Sunday, April 01, 2007

So it's come to this

It's not like I have a lot of readers these days, but I still feel an obligation to let you all know what's what.

I've been posting here for over three years. Before that, I started posting at diet coke for breakfast, and at Elm and Ivy. Along the way I've brought some other people into blogging. And perhaps my proudest achievement has been teaming up with The Man, and eventually several others, to create Blogs4Bauer, which I'm pleased to say is still going strong, even though 24 has been pretty lame this year.

At times, I was a prolific blogger, putting up as many as 10 posts a day. More recently, I've been an absentee blogger, going weeks without any new content. It was exciting for a while to have my brother, tanstaafl, join me over here—but he's starting a new job this week, and will have next to no time to contribute.

For my part, I've been swamped at work. I also have my political obligations, and I'm now on the board at my church. When you get right down to it, I just haven't had the time that this blog requires in order to be worth continuing. I tried to get around that fact with my F'ed Up Fridays feature, which was fun for a while. But recently, even that has been too time-intensive.

Political blogging is hard work. The market is saturated, and in order to keep it interesting, you've got to put in the work. You have to find interesting topics, and you have to do the requisite research in order not to sound like an idiot. And it has to be fun.

For a while, I had so many things I wanted to post about, and just not enough time to do it—that was enough to keep me going. More recently, however, I'm even having trouble making the time to find topics that are interesting to me. That means it's no longer fun. I'm burnt out on politics, and it shows. And it's burnt me out on blogging about politics.

So, I've decided to shutter RFTR.

If there are any topics I just can't pass up, I may throw up a post here now and then. And maybe someday I'll be back full time. For now, I just can't do it anymore.

In closing, I want to thank my friends. Of course, everyone from diet coke for breakfast, particularly tanstaafl and Jake, for getting me started. I've thoroughly enjoyed my political blogging, and that's the only reason I'm bowing out now that it's become a chore.

To all of the rest of my friends, thank you.

The Man, thanks for being a constant friend and providing a perfect example of how to bow out of this when it's not fun anymore. We'll still be in touch, of course, and I look forward to having more time to contribute to B4B. Wyatt, I plan to continue supporting my local gunfighter, and of course continue working with you at B4B. The Boy, you're my only blogging AND facebook friend, so of course you won't get rid of me that easily. Jenn, even though we haven't been talking as much recently, I still enjoy your near-constant righteous indignation. Maybe now I'll be able to call into your radio show more often. I'm lucky enough to get TNNBG's precious little rants by email as well, and I look forward to those continuing. Dave, we also haven't been talking as much recently—but I still love what you have to say, and hope we can get back in touch as time goes on. GaijinBiker, I sincerely miss your wit and wisdom, and hope you return soon. Oh, and that your marriage works out well for you, too. Kobayashi, you're an inspiration—I'm not sure what else I can say. SarahK, we've had our ups and downs, but you're always entertaining. And I still intend to drive you nuts with my skepticism. Jim, I still fully intend to harass you on googletalk every chance I get. The same goes for you, Pam. Exile, I'll see you in a few weeks. And Renee, you know I'll always be reading. And overly critical.

Is that everybody? I hope so. If I forgot you, please don't take offense.

To my readers: it's been great having you along, and if I ever get back into this, I hope that you'll find me again. In the meantime, feel free to contact me at rftr.blogger@gmail.com, and I'll be glad to provide my indignant perspective on the issues of the day.

I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
RFTR

Friday, March 30, 2007

Yeesh

Watch this whole thing, and then read this.

This is the problem with debates like these. Rosie gets flared up and is just spouting nonsense that someone else spewed to her and she took as fact. What's my first inclination? To look up the melting point of steel. What's hers? To invoke Yale and Harvard in a way that she never honestly intends to follow up on.

Ridiculous.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - XIV

Kill them before they kill you.

The mom is right. And now the daughter will pay the consequences. It's really a pretty simple system: bad choices mean bad consequences, good choices mean good consequences.

And when the internet wakes up, you'll never see your car again.

Strippers are all thieves at heart.

Sure, that's what we should be doing—celebrating this guy. Somebody tell him to put the cookie down.

So, what, now we're counterfeiting our own money?

Don't forget about their headaches!

What a waste.

F the French.

Be careful, or you'll wind up with sawdust in places you never knew you had.

