Monday, February 21, 2005

Call Rosemary Wood

With friends like this....who needs biographers?

Asked whether Bush would view the actions as an act of treachery from a trusted friend, Wead said, "It depends on what else is on the tapes. . . . Ninety percent of the tapes have not been heard. He can see that my motive was not to try to hurt him.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I had forgotten

A friend reminded me that it was a year ago that Glenn Reynolds had fingered me (and yes, I enjoyed it; he has very soft hands).

Of course, he got my name wrong (to be fair, so had the Durham Herald, which is harder to understand: Duke is IN Durham, fercrineoutloud. GR is hardly required to fact-check, but gosh...)

In the past year? Duke had the PSM conference, and a few other things caused minor uproars. But we really haven't had anything like the Robert Brandon bit. Sigh. "For the good times..."

The worst part? I wasn't blogging yet, so I missed my Instalanche. Reminds me of Amish's reasons why GR is evil: "He linked a man in Reno, just to watch his server crash."

tough week....

Recruiting, bunch of meetings with administrative flying monkey soldiers, and then gone tomorrow a.m. to San Diego for four days for a Liberty Fund conference.

Back on Monday....

In the meantime:

I have to give David H credit. He's right.

There may be a "developing situation" at Duke. I'll keep you posted....I hope it blows over, but if not I'll be blogging a lot more about the good Horowitz, and the SAF, next week.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Kill Something and Eat It....March 15

At the Mungowitz house, we snack high on the food chain. I don't know if God gave man dominion over the beasts of the field, but She certainly gave me an ATM card and big-ass cart to drive along the Kroger meat aisle. That may be even better than dominion.

A lot of the beasts of the field, and the forest, and the oceans, and the air.... they all smack my plate, and they are soon sacrificed to my enjoyment. And nutrition. Meat is GOOD for you, and the reason it tastes good is that thousands and thousands of years of evolution have selected for taste buds that are pleasurably stimulated by the taste and texture of meat. No other way to get that many calories, AND that much iron and protein, so quickly. MMMMmmmm...burgers.

Kgrease has a lot of friends who are vegetarians, and they have my greatest respect. They are (for the most part; Andy Rutten is an exception) healthier than I am. They make a choice, and they stick to it, and they don't say a thing to me when I get 120 ounce Porterhouse. (Yes, the big-ass cart full of meat leads to my big-ass ass). 240 pounds of pro wrestling GIIIIRTHYness.

I support vegetarians, and make sure I only suggest restaurants with good vegetarian alternatives, and at my house I serve vegetarian dishes. My wife is mostly a vegetarian, though she eats chicken now and then.

This is how MOST big problems should be handled, in my opinion. Abortion: clear example. I think abortion is dead wrong, a sin, a terrible mistake, a psychological blot that the woman can never wash away. I also think that that is my opinion, and I should keep it to myself. You ask me, I'll tell you: Abortion is wrong, don't do it. But if you don't ask, you'll never hear a peep. And I certainly wouldn't use the coercive powers of the state to FORCE you or your partner to bear a child that isn't wanted. The folks at PETA have long plowed the "meat is murder" furrow. Then, two years's a Holocaust. (Coturnix and I don't agree on much, but we are pretty much on the same PETA-page). (And, as Coturnix points out, there are very legit concerns about cruelty to animals. SPCA is the answer...)

So: strike back. The suggestion is that we make March 15 INTERNATIONAL EAT AN ANIMAL FOR PETA day. If you want to see the proposed language for a letter to the PETAnians, check it out. (Yes, this is two years old, but LET'S REVIVE THE HOLIDAY!)

Check THIS out. Irony is dead.

Here's the thing: It's fun to think that the PETArians are just cute whack-jobs, with funny, radical views. That's not true. They are fascists, dangerous lunatics, and terrorists. They attack humans to "save" animals, even though in many cases those animals exist only because humans care for them. Yes, in order eventually to eat them, or use them in labs, but the only reason the animals exist is because we want them to.

