Friday, February 02, 2007

Radley Goes Far, But Not Far Enough

My man of Reason, Radley Balko, stops short of the obvious conclusion.

He links to....well, here's what he said:

The latest from ONDCP is just weird. I guess the message is, if you smoke pot, you may lose your paramour to an intergalactic, inter-species romance.

Which I suppose is the kind of thing Rick Santorum warned us about.

(You'll need to go to the Reason site to see the video; I'm no hit pirate).

Nope, Radley, as usual you are too kind. This short film is in fact a documentary, an actual videotape of how Rick Santorum's parents met, and flew away together.

There is no other explanation for the Senator. I'm just sayin'.

New Friends, Old Stories

A nice note, from some new friends in Hungary (in particular, Katie, a UNC-CH grad in 1982; what a small world: GO HEELS!). Katie had seen a piece I had written for EconLib, and said, "I loved this article!! I forwarded it on to a number of people, and they too raved about it. It looks like you focus mostly on domestic issues, but in fact your ideas are very relevant to other parts of the world as well. We happen to be part of a group of militant free-marketeers working in Central and Eastern Europe, for whom your article was very relevant."

Katie sends a link to a piece written by Katie and her husband at the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security (which they co-direct).

The problem, over and above everything else, is that Hungarians have not entirely given up their belief in socialism. Too many Hungarians still accept its moral compromises. Too many still accept that violations of law or ethics or personal integrity are acceptable it if serves the greater good. And even more importantly far, far too many still accept the false promises of socialism. The Hungarian government has been overspending for decades. In the 1980s, its overspending was covered by foreign direct investment and foreign borrowing. In the 1990s, its overspending was covered by income from privatization of state property, more foreign borrowing, and high taxation. But now the resources are exhausted, as are the Hungarian people. Hungarians are taxed as much as they possibly can be. So an austerity package that mostly promises to tax them further is not the solution. Indeed, many analysts have said that higher taxes will only push even more people to find ways of not declaring their income as well as further dampen competitiveness and suppress incentive for individuals and businesses to be productive and profitable. Therefore, higher taxes will not lead to growth, which is what Hungary needs above all else. The only way Hungary can again become an economically vibrant nation, rather than one mired in its own debt, is if the government stops consuming so much of the country’s assets and resources, and removes such fetters on productivity as excessive reporting requirements, bureaucratization, and excessive taxation.


To Katie, and friends: What you are doing is a lot harder, and what you are writing is a lot better, than my stuff. Good luck to you, and to ITDIS!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

URLS gone Wild!

No, this is not highbrow. Sue me. Two caveats: In spite of the "all of these are real companies" claim, several of these do not appear to be real sites, just amusing. Second, this is not original to me. CPS sent it to me in an email. He didn't make it up either. It's the internet, for heaven's sake.

All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time
considering how their online names might appear .... and be misread.

1. Who Represents is where you can find the name of the agent that
represents any celebrity. Their Web site is

2 . Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at (From their site: "We understand many customers want to test-drive before considering a larger order." I bet.)

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. There's the Italian Power Generator company,

6. And don't forget the Mole Station Native Nursery in New South Wales , (Their motto: "What you need, when you need it." That's just nasty.)

7. If you're looking for IP computer software, there's always

8. The First Cumming Methodist Church Web site is (And how long
will they wait for the SECOND cumming?)

9. And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their wacky Web site,

UPDATE: A source, sort of. It's kind of old. Still, some of them made me laugh...

And, on that site one finds this: A law firm. No, really.

And, for a variant on one of the biblical miracles....

And, if you are afraid of the running of the Bulls, do it for your lady friend:

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dumbest Moments....

CNN did a nice job on its "101 Dumbest Business Moments"

Wal-Mart places 6 times in the top 101. Yikes.

In an attempt to put a smiley face on its tarnished image, Wal-Mart hires heavy-hitting public relations firm Edelman, which sets about using tactics derived from political races to reverse public perceptions of the giant retailer.

Dubbing its campaign "Candidate Wal-Mart," the firm trumpets all manner of new Wal-Mart initiatives: improved employee health-care benefits, higher starting pay levels, new stores in downtrodden neighborhoods, reasonably priced organic foods, and a flat $4 fee for hundreds of generic prescription drugs.

As a result, candidate Wal-Mart quickly becomes, well, the most popular politician since Spiro Agnew. By year's end Wal-Mart suffers its first quarterly profit drop in a decade, sees same-store sales decline in November's run-up to the crucial holiday shopping season, and suffers a series of public relations gaffes so stunning that it lands six spots in this year's edition of the 101 Dumbest Moments.

My own favorite? #6:

Bringing the ever-friendly spirit of its in-store greeters online, offers DVD shoppers helpful recommendations for films they might be interested in purchasing.

Customers looking at the Web site's product pages for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes, for instance, are steered toward "similar items" such as Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream/Assassination of MLK and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams says the company is "heartsick" over the incident but has "absolutely no evidence" that the connections were made intentionally.


Oh, and by the way, for you losers who spend money on stockbrokers...

(A grateful nod to TtWBWB)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snark Around The Clock

I rarely read the scabrous "American and Comparative Jobs" blog/comment fest.

The self-serving tone, and the nearly entirely uninformed content, makes it of little use for anyone who has a job, and more addictive than crack for those who do not.

But I ventured into the morass today, and encountered...well, pure joy. The level of snark has fallen past mere food fight, and now approximates zoo monkeys throwing their own excrement and then enthusiastically licking their hands.

On the other hand, there is a degree of self-awareness in the comments that makes it clear that the participants recognize this. I give people a LOT of credit for self-awareness.

Two quotes, for a hint of what it is like:

1. Anonymous said...
The Cornell Dept is the academic equivalent of an Amish community.

and then:

2. Anonymous said...
...For all the people disparaging the TAMU, Emory, and Davis's of the world...most of them wouldn't even sniff an interview at those places.

The conversation here reminds me too much of how my first and second year colleagues would talk in the computer lab. Interesting how their tune always changed once they hit the job market.
1/27/2007 5:21 AM

Anonymous said...
Seems like we have an omniscient poster here!
1/27/2007 5:26 AM

Anonymous said...
Reading all the snark on this blog reminds me of a line that Steve Martin used to pull out on hecklers: "Ah, yes, I can remember what it was like when I had my first beer..."
1/27/2007 5:47 AM

Anonymous said...
The point, 4:30, is that Cornell wouldn't have any serious placements in the last 20 years without Mebane doing the heavy lifting.
1/27/2007 6:16 AM

Anonymous said...
How can people rehash the same question again and again as though it's fresh meat?
1/27/2007 7:18 AM

Anonymous said...
7:18 - we are political scientists

Now, ain't THAT the truth!

The Road to Serfdom, Graphic Novel Version

Everyone in the world may already have seen this.

But here is a link to The Road to Serfdom.....

And props to Nick, who also has a sensible view of the job market, to match his (mostly) sensible views of everything else.

When Mimes Become Memes....

Maybe it's just because my wife and I saw "The Illusionist" last night.

But I enjoyed this illusion also.

The Bunny of Doom

There is a growing tradition of terrifying rabbits.

Jimmy Carter's attack rabbit, in the jon boat. (Photo above, credit here)

The Monty Python vicious "Rabbit of Caerbannog", armor piercing version.

And now, the bunny who attacks pythons...or at least a fair sized snake. The redneck chortling about
the scene as he films it could be any one of dozens of members of my extended

(Nod to LM)