May 2011 Archives

Thank you to all the soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen who have given their lives for our country. My family and I are extremely grateful and blessed by your service.

So. Painful.

(HT: Ann Althouse and Instapundit.)

The Daily Mail, a U.K. paper, routinely has some of the largest and highest-quality news photographs on the internet. Today they beat out all the American news sites with high-resolution satellite photos of Joplin from before and after the recent tornado.

There has been much huffing and puffing over Kathy Hochul's surprise victory in the NY-26 special election Tuesday. Here's the top-linked Google result. How does it start?

The results from Tuesday’s special election in New York demonstrated the popularity of Medicare and unpopularity of Republican plans to dismantle it. But neither fact should be surprising.

Medicare is a universal program for retirees: Everybody has an obvious, direct stake in its future. And the Republican plans for Medicare amount to privatization. Everybody understands what that means and most find it scary.

If you read the whole story you might be convinced, but you'll be missing a key piece of information.

Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated GOP nominee Jane Corwin 48 percent to 42 percent in New York's 26th District on Tuesday, with tea party candidate Jack Davis, a former Democrat, taking 8 percent of the vote.

That's right! None of the top news stories about the special election results include the name "Jack Davis", a phony "tea party" candidate who received 8% of the vote. If Jack Davis had not been in the race, who do you think most of those 8% would have voted for? The Republican or the Democrat? The results would have certainly been much closer, and would have been a likely win for the Republican.

Calling this special election a referendum on Medicare reform is lie. Now, Republicans do need to aggressively market their Medicare vision and make the sale to the American people, but this special election isn't an omen that the debate has already been lost.

Hm, what possible motivation could President Obama have for requiring bidders for federal contracts to disclose their political donations?

In a television interview last October, President Obama accidentally let slip a key element of his political philosophy: “We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

Obama later apologized — not for the underlying sentiment, mind you, but for his word choice. “I probably should have used the word ‘opponents’ instead of enemies,” the president declared.

This incident is worth remembering as the president prepares to issue a far-reaching executive order that would require the government to collect detailed information about the political activities of anyone applying for a federal contract. The proposed order would require businesses to furnish, with each contract proposal, a list not only of their contributions to political candidates and committees, but also their contributions to groups that do not under current law have to reveal their donors. The president’s order would force anyone seeking a federal contract to declare whether they are a friend or an enemy — excuse me, “opponent” — of the Obama White House. Worse still, it would set up a central database listing those contributions at a federal government Web site — creating what amounts to an electronic, searchable “enemies list.”

Does anyone doubt that such a public enemies list would be doubly used by Obama's allies? It seems like the President wants everyone to be more transparent except his own administration.

For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured hundreds of requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.

The department abandoned the practice after AP investigated. Inspectors from the department's Office of Inspector General quietly conducted interviews with employees last week to determine whether political advisers acted improperly.

The common theme: politics are primary.

I love charts and figures, but supposedly most voters don't? I think Paul Ryan's explanation of why Medicare needs fundamental reform is greatly enhanced by his diagrams.

Contributed by Scott Portman.

For years now, the EPA has gained a notorious reputation with industry and business leaders throughout the United States. It hasn’t been until recently that these business leaders have formally stood up to the EPA’s costly and endless regulations. Along with the GOP, these businesses have fought back at the EPA through a series of budget proposals and acts that are geared to loosen the strangle hold that the EPA carries on many industry leaders in America.

This controversy between business and the EPA is often over the Clean Air Act and the use of Cap and Trade by the environmental agency. Through these initiatives the EPA is able to oversee and regulate the amount of greenhouse gas emission put off by factories and power plants. This, in turn, has been directly affecting the revenue and profits for these businesses that need the emission to thrive. Employment has also been limited with these companies because of the potential downfall in revenue.

As 2011 started, President Obama released his yearly budget proposal with only a slight alteration to the EPA’s budget from 2010. The proposal that the President brought forth only amounted for a small cut to the EPA slate, only having an effect on some minor programs for the environmental agency. GOP leaders were increasingly frustrated with initiatives such as the Clean Air Act, thus a new proposal was brought forth to cut about a third from the 2010 EPA budget. The new proposal would also allow for the lessening of resources for the Clean Air Act, having a direct impact on the gas regulations that hinder a number of businesses.

