Thursday, October 28, 2004

 

50% success rate asking women out? I'm at 0% for approximately 2.3 billion tries. The two that really counted came very close to spitting. (1 did)

Okay, so now my curiousity is peaked. A 50% success rate asking women out? I'll pick up Pinker's book soon and try to find out all the caveat's on it (hopefully included). As long as I'm on the subject, Pinker is a really good writer. To any loyal fans out there (imaginery or not) I would like to recommend Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, which is a wonderfully entertaining read as well as the first book of his that I read and still pull down from time to time, The Language Instinct. I'll type some more later...lots to report but I have to get to Kinkos and fax something before I eat.



Friday, October 22, 2004

 

A few links in the middle of the day

Okay, so a couple of things today. First of all, at least two posts that I remember being active have completely disappeared from my blog. No drafts saved or anything. Am I completely insane or has anyone else had this problem too?

In other news, Steven Landsburg is guest blogging over at MR so I would recommend that everyone check that out. I have mentioned Landsburg before and specifically his book Fair Play. Some of you might note that he is possibly the sole voice of reason to regularly contribute to Slate.

Speaking of MR, Alex points to a story about the first "publicly brokered" organ transplant to occur in the U.S. facilitated by Matchingdonors.com, a for-profit web site. As many of you might have expected I am all for legallizing the selling of organs, which is not what happened here. The person who got the organ did not pay money directly to the donor, though I think he should have been able to.

Also, I would like to thank Landsburg for stating something that used to drive me nuts in school Many of my fellow econ students liked to chant the statement that was drilled into us in the statistics portions of the classes we took "correlation doesn't prove causation." I have used this little slogan myself from time to time, but as I also liked to point out...correlation plus a logical explanation can go a long way toward proving causation. Landsburg in this post points out that before you start chanting that, you should probably do the math to see if your alternate explanation would require wildly unlikely numbers to explain the correlation.

One of the myriad of reasons that I like Reason is that they have passages like this that strike so close to home:

"Voting for president is a lot like sex—and not just because it takes place every four years in the solitude of a semi-private booth. Both are intensely personal activities that nonetheless can have profound public consequences. We might add that both often involve drug-and-alcohol-fueled delusions and morning-after feelings of guilt, shame, and recrimination. "

I'll post more shortly, but I have some errands to run so catch ya all later.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

 

Me being weird...aka normal for me.

I don't know why, but I find this story interesting.

Judge Voids Will that promised curse.

In other news, I am officeless for several weeks beginning tomorrow. I'm not entirely sure how this will effect me yet, but I am hoping all goes smoothly. They are renovating and so I will working from home for several weeks, though I have a heavily booked calendar for the next two weeks so it shouldn't have too great of an impact.

In other news...I'm trying to figure out which RHPS to go see this halloween. On the 1st I have to be in Cincinatti so I might make a weekend of it. I have also thought about flying back to Boston and doing the Harvard Square RHPS. The girl who played Janette when I was there last was smoking hot. I will keep readers informed. I will also be doing some movie reviews probably as this time of year is big for me. I am really into horror movies. Movies in general, but horror movies hold a particular fascination with me since when a comedy is bad, it is just bad, but when a horror movie is bad it becomes comical. I'm going to my second viewing of Team America: World Police tonight, which I really do mean to comment on soon. I also saw Shaun of the Dead which I mean to comment on. And The Forgotten, which I mean to comment on (though not as favorably). Anyway, I have to finish cleaning up some stuff before I leave my work area behind. There is a weird feeling, almost like school ending for the summer around. I won't see anyone for at least a month, maybe longer. My distractions from the thoughts of my sweet Emily will be minimized. Hopefully I can numb myself with the new Grand Theft Auto coming out next week. If not, you will all hear about it.




 

Nasty Campaigns in History

The Detroit Free Press has this article on Presidential campaigns going "nasty."

I think Kerry (the blogger) would probably appreciate this excerpt:

"William Henry Harrison: Democrats derided the Whig party and its 1840 standard-bearer, Harrison, as a country peasant who lived in a log cabin and drank hard cider. So what did the Whigs and Harrison do? They held rallies at log cabins, sold Harrison as a regular rustic American -- and, of course, drank lots of hard cider. He won. "

Some other tidbits:

"Buchanan had congenital palsy, a condition that forced him to tilt his head to the left to compensate for a slight case of double vision. In the 1856 campaign, his rivals spread rumors that the tilted head was the result of a bungled attempt to hang himself. He won.