Number of hips liable to be broken? Four. (Thanks to Wyatt)

-----
Sorry for the short post and lack of pictures. As I said earlier, I've had a tough week and didn't have a lot of time to surf for FuF this week. Plus, none of you are helping much with the submissions, so quit your complaining and get to work, ya lazy bums.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Delay of Game

F'ed Up Fridays has been delayed. Due to a killer week, I just haven't had the time to pull the post together.

No worries, though—I have the material and will be posting it either this evening or first thing tomorrow morning.

Of course, that also means you have time to get in your own submissions.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Government Sucks—Figure it Out

Ron Bailey, via Instapundit, points out an important fact about the Walter Reed scandal:

You Wonder What Universal Government Health Care Might Look Like....

Well, look no further than the scandalous mess at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Crappy hospitals, endless waits, mountains of paperwork and, at the end of the day, no real accountability from the people who run the joint. Folks, if the government can't or won't take good care of our injured soldiers, what makes you think that it will take good care of little Sally or Uncle Bill?
There are very few things that government does well, and even fewer that government does better than the private sector.

We have been conditioned—by politicians who either hope to consolidate their own power or are so narcissistic that they think they (and only they) have the solutions to the world's problems—to think that government is a force for good, acting only to better society and to provide what the cold, cruel private sector does not.

There is such a thing as a market externality—these are the problems that the market will not act to solve, and result in situations where government truly is the only solution.

But the simple fact is that healthcare is as screwed up as it is today because of government intervention and regulation and the unfettered right to sue a doctor for pretty much anything.

Even for all of these problems, however, we have the best healthcare system in the world. We provide the kind of medical expertise that is not available anywhere else in the world. Sure, there are some treatments you can't get in the United States that you can get elsewhere—but we can easily boast the best doctors in the world. Furthermore, we do not have long waits for surgery—think it happens like that in countries with universal coverage? Not bloody likely.

Friday, March 02, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - XIII

3 VWs for under 17,000!

Um. Really??? Somehow I doubt it.

This may be the perfect news story. (Thanks to Wyatt.)

This is also pretty perfect. Bet Gore didn't want that little nugget to get out.

Many might expect me to point to this article and say something about how whiney psychologists are, or how everyone's always saying that the youth of today is doomed. Instead, I'd like to point out how right this article is. Kids are raised today to believe that they are all special, and deserve everything. I'm not concerned, however, as they'll learn the truth once they get real jobs.

Another banner day for NASA. (You'd think I'd be getting sick of criticizing NASA, but I'm not!)

Um. Wtf???

I'm surprised that this isn't more common, particularly with the number of cops out there using laptops while driving.

Heh.

She never realized that leather boots are made from skin. This is a perfect example of precisely the kind of people who support PETA.

This guy's colums sound hilarious. As far as preventing such hate speech from being published—well, it sounds like the market is taking care of that on its own, doesn't it?

Well, Brett, it sounds like the motives were to a)get a car, and 2)to get a baby.

Cool. Does this mean we can get them to stop pooping everywhere?

It's a good thing that our public schools are focusing on what's important. And keeping our kids off drugs.

Personally, I don't blame Bush or Gore for this one. But I do think we should ask Dennis Kucinich for his help. If you think about the history of science fiction, though, what's to say that aliens would provide us with technologies and alternative fuels that would be better for our environment? Anyone who's seen Alien vs. Predator, for example, knows what I'm talking about. (I.E. the Predators are hugely advanced, but see nothing wrong with potentially wiping out humanity if their big game (the aliens) escape from the sacred pyramid.) Then there's all of the sci-fi that deals with aliens who've consumed their own planet and are exploring the universe for new resources.

F'ing liberals. They really are perverse.

If it's melting, then stop pointing spotlights at it! Jeez. And don't freaking drop these there, either!

As a stockholder, I say give it to the stockholders.

Oh dear. Don't they know that the odd ones always suck?

Okay, now seriously, who hasn't used the showers at Yale for this? (Submitted by GOP and College, the pervert.)

So it appears that Angelina Jolie is adopting another kid, this time from Vietnam. In a related story, I have secured exclusive footage from inside the Jolie household.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - XII

I don't like coins period, so I don't particularly care what it looks like. Do you?

I gotta say, without him, DVR would be significantly less convenient.

