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Friday, April 28, 2006

"Heh, heh, damn you're smooth!"

After reading Jeff Tucker's bold article on the uselessness of shaving cream, I was intrigued. And yet, I was scared. How could I shave in the shower without the benefit of a mirror? And wouldn't I cut myself horribly?

But, with some trepidation, this morning I took the plunge. And I can happily report that my shave was no worse than it always is. I shall never again cream my face. (If you're going to make a double entendre it better be clever.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

three degrees shy of hell

For those of you unfamiliar with Miami, it is already summer. A couple months ago I noticed that my air conditioner was broken, but put off buying a new one because it's the type that you have to break open the wall to replace--like at hotels and motels. $$$$$ I had hoped by procrastinating, the old one might repair itself on its own, but this was not to be. The 90+ temperatures finally overcome my stubborn cheapness, and I had the nice fellows at Miami Breezes come over to take a hammer to my walls. I did not get a fancy model, but it does have an LED window that gives the room temp (When they turned the unit on, it gave the room temp as 87, btw.) This is the real kicker though: it has a remote control. This is so different from when I was a kid and had to walk a mile and a half in the heat and humidity--uphill, both ways, across the room--to get to the AC to turn it on. Young people these days just don't know how lucky they are.

Jane Jacobs, RIP

One ofthe great intellectuals of our time, Jane Jacobs, died yesterday. My friend Sandy Ikeda has written a tribute to her at... at... ah, I can't type the foul name. But the tribute is good.

And this is a rival of Sandy's for Jane's heart.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Deconstructing the Media

The other day, the NY Post devoted a full page to "Tomkat's" new baby. At the head of the article was a photo of an SUV with the caption, "One of several SUVs used to fool photographers outside the Los Angeles hospital where Katie Holmes gave birth."

Of course, the caption could have more truthfully read, "The particular decoy SUV that fooled the Post's photographer..."

Bush on Gas Prices

I heard Bush today saying that , while some rise in the price of oil was understandable, he would not tolerate "manipulation of the free market." By that he meant, of course, that he was about to launch a initiative designed to manipulate the free market.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Molyneux on Stateless Prisons

Stefan Molyneux (who puts out a popular podcast on this stuff) wrote an LRC article on stateless prisons a few days ago. In my carefree days I would've written a lengthy reply, but time is short so a few quick points:

(1) Why do libertarian males always use rape in the thought experiment??

(2) It seems that Stefan, in his desire to show that criminals would get punished a plenty in an-cap world, goes too far. He has the rapist being fined $500,000 and serving 5 years in prison, and getting all his utilities shut off, etc. In my view, the private judges deliver a verdict against you (which would almost always be a huge fine), and then if you don't pay all of the ostracism kicks in.

(3) To see it differently, even if the system were initially the way SM thinks, wouldn't most crime victims say, "Hey, rather than you serving 5 years, why don't you just give me an additional $300,000 and I'll drop the charges"?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Take This, You So-Called Readers!

With my first novel about to be published, I've meandered into a third -- yes, there's a second mostly done -- and I've decided to post bits of it here. Why? Because why have a blog if not because you can post anything you damn well please on it!

So:

**************

Tom was the only customer in the bar when Carlos came in the front door, made a sharp left, walked eight feet forward, and came to a standstill, his gaze fixed on a rubber tree in the corner of the bar. Well, not quite a standstill, as he quivered in place. He was covered in light gray dust, and he wore a blue sweatjacket with the hood pulled up, hiding most of his face.

Tom looked at Jenna and said, “I guess Carlos didn’t score today, huh?”

She gave him a wistful smile and shook her head.

About a minute later two well-dressed couples in their mid-fifties entered the bar, looking for dinner. When they were told that dinner in the restaurant upstairs didn’t start for a half hour, they decided to have a drink. They gave Jenna their orders and settled into barstools. Tom nonchalantly observed their growing sense that something was amiss down at the far end of the room. When Jenna returned after serving the foursome, he said, “I bet those folks are a little puzzled by the scary-looking Hispanic man who’s facing the corner, shaking violently, and staring into a potted plant, huh?”