Goldwater v. Johnson: In 1964, Democrats questioned Republican candidate Barry Goldwater's judgment. The U.S. senator from Arizona had proposed allowing U.S. military commanders to use tactical nuclear weapons. Democrats ran a TV ad that showed a girl counting as she removed petals from a daisy. As she neared 10 petals, her voice was replaced with a man counting down to zero. Then, to a deafening roar, the TV screen was filled with a mushroom cloud. The ad concludes: "Vote for President Johnson on Nov. 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home." Johnson won in a landslide. The ad ran only once, but was replayed on TV news broadcasts. "





Tuesday, October 19, 2004

 
Here is something that hadn't occured to me. Thanks to Cafe Hayek for the story. Apparently Canada is worried about the U.S. importing drugs and some Canadians are hoping to ban the exporting of those drugs.

"Groups claiming to represent 10 million Canadians called on Ottawa to ban the export of prescription drugs, arguing that Canada cannot afford to address U.S. drug shortages and soaring prescription costs with its own stock."

I was focusing in on the fact that in the long-run allowing reimportation would not help the situation and could possibly hurt the situation in the U.S. but I hadn't even thought about the fact that Canada could be hit that hard by our actions. It seems so clear now, but I was being near sighted in just looking at how the U.S. would be effected.




Monday, October 18, 2004

 

Fischer won't leave the news.

How many times do I have to say that Fischer is the most overrated chess player of all time? Look at his games...please...I am utterly convinced that this obsession is just a vicious form of nationalism. Creativity? My god...put his games up against Korchnoi and tell me Fischer had even the remotest speck of creativity that Korchnoi had. I think the term that should be used when referred to Fischer is "technically proficient." He doesn't even excel technically. If you want a master of squeezing minute advantages for all they are worth, give me Ulf Anderson. His games are masterpieces. Average players see no advantage at all and he presses for 30, 40, 50 more moves until his opponent's position is revealed for the empty shell that it is. Why do I bring this up? Because apparently Fischer is outraged that he is referred to as the "Former Grandmaster." Ugh...please...get over yourself.

For those of you who are fascinated by the whole Fischer travesty anyway here is the latest installment in which Fischer's lawyer is apparently going to produce documents showing that there was a U.S. conspiracy against the former Grandmaster. Despite my contempt for Fischer as a man (I do believe you can have contempt even for the mentally disturbed) and my even greater contempt for the position that he has achieved in U.S. Chess as some sort of icon, I am still drawn to his story in a way that I can't even explain. I'll post more on this later, but I need to get to Starbucks before they close.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

A few links...once again

A couple of interesting decisions via How Appealing...

Judge Posner writes a decision affirming a lower court ruling that all Illinois residents do not have a right to absentee voting.

This decision is one of the more amusing to read. The judges clearly seem upset that this appeal was brought at all since to read the decision it looks as though the appeal had no merit or justification in law at all. To give you an example, one of the arguments for appeal was that had the plaintiff in the case used a microsoft patch update then the defendent would not have been able to illegally access their website. The judges point out that this is the equivalent of a thief using the defense that he would not have been able to break into the house if they had a better lock.

Here is a brief AP story about a calf that lead police on a 30 minute chase through 3 towns.

Friday, October 15, 2004

 

San Francisco Test Case for Ranked Choice Voting

Check out this story from the AP. Who wants to bet this provokes even larger legal challenges over "misunderstanding" the ballots? As with any voting scheme, I can't help but think back to my Public Choice class. So the question of the day should be "does this voting system create possibilites for non-transitive preferences and does it meet the standards of Kenneth Arrow's Impossibility Theorem?" The real question of the day (because it is what I really want to know) is whether or not the people who come up with these voting schemes have even heard of Kenneth Arrow and whether or not they even consider any of his work when working on these types of policies? I'm not taking a position on whether this voting procedure is preferable to our existing voting structure or not at this time...but I am taking the position that political scientists don't listen to economists nearly enough.

