31 August 2007

Another tragic victim

Fashionably late to the party again …

There was a flap a bit ago about some writer calling for a military coup against the President. He initially defended it but when the heat got too much switched to the “just a joke!” defense. I think that the guy honestly didn’t understand what he was writing and to the extent he did, he was a bit too full of Logo-Realism, believing that writing “it’s not a coup!” would make it not a coup. But ultimately he realized that something was wrong, even if it made no sense. Clearly it was a joke, because that’s what he’s calling it now. I think it would be funny to somehow trap him in a room while a deconstructionist did his thing on the article and dug out the author’s crypto-fascism. Except I doubt he’d get the point.

The language is there, use it!

Increasing female feticide in India could spark a demographic crisis where fewer women in society will result in a rise in sexual violence and child abuse as well as wife-sharing, the United Nations warned. [source, source]

“Wife-sharing”? Don’t they mean “polyandry”?

It seems an open question whether a gender imbalance will increase the status of women. It might at least make wife burning a little less common, since it would be harder to go out and get another one. One would think that dowry’s would become much smaller, since again the option is not getting your son married off. On the other hand, culture imperatives can resist reality for quite a while.

Barrel Scraping Watch

I didn’t pay much attention to the saga of Elvira Arrellano the first time around, but these two posts go great together and fit one of my themes.

From Hot Air

bq..“I will continue to tell him about the beauties of my country,” she said. “He will know that he will have a marvelous future here.”…

Arellano said Monday that she has no intention of trying to return either legally or illegally to the United States. She has already received a job offer in Mexico.

“I am in my country. I can walk through the streets free, without fear,” she said.

OK, that’s nice. One is left wondering why she didn’t grab that free trip back a year earlier, but hey — people are strange.

Yet now we have this via Wiz Bang

The recently deported illegal migrant and activist who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year, has asked the Mexico’s president to appoint her “peace and justice” ambassador so she can return to the United States.

I guess that job offer fell through. I wonder how many of the Elian Gonzalez crew will agitate to return Arellano’s son to her in her country so that his mom doesn’ t have to live in an inferior country.

The theme? How often in contentious issues like this that the poster person for the movement is far more likely to turn people against the cause than for it. If I were promoting immigration or amnesty, she’d be quite a ways down the list of desireable images to keep in front of the American Street.

A real buy out

It’s the Katrina anniversary, so it’s time once again for my policy pronouncement, which has become a bit more nuanced (personal growth and all that).

I still think we should do more disaster relief as a federal buy out. The federal government becomes the insurer of last resort, but if you take the pay off you are agreeing to sell the property to the federal government, which then reverts it to its natural state. People who don’t want to do that don’t have to take the money. It would be expensive at first, but over time we’d eliminate the worst places from the continuing build / wiped out / bailed out / rebuild cycle.

I thought about this long term, though, and think there should be one more twist. The purchased properties should be put on auction periodically, with a reserve price of whatever the government paid. If no one thinks it’s worth that then it stays federal.

The most interesting post I have seen about the disaster is this one, which claims that

  • Katrina was only Category 1 when it hit New Orleans, not even Category 3.
  • The failed walls were never even close to overtopped but were fundamentally flawed and would have eventually collapsed without a hurricane.

I would say it makes a strong case. I don’t find it hard to believe that there was shoddy work and shoddy maintenance on critical infrastructure in New Orleans, and that post facto everyone involved busted their buns to keep it quiet. And that Old Media completely missed the story. That’s SOP.

As for New Orleans, I gave up on it when they re-elected Roy “Chocolate City” Nagin. The two years after Katrina have proved that regardless of what any one wants, it is not possible for the federal government to fix what’s wrong with New Orleans. Whether the funds never got there, or weren’t spent, or were wasted by corruption, or whatever, the fact remains that the effort was an utter failure and there’s zero evidence it won’t continue to be. The local population spent decades digging themselves in to a hole literally and politically and it’s time to stop digging.

