Friday, July 28, 2006

Stop me if you have heard this one....

A husband and wife go to a counselor after 15 years of marriage.

The counselor asks them what the problem is and the wife goes into a tirade listing every problem they have ever had in the 15 years they've been married. She goes on and on and on.

Finally, the counselor gets up, walks around the desk, embraces the wife and kisses her passionately. The woman shuts up and sits quietly in a daze.

The counselor turns to the husband and says, "This is what your wife needs at least thre e times a week. Can you do this?"

The husband thinks for a moment and replies, "Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I fish."

(my wife normally doesn't tell jokes, but for some reason loved this one and told it. Me, I fish on Saturdays. Perhaps I should come home early and see what's going on this weekend. She has been awfully QUIET lately...)

The Dean of Embarrassments

Can this be true?

You can support Israel even if you aren't Jewish.

You can think that Israel is acting badly, or mistakenly, without being an anti-Semite. But the head of the DNC had this to say:

"The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."

Howard Dean is an embarrassment. If not for one misplaced "I have a scream" speech, he might have been President. (Of course, JMPP likes a real screamer, so maybe it's all good!)

Do As I Say, Not As I Do....

Rosemary Roberts, of the News and Record, launches a strange and logically incoherent attack on the President. Interestingly, the News and Record wants letter writers to obey a rule of: It's fine to disagree with one another's opinions, but please attack ideas, not people

Excerpt from the RR piece:

[GWB's] tacit endorsement of Israel's massive bombing of Lebanon is winning him no friends in most of the world.

The air strikes, moreover, are the source of more White House hypocrisy. On the one hand, Bush refuses to urge Israel to halt the bombing; on the other hand, he has offered to send Lebanon humanitarian aid because it's being bombed. Hmmmm.

Right or wrong, President Bush is supporting Israel's attempt to dislodge an entrenched, Syrian-backed puppet government that is occupying Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has dug in, amid a dense civilian population.

President Bush is also advocating aid for the Lebanese civilians who suffer terrible collateral damage in this attack.

Ms. Roberts accuses Mr. Bush of "hypocrisy" for supporting an attack on the Hezbollah army, and then helping innocent Lebanese civilians caught in the crossfire. I understand that ad hominems are more fun than logic (also easier, when you are facing a deadline and have nothing substantive to say!).

But it seems to me the only hypocrisy here is that of the international community, which has refused to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions that required Hezbollah to leave southern Lebanon.

Israel, and Mr. Bush, may well be mistaken. Personally, I think the attack is a mistake, inflicting terrible damage on civilians without damaging the Syrian stranglehold on Lebanon. But why call them hypocritical? If you are going to attack Hezbollah, shouldn't you help the civilians that the bad guys use as cover?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just Get Prices Right...

People don't like scarcity. Resources they like should be available in infinite quantity at a zero, or an "affordable" price.

Me, I don't like gravity. Let's legislate that away. I'm 6'1". I should be able to dunk. Sure, I'm fat and out of shape. But the REAL problem is physics. As Sinead said: "Fight the real enemy!", in this case: gravity. I'm being denied an important civil dunking right here. There ought to be a law.

Okay, gravity is a physical law, not a statute. But we have no more chance of solving the problem of scarcity by outlawing it. Reminds of Winnie Churchill's line: You can't promote peace simply by praising its virtues. You can't promote cheap, infinite supplies of stuff simply by saying how nice it would be if we had cheap, infinite supplies of stuff. Even though it's true that it would be nice.

But if you allow markets to work properly, you can get lots more stuff, and lots cheaper stuff.

Take electricity....please. We cap price, give producers incentives to pad their rate base with nonproductive assets, and then whine when we run short. Sean at Catallarchy makes a nice comparison: what other business tries to tell its customers to use less of its product?

The solution is to let electricity producers price discriminate, by time. If they could charge the full marginal cost to customers, then peak load problems go away. Yes, lots of people might go without AC, but they wouldn't leave their AC running because the cross-subsidized rate is too low to make them care.

And, if prices could rise to their market-clearing level, all those other technologies that tree-hugging bed-wetters love so much (solar, geothermal, squirrels on little wheels hooked to generators (unless this happened), generators run by violent wave motion in my waterbed, etc) would actual become economically feasible. Charging the market price for electricity is the best thing that could happen for the environment.

Just get prices right. Everything else falls into place without direction, or orders from the nanny.

