Saturday, February 28, 2009

Am I Crazy?

Or does the former newsroom of The Rocky Mountain News look an awful lot like a bowling alley?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Let's Be Clear

The federal government has just stolen from Citi shareholders. This is a taking by force. I don't know nearly enough to comment on whether it's necessary, or will help Citi's financial situation. But the legal and political implications are disturbing to me.

Weird

There are some strange things going on in the Senate these days.

I'm glad to see an amendment to prevent the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine. But what the heck does the DeMint amendment accomplish if it's followed immediately by the Durbin amendment (which seems to me to be nonsense)?

And why are we talking about giving D.C. a seat in the House? As a D.C. resident, I'm no fan of "taxation without representation," but on this issue the Constitution is clear:
"The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States..." U.S. Const. art. I, § 1, cl. 1.
The District of Columbia is not a state. If you accept the premise that D.C. should have a voice in the House, then the Constitution must be amended.

Shame on Them

Embarrassing.

A Perfect Example

My lovely city is doing me a huge favor. The District is providing a perfect example of why the Nanny State doesn't work. I don't even need to comment, just read the article.

Doomed.

How can anyone possibly think this is a good idea?

Huh.

I'm surprised I've never thought of this:
For every law they pass that bans something, we should get a law that lets us do something previously forbidden.
But it's definitely something I could get behind. It would certainly help keep the Nanny State at bay.

Of course, i would not support the reverse—i.e. that whenever a law is repealed, we have to pass a law that restricts something else. Yikes.

Anyway, interesting treatment of the subject. Read the whole thing.

You've especially got to love his use of the Volstead Act towards the end. (Link provided for those who need to take a refresher in American history).

Ah Irony

Debra Saunders is concerned about the demise of newspapers. So am I. And I think her overall point is correct: the decline of newspapers means the decline of news coverage. At a time when we need more suspicion of government, we're gradually getting less. And that's all well and good.

But then this paragraph jumped out at me:
Newspapers are the public's referees as to which information is credible. You can go online and read no end of fiction and smear about public figures. But when you read content in a newspaper, you consistently can rely on it.
It seems to me that this is objectively false. Bias is rampant in the newspaper industry. If anything, this is the biggest reason that newspapers are suffering. If this were true, if news could consistently be trusted as reliable, then they would be able to compete with the online "fiction and smear." But increasingly we find instead online self-publishers who are acting as watchdog to the media, purveyors of plenty of their own fiction and smear.

I'm concerned about the downfall of news organizations. But it ain't because they're some pristine example of objective reporting. And asserting that they are belies a thorough coating of a different sort of bias.

Ouch.

Andrew Revkin, you have just been bitch-slapped by George Will.

It's fun to watch a serious journalist school an upstart.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Uncanny?

I'm not sure I'd call the connections between the book and current realities "uncanny." I think a more accurate word might be "prophetic."

Oops

Heh. Way to go, NYT.

Well Put, Mostly

Read it.

I'll wait.

Read? Okay, good.

So I've read most of the philosophers Brooks mentions. But I'm a libertarian more than a conservative. Brooks paints the question as if there are two options, but sees both as ultimately led by some sort of collective. Change will come, the question to him, I think rightly, is how that should come.

Brooks is afraid of change led from the top by an individual or a small group who have some utopian view of the future. So am I. But I am equally afraid of a group of people who oppose change, or seek a different kind of change, because their group thinks differently. Both are basically arguments that someone knows what's best for me better than I do myself. That I need someone looking out for my own interests. I simply do not accept that premise.

You might be inclined to say that this is a kind of arrogance, that I simply don't like the liberal or conservative ideals because I think that I know better than they do. You might think that if I had the reins of power I'd simply impose my own world view instead of theirs.

And you'd have a point. This is what the Republican Party has done over the last 15 years as they moved away from advocacy of small government when they found themselves in power. And it was wrong.

The difference is that my world view is one that attempts to let everyone live out his own. I have faith in the intelligence of people to see something that works and apply it to themselves—without some mandate from on high that this is the way things should proceed.

