Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lower taxes and Laffer Curve

I don't know how much more blatant things could be than this:

Do Repubs stand for lower taxes because they hate poor people and love rich people? Hay-yull no! I mean: maybe Repubs do hate poor people and love rich people - but that personal preference has nothing to do with tax policy!

"The Laffer Curve: Past, Present, and Future", by Dr. Arthur B. Laffer:
June 1, 2004

The story of how the Laffer Curve got its name begins with a 1978 article by Jude Wanniski in The Public Interest entitled, "Taxes, Revenues, and the `Laffer Curve.'"1 As recounted by Wanniski (associate editor of The Wall Street Journal at the time), in December 1974, he had dinner with me (then professor at the University of Chicago), Donald Rumsfeld (Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford), and Dick Cheney (Rumsfeld's deputy and my former classmate at Yale) at the Two Continents Restaurant at the Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. While discussing President Ford's "WIN" (Whip Inflation Now) proposal for tax increases, I supposedly grabbed my napkin and a pen and sketched a curve on the napkin illustrating the trade-off between tax rates and tax revenues. Wanniski named the trade-off "The Laffer Curve."

I personally do not remember the details of that evening, but Wanniski's version could well be true. I used the so-called Laffer Curve all the time in my classes and with anyone else who would listen to me to illustrate the trade-off between tax rates and tax revenues. My only question about Wanniski's version of the story is that the restaurant used cloth napkins and my mother had raised me not to desecrate nice things.

The Historical Origins of the Laffer Curve
The Laffer Curve, by the way, was not invented by me. For example, Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century Muslim philosopher, wrote in his work The Muqaddimah: "It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments."

A more recent version (of incredible clarity) was written by John Maynard Keynes:

[...] I show ... to create wealth will increase the national income and that a large proportion of any increase in the national income will accrue to an Exchequer
Nor should the argument seem strange that taxation may be so high as to defeat its object, and that, given sufficient time to gather the fruits, a reduction of taxation will run a better chance than an increase of balancing the budget. For to take the opposite view today is to resemble a manufacturer who, running at a loss, decides to raise his price, and when his declining sales increase the loss, wrapping himself in the rectitude of plain arithmetic, decides that prudence requires him to raise the price still more--and who, when at last his account is balanced with nought on both sides, is still found righteously declaring that it would have been the act of a gambler to reduce the price when you were already making a loss.

Theory Basics
The basic idea behind the relationship between tax rates and tax revenues is that changes in tax rates have two effects on revenues: the arithmetic effect and the economic effect. The arithmetic effect is simply that if tax rates are lowered, tax revenues (per dollar of tax base) will be lowered by the amount of the decrease in the rate. The reverse is true for an increase in tax rates. The economic effect, however, recognizes the positive impact that lower tax rates have on work, output, and employment--and thereby the tax base--by providing incentives to increase these activities. Raising tax rates has the opposite economic effect by penalizing participation in the taxed activities. The arithmetic effect always works in the opposite direction from the economic effect. Therefore, when the economic and the arithmetic effects of tax-rate changes are combined, the consequences of the change in tax rates on total tax revenues are no longer quite so obvious.
Definition of Economics: the science of using scarce resources.

The tax rate question:
If, at any moment, we citizens can keep more of our income for ourselves and our families: is it then worth it, to enough of us, to produce a little more income?

At this moment, at this tax rate, our national answer is yes. It is worth it - to enough Americans - to create a national moment in which a lower tax rate will 1) overcome the arithmetic effect, and thus 2) increase government revenue.

Democrats (and media) understand the arithmetic of taxation, but do not understand the economics of taxation. They do not understand the science of using the scarce resource of time, as in: should I spend a bit more time working, or a bit more time recreating? Also: should I use my time at work a bit more productively, or a bit less productively? Dems do not understand that the decision about time and productivity - multiplied over hundreds of millions of Americans, and turbocharged by the power of the American economy - makes a very large difference in government revenue.

I sometimes joke about the difference between conservatives and liberals: conservatives took a basic economics class in school; liberals took a women's studies course instead. I sometimes joke about that - except, there's so much truth as to make it more tragedy than comedy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Charley Rosen behind the scenes

Charley Rosen is on my sidebar. He earned it, even though he is prejudiced against the Dallas Mavericks.

I think the Mavs heart is beating stronger, and growing stronger. In my judgment, in a potential playoff series against the Spurs, the Mavs would deserve to be slight favorites. That's pretty good. Even though the Mavs still do exasperate, that's pretty good.

It's hard to imagine, but the Mavs are still young, and are still learning how to play. Nowitski has explained he is just now getting comfortable with some of the angles in the post*, and also with some of the passing out of the double teams which occur there.

My speculation: some of Rosen's dislike of the Mavs is based on his long-time friendship with Phil Jackson:

Phil flashed me one of his characteristic wry grins and said this: "It's been a long day, Charley, so let's make the best of it. There's a ball up on the stage, and if we clear the last few rows, we'll have enough room to play one-on-one."

So we played, shirtless and sweating, fouling each other and laughing out loud, hitting miraculous shots, missing easy ones, and never keeping score. We played until our fellow participants began to reenter the gym. Then we pulled up our shirts, grabbed our blank notebooks, and made a quick exit stage left, leaving the ball for dead on the foul line.
Phil Jackson disdains most of the NBA which is not named "Phil Jackson." Yet, Jackson especially detests Mark Cuban - and, by extension, all things Dallas Mavericks. Cuban knows how to get under Phil Jackson's skin. Of all Mark Cuban's NBA accomplishments, his pinpoint jabs at Phil Jackson's ego are my favorites.

Thus, Charley Rosen - when he derides the Mavericks overmuch - likely is only standing up for a friend.

I started this entire post b/c Rosen wrote that Mavs guard Eddie Jones should retire

Eddie Jones is another oldster (36) whose game has become a shabby imitation of his former brilliance. Time to hang 'em up, EJ.
"Time to hang 'em up"? Horse manure! This is an instance of Rosen's prejudice clouding his judgement.

Whether or not Jones is a "shabby imitation" of his former self, it's undeniable Jones is a big help to the Dallas Mavericks. There's nothing shabby about playing 18-20 minutes/game for a contender. Jones brings exactly what the Mavs need: physical defense, guile and wisdom, passing and ball handling, 3-point shooting ability(8th all time in made 3-point shots), locker room leadership, playoff savvy. Jones is exactly, exactly what the Mavs need. He's a big asset. Retire? My Aunt June. If Jones retires, the Mavericks are a worse team. I hope Eddie Jones stays in Dallas another three seasons.

Conspiracy theory: Could Rosen's assertion be a ploy by Phil Jackson to get under Mark Cuban's skin? It's possible. Referees are basketball fans, and they are human. If a meme starts that Eddie Jones can no longer hack it, a human ref's eyes will see what a human ref's eyes expect to see, and the refs will be even more tempted to call Eddie for a block against a driving Kobe. Also, consider 1) humans naturally avoid criticism when possible, and 2) how can a ref be criticized for calling a block against a guy who has lost a step, and is now "a shabby imitation of his former self"?

It might all be true:

  • Eddie Jones might be an imitation of his former self (though "shabby" is harsh)

  • Eddie Jones might be a big asset to the Dallas Mavericks (I think so)

  • Charley Rosen might be jabbing at Mark Cuban on Phil Jackson's behalf (unconsciously and shabbily)

  • Refs - regardless of what is actually occurring - might see what they expect to see when Eddie Jones is guarding Kobe

Technical note:
Just as Dirk is an unconventional PF, and needs a rugged SF to compliment him; Devin Harris and Jason Terry are unconventional PGs. They don't handle or move the ball as well as conventional point guards. To compliment their strengths, Harris and Terry need SGs who handle well, who move the ball well, and who know exactly where the ball ought to be going. Eddie Jones gives Devin Harris, especially, the on-court partner he needs. Jones makes the Mavericks offense better. Jones' skills are more important to the Mavs offense than they would be to the Suns offense, or to the Nets offense.