UPDATE: To RL in Canadiana...we subsidize GASOLINE even more, pumpkin. We would have electric cars in just a couple of years if we charged market prices for gas. But we don't. It wasn't the automakers who killed the electric car, they just pulled the trigger. Our tax policies and foreign policies, the ones that keep gas prices at least a dollar or more below the true price...that is what aimed the gun at the electric car and cocked it. Why would you blame corporations for trying to make profits? It's what they do. But when government enables corporations to misuse market power, because the UAW is such a strong voting bloc in a few states, and because oil companies make big contributions....just get prices right. If gas prices rise to their natural level, consumer demand for electric cars will overwhelm automaker opposition. I'm not sure why CNN got that so wrong. Wait...I am sure. They have no clue about how markets work, and they love the nanny.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Must Have Been a Slow News Day for the Grey Lady

On Sunday, the NYT took a strange shot at Elizabeth (Call me Libby, and I'll kick your ass!) Dole.

I'm not Dole's biggest booster, but I think it must have been a pretty slow news day.

They do (rightly) point out that she raised more $ last cycle than this. But they didn't point out that the reason Schumer has raised TWICE as much is because big donors stopped giving to the Democratic party once Dean took over as chief warlock at DNC.

NYT also says Senator Dole has a "distinctive" southern accent. Maybe if you are from New York, it's distinctive. I happen to find the New York accent "distinctive", myself. Southern people sound normal. That's what accents ARE, bunkie: they distinguish where you are from. And whether you learned enough manners from your mama to write about actual news rather than talk people down. It always amazes me how parochial New Yorkers are: any detail of NYCity geography you don't know, it shows you are a yokel. But they are proud of their ignorance of THE ENTIRE REST OF THE COUNTRY. You have seen the map...they aren't kidding. But then if ignorance is bliss, why aren't all New Yorkers HAPPY? They should be ecstatic.

Notice that the name "Howard Dean" did not appear in the NYT story, which is supposed to be about people who are having trouble doing their fund-raising job. I would have thought HD would have merited his own paragraph.

(nod to Anonyman, who knows things)

Are You Handy?

If Jimi Hendrix had played hand music like this, the album title would have been "Are You Handy?"

My college roommate, old friend, best man at my wedding, and all around musically talented guy, RLH, used to play the hands (though he also played the trumpet, and very well). But this guy on NPR is amazing.

Listen to a sample, if you are not at work, or syncopated flatulence sounds is okay at your workplace.....Hail to the chief, if your boss walks in.

Monday, July 24, 2006

When I Escaped I Didn't Feel Like I Got Away

I had not seen this.

My man Coturnix provides that link to a....well, I don't know what you would call it. Conscientious objector of a sort, I suppose.

SEATTLE (July 23) -- When First Lt. Ehren K. Watada of the Army shipped out for a tour of duty in South Korea two years ago, he was a promising young officer rated among the best by his superiors. Like many young men after Sept. 11, he had volunteered “out of a desire to protect our country,” he said, even paying $800 for a medical test to prove he qualified despite childhood asthma.


Lieutenant Watada said that when he reported to Fort Lewis in June 2005, in preparation for deployment to Iraq, he was beginning to have doubts. “I was still prepared to go, still willing to go to Iraq,” he said. “I thought it was my responsibility to learn about the present situation. At that time, I never conceived our government would deceive the Army or deceive the people.”

He was not asking for leave as a conscientious objector, Lieutenant Watada said, a status assigned to those who oppose all military service because of moral objections to war. It was only the Iraq war that he said he opposed.

Military historians say it is rare in the era of the all-voluntary Army for officers to do what Lieutenant Watada has done.

“Certainly it’s far from unusual in the annals of war for this to happen,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in military affairs at the Brookings Institution. “But it is pretty obscure since the draft ended.”

Mr. O’Hanlon said that if other officers followed suit, it would be nearly impossible to run the military. “The idea that any individual officer can decide which war to fight doesn’t really pass the common-sense test,” he said.

An impossible choice. Of course officers have to follow orders. Yet the "I vass chust following ze orters!" didn't carry much water at Nuremberg. I guess I am on the side of the military here. But you have to admit that Lt. Watada is not a coward, not by any stretch.


Blog Death: Is it just entropy?

So many blogs I like, and used to read, have gone silent, or nearly so. It is an epidemic; is it just summer?

Ex Nihilo
Freedom from Faith
Whacking Day

Fortunately, Peaktalk is back. And the hot chick SEEMS to be back, though it may just be another tease. (You all know how she is...)

But I may have to strike half a dozen from my list of links. Moribund, without explanation. Sad.

Of course, I took a hiatus myself. But I said I was going to.

Now, noboby OWES us posts. But give us a hint you are okay, for heaven's sake.