30 August 2007

Calendric Disaster Looms!

Forget Y2K — what is going to happen when the Earth’s rotation is 24 hours and 1 second? We already have had to start having leap seconds (and read that to get a sense of how complex and jury-rigged our time system is) but that happens even with a very small delta. But in under 60,000 years we’ll have a leap second every day (and in less than 10 Kyears every week). What is being done to prepare for this? Time to write Congress and get them working on something important!

Grinding out the competition

I hate to write this in public, but I agree with Howard Dean’s stance on Florida’s primary scheduling. If I were in charge, it would be illegal to have a Presidential primary before March of the election year, maybe April. Someone has to start holding the line or we’ll fall back to primaries about the time the current President is taking his oath of office.

I realized, though, that the lengthening primary season is good for one group of people — professional politicians and their symbiotes. It is not only a great source of money and attention, but it forms a very high barrier to entry for any non-member of that elite. The question is, how can this trend be reversed? I don’t expect Dean to succeed in his effort, as minimal as it is.

System artifacts

Gordon McCabe has a post on the evolution of the aesthetic sense. I can see the appeal of the claims, but I can also see how people could read it as another “just-so” story.

My main thought, though, is the apparent short shrift that seems to be given in the evolutionary psychology field to what we code slingers call “artifacts”. An artifact in a computer program is a behavior that wasn’t planned, wasn’t intended, but emerges from the interactions of the intended design. Artifacts can be good, bad, or neutral (career tip: never hestitate to claim good artifacts as intentional). It seems unquestionable to me that humans, both physically and mentally, are complex enough to have system artifacts as well. The problem for the evolutionary psychologist is that such artifacts, particularly neutral ones, have no evolutionary reason for being. There is no “explanation” for them. Personally, I think much of what we consider fundamentally human consists of such cognitive artifacts, foam on the evolutionary waves. I further think that the more specific the cognitive feature the more likely it is to be an artifact.

Basic drives like jealousy, greed, social standing — those are very likely evolutionarily selected traits. The kind of detailed aesthetic preference discussed in McCabe’s post, not so likely. Of course it can turn out that what was originally an artifact becomes evolutionary favored because of its advantages but if that’s the case it doesn’t have the inevitablility that seems implied in the post.

Because it’s me, I have to have a second thought, which is that we need to be careful to distinguish between a basic evolutionarily selected drive (“social standing”) and its specific manifestation (“being CEO of a successful Internet startup”). You can get in to a lot of trouble by conflating the two. Perhaps it’s just the popularization but that seems to be a problem in much writing on evolutionary psychology that I read1. There’s also the problem that an artifact may be favored because of the advantages of a specific manifestation

For instance, perhaps humans are intelligent because one manifestation of that is language, which was selected for. All of the other uses of that intelligence (tool building, complex societies, weblogs) would then be just artifacts that are evolutionarily neutral or even negative (as long as they’re not as negative as language is positive).

In the end, I suppose my problem here is that surety with which the theories are put forth in such a fraught with error and bad data environment. Kind of like the climate scientists.

1 For instance, pink for girls and blue for boys. It may be there is evolutionary pressure for differing color preferences between girls and boys, but not for the specific colors that are preferred. It would be the same as handedness — it’s good to be handed, and good for tool building animal groups to have consistent handedness, but there’s no good reason to prefer right handedness over left handedness.

29 August 2007

The one real taboo left for kids

Enough with providing visual pleasure for my never satisfied readers!

Today’s content is via this post, which is the story of a group filing a lawsuit against a school for withholding the diploma of the valedictorian because she spoke about her faith in Jesus Christ. What a bunch of total loser jerks must be running that school. She’s graduated! Her class has left the building. Move on.

It does bring back memories, though. The most nostalgic quote was this one about the self-criticism she was forced to write, which was then sent out to the entire high school community —

[Principal] Brewer insisted that she include the words: “I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did.”