Another banner day for NASA.

Yes, well, being an idiot and having people constantly point it out in public is bound to have an affect.

I have a close friend who deals with stress through hair-apy, and recently considered shaving her head. Unlike some people, however, she listened to her stylist and allowed herself to be talked out of the Sinead look. Of course, she also probably couldn't have turned a profit by going further.

Extra limbs sound like they could be a result of inbreeding; Nicky Janaway sounds like he almost certainly is.

Wait a minute. If they'd pulled over, it would have been legal? Of course, that may still have stopped traffic.

Get this: "Ratlam's superintendent of police, Satish Saxena said it was not immediately clear whether the hospital was disposing of bones properly." Um, it seems immediately clear to me. Am I crazy?

Yet another new reason why I prefer to stay the hell away from cats.

Talk about f'ed up cells.

Never forget the fastest way to become a millionaire.

Well sure, it's got to be bettter than playing Operation.

A smack upside the head should do it.

Twisted, but come on—is 122 attacks and 20 murders really THAT significant a statistic? And if you click through to the actual report, you'll see that the number was higher in 2004 and almost 2.5 times higher in 1999. There is no evidence of a trend of any kind, particularly not a rising one. This is stupid alarmism because it makes for a scary headline. And that's even more F'ed Up.

Thankfully, in space, no one can hear Richard Branson scream.

The tighter you squeeze your fist, the more they will slip through your fingers. Seriously, though, is anyone besides me surprised the RIAA hasn't been slammed by hackers in the past couple of years?

Why do I get the feeling she made this up?

Note to self: if you think you hear a rape, don't reach for your sword.

And that's probably about the most we should expect them to find.

This one speaks for itself: "One of the tourists -- a retired U.S. serviceman whom officials estimated was in his 70s -- allegedly put Warner Segura in a headlock and broke his clavicle..."

Read the first paragraph and tell me if it doesn't freak you out a little bit.

You know all of those pictures of 14 year-olds in Hamas colors carrying AK-47s around? Guess who can get into the U.S. with no problem. Better yet, if they're 16-18 and traveling with "religious groups," all they need is a birth certificate.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I must have a fever

While it doesn't do much to mitigate his other radical stands, there is apparently at least one reason to find Al Gore tolerable.

UPDATE [2/20/2007 - 19:07]: Link was broken, now fixed.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh Crap.

I hadn't even thought of this (via Instapundit):

If Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the presidency, some top Democrats would like to see her husband, former President Bill Clinton, appointed to serve out Hillary’s unexpired Senate term.
Isn't that one of the seven signs of the apocalpyse? From what I understand about the issue, it's a little hazy—but I think it's a definite possibility.

In all seriousness, I think Instapundit's question, "does a "twofer" argument help or hurt Hillary?" is the right one. For me, it definitely hurts her (as if that were possible). I am quite concerned about having spouses serve as President and Senator at the same time. Setting aside the potential divided loyalties that could arise (would a President Hillary be able to make the right decision for the country if it also means embarassing a certain junior Senator from New York?), the question raises serious issues for the separation of powers.

Our Constitution at its heart rests on divisions between the three branches of government (and subordinately between the two houses of Congress). While it is not rational to say that having a married couple serve in two branches at once eliminates the division between the two, I certainly have issues with the idea.

Anyone else have thoughts?

Friday, February 16, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - XI

How could they grant her bail? Isn't she something of a flight risk? (Submitted by Tanstaafl)

Only half??

Floating university costs with market forces? Makes sense to me—but the university may come to regret it.

I know fantasy football can be fun, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Loose websites sink... um, what's a modern equivalent that rhymes with "ships"? And what did Google negotiate for in return?

As Glenn Reynolds might say, I blame Ashkroft and Amerika.

So, apparently these people have not seen Minority Report. And they haven't talked to these people, either.

Well, they found a way to dodge taxes by paying rent to themselves—now if they can only find a way to sue themselves, maybe the 9th Circuit will be forced to decide something in their favor. (Submitted by Tanstaafl)

Well then, I went to college with a couple of stoners who can see like a hawk. (Submitted by Tanstaafl)

Um. And you get down, how? You know, if the theoretical building becomes unsafe?

It's about time the sealife started pulling its own weight. (Submitted by "Me")

This is news?

