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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Barack Obama

Many people are touting Obama as possibly the first black president.

He doesn't have a chance. Not because he's "black" -- that's in quotes because he looks to be about 60% or 70% white in ancestry to me -- but because of his name. Far too many Americans are so stupid and uninformed that they will confuse "Obama" with "Osama," and be sure that the al Qaeda leader is running for US office.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Phenomenology of the Social World

I've just been back into the book with the above title, by Alfred Schutz, who was an attendee at the renowned Mises seminar in Vienna. It struck me that he could have boosted sales quite a bit by instead entitling his work, "The Social World -- It's Phenomenal!"

An opportunity lost.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Question for Closed Borders Libertarians

What if someone proposed a policy of sending out armed federal agents to arrest people who applied for welfare? Or who cashed their Social Security checks? Or who used their WIC vouchers? Would you get behind that program?

The Brightest Minds of Our Era

Gene and me! (See it's not as arrogant if I include another.) Gene takes our old friend, Victor Davis Hanson, out to the woodshed in this piece, and I live up to my role as fat cat apologist in this one.

Get Out the Vote!

People are always worrying about enough voters showing up at the polls on election day. Well, after this last election, I came up with the perfect fix: lottery elections. What the government could do would be to award large cash prizes for various categories of voter: the ballot with the most winning candidates, the ballot with the most losing candidates, the ballot closest to the mean ballot, and so on. And this move would target precisely the people whom its hardest to get to vote now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Heh, heh, you shoulda heard what you just said..."

True story: A few days after initially posting an econometrics query on an email List, I received the following (sincere) question:

"Did you find out more about your Wiener filter?"

Friday, November 17, 2006

BTW T-Mobile Sux

I offer the above lemma without proof. It is left as an exercise for the reader.

Sympathetic Customer Service Agents

Lately I've dealt with more than my fair share of 1-800 customer service people. There must be some new philosophy sweeping the profession, because they all "sympathize" with my situation. For example (and I'm not making this up), "Oh yes Mr. Murphy, I can totally understand how that would be frustrating if you moved into a new house and your cell phone didn't get any reception. I can see why you'd be calling us."

The Economist Sets a Low Bar

I was reading last month's Economist and came across this passage that struck me as hilarious. Like Bill Kristol, the writers for this magazine can say the most ludicrous things and yet somehow sound perfectly reasonable while doing so. Case in point:

In this maelstrom, what can the Americans do? Since this summer they have defined their military "main effort" as the build-up of the Iraqi army and police. Although the police have proved a disappointment...the army is a qualified success. Though plauged by poor discipline, inefficiency, corruption and desertion, it has so far remained politically reliable. And although not nimble or numerous enough to prevent low-level, day-to-day killings, it is probably now strong enough in most cities to prevent the militias and insurgents from simply taking over.


P.S. As ridiculous as that is at first reading, read it a second time. Note the two qualifiers ("probably" and "most") in the last sentence.

Monday, November 13, 2006

At the Airport

So a man is at the airport check-in line with a large creature under his arm.

Security comes up to him and says, "What's that under your arm?"

"A vulture."

"Mister, you can't bring that bird on a plane."

"Oh, no, you're wrong -- my ticket says I'm entitled to board with one carrion item."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

happy non-voter here

Just cause I'm a non-voter doesn't mean I have a complete and total disinterest in election returns this evening: I honestly hope enough Democrats win to make the Republicans stop spending money like Democrats

Bats in My Belfry...

and flying squirrels in my attic.

That's right, the attic of my house in Pennslyvania is apparently infested with flying squirrels. We found our third inside the house last Saturday night. It was perched on a curtain rod. It launched itself at the ceiling, wacked its head, and fell to the floor. Then it climbed up the curtain to try again. I finally got past it to open the indow it was near, and it leapt out into the night.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ignorance

1) In the Wikipedia entry on "mirror," I found:

"A mirror is used for inspecting parts of one's body which are difficult or impossible to see directly, such as the face, neck or the whole body. This may be to checkphysical appearance (including clothing, make-up, hair, etc.) or to control applying make-up, shaving, cutting hair, fixing one's tie, etc."

Did the author of this article think there would be someone who had just bought a new house, and found a strange, reflective object in his bathroom, who said to himself, "What in the world is this thing? Let me log onto the Internet and go to Wikipedia to discover what I could possibly do with this thing?"

2) I bought a bag of pistachios at a gas station today. On the back of the package, I found: "Allergy warning: This product contains pistachio nuts."

Is there some allergy sufferer out who might buy a bag of pistachios unaware that the bag would contain pistachio nuts?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mo Media

What a treat! (Or is it a trick?) Another exciting Murphy talk, filled with all sorts of compelling analogies and jokes, available at the Mises archives. ("The Five Most Common Myths on International Trade," at the bottom.)