Ha. When I gave the speech at my high school graduation, I knew that as well. So I didn’t ask. I could tell the principal wanted to ask me, but knew me well enough to realize I would provide him with some anodyne fake and say whatever the heck I wanted anyway. Despite causing some audience members to become concerned about his blood pressure, I got away without any repurcussions because the principal was also smart enough to realize that would only prolong his misery. That’s something everyone who knows me eventually learns.

28 August 2007

Insulting themselves, really

One thing that I have noticed recently that distinguishes (or not, depending on your viewpoint) the MAL and conservatives is the style of insult. Conservatives use insults that claim failures based on their own moral code, while the MAL-adjusted claim failures based on conservatives’ moral code. Odd, isn’t it?

This was brought home to me by this comment about the resignation of AG Gonzalez by a regular at that weblog who’s a rather spiteful leftist —

Does that include the day Gonzo was born, or the day his father married his mother?
Barney, the days were one & the same, the latter event after the first.

This was intended as an insult, but is one only in the conservative moral code. In the MAL’s moral code, what’s wrong with out of wedlock birth?

We see the same thing in the propensity of the MALists to use homosexuality as a slur on people they don’t like, like here and here (NSFW). Why is that a slur if you’re a member of the MAL?

Clearly, the underlying message here is that conservative morality is the only real morality, and these kind of insults demonstrate that, becoming in effect self-insults. Yet try to explain that to a MAList.


Time to experiment on you all. I have installed a very alpha version of the plugin for Movable Type I have been working on for fourteen months (that’s what copious spare time does for you). I have the framework half way built, enough to put in a few of the features I want. What the plugin does is provide access to recent commments in various useful ways. I am using it on the right sidebar to display recent comments on this weblog grouped by entry. The old style just listed the comments in chronological order, so it was more difficult to see if a post you were interested in had new comments. Now you can tell at a glance if that’s so. Currently it lists all comments for the last two weeks.

I plan on using it for a comment feed in the future, but it needs just a few more features. Yes, definitely, it needs them. They’re not just gratuitous. Not at all. And they’ll be done Real Soon Now™.

27 August 2007

College isn't really its own little world

Via Brothers Judd is this article about the fight over the Dartmouth board of trustees —

What is surprising to outside observers, perhaps, is the time and money Dartmouth’s sons and daughters are willing to spend indulging that passion. And the extraordinary lengths to which alumni have gone in an intensifying blood-feud over a somewhat confusing set of procedural questions have led some to question whether the parties involved really care, as they say, about undergraduates’ experience at Dartmouth — or see the college as a battleground in a larger culture war between political conservatives and liberal academe.

Why, exactly, is that a dichotomy? Why not both? The two things seem intimately related to me, one being a localized manifestation of the other. It’s like saying that one has to either be concerned about a certain company’s performance or concerned about the Army, but not both. I wouldn’t have any trouble in being concerned about both for the same reason.

26 August 2007

Analysis by cliche wins again

I saw this post about a recent exchange on animal rights, and my initial two thoughts were

  • “Because I have opposable thumbs, that’s why!”
  • “Nothing is a better survival trait for a species than being tasty”

I didn’t comment, because it then occurred to me “what about the dodo”? On the other hand, many of these stories that are common wisdom are in fact inaccurate, so I checked out the history of the dodo extinction. Here is the key quote

journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo,

An epigraphic triumph. The article further notes

when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes; currently, the impact these animals — especially the pigs and macaques — had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting.

This is the more common model of extinction by humans. Interestingly, the article claims that the extinction went basically unnoticed in European society until the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which made use of the dodo as one of the characters. Frankly, most of the wisdom of western culture is in that pair of books. Everything else is just commentary and elaboration.

22 August 2007

If you're hollow, you can't understand someone else's base

I have been working on a long post about the recent immigration reform debacle, which I will likely never finish1. One theme was how so many leading lights of the GOP could be not only so wrong but so oblivious to being wrong.