Having Eddie Jones on the court calms Avery a little bit. That's a good thing.

Why do veterans calm coaches?

Consider Jan 12: Stackhouse hit a three point shot, at the buzzer, to defeat the Clippers in LA.

The scene: Under 5 seconds remain, Mavs down by two. Dirk, 18 feet from basket on right wing, dribbles towards right baseline/corner, then spins in preparation for launching 18 foot fallaway jump shot. Terry has followed Dirk, and is on three point line between right wing and center/top of three point arc. Stackhouse is on left side of three point arc, mirroring Terry's position on right. Eddie Jones in left corner. Brandon Bass low on left post (Brandon Bass is in the game in the crucial moment! Way to go, Brandon!).

The action:

1. Terry's man leaves to double Dirk.
2. Simultaneous with Terry's man leaving him, Stackhouse' man runs to cover Terry, and Eddie Jones immediately runs down baseline, eventually going past basket, then spinning back into rebound position.

Jones movement, which happens when Terry's man leaves Terry, and before Dirk gets double-teamed, and before Dirk passes, is the key to the sequence. It means Eddie Jones' man cannot cover Stackhouse. Eddie Jones' man must follow Eddie Jones down the baseline. Brandon Bass' man must come from the low left post to the three point arc to contest Stackhouse' shot. Brandon Bass' man, predictably, cannot get there. Dirk passes to Terry. Terry immediately shoots pass to Stackhouse. Stackhouse hits uncontested pressure shot for victory. Everybody runs off floor hugging.

Few fans notice Eddie Jones' veteran savvy and perfect timing helped make the play. I didn't notice it. I only saw it on a video chalk talk before the Mavs following game, on Jan 14. If the Mavs didn't have Jones, and Maurice Ager had instead been standing in the left corner, the Clippers might have won.

Last note - Dallas Morning News:

The Mavericks have been remarkably better defensively when Jones has played than when he hasn't.

Jones has quick hands and has a way of staying in front of his man, even at his advanced NBA age (36). Howard said Jones helps the Mavericks communicate on defense and "come out of our shell."

So when Jones puts in his 20 minutes, mostly at the start of the game and the start of the second half, he can help set a defensive tone.

"The coach has definitely put me in a great situation," Jones said. "It's perfect. The way he's doing it, I can be successful and the team can be successful."

*I originally wrote: "low post". However - though Dirk sets up in the post more often - it would be a lie to say he sets up in the "low post." Dirk could still use some banging lessons. Charles Oakley would've driven a posting Dirk straight into the sideline seats.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Watched Baylor vs. OU basketball

and a festival of alliteration broke out:

OU forward Longar Longar.

Baylor PG LaceDarius Dunn.

Iran speedboat feigned attack

was interesting at a military strategy level; at an intelligence strategy level; at a political strategy level.

The military level: NYT
...a classified, $250 million war game in which small, agile speedboats swarmed a naval convoy to inflict devastating damage on more powerful warships.
in August 2002. In that war game, the Blue Team navy, representing the United States, lost 16 major warships — an aircraft carrier, cruisers and amphibious vessels — when they were sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in an attack that included swarming tactics by enemy speedboats.

“The sheer numbers involved overloaded [the American/Blue team] ability, both mentally and electronically, to handle the attack,” said Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper, a retired Marine Corps officer who served in the war game as commander of a Red Team force representing an unnamed Persian Gulf military. “The whole thing was over in 5, maybe 10 minutes.”
In the simulation, General Van Riper sent wave after wave of relatively inexpensive speedboats to charge at the costlier, more advanced fleet approaching the Persian Gulf. His force of small boats attacked with machine guns and rockets, reinforced with missiles launched from land and air. Some of the small boats were loaded with explosives to detonate alongside American warships in suicide attacks.
The victory of the force modeled after a Persian Gulf state — a composite of Iran and Iraq — astounded sponsors of what was then the largest joint war-fighting exercise ever held, involving 13,500 military members and civilians battling in nine live exercise ranges in the United States, and double that many computer simulations to replicate a number of different battles.
In a telephone interview, General Van Riper recalled that his idea of a swarming attack grew from Marine Corps studies of the natural world, where insects and animals — from tiny ant colonies to wolf packs — move in groups to overwhelm larger prey.

“It is not a matter of size or of individual capability, but whether you have the numbers and come from multiple directions in a short period of time,” he said.
One of the few television shows ever to truly shake me up showed video of African Army Ants on the hunt. The ants are large. The swarm covers ground faster than I expected, and the swarm does not tire and slow down. The swarm is terrifying.

Whatever is in their way, and cannot outrun them, the ants swarm it and kill it, without exception. This includes sleeping animals and sleeping humans. The ants go into every orifice of an animal or a human, eventually anesthetizing the subject via multiple applications of venom, all the while taking tiny pieces from the subject with their mandibles. The dead animals and dead humans are found with ants coming out of their mouths, eye sockets, ears, and anus. Each ant carries bits of animal matter or human matter in their mandibles. A brief, non-gross description of Army Ants on the move.

Back to the Iranians: at the intelligence level: Spook86, a twenty year veteran of military intelligence, writing at In From the Cold
if you assume that the Iranians were trying to provoke the U.S. (and their aggressive maneuvering certainly suggests that scenario), then it is quite possible that multiple military elements, including coastal surveillance radars, other naval vessels, anti-ship missile batteries, aircraft, SIGINT asset and command headquarters were involved, to varying degrees. As part of a larger, pre-planned operation, it would be quite easy for another Iranian unit to make a threatening radio call, as the fast boats moved into position.

Tehran also knows that it's difficult for the U.S. to refute claims of a benign event, because a more detailed discussion would mean reveal intelligence sources and methods. Iran would certainly like to know more about our SIGINT capabilities in the Persian Gulf region, and their account of the incident is an (indirect) attempt to prod us into greater disclosures about Sunday's incident.

By releasing a vastly different version of events, Tehran can depict the U.S. Navy as a potential aggressor, challenging the administration to release more details on radio and emitter traffic during the event. Learning what we collected--and when we collected it--would be an intelligence windfall for Iran. So far, the U.S. has (rightly) refused to take the bait.

As we noted in a previous post, the decision of U.S. commanders to hold their fire was based on a variety of factors, including intelligence data. Information available in the ship's combat information centers (CICs) may have provided key insights into the Iranians' intentions, giving commanders the data they needed to make the right decision.

Put another way: the commanders of our vessels knew what Iranian assets were active, and had some idea of what they were saying to each other. Based on that knowledge, they (apparently) viewed the small boats as a localized threat, assessing that other Iranian naval, air and missile units were not prepared to join the fray. Under those conditions--and with that level of intel detail--it would be easier to hold fire, and avoid triggering a much more serious incident.

Obviously, no intelligence system is perfect and even a modern CIC will have information gaps. But the fidelity of detail available on Sunday morning was sufficient for our naval commanders to correctly judge the situation and make the right tactical decision. And, you'll have to forgive the Navy (and the intel community) if they don't want to discuss the sources and methods that provided that data.
At the political level, President Bush' visit to the region presented opportunities for Iran. The speedboats' buzzing was an attempt to capitalize on these opportunities. Iran was going to win no matter how the speedboat incident resolved itself.

