Friday, September 23, 2005

There Came a Still Small Voice
Rita bears down on the Gulf Coast.
An earthquake hits Cali.
A bus fire kills 24 evacuees, and is likely to be followed by more fires once Rita blows through (as we saw with Katrina).

Has this prompted anyone else to think of Elijah?

Behold! God the Lord passed by!
And a mighty wind rent the mountains around; brake in pieces the rocks,
Brake them before the Lord; but yet the Lord was not in the tempest.
Behold! God the Lord passed by!
And the sea was upheaved, and the earth was shaken;
But yet the Lord was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake there came a fire;
But yet the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire there came a still small voice;
And in that still voice, onward came the Lord.

Maybe our political leadership is reading this
and it will cause them to rethink rebuilding New Orleans.

Go look and do.
Go read about this poll, and make sure to vote, too!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pure Bias
SportsIllustrated.com attacks men in a blatantly biased piece about hand-washing at baseball games:

Men are dirtier than women. So scientists confirmed by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-quarter of men left without washing their hands.

The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game.

In contrast, 90 percent of the women did wash up.
Actually, scientists confirmed no such thing—all they confirmed is that women wash their hands more than men do. Until there is some element of determining how much bacteria can be found on the faucets, or the paper-towel dispensers, or (God forbid) the hand dryers, there is no way to determine who's actually dirtier.

I mean, have you ever been in a baseball stadium's men's room? Personally, I have no desire to touch ANYTHING, unless I've urinated on my own hand—which is exceedingly rare. I know approximately how dirty my own anatomy is, but I can't say the same thing for the sinks. Women obviously don't think things through.

And Sports Illustrated would be wise not to insult their primary audience.

This is just not rational thinking
From CNN.com:

"I cannot help but wonder how many more people could have been saved had they been able to take their pets," Rep. Tom Lantos, D-California, said Thursday.

Lantos and Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, and Barney Frank, D-Massaschusetts, are sponsoring a bill that would require that state and local disaster preparedness plans required for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding include provisions for household pets and service animals.
I'm embarrassed by this bill. Service animals should absolutely go with their owners—without exception. You don't agree?

Read this:
Simply walking my dog Sabrina around the block, I've noticed, creates a mild social disturbance. Although Sabrina is very sweet-natured, she strains at the leash to bark at other dogs, and she tries to leap up onto strangers who, in their body language and facial expressions, often communicate very strongly how little they like dogs, which of course is their right.

Multiply Sabrina by five, 12, or 100 dogs (and cats and hamsters and snakes and God knows what else), and you have excrement and earsplitting barking and biting and all sorts of other activity that is unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst when you're trying to solve a human crisis. True, some people apparently refused to be evacuated because they couldn't bring their pets, and it's likely at least a few of these people died as a result. But tragic though their fates obviously were, it would have been more tragic, and certainly more unfair, to allow these people to impose further chaos on the appallingly slow and ineffective process by which large numbers of people received aid.
And don't forget how much trouble FEMA had getting enough food and water in to feed the people—imagine if they'd had a couple hundred dogs and cats to worry about, too! And despite the claims of cannibalism having turned out to be made up, there very well may have been a few barbecues in such a situation.

It's times like this (and McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan) that make me sad to admit that Chris Shays is my Congressman.

Days like this make me sad
First, I read the irrational liberalism flowing thorugh the Opinion Page of the Yale Daily News today. Then, while I begin to respond to the frightening ideas espoused there, I get a phone call ON MY CELL from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, asking me for money. Yes, the Dems want me to give them $110 (why $110? I have no idea) to "stop Bush's agenda," and to "build strong Democrats." Three times this woman told me that the DCCC is "building strong Democrats." Are they cloning? Building robots? Seriously, you can't "build" a candidate—either they're there and you figure out how to recruit them, or they're there and you figure out how to build a party apparatus that can support them, or they're just not there.

And strangely, when she asked for $110 and I said no, she started the "we recognize that $110 might be outside your budget, so is there an amount that would work better for you today?" before launching into the pleadings for ever-decreasing amounts of money. After the "is there any amount" question, though, I told her that I was, in fact, a registered Republican with no intention of supporting the D-triple C. And she kept asking me for money!!