Change comes in its own time, no matter who is trying to push it forward or to restrain it. It always have and it always will.

Advice You Can Use

Popular Mechanics has some recommendations on how to make your PC boot up faster. And they're good.

My solution, though, was to switch to a Mac.

Couldn't be happier.

Feh.

When's the last time the White House saw a real dog. Seriously, I'm asking. All I remember are little yippie dogs with too much hair. Why not a lab? Or a retriever?

I mean, who wants a mop that barks?

More importantly, who wants the most powerful man in the world to have a mop that barks?

Backing Down Again

Seems like this is really starting to be a pattern. Now you've got the Attorney General saying that Gitmo is a well-run, professional facility that will be difficult to close.

For now he says he's still going to do it.

I'll believe it when I see it.

And for those of you keeping score at home, I've added a new Gitmo tag to keep an eye on the moving goal posts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Background

Necessary background information on the current debate in economics. Simple to understand, and incredibly informative.

$20

That's the maximum that I have ever paid for a haircut. In my entire life.

Sadly, many people can't do that. But I'm a big proponent of barber shops. When I moved to DC, I found one in my neighborhood right away. Usually three to four black guys cutting hair, and three to four guys hanging out either waiting for haircuts or just shooting the shit. It's great.

I had a similar barber shop when I lived in Connecticut, only they were Italian guys. And another one where I grew up, a Greek man (side job: slumlord) and his sister. Later the guy's son joined the business.

If I'm lucky, I'll never move to one of the places where barber shops have gone away entirely. It's an experience every man should have.

Easy One?

It certainly would be an easy decision for me. While I have no idea what the Court will say, my guess is that the cross will be allowed—just not at the exclusion of other religious and secular symbols. I have a hard time seeing the Justices say that crosses are banned from public monuments.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Depends Upon Your Perspective

Daily Pundit thinks this is bad news. As a current DC resident, I'm somewhat okay with it. As a libertarian, I'm concerned.

Meet the New Gitmo

So it turns out that Gitmo does abide by the Geneva Conventions? Fascinating. So why are we shutting it down? And why did we accept the campaign-based certainty that it didn't?

Why?

Why on earth does anyone think that the government is better equipped to restructure the banks than the private sector? Has the government ever been efficient at running a business of any kind?

Yikes.

An Important Message

That I wish more people understood.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Interesting Proposal

I'm really not sure how I feel about this, but I certainly intend to do some thinking about it.

Perfect Description

Instapundit takes a few words to state one of my positions very clearly. Thought I'd share.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Women Are Anti-Science

You know how women, particularly of the feminist persuasion, are always lamenting the fact that men see and treat them as objects? Well, it turns out that they're fighting a much stronger force than simple male chauvinism. To quote xkcd, "Science: It Works, bitches."

The nub:
New research shows that, in men, the brain areas associated with handling tools and the intention to perform actions light up when viewing images of women in bikinis.
So stop getting mad at me because I'm just using you. It's the way I was built.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lowest Common Denominator

The Obama Administration has unveiled their plan to refinance mortgages (emphasis added):
President Obama pledged on Wednesday to help as many as 9 million American homeowners refinance their mortgages or avert foreclosure, an initiative he said would shore up distressed housing prices, stabilize neighborhoods and slow a downward spiral that he said was “unraveling homeownership, the middle class, and the American Dream itself.”
Anyone like to place bets on how many of these overlap with the following group?
Nielsen Media Research estimates that about 5.8 million households, or about 5.1 percent, have not upgraded their sets.
Or how about a bet one when we stop taking care of people who fail to take care of themselves?

Look, I understand some amount of welfare to help people who are less fortunate. But people who aren't ready for the DTV transition can blame no one but themselves. The same goes for people who bought houses when they didn't understand what they were getting into. No one was forced to buy a home.

Someone explain to me why we're holding the banks and mortgage holders accountable for the idiocy of these homeowners. Please.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sheesh.

Do we really need reports to tell us this?

