June 2007 Archives

More resumes:

To Dr. Plastic,

I am not quite through with getting Associate Degree in Health Administration now. Will finish October 25, 2007. I feel I would be a good asset to your office thank you

No, thank you!

Attached please find a copy of my resume, i would like to take this opportunity to apply for the medical front desk position. I have 3 years experience as a Registrar, along with medical billing and collection.

I look forward to hearing from you soon

But you won't, because that would require you to send your resume to the correct address.


Another good one:

Dear Sirs, I am writing to you in regard to the position for a Medical Front Office which was advertised on ajc web site. I have enclosed a copy of my resume to provide you with an overview of my skills and experience. I believe I am capable of performing the duties that is required. My most recent position has developed my communication and organization skills I wish to build on my career and I believe that this position is bale to offer that. I am ready to take on more responsibilities and I am very eager to learn new tasks.

Better keep developing those skills....

The ongoing cat-fight between Google and Microsoft is a perfect illustration of what happens when an economy becomes over-regulated: participants stop competing in the marketplace and start competing in the courtroom.

Google on Monday called on a judge to extend part of the US government’s four-year anti-trust oversight of Microsoft, intensifying a lobbying battle that has seen the arch-rivals turn to anti-trust enforcement machinery to try to limit each other’s power.

The intervention came in an unusual legal manoeuvre, as Google went over the heads of the Department of Justice and US state regulators to appeal directly to a Federal judge to impose greater restrictions on the software giant.

However, Microsoft’s legal camp claimed that the approach was part of an untested procedure that falls outside the bounds of US oversight of its operations.

Google’s intervention follows Microsoft’s appeal to anti-trust regulators to block its rival’s planned purchase of advertising technology company DoubleClick, a deal which is before the Federal Trade Commission.

Blah blah blah. The real problem underlying this case is that Google and Microsoft are fighting their battle with lawyers instead of products and services. Consumers should pick winners, not judges or juries, but the companies in this case have a strong incentive to litigate their differences because it's cheaper than actually competing. Unfortunately, the outcome of a legal battle won't always benefit consumers the way marketplace competition will.

You'll enjoy the demotivational posters at despair.com if you've never seen them before. My current favorite:




Here's an article about how Best Buy implemented its results-only work environment (ROWE), and it makes for interesting reading despite being a bit too early to judge the results enterprise-wide. It appears that some organizations within the company are thriving -- and I'm optimistic that this approach will spread -- but let's see ROWE perform for a few years before we cheer too loudly.

Best Buy did not invent the post-geographic office. Tech companies have been going bedouin for several years. At IBM (IBM ), 40% of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers are untethered. Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW ) calculates that it's saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want. And this trend seems to have legs. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that 85% of executives expect a big rise in the number of unleashed workers over the next five years. In fact, at many companies the most innovative new product may be the structure of the workplace itself.

But arguably no big business has smashed the clock quite so resolutely as Best Buy. The official policy for this post-face-time, location-agnostic way of working is that people are free to work wherever they want, whenever they want, as long as they get their work done. "This is like TiVo (TIVO ) for your work," says the program's co-founder, Jody Thompson. By the end of 2007, all 4,000 staffers working at corporate will be on ROWE. Starting in February, the new work environment will become an official part of Best Buy's recruiting pitch as well as its orientation for new hires. And the company plans to take its clockless campaign to its stores--a high-stakes challenge that no company has tried before in a retail environment.

It seems to me (having never worked retail) that salesmen working on commission would be an ideal environment for ROWE. If salesmen make money by selling, they'll arrange their hours and schedules to maximize their income. That selfishness should result in optimal allocation of salesmen across the work-week, and if the current employees aren't covering the required time then the company could simply hire more. What's more, if a salesman finds a way to sell products without being in the store at all then everyone wins!

America's idle elite's fascination with Communism is repugnant, and maybe they'll listen when that message is delivered by a third-world human rights activist instead of a right-wing capitalist like me. Cameron Diaz vacationing in Peru:

While she explored the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in Peru's Andes, Diaz wore over her shoulder an olive green messenger bag emblazoned with a red star and the words 'Serve the People' printed in Chinese on the flap, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao's most famous political slogan.

While the bags are marketed as trendy fashion accessories in some world capitals, the phrase has particular resonance in Peru.

The Maoist Shining Path insurgency took Peru to the edge of chaos in the 1980s and early 1990s with a campaign of massacres, assassinations and bombings.

Nearly 70,000 people were killed during the insurgency.

A prominent Peruvian human rights activist said the star of There's Something About Mary should have been a little more aware of local sensitivities when picking her accessories.

"It alludes to a concept that did so much damage to Peru, that brought about so many victims," said Pablo Rojas about the bag's slogan.

"I don't think she should have used that bag where the followers of that ideology" did so much damage.

Which would be... pretty much everywhere in the world. If you want to go purely by the number of murders, the Communists have the Nazis beat hands-down.

The mega-engineering projects in Dubai fascinate me (as you can tell from the quantity of posts on the topic), and if you're like me you might be curious about what it's like to live in the UAE. The Emirates Network site has numerous articles, not all government-friendly, and here are a few interesting excerpts.