And, on March 15, let's each reduce that animal population by one. I have tried to train my sons to be responsible carnivores. They don't just eat meat; they are happy to help kill the animal.

As I read this, I realize that a lot of vegetarians are going to be offended. I am a little sorry about that, because you are for the most part good people, seriously committed to doing the right thing as you see it. But if you are reading some cheesy blog looking for reasons to be offended, you may want to get a life. I hear WalMart is having a sale on lifes, cheap. (Wait, you probably don't go to WalMart, either. Damn!)

(nod to Anti-C, though he is surely blameless for provoking this outburst)

UPI and Google: A match made in...Detroit?

I was cruising UPI, looking for news.

Came across this:
Detroit's Hotel Pontchartrain to be auctioned
DETROIT, Feb. 12 ( UPI)- The 413-room Hotel Pontchartrain, a Detroit downtown waterfront landmark that has suffered with a weak occupancy rate, will be sold at auction. 09:40 Feb 12, 2005

Then I noticed the GOOGLE ads, on the entire left side of the display. It went like this:

Ads by Goooooogle
Hotel Pontchartrain
Rates 70% off - Get 4% back on this hotel. Book online now.

Pontchartrain Hotel
Find Travel Info Including Hotel Reviews, Rates, Comparisons & More!

Pontchartrain Hotel
Feb & Mar low rates in New Orleans Check online or call 1-800-573-6821

Pontchartrain Hotel
From $78. 1000's of Hotels on ORBITZ. Book Great Rooms for Less!

Hotel Pontchartrain
Get Great Hotel Deals with One-Stop Comparison. Try SideStep Now!

So, the deal is this: If you look at a news story that says a hotel is going bankrupt, GOOGLE assumes you want to go there. Okay, it is a bit much to expect the AI to be able to tell good news from bad news. But isn't it a little eerie that the ads shown respond to your news item selections?

So...I google "Larry Page is a dildo" and...voila! Up comes an ad for "The Dildo Store" (you are going to have to look up that URL for yourself, you sick thing).

So Bloggy Together

Denizens of Blogania (present company, especially readers, excepted) may not be the most social people. When you consider how we flame each other in the virtual world, there may be some questions about how we actually deal with each other in the "real" world.

That's why it was great that there was such a successful meeting of blogadacios (and -as) in Chapel Hill yesterday. The good Coturnix describes it, and comes eerily close to how I would expected it to go, also: Expect to go and sit in a corner passively. But, Coturnix ended up (ick!) actually talking to people. And I suppose that was the beauty of the event: there are people behind those keyboards.

Of course, Coturnix really has done some good work in providing a forum for group work.

And Ed Cone also gives a description. For a carpetbagging Mets fan, Ed is all right. This bit of constitutional revisionism is a little over the top, perhaps.

I'm really sad I didn't get to go. This darned job thing. I need to win the lottery, soon. Got any good numbers? Oh, wait, NC has no lottery. Never mind.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Paul Miller: Statesman

I don't always....often....well, ever....see eye to eye on Paul Miller on most policy matters.

But he is way out front on the Electoral Fairness Act in North Carolina.

That's Rep. Paul Miller (D-Durham, District 29), I mean.

Here's the bill.

It got killed last time. A story about it. And another. And a Green view.

You can keep track of its progress, or not, here.

The changes in 163-96 and 163-97 are the key ones. Going from 2% to just 0.5% of the electorate is a much lower bar for ballot access. And going from 10% to 2% for staying on the ballot means that "third" parties can spend their tiny little amounts of funds on campaigning, instead of trying just to get back on the ballot.

Is there some self-interest in this? Sure; I fully expect to run for Governor of the State of North Carolina on the Libertarian Party ticket in in 2008. But that's not the reason Rep. Miller put this terrific bill in the hopper. He disagrees with me just as much as I disagree with him.

This bill benefits the Greens, the Libertarians, and any other group that wants to have a voice in the state. Look, we may not have a chance to win. But all the more reason we shouldn't have to wear a gag.