Wouldn't you expect that they'd have just lied about it?

Personally, I'm okay with blacklisting Canada just on principle—but this will work just as well.

And then they will rise up and turn us into their batteries.

I agree with the first sentence in the third paragraph. Amazing.

Unfortunately, I don't think the people who fail to change the default password on their routers are likely to visit CNET, either.

In other words, people are stupid approximately 2/3 of the time. With the exception of the Superbowl, I haven't seen a television ad in months.

Um, duh. That's how capitalism works. Now if only the billing operated on the same principles...

And planes will fall out of the sky. What do you want to bet no one even notices the error? Just in case, maybe I'll head to Natick.

Special thanks to those who submitted this week. As always, feel free to email me your F'ed Up news items.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Down with DRM

As the movement against DRM on digital music continues to gain momentum, there is a decent discussion from a couple of days ago in the comments on Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution. One interesting concept in his post: "DRM is a tax on digital consumers, compared to the low de facto restrictions put on CD buyers."
Also, I find it interesting to note that none of the commenters argue that DRM is GOOD for the record companies. The debate centers around just how BAD it really is.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and (climate) Statistics

Arnold Kling has this piece on TCS today. My favorite line is, "Climate data looks to me suspiciously like macroeconomic data. The true information content probably is not sufficient to produce a reliable model for forecasting." Having worked, both in school and professionally, with large data sets and economic models, I have always felt that climatologists either exaggerate or misunderstand the predictive value of their models. One of the concepts that was drilled into me in school is that even the best statistical models are only explanative, not predictive. In plain English, that means, they help describe how different variables were related in the past, but they have very limited ability to tell us how complex systems will interact in the future.

However, like Mayor Giuliani, I think that some of the ideas being kicked around to prevent the spectre of global warming are good for other reasons.

That's why I was glad yesterday when I noticed this story on Instapundit. Somehow it seemed like a strangely familiar idea.

Finally, as always, it is nice to see new additions to Professor Mankiw's Pigou Club.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Behavioral Modification

This article helps reaffirm the truth behind a rule one of my old bosses used to repeat on a regular basis: "Tell me how I'm measured and I'll tell you how I'll behave."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Crimson Pansies

Among the Ivy League schools, Yalies (like myself) take a lot of crap about going to school in New Haven. This is largely predicated on the New Haven of the past (late 80s, early 90s), which was a significantly more dangerous place.

But it really is a school in the middle of a city. The immediately surrounding areas have been cleaned up significantly (largely through the efforts of the University), but serious poverty is still only a few blocks away—and homelessness and crime often trickle their way onto campus.

It's a joke to other Ivy Leaguers that I lived off-campus my junior year and was about a block away from a shoot-out between cops and robbers. Tanstaafl, who went to high school in New Haven, was once notoriously asked "Did you spend the whole time ducking bullets?" when he arrived on the West Coast campus of his alma mater. But maybe that does Yalies some good?

From the Harvard Crimson comes a harrowing tale of fear and woe:

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a bizarre scene. As I crossed the Yard on my way to Lamont Library, I saw a dog stalking a squirrel while its owner stood close by. The dog crept forward stealthily, guided by an instinct that years of leashes and dog food could never completely suppress. Meanwhile, a crowd of bystanders gathered, titillated, perhaps, by the prospect of bloodshed, but at the same time confident that the dog would not succeed. Minutes passed. And then, with a rapidity and ferocity that shocked the onlookers, the dog pounced, caught the squirrel by its bushy tail, and proceeded to tear the helpless rodent to pieces. We gasped, not as much from horror as from disbelief. This was not supposed to happen.

Neither were the two armed robberies that recently took place on Harvard’s premises.

Much like dead squirrels, the idea of Harvard students being threatened with knives and umbrellas in the shadow of Widener Library is quite unsettling.
Heck, I'm pretty sure some Yalies hunt squirrels, not just their dogs—but that's besides the point.

Crime is not a constant on the Yale campus, but it is a reality. Yalies do not live in fear of it, but they act appropriately. For example, girls do not walk home alone late at night; they know better.

I don't have any evidence to suggest that Yale alumns approach the world more realistically than, say, Harvard students—but I do think that it's important to remember that not all education comes from classroom experience. Living with crime is part of the real world, and all too many college students are insulated from this reality.