Becoming A Citizen Becoming a citizen of a western country can take between three to five years, while becoming a citizen of the UAE, similar to all the GCC countries, is practically impossible even if you have stayed there for fifty years.

Transportation In the west, the modes of transportation very from walking, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, cars, buses, subways, and trains. In the United Arab Emirates, the most used means of transport is by car. One of the factors for this is because of the weather. Biking is rarely seen as you are not allowed to ride on sidewalks and the streets don't have sufficient regions which could be used to ride safely. Transport by train is not possible and most likely will not be any time soon. In Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, you will find public buses.

Stopped by the Police In the United Arab Emirates when you are pulled over by the police, you need to get out of your car and speak to them. It is the opposite from what happens elsewhere.

Public Affection It is not permitted for individuals to kiss publically, and you will not find any nude beaches or communities in the United Arab Emirates.

Walking At Night Young males, and occationaly young females, found wondering the streets at night are sometimes picked up by the police and spend a night in jail. This is done to reduce the amount of crimes that happen at night and after the night in jail, they are released the next morning after being finger printed.

There's lots more, including information about how to start your own business in the UAE and what to watch out for it you're looking for a job in the UAE.

Secondly we will talk about work timings. For many people, work is life. That this means is that for many people working from 8am to 1pm and again from 4pm to 8pm, there is not much time to do other things. Many people driving to work spend 2 to 4 hours in traffic getting to and from work. And at the end of it all, the whole day is spend either going to work, at work, or coming from work, which leaves very little time for anything else but eating, and sleeping. So if you get a chance to work a straight shift, that is the best way to go.

Thirdly we will discuss nationality and appearance. In the UAE, where you come from also affects the salary you get. For example, there was an American working the exact same job as an Indian and the American received Dhs. 3,000 (US$ 822) while the Indian received Dhs. 1,500 (US $411). The nationality and appearance factor will normally start from your resume, as many companies require you to send a picture with your resume. After that when you come down for a interview, many people, though highly qualified, don't get the job because of their looks. I know this is discrimination, but it happens in the UAE.

MSNBC has published an article about journalists who make political donations but they bury the lead: 90% of journalist contributions were to leftist politicians or causes.

MSNBC.com identified 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, according to the public records of the Federal Election Commission. Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.

That's a pretty incredible ratio, and the leftist journalists quoted explicitly admit to biased reporting.

The openness didn't extend, however, to telling the public about the donations. Apparently none of the journalists disclosed the donations to readers, viewers or listeners. Few told their bosses, either.

Several of the donating journalists said they had no regrets, whatever the ethical concerns.

"Probably there should be a rule against it," said New Yorker writer Mark Singer, who wrote the magazine's profile of Howard Dean during the 2004 campaign, then gave $250 to America Coming Together and its get-out-the-vote campaign to defeat President Bush. "But there's a rule against murder. If someone had murdered Hitler — a journalist interviewing him had murdered him — the world would be a better place. I only feel good, as a citizen, about getting rid of George Bush, who has been the most destructive president in my lifetime. I certainly don't regret it."

Gee, no conflict of interest there!

Guy Raz does work for a news organization.

As the Jerusalem correspondent for CNN, he was embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq in June 2004, when he gave $500 to John Kerry.

He didn't supply his occupation or employer to the Kerry campaign, so his donation is listed in federal records with only his name and London address. Now he covers the Pentagon for NPR. Both CNN and NPR forbid political activity.

"I covered international news and European Union stories. I did not cover U.S. news or politics," Raz said in an e-mail to MSNBC.com. When asked how one could define U.S. news so it excludes the U.S. war in Iraq, Raz didn't reply.

Anyway, there are numerous other examples in the article and I won't bother quoting them all.

The Conservative Alternative points out that journalism can be a crusade -- if you're transparent about it.

This is typical of the mindset of journalists who see their jobs as a crusade as opposed to just reporting the news. Journalism can be a crusade, but if you are on a crusade you need to let the reader/viewer know that upfront instead of pretending to be objective.

Does this mean that journalists should be required to publicly display their political tendencies? I think yes. All these journalists have professional biographies on their employers' websites, so why not include a section on which causes and politicians each journalist contributes to and votes for? Then, at the end of each article, include a short sentence such as "So-and-so votes for and contributes to XYZ." Why shouldn't journalists have their motivations examined as closely as they examine those of politicians?

Here's the list of contributions by journalists compiled by MSNBC. Kudos to them for doing the research.

Despite the 20+ resumes I've received in the past few days, I am not a medical front office and I don't need to hire a receptionist. I can only assume that "doctor plastic" is hiring, and that the, uh, less qualified applicants are spamming my email address by mistake.

Should I post excerpts from some of the funniest? I'm so conflicted....

(All formatting, spelling, et cetera as per originals.)

This one Capitalizes like she's Writing the Declaration of Independence:

My impeccable track record in a fast paced Medical facility makes me an idea candidate for your Medical Receptionist position! ...

My Employers, as well as Patients have recognized my Customer Service skills, communication and leadership abilities and personal initiative.