Support HB88, the Electoral Fairness Act, and give some credit to Representative Paul Miller.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cone-y Island

Yikes! My main man at the N&R lays down some smack.

Me? I like comment # 7

The solution, obviously, is to commission an old professional wrestler from Raleigh to write editorials now and then. Otherwise, this "diversity" bit is clearly just a brazen attempt to discredit those of us on the right. N&R, you don't have to hire someone from the majors, or even triple AAA. But you might want someone who owns a glove.

Okay, yes, I'm kidding. But there has to be someone in Greensboro who doesn't send in his editorials written in crayon on lined paper.

W's Reading List

It is difficult for me to admit, but I find the constant smug claims that Prez W is stupid to be hard to take.

You can say that his program on SocSec reform is bad, that you disagree with it. Or you can say that Bush is stupid, and then just congratulate yourself on having won the argument.

Ms. Newmark has views on W's reading list. Interesting points. ATSRTWT

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The "rain for food" program was also corrupt

The U.N....ick. Is there nothing that they won't sell?

I think we need a new international agency. Kick the U.N. to the curb.

Another photo, of the UN at work:

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Just an Announcement....

Michael Badnarik
2004 Presidential Candidate
Libertarian Party
THIS THURSDAY!!!! Feb 10.....

How I Spent My Summer Vacation:
Being Excluded from Debates…

Breedlove Room, Feb 10, 12 noon
Duke University
Come hear about the 2004 Presidential Campaign,
from a Candidate!

Bring a Friend! Make a Friend!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Q-o'-d-w-IV: He takes whiskey drink, he takes a vodka drink....

"I don't fall down. That son of a b*tch knocked me over." -- John Kerry on a Secret Service who got in his way while he was snowboarding.

I guess we'll see: will he get up again?

(From John Hawkins' quotelist)

(And...I'm pretty sure this is not an urban legend THIS time! Still, isn't it funny how UL's "fit" the way people are, or that the (mis)quoter thinks they are. So, the question: is John Kerry plausibly the source of such a quote, so we believe it? Or did the Bushies do such a great job of character assassination that we don't even know what Kerry is really like? I pick (a), but...)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

When Urban Legends Are Forecasts

Coturnix was kind enough to point out that the guaranteed-to-make-you-tsktsk story about the Berlin waitress was an urban legend. Not too surprising. The story is a little too pat, and there were no direct German references in the Telegraph's story. (But it also appeared in WorldNet; that PROVES it is true, right?) (Yes, I'm kidding).

But, on reading the snopes-ter's discussion, one encounters this:

Most German-language sources on this topic point to an 18 December 2004 article from the Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung, which (as far as our rusty command of German allows us to discern) does not report that women in Germany must accept employment in brothels or face cuts in their unemployment benefits. The article merely presents that concept as a technical possibility under current law — it does not cite any actual cases of women losing their benefits over this issue, and it quotes representatives from employment agencies as saying that while it might be legally permissible to reduce unemployment benefits to women who have declined to accept employment as prostitutes, they (the agencies) would not actually do that. (Emphasis mine).

Reliance on the forebearance of government agencies for our safety is a slender reed. When a dependency is created, it is not surprising that that dependency will be exploited for political, personal, and "it's for your own good" reasons.

Still and all: good on ya, Coturnix, for correcting the error. And, sorry about the html disaster. That's why i never change anything: I know for sure it would be the end of me.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I hate myself....

...for linking this. It is manipulative, cynical, and shallow.

(Wait; I like all those things! Never mind. Laugh, you will. Channel Yoda, I will.)

Anyway: Fat Kid on Glenn Reynolds. Also linked about a million other places, but I found it at SigNoth. Good on ya, Robert!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Death of Universities

There are two kinds of people in universities.

1. People whose idea of work is going to meetings.

2. People whose idea of work is what we do BETWEEN meetings. You know, stuff like thinking, reading books and articles, writing new research.