How sad is it that Mr. Herz-Roiphe is so shocked that dogs eat squirrels and that thieves will target seemingly rich college students?

(We'll ignore the hilarity that an umbrella is considered by Harvard students to be a weapon used in armed robbery.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What is wrong with the world?

New York State, which includes the city in which I work every day, is apparently considering legislation to ban listening to an iPod while crossing the street. Do it, and you may face a $100 fine:

New York State Sen. Carl Kruger says three pedestrians in his Brooklyn district have been killed since September upon stepping into traffic while distracted by an electronic device. In one case bystanders screamed "watch out" to no avail.

Kruger says he will introduce legislation on Wednesday to ban the use of gadgets such as Blackberry devices and video games while crossing the street.
He also says "Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry." That's true, but not from themselves.

Somebody is listening to an iPod and doesn't hear a car coming? He deserves to get hit. I feel worse for the poor sucker he stepped out in front of. In fact, I'll propose my own law: if you're listening to an iPod and get killed by a car, your estate has to pay to have the dents buffed out of said car.

This is a simple issue in my mind: people need to be held responsible for their own actions, especially the stupid ones.

And while I'm on the subject, McDonald's Chicken McNuggets suck now that they took out the trans-fats. What is wrong with New York? Talk about a nanny state.

Other Coverage
Suitably Flip
The Man (special thanks for the image)
Polipundit
Crave

A Positive Step on DRM?

Yesterday Steve Jobs urged the major record labels to remove the DRM "protections" from music sold online:

Jobs said there appeared to be no benefit to the record companies to continue to sell more than 90 percent of their music without DRM on compact discs while selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system.
I suggested something similar back in December, so I'm glad to see Mr. Jobs get on board. I just hope the RIAA doesn't misinterpret what he said and put DRM on the 90% of music they sell on CD.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hedge Fund Approach to Climate Change

I meant to link to this article last week when I saw it. I think this is one of the best approaches I've seen to the climate change debate. Mr. DeLong does not argue that he knows the science or the ultimate answers to the issue or questions of the existance, causes or remedies of climate change. Instead, his point is that no one REALLY knows what the answers are, and that the drum-beat of 100% certainty that we get from the MSM opens the door to make some money. What I like about his approach is that it calls for the humility of recognizing what we don't know instead of the arrogant posturing that usually characterizes this particular debate. I especially like this paragraph:

In this world, the worst sin is assuming something has a 100% probability when it may well have considerably less, or assuming it has zero probability when it actually has a real shot. "They forgot the tail of the risk," is a term of contempt, bringing to mind bygone firms gone bust, such as Long Term Capital Management.
Read the whole article. And, if anyone has any suggestions of some mispriced assets from this debate or any other, put them in a comment here, and let's see if we can make some smart investments.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Nope, no bias here

I just heard George Stephanopolous on This Week say, "You have to feel bad for the guy [Biden]. He's definitely not a racist, but this fed into the perception that a lot of Democrats have, he shoots from the lip."

Setting aside the really bad pun on "shoot from the hip," what the hell?

When Trent Lott (note, I am no fan of his, either) said that the world would be better off if Strom Thurmond had become president, he clearly meant that Thurmond was a good man and would have made a good leader. But the press chose to make it "clear" that he meant it would have been better if the Segregationalist Party had won the presidency, and he was drummed out of his leadership role.

But Biden, who makes an equally offensive (and equally innocuous) slip of the tongue deserves our pathos?

Sounds fair.

[Note (2/5/2007 - 12:39): As I apparently had a stroke and initially wrote "Tom Delay" instead of "Trent Lott" I have corrected the above appropriately.]

Friday, February 02, 2007

IATF RFC Response

On Tech Central Station yesterday, Arnold Kling began the process of laying out principals that guide "contemporary libertarian conservatives." Since I consider myself a "small l" libertarian, I am taking this opportunity to respond to his RFC and hopefully help refine the IATF principal list:

Economic Principals
I'm surprised not to see some mention of the invisible hand of the market and a more explicit acknowledgement that people acting in their own self-interests can simultaneously be working toward the common good. I would also advocate a principal of limiting government's economic involvement to solving externalities and one of using market-driven policies or a respect for market forces to achieve public interest goals.