This next one can't be fully appreciated without the ten different fonts used, but here's a sample:

Objective:To obtain a position as a certified nursing assistant or a medical assistant, in a medical office or hospital setting and provide quality care for my patients. ...

Patient Accts Rep/Collections 1999-2006
XXX Hospital
Responsibilities were as follows, but not limited to: filing monitoring patient accts, posting patient payments, maintaining the highest level of customer service. coding and some billing scheduling appointments, managing the front and back office. verification of all insurance, admissions, customer service, medical records.

And customer service! But most importantly, filing.

At least this one has enthusiasm:

I'm looking forward in working with your company and bringing the best of my work.

Bring it!

Funnier each time.

I've been on the phone with the customer service operators of various companies all morning, and Delta Airlines' is by far the worst. Their website threw an error and refused to give me my account number when I signed up for a SkyMiles account, and that's all I want to find out from the phone rep. After sitting on hold for 10 minutes, then talking to a rep, then getting put back on hold for 15 minutes, then disconnected, I'm now waiting on hold to talk to someone else. The rep barely speaks English and can't understand what I'm asking her. This is possibly the most frustrating customer service call I've made in months. All I want is my account number!

What's more, I hate talking to the stupid computer systems! Hate hate hate it. I'd rather push buttons to navigate the menus, but I'd rather just talk directly to a human who speaks English. That's what Southwest does, and that's a big reason why I always fly Southwest when I can. Here's a new motto for SWA: "We won't make you want to strangle some poor foreigner every time you call!"

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's experimental program to pay poor people to make good decisions is intriguing and I look forward to seeing the result. It's especially laudable that the project is being funded privately rather than with public funds. One of the most interesting bits of that article, though, is the perspective of a former Clinton Administration official who thinks poor people are somehow inherently incapable of bettering themselves.

But some critics have raised questions about cash reward programs, saying they promote the misguided idea that poor people could be successful if they just made better choices.

"It just reinforces the impression that if everybody would just work hard enough and change their personal behavior we could solve poverty in this country, and that's not reflected in the facts," said Margy Waller, co-founder of Inclusion, a research and policy group in Washington.

Waller, who served as a domestic policy adviser in the Clinton administration, said it would be more effective to focus on labor issues, such as making sure wage laws are enforced and improving benefits for working people.

How insulting, not only to the poor but to the American Dream itself! I hope this dehumanizing attitude isn't as common among leftists as I fear.

As distressing as the first part of this article is, the end points out that arson and violence on the Mexican border is actually a sign that we're finally bringing large swaths of the badlands under American control.

U.S. Border Patrol agents seeking to secure the nation's border in some of the country's most pristine national forests are being targeted by illegal aliens, who are using intentionally set fires to burn agents out of observation posts and patrol routes.

The wildfires have destroyed valuable natural and cultural resources in the National Forest System and pose an ongoing threat to visitors, residents and responding firefighters, according to federal law-enforcement authorities and others. ...

Wildfires are being set by alien and drug smugglers, authorities said, to create a diversion in an attempt to gain undetected access across the border. The fires correspond to a dramatic rise in assaults against Border Patrol agents -- up more than 100 percent over last year. ...

Authorities said agents are being targeted by illegal aliens and their smugglers for rock attacks -- including grapefruit-size rocks wrapped in rags, dipped in gasoline and set on fire.

"As larger areas of the border come under operational control, we can expect violence to increase as smuggling operations can no longer operate with impunity and do not have unfettered access to the border for their criminal activities," Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar told a Homeland Security subcommittee this year.

"This explosion of aggression is an indicator how desperate and angry drug and human traffickers are at the increasing disruption of their smuggling routes," he said.

We should be incredibly proud of the dangerous job being done by our Border Patrol officers. I only hope our politicians can back them up with a wall and laws that reduce the incentive for these criminals to keep crossing.

Have you ever wondered where is the largest island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island? Now you know. (On earth, anyway.)

One interesting feature of this recursion is that it appears that deeper levels of recursion are most likely to be found in the same branches as shallower levels.

If we represent the "largest ___ in the" relation with "*", then the largest island in the largest lake in the largest island would be (island*lake*island). If (island*lake)^10 exists, is likely contained within (island*lake)^2. (Assuming larger lakes are more likely to have islands than smaller lakes.)

Of course man-made structures could quickly break the neatness of the recursion.

(HT: Reader JV.)

This story from the UK makes me shudder: apparently the eurocrats are planning to force the European Union constitution on their citizens subjects and bypass the required referendum altogether. If the plebeians won't vote how you want, then why bother with voting at all?

TONY Blair wants to hand the European Union radical new powers in his last act as Prime Minister, it emerged today.

The Prime Minister has welcomed controversial plans to bring back the troubled EU constitution by the back door - totally bypassing the need for public referendums on sweeping new powers for Brussels.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested ditching the name "constitution" from the title and instead calling it an "amending treaty" - to avoid having to seek the approval of voters.

French and Dutch voters rejected the original plan - which would hand Brussels the power to represent individual countries at the UN and change national laws - two years ago.