“It’s part of the ambience they’re paying for.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Jinx!"

OK one more post and then back to work... You know how if two people say the same word at the same time, and then one of them says "Jinx!" that the other can't talk until the first says the person's name?

Well, what if they both say "Jinx!" at the same time??

An Amazing Sobran Article

At LRC I always read (a) Murphy columns, (b) Callahan columns, and (c) Sobran columns (in that order). But this one is seriously one of the best I have ever read. My favorite line:

In the end, the government murdered [Jesus]. This fact ought to count for something in any discussion of temporal power. Maybe capital punishment is still justified, even if mistakes are made now and then and the Son of God is accidentally victimized. But I’d start with that accident.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Surpisingly Insightful Article

This Observer article on the Iran situation (via quoting) makes two excellent points that I stressed in my critique of Bush's invasion of Iraq:

(1) The whole WMD fiasco completely discredited US intelligence. So now Iran would be much bolder in developing weapons since world opinion wouldn't trust Bush et al.'s warnings about a bomb.

(2) Looking at what happened to North Korea compared to Iraq, what would the rational (though admittedly evil) ruler of a small country do: DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

Bush to Iran: Don't You Wish We Had Been Disarmed?

I posted about this at Mises, but this New Yorker article is just too crazy to be real. Besides the stuff about the Joint Chiefs wanting to resign over a nuclear first strike, there's the following juicy quotes:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

Didja catch that, folks? SAVING Iran. And how about this:

A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said. The danger, he said, was that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.”

Yep, funny how violence works like that. I think the peaceniks have a cute phrase for it.

Oh, but here's a good one too:

The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. “Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,” the former senior intelligence official said. “ ‘Decisive’ is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.”

You'd think "the lack of reliable intelligence" might induce restraint in blowing people up. And I just love how past mass murders justify currently contemplated ones.

But here's my favorite:

“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”

Umm, isn't that a ridiculous conspiracy theory? We're doing it to save the Iranians!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Analysis Takes a Bath

As all new fathers do, I ponder calculus problems when I give my son a bath. OK you wash the kid's hair, so now the bath water is soapy. There are two things you can do to try to reduce the soapiness (specifically, soap units divided by volume of water in tub). (A) You can pull the plug so the tub starts to drain. (B) You can turn the faucet on so fresh water pours into the tub.

What is the fastest way to reduce the soapiness? (A), (B), or both? (HINT: I originally convinced myself that one of the techniques was "obviously" in the answer, but then I later reversed myself. I.e. I think one of the techniques is irrelevant.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

let them eat communist cake!

If you're like me, you've been wondering if French youths are as economically ignorant as they appeared to be on the recently televised riots over a new French labor law that would have increased their ability to find work. Under pressure from the rabble, Chirac was forced to send the law to the trash bin. Now before you think that the French are just lazy bastards hoping to avoid actually working, here's a report that suggests it is a matter of education.

Of course, now I'm wondering how many Stateside politicians were educated in France.

(Thanks to Tom Walls, a perspicacious observer of international economic folly for tipping me off on this.)

"Not This Guy Again"

A college buddy's blog. I can't take full credit for the conversion, but he used to think Machiavelli was awesome. (The "I've Been Robbed" post has been done before, but it's pretty good.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

I Knew It!

I was watching Beavis and Butthead today when a video by Morrissey came on. I had never seeen or heard the guy, but I had heard a lot about him, and somehow I already knew he would suck. Butthead put it well: "Get up off the ground and stop whining, you wuss."

What a Waste!

The box from which I took my eggs this morning claimed that its contents came from "Vegetarian Fed Hens."