 

Morning

Stories like this make it hard for me to understand the view that the death penalty should not exist for anyone.

"LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- A teen killer who told the parole board that he regretted letting eyewitnesses survive was executed Wednesday for a shotgun murder during a $15 robbery."

In a lighter side...Reason has a review of Team America: World Police, which I am ashamed to admit I missed. I will be there on Friday or Saturday though.

It should piss just about everyone off...note that Sean Penn wrote an angry letter to Matt Stone for stating that uniformed people should just stay home and not vote. Penn wrote this:

"It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world,"

Now since I haven't read the entire letter maybe there is a context, but it seems that the implication is that Penn is indicating that the uninformed voters would be more likely to vote for Kerry. Talk about a ringing endorsement of a candidate.





Wednesday, October 13, 2004

 

Blog Addition

Jason has a blog that is now over on the left of my blogroll. Be cautious...his humor is a bit disarming. He will someday (if not already) grow to hate me much as everyone else on the planet does...but for now he at least tolerates talking to me so hopefully my readership will treat him nicely. Oh wait...I think Jason is my only reader so hopefully he will be nice to himself and if he isn't I refuse to be held accountable.




 

3rd Debate

Well, the nobel prize winner wasn't brought up but suprising as hell was the fact that Kerry actually pointed out that Greenspan supported the tax cuts and continues to support them...what the hell was he thinking? If that isn't in a commercial by next week I would be shocked.

I think that many people will think that Kerry won the debate on questions that I think his answers were about as awful as you can get. The question of reimporting drugs for example. I think he probably scored very well, but mainly because most people think that reimportation is a no cost solution. This is clearly not true. I hate to reach into the economic grab bag for the tried and true slogan we like to shout so much, but here goes..."there is no such thing as a free lunch." Still, my guess is that most Americans are sadly too shortsighted to see that it isn't a solution at all.

I also thought it was bizarre that Kerry's response to a shortage of troops included adding more troops? This has been his stance for awhile, but I think he needs to explain how he intends to add those troops. He can't just wave a wand. He either has to decrease standards for service, increase pay, or draft. He isn't going to draft...I think that is clear. That only leads to two other alternatives and I don't think decreasing standards would be a good thing for our special forces specifically. I think that means increased pay. The question then becomes, how much do we have to increase the pay? In a time of conflict, most assuredly more than in a time of peace just to maintain the same stream of recruits. I'm not against increased defense funding and increased funding for troops, but I think we need to acknowledge that it isn't as simple as saying "I'm going to just hire my troops so we don't have to have a draft." They have to be induced into service if we aren't drafting them.

Bush missed many opportunities to call Kerry on his rhetoric, but he failed to do so repeatedly. He instead went back to bullet points. Most liberal...blah blah blah. I don't think that is going to work and I don't think it played well.

Bush finally said what his plan to decrease the deficit is...we are going to grow our way out of debt. This is not a ridiculous notion and if history alone were to be our guide it would be very plausible, the question is whether or not historic trends can be trusted at this stage of the game. Kerry on the other hand, has exactly the same plan as Bush but he refused to say it.

Bush obviously didn't have much credibility when talking about how Kerry is such a big spender, but the irony is that Kerry is constantly attacking Bush for not spending enough so maybe Bush's point isn't as ridiculous as it sounds. Still I doubt that Kerry would increase spending on social programs by more than Bush has and I believe it is just rhetoric.

Kerry also tried to argue against what Greenspan had previously stated regarding social security. I think it is fairly clear that whoever is President after Kerry (should he be elected) is going to have to address the problem. Kerry doesn't want to. His response seemed to be that the surplus should have been stocked away for social security. If that is the "solution" than we had better hope that nothing unexpected were to happen, like another 9-11 that might cause us to have to touch that money. Even without the tax cuts, and assuming that the tax cuts generated absolutely no growth (which seems contrary to reason) we would still have a deficit. The money still wouldn't be there. His answer on this question probably worked too, but it shouldn't have. It was a moment when I wanted to chuck something at my tv screen.

I should have taken notes during this debate since I know I heard other things I wanted to address but my memory has caused them to mostly fade. I felt much angrier toward Kerry than Bush though. Maybe it was the partisan side of me striking out. Bush evaded several questions clumsily and everyone was quite aware that he was evading them. Has Bush already lost? I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that nothing makes me want to vote for either of the men more than listening to the other one speak.



