## Posts

Showing posts from November, 2008

### The Cat Monster

OK, the basket you see is on top of a piece of furniture about five feet tall and very narrow. How the heck the cat got where you see it, we have no idea:

### Milford Cemetery

You'd think this would go without saying, but apparently not:

Perhaps they are forbidding the sort of hunting (for ghosts) my student Courtney engages in?

### Call for Papers

0) We'll define this binary sequence in stages, punctuated by periods for clarity. (The periods are cosmetic; they are not part of the sequence.)

1) The first stage: 0.

2) The next stage: 1. So far: 0.1.

3) The next stage: a copy of all previous stages except the last: 0. So far: 0.1.0.

4) The next stage: same as for (3): 01. So far: 0.1.0.01.

5) Etc.: 0.1.0.01.010.01001.01001010.0100101001001. ...

6) Stripped of ".": 0100101001001010010100100101001001 ...

7) What, if anything, can you say about this sequence? This is not a "problem," I'd really like to know.

8) What, if any, reward in Heaven do you expect for your conscientious application to (7)?

### Spicy Cranberry Sauce

1 pkg. fresh cranberries

3/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup water

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup sugar

1 Anaheim chili

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 pat butter

Melt butter in sauce pan. Finely chop chili and saute in the butter for 3 minutes. Add cranberries, orange juice, water, cinnamon, raisins, and sugar. Cook over low heat until the cranberries begin to break down -- about 15-20 minutes. Refrigerate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

### Some questions

1) Is there a new language called "Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound"? Because I try to listen to movies in French these days (to help me learn it), so I'm always looking on the "Languages" section on the back of the video boxes at the store, and today, in the section, I found a video that claimed the dialogue was in the language, "Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound." Does anyone know where this is spoken?

2) Are these the worst lyrics ever written?
"Some beach
Somewhere
There's a big umbrella casting shade over an empty chair
Palm trees are growin' and a warm breezes a blowing
I picture myself right there
On some beach, somewhere"

I just picture the guy, sitting around, trying to come up with the particular beach that would capture what he wanted, and finally going, "Screw it-- some beach, somewhere -- those dopey country fans will still eat it up."

3) Why didn't our parents (for those roughly my age) realize there was something w…

### Explaining Change

In a recent post, I parenthetically asked "How and why did 'Moslem' change to 'Muslim'? One of our readers offered the explanation (I paraphrase) "Well, 'Muslim' is closer in sound to the original Arabic word than is 'Moslem.'"

I have no doubt s/he is correct about his linguistic facts. Nevertheless, the explanation can be immediately dismissed, without any need for empirical investigation. Why? It attempts to explain a change in one circumstance by citing another condition that did not change. The problem with our reader's explanation is that, true though his point about pronunciation may be, it was just as true during all those years that English speakers said "Moslem." Since it was constant during the duration of each of the conditions, the transformation of the first of which into the second we seek to explain, it cannot possibly be the reason for the change!

The underlying principle, which I would regard as almost to obvi…

### The New FEE Blog

is here, by the way.

### In the Current Issue of The Freeman...

I review Alan Greenspan's recent book. My conclusion? "The Age of Turbulence is a work of little substance, and its composition appears to have been driven by vanity and a doubtlessly alluring advance from the publisher. I was paid to endure it, but I see no reason for readers of The Freeman to suffer as I did."

### New York's Most Obscure Subway Entrance

I took this photo standing across the street from a major subway entrance in Brooklyn Heights:

Can you detect any signs of the entrance's proximity? (There are two.)

### The Heat Is on For Georgian President Saakashvili

According to this Der Spiegel story, Western officials on both sides of the Atlantic are starting to doubt his version of events leading up to the Russian spanking. This is no surprise to LRC readers.

### SEA IV

Paul Lewis gives his autograph to David Harper:

Obama showed up for some Austrian advice:

While this guy just monkeyed around all conference:

### You Thought the Stock Market Was Disturbing?

Then contemplate this score: Texas Tech 167 -- East Central 115. College basketball defense is dead.