If no shots were fired, the incident would serve to "rattle the cage" just before Pres. Bush' trip to the mid-east. The timing worked 1) for propaganda purposes against an Iranian populace who is always a threat to rise against the Mullahs, and 2) as a shot across the bow to any Mid-East nations who might dare co-operate with President Bush, and against Iran. As discussed by Spook86, Iran is further able to pressure the U.S. to reveal intelligence methodology during attempts to defend their (non)action in the media.

If shots had been fired, Iran would beat the "U.S. Imperialist" drum throughout Bush' visit to the region. In this scenario, it's possible other nations would've publicly called for U.S. concessions during President Bush visit. It makes sense to me that Iran was really, really hoping their boats would be shot to smithereens.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some things can be looked at for a long time

without tiring.

I said the sexiest thing about Hedy was her brains, but... that is a nice profile.

Hedy article link
End Zone Hedy
End Zone Aishwarya Rai

Below: One can look, for a long time, without tiring, at the Salma Hayek - Ashley Judd tango in "Frida".

The set up to the tango: This is a party of Mexican artists and intelligentsia. Frida, age 19ish, and unknown to the partiers, arrives with 35ish artist Diego Rivera. When Rivera and Antonio Banderas nearly come to fisticuffs - over a disagreement about Stalin - party hostess Ashley Judd tells them to drink from a tequila bottle. Whomever drinks the most may dance with Ashley. Rivera and Banderas drink mightily. Then Salma Hayek grabs the bottle, and - shades of Karen Allen in Raiders of the Lost Ark - basically drains it. Salma has won the dance with Ashley. She grabs Ashley's hand. Begin video:

An aside: Salma grabs the cigarette from Valeria Golino, who played Tom Cruise' girlfriend in "Rain Man." Valeria has interesting eyes. She, also, can be looked at for a long time without tiring.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Book of Dangerously Fun Words

Below is a book I wrote for my kindergarten aged niece. I sent one copy to her, and kept one copy for a future gift.

Here's what happened the first time I wrote a book and made three copies (for my then 7 year old nephew - I accidentally made it too advanced for him at that age):
And that's how I turned a good and good hearted idea for a 5 hour project into 16+ hours of labor, $10+ of expended printer ink, and $35 of vanity spending at Office Max.
This time, I spent 8 hours on the project, plus (wild guessing) maybe $2 of printer ink, plus $8 to bind two copies at Office Max, for a total expenditure of $10 (not including postage).

Could a book be done faster than 8 hours? To do so, first you should abandon rhyme, rhythm, and meter. Still, you couldn't do it a lot faster. It takes some time to Google age appropriate and subject appropriate pics, then arrange them on pages, then print, then run to Office Max for binding. So, 6-8 hours is about the minimum time it takes (using rudimentary software, at least) from conception to completion.

Tip: next time, I will purchase a higher grade of printer paper. You can see through these pages - to whatever is underneath.

Book of Dangerously Fun Words

Page 1

Dogs are very dangerous

because they are so huggy.

If you hug and hug

on a dog named Doug

you might become hugzuggy.

Page 2

Hugzuggy is very dangerous

because it is contagious.

Your Mom gets it

your Dad gets it

they begin to act outrageous!

Page 3

Outrageous is very dangerous
because it is outlandish.

You might go to the zoo

and shout "Yoo hoo!

Everyone, I'm feeling pandish."

Page 4

Pandish is very dangerous

because it is a condition.

You feel black and white

all the day and night

and you eat leaves without dimunition.

Page 5

Dimunition is very dangerous

if it somehow involves shrinkage:

your legs become small,

you're opposite of tall,

what to do?! Take a moment for thinkage!

Page 6

Thinkage is very dangerous

because it results in ideas,

such as cooking a meal

for a trained baby seal

whose favorite food is green pea-uhs.

Page 7

Green pea-uhs are very dangerous

because they are tasty and sweet,

you will rub on your tummy

and say "These are yummy!"

Now, whatever else shall I eat?

Page 8

Page 9

Eating is very dangerous

because it requires much chewing:

you chew and you chew,

it could happen to you,

you could chew like a cow then start mooing.

Page 10

Mooing is very dangerous

because it resonates deeply:

if you happen to say

lots of moo ooos today

the cows may become deeply sleepy.

Page 11

A deeply sleepy cow is very dangerous

because she may soon begin snoring,

she may close her cow eyes

and cow snore to the skies

dreaming of a chance to go soaring.

The End.

Walking to the bus stop - first day of school, 2007.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Obama chest high in violent surf

Media attempts to "present both sides" can obscure truth.

As well, media inclination to promote conflict can obscure truth.


Dem debate on Monday night:

Hillary makes six false accusations against Obama.

Obama makes zero false accusations against Hillary.

Do headlines say

Obama Rebuts to Hillary's False Accusations


They do not. Headlines say

Clinton, Obama Spar

Media failure to provide context equates to misleading the public.

Thus Obama is left standing in the equivalent of "washing machine" ocean surf:

  1. Hillary's false accusations hit Obama like violent waves pounding in from the ocean

  2. media mischaracterization (due to lack of context) crashes back from the shore and into Obama.

Obama is pounded from both sides:

~ Hillary's waves of accusation ~ media backwash of mischaracterization ~
~ Hillary's waves of accusation ~ media backwash of mischaracterization ~
~ Hillary's waves of accusation ~ media backwash of mischaracterization ~
~ Hillary's waves of accusation ~ media backwash of mischaracterization ~

Welcome to the conservative political experience, Mr. Obama. On this ride, Democrats lie about you, and media lie about your public appearances.

Example: Last week, Mitt Romney politely but vigorously rebutted a false accusation by an AP reporter. The AP reporter responded in heated fashion. Headlines the next day said Romney loses temper. The headlines were a lie. Romney maintained decorum. The AP reporter lost his temper. MKH (inclu. video)

Example 2: Obama received similar treatment today. A reporter asked about a Bill Clinton accusation. Obama vigorously rebutted - as he should. Headlines said Obama loses temper ~ is Bill Clinton in Obama's head? The headlines were lies. (Greg Sargeant: ABC News Badly Mischaracterizes Obama's Alleged "Testy Exchange" With Reporter)

Obama must wonder what he ever did to deserve being treated like a conservative politician.


Below: my analysis of the analysis of the give and take in Monday's debate. My analysis is better than theirs! Although, I do rely on their research. Thanks guys. finds a couple of places to allege Obama played loose with the truth. However, upon studying these, I do not believe Obama said anything misleading. Instead, I speculate that even fell victim to the "present both sides" mentality. Imagine their reporters turning in the story to be edited:

Editors: Whats this? You have Hillary telling six lies and Obama telling zero lies!

Reporters: That's what our analysis showed, sir.

Editors: Go back and report on the Obama lies. We must present both sides!

Reporters: (hang heads)


Debate Analysis

Clinton said Obama said Republican ideas - such as moving from surplus to deficit - were good ideas.

1. false: Repubs did not say that + 2. false: Obama did not say that


Clinton said Obama endorsed Repub proposal to set up private SS accts.

3. false: Obama did not say that


Greg's note: Bill Clinton said Obama said (we're back in gradeschool: Sally said Susie said) Dems hadn't had any good ideas in 16 years.

4. false: Obama did not say that

- and I'm counting Bill against Hillary, as Bill's statement came straight out of Hillary's War Room.


