February 2014 Archives

Scenes of this full McBain movie are scattered throughout The Simpsons series.

(HT: JK.)

I love buying used books from Amazon for $0.01 each. Sure, most sellers charge $3.99 for shipping, but I can easily find 10 books from the same seller and combine the shipping costs. Here are the books and series that are currently in my cart:

I don't know the ins and outs of the Arizona religious freedom bill that Republican Governor Jan Brewer is considering now. However, I'd like to comment on the issue in a very broad sense.

People have a right to choose who they associate with. The government should only be able to force or prohibit associations when that is the least restrictive method for satisfying a compelling public interest. (And I'd define "compelling public interest" very narrowly, likely limited to life-or-death situations.) As a consequence of this right of association, people are free to discriminate in their personal lives for or against whomever they want. Unjust discrimination is immoral, but not everything that is immoral should be illegal. Business owners have a right to grant or deny service to whomever they choose; employees have a right to grant or deny services to whomever they choose; and owners can fire employees whose choices conflict with their own.

People also have a right to choose and exercise their religious beliefs, but in the context of business service I think this right is largely subsumed by the right of association. A person's religious beliefs will be one factor he uses to choose his associations, but he is free to choose his associations based on any criteria he prefers.

(Note: the government does not have a right of association and cannot be allowed to discriminate unjustly. The government is a representative of all the people, and does not have the right to treat one person different from another without a compelling reason.)

Will the 3,280 foot Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia ever get built? Who cares! I can tell you that even if it does, it won't still be standing in a millennium. I think the Egyptian Pharaohs had the right idea with their pyramids. Nothing is as stable as a huge pile of rocks.

If I had a few billion dollars to waste, I'd build a pyramid several times larger than the Great Pyramid and designed to last forever. I'd put it someplace geologically stable and high above sea level. Let's see who's laughing in 10,000 years! Me.



Drudge announces that Ukrainian opposition forces have siezed the capitol and that the president of Ukraine has fled. It's unlikely that Putin in Russia is going to stand for Ukraine as a whole drawing closer to the West, so we might be witnessing the beginning of our generation's major European war.

Ukraine's opposition has asserted its authority over Kiev and parliament in a day of fast-paced events.

MPs have replace the parliamentary speaker and attorney general, appointed a new pro-opposition interior minister and voted to free jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Police appear to have abandoned their posts across the capital.

Protesters in Kiev have walked unchallenged into the president's official and residential buildings.

Mark Steyn continues to fight the good fight for freedom of speech and points out that America's court system has become a medieval trial by ordeal. Even if/when Steyn and Dinesh D'Souza are eventually exonerated they will have spent huge quantities of time and money, and their voices will have been squelched. These trials should be dismissed immediately.

I know nothing about law except what I learned as a schoolboy. For example, way back in 1166, the Assize of Clarendon began what we now understand as the right to trial by jury, which was generally welcomed as an improvement over trial by combat or trial by ordeal. But it's only better if it's the right to a speedy trial. Otherwise, as in the sclerotic and diseased system prevailing here, trial by jury is itself deformed into trial by ordeal. In a speedy-trial system, a litigant has to be very sure that he wants to go to court. But, in America today, an abusive litigant funded by others - as Mann is - well knows that he can simply file a suit and drag things out, taking his opponents out of the public square for years on end - just as Obama plans to do with D'Souza. If the DC Superior Court and whatever dump of a New York courthouse D'Souza winds up in offered the same express service as Henry II did with the Assize of Clarendon, that would be one thing. But, as it is, in America the very justice system itself has become tyrannous. That's its appeal to Mann, and to Obama.

One of the most unique and fascinating experiments I've seen in a long time! A Pokemon game controlled by inputs gathered from a stream of chat messages. As you can imagine, it's quite chaotic.

This climb up a radio antenna isn't quite as high, but it feels much more exposed.

I'd love to do something like this, but I'm not crazy enough.

(HT: LM.)

This is a big deal! Maybe it's time to move back to California? Ninth Circuit holds that California's gun carry prohibition is unconstitutional.

So holds today's Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (2-1 vote). The court concludes that California's broad limits on both open and concealed carry of loaded guns -- with no "shall-issue" licensing regime that assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a "good cause" regime under which no license need be given -- "impermissibly infringe[] on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense." The Ninth Circuit thus joins the Seventh Circuit, and disagrees with the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. (State courts are also split on the subject.)

The "average" husband and wife work roughly the same number of hours each week (paid + unpaid), but since it still doesn't "feel" fair to the average wife, the average husband should do more. Or should the average wife somehow adjust her feelings to reality?

It's important to remember that fairness isn't just about absolute equality. It's about the perception of equality. Women may work fewer paid hours than men, but because they devote nearly twice as much time to family care (housework, child care, shopping), it doesn't look to women like their husbands are sharing the load evenly when they're all home together. It looks instead like their husbands are watching "SportsCenter."

It's hard to overstate how stressful these perceived imbalances can be. At one point, the UCLA researchers took saliva samples from most of the subjects of their study to measure levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. They found that while leisure time went a long way toward relaxing fathers, it did far less to subdue anxiety in mothers. So what, you may ask, did calm the mothers?

Simple: Seeing their husbands make a bigger effort to reduce the pandemonium in the house.

I wonder if the working time includes time sinks like commuting?

The best part about this "build a secret compartment in you keyboard" post is the comment section, wherein people mock the idea of destroying your numpad just to hide some crap.


Louis CK uses "of course, but maybe" for comic effect, but this is an amazing technique for influencing people. "Of course we can't do X, obviously. Of course. But maybe it would work! Just imagine."