Yet isn’t that less bizarre than the situation the leading lights of the Democratic Party find themselves in now, where what’s bad for America is good for the Democratic Party2? That seems an even more remarkably obtuse bit of politics.

An opposition party (oddly, one that controls Congress, but let us not focus on foam on the incoming wave) will naturally tend to disparage the efforts and results of the governing party. One needs to temper that with a bit of reality, though, so as not to get in exactly this kind of situation. No governing is perfect, so there will always be real failures to capitalize on, making it not pay to focus on non-existent ones.

Why didn’t the Democratic Party do that? Two reasons —

One is the excessive historicity of the party, being dominated by figures who came of age decades ago. While the GOP has had really some massive turn over, think of who the real power brokers in the Democratic Party are and how long they’ve been there. They can’t give up the shiboleths that brought them to power, even if such things no longer make sense.

Second is that most of the good points of attack on President Bush are things that the Democratic party leadership is psychologically incapable of attacking. Most of them involve admitting that Socialism is a failure and market economies are the future. The DLC tried that and despite winning the Presidency for 8 years are being written out of party politics. The rest tend to be things the Democratic Party is even worse about than the GOP, such as government spending, taxes, and corruption3.

So they can’t let go and can’t go forward. No wonder they’re so enamored of theories that don’t require adaptation to changing conditions.

1 It’s the footnotes / documentation that are killing me.

2 So, for example, here’s a few list of links I have accumulated on this subject.

3 See Orrin’s Judd excellent list for details.

A warm flash of insight

I heard some blather on some TV show about global warming and it struck me as to why the Warmenists have a psychological need for not only global warming, but anthropogenic global warming. The root is that these people are severe reactionaries, the emotional descendants of the Luddites, who cannot handle change. This conflicts with their other self image of being “progressive”. Blaming humans for climate change reconciles this conflict, so they can scream “don’t ever change anything anywhere for any reason!” while supporting “progress”.

21 August 2007

Just a teaser

I have to agree with Harry Eager’s comment here, to the effect that the airing of a documentary on Islamic beliefs about Jesus Christ. I have to agree, because he’s making the same point I did earlier which is that the Caliphascist are caught between prosletyzing and keeping accurate knowledge of Islamic beliefs from becoming common knowledge, going so far as to claim reading from the Koran in public was villification of Muslims.

It’s not just finding out that Muslims don’t believe in the crucifixtion it’s that Islam rewrites basic Christian theology. You can ask the Mormons about how that tends to work out.

That alone would be, in the long term, a rather minor point, but I suspect that once it becomes clear that Islam is, in fact, quite different than it is commonly portrayed by the politically correct, people will be far more willing to listen to divergent views on the subject.

Help with translation

Instapundit cites this article by Theodore Dalrymple which reads in part

In an effort to ensure that no Muslim doctors ever again try to bomb Glasgow Airport, bureaucrats at Glasgow’s public hospitals have decreed that henceforth no staff may eat lunch at their desks or in their offices during the holy month of Ramadan, so that fasting Muslims shall not be offended by the sight or smell of their food. Vending machines will also disappear from the premises during that period.

Instapundit then provides an update that this paragraph was based on incorrect media reports, the disclaimer writing

THERE is no question - despite reports in the national and local media - that staff in NHS Lothian have been ordered not to eat at their desks for fear of offending Muslim colleagues. Nor is there any question that NHS Lothian will be moving vending machines.

I, however, read that as confirming Dalrymple’s claim. Can any of the Brits in the gang point out my translation error? Thanks!

20 August 2007

Major flipping

Wow, Orrin Judd is now equating support for illegal immigration with support for abortion in order to bash Rudy Giuliani.

Gender bias

Tammy Bruce has a post about John Edwards acting out. What I find interesting is that even Bruce, one of the rare breed of avowed and intelligent feminists, writes

One would think, with a spouse in a fight with terminal cancer, that they would want to spare her or at least their children the spectacle of dragging themselves through the mud in their desperate effort for power.