### FEE Summer 2008 Reunion at the SEAs

Left to right, front row: Meg Patrick, Nick Snow, Liya Palagashvili, Peter Lewin, Bruce Caldwell, Steve Horwitz, Ivan Pongragic, Peter Leeson
Second row: Tony Carilli, Geoffrey Lea, Gene Callahan, Dan D'Amico, Peter Boettke, Chris Coyne.

### SEAs

Pete Leeson is pleased by the proceedings:

### At the SEAs

Mario Rizzo listens to Gerry O'Driscoll presnt:

Chris Coyne, Peter Lewin, and others listen to Steve Horwitz present:

Roger Koppl enjoys lunch:

I've heard that "the customer is always right," but I've never had customer service like I had today in the dentist's office. I went in for a cleaning and got 32 hits of hydrocodone (big 10s) for my trouble. The dentist said I need to come back every three months for a cleaning. I have insurance, and he has a deal!

### Adam and I arrive in DC

For the Southern Economic Association conference:

### Bubblicious thinking

My wife (who works in finance) and I were discussing the terrible arrogance on display in the video I posted below, where the opponents of Peter Schiff's views just laughed in his face for claiming a crash was coming, and we decided that, perhaps that attitude is an integral part of bubbles. Those comitted to the view that "the good times will last forever" begin to sense that the rising market is like Tinkerbell--it will cease to exist if we don't believe in enough. Thus, someone like Schiff is not merely wrong, he is a traitor, and a danger to the people of faith (in the bubble).

### Thoughts on Islam: I

For my course on Death and Dying, I have been undertaking an energetic effort to better understand the tenets and histories of the world's major religions, since the course is intended to offer a cross-cultural survey of attempts to comprehend the reality of our mortal condition. My most recent explorations have been directed towards bettering my knowledge of Islam, and I want to share some of my musings on the subject with Crash Landing readers.

The first surprise from my studies, given the frequency with which Islam is charged with oppressing women, was to learn that Mohammed, for his time and place, was somewhat of a radical feminist. His contemporary Arabian society regarded women as property; a husband owned his wive(s). Mohammed insisted that marriage be regarded as a contractual rather than proprietary relationship. He made it easier for women to divorce, and demanded that their right to own property be respected. He banned the (apparently common) practice of female infantic…

### Reincarnation

All of Gene's mysticism has opened my mind to the possibility of reincarnation. And while doing some research I came across a photo of a famous Italian dictator. Is it just me, or does he look awfully familiar?

### EIB

(That's Evil in Broadcasting, by the way.) For a few months now I have taken to the extremely unhealthy* habit of eating my lunch in my car, listening to Rush Limbaugh. I do find him entertaining, but it's also "work," because I give a bunch of interviews myself to the vast right-wing conspiracy and so I need to stay on the cutting edge of societal evolution.

Anyway, the other day Rush was talking about plans to close Gitmo, and how incredibly stupid it would be. And I kid you not, his entire argument was, "OK we bring these people to the States and give them trials with lawyers and the whole nine yards. What is the prosecution gonna do, call in the CIA and ask them, 'Can you please explain why you arrested these people?' Can you possibly imagine the CIA coming in and testifying? So these people are going to be acquitted, and then what are we supposed to do with them? Turn them loose? You can't ship them back to their countries, they don't…

### Abstract Art

Below are photos of some artwork outside my office (done by students at NCC). What is interesting about them, to me, is that they indicate where modern, abstract art has been going. At first, its job was just to break out of the realist box, and you'd get things like paint splotches on a canvas. But eventually, free of realist constraints, it acquired the task of creating new aesthetic forms of its own. And even at the student level, it is doing so:

### I Know a Terrible Argument When I See One

And C.S. Lewis's argument for why it is impossible to consider Christ "just a great teacher" is a terrible argument.