After the new budget proposal from the GOP, a number of republican senators brought forth the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. This is an act that would serve to put an end to the EPA’s cap and trade agenda, as well as take some more power away from the EPA when it comes to business. With an end to the cap and trade, there would be an end to the greenhouse gas regulations that constrain many of the industry leaders. Senators James Inhofe, Ed Whitfield, and Fred Upton have been outspoken on the effect that this act would have, claiming in a recent press release that it would “Stop EPA bureaucrats from imposing a backdoor cap-and-trade tax that would make gasoline, electricity, fertilizer, and groceries more expensive for consumers; and protect American jobs and manufacturers from overreaching EPA regulations that hinder our ability to compete with China and other countries.”

What the GOP sees with the EPA is an organization that’s seem to lost priority on some of its major initiatives, while exerting too much resources towards things like the Clean Air Act, which have little direct impact. The EPA should look to exert more of their time and work towards cutting down on environmental health problems such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asthma for example. Through initiatives such as asbestos abatement and cutting water contamination, the EPA can have a direct result on the health of the American people, sometimes even preventing life threatening environmental health dangers. For example, mesothelioma life expectancy is highly severe and usually averages only a year after diagnosis. Certainly the EPA has a number of different projects and campaigns that would be more suited in impacting the people of America in a positive way, than something like the Clean Air Act.

The GOP and business leaders have been adamant in saying that they are not looking to remove or cut out the power of the EPA. They simply are looking for less of a power grip from the EPA towards industry and less of a financial impact from the environmental regulations. Through a series of early 2011 budget proposals and introduced acts, there is hope growth for these effected businesses.

Seriously, we need more stuf?

I guess the real break-through is to increase the stuf-to-cookie ratio yet again.

  • Regular Oreo: 1:2
  • Double-Stuf Oreo: 1:1
  • Triple-Double Oreo: 4:3

Hopefully our stuf tolerance is up to the task.

(HT: James Taranto.)

Pics here.

Video from inside the Joblin tornado.

Lots of St. Louis people indirectly affected. Pray for those who were hit and those who are working to clean up and recover.

A man has his disabled hand amputated and replaced with a robotic hand. Video at the link!

How long until we start removing healthy limbs to exchange them for superior robotic replacements?

Shooting at Missouri University of Science and Technology:

Emergency news and updates

May 12 - 9:10 am

Suspect has left campus.

Those on campus continue to secure buildings and stay indoors. If you are not on campus avoid campus.

May 12 - 8:55 am

Shooter on campus in McNutt.

Please stay indoors.

No more information yet.

I think a lot about my career ambitions and my personal ambitions.

We have a double standard in our society: If you are poor and you abandon your kids you are a bad parent. But if you are rich and you abandon them to run a company, you are profiled in Fortune magazine.

Won't be me.

Chris Wallace shreds White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon with a simple question: "why is shooting an unarmed man in the face legal and proper while enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding of a detainee under very strict controls and limits -- why is that over the line?"

Wallace: Mr. Donilon, let me just make my point. I’m not asking you why it was OK to shoot Osama bin Laden. I fully understand the threat. And I’m not second-guessing the SEALs. What I am second guessing is, if that’s OK, why can’t you do waterboarding? Why can’t you do enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was just as bad an operator as Osama bin Laden?

Donilon: Because, well, our judgment is that it’s not consistent with our values, not consistent and not necessary in terms of getting the kind of intelligence that we need.

Wallace: But shooting bin Laden in the head is consistent with our values?

Donilon: We are at war with Osama bin Laden.

Wallace: We’re at war with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Donilon: It was a military operation, right? It was absolutely appropriate for the SEALs to take the action -- for the forces to take the action that they took in this military operation against a military target.

Wallace: But why is it inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

Donilon: I didn’t say it was inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Wallace: You said it was against our values.

Donilon: I think that the techniques are something that there’s been a policy debate about, and our administration has made our views known on that.

Game. Set. Match.

(HT: James Taranto.)

James Taranto and many others have noted that Osama Bin Ladin's death has been a long time coming -- 9.5 years having elapsed since 9/11/2001. However, if OBL had been captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death on September 12th, 2001, he would probably still be awaiting execution. According to this report from the Department of Justice (Bureau of Justice Statistics), table 12, in 2009 the average executed prisoner had spent 169 months on death row! Despite the long delay in catching and killing OBL, if he had been tried in our criminal justice system he probably wouldn't have been executed until late 2015.