But why the presumption that it’s John who is pushing this campaign? Based on how out spoken Elizabeth Edwards has been, I think it’s more likely that she’s the driving force. She certainly doesn’t come across as the smiling, silent wife who is enduring her husband’s career effort, but rather someone who revels in the publicity and attention. Who would pay the slightest attention to her if he weren’t campaigning for President?

Dangerous caution

Via WizBang is a story about two firefighters dieing in a blaze. The fire was in a building abandoned since 11 Sep 2001 due to it being a “toxic nightmare” from the fallout of the attack. What I was left pondering was the dysfunctional nature of New York City that such a building is still around to catch on fire 6 years after the attack. I suspect that the primary impediment were the dangers of doing something and arguments about who would be held to blame in the inevitable lawsuits should injury occur. Now two firefighters are dead and the building is still waiting for disposal.

In the end, though, the problem isn’t so much the law per se, but the societal attitudes that underpin it. I haven’t got a clue as to how to address that.

UPDATE: Our friend Bruno Behrend weighs in on this subject.

18 August 2007

Technical difficulties

Something’s gone wonky with comments. I am looking in to it.

Seems to be fixed now. Proceed with your rhetorical volleying!

Local customs

Late to the party as always, but I wanted to comment on the recent issue with attempted censorship of people writing about jihad. The case in point concerns Rachel Ehrenfeld who was sued for libel in Britian over her book Funding Evil. Because truth is not an affirmative defense to libel libel defense is much riskier and costly in the UK, she declined to defend herself and lost the suit. She was then ordered to pay $225K and cease publication. Ehrenfeld, however, is an American citizen and basically told the UK to sod off by counter-suing in New York State. that court ruled that the UK decision could not be enforced in the USA as it was contrary to American law.

I think, for once, both cases were decided correctly. It is of course the privilege of the UK to decide what can and cannot be published in the UK. Similarly, the USA can make the same decision within its own borders. My originally cited article on this complains that

Now she cannot travel to Britain, and her writing and research work has of course been banned there — thus preventing important information from reaching the public [in the UK].

Yes, but that’s properly the decision of the UK, not the USA. The British court has had no effect on this information reaching people in America, so I find this “libel tourism” less worrisome in general (I would be much more worried if I were British and subject to it, of course, especially with the recent pulping of a similar book by Cambidge University).

GUI mess

User interfaces are hard. I had forgotten just how difficult and grinding it is to make a good graphical user interface. As I noted earlier we’ve done a few demonstrations of our product for various potential customers and received a lot of good feedback. One of the things was that while the interface was quite usable, it wasn’t quite slick or helpful enough.

One can make a user interface too fancy, or waste time on over tuning it, but have a slick user interface should be a goal for any product. When people tell you that about an interface, they mean that there’s not much cognitive friction when they use it. Reducing that kind of friction, that sort of mental strain, makes the product better because it’s easier to use. Sadly, the ultimate reward for a good user interface is to be ignored because a really slick, easy to use interface effectively disappears from the user’s mental model of the product. I.e. the user thinks about what the product does, not how to get it do it what it is supposed to do. The interface becomes (as they say in the trade) “transparent” so the user can look through it to see the real product.

But achieving this kind of thing is a whole lot of work. Having gotten back to working on ours, I now remember why I gravitated to infrastructure back in my old job. At least now no one tells me “we’ve got the data designed, now we can just display it to the user”. My experience has been that building a good interface takes longer than the infrastructure it’s displaying. This is why so many products have such lousy user interfaces. It’s not that they’re stupid, or they didn’t care, but they probably just didn’t realize (and plan for) the effort it takes to get it right.

I think it will be a strong future trend to apparently favor form over function in the future, but in reality there will be so much function that the bottle neck will be using it properly far more than having the raw capability. It will be a content driven world, although sadly I’m not much of a content kind of coder.