 

Random Update

After a cold streak lasting several days, I managed to get two interviews back to back for work. Woohoo.

A head's up, Matt over on the left (both meanings would apply) has revamped his blog. The new link is up and I'm still not entirely sure if I liked the old design better or the new one. I'm sure my ambivalence will keep him up nights.

In other news, my VA friends were sweet as hell and fearing I would get into a car accident speaking to them on my cell phone while driving sent me a hands free set so that I don't have to hold my phone to my ear. I'm particularly impressed because many of my liberal friends have recently been cursing me to hell and telling me that it wouldn't be entirely a bad thing if I were to go into a comma until after the election. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating...although one of my friends from CA did state that he doesn't wish me any harm but an unexplained comma with no lasting damage would be good until after the election. So I guess he wasn't really wishing me any harm...I think...

Peace Out...

 

Cato Supreme Court Review

I'd like to direct everyone to this extremely important article from the new Cato Supreme Court Review. The article is "The Indivisibility of Economic Rights and Personal Liberty."

The thesis:

"The disparagment by some liberal scholars and jurists of the constitutional protection of economic rights weakens the constitutional foundations of personal liberty.

And conversly: The disparagement by some conservative jurists and scholars of unenumerated personal liberties weakens the constitutional foundation for rights of property, contract, and occupational freedom."


Speaking to specific cases, here is the index which includes this case Ashcroft vs ACLU.

I'm still working my way through the document as a whole but Cato tends to pick some pretty interesting cases in my estimation so I'm sure I will comment on some of them down the line...For now back to work.

 

Will Bush point to new Nobel laureate in 3rd debate?

Well, we have two new nobel laureates in economics. I must say that I am rather impressed with this year's selection...much more so than in the last few years. And the winners? Prescott and Kydland. Some Real Business Cycle theorists. They made a lot of contributions, though I have to admit that I had to go back and look for some stuff on Kydland...Prescott was more memorable as he came up during my Advanced macroeconomics Theory class several times.

The timing couldn't have been better for Bush I might add. I believe that he will invoke Prescott's name during the third debate since not only has Prescott stated that the Bush tax cuts weren't big enough (here) but his work on the Real Business Cycle can be pointed to as evidence that Bush shouldn't be blamed for the recession. As I have often stated, the nineties had an unsustainably low amount of unemployment because unsound business models continued to receive investment in the stock market thus funding failure and believe it or not bad employment (yes I do believe there is such a thing).

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

Some news

1/4 working American families are in poverty? As Econopundit points out, this is a static view of the economy. 3/4 of those families move out of the category within 10 years.

Via geekpress, mathematicians help fight terror cells.

Via MR, this post is a fun look at the virtues of being viewed cold-hearted or "nasty." I need some reassurance that I'm not a total shmeghead. (I got Red Dwarf Season 3 on DVD in case anyone was wondering about the reference, though I'm not sure about the smelling).

For those who don't like to click on links, here is an excerpt:

"Thomas Schelling once described a similar idea this way: If you are kidnapped who do you want in charge of the negotiations, your loving wife or your nasty ex-wife? Easy, right? But suppose that the kidnappers know in advance who will be in charge of the negotiations - now who do you want? See? Sometimes, nasty people do good things."

Also via MR, though I should also give credit to one of the news stations that I saw interview the founder though I don't remember which one it was, there is this article on Wingwomen.com. Maybe I should move to NY?

I have to prep for an appointment...Bye

Sunday, October 10, 2004

 

Random Quote

For those who think I'm a cold hearted bastard...a quote from H. L. Mencken for the day:

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.

That's it for today...I'm going to go see if the Starbucks is still open so I can get some more work done tonight.

Catch ya on the flip side.

 

I'm actually only slightly more annoyed than usual.

I'm getting really tired of the mainstream press today. All weekend I have been hearing that the ISG report showed sanctions worked. As I posted earlier, this is not what the report said. The Economist got it right, even the NYT's in an October 9th piece indicated that the report does not indicate that sanctions worked. Of course, the op-ed pieces in the NYT's seem to indicate that the report said that sanctions did work. Argh...how can you even publish an op-ed that offers "facts" that contradict what you are reporting in the non op-ed section of the paper?