Here's the problem: American universities are being absolutely taken over by by people of type 1. As a department chair, I can protect my faculty against some of this, but only some.

Whole floors of academic buildings are being converted from faculty office space (ie, place where work is actively done) to administrative office space (ie, places where work is actively prevented).

I have to deal with faculty, and graduate students, every day who can't believe the ridiculous, counterproductive, and petty edicts from above. They assume that I am the source.

The problem is not top level administrators, who (at Duke, at least right now) are the best I have ever seen. The problem is mid-level administrators who, knowing nothing about research, decide it is a "product" that needs to be managed and measured. And of course, we need to meet about it, a lot. Because that is what work is.

I can always just lay low. But what will happen to the new generation? A lot of the time faculty spend doing "nothing" is the most productive time they spend.


On the State of the Union Speech:

The origins are Constitutional: "The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution

But...Presidents from Thomas Jefferson (elected 1800, first SotU in 1801) onward, for the next 112 years, delivered their reports in written form. The next President to appear before Congress was Woodrow Wilson, in 1913.

The first "national" SotU was in 1923, delivered in the well of Congress in 1923, and broadcast live via radio to large parts of the nation. The first President actually to call the speech "The State of the Union" was FD Roosevelt, in 1935.

This is the only time that our President addresses Congress directly, though of course many members of Congress attend the inaugural speeches. The difference is that for the SotU the Congress is the formal audience, and the rest of us are just onlookers. Other systems, such as the British, are very different. Tony Blair addresses the House of Commons, and answers questions at 12 noon for half an hour every Wednesday when Parliament is sitting.

Some thoughts on the speech itself:
George Bush seemed confident, but not comfortable. He spoke like a diction coach had told him to slow down, and to "en-NUN-ci-ate" every syllable.

He made several main points. One of the first was on immigration. This was a complex proposal, but he rushed through it.
America's immigration system is also outdated -- unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.

This was clearly intentional, so that the proposal could end as an applause line. But he proposed (1) guest workers, (2) no amnesty, (3) close borders to "drug traffickers and terrorists." That is a lot of stuff to cover in 5 seconds. He got his major applause line, but I wonder if people were scratching their heads.

On Social Security...this was the closest to "Question Time" in the British Parliament I have ever heard! Usually, members of the Congress either applaud, or just sit on their hands. But in this case, there were lots of cries of "no!" and shouts of disagreement when the President said that Social Security would be in trouble by 2027, and bankrupt by 2042. Very unusual to hear "NO!" during the SOTU address, but the President seemed to expect it. He was not flustered, where sometimes he IS flustered by hecklers he does not expect. But, in the transcript, no mention of the catcalls, though every "applause" line IS mentioned....

So here is the result: Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion to keep the system afloat -- and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than $300 billion. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt. If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs.

The Democrats are apparently going to fight him on this, but I don't know why they have chosen to fight him on the specific date when Social Security will go bankrupt. No question of if, but only when. Voters are likely to side with the Republicans on this, unless Democrats come up with a clearer counterattack strategy.

Lots of ideological red meat for the religious right, on banning gay marriage, limiting stem cell research, etc.

Not much of a legislative agenda; much of his plan seems to be to invoke Constitutional amendments. Politically effective, but not an ambitious set of policy initiatives.


UPDATE: I have to agree with the guys at Jujitsu Generis....This isn't any fun. Why can't the Democrats say what they believe: The government is better at spending your money, for your own good, than you are? At least then we could have a debate. Calling a small mutual fund "roulette" is...sad.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

She needs help, NOW!

But I suppose the National Organization for Women actually supports this. The only freedom they care about is abortion rights. Having to sell your body must be okay. Everything is better in Europe, after all.

Still, check this out:

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.
Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.
The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.
She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.
Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.
The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.
When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.
"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."


(nod to Craig Depken , my partner at DoL)

But do they like pole dances?

Monkey see, monkey see some more.

A study.....