P.S. This is essentially the point that Virginia Postrel makes in The Substance of Style. It’s just been brought home to me again because of the coding I have been doing instead of writing here.

09 August 2007

And I thought the Journal of Irreproducible Results was satire

There’s been lots of excitement over the re-stating of NASA temperature data. I think it’s cool (haha!) that this puts a big hole in one of the primary planks of the AGW crew, but I have to agree with morbo who writes

The real story is that GISS data was obviously wrong but had gone unchecked before Steve’s work, firstly because the IPCC choirboys never bother to check their own data (see also the MBH98 hockey stick), and secondly because it was hard to check because the GISS software and algorithms are kept secret (despite being paid for by public money). This makes it virtually impossible to replicate and check. Replication is a cornerstone of the scientific method; its not just bad science, its not really even science at all.

Exactly so. It’s not science. Even among the endless signs that the concern about AGW is highly suspect, this one stands out.

that highlights one of the great travesties of climate science. Government scientists using taxpayer money to develop the GISS temperature data base at taxpayer expense refuse to publicly release their temperature adjustment algorithms or software (In much the same way Michael Mann refused to release the details for scrutiny of his methodology behind the hockey stick). Using the data, though, McIntyre made a compelling case that the GISS data base had systematic discontinuities that bore all the hallmarks of a software bug.

The idea that the details of government sponsored research on an important topic like this is kept secret is mind boggling to me. For what possible reason should any detail be withheld from the public, except to conceal problems?

And this isn’t the first time a critical element of the AGW analysis has turned out to have not only have serious errors but also errors undected for extended periods because the authors refused to release their data and algorithm so that the results could be replicated (no replication → not science). I refer of course to the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ model which turned out to be caused by data and algorithm errors1, concealed for years by refusal to share data.

The bottom line for me is I’ll be willing to consider the AGW is real case when central proponents stop trying to bury their errors behind a wall of secrecy and obsfucation.

P.S. The person responsible for this data and its secrecy, James E. Hansen, also says

in determing responsibility for climate change, the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on climate is not determined by current emissions, but by accumulated emissions over the lifetime of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By this measure the U.S. will be the largest single cause of climate change even after its current emissions are surpassed by China and other developing countries.

I.e., the point of dealing with climate change is to punish the transgressors, not to improve the situation. If actually dealing with the problem were the top priority, then going after the largest emitter would be important. But instead we should remain focused on the worst historical offender, even though nothing we do now will change what happened in the past. And for some reason this leads me to not trust his other statements on the subject very much.

1 There’s an attempted re-bunking here but I find it unpersuasive because it

  • Doesn’t address why the data was ever secret
  • Doesn’t address the primary point of the debunking, that the algorithms were flawed.
  • Mocks the debunkers because they’re not climatoligists, when in fact the issue turns on software and statistics, not climatology.

08 August 2007

Selective hearing

I thought of this article, about how the MAL has basically been a front for Soviet propaganda for decades and so dedicated that they’re staying with the program long after the USSR fell, when I heard Senator Hillary Clinton going on about Senator Barak Obama on the radio. Clinton was hitting Obama for shooting his mouth off while campaigning, saying

You can think big but remember you shouldn’t always say everything you think when you’re running for president because it could have consequences across the world and we don’t need that right now

Perhaps Clinton ought to discuss that with Eric Edelman as well.

It's the asymmetry, not the action

WizBang is upset that a business owner has been evicted from his rental property because he doesn’t speak Spanish. I have to disagree with WizBang on this — the problem is not that the guy was evicted, but that the law is asymmetric and any land lord evicting a business tenant for not speaking English would have the law on him faster than a liberal on an anti-Bush story. It’s another example of how we’re trading the rule of law for the rule of ethnicities.