Just watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles. From Wikipedia, here's a summary of the AI character on that wonderful show:
John Henry, portrayed initially by computer equipment and Garret Dillahunt as of the end of "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point," is a sentient computer built by Catherine Weaver's Babylon team at ZeiraCorp. His initial hardware and software were the Turk chess computer built by Andrew "Andy" David Goode. He is named John Henry by his psychologist, Dr. Boyd Sherman, after the mythical steeldriving John Henry of American folklore. John Henry is given complete control over the building's electrical service at Weaver's insistence, so that he can route electrical power to his servers as necessary to develop his mind. Input is provided electronically at first, and later through voice recognition. Initially, he has no textual output, and can express himself only with visual imagery; once connected to Cromartie's T-888 body, however, he speaks in the voice of the late George Lazlo. John Henry can see through the lab's security cameras.

Early in its development, the computer that would become John Henry demonstrates a childlike sense of humor, the manifestation of which baffled its programmers and Weaver. Weaver shows the output to Dr. Sherman who was treating young Savannah Weaver for insolence and incontinence. He immediately recognizes the images as a pun told to him by another child whom he was treating, explaining that a mathematics textbook is sad because it has so many 'problems' to solve. Impressed by Dr. Sherman's ability to communicate with the computer and his skill at treating Savannah, Catherine Weaver convinces him to work as a part-time consultant on the Babylon project.

In his brief time working with John Henry, Dr. Sherman is not able to instill ethics in the computer. John Henry is aware that Dr. Sherman is suffering when John Henry routes the building's power away from the security and climate control systems, and causes a trapped Dr. Sherman to die by hyperthermia, but does not care. John Henry does not understand that death is permanent for humans; he is aware that Dr. Sherman is dead, yet summons emergency medical personnel to revive him. James Ellison who, like Weaver, tends to refer to Biblical scripture, suggests to Weaver that, as John Henry is a computer and can be given commands, she should start with "the first ten". With Ellison's mission of capturing a Terminator for Weaver complete, she sets him to the task of replacing Dr. Sherman as John Henry's tutor/counselor at the end of "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point". Weaver given Ellison a remote control of the endoskeleton for his defense in case the cyborg went rogue, implying Weaver installed fail-safes in case the artificial intelligence program would turn against her.
In other words, the terminator from the future is worried that the terminator powered by the new AI might go rogue. When robots are scared of robots, maybe we should reconsider robots.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

V-Day

A little Valentine's Day advice for all you men out there, searching the bars for lonely women, depressed that they don't have dates tonight.

Friday, February 13, 2009

And We're Back...

My home internet has been down since Monday, hence the lack of posting. But now it's fixed and we can resume our regular programming.

Can't Blame Him

I think this is a respectable move. He's got total justification, and it was a mistake by the Obama Administration to put him in that position.

And apparently, everyone else is just surprised it took so long.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Makes Sense to Me

I could be convinced to support this.

Meet the New Renditions - II

Taranto has a good take on this one.

Meet the New Secrecy

So state secrets can be useful? But I thought this was going to be a new era of transparency?

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Valid Question

But we should also add, if there should be limits, should it be the government that imposes them? I wonder what NOW has to say about this.

Those Sons of Bitches

How dare they have the gall?

Okay, so I'm being sarcastic. Honest opinion: shut up, John, and give me my money back. You do NOT know how to spend it better than I do, as proven by your belief that giving money to a failing company will fix anything. You do not understand basic concepts of economics. You know, for example, that if they American people do not want to buy a particular product, that product should probably not be made anymore.

Idiot.

Oh, and by the way. All of those immoral bankers that you scream and yell about all the time for being so frivolous? For causing this disaster by spending money they didn't have? Just what the hell do you think you're doing now?

Just bear in mind, whether from over-leveraged banking or excessive government spending, excessive financial frivolity has consequences.

How do you get this job?

I mean, I'd love to be a research assistant...

Genius.

I'm sorry, but George Will is a tremendous writer. And his random knowledge strikes me as very Dennis Miller. But the way he weaves multiple ideas into the linked item just to come down to the last two sentences is—just brilliant.

Right Up My Alley

You're probably noticed the "chicks" label that I occasionally apply to posts. Well, this kid of thing is the reason I created that label. It's tailor-made for it.