Lewis says, basically, that it's coherent to consider Christ either divine, or a psycho nutjob, but nothing in between. Why? Here's Lewis:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not co…

### Some Quick Quickbooks Questions

I think that is the first phrase I have ever written involving three consecutive Q-words....

OK I recently decided that my PhD and Excel were no match for the accounting and regulatory demands of running a top-flight consultancy. At the advice of my CPA I broke down and bought Quickbooks (Pro 2009, if it matters).

I know some of you are also instigators of creative destruction, and so I turn to you entrepreneurial, computer savvy geeks to rescue me from my overeager key stroking:

I came back from a business trip and first entered in all of my receipts as Bills like a good little boy. Then I went to Pay Bills and selected all of them, then hit Pay (or whatever). I thought it was going to take me to another screen, but instead it processed all of them as if I wanted to pay by printed check, and now is waiting for me to print them.

However, a few of these "bills" were actually my taxi fares, for which I used cash that had been withdrawn from my personal checking account. And th…

### Tyler Cowen Wonders How We Can Limit Corporatism...

...four posts after he explains that he doesn't regret his endorsement of the Paulson bailout. As I said over at my blog:

Over at MR, Tyler Cowen refers to the latest issue of Cato Unbound, where Matt Yglesias chides libertarians for claiming to oppose corporatism while not taking real practical steps to limit it. Tyler says:

In my view at the margin it would be better to have both less corporate privilege and less labor union privilege. Maybe we have no good theory (much less a strategy) for how to get there, but surely some marginal improvements are possible and who knows maybe more.

Here's a suggestion on strategy: When the former CEO of Goldman Sachs asks for \$700 billion to dish out as he pleases, in light of an alleged disaster that he had no idea was coming just two months prior to the request, then all libertarians say "HECK NO!"

Seriously, I guess I can understand why some libertarians--especially those with "…

### What Holds Back Tyrants?

The fear that they may wind up looking like George Bush!

### Did You Know?

About .5% of the world's population is descended from Genghis Khan?

### This Is Unbelievable

Some chump over at some "advice" blog links to video of a series of "esteemed" commentators basically laughing in Peter Schiff's face as he predicts the financial future to a tee! I think everyone who reads this should write Ben Stein a letter and ask what he thinks of his call that Merrill Lynch was being "given away" at \$76 now that the stock is at \$14. The man should never comment on anything other than eye drops again in his life.

### Dramatic Announcement Below

I warned you this was coming. For some damned reason, I'm being allowed to participate in the best blog in economics.

### A Gaffe?

I went to a "publishing party" at my youngest son's school this morning. The idea is that the kids put out a piece of writing on their desks along with a comment sheet, and the parents circulate through the room, reading stories and writing comments. The teacher instructed us to restrict ourselves to positive comments. At that time, I thought I had done OK, but, in retrospect, I grow worried that "What the fvck was that all about?" may not qualify as a positive comment.

Thoughts?

### Drug Facts

Before they drug you!

### Glenn Greenwald Dishes Out Blame for the Last 8 Years

GG is getting a bit shrill lately for my taste, but he still manages to hit the nail on the head in this recent column:

As the Bush administration comes to a close, one overarching question is this: how were the transgressions and abuses of the last eight years allowed to be unleashed with so little backlash and resistance? Just consider -- with no hyperbole -- what our Government, our country, has done. We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result. We created secret prisons -- "black site" gulags -- beyond the reach of international monitoring groups. We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they'd be tortured, and then closed o…

### A Setback in Race Relations?

It just occurred to me that the American people did not pick the first black president. Rather, they picked the first black president-elect.

### Consumers Don't Cause Recessions

I explain over at Mises.org. Incidentally, this is an article of medium length, but I really tried to bury the notion that we just need to boost "spending" to fix recessions. Free market geeks should thoroughly enjoy.

### Song in Honor Of Obama's Victory

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the foe, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they all flown in the next war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!