07 August 2007


While I sometimes rag on Orrin Judd for his tropes, he does nail some things dead on. One is the bizarre “legends in their own minds” attitude of so many in the blogosphere. Weblogs are an important part of our national intellectual life the same way bacteria are an important part of the ecosystem — significant in aggregate, individually not so much. And, like bacteria, webloggers don’t write because they’re an important part of this large chain of being but because that’s just the way they are. Their utility is a happy accident.

The first up is this article about how weblogging may have past its peak. The author disagrees and finds hope in competition from other online social network applications. The original link (which I managed to lose) asked “what can we do about it?”. “We”? There is no “we” of the blogosphere, only many “I”s. I expect that webloggers will go on writing, or not, as the whim takes them individually. Whether weblogging continues to be done on a large scale or remain important is not something “we” can do anything about, and frankly I expect most webloggers to not care. I also expect (as I’ve noted before) the popularity curve to oscillate, as all such trends do. Getting upset about that is like getting worked up over climate change.

The other example is via WizBang and is the flourescent idiocy of the week, the idea of webloggers forming a union. Others have belabored the obvious idiocy, but I found it interesting in how the concept typifies the magical thinking of so much of the MAL rank and file. The basic concept here is that unions, via Step 2, generate money for their members. This explains so much, such as why (in the view of the MAL), unions are never a problem for businesses, because the extra wages they create don’t come out of business revenue, but from the simple existence of the union. That’s why anti-union types are so evil, they want to stop the workers from getting all that union generate money. It took the webloggers, though, to realize that it would be better to just dispose of the whole “business” concept so that the union could generate the money without those plutocrats getting in the way.

06 August 2007

Barrel Scraping Watch

One of my themes here is people trying to defend proposition A with evidence that either disproves A or makes you think “gosh, A is stupid”. Today’s example is via Junkyard Blog. It is an article about how odd it is to get married at the tender young age of 24. The first page is a bunch of slice of life dreck, but the second page has many nuggets of the “my thesis is stupid” form.

Basically, the second half recounts all of the wonderful things the author has missed out on by getting married young. That’s not obviously stupid — certainly there are a lot of things one gives up to get married, a lot of opportunities that are closed that one might strongly regret missing out on. But instead of dwelling on those, the author provides primarily experiences that would cause any intelligent person to say “gosh, marriage is a great idea!”. The two big ones for me were

  • Not catching genital warts by not having sex among a group of people who all got infected via an initial vector of one of the rock star’s groupies — “I envied them the rock star’s genital warts”.
  • Not being able to use promiscuity to advance her career.

Well, gosh, maybe I need to re-think this whole marriage concept, if that’s the kind of thing I am missing out on.

But perhaps I am reading it wrong, and she’s really being slyly clever and promoting marriage by creating a straw man single life style. If so, it does leave one wondering if one should take advice about relationships by someone who envies catching an STD and would sleep around to get a raise if she could get away with it.

Give them the rope to hang themselves

Little Green Footballs is all worked up over pro Jihad lectures airing on Canadian television. I don’t agree at all. One of the foremost psychological weapons wielded by the Caliphascist is their ability to deny what they are actually telling their co-religionists. The more things like this show up on mainstream television, the harder that will be. Once the American Street understands what the Long War is really about I expect any concern over offending our enemies will evaporate.

Hot Idea: New Game Show Theme

Our television failed last week, after 15 years of faithful service. The display shrank down until it was about 3 inches high on a 27 inch TV, which made things a bit hard to see. But I realized that this might be a great theme for a game show. There used to be Name That Tune which had people try to identify music from a limited initial sequence of notes. A modern version would play TV shows but only part of the image and the contestants would have to guess what the show was. They’d bid square inches of screen1 instead of notes — “Tom, I can name that show in 72 inches”. Let’s get some funding and have your people call my people.

1 I originally thought pixels, but you’d get long boring stretches of people under bidding each other by 1 pixel out of 100,000 or so, which would not be good TV.