Here is one for you...the media could be attacking Bush on his claim that: "Non-homeland, non-defense discretionary spending was raising at 15 percent a year when I got into office. And today it's less than 1 percent, because we're working together to try to bring this deficit under control."

The truth is that after adjusting for inflation and population growth increases, the spending he is referring to is up 8.2% under Bush. I have a theory as to why this isn't a big story. Everyone wants to make it look like Bush is starving social programs across the board when that just isn't the case. I wish it were the case, but it isn't. Education spending alone is up 58% for Bush's first three years in office according to factcheck.org here.

As factcheck also notes: "The DNC ad also flunks the logic test, criticizing Bush both for increasing the federal deficit and also for not spending more -- which of course would increase the deficit even more."

Somedays you don't know why you crawled out of bed.

As a side note...the reason I crawled out of bed is because I struck out again last night and there was noone to pull me back into bed. Of course, I could always get one of these (thanks to MR for the link).



Saturday, October 09, 2004

 

Afterthoughts on the debate

This article in Reason on why we shouldn't necessarily expect Kerry to protect our civil liberties any more than Bush. Guess what, some of the most objectionable stuff in the Patriot Act was actually written by Kerry. Thanks to The Fifty Minute Hour for the pointer.

One other thought on the debate last night, which is reairing now...Bush missed a golden opportunity when asked about his record on the environment. He should have stood up and said in his initial response that he rates himself 3 out of 5 on the environment because he does look to improve the environment but not without regard to the consequences for economic stability and growth since ultimately wealth is the way to achieve less pollution. Whether you agree or disagree that that is his record and policy...I think it is a winning answer. I think Kerry also shot himself in the foot on this question by stating that the Kyoto Treaty was flawed but somehow implying that it was wrong to say that we didn't support it. This despite a senate vote of 95 - 0 on a resolution against ratifying any treaty that left developing nations exempt or directly impacted American jobs back in 1997. In case anyone was wondering that is why Clinton didn't submit the treaty to the senate for ratification.

Argh...I'm getting a headache...I think it is time for me to go lay down.

 

The 2nd Debate

I'm not sure why, but the online polls (which are not by any means a scientific survey) seem to be polling the debate as a win by Kerry. I don't really think so. I thought this was a clear win for Bush. There were definitely problems. As per my earlier post, I'm disappointed that Bush didn't take the question on drug reimportation to tell Americans the truth...allowing reimportation of drugs will not in the long run reduce costs on drugs...it will reduce the drugs available to Canada and other countries. Bush did hit one area on this question that is a real part of the question but he didn't hit it hard enough. The real issue on drug costs is whether we need to change patent law. Bush hinted at this when he talked about making the move to generic drug manufacturing quicker. Patent issues should be the central focus of concerns over drug costs, but unfortunately people have this mistaken impression that drug reimportation would actually reduce costs in the long run with no adverse side effect. That was an annoying moment for me hitting my head against the wall.

Other than that...Bush scored a lot of really strong points in my opinion.

When asked about the opinion of us around the world he gave an answer that may not sway many undecided voters but that was still the kind of answer that almost makes me want to vote for Bush. He said that when you do what is right it isn't always popular and its better to do what is right than what is popular. The comparison to Ronald Reagan that he used may serve him well amongst younger voters who think very fondly of Ronald Reagan.

I think the issue of Supreme Court nominees was a rather strange moment for Kerry who seemed, in my interpretation, to be stating that he would appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court if given a chance. (I'm hoping that I misunderstood him since that is basically an argument abdicating the legislature of their responsibility.)

I think Kerry also lost points because he failed to admit that Saddam would still be in power if he had been President. His argument as I understand it is that if we had waited longer and done things properly we would have discovered prior to going in that there were no weapons of mass destruction and unless I am missing something, according to Kerry that would mean that there was no reason to go in. I hope I'm not misrepresenting this opinion of Kerry's but he seems loath for some reason to say Saddam would still be in power if had been President. I'm not really sure why if Saddam wasn't really a threat he would care so much about not letting that be the impression of what a Kerry presidency would have meant.