I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at t…

### IIB

(That's idiocy in broadcasting, by the way.) So, on my drive to class, I sometimes put on talk radio. And there, I hear Rush "Stupidity on Loan from God" Limbaugh telling listeners "If only the Democrats had passed the tax cut Bush had recommended last spring, this whole financial crisis could have been avoided."

I see. In the midst of record government deficits, and a bursting bubble caused by too much debt, the fix was... more debt!

Yes, Rush, and if only the Democrats had stuck their heads as far up GWB's rectum as you have yours, then the current economic situation wouldn't stink!

### Sweet Home Alabama

To those that say race played a small role in this presidential election, put it here.

"Here in Alabama, where Mr. McCain won 60.4 percent of the vote in his best Southern showing, he had the support of nearly 9 in 10 whites, according to exit polls, a figure comparable to other Southern states."

I live in what is considered the deep south, and I'm keeping my Obama stickers on the car. This is my answer to those who kept their W or Bush/Cheney stickers adorning pickup trucks down here. I still see them every day.

Rednecks suck.

### I'll bet...

...that you didn't know that there is a chemical compound called melon.

### Use In A Dishwasher?

I haven't paid much attention to the inner parts of my coffee maker, until today when I made a mess because I failed to close the door to the fiter basket during operation. After owning this machine for nearly six months I noticed that one of the fixed parts warns: "NOT INTENDED FOR USE IN DISHWASHER." (My apologies for the glare in the photo.)

Has anyone here tried preparing coffee in a dishwasher? Is there an advantage to preparing coffee this way?

### Robin Hanson Shakes Me to My Very Core

In a post praised by Tyler Cowen, Robin Hanson argues that

We feel a deep pleasure from realizing that we believe something in common with our friends, and different from most people. We feel an even deeper pleasure letting everyone know of this fact. This feeling is EVIL. Learn to see it in yourself, and then learn to be horrified by how thoroughly it can poison your mind. Yes evidence may at times force you to disagree with a majority, and your friends may have correlated exposure to that evidence, but take no pleasure when you and your associates disagree with others; that is the road to rationality ruin.

Besides him telling me that one of my secret pleasures is "EVIL," Hanson's post disturbed me because I think it is totally wrong. Isn't the whole point of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty that we should nurture dissent, so as not to become slaves to our own prejudices? I go out of my way to disagree when there is a "consensus" on something, and I t…

### You Know Who Is Really, Really Annoying...

and not very funny? Jon Stewart. Just carefully study the contrived little hand-over-the-mouth gesture in this skit -- it's a classic example of the "Hey, I don't think it's funny, but it seems to work with these dopes I pander to" school of comedy.

### We Go Now to Our Pakistani Correspondent...

I saw the most effed-up news story Friday morning. The network anchor (I think it was CNN) explained that there were reports of CIA missile attacks in Pakistan. They interviewed some Pakistani people talking about it, and then they interviewed the guy who coined the term "shock and awe." Some thoughts:

(1) Does it freak out anybody else that American media have to interview the alleged recipients of US firepower to try to determine whether our government is in the process of bombing foreigners? I kid you not, I don't think CNN even said, "The US government declined to comment on this story." I didn't hear them even mention what the US government had to say about all this, though I was in a hotel food area eating my continental breakfast, so maybe I just missed it.

(2) Does it freak out anybody else that it is the CIA who is allegedly launching missile strikes on terrorists? Isn't the CIA supposed to gather intelligence? What is the purpose of thi…

### One Good Thing About the Election

is that the conservative pundits are likely to get better. (Well, nothing could make gasbags like Hannity or Limbaugh bearable, but some will get better...) Note how critical Steyn is of McCain in this piece.

### The Rednecks Is PISSED

I know a lot of people are upset that Obama won because they think he'll raise their taxes, be soft on terrorism, (further) socialize medicine, etc., etc. But there's also a goodly contingent who are fuming about the president being a God-damned jigaboo. I stopped to get some beer today near Bushkill, PA, and was immediately "tested" with a wave of Obama "jokes." (This, by the way, was done by two dirty looking, unshaven men, sitting bleary eyed, drinking beer at midday.)