Obama said Bill and Hillary criticized me for praising Pres. Reagan, yet Bill and Hillary have praised Reagan - including extended praise quoted in Tom Brokaw's current book: "Boom! Voices of the Sixties".

True - which amounts to one hypocrisy point against Hillary for making this an issue in the first place.


Clinton said Obama switched: from supporting Single Payer Health Care; to a system which will provide health care for all.

Obama: I said I liked Single Payer health care if it was feasible, which it wasn't.

Fact says Obama's answer is misleading. I disagree. If you read the transcripts of Obama's statements, he did not mischaracterize what he said in the past.

My verdict: 5. false accusation by Hillary. Obama's statements were not inconsistent.


Clinton said that, for political purposes, Obama cast a large number (130 total) of "present" votes in the Illinois Senate.

True. And not denied by Obama. Therefore, I'm not scoring this for Hillary.

This is like saying: Strictly because her husband was in politics, Mrs. Clinton turned a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into $100,000. It's a true statement. It cannot and will not be denied by Mrs. Clinton. Therefore is has no business being in an article about disagreement.


Clinton said "the Chicago Tribune, his hometown paper, said that all of those present votes was taking a pass. It was for political reasons."

Here we get into Clintonian cleverness. In actuality, a Clinton supporter gave that quote to The Chicago Tribune:

The Tribune story, which ran in December, did quote Bonnie Grabenhofer, president of Illinois National Organization of Women as saying, "When we needed someone to take a stand, Senator Obama took a pass." But those weren't the words of the Tribune itself. And Grabenhofer was endorsing Clinton at the time.

Clinton used the local paper angle to add heft to her charge that Obama was politically calculating. She lied.

6. False: the Chicago Tribune did not say that.

Also, consider it takes balls the size of planets for Hillary to accuse anyone else of being politically calculating. Obama should humorously skewer her for this. Roast her over an open flame.

Such an accusation comes from the classic Clinton playbook: whatever is a Clinton weakness or problem, accuse your opponent of same. Thus Hillary accuses Obama of being politically calculating. Thus Bill accuses Obama of being inconsistent in his position about Iraq. Thus Hillary's campaign accuses Obama of shady financial dealings. Thus Hillary, to deflect her law firms' representation of Whitewater criminals, accuses Obama of having represented a slum landlord.


Obama said Clinton was "a corporate lawyer who sat on the board of Wal-Mart."

First: this is a fact which Hillary cannot and did not deny. Fact check was wrong to score this as a point for Obama.

Second: consider the irrationality of publicly decrying being a "corporate lawyer." Someone has to to legal work for corporations. Dems are publicly irrational.

I. Public irrationality point for Obama.

Third: consider that the Dems are heavily partnered with the legal community. Dems are speaking out of both sides of their mouths when they utter "corporate lawyer." Fact check should've pointed this out.

One hypocrisy point against Obama.

Fourth: consider the irrationality of publicly decrying Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart does more good for America than the Democratic Party. Again we see the public irrationality of the Dems.

II. Another public irrationality point against Obama.


OF COURSE Hillarity responded an accusation found to be a lie: that Obama was representing his contributor, Rezko, in a slum landlord business.

Hillary is succeeding in demonizing Rezko - with some justification. Rezko is likely dirty, and Obama is possibly dirty. The more Obama succeeds this spring, the more Rezko will be demonized into Enron, Halliburton, and Bernard Kerik. Dems know how to demonize.

HOWEVER, Hillary lied via saying Obame represented Rezko. Obama's legal firm represented Rezko. Obama was not directly involved, except in the most peripheral manner.

7. False. Obama did not represent Rezko.


Last, Obama said Senator Clinton said she voted for (the 2001 [bankruptcy] bill) but hoped that it wouldn't pass.

Senator Clinton's exact words: "I was happy it never became law. "

Factcheck scores this as an instance of Obama passing false info. Strictly speaking, they are correct. Yet, I give Obama a pass. I can't see where he intentionally mischaracterized in order to gain advantage.


My final score:

7 falsehoods,
one hypocrisy point,
one balls the size of planets point

zero falsehoods,
one hypocrisy point,
2 public irrationality points

Now, focus on the falsehoods:

Clinton: 6 falsehoods against Obama (here, I won't count her falsehood against Repubs).

Obama: zero falsehoods.


Final thought: THIS was a debate for the office of President of the United States(?!): he said she said trivial trivial he said he said he said she said trivial trivial trivial. Sheesh.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dear Serena,

Tennis dress - si!

Spandex workout shorts - no!

Sincerely, A Serena Fan

photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Ruminations re Brett; Romo; and Sarah

More about Favre on the Sports Illustrated cover:

This is the type of worshipful attention which can ruin a young, not-yet-well-grounded athlete. It can especially ruin an athlete who must depend more on his brains than his body. It ruined Michael Vick. It might yet ruin Vince Young. It would not have ruined Tony Romo - until whiney Jessica began to seep into his days and nights.

Every high performing human is a fractional distance from ruin. Tony Romo was carefully cultivated: a favorite tomato plant in Bill Parcells' garden. Now, Romo could be ruined. He could be effectively poisoned - and might be already.

Don't get me wrong: the odds are Romo will still be whatever he would've been before Jessica flounced into the picture. But, her presence lessens his odds of success. She could poison him. She could herald the end of his excellence, and she possibly already has: since the day she arrived, Romo has arguably played one good game - Carolina; and four bad ones.

A quarterback's excellence is an edge of a cliff type of thing. The beauty of Romo was watching him dance upon the micro edge of the cliff. He was a man dancing joyfully above a 2000 foot abyss. Romo pranced upon the perilous edge as if he had not a care or a fear in the world. It was beautiful. Was. Might never be again.

I doubt that Sarah and Emily Hughes' parents - aka sports parenting geniuses* - would approve of the ethos of negativity which surrounds Jessica Simpson like a cloud.

My description of Sarah Hughes' free skate in Salt Lake City:
There was tremendous pressure. Hughes went out with intensity. She nailed a jump. She nailed a second jump. There was still a series of difficult jumps remaining, but, at the moment of landing the second jump, Hughes broke into a glorious and genuine and exuberant smile. At that moment, she knew she was going to kick butt in this performance, and she just began to glow. She put it all out there for the rest of the performance, completely fearlessly, with no thought of failure, a performer at her best.

Tony Romo should marry Sarah Hughes. Think of the mentally tough kids they would produce! They should marry for the sake of the nation.

Sarah is now 22 years old. Last year she had a crush on Mets 3B David Wright. She is perfect for Romo.
SI: You recently told USA Today that you are witty and playful and all things light and merry. Was that off the top of your head or did a publicist feed you that line?
Hughes: I came up with that myself in my dorm room at about 11:30 at night. I don't get fed lines by publicist!

SI: You told this magazine two years ago that one of the great things about the Smuckers Stars on Ice tour was that "if I want to find a boyfriend, I can go to every city in the country, find the cute boys and give them seats on the ice to watch me do what I do best." How did that work out?
Hughes: It totally backfired. I am still single. But that was a good idea, right?

SI: Yes. Who is the one man who would like to see on skates?
Hughes: Michael Jordan. But if I was skating with them, I would pick someone different.

SI: And that would be?
Hughes: [Mets third baseman] David Wright. If we ever go skating, I'll let you know how it goes.

SI: David Wright might not be too good a skater?
Hughes: Well, I'd help him out.

SI: Isn't this interview merely a ploy to use SI to get the attention of David Wright?
Hughes: (Laughs) Well, I do have a new appreciation for the Mets -- and I think they'd like as many fans as they can get.