I'm sure American Democrats are salivating.

I've been saying we shouldn't trust china for years now, and the new reports that China is arming terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq confirm it.

Some arms were sent by aircraft directly from Chinese factories to Afghanistan and included large-caliber sniper rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and components for roadside bombs, as well as other small arms.

The Washington Times reported June 5 that Chinese-made HN-5 anti-aircraft missiles were being used by the Taliban.

According to the officials, the Iranians, in buying the arms, asked Chinese state-run suppliers to expedite the transfers and to remove serial numbers to prevent tracing their origin. China, for its part, offered to transport the weapons in order to prevent the weapons from being interdicted.

The weapons were described as "late-model" arms that have not been seen in the field before and were not left over from Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq.

U.S. Army specialists suspect the weapons were transferred within the past three months.

The Bush administration has been trying to hide or downplay the intelligence reports to protect its pro-business policies toward China, and to continue to claim that China is helping the United States in the war on terrorism. U.S. officials have openly criticized Iran for the arms transfers but so far there has been no mention that China is a main supplier.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday that the flow of Iranian arms to Afghanistan is "fairly substantial" and that it is likely taking place with the help of the Iranian government.

Defense officials are upset that Chinese weapons are being used to kill Americans. "Americans are being killed by Chinese-supplied weapons, with the full knowledge and understanding of Beijing where these weapons are going," one official said.

The arms shipments show that the idea that China is helping the United States in the war on terrorism is "utter nonsense," the official said.

This collusion between one of our major trading partners and our avowed enemies is the direct result of the left's pathetic weakness in the international arena. The Chinese know that the terrorists can't defeat us, but they don't mind killing Americans (and Iraqis and Afghanis) to drag the conflict out, embarrass America, and weaken us further. If we had projected strength rather than weakness to the world post-9/11 we wouldn't have to face this death by a thousand cuts.

The Chinese depend on our trade to survive, and they wouldn't dare supply our enemies if the Democrats and the far left hadn't completely emasculated America on the world stage. The Chinese know that we won't do a damn thing to them in response to this affront, because the only option the Democrats have left us is to bend over and take it. It's humiliating and ultimately disastrous to America when our enemies don't fear us and our supposed partners line up to stab us in the back.

The chaos of the past few days in the Gaza Strip seems to have ended, with the [slightly more psycho] terrorists in charge. Pray for the people there... the stories I've read of hospital patients being shot in their beds and groups of people being systematically thrown off roofs is too horrific to really comprehend. Perhaps God will show some mercy to this decimated region, and I pray that some brave souls would find some opportunity to spread the gospel.

A fun Java particle simulation for all you physics geeks out there.

Particle man, particle man
Doing the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
Particle man

Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows, Particle man

Christopher Hitchens argues that society should have more pity and less contempt for Paris Hilton and his reaction to the ongoing circus mirrors my own. His key graph:

So now, a young woman knows that, everywhere she goes, [her sex video] is what people are visualizing, and giggling about. She hasn't a rag of privacy to her name. But this turns out to be only a prelude. Purportedly unaware that her license was still suspended, a result of being found with a whiff of alcohol on her breath, she also discovers that the majesty of the law will not give her a break. Evidently as bewildered and aimless as she ever was, she is arbitrarily condemned to prison, released on an equally slight pretext and—here comes the beautiful bit—subjected to a cat-and-mouse routine that sends her back again. At this point, she cries aloud for her mother and exclaims that it "isn't right." And then the real pelting begins. In Toronto, where I happened to be on the relevant day, the Sun* filled its whole front page with a photograph of her tear-swollen face, under the stern headline "CRYBABY." I didn't at all want to see this, but what choice did I have? It was typical of a universal, inescapable coverage. Not content with seeing her undressed and variously penetrated, it seems to be assumed that we need to watch her being punished and humiliated as well. The supposedly "broad-minded" culture turns out to be as prurient and salacious as the elders in The Scarlet Letter. Hilton is legally an adult but the treatment she is receiving stinks—indeed it reeks—of whatever horrible, buried, vicarious impulse underlies kiddie porn and child abuse.

I think that's about right. Hitchens doesn't use the word "pity", but that's what he's aiming at. His connection to The Scarlet Letter is particularly apt, but he misses the possibility that society may be so eager to condemn Hilton because political correctness has forbidden such condemnation in so many worthier circumstances. We lust for blood, but unable to target our wrath at those who deserve it we settle for whomever we can get away with.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

An essay by John Perry about structured procrastination -- as a procrastinator myself, this piece is a great explanation of how I still manage to get lots of things done.

(HT: The Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity.)

The abortion and infanticide responsible for "grotesque" gender ratios in some third-world countries is finally beginning to get some serious attention (of course I mentioned this sort of sex selection three years ago). The United Nations is taking notice, for whatever good that will do.

There is a little-known battle for survival going in some parts of the world. Those at risk are baby girls, and the casualties are in the millions each year. The weapons being used against them are prenatal sex selection, abortion and female infanticide — the systematic killing of girls soon after they are born.