"Did you hear Obama is going to plant watermelons on the White House lawn?"

"Yeah, I heard he's going to replace the Oval Office with a basketball court."

"He's already moved to replace the eagle as the national symbol by the fried chicken wing."

Now, if this pair had as many IQ points as Obama between the two of them, I'd be shocked. (And I know the duo has fewer total teeth than he does.) But somehow, they're still damned certain that they're…

### The President Who Must Not Be Named

Last night at National Review's "The Corner", Katheryn Jean Lopez was so perturbed at the thought of an Obama victory that she could not name the event:
"If what everyone thinks may happen happens tonight..."

### Who Da Pundit, Who Da Pundit?

At 6 AM yesterday morning,I called the electoral college 364-174. And if NC and MO hold as they are now, the final tally will be... 364-174.

How did I get my total? Well, I went around one of those interactive electoral maps and picked every single state correctly. CNN? Fox News? BBC? Hiring in 2012?

### A Nail Biter (in the Popular Vote)

It really amazes me how close this thing is, in terms of the popular vote. As of this writing, it is Obama 50% and McCain 49%.

Do you think "they" do it this way on purpose? Just like the people running the NFL, NBA, etc. try to make sure that it's always competitive, to keep the fans interested?

And if so, what is the purpose? To keep us divided, and always fearful of "those evil #\$()# Repuplicans/Democrats" staging a comeback in two years?

### Why I Don't Vote

In a nutshell, because it's silly to engage in a morally dubious practice that won't even yield any pragmatic benefits. If that hasn't convinced you, read the full post.

### You can vote for None of the Above, but you'd be a fool to waste your time at the poll

Make your predictions on the US Presidential race here:

I say Obama 306 McCain 232. I hope I'm being conservative, and that it's an Obama landslide.

(I'm not including apportioned results)

### Remember, You Can Vote for Neither McCain Nor Obama

For those who like Obama because he is so peaceful, here's an odd video. I confess I don't know the context, but does it really matter? (HT2EPJ)

### Welfare Benefits

At school, picking up my kids, I see a poster proclaiming "Win aTrip for Two to the Probowl in Hawaii!" How can you win this?By signing up for welfare benefits! (Free school meals for your kids.)

### 10/10/08

was market capitulation day! (That's when the new bull market starts.)

### I've Unconsciously Decided This Is Rubbish

From New Scientist:

"BARACK OBAMA or John McCain? Floating voters in the upcoming US election may already have made up their minds - they just don't know it yet.

"Bertram Gawronski, a social psychologist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and his colleagues asked 129 residents of Vicenza, Italy, whether they would support a controversial proposal to enlarge the city's US military base. To measure subconscious biases, the team used an "implicit association" test to record, for example, whether volunteers associated pictures of the base with positive words such as "joy" or negative ones such as "pain".

"When polled a week later, many who were undecided about the base in the first poll had resolved to support or oppose it - and the team found that their decision could be predicted by their responses on the association test (Science, vol 321, p 1100)."

Hmm, people's decisions are affected by what things they th…

### How Could Anyone Be Undecided?

I see this question asked on bulletin boards. Its grounding is something like, "These two candidates are miles apart! How could anyone not be able choose between them?"

Well, I really don't think they are so many miles apart, but, in any case, that distance is totally irrelevant to the issue: Place an anarcho-capitalist and a communist running against each other. Now place a hypothetical voter squarely in the European-style social democrat camp. He's about halfway between them, and may have a hard time choosing. These "How can you be undecided?" folks have confused difficulty reaching a preference for one candidate with an inability to distinguish them, as if the customer in a restaurant who is debating between having pasta and steak can't tell them apart!

### Clearly

Soma things are clear to some, not to others:

"Clearly, the sun that shines up there is a horse sacrifice..." -- Brhadaranyaka Upanisad

### God Poem

Prayer

O solitary God,
So don't be lonely.
Destroy the fog,
Driving the presence