Do I think men should boycott Valentine's Day? I think that's a deficient question. You do not have enough information to make a decision.

If his wife/girlfriend/significant other/whatever demands or expects a certain standard of gift or treatment, then yes, the man should boycott. Of course, if he has met that standard in the past, he should expect her to withhold sex (as mentioned in the linked post) or punish him in some other way, or even to dump him. But he should hold firm, because men need to stop playing into these manipulations. And if this is their first Valentine's Day, he will do himself a significant favor by making clear what his limits are. If she pouts or dumps him, he's better off knowing that early and making a clean break. If she's okay with it, then he's got a good one.

And if she's okay with it, then she falls into the category of women who should receive something special (either in treatment or physical gifts). She should, of course, reciprocate or she begins to move back into the former category. And sex is not sufficient reciprocation, or she's just a whore.

The rule is simple: a woman who expects little or nothing and is surprised and pleased by receiving some extra consideration is deserving of that consideration, and will likely repay that consideration. But sex is not repayment. Sex is something that both receive and enjoy simultaneously. If she does not enjoy sex and he only receives it in exchange for good behavior, then the relationship is not healthy.

But that's just my take.

Oh Come On

It's an amusing thought, but it's not realistic. I love several of these shows and watch them often—and not one of them compelled me to try and flip houses. Most of them showed how hard it is, how touch-and-go, if they even turned a profit. A heck of a lot of them showed people utterly failing and winding up stuck with a house they couldn't sell and couldn't afford to finish renovating.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yikes.

Well, it's been a bad week for the President. Still, that's a bit cruel, is it not? He'll work out the kinks. I hope. Otherwise, we're in serious trouble.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

No Longer in The Tank?

Seems like the media (or at least the AP) may be turning on the President. I'm not sure exactly what the AP could get out of bringing suit, but it seems to me that this goes beyond the fair use exception to copyright law. Would be an interesting fact pattern for an Intellectual Property exam.

Ah, Microsoft

I'll never understand why they don't just sell "Windows." Too many nonsensical choices, in my opinion.

Surprise!

I cannot believe the tone of op-eds like this one. Of course President Obama has failed to deliver on "change you can believe in." No one ever asked him to define "change" or "hope" or what his actual plan was if he were to become President. As far as we know, he never had a plan, just those nebulous ideas.

This is what happens when you allow a candidate to run on personality instead of on policy. This administration is getting more entertaining all the time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Punchline" Might Be a Bit Strong...

But he certainly has a point. And I'm supremely glad to know that people are abandoning the faux scientific consensus in favor of a reasoned discussion of the actual risks and rewards from trying to "fix" global warming.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Simple.

I can answer this question very easily:
For now, robots are seen as merely a tool that humans use, morally no different (except in financial value) than a hammer or a rifle ‐‐ their only value is instrumental, as a means to our ends. But as robots begin to assume aspects of human decision‐making capabilities, the question may arise of their intrinsic value: do they deserve moral consideration of their own (beyond their financial or tactical value), and at what point in their evolution will they achieve this intrinsic value (as human lives seem to have)?
As soon as a robot reaches the point where we are considering whether that robot possesses any moral, ethical, or legal rights unto itself...

...that robot should be destroyed.

Because that is the robot that will enslave us all.

Lego My City

Love it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jurassic Park

It's now one step closer to reality.

Groundhog Day

Just a random thought (something I'll try to do more often as I have time).

Isn't it interesting how prominently the movie plays in our culture? This is a holiday that dates to at least 1841, and a brief, very fluffy comedy has completely changed its meaning. Honestly ask yourself: when someone says something about Groundhog Day, do you think solely of the little rodent seeing his shadow, or is there also an element of experiencing the same thing over and over again?

I'd be willing to bet the latter enters in, even if it doesn't supersede the former. I can't think of another movie that has changed a holiday's meaning in this way. Can you?

Meet the New Renditions

Remember that evil tool? There was even a terrible movie about it.

Well, they'll continue and possibly expand under President Obama.