According to a recent United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population Report, these practices, combined with neglect, have resulted in at least 60 million "missing" girls in Asia, creating gender imbalances and other serious problems that experts say will have far reaching consequences for years to come.

"Twenty-five million men in China currently can’t find brides because there is a shortage of women," said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute in Washington, D.C. "The young men emigrate overseas to find brides."

The imbalances are also giving rise to a commercial sex trade; the 2005 report states that up to 800,000 people being trafficked across borders each year, and as many as 80 percent are women and girls, most of whom are exploited.

Even aside from the millions of murders being committed, the social effects of vast gender imbalance are enormous and essentially impossible to rectify for the cohorts affected. Once the sex selection is stopped the subsequent generations will immediately revert to the proper, natural ratio, but the murdered girls are gone forever.

Brady Barr has studied all 23 species of crocodilians but decided that he needed to get a closer look at the Nile crocodile, so he made a disguise and crawled right in.

When Dr Brady Barr decided to dress up as a crocodile, the disguise needed to be good.

Otherwise he was in grave danger of being eaten by the real thing.

The zoologist adopted his bizarre outfit in the hope of getting closer to a colony of Nile crocodiles, which can grow up to 20ft.

His disguise was a prosthetic head attached to the front of a protective metal cage covered with canvas and a generous plastering of hippo dung to mask his human scent.



(HT: RB, Neatorama, and Metafilter.)

Holly Ashcroft has apparently had two babies die under mysterious circumstances that have proven difficult to investigate to conclusion.

Ashcraft was arrested in October 2005 after a newborn was found in a Dumpster behind the 29th Street Cafe. DNA evidence proved it was her son.

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Franco Barrata had cited a coroner's conclusion that the baby was born alive, but defense attorney Mark Geragos had repeatedly challenged that assertion in court. ...

The case had prominently featured expert testimony by deputy medical examiner David B. Whiteman, who said the deceased infant's lungs were partially inflated, indicating a live birth.

But two medical experts from USC's Keck School of Medicine reviewed the final autopsy report and found little evidence of a live birth. ...

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ashcraft was investigated in 2004 for similar charges after she showed up at Good Samaritan Hospital having recently given birth, but without a baby.

She said the baby was stillborn, and police could never find the baby's body to verify her claim, the Times reported.

Smoke -> Fire. Everyone knows that this woman or the father(s) killed at least one of these two babies. After the investigation into the first "stillbirth" Ashcraft knew that she'd be better off not showing up at a hospital without a baby again, but I'll bet both children ended up in dumpsters.

The reactions from her friends and family show that this girl is probably a sociopath.

At Ashcraft's arraignment in November 2005, nearly two-dozen family and friends showed up for support, and 36 letters were submitted to the judge on Ashcraft's behalf.

"She's one of those memorable kids," said Burton Pierce, Ashcraft's high school guidance counselor. "Probably [ranks in] the top 10 kids of all time that I've ever worked with academically."

What does this say for the Los Angeles justice system? In conjunction with the recent Paris Hilton circus I assume you can draw your own conclusions.

Independent Sources points out that the baby was dumped only a few blocks from a hospital where Ashcraft could have surrendered her baby with no questions asked.

In fact if you look at the Google Map of the area, the distance between the dumpster where Holly Ashcraft’s child was found and nearby Fire Station #15 you will see that Google calculates it as just a forty-two seconds drive. Less than a minute to preserve a life, doesn’t seem like much to us.

The Steel Deal rightly draws attention to a golden nugget near the end of the story that gives us insight into the minds of defense lawyers:

"Everyone [at the firm] couldn't be happier for her," said Wallin, who had also advised Ashcraft during the 2004 investigation.

"She's a wonderful young lady," he added. "From the very beginning of the case. … We always believed 100 percent that the district attorney would never be able to prove a homicide charge with the evidence in this case."

So you knew she did it, but were confident that it couldn't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? Awesome.

Whether or not Ashcraft ever gets convicted of anything, she should be cast out of society.

(HT: Where Are My Keys?, Scrapwood.)

Greg Mankiw remembers the late Richard Rorty who once posed this question to his philosophy class:

Aliens from another planet, with vastly superior intelligence to humans, land on earth in order to consume humans as food. What argument could you make to convince the aliens not to eat us that would not also apply to our consumption of beef?

I can think of a few responses:

1. Unlike cows, humans can make some attempt at self-defense, even against vastly more intelligent aliens. We could likely, at the least, find a way to poison ourselves so as to make our meat unpalatable to alien tastes.

2. Unlike cows, humans can express a desire not to be eaten. Even if lesser in intelligence than the hypothetical aliens, we are capable of communication with them and self-aware enough to object to being consumed.

3. Unlike cows, humans have families, friends, and other sorts of emotional connections. These connections may have analogues among the aliens and could be used to gain their sympathy.

4. Unlike cows, humans are intelligent and creative beings who may have more to offer the aliens than our meat. It is possible that we could enter a mutually beneficial economic arrangement that is valuable to the alien culture and could be used as leverage to prevent our consumption.

(HT: Marginal Revolution.)

I work mostly with men, and today we were speculating on when in life the average female realizes how dirty mens' minds really are.