James Altucher describes the laws of reciprocity and commitment bias in the video, and that's a great examination of the foundation, but presentation is everything.

(HT: James Altucher.)

After installing Windows 8.1 on my wife's laptop it would not connect to wifi or the internet. The computer kept saying "limited" connectivity and none of the built-in troubleshooters could fix the problem. I reset the router numerous times, rebooted the computer, updated everything, reset the TCP/IP stack, etc. In the end, the problem was that while installing 8.1 Microsoft removed my wireless adapter drivers and replaced them with a new Microsoft version! Argh!!!! What the hell?


Reverting back to the manufacturer's drivers solved the problem.

Well duh: Hermione and Ron shouldn't have been together. I enjoyed the series but I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan, which is perhaps why it was easy for me see this relationship as a bizarre error much earlier than the author. I wonder what the super-fans will say? What what about poor Rose and Hugo?

I'd like to add that I've always loathed Ginny Weasley. And Quidditch.

J.K. Rowling may rattle the wizarding fan world of "Harry Potter" with a confession about her beloved series' main characters.

The British best-selling author, 48, admitted in a Wonderland magazine interview with "Harry Potter" actress Emma Watson that she should have paired Hermione Granger with the titular character, instead of his red-headed sidekick Ron Weasley. ...

"For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron."

From The Wire and Tumblr:


And here's the Vincent Clortho School of Wizardry:

(HT: Ilya Somin, Andrew Sims, Eric Crampton (who really hates Ron).)

Min/maxing your life as if it were a strategy game. Sounds an awful lot like a remake of The Sims.


You might not realise, but real life is a game of strategy. There are some fun mini-games - like dancing, driving, running, and sex - but the key to winning is simply managing your resources.

Most importantly, successful players put their time into the right things. Later in the game money comes into play, but your top priority should always be mastering where your time goes.

It's pretty worrying that government employees at critical agencies are using worse passwords than President Skroob. This laziness and obliviousness is yet another reason why the power of government should be limited rather than all-encompassing.

Some of the federal government's most sensitive data are protected by passwords that wouldn't pass muster for even the most basic civilian email account, according to a new congressional report.

Passwords like "password," "qwerty," and users' names have left Homeland Security Department data vulnerable, says a report released Tuesday by the Republican staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

And the password fiasco, the report says, is only the tip of the iceberg--plenty of other agencies have lost sensitive data as well.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission left nuclear-plant security details on a shared drive with no protection. Hackers swiped Information on the nation's dams--including their weaknesses and catastrophic potential if breached--from an Army Corps of Engineers database.

A downward revision from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on the effect of Obamacare on employment. If you think think this number is unlikely to be revised further downward in future years, you haven't been paying attention to all the "unexpected" bad news recently.

The agency previously estimated that the economy would have 800,000 fewer jobs in 2021 as a result of the law. In that analysis, the CBO looked primarily at how employers would respond to a new penalty for failing to offer insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. That response would include cutting people's hours, hiring fewer workers and lowering wages for new jobs.

On Tuesday, the agency released a more detailed estimate that includes how ordinary Americans would react to those changes by employers. Some would choose to keep Medicaid rather than take a job at reduced wages. Others, who typically do not work full-time, would delay returning to work in order to keep subsidies for private insurance that are provided under the law.

As a result, by 2021, the number of full-time positions would be reduced by 2.3 million, the report said.

The CBO also predicts that compensation will also suffer:

The CBO is now estimating the law will reduce labor force compensation by 1 percent from 2017-2024 -- twice the reduction it previously had projected.

Consider a graph with two dimensions: clever/stupid, and diligent/lazy. Where do you fit? Where do you want to be? Do clever and lazy make the best leaders?

Consider an apt (if admittedly unsettling) example from history: Erich von Manstein, one of the top strategists in Hitler's German Military, described Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, the former commander-in-chief of the Reichswehr as "... probably one of the cleverest people I ever met."

Both men, according to Ben Breen, are widely credited with the following quote that gets to the heart of the matter.

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent -- their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy -- they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.


Let's look at the diligent workers first, whether clever or stupid. Diligence is a virtue, right? We should all be diligent! Well, the diligent and stupid workers are obviously a drain.

I've worked at several places that see themselves as prestigious, high paying and where lots of people want to work. This is where I've seen the practise known as 'face time'. This is where people deliberately get in early, stay at their desks all through lunch and leave late. Just to be seen by the boss as 'being busy'. In fact most of them would be surfing the web or chatting with their pals as soon as the boss was out of sight.

What these people work hard at is keeping up the appearance of being busy. Often this means inventing pointless work for themselves or others, so called busywork. Many of these people may in fact be lazy as well as stupid - the effect is the same. It's all about creating the impression of working hard.

The point isn't that these folks are "stupid" in the classical sense, they just can't focus on the most important things. They invest energy into things that seem important or look important, and they make sure that they're always busy with something. Anything. Kind of like cancer.

What about the people who are diligent and clever? The most important thing is to avoid putting these folks into jobs they're stupid at. E.g., you're an awesome engineer, let's put you in charge of an engineering team! Oh, you're stupid at management, so you never get promoted again and you stay in a job you suck at.

The stupid and lazy? That's a no-brainer. Bye-bye.

How about the clever and lazy? Assuming they have integrity, the argument here is that these will be your best leaders? Why?

These people insist on taking the time and space required to create, and to find new ways forward.

They are natural delegators.

They are always looking for simpler, easier ways to do things.

They focus on the essentials, and they despise 'busywork'.

According to this argument, a clever, lazy person with integrity will be focused on achieving goals with the least amount of wasted effort. In this context, "lazy" isn't a pejorative.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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