*The blogpost about Sarah and Emily Hughes - which mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Hughes (link) - continues to attract internet views two years after it was published. People steadily come to it, maybe for the pictures.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thousands march on Washington…MSM yawns

Michelle Malkin:

Michelle Malkin
January 22, 2008 07:57 PM
Via Yahoo! News:

If they were illegal alien activists, they’d get front-page coverage, multimedia packages, and prime time on TV airwaves.

If they were anti-war activists, they’d get front-page coverage, multimedia packages, and prime time on TV airwaves.

They are pro-life activists who marched today to mark the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

You’ll be lucky to see photos like the one above buried somewhere in the back of your newspaper.

"Dustoff Three-Zero confirms three heroes on board"

Night-vision video of US Army Paratroopers and Afghan Army soldiers (some injured) being evacuated off a mountain in the Hindu Kush, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. You can see, in the rough video, how unforgiving the terrain is. The video is more dramatic when you realize they are operating in darkness, and right up against mountain cliffs. It's very cool that one of the helicopter pilot voices belongs to a woman. American women pilot both bombers and helicopters in combat missions. Link to video at Soldiers Angels Germany:
The troops were on their way back from a meeting in a nearby village just two miles from OP Bella when they were attacked on 9 November. Five Soldiers from the 173rd ABCT and one Marine were killed. Eight more Sky Soldiers and 11 ANA were wounded.

Eight separate air crews subsequently conducted what was to become a 31-hour medevac mission involving multiple lifts.
Wow. Honor. Shining, determined, never-give-up honor.

Aside: An acquaintance' son is an Air Force Para-Rescue Specialist, and has been serving in theater for approx. 18 months. During training, both Air Force Para-Rescue Specialists and Navy Seals are intentionally drowned, then revived. The Air Force and the Navy want each man to know how far he can go, underwater, before passing out. A person cannot actually know how far they can go until they go there. Every trainee knows they will be drowned, yet they fight for the honor of continuing the training.

In Memoriam:

1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, 24, of Torrance, Calif.
Sgt. Jeffery S. Mersman, 23, of Parker, Kan
Spc. Sean K.A. Langevin, 23, of Walnut Creek, Calif.
Spc. Lester G. Roque, 23, of Torrance, Calif.
Pfc. Joseph M. Lancour, 21, of Swartz Creek, Mich.
Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, 28, of Troy, Mich.

So young. Such heroes.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Dr. MLK, Jr and Dr. Archibald Carey, Jr

So many things I'm interested in discussing, but:
It's Martin Luther King Day!
MLK was a great leader - even though he was, as we all are, greatly flawed. So, when I think of MLK: I think of his fabulous leadership; and I think of how important it is to remember we are all flawed. I think of how important it is to forgive myself for being flawed, and of how important it is to forgive others for being flawed.

Think of existing as a soul, in the next dimension of existence, in which we will possess a deep wisdom and knowledge of all things. We will, in our deep wisdom and knowledge, be understanding and wise about human fallibility. We will be forgiving and loving and accepting. And, if we could re-enter this Earthly dimension, we would inspire humans to also be understanding, wise, forgiving, loving, and accepting - as we had enjoyed being in the next dimension, beyond death.

I understand MLK's flaws. They are my flaws, for I am human. I accept him as he was, and admire his leadership.

Having said all that, today I also remember and honor Rev. Archibald Carey, Jr. Why honor Mr. Carey today - other than because he was an accomplished Black Republican? Here's why: Mr. Carey gave the "I Have A Dream" speech first - to the 1952 Republican National Convention! Mr. Carey's speech was plagiarized by MLK a little over a decade later at the Lincoln Memorial. Kudos, Mr. Carey. Also, foibles-wise: hilarious! And oh so human.

h/t: Gateway Pundit, although, as MLK's flaws are also my flaws, I was sorely tempted to not credit Gateway Pundit.

Other fun info:

MLK's speech is an example of nimbleness. MLK was inside his audience' OODA Loop*.

MLK's written text on that day did not include "I Have A Dream". MLK began giving his written speech, and he was badly bombing. The audience tittered. They were bored and disinterested. Seated behind MLK, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson repeated urged: "Tell them about the dream, Martin." An outstanding public speaker, MLK knew he had lost the audience. He ditched his prepared text, and - from memory - launched into Rev. Archibald Carey, Jr.'s speech.

And the rest is history.

MLK's prophetic comments - about the strong possiblity of his own death - delivered on the very night before he was assassinated:

Here's what preceded the above:
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?"

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you drown in your own blood—that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

*Link to OODA Loop leads to brilliant pair of essays by Bill Whittle. Highly recommended, and highly enjoyable.

Jesus held for ransom

Irony thick as infinity.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I do not understand the political horserace

I understand the issues, but I do not understand the races.

Nevada had 34 Repub delegates at stake.

Romney won 51% of the vote, for a 37% margin of victory over second place Ron Paul's 14%. Romney's victory is widely ho-hummed.

South Carolina had 24 Repub delegates at stake.

McCain won with 33% of the vote, for a 3% victory over second place Huckabee"s 30%. Commentators overwhelmingly say McCain's victory is huge, and may well sweep McCain to victory in Florida, which would sweep McCain to victories in Super Tuesday, which would wrap up the nomination for McCain.

I'm not saying those commentators are wrong. I'm saying I don't understand the whys.

I don't understand why Nevada went so strongly for Romney - except that I believe Romney is a far better candidate than McCain. I don't understand why South Carolina went 33% for McCain and 15% for Romney. Throw out Huckabee's evangelicals: why would the rest of South Carolina prefer McCain over Romney?

Maybe it's because McCain keeps winning in states which allow any voter to vote in any primary. Independents go to the Repub primary and vote for McCain. McCain has yet to win a majority of self-described Republican primary voters in any state. This means independent voters might well create momentum which selects the Republican nominee. Does that make sense for the Republican Party? Not to me. Republican voters split themselves up amongst Huckabee, Romney, and Thompson, then just enough independent voters sneak in to elect McCain, and momentum is now McCain's, and he could well sweep to victory on the tide.

From my vantage point, in my end zone in Texas, this looks illogical and dumb.

Dallas Cowboys loss: grieved and explained

Three posts today! There are several things I would enjoy writing about, yet topical stuff keeps coming up - and topical stuff does not wait well.

To today's post(!):
Dallas Cowboys loss: one man bravely adjusts to the new reality.
(content warning: language)

if the video doesn't work, try this link.

Tony Snow takes on the world

including highly respected military expert Bill Maher; highly respected emotional hunches are truth(!) expert Catherine Crier; and the highly respected master of supercilious: Rolling Stone fantasist Matt Taibbi. The world sometimes doesn't want Tony to finish a sentence. The world is dripping with ignorance and condescension. The world is incredulous at Snow's assertions that:
  1. American troops believe they are accomplishing something noble in Iraq.
  2. The U.S. economy has been strong and robust.

About Snow's point #2:
A recession/adjustment is inevitable. Economic growth cannot go up without end. Adjustments must happen.

However, excepting the 5 year period immediately after WWII, we've just come through the greatest 5 years of economic growth since economic stats began to be recorded. We've been victim of a media bias which would lead with headlines such as: Lowest economic growth in 4 years. Really? So, the economy was white hot, it slowed to merely hot, and this is how you reported it?

Yes - that's exactly the way they've reported it since the day Bush took office. When Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, media famously trumpeted the wonderful low unemployment rate of 5.5%. Bush took the unemployment rate much lower, where it stayed for years. Currently, I can't turn on the TV without someone bemoaning a bump to a 5% unemployment rate which is still 1/2% lower than Clinton's wonderful rate of 5.5%.