Here's my earlier post in which I solicited input on the funniest joke ever. Some of the submitted jokes were pretty good. Here's an article about the connection between laughing and lying (via GeekPress who asks "are you a good liar?" and Marginal Revolution where Alex Tabarrok says he's a lousy liar) in which the authors performed a study to find the funniest joke ever.

My favorite: What's brown and sticky?

If you're interested in having a pet elephant then you should peruse this elephant handling manual for mahouts -- it contains everything you need to know! There are even some handy tips for choosing an elephant:

- An elephant with 17 nails is considered inauspicious. Traders sometimes place an artificial nail made of sea shell to cheat the buyer.

- Dark pigmentation on the tongue and the palatte are considered inauspicious.

Caveat emptor!

Perhaps Paris Hilton is taking this opportunity to become a better person? It would be remarkable and commendable.

Here's a great site if you're interested in hosting your own murder mystery game. Steve Hatherley publishes some himself, but his site provides a great overview of the genre and reviews a wide variety of games by numerous publishers. I'm going to be hosting one of his games in a couple of weeks, and his tips have been invaluable during my preparation.

Henry Lamb has nailed Hillary for describing the government leftists really want.

In a recent speech, Hillary Clinton described the Bush administration as a "government of the few, by the few and for the few." She's wrong; the Bush government is bigger than the Clinton government. Nevertheless, the government she described might be the government Thomas Paine had in mind when he observed: "That government is best which governs least."

Hillary doesn't agree with Paine's observation. She says she prefers a "we're all in it together" society where "government can once again work for all Americans," with "opportunity for all and special privilege for none."

This could be scary. If, in the world Hillary prefers, one person achieves greater success than another from an equal opportunity, does the result constitute a special privilege that should be denied to the more successful? ...

Hillary's rhetoric and voting record reveal a philosophy that penalizes success by taxing the rich and rewards failure by expanding the work government does for other Americans. Hillary's description of the government she prefers is one that takes "from each according to his ability," and redistributes "to each according to his need." In fact, she told a San Francisco audience: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." ...

Hillary's vision is not of a free market, nor of a free people; it is a vision of government control, enforced "fairness" and limited opportunity. ...

Under the leadership of Democrats and Republicans who share Hillary's philosophy, government is constructing an all-encompassing web of rules and regulations. This web is formulated not by elected representatives of the people, but by appointed professionals who work throughout government agencies. Self-appointed, so-called professionals who represent special interest groups, often funded by government grants, lend their expertise to the hard sell of the philosophy that government-enforced fairness makes a better society than does individual freedom.

Americans should reject this vision of all-encompassing government, and with our votes we should cast all its proponents out of the public sphere.

(HT: SW.)

First off, let me say that I highly value everyone who has taken the trouble to link to my blog. Thank you! This post isn't meant as a complaint, but rather an attempt to improve the quality of links that we bloggers give to each other. I get lazy and do it "wrong" myself very often, but I'm trying to improve!

This article explaining how Google PageRank works reminds us that:

Myth: the higher your google PageRank, the better the results. “While pages with a higher PageRank do tend to rank better, it is perfectly normal for a site to appear higher in the results listings even though it has a lower PageRank than competing pages. [..] Google examines the context of your incoming links, and only those links that relate to the specific keyword being searched on will help you achieve a higher ranking for that keyword.” [Top 10 Google Myths Revealed]

I bolded the key information: the text between the <a> and </a> tags in your link makes a huge difference! Google uses the text in the link to associate the link with keywords used in searches.

Let's do a quick example. I found the article above via GeekPress, but if I link to GeekPress like I just did then the only search term that Google will associate with the site will be "GeekPress".

What Paul Hsieh would probably prefer, however, is for Google to associate his site with terms relating to the PageRank algorithm, so that when other webmasters are searching for such information they will come across his post. To that end, I would do better to write the links like this:

GeekPress posts about PageRank and links to an article about how PageRank works.

It's harder to write like this. Basically you have to write two (or more) links that both mention the relevant search terms but don't sound stupidly redundant. In this case I mentioned "PageRank" twice; that's somewhat awkward, but I can't think of a way around it without short-changing one of the links. (Any ideas?)

Again, I'm nothing but grateful to all the people who have to link to me. If we bloggers take the time to craft better links to each other, though, we'll all reap the rewards.

Despite perusing the site several times a week I don't link to many StrategyPage articles because they're almost all good and I'd hardly have time to do anything else. Still, here's a great summary of the social divisions in Iraq and an explanation for why the Iraqis just keep killing each other.

(HT: Instapundit.)

Here's a nifty story about Shell building an underground ice wall to help them extract oil from shale in the Rocky Mountain states.

Oil-shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have technically recoverable reserves of 500 billion to 1.1 trillion barrels of oil, according to a study last year by the Rand Corp. for the Department of Energy.

The midpoint of the Rand estimate - 800 billion barrels - is three times the size of Saudi Arabia's reserves and enough to meet 25 percent of current U.S. oil demand for 400 years.

