Friday, February 14, 2014

Snuffles on the job

No one better try anything in this parking lot, not while snuffles is on the job.

At the Apple Store

Every time I do something at Apple I get a pleasant surprise. 
Courtney, my new hero, just told me I was still under my AppleCare warranty and they're going to place my battery for free.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wendy Davis, Classic Texas Four-Flusher | RealClearPolitics

Some Futile Filibusters are
Approved by the Media

Classic and Classy take down of Wendy Davis by Carl Cannon, a writer that I had not heard of before but whom I will be following from now on. I frankly didn't care much about the discrepancies in the Texas candidate for governor but after reading this you get a real sense of her ambition and unscrupulousness.

Perhaps what is most powerful in Cannon's understated account of the controversy around Ms. Davis' account of her life is the vicious self-righteousness with which she has answered the most reasonable observations about the inaccuracies in her campaign biography. Like really good writers he lets the actions of the subject speak for themselves as much as possible, limiting himself to some wry comments in passing. My favorite is this at the end.

As a chaser to such deceit, the campaign added a gaffe in the form of a Wendy Davis statement that Abbott never “walked a day in my shoes.” One doesn’t have to wonder how liberals would respond if George W. Bush had said that about a paraplegic opponent. And then, a surreptitious videotape began circulating in conservative circles purportedly showing Davis backers laughing about Abbott being in a wheelchair.
That’s not as surprising as it first seems. Wendy Davis came to prominence when she filibustered legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion mills to meet the health and safety standards of hospitals, and ensure that the physicians in charge of abortion clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The impetus for this legislation came about in the wake of the murder conviction of Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania doctor who routinely performed late-term abortions, and killed babies who managed to survive the procedure. Many of his patients were grievously injured, too, and at least one died. All of them were women. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who cares what religious conservatives think?

There is something that strikes me as strange in the arguments we have about gay people. On the one hand it is argued that society's disapproval of gays is the source of many of the problems that gays have, such as, for instance, their higher rates of tobacco use as is argued in this article

But on the other hand, the sort of people who are the chief source of that disapproval such as religious conservatives are themselves the object of ridicule. How can the opinions of people for whom such open contempt is a part of our culture--and I think it is fair to say that religious conservatives serve as little more than the butt of jokes in our mainstream culture--have such an impact on people? 

Moreover, the same cause seems to be maintained to have different effects in similar cases. The same contempt from religious conservatives that is supposed to be the cause of self-loathing and substance abuse among young gays is at the same time, and by many of the same people, sought after and viewed as a sign of being transgressive and meaningful in the realm of art. I think it is even fair to say that the contempt of religious conservatives is advertised and seen as a selling point in the art world. Indeed, the contempt it inspirers from religious conservatives seems in some cases to be the only thing that qualifies certain efforts as art at all, such as the notorious 'Piss Christ'. 

How can something so nourishing to the self-esteem of artists be so damaging to the self-esteem of gays? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Someone we should all remember

Rick Rescorla: Hero of Vietnam War who was last seen going back up the stairs, in defiance of orders from the Port Authority, to rescue more of the people from the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jon Stewart discusses inequality and moral hazard

This is the first segment which automatically moves on to the second segment.
Here is a CNN news story on the same subject which appears to differ with one of Stewart's facts. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dragon Bones?

Jon Stewart did a very funny routine denouncing Republican efforts to prevent vote fraud by arguing that in person vote fraud was as rare as "dragon bones." Now evidence comes from New York that if it is it is not because it is hard to do.
DOI undercover agents showed up at 63 polling places last fall and pretended to be voters who should have been turned away by election officials; the agents assumed the names of individuals who had died or moved out of town, or who were sitting in jail. In 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, the testers were allowed to vote. Those who did vote cast only a write-in vote for a “John Test” so as to not affect the outcome of any contest. DOI published its findings two weeks ago in a searing 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

Here is John Fund discussing the case. Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy | National Review Online.