Oy. I don't even have the energy to respond to the YDN page—but read it and feel free to post comments here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bush damns Mars...
...by not ratifying Kyoto.

Yep, that's right: Mars is suffering from global warming:

And for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars' south pole have shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress.
Think anyone will propose that maybe something's changing on the Sun, causing warmer temperatures on more than one planet?

Oh, wait... it's been done before.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

School's back in session
And that means it's time for me to start picking, once again, on the Yale Daily News. In a front-page article today, the YDN tells us:

About 37 percent of Yale's undergraduate student body has opted out of the optional $50 student activities fee, a surprising figure given that 78 percent of student voters supported it in a referendum last spring.
Aside from the obvious fact that a news article should never call something "surprising," since news is supposed to be objective, there is a glaring problem with this paragraph.

It is not in any way surprising to anyone who has studied the most basic economic game theory. This is what's known as a Collective Action problem:
Mancur Olson made the highly controversial claim that individual rational choice leads to situations where individuals with more resources, will carry a higher burden in the provision of the public good than poorer ones. Poorer individuals will usually have little choice but to opt for the free rider strategy, i.e. they will attempt to benefit from the public good without contributing to its provision. This also encourages the under-production (inefficient production) of the public good.

However, further theoretical analysis showed that this is not the case when individuals have widely-differing perceptions of the utility of the public good.
Basically, you've got 37% of individuals who think the utility of the voluntary contribution is high, and so they've contributed. The rest have adopted the free rider strategy.

Some of us, when the debate was going on, pointed out that most of the people who supported the voluntary contribution probably had no intention of contributing—and we were right. Again, this is not surprising. When one considers Yale's liberalism, it only makes sense that such a sizeable portion of the Yale student body would rejoice at spending other people's money.

Moving on
She may have graduated, and I may have graduated, but I still have at least one more opportunity to attack Jessamyn Blau's BS-dominated opinions. Today, she says:
I was appalled by Eric Purington's piece on the (ongoing) German election, in which he commends the platform of the CDU.
OK, "appalled" might be a bit strong, but I didn't find Mr. Purington's piece all that spectacular either, so I'll let it slide.
Germany's choice is between a courageous Schroeder, a man who has moved Germany back to its rightful place on the international stage while undertaking difficult social and economic reform; and a woman who has been likened (as if it were a good thing) to Ronald Reagan, and whose policy suggestions include cutting into social programs, eradicating a fossil fuels tax and other conservative-type tax cuts.
Still, she's just expressing opinion, so there's little I can do to critique her. I think that comparing someone to Reagan is a compliment, Jessamyn doesn't. That's legit.
That the Germans are embracing Americanism is completely faulty logic on Purington's part -- he first points out that many Germans take anti-American stances, but then later goes on to say that Schroeder was voted out because he subscribed to "blatant anti-Americanism." Regardless of whether Merkel wins, Purington has not proven by any means that anti-Americanism is waning in Europe (by the way, it is not).
OK. Here we go. I don't think Purington's point is accurate either. I think his logic in asserting that Schroeder's loss can be directly attributed to his anti-Americanism is tenuous at best. I think the idea that anti-Americanism is falling in Europe is pretty much absurd, too, based on what I read in the foreign press and on what friends who have recently spent or are currently spending time over there tell me.