Eager to tap into that possibility, Shell is spending $30 million to create and test a massive "freeze wall" that would extend from the surface to 1,700 feet below the ground. The walls would be 30 feet thick in a shape 300 feet wide by 350 feet long.

It is designed for a dual purpose: to keep groundwater from infiltrating Shell's oil-shale wells, and to prevent produced oil from contaminating nearby groundwater.

"We see this as our last major technological hurdle," said Terry O'Connor, a Denver-based Shell vice president in the company's unconventional resources division.

A perfect example of how oil supplies increase as the price of oil goes up. We'll discover all sorts of ways to thrive without oil long before we run out of it.

(HT: JV, BldgBlog, Subtopia.)

If two British men are walking towards each other in a hallway, does each man move towards his own left to let the other pass? In America, we walk on the right side of a hallway just like we drive on the right side of the road, and I'm curious if Brits tend to walk on the left.

Grassfire has created a spot called "Where's the fence?" that mimics the "Where's the beef?" ads from the 80s. The ad points out that we should be skeptical of federal promises to close the border in conjunction with the current illegal alien amnesty bill because last year Congress promised more than 700 miles of border fencing that hasn't been funded yet, much less built.

I'm sure that "Where's the fence?" bumper stickers won't be far behind.

This is the most incredible nature video I've ever seen in my life. You wouldn't believe it if I described it to you. I promise that you will not regret watching it.

(HT: Luke.)

Personally I'm in favor of Larry Flynt's smut bounties, but I hope he exposes any Democrats he catches as quickly as any Republicans.

"Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official?" read a full-page advertisement taken out by Larry Flynt's pornographic magazine in Sunday's Washington Post.

It offered $1 million for documented evidence of illicit intimate relations with a congressman, senator or other prominent officeholder. A toll-free number and e-mail address were provided.

Flynt did this in before in the 1999 aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky investigation but focused his energies on Republicans. Even still, any politician (of any party) who isn't capable of maintaining his family and his dignity has no business leading our country.

(Perhaps the best bit from that 1999 link is:

The trajectory is becoming a familiar one: Stories of dubious provenance, ignored by the traditional press, find a home in the fringe media or supermarket tabloids; the reports make the rounds on the Internet, where they transmogrify and take on a new life; soon, they bubble up to the surface on talk radio, cable talk shows and late-night monologues; finally they appear in more traditional conservative publications. The story achieves a level of acceptance at every stage.

But this time, the so-called mainstream media have resisted, at least so far.

Is Drudge fading out? Have the news media developed a backbone?

I'm sure J.D. Lasica has enjoyed the past eight years!)

Is it not treason to actively promote secession?

Disillusioned by what they call an empire about to fall, a small cadre of writers and academics is plotting political strategy and planting the seeds of separatism.

They've published a "Green Mountain Manifesto" subtitled "Why and How Tiny Vermont Might Help Save America From Itself by Seceding from the Union." They hope to put the question before citizens at Town Meeting Day next March, eventually persuading the state Legislature to declare independence, returning Vermont to the status it held from 1777 to 1791. ...

The Vermont movement, which is being pushed by several different groups, has been bubbling up for years but has gained new traction in the wake of disenchantment over the Iraq war, rising oil prices and the formation of the pro-secession groups.

This issue was pretty much settled in 1865: states can't leave the Union. Frankly, I think these sorts of secessionists should be prosecuted as traitors if their "plotting" has gone beyond the talking stage and they're organizing to take action.

It's true that America began with a secession from England so the question can be asked: why wouldn't a secession by Vermont from America be as noble? I guess the only real answer is that history is written by the victors, and if you want to secede and we won't let you then you'll have to fight for it, just like America did.

If it were easy we'd all secede!

I enjoy highlighting absurdities in the British health care system because this is the sort of government intrusion the Democrats want to invite into the lives of Americans.

Smokers are to be denied operations on the Health Service unless they give up cigarettes for at least four weeks beforehand.

Doctors will police the rule by ordering patients to take a blood test to prove they have not been smoking.

The ruling, authorised by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, comes after medical research conclusively showed smokers take longer to recover from surgery.

Note that this doesn't just mean surgery for ailments connected to smoking... this means all routine surgeries, like hip replacements and heart surgery. Congrats, smokers! You pay billions of pounds in cigarette taxes and then get sent to the back of the line for "free" public health care.

Americans shouldn't imagine that a nationalized health care system in our country would be any less intrusive!

Let's look at another issue deemed so important that it requires Continent-wide regulation:

The European Commission is considering a proposal to extend the forthcoming ban on smoking in enclosed public places to cover doorways. ...

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the Health Act 2006, which covers the July 1 ban, contains reserve powers to extend the law to outside areas. Sports stadia, bus shelters and train platforms are already classed as enclosed public spaces under the Act and it would not have to go back to Parliament to be extended to doorways.

Leftists love this kind of micromanagement! A single Eureaucrat can control the behavior of hundreds of millions of people with the stroke of his pen. These kinds of articles are political pornography to American Democrats.

Maybe I'm slow to the party, but it just crossed my mind today that the last ten years have probably been the only period in history in which huge numbers of people have been required to memorize numerous secret and unique bits of data: computer/network passwords. I can't think of another widespread example of such a phenomenon.