Matt Taibbi (ignorantly - I doubt he knows any better) combined both this exact reporting trick and this exact economic ignorance: after Snow said we experienced 52 consecutive months of jobs growth, Taibbi rejoined that we now have the highest unemployment rate in 5 years. True. So? Crier then intuits that our current 5% unemployment rate will one day be noted as a trigger/harbinger of a recession. Both Taibbi and Crier are sure of themselves, and both Taibbi and Crier are ignorant about this subject.

Tony Snow takes on the world:

Jon Stewart, in bad faith,

does what it takes to make conservatives look bad. In Jonah Goldberg's case, that meant extending a planned 6 minute interview to 18 minutes, then cutting it down to 6 1/2 minutes which made Jonah Goldberg look like a "wingnut", aka a right wing nut.

Stewart, before the edited segment aired, told the audience they had cut 18 minutes down to 6 1/2, and apologized for it looking "choppy as hell". Stewart then called Goldberg the next day to apologize. Goldberg said he told Stewart he liked Stewart personally, and he took Stewart at his word that his intentions were good, yet, Goldberg asserted: objectively, he had gotten screwed by the extended interview + editing process.

Jonah Goldberg is a pundit who understands the ins and outs of liberalism and conservatism extremely well. He is someone who will not allow himself to be bullied by interlocutors. And he is clued in to the latest happenings in politics and culture. All this meant Stewart was forced to go 18 minutes to make Jonah Goldberg look like a wingnut. This Stewart did. Jon Stewart is a trooper.

from an interview the following day:
Jonah Goldberg:
Jon Stewart has a gift for trying to make conservatives look stupid, and doing these sort of debating tactics kind of interview questions, and I wasn't standing for it, and I kept pushing back, and so, every time I'd push back it seemed to annoy him even more, and finally he just kept saying things like "I don't even understand what you're saying", which I don't think is true... I think he just couldn't get around the argument I was making, and it just kept making him madder and madder and madder, until it just got out of hand, and that's why we went for 18 minutes for a 6 minute interview.
Andrew Wilkow:
It seems to be the nouveau tactic for left wing pundits and op ed writers to use sarcasm as a stand in for actual debate. Jon Stewart is somebody that wants to be taken seriously when it's convenient, but... when somebody is winning the debate, all of a sudden he's back to being a comedian, and he's sort of like when a wrestler grabs the rope.
I think thats right. It should tell us something that the most effective spokesmen of liberalism in the last 10 years have basically been actors and comedians who get to have it both ways. When they get push back... all of a sudden they say "Well you're the serious writer, I'm just a comedian." I mean, that's been Al Franken's schtick for years.... Jeanine Garafalo did it. Michael Moore. Basically Jon Stewart.
I don't mind using sarcasm... but there's gotta be something to it more than merely sarcasm. You've gotta make an argument. You've gotta marshall evidence and facts. And that is not something you hear members of the other side do in these kinds of things - even though they call themselves members of the "reality based community" and all this stuff.
Hot Air:
Liberal Fascism is of course the title of Jonah’s book. Explaining the nuance of that title’s meaning to Jon Stewart is the Mother of All Uphill Tasks.
The 6 1/2 minutes, if you want to see it. Goldberg looks like a twit. He is not.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Vote Fred! Plus, ad hits Hillary

If you live in South Carolina, vote Fred! He needs it.

Here's Fred's final, gigantic ad buy in S. Carolina. He's shoving his chips all in, even though he only has a pair of sevens. A shame. Vote for Fred anyway. Voice your preference for a true conservative candidate.

I overuse "genius" when linking to advertising and to political ads. Fred's ad, above, to me, is disappointingly mundane. In contrast, the hit on Hillary, below, is outstanding. The ad incorporates footage from the cult fave movie "Election", starring Reese Witherspoon as calculating high schooler Tracy Flick. This is not the first time I've heard Hillary compared to Tracy Flick. Enjoy. The hit piece is gen... um.... outstanding.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heroic image

How great was that scene at Lambeau?

Contender for most heroic sports photo ever?
Brett Favre overcomes the elements to save the women and children of Wisconsin.
Check out the snow accumulated atop Favre's shoulder pads.

Most legend-burnishing caption ever?
Brett Favre = Roger Staubach, blended w/huntin and fishin Elvis, blended w/Paul Bunyan.
How many Wisconsin boys will carry this cherished poster from their childhood bedrooms,to their college dorm rooms, to their adult workshops? Tony Romo will.

For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph - a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Aishwarya Rai

This photo of Hedy Lamarr reminded of a photo of Bollywood beauty, and former Miss Universe, Aishwarya Rai.

A couple more of Aishwarya:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NYT front-page-slanders U.S. troops again

"Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles"

Sunday NYT actual front page headline, above; actual front page accompanying photo, below:

NYT frontpages their dead tree version, and goes on for nine internet pages, about the number of domestic murders committed by American troops who have returned home. It's a national crime wave! Should the U.S. Military be blamed?!

Powerline uses middle school math to eviscerate NYT's sky is falling "reporting". Powerline asserts the homicide rate amongst returning troops is vastly lower than the homicide rate amongst nonmilitary Americans aged 18-24
Somehow, the Times managed to publish nine pages of anecdotes about the violence wreaked by returning servicemen without ever mentioning this salient fact.
It's bad enough that the New York Times smears our military personnel when they are serving overseas. Can't they at least leave them alone once they return home?
Philip Carter, of Intel Dump:
So, basically, the reporters went trolling on Lexis-Nexis and other databases to find "murder" within the same paragraph as "veteran" or "soldier," and built a front-page story around that research.
The article makes no attempt to produce a statistically valid comparison of homicide rates among vets to rates among the general population.
I've got a one-word verdict on this article and its research: bullshit.

Media doesn't give big play to stories of media mistakes. Therefore, though this story will get a thorough debunking in blogworld, major media will ignore the debunking.

In ensuing months and years, you will hear stories of a murder spree by returning Iraq veterans. Everyone will know it is true, b/c everyone will have seen Hollywood's versions of both post-Vietnam vet troubles and of post-Iraq vet troubles; and everyone will have heard the NYT wrote about Iraq veterans committing homicides(Sunday front page!). Other news outlets - maybe CBS and MSNBC - will "report" on NYT "reporting" about traumatized, drunk Iraq veterans creating a wave of homicides.

The story will be horse manure, but it will be repeated enough times that everyone will know it is true - just as everyone knows alligators are green*, just as everyone knows Clarence Thomas harassed Anita Hill; just as everyone knows the Clinton impeachment was about sex; just as everyone knows Gore won the 2000 election; just as everyone knows the Swift Boat Vets were calculating liars; just as everyone knows Bush lied about uranium and Niger; just as everyone knows the NSA is illegally wiretapping citizens and violating civil rights; just as everyone knows Scooter Libby blew Valerie Plame's CIA cover.

Why does everyone know things which are actually nonexistent fantasies?

Except for the color of alligators, these are instances of our agenda media at work.

*alligators are black when wet; grey when dry and sunning. (h/t: Michael Yon)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Packers win! Fans' perfect day

I have a lot of admiration for these two Packers fans: they know how to enjoy the fan experience. Look at their expressions in the following pics. You can't help being happy for them.

"Steve and I with Fuzzy Thurston, the great Packers O-lineman. The Fuzz let us wear his Super Bowl Ring for a few pictures. This was the only ring he was wearing that day. He won 5 NFL Championships and 2 Super Bowls in his career, so he has a few more at home."

