem next week.

Disgusting. So freedom of assembly isn't to be tolerated in the Arab world? And disputed holy sites? Most of the Arab world was Christian before being conquered, with an incredible number of great Christian churches destroyed or converted to mosques.

Now, you don't hear the Christian world threatening to kill Arabs any time a religious rally is held in Bethlehem, do you?

(Article from the World Briefing section of the Denver Post, April 9 2005, thought I can't find a link right now.)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Double Standard at Northeastern Illinois University

Northeastern Illinois University, citing its policy of nondiscrimination, has ordered the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance to stop its planned Pay Equity Bake Sale, where they demonstrate the plight of American working women's pay imbalance by charging men more for baked goods. It is discrimination to charge men more than women for these baked goods.


Oh, who am I kidding? They ordered the College Republicans to stop their planned Affirmative Action Bake Sale, which works on the same basis as the Pay Equity Bake Sale. Yet, the Pay Equity Bake Sale has already happened, and the administration didn't object.

Once again, we have another blatant example of a double standard.

(Thanks to Eric Berlin for picking up on this story.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Be careful what you wish for

I remember seeing a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline sold for 79.9 cents in Georgia in 1999. This week, local gas prices jumped to very nearly three times that amount. Of course, I'd like gas prices to be lower. Who wouldn't?

But then, I got to thinking. The main reason gas prices were so low was because of lower demand, and that was because of an economic crisis in Southeast Asia. Now, given the choice between higher gas prices, and tens of millions of people suffering through a severe economic downturn, I think I'll take higher gas prices.

Are you so selfish that you'd want to repeat the late 90's economic crisis in order to get cheaper gas?

Double Standards

There's a new development in the University of North Carolina's battle against a Christian fraternity that wants to ensure its leadership shares Christian values. It's a typical battle between the desire for equality and the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of association. A court ordered the fraternity to be temporarily reinstated.

The interesting quote from the article indicates that had UNC not implemented a double standard, this wouldn't have happened.

Lawyers for the fraternity were unable to reach an agreement with the University by the Feb. 28 deadline, and Bullock issued a temporary reinstatement of the fraternity, citing that the University's policy restricts AIO's First Amendment rights while other UNC organizations are allowed to decide membership on the basis of political or other beliefs.

If the College Republicans and College Democrats are allowed to restrict their leadership to members of those parties, then other organizations shouldn't be treated differently. Many problems could be avoided if people would recognize these obvious double standards.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Scandal the Canadian Government Doesn't Want You to Hear!

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters broke a story about a scandal that implicates the top levels of Canadian government, with money and political patronage everywhere. He's had a huge upsurge in traffic, especially from Canadians desperate for the truth. Fight the good fight for freedom of speech, Ed!

More Numa Numa Fun

This flash anime shows original Numa Numa dancer Gary Brolsma as a contestant on American Idol!

And here's a parody of the original video, rendered entirely in Lego.

Ma Ya Hi - Not a hit

The English version of Dragostea Din Tei fell off the Pop 100 chart after 5 weeks. I still like the song.

Monday, April 04, 2005

UNC - National Champs!


ACC BasketBlog
Tar Heel Blue

Gas station restroom facilities

If you see any of the following items in a gas station restroom, you know it's of questionable quality:
  1. A coin-operated shoe/boot polish machine.
  2. A coin-operated condom dispenser.
  3. A coin-operated machine dispensing spritzes of fake cologne.

I saw all three in one restroom. Just the kind of place I want to visit again.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Travel musings

Having spent most of today on the road, driving alone, I had a lot of time to think. Random musings:

Driving 18 hours round trip for Saturday and Sunday events scheduled to last 16 hours doesn't seem like a very efficient use of time.

It's just not possible to drive as fast in the mountains as it is in Indiana.

It's just wrong to see fresh snowfall and snow flurries in April. Yet I saw those driving today. In other words, I'm glad not to live at high altitudes.

I barely managed to avoid my first $30 tank of gas twice this weekend.

Nine hours, only two stops. Impressive.

A long car trip means a chance to listen to lots of CDs. I grabbed some older CDs out of the CaseLogic storage folders. I still like them. There aren't many CDs I've regretted purchasing.

Getting fast food Chinese at the gas station mart at 8:30 Sunday night isn't a good idea.