I think both candidates missed the boat on how they intend to cut the deficits in half in five years. They missed the boat because truth be told...they both have the same plan for cutting the deficits. They both intend to grow our way out of debt. There is nothing wrong with that answer in my opinion...I don't find it as absurd as some people do...but it seems clear that neither one feels this is an answer that will play particularly well. Kerry's tax increases will not cut into the deficit incidentally by any substantive amount even if all of the tax increases were to go directly towards financing the debt, but he doesn't even want to do that since much of this tax increase has been passed off as a way to pay for other promises he has made. Bush was a little bit more on target in my opinion in acknowledging that there are times that deficits make sense and are necessary.

Bush had some ticks and twitches that were a little annoying and a few bad moments such as interrupting the moderator...but I think on the whole he made a case for himself whereas Kerry could only make a case against Bush.

Maybe it isn't a surprise to some people who know me that I was so impressed with the Bush performance tonight, but it was a surprise to me. I don't really like Bush (I don't like Kerry either) but as I constantly hear invalid and misleading charges leveled against the Bush I feel the need to defend him at times. Tonight I think he defended himself fine.



Friday, October 08, 2004

 

I'm evil...get used to it.

Question of the day:

Why do statements like "Other people's problems do not impose an affirmative obligation on me" make everyone think that I'm somehow cruel and uncaring?

No really. I care about maximizing the benefits to society, the utility if you will, but that may mean some people are going to get smacked down by the invisible hand. And you know what...they should be smacked down. If I am selfish in my above statement, they are no less selfish in expecting that they should get something just because they exist. What if someone else can't hack it and may die? As one of my professors used to say "then let them die and decrease the surplus population." (He was British, what can I say...he liked Dickens writing if not his message).

Here is Kerry (The blogger and all around fun girl, not the politician) making a statement along the same lines.

Subject for a later post: Why is it I increasingly find myself agreeing with the people who are supposedly the "villians" in movies?

 

Lower Prices, Less Drugs

Alex over at MR has an interesting post on the effect of price regulations on pharmaceuticals and how price decreases could lead to decrease in the production of new drugs by a ratio of 1:4 (for every one percent drop in prices the growth rate in new drugs would drop by 4%).

I'll post some of my thoughts on prescription drugs later, but I think this is something that people should keep in mind when they listen to the debates tonight as I'm sure that the issue will come up.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

 

Hodgepodge

For those of you wondering where my rant on "What the Bleep do we know?!" went, I haven't given up on it, but without a transcript of the movie things move a little slower. I have sent a couple of letters to some of the more mainstream scientific publications requesting that they do an article on this film instead of leaving it up to film critics to deal with issues of science, so hopefully that will get a response.

Via geekpress, campaigning pledges you will never hear.

Some of you will notice a new blog on the left side of the screen. Thanks to the folks over at MR for the heads up. Here is a link to a post on prescription drug re-importation.

I will be going to the sneak preview of "Team America: World Police" on Saturday. I heard on the radio recently that there was an argument over the rating which initially was going to be NC-17. For those of you who don't know, this is a movie using dolls...the NC-17 was reported for graphic sexual content. At first I laughed. I mean how graphic could it be? The more I think about the South Park movie and the introduction of a dildo by (barely) animated characters, the more funny I think this could be (South Park was rated R). My list of movies I want to see right now has gotten suprisingly long.

1. Shaun of the Dead
2. Wimbleton
3. I Heart Hucklebees
4. The Forgotten
5. Team America: World Police

I'm sure there are more too, but I only have so much time and these are the top 5 I want to see in the theater.

What other things can I mention today that noone will even remotely care about? I will be in Chicago during the election in November. It will be my first time with many of my regional coworkers during a political event like this and I'm fully expecting to develop many enemies...maybe I should just hide in my hotel room. I don't want to sabotage my career this early in life.

I will be watching the debate tomorrow night and fully expect to bang my head into a wall repeatedly listening to both of the candidates. Not just the candidates though...the people asking the questions are probably going to drive me just as nuts. This is yet another reason I could never run for office. Someone would ask me, "why did you let company x send my job over seas?" and I would respond "because the fact that goods can be produced cheaper there means that they should be produced there, and by the way the people in country x deserve to be able to compete for jobs just like your neighbor should be allowed to compete for your job. Now stop being such a baby and stop expecting that the world shouldn't change just because you are too lazy to develop some skills to get a new job, and sit the hell down so we can talk about something relevant. " Yeah...I wouldn't get any votes. (Incidentally, this post from over at Cafe Hayek on the subject is worth a read for any protectionists out there reading.)