How nice was Hall of Fame OG Fuzzy Thurston to these random fans? He let them wear his Superbowl Ring! What a guy. The entire Packers milieu is completely wonderful - which is what Packers fans tell each other when determining who is next in the beer line: Mi? Lieu buddy! Gho righ ahea!

"When making a pilgrimage to the holy land, one must pay homage to The Great One."

This season's Packers are the best NFL feel good story in years. Even I am a Packers fan this season. I would have LOVED to have been at that game. I am emotionally attached to the team, from 1200 miles away, simply because they play their hearts out and maximize their ability. Oh, and because Bro64's family are Packers fans. (Hat tip to Bro64 and Mrs. Bro64 for these pics of their unsuspecting friends)

"It started snowing."

Sometimes, unusual weather is perfect weather. I've had some of my best fan experiences at "bad weather" games - including a snow game in Shreveport, LA, of all things. The key is to properly dress to keep yourself warm and dry. You should pay especial attention to keeping your head and feet warm and dry - and take water-resistant gloves. In these pics, our heroes don't seem uncomfortable. They are men of the north, and they know how to stay warm with a minimum of fuss. They have on good boots, good hooded sweatshirts, and one of them is wearing hunting pants which are obviously built for warmth. They seem good to go.

"It snowed more. White-out."

Look at that field. Perfect. Go Pack!

Bro64 correctly diagnoses me: from the exact moment Jessica Simpson appeared in a pink Romo jersey, I knew in my heart the Cowboys season was over. From that moment, largely because they are such a feel-good story, I've been rooting for the Packers to make the Super Bowl. Favre, si! Jessica, no! Viva Pack!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

For Cowboys fans: the worst part

a long off-season of this:

in every coffee pot conversation

in every media report

in every disturbing dream

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Oh! (disgustedly buries face in hands) Canada!

I have several topics I'm interested in writing about - including comparing dating Jessica Simpson to playing 18 holes with a bad golfer. Jessica is bad at playing the game of life. Anyone who plays with her will, like playing with a bad golfer, run a large risk of inexplicably playing life poorly.

Jessica doesn't understand any life perspective which extends beyond the tip of her nose. When you watch her play life, I think you subconsciously absorb her lack of perspective, her lack of wisdom, and her narcissism. Pretty soon - unless you are incredible grounded, you begin to focus on what other people think of you, instead of freely enjoying your play in life. It's insidious, and it's debilitating.

I don't think going to Cabo San Lucas, with a blond entertainer, is something which necessarily will detract from playing well in the game of life. A lot of people disagree, but I don't see the trip as a big problem.

I do think hanging with Jessica - be it in Cabo or in an Irving grocery store - insidiously increases your risk of playing life badly.

But that's NOT what I want to highlight today. Several intriguing topics must take a back seat to something which is far more important: Canada's national disregard for free speech. Canada, as a nation, simply does not value free speech. This is one of those "world ends with a whimper" situations. Make no mistake: lack of morality can end a nation - possibly quicker than anything else. Canada's lack of morality, i.e. failing to stand up for free speech, has already delivered a vicious blow to her citizens' quality of life - most citizens just don't know it yet.

First, a Canadian Human Rights Commission has charged super-outstanding political writer Mark Steyn with "offensive" speech. The truth, in Canada, is possibly illegal to utter. Steyn:
My defence is I shouldn't have to have a defence. The "plaintiffs" are not complaining that the article is false, or libellous, or seditious, for all of which there would be appropriate legal remedy. Their complaint is essentially emotional: it "offended" them. And as offensiveness is in the eye of the of??fended, there's not a lot I can do about that.
the federal and British Columbia human rights commissions [presume] the editing decisions of Maclean's fall within their jurisdiction. Or to put it another way, I don't accept that free-born Canadian citizens require the permission of the Canadian state to read my columns. The eminent Q.C. who heads the Canadian Human Rights Commission may well be a shrewd and insightful person but I don't believe her view of Maclean's cover stories should carry any more weight than that of Mrs. Mabel Scroggins of 47 Strathcona Gardens. And it is slightly unnerving to me that large numbers of Canadians apparently think there's nothing wrong in subjecting the contents of political magazines to "judicial review."

Let's take it as read that I am, as claimed, "offensive." That's the point. It's offensive speech that requires legal protection.
Second, Canada has interrogated publisher Ezra Levant in a show trial over why he published the Mohammad cartoons, and whether he broke Canadian law by doing so. To his everlasting credit, Mr. Levant pointed out, in his opening statement: "freedom of speech is not the gift of Canadian bureaucrats but an inalienable right bolstered by 800 years of English Common Law."
link 1
link 2: Levant's statement

Human rights in Canada, attacked and defended. They said it couldn't happen here[in the West]. Think again. Radical Islam is the symptom not the disease.
Wretchard is saying the rise of radical Islam is a symptom of our underlying societal immorality, just as shaking is a symptom of Parkinson's disease. It's not the shaking which most urgently need be treated and cured - it's the Parkinson's. I am using immorality in it's classical sense - meaning it is immoral to evade truth and promote fantasy. Evading truth and promoting fantasy - immorality, in the classical sense - is the disease afflicting the Canadian nation, as well as the U.S.A. and all of the West. It is the disease which most urgently need be treated and cured.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hedy Lamarr

Airhead actresses and singers?


The sexiest thing about Hedy Lamarr was her brains.

Hedy was born in Austria. At age 17 - in the 1933 Czech film Ecstasy - she appeared in a steamy love scene, and swam nude in a 10 minute onscreen sequence. Ecstasy was banned in America for being indecent.

At 19, her parents gave her into an arranged marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. She attended hundreds of parties as his trophy wife, mingling many times with Hitler and Mussolini, and lived in the Salzberg castle where The Sound of Music was later filmed.

Hedy's husband was a real life control freak, and she fled him in dramatic fashions. In her first attempt, with her husband chasing her, she hid in a brothel. In desperation, with her husband stalking the halls of the brothel, she actually serviced a customer during her attempt to hide from her husband. In a later, successful escape, Hedy hired a maid who looked like her. She drugged the maid, donned her uniform, exited by the service entrance, and made her way to London. In some versions of this story, she escaped during a party, taking most of her jewels with her. Hedy later boarded a ship for America, and Louis B. Mayer signed her to a studio contract while en route to America, and still aboard ship.

While in America, Hedy co-invented a system of switching frequencies which is still used by the U.S. military to control some missiles. It's principles are also used in wireless internet technology, and in many cellphones. She got the idea while playing piano duets with her co-inventor: composer George Antheil. She would follow Antheil on the piano as he - switching from key to key and rhythm to rhythm - attempted both to throw her off, and to create interesting interplay.

Biographer Patrick Agan



Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dopamine: respect the power of habit

Dopamine is a pleasure chemical. Technically, it is a hormone and a neurotransmitter.

Research shows if you do an activity every day for three weeks, thereafter your brain releases dopamine each time you continue repeating the activity.

A college friend, whose father was a psychologist, used to say you create a new habit by doing something 21 times in a row. I wondered if his assertion came from legitimate research, or if it was a type of declaration or placebo effect, i.e. say it is so, and it will be so. Obviously, his assertion came from legit research.

This stuff is important to know. It helps us understand the process of both forming and breaking habits. Knowledge is power.