Poker is more skill than chance say economists Steven D. Levitt and Thomas J. Miles.

The pair found that the 720 players rated as highly skilled won an average of more than $1,200 each per event, or received a 30 percent return on their initial investment. All other players averaged a loss of $400 per event, 15 percent of their investment.

The differences are “far larger in magnitude than those observed in financial markets, where fees charged by the money managers viewed as being most talented can run as high as 3 percent of assets under management and 30 percent of annual returns.”

Statistically convincing to me is the fact that four people have won the main event of the World Series of Poker multiple times.

Four players have won the main event multiple times: Johnny Moss (1971 and 1974), Doyle Brunson (1976 and 1977), Stu Ungar (1980, 1981 and 1997) and Johnny Chan (1987 and 1988).

If poker were largely based on luck rather than skill, the odds of several people winning the WSOP multiple times each would be astronomically small. This data alone is enough to convince me.

(HT: Paul Hsieh.)

This shouldn't be a surprise, but the listed waist size of mens' pants is generally very wrong.

The devastating realization came in H&M. Specifically, in a pair of size 36 dress pants. I'd never bought pants at H&M before, and suddenly asked myself: how could a 36-inch waist suddenly be so damn tight?

I've never been slim — I played offensive line in high school — but I'm no cow either. (I'm happily a "Russell Crowe" body type.) So I immediately went across the street, bought a tailor's measuring tape, and trudged from shop to shop, trying on various brands' casual dress pants. It took just two hours to tear my self-esteem to smithereens and raise some serious questions about what I later learned is called "vanity sizing."

*covers ears* Nyah nyah nyah I'm not listening!

First there was the $300,000 watch that only tells you whether it is day or night.

According to several news reports flagged by my friends at Luxist, Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome just launched the “Day&Night” watch. The watch won’t tell you what time it is. That’s so yesterday. But it does tell you whether it’s day or night — helpful, I guess, for billionaire types who can’t afford windows.

As the company’s Web site boasts: “With no display for the hours, minutes or seconds, the Day&Night offers a new way of measuring time, splitting the universe of time into two fundamentally opposing sections: day versus night.”

What’s most impressive about the Day&Night is its complexity, given its absolute uselessness. The watch features two tourbillons — devices that overcome the ill effects of earth’s gravity on a watch’s accuracy — connected by a differential mechanism. Instead of hands, the watch has a “contemplative tourbillon operation whereby the ‘Day’ tourbillon operates for 12 hours to symbolize working life, while the ‘Night’ tourbillon takes over afterward to represent an individual’s private time.”

Now there are watches that don't tell time at all!

Real luxury is now the ability to stop time. This week Luc Perramond, chief executive of Hermes's watch division, presented the "temps suspendu" (suspended time) model, starting at 18,000 Swiss francs, which stops time at the press of a button and brings it back again.

For 240,000 Swiss francs you can pick up an Hublot watch whose time can be slowed or sped up and another which is all black, making it difficult to tell the time at all.

That luxury can set you back upwards of 15,000 Swiss francs.

"The value of a watch is not to give you time," Hublot Chief Executive Jean-Claude Biver told Reuters.

"Any five dollar watch can do that. What we are offering is the ability for example to stop time or make it disappear... Time is a prison and people want to get out of it sometimes."

These products are great examples of why engineers often don't make good artists.

(HT: Tyler Cowen and Cheap Talk.)

More at Flightglobal and DefenseTech.

Wouldn't it be ridiculous if supermarkets were run like public schools?

Teachers unions and their political allies argue that market forces can't supply quality education. According to them, only our existing system—politicized and monopolistic—will do the trick. Yet Americans would find that approach ludicrous if applied to other vital goods or services.

Suppose that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education. Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. Nearly half of those tax revenues would then be spent by government officials to build and operate supermarkets. Each family would be assigned to a particular supermarket according to its home address. And each family would get its weekly allotment of groceries—"for free"—from its neighborhood public supermarket.

Private supermarkets would never work! The poor would starve!

(HT: Greg Mankiw.)

It's not too soon is it?

(HT: RC.)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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