I think that conservatives might be less hostile to gays if the issue really were simply about what people do in the privacy of their bedroom. However, gay activists aren't content with privacy and frequently try to use the courts to force their bedroom onto the rest of us.

A lawsuit filed by a Northern California lesbian against dating service eHarmony represents the types of excesses of the gay movement which do so much damage to their efforts to achieve public acceptance.

According to the Reuters article linked above, eHarmony "has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a 'men seeking men' or 'women seeking women' option."

So a gay activist is suing a private company for choosing not to offer a certain service. I suppose I should sue Jack-in-the-Box for not serving Big Macs! Maybe it's time for conservatives to put the shoe on the other foot....

Could you imagine the outcry from gays if someone tried to force a gay website to provide dating services for heterosexuals? Or a religious group that promotes heterosexual marriage demanding a float in a gay pride parade?

The lawsuit is a ludicrous charade that highlights the why gays haven't attained the "acceptance" they claim to want; despite their claims, gays don't simply want tolerance (to which they are entitled), they crave affirmation. Get over it.

A surgeon needs to decide whether or not to perform surgery on a patient. The surgery has a 70% chance of saving the patient's life and a 30% chance of killing the patient. The surgeon decides to perform the surgery, but the patient dies. Did the surgeon make a bad decision?

An investor is given the option of buying $5,000 with of stock. There's a 20% chance that the stock will be worth $50,000 in a year, and an 80% chance that it will be worth nothing. He buys the stock and it loses all its value. Did the investor make a bad decision?

If you said "yes" to either question above then you are a victim of outcome bias: you're judging a decision based on information that wasn't known when the decision was made. Given the information available at the time, both decisions were right. Neither the surgeon nor the investor should feel guilty for his decision, even though they both turned out badly in the end.

Unfortunately most people frequently heap guilt upon themselves for decisions that turn out badly even though they were right at the time they were made. This may explain another cognitive bias: loss aversion.

(HT: HealthBolt, GeekPress, and BBSpot.)

If I ever build a house with a staircase I'm going to make one stair in the middle about two inches higher than all the rest. My family and I will get used to it over time, but a burglar will be almost certain to trip on it in the dark. Good security measure.

This morning while driving to work I spotted a turtle crossing the road. Why? Presumably to get to the other side. I pulled over, picked it up, stopped traffic, and carried it across the road to the creek. It looked pretty scared when I picked it up, which is ironic considering that it was in much more danger on the road than in my hands.

I'm not sure why I stopped to help the turtle, but Jessica and I were talking about turtles just a few days ago and I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't seen a single one since moving to Missouri. I decided then that turtles are my favorite reptiles, so when I saw one today I couldn't just let it get flattened by a commuter rushing to work.

I think this answer is sufficient to demonstrate that I'm not a not a replicant.

An article in The Economist extols the social and financial benefits of marriage.

There is a widening gulf between how the best- and least-educated Americans approach marriage and child-rearing. Among the elite (excluding film stars), the nuclear family is holding up quite well. Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.

At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%.

There's no question that the median adults, parents, and children will all be happier and wealthier in a married family than otherwise. Neither my parents nor my wife's parents stayed married, and we've had a lot of learning to do.

(HT: The Influence Peddler and Instapundit.)

Ubiquitous cameras are our future, and the only real question is whether or not the camera network will be usable by the general public, or only the "secret police" who will monitor our every move.

Consider City Number One. In this place, all the myriad cameras report their urban scenes straight to Police Central, where security officers use sophisticated image-processors to scan for infractions against the public order -- or perhaps against an established way of thought. Citizens walk the streets aware that any word or deed may be noted by agents of some mysterious bureau.

Now let's skip across space and time.

At first sight, things seem quite similar in City Number Two. Again, there are ubiquitous cameras, perched on every vantage point. Only here we soon find a crucial difference. These devices do not report to the secret police. Rather, each and every citizen of this metropolis can lift his or her wristwatch/TV and call up images from any camera in town.

Here a late-evening stroller checks to make sure no one lurks beyond the corner she is about to turn.

Over there a tardy young man dials to see if his dinner date still waits for him by a city fountain.

A block away, an anxious parent scans the area and finds which way her child wandered off.

Over by the mall, a teenage shoplifter is taken into custody gingerly, with minute attention to ritual and rights, because the arresting officer knows the entire process is being scrutinized by untold numbers who watch intently, lest her neutral professionalism lapse.

In City Two, such micro cameras are banned from some indoor places... but not Police Headquarters! There, any citizen may tune in on bookings, arraignments, and especially the camera control room itself, making sure that the agents on duty look out for violent crime, and only crime.

Despite their initial similarity, these are very different cities, disparate ways of life, representing completely opposite relationships between citizens and their civic guardians. The reader may find both situations somewhat chilling. Both futures may seem undesirable. But can there be any doubt which city we'd rather live in, if these two make up our only choice?

I pick City Two, and I think it would be preferable to what we've got now, if only because we could monitor our government much more efficiently.

(HT: Bernardo.)

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