Surely there must be something better to do with vegetarians than feeding them to hens!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spontaneous Encyclopedia Fails

I was reading up on Ginnie Mae in Wikipedia. It explained that if the home buyer defaults and the foreclosed property doesn't cover the remainder of the mortgage, the government picks up the difference making the investor (who owns the mortgage or rather a derivative security tied to it) whole. Then it says:

The arrangement seemingly benefits everyone involved:

* The mortgage lender has offloaded all risk to the GNMA, and has very quickly received a reimbursement of the money lent to home buyers from the bond dealer, and can immediately use this money to offer another pool of loans to the public.

* The home-buying public benefits from lower mortgage rates caused by the large amount of lender competition, in turn caused by a large supply of lenders, which is enabled by this quick reimbursement of money.

* The lower-income home-buying public benefits from a greater willingness by lenders to risk making loans to that group.

* The investors, whose money makes all of this work in the first place, benefit from the "full faith and credit" of the United States government; GNMA bonds are backed by the pool of mortgages, and even if massive defaults were to occur, the U.S. government would make good on all payments. GNMA bonds also feature higher returns than other U.S. government issued bonds.



Maybe the encyclopediast didn't think the taxpayers were "involved"...

I Hope JetBlue Isn't Saving That Much Money

I flew JetBlue back and forth to Vegas this past weekend. While most airlines give you a small custom map of where your plane is, JetBlue, however, uses MapQuest for theirs. That's cool, but I was really hoping that the pilot's navigation system wasn't MapQuest as well:
1. Start out going NORTHEAST from Las Vegas flying over NV-604.
2. Turn RIGHT at Lake Michigan.
Etc.

Monday, April 03, 2006

You Can Now Sleep Again...

...since the professionals have debunked Kevin Carson's attack on capitalism.

Condi Fires Iraqi PM

I can't tell if this article is scarier or funnier. In any event, the Bush people are in a pickle: If they meddle with Iraq's "democracy," there goes their whole (current) justification for the invasion. But on the other hand, if they sit back and watch the country fall apart, there goes their whole (current) justification for the invasion. (HINT: By equating "peace" with "democratic elections," they painted themselves into a corner.) Here's a quote that made me laugh out loud like Herman Munster:

"It's true the country has been accustomed to dealing with problems through violence, through coercion and through oppression," [Rice] said. "Now they have to do it through politics."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

An Army of One (Central Planner)

So the military sends troops into Iraq without adequate body armor, such that the troops buy their own stuff, then the Army under pressure agrees to reimburse families for the possibily thousands of dollars in expenses, and now the Army bans such purchases because they aren't as good as the military issue. (Thanks to Rachael for the link.)

In a related story, the Army forbids troops to waste their hard-earned money on McDonalds, because the food isn't as good for them as their rations.

Gene's April Fool Article

I know it spoils things to admit the joke, but Gene's article on why the Democrats are worse than the Republicans is just too subtle; people might think he was serious! Some choice excerpts:

There is another group, more obscure, but more important to the functioning of the Democratic Party than those mentioned above. I'll call them the immune-system-suppressers for the parasites....The reward for this service is to gain a place at the head of the legions of parasites, to get the first, freshest blood drawn from the host. It must be the sincere hope of those of this class that the host is quite healthy, and that the parasitism can continue at least as long as they are alive....

But these people know that they are just respectable thieves. Because of this, they will do anything to retain their grip on power and prevent their own exposure. If the meaning of the word 'is' can be changed to suit their purposes, grand! If they can shrug off crimes with a phrase like "no controlling legal authority," then use it! If an opponent can be smeared by somehow implying that he might as well have been at the wheel of the pickup truck that dragged James Byrd, well, so be it.

Perhaps some innocent people in some obscure country, like, say, Iraq, Sudan or Kosovo, have to die so that these thieves can maintain power...

However, we are on the verge of seeing the American Fascist Party – oops, I mean the Democrats – install themselves as the permanent ruling party.