After the debates I will go out to a bar/club and find some woman who doesn't even know who is running for office so that she can look at me like I'm retarded as I attempt to ask her out. I imagine the entire evening will be pretty painful.

Oh...I have to work on Saturday and get some schedules written up, but I have moved out of the probationary period where all of my reports are reviewed before I transmit them. I am now down to the standard 15% quality review so hooray for me. On the downside, the safety net has been removed so if I fall it is going to hurt.

Okay, I think that is it for now. I have been a bad bad person and not emailed the twins in forever so I should get to that now before I pack up my stuff for my office work tomorrow.

Catch ya all on the flip side.

 

Sanctions weren't working, they were being used.

This story in the economist is interesting.

Here are some excerpts:

"YES, the weapons stocks that America, Britain and indeed most governments expected to find in Iraq after last year’s invasion are still not there. But no, that is not proof, as critics claim, that United Nations sanctions were working. On the contrary, Saddam Hussein was trying to play the UN and everyone else for fools; left to his own devices, he would have been quickly back to his chemical, biological, nuclear and missile tricks. If America’s intelligence services and others were victims of too much certainty about Iraq’s weapons, Saddam fell victim to his own deceit.
That is the gist of the latest, 1,200-or-so-page report from the American-led Iraq Survey Group (ISG), published on Wednesday October 6th. Since Charles Duelfer, the chief inspector, last reported in March, his team have ploughed through millions of pages of documents and watched thousands of videos. They have interviewed scores of Iraqis, including the man himself and many of his inner circle. In the ISG’s most exhaustive report so far, Mr Duelfer tries to pin down not just what was going on in Iraq, but why."

The article continues and mentions the multiple breaches of UN resolutions, intelligence agencies testing chemicals and poisons in secret labs, human test subjects, plans for missiles well outside the range allowed by the UN. There is also this bit about how he used UN sanctions to make money.

" By using some of his $11 billion of illicit income from sanctions-busting schemes to try to buy off politicians and companies in various countries, including Russia, France and China—each of which has a veto on the UN Security Council (and each of which ended up opposing the American-led invasion). The report says that, of Saddam's total illicit earnings, $2 billion came from corrupting the UN’s oil-for-food programme, under which Iraq had been allowed to export a limited amount of oil in return for using the proceeds to feed its impoverished people. To finance his illicit imports as well as buying influence, Saddam issued oil vouchers, which could be re-sold at a profit under the oil-for-food scheme, to those who were prepared, it seems, to take a slice of money that ought to have gone to malnourished Iraqis. "

Those of you who know me know that I don't really care about the WMD aspect of the war. I have always argued very strongly that even if we knew he did not have WMDs that the continued violation of the terms of surrender under the 1st Gulf War was sufficient reason to go in and get Saddam. If other countries know that they can surrender and then fail to live up to the terms of surrender then our credibility in global conflict becomes greatly diminished. We should have gone in years ago, but I think late is better than never. Was this the reason that was given to the public as justification? Partly, but it was never echoed so strongly as the potential WBDs. Part of the problem is that I don't think you could sell the U.S. public on going to war to enforce the terms of surrender and UN sanctions.

Anyway, that is my take for the day.



Wednesday, October 06, 2004

 

The VP Debate

I watched the Vice-Presidential Debate last night. The polls seem to indicate that Edwards won, but if that is the case I must be one of the most biased men in America because it seemed like a pretty clear win for Cheney to me. I honestly thought the debate was over and in his column when given 90 seconds to respond on the issue of a gay marriage amendment he thanked Edwards for his kind words about his familiy in like 5 seconds and ended it there. I think it gave him a tremendous amount of credibility. He was not going to argue on an issue that he simply doesn't agree with the president on. In stark contrast, Edwards has signed on to proposals by Kerry that he openly attacked during the primaries and has ardently defended some of these proposals. Edwards also repeatedly attacked Cheney on Halliburton. Cheney was right not to get mired down in the issue which is far more complicated than could be addressed in 30 seconds. Based upon what we know now (barring future revelations) Cheney has gotten a bad rap on this issue. NPR stated this morning that the comparison to Enron was off base. Cheney even directed viewers to go to factcheck.org to verify some of this information. Factcheck doesn't clear Cheney of all allegations, but it definitely paints a very different picture than what the democrats have been doing. This piece regarding an ad run by the DNC and statements on their website is particularly insightful. This piece addresses some of the claims by both candidates in the debate.