05 August 2007

It's relative costs that matter

British military leaders had a brilliant idea. Instead of fighting in Afghanistan (aka, the Graveyard of Great Armies), the Ministry of Defence decided to buyoff the other side. Hey if Saddam Hussein can buy off George Galloway, why not buy off the Taliban?

Brilliant plan.

Except for the part where it did not work because the bureaucracy tried to do it on the cheap.


Here is why the Brits failed: They were too damned cheap. The MoD only ponied up £1.5 million — $3 million. We spend more than that on toilet paper for our soldiers.


The Brits say they bought off 4,000 people with this £1.5 million. That’s $750 a man.

Oddly, that wasn’t enough to insure permanent loyalty. One advantage the enemy has is that he doens’t have to buy off everyone, just select members of the chatterati, who then become the darlings of the “trangressive” Left. If we tried the same thing, the enemy would just shoot them. On the other hand, maybe we should buy enemy commanders, just for a short time, to engage in defeat in detail.

This is also remarkably similar to the American failure to provide company level groups with sufficient “walking around money” to hand out to locals not for bribes, but to build / repair / obtain equipment that’s useful. Like, say, water purification, or generators, etc. There was a program for that but it died under the same sort of penny pinching attitude. It’s especially egregious for the USA — if you’re already spending $1B / week, and you trust your company commanders to act with unprecedented decorum in combat, you can trust them with some cash as well.

[source, source]

Cross posted in Low Earth Orbit

02 August 2007

Best not to interfere when your enemy is defeating himself

This is a bit old but still funny. It seems that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is busy “privatizing” various industries in Iran in order to raise money to keep his regime afloat.

The first funny is that the author thinks that privitization of key industries will make things worse for Iran and it citizenry while critizing Ahmadinejad for his “failed economic policies”.

At a time that the government is imposing gasoline rationing, the privatisation programme is offering key refineries, including those of Isfahan and Tabriz, for sale.

So, Ahmadinejad is ruining the economy, therefore it’s a bad idea to remove key industries from his control? The author doesn’t seem to have read much history with regard to the comparitive performance of public and private industries. On the surface, this in fact looks like a good idea if one is trying to revive the Iranian economy.

The second funny is that, Ahmadinejad being the corrupt loon that he is, he can’t even do that right. He’s busy selling the industries off to cronies at cut rate prices, which sort of undermines the whole “it’ll raise a lot of cash for the government” rationale. Sounds like he’s going to duplicate Russia’s success in this area and likely get the worst of both public and private worlds.

All of this makes me wonder if additional economic sanctions against Iran are a good idea. At this point, Ahmadinejad and crew are running the Iranian economy in to the ground all by themselves, American imposed sanctions might well prop up his regime the same way they’ve helped kept Castro in power. The best thing to do would be to conduct psyops to piss off Ahmadinejad and get him to impose economic sanctions on us. He’s just the guy dumb enough to do it.

01 August 2007

Here's mud in your eye

Mr. Burnet was complaining of my moderate temperment, which means it’s time for a gratuitous swipe at our not yet conquered and put to work as slaves in the oil pits neighbors to the north —

Mr. Donolo also said that a lack of progress in Afghanistan may be behind another finding that shows 65 per cent of Canadians believe their role on the world stage is more suited to peacekeeping than as enforcers of peace.

So a majority of Canadians think they should keep the peace, but not enforce the peace. O…K… Good luck with that!

Crossposted in Low Earth Orbit

Overlooking the first cause

In response to this article about skilled workers fleeing Easter Europe, Orrin Judd writes

In a few years we won’t be able to afford the price prospective immigrants will be able to extract from desperate dying nations.

Hardly. What, exactly, will desperate, dying nations have to offer to such immigrants? Moreover, isn’t the thesis of the original article that skilled workers flee dying, desparate nations? It’s the same issue as all the tax breaks for businesses to move in to industrially failing states. Both are fools games, the winning strategy is to make things in general good, not just less bad for new comers.