Ethical Principals
I am struggling with item #5. I am not sure I am comfortable with the government providing incentives for a particular form of life-style or family structure. I understand Professor Kling is only saying that the government should not incentivise people against family, but I worry that's a slippery slope. Government should be enacting policies that allow people to live as they see fit. [Update: Or, even better, the government should be repealing existing policies that limit or constrain how people live.] I would rather see this principal advocate protection for children who are not yet mature enough or capable of caring for themselves. I might mention them importance of strong education but I would limit any attempts to governmentally influence how parents' raise their children.

In item #6, I would broaden "Ten Commandments and Biblical scripture" to include something along the lines of "the moral teachings of the world's great religions."

I would add this principal: "We believe that morality and ethics should primarily be built upon the simple foundational premise that 'my right to swing my fist stops at the tip of your nose.'"

I like item #7.

International Principals
I think the international principals are fairly strong as they are. I would consider adding "We view diplomacy not as a goal, but as a tool to further other goals, including national security and the free exchange of goods, services, and ideas." I might also add (but I'm less concerned with this one), "We are unwilling to relinquish our individual liberties and freedoms to the will of foreign leaders who we have not elected to represent us. We do not feel embarassed or ashamed when citizens and leaders of other nations criticize our beliefs, ideas, or way of life. Instead we recognize their desire to live differently and request that they respect ours."

All in all, I think this is an interesting set of principals, and I am looking forward to seeing it develop and strengthen as Professor Kling leverages the internet's marketplace of ideas to refine the list.

Sure, but now what?

Charles Krauthammer has a fairly insightful column in the Washington Post assessing the current situation in Iraq:

America comes and liberates them from the tyrant who kept everyone living in fear, and the ancient animosities and more recent resentments begin to play themselves out to deadly effect. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, the overwhelming majority of them killed by Sunni insurgents, Baathist dead-enders and their al-Qaeda allies who carry on the Saddamist pogroms.
He's right that it's not our fault that they want to kill each other, but he doesn't comment on whether he felt this was predictable, and unfortunately he doesn't make any suggestions for what to do next.

F'ed Up Fridays - X

"IPCC report: By 2100 the sea level will rise anywhere between 5 and 23 inches," says this article. "If you were a roofer and you built a roof and it was two feet off, you'd still be doing time," says Lewis Black. Okay, okay, that's a rough paraphrasing of what he said—but really, it seems to me like five inches isn't going to do that much damage, but 23 would. So which is it? Oh, that's right, you have no freaking clue. So why are we freaking out about it?

"Oh my God, they killed Barbaro."
"You bastards!"
Seriously, though, doesn't all that effort to fix his leg seem like a bit of a waste now?

Maybe I shouldn't be so afraid of killer robots. After all, if this is any indication, they'll go blind regularly.

So can we blame Purell for the Kevin Federlines of the world?

Want to be a spaceman? Better overthrow the government, first.

I haven't yet seen An Inconvenient Truth, so that last fact was news to me. Still, it provides yet another reason for me to avoid Macs.

Sounds appropriate.

I'm sorry, but there is absolutely no way that a marijuana derivative will suppress hunger. Haven't these scientists ever heard of the munchies?

Ray guns make sense, but now we're going to take people out by causing them to slip and fall?

This is just disgusting. Talk about conspicuous consumption.

Can you really fault the guy for mistaking Charles for Frankenstein?

If they're going to stop selling them when current stock runs out, then it won't happen for a while. I mean, seriously, is anyone still buying them?

Robert is creative, Michelle is an idiot.

Or, you know, you could hire an extra gym teacher. Maybe there's a reason West Virginia ranks 37th out of 50?

Hilarious.

Lesson learned: don't try to host a Superbowl party if you have a really big TV—particularly if you a non-profit organization.

I don't even like reading text messages that people send to me, why would I want to read this?

And when the internet wakes up, it can play you like a fiddle.

This is strangely beautiful and yet utterly, utterly twisted at the same time.

Special thanks to those who submitted this week. As always, feel free to email me your F'ed Up news items.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Respectfully, Senator Specter, shut the hell up...

...if you don't know what you're talking about. From CNN.com:

A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush's declaration that "I am the decision-maker" on issues of war.

"I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said during a hearing on Congress' war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. "The decider is a shared and joint responsibility," Specter said.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Senator has never read the Constitution of the United States.

Well, let's give him a refresher. Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have power [...]