But at least Purington tried to make a claim and back it up with a logical proof of sorts, weak though it may have been. She says he hasn't proven it (despite his efforts), and then asserts without any explanation that he's wrong. That's not the way a debate works; she still has to live up to some minimum burden of proof, which she entirely neglects. Maybe she'll address it in the next paragraph?
Moreover,
Nope, apparently not.
the suggestion that Rumsfeld was correct in coining the term "old Europe" is simply ludicrous. The European Union -- which, incidentally, is the largest economic area in the world -- has a huge sphere of influence that grows every day as Europe uses the carrot of economic engagement to encourage political and social reform. Most countries seem to prefer this to the rotting stick of American "hard power."
Geez. I'm not even sure what to say here. The only conclusion I can reach is that Jessamyn has absolutely no idea what context surrounded Rumsfeld's use of the term "old Europe" was. For one thing, the economic viability of the region had nothing to do with Rumsfeld's terminology. (Incidentally, how does one define an "economic area," and what is Jessamyn's basis for defining it as the largest? In land mass, Europe definitely doesn't win—and I'm not sure it leads the race in economic strength, either. My guess is that Jessamyn heard this in a class at some point and adopted it as Gospel.) And where is Europe's sphere of influence increasing through "the carrot of economic engagement" precisely? I don't see evidence of any political or social reform fostered by the Europeans anywhere in the world—though I invite anyone to correct me. And that's a straw man anyway—again, the influence Europe holds over the world was never Rumsfeld's point either. Rumsfeld's point, for those like Jessamyn who seem to have been asleep at the time, was that there are two centers of power within Europe. They are the Franco-Prussian axis and the non-Franco-Prussian axis. His point was that, while Europe is improving in leaps and bounds, most of its growth and increasing influence come out of the former Soviet republics than out of France and Germany. So, in attempting to disprove Rumsfeld's terminology, Jessamyn manages to avoid entirely any perception that she is even addressing his claim.
And finally,
Thank God.
the stance that Germany and France, among many others, took against the United States is neither "meaningless" nor "distracting."
It's a shame Purington used those words. I wouldn't have called them meaningless, as they revealed pretty strongly France and Germany's unwillingness to stand up to the threat of aggression, in my opinion; I wouldn't have called them distracting because they couldn't have had much less of an effect on our pursuit of Saddam.
It was a very clear stance against an illegal war that has increased lawlessness in the already explosive Middle East.
Oy. OK, Jessamyn, praytell what war has been "legal"? I know what you'll say, of course—the American Revolution! Except that, if the American colonists were justified in fighting for their independence, that means the British crown was prosecuting an illegal war in return. How about the liberation of Kuwait? Again, that was a reaction to Saddam's aggression, which was undoubtedly illegal, making another illegal war. War, by definition, is a violation of multiple liberties of the human spirit. Unfortunately, sometimes they have to happen.
It's time we all accept -- especially those of us lucky enough to experience living in foreign countries -- that the reach of the "world's only superpower" is quickly waning.
Accept? I call thee French! Seriously, you've been spending too much time in Paris, mademoiselle. There is no reason to accept the decline of one's nation. This doesn't mean that we should lash out and cling to power at all costs—but it does mean we can and should do our best to strengthen our position in the world. I wonder, however, if Jessamyn doesn't do a little internal dance of joy when she thinks of the possible downfall of the United States. I wonder if she's forgotten the chaos that reigned after the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the various wars around the world that followed the fall of the British. It is a dangerous possibility.

It is also a conversation that has nothing to do with Mr. Purington's article. You like that? How she went completely off-topic, used him for a launching pad to address almost nothing of the substance of his mediocre column?

This is modern American liberalism—no substantial analysis, just "I think it's this way, so it must be." She completely neglects reality and the demands of proving a point in order to make wild assertions with no basis in fact (or at least none that she bothers to present to her readers).

I'm almost embarrassed that I spent any time on her lousy letter—but it was too much fun for that.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Oy
Michelle Malkin informs us that Cindy Sheehan is now attacking Hillary Clinton for her position on the Iraq war, "and the moonbats are eating it up." But here's the scary part, though:

Visiting New York City for the first time since leaving her campsite outside President Bush's vacation ranch in Crawford, Texas, Ms. Sheehan told a packed audience in a Brooklyn church that Mrs. Clinton "knows the war is a lie" but because of her political ambitions refuses to voice any opposition. (emphasis added)
Does that mean a second trip is planned? Or did this just come out of the standard journalistic template for press conferences?
Speaking in location X today, politican A said yada yada. This was politician A's first, second, third (circle one) visit to location X since event Y.
I'm hoping it's the latter, because I don't want to hear about her anymore.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bush's Slow Response
Despite how hard the media tried to convince us that Bush's response to Katrina was slow, take a look at what the American people actually think, according to a Gallup poll that hasn't been picked up anywhere.