So how does NYC's Board of Elections react when the city's Department of Investigations shows that 97% of the attempts of their investigators to vote illegally were successful? Try to put the investigators in jail, of course! The most dangerous interest group in our society is the government itself.

Somebody tell Jon Stewart.

The English Speaking People's and Statism

Roger’s Rules » Meanwhile, Back in the Fatherland: Here is a great illustration of the difference of the Anglo-Saxon political tradition and Continental Europe and most of the rest of the world: Who owns your children?

In Europe they are the property of the state. In the English Speaking world they are their parents (though we are moving closer to the continental model everyday).

Here is why is matters. A German judge just sent in a swat team to raid a private
German household and take their children into state custody for the simple reason that the parent's are homeschooling their children and the judge is worried that they might escape to the France to continue homeschooling in defiance of the Courts' wishes. Here is part of the judge's decision:

Even though there are no suspicions of any parental care right abuses, besides the prevention of public school attendance, the further withdrawal of the part of parental care rights is considered necessary to help and support the education of the children, to ensure the children’s attendance of a regular school....The children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.
So we can't tolerate homeschooling because it would prevent us from teaching them tolerance. That is the difference between a government that has a people and a people that have a government.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Honest Wonkerry for Ezra

A health industry expert on ‘the fundamental problem with Obamacare’: Kline's interview with Bob Laszewski paints a grim picture for Obamacare, in spite of Kline's support for the president and his signature initiative. Here is Laszewski's assessment of the all important problem of avoiding adverse selection:
It’s not positive. I don’t want to say people have given up on the notion they’ll get a good mix. They know the administration will make a big push. The insurance companies will spend big on advertising and outreach. So no one has given up. But it doesn’t look good right now.
There’s a big misconception that this is about young people. That’s baloney. It’s about healthy people. A healthy 20-year-old might only pay a $100 premium. You want healthy 40 and 50-year-olds. The big problem right now is really total enrollment. We only have about 10 percent of the uninsured in here. Insurers think you need more like 70 percent of a pool of people to sign up.
Laszewski ends with an analysis of the fundamental short coming that could have come from Adam Smith:

If an entrepreneur had crafted Obamacare he would’ve gone to a middle class family. A family of four make $54,000 a year has to pay $400 in premiums net of subsidy and for that the standard silver plan has an average deductible around $2,500 and a narrow network. They’re going to pay almost $5,000 for that?

So the entrepreneur would say I’ve got $5,000 in premium and all this deductible, what do they want for that? And they probably would’ve said we want office visits and lab tests because the kids need to go in occasionally and then we want catastrophic care. The problem with Obamacare is it’s product driven and not market driven. They didn’t ask the customer what they wanted. And I think that’s the fundamental problem with Obamacare. It meets the needs of very poor people because you’re giving them health insurance for free. But it doesn’t really meet the needs of healthy people and middle-class people.
Too bad more of those greedy, evil businessmen who are only out for a profit had not been involved in putting this thing together. 

The real contribution of government to economic growth: get out of the way

For Small Businesses, Small Matters - Bloomberg: McArdle chronicles the impediments to business put up by the statist alliance of officials, lawmakers and lawyers.

The Power of Press Bias

Nets give 'Bridgegate' 17 times more coverage in 1 day than IRS scandal in 6 months | Within 24 hours there is a special prosecutor and wall to wall media coverage while the systematic use of the IRS to persecute the administration's political enemies in the run up to the presidential election and it is no story. Christy has a press conference that goes hours while Obama gets a couple of questions and is later allowed to get away with passing the whole thing off as a trumped up scandal. And it is not a story.
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
The press is always indignantly denying that it is biased by pointing to its fact checking procedures, but the real power of the press is not to outright lie but to ignore.

Here is an excellent analysis of the difference in coverage the two issues have received from the press by Andrew Stiles.