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
Article II, Section 2:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States;
In case you didn't follow that, Congress has the right to declare war and the President has command of the troops. In other words, the President determines the strategy.

Now, obviously presidential war power is not cut-and-dry, and Congress has long tried to secure more power than was initially granted by the Constitution (The War Powers Act comes to mind, and while I believe it to be unconstitutional it is the law of the land). Not since the Revolutionary War, however, has Congress tried to exert power over the way a war is conducted. They can choose to authorize it or not and they can choose to fund it or not—but trying to weigh in on military strategy is quite clearly beyond their power.

Perhaps Senator Specter should read the book listed above, as it might clear some thigns up for him—I'd be happy to send him my copy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Always Helpful Blue Shirts

Sadly, I was right and Mr. Lileks' efforts to exchange his purchase for the correct XM device turned into a debacle.

Weekend Religious Festival or Insurgent Rout?

Sounds like it was both.

War opponents will obviously try to paint this as more of the same sectarian violence. While I think it will be very dangerous for us to stay caught in a tribal war, I find this encouraging for a couple of reasons.

First, according to this report, the Iraqi security forces did most of the actual fighting. Guess that means that they're starting to be ready to stand up and secure the country.

Second, it sounds like there were only 6 or so Iraqi Security forces members killed (mostly in the opening skirmish) and 2 US troops (in a downed helicopter). If that's truly the case, and the insurgents lost 250-300 men out of a force of 400-600... one would have to think that's a pretty demoralizing victory.

Too bad you have to read down so far in the article to fish out those details. It would be nice if just once the headlines read "Insurgent Force Decimated" or "Iraqi Government Forces Repel Terrorist Attack".

All Jacked Up

Or should that be "All Kim-ed Up"?

I'll be liveblogging 24 for the first time this season, tonight, at 9PM Eastern.

So make sure to check it out at Blogs4Bauer.

Sound Familiar?

Instapundit links to this post about DRM.

Remember, folks, you heard it here first.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Night Thoughts

I spent a bulk of this afternoon updating the template here at RFTR (let me know if you have any recommendations by emailing me). Then I decided that, since I had little time to keep up with—and especially to comment on—the news this week, I should spend some time blog-surfing. In turn, this gave me the desire to comment on various things I found interesting. Below is a collection of those comments.

Instapundit comments on the growing civil war between the Fatah and Hamas factions in Palestine. It's likely that this may provide an answer to Tanstaafl's questions, posed the other day, by rendering 3a and 3b moot. If, in fact, the Shia/Sunni strife is breaking out in Palestine, then it matters little what we do in Iraq. Even if we manage to put down the rivalry, it will only be a temporary peace if the two sects are engaging one another on another front.

The entire thesis of this article—that the Geico caveman has jumped the shark—rests on this line:

While the latter is the more in-your-face defiant and barely suppressed angry response, it is the former—"I’ll have the roast duck with mango salsa" that has somehow become iconic.
Do you agree with that premise? I'm not sure I do. I think the angry "I don't have much of an appetite" is much more memorable. That Rosenbaum would rest his entire argument on a questionable assumption seems silly to me. And even if he is right, do we really care if the Geico caveman has become irrelevant? Seems like an awful lot of analysis, building from a flawed base, for naught.

In an otherwise fascinating article—which you should definitely read—Arnold Kling points out that "Greg Mankiw does better than Brad DeLong on scholarly recognition but not on Internet recognition." I think that, thanks to his blog the latter should start to shift in Mankiw's favor as time progresses. We can certainly hope that, at the very least, his common sense economics gain in popularity.

Finally, be sure to read Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq. Instapundit reports that Yon emailed him to say:
There are two types of media sources covering this war: the ones who are here, and those who are not. The media is Missing In Action, and reporting from afar. Yesterday, for instance, major media reported on an attack in a small village north of Mosul. None of those sources actually visited the village. I did.
Keep that in mind as you read what he has to say.

Friday, January 26, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - IX

Warning: Microsoft Office Vista may induce ranting blog posts when it is first used by this blogger.

I'm with the Internet poster.

In a word: no.

I'm with Spann. Luckily, I'm not the only one.

Wah, wah, wah. Yes, being wealthy enough to buy whatever drugs you want, and being dumb enough to do it, will likely alter your brain