Jann, of Second Life:
That pesky brain of yours was set-up to develop habits so that it can conserve energy. The brain spends its energy on breathing, coordinated motion, and actually thinking. Our little 3lb brains revert to habits when given the chance because habits require less energy than change. How do we develop habits? Rebecca and her brain scientist friends explain: It's dopamine. You see, you do something you like or gives you pleasure ... and you get a dopamine surge. Rebecca explains that some of that dopamine travels to the area of your brain where memories are formed and creates a memory connecting that thing that gave you pleasure with a reward. It becomes "salient." It doesn't matter whether its good for you. The short story, the more you do it, the more the frontal lobe fires until after a certain point, the brain makes it a habit . The further problem with this is that dopamine also controls desire, decision making and motivation. Beginning to see the big picture now? Eventually, the brain will release the dopamine when in the environment of the pleasure or if something reminds it of that thing. Then you get that "Jonesing" feeling.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My sister-in-law teaches from her wheelchair

Lisa, in white, hangs with our drinkin and lickin niece from the Great Midwest.

A few days ago, my sister in law was in the news. The article is pasted onto the bottom of this post.

Lisa was injured in a vehicle accident in Dec 2002, has paralysis in her arms and legs, and nevertheless teaches 8th grade classes from her high tech wheelchair.

Lisa maneuvers her wheelchair via head controls. She drives with elan, maneuvering in tight spaces: forward, back, spinning in place; dancing down hallways and around corners; even once utilizing the wheelchair - as an offensive weapon - against a school desk which was harboring a sleeping student.

Lisa has a Masters Degree in Education. She has been teaching for 23 years. Her school typically assigns a number of discipline problem students to her classrooms. Lisa is adept at handling such cases. She has several years of elementary school background, and she speculates that difficult students might benefit from the deliberate pace at which she moves through class material.

Lisa's is also the story of her entire family - immediate and extended, and of her school and neighborhood and church communities in Denham Springs, Louisiana, which is just east of Baton Rouge on I-12 (Exit at the Bass Pro Shop). Everyone likes to help a friend. Having such opportunity is a blessing. And having such friends is a blessing.

My brother, Bruce, does yeoman's work helping Lisa with logistics. I neither know how to adequately convey, nor to adequately honor, the entirety of Bruce's accomplishments. The same goes for my niece, Courtney(20), and my nephew, Baron(17).

Courtney (1) poses with an admirer.

For Christmas, I gave Bruce Lone Survivor, which is Texan Marcus Luttrell's account of a Navy Seal mission into the Afghanistan/Pakistan border/tribal lands. Three of the four man Seal team were killed when the team decided on Option B: race out of the mountains ahead of a nearby 150 man militia; instead of Option A: kill three goat-herders who had stumbled across their position, and whom - if allowed to live - would almost surely inform the hostile militia of the American presence in the mountains.

After his comrades had perished, Luttrell was blown, by an RPG, into some brush on the edge of a mountain. He crawled off the mountain edge, and hid in underbrush on a tiny ledge, which is how he survived the day. Over the ensuing days, Luttrell overcame difficulty after difficulty in his effort to survive. Every time Luttrell surmounted one obstacle, another crazy obstacle would appear. Luttrell was like a man hosting a houseful of relatives, in his newly constructed house, on Christmas Eve, only to have his sewer overflow into his bedroom, twice. Hard to imagine such situations. Heh.

L to R: Me; Bro64 (1), aka sire of the drinkin and lickin niece(1,2,3); nephew Baron(1,2); brother Bruce (1)

No matter what happened on the mountainsides of the Hindu Kush, Luttrell kept moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, until he was rescued many days later. He moved through an amazing litany of obstacles. At least, I thought it was amazing. And this is why I gave this book to Bruce. He and Marcus Luttrell remind me of each other: they keep plugging along, moving forward, via brains and spirit, no matter what happens. Salute, boys.

I'm reprinting the entire Baton Rouge Advocate article, in case the link ever quits working:

Cotharn inspires from her wheelchair

Livingston-Tangipahoa writer
Published: Dec 27, 2007

DENHAM SPRINGS — On Friday, teacher Lisa Cotharn helped her eighth-grade students prepare for the LEAP test.

Essay-writing is part of the test, and together, the students were creating an essay, with one of the teens writing it down on the whiteboard.

“Folks, we just wrote the first paragraph of our five-paragraph essay,” Cotharn, a language arts teacher, said encouragingly, after the students had completed the topic paragraph.

She wants them to be ready for the LEAP challenge in the spring. Cotharn, 46, knows about challenges.

A teacher for 23 years, 11 of them at Denham Springs Junior High, Cotharn suffered a broken neck in a car accident in December 2002.

In 2004, she returned to the classroom, with the aid of a high-tech wheelchair she controls by moving her head against a computer-mouse-like device.

Cotharn can move her head and has some slight movement in her arms and hands.

Through the six months she spent at a rehabilitation hospital in Texas, she said, her end goal “was to get back into the classroom.”

She said when she first returned to the classroom three years ago in her wheelchair, “I showed them all the bells and whistles. I allowed them to ask questions about my chair.”

“They are very accepting of it,” Cotharn said.

On this particular day, in addition to Cotharn’s classroom students, there are two other helpers there.

Cotharn’s daughter, Courtney, a junior at Southeastern Louisiana University, and SLU student, Lee-Ann Ryan, who was an eighth-grader in Cotharn’s class, when the car accident happened.

Ryan was one of the students to send regular cards to Cotharn in the hospital and also came to visit Cotharn once she returned home, Cotharn said.

These days, Ryan comes by sometimes to help in class, and Cotharn has regular helpers in her daughter, and her son, Baron, a senior at Denham Springs High School, who’s part-time job (he’s paid by mom) is to come help in her classroom when he gets out of school at mid-day.

Before her mother was able to return to teaching, Courtney said, her mom felt “very held back.”

Now, Courtney said, “She’s doing what she loves.”

“This is what I’m used to,” Courtney said. “I’ve always known her as a teacher. She’s always been a mom and a teacher.”

Cotharn’s family, the school, and her church, Jefferson Baptist in Baton Rouge, have been the supports Cotharn needs, she said.

“My husband had to sacrifice a lot of his life to attend to me,” Cotharn said of her husband, Bruce.

“If not for the sacrifices of my family, I would not be able to be here,” Cotharn said.

The Rev. Tommy French, with Jefferson Baptist Church, said the Cotharns have always been active church members and continue to participate.

“She has that spirit of life” that will overcome obstacles, French said of Lisa.

Cotharn maintains an easy command of the classroom, interjected with humor and understanding.

At the end of one of the classes, recently, she tells the students, “I’m going to give you a present, but the present has to be opened carefully.”

That present is 10 minutes worth of quiet socializing, before class ends.

“I tend to be strict, but yet allow them to have an opinion. They know what their limits are,” Cotharn, said.

“As any parent or teacher of a junior high school student can tell you, you never know what their behavior is going to be from one minute to the next,” she said, with a smile.

Cotharn continues to receive daily occupational and physical therapy.

In 2004, Cotharn and her husband traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, where Cotharn underwent olfactory stem cell surgery, in a trial procedure, in which Cotharn’s own stem cells were transplanted into the place of her spinal injury.

“It did make me stronger, have better lung capacity and be healthier,” Cotharn said.

Lisbon, she added, was beautiful.

Cotharn said she plans to teach “as long as my body will allow me to. I have the wonderful support of my administrator. The faculty and staff are very helpful.”

She said that, after the accident, “an overpowering thought that kept repeating itself was that I need to be able to show others that even though you have a disability, you can still be someone that can contribute to your community.”

“I hope I’m able at least to impart to them that even through adversity, you can still be successful in your chosen career,” Cotharn said.

“You have to work through that adversity and find a way to use a disadvantage to an advantage that can teach others,” she said.