By the way...what was up with Edwards and the moderator when he used Kerry's name in response to a question that asked for no reference by name of the presidential candidate. It was clear to me that the intent of the question was not simply for Edwards to use the pronoun game and just start saying "we" and "him" but he responded as if it were a game. I think the question was flawed, but hell his fumbling with the issue was painful to watch. As was the candidates responses to the AIDS question which specifically attempted to exclude other countries and focus in on AIDS as it affects middle aged black women in the U.S. I do think Cheney was right to actually acknowledge that he was unaware that this was specifically a problem for middle aged black women in the U.S. as once again it allowed him to maintain his credibility despite repeated attacks my Edwards on it.

One of my favorite moments though was when Cheney commented on his own upbringing and took a subtle dig at Edwards saying that he [Cheney] doesn't talk about his upbringing as much as his counterpart but that it is very similar to Edwards upbringing.

I'm not going to claim that Edwards didn't do a decent job in the debate, but I think if we were listening on the radio instead of watching on TV that the results on who won would be different. People just don't like the way the Cheney looks. Maybe I'm wrong...anyway, I have a conference call to get on so I will type some more later.



Monday, October 04, 2004

 

Rotten Kid Therom

Thanks to Matt for the link to this article which I missed. I would like to say the person who wrote the article is obviously not at all familiar with the topic of economics and religion. It has been around for quite awhile, hell they offer classes in it at some universities. The idea that it isn't a topic that many economists think about is absolutely ridiculous. My outrage apparently knows no ends. I never got to take a class with him, but one of my professors in college considered economics of religion to be his specialty and had a few books under his belt on the subject. He was always wildly entertaining, but then again what economist isn't?

Such as this article in the economist about "The economics of being nice to your parents." It made me want to go back and find Becker's work on "The Rotten Kid Therom." Here and Here are related papers.

Okay, back to work.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

 

The days they do go by

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. My work laptop was actually working this weekend so I felt I'd better get some work done before the inevitable end of that little miracle. I got reports written up on 6 companies...well actually 5 and 9/10ths. When I get into the office tomorrow I should get that finished, assuming I can get access to the appropriate database, in about 5 minutes. Anyway...props for my productivity.

This starts the beginning of the new fiscal year for us at work. That means performance standards start fresh and I'm off to a very good start.

In other news, despite my intense work effort I did make it to A Dirty Shame on Saturday evening. I am not going to lecture anyone who doesn't know who John Waters is. Some people seem to think that I don't really expect people to know these names and that I only act indignant about it. Of course I also had a professor who claimed I shouldn't quote Nietzche in a speech because too many people might not know who he was so I don't give to much credence to that view. Anyway, if you don't know I won't criticize you...just stop being a dumbass and learn your cult movie history. (That didn't sound judgemental did it?)

Not much else for me to report today. Well actually tons to report, but not enough energy to do it. I have comments on the debates, but they already are probably too dated to even justify posting on. I have comments on several debates that I watched this weekend on C-Span as well (yes I often put C-Span on in the background while I work...and people wonder why I can't get a reasonably attractive woman interested in me...okay so no one wonders...anyway). I particularly liked the "discussion" featuring Dole and Gore. Dole was so much more entertaining and engaging than he was when he was running for office. It may be sad to say, but I think losing agreed with him. If it weren't for his age, I could definitely see him coming back and taking the GOP nomination next time and even winning the election (of course there is no way of knowing what his chances would be without knowing who he would be running against). He was funny and insightful (though if Gore talked for too long he seemed to forget the question that had initially been asked when it was directed to him for a response).

Great...as I type this I am having different computer problems. I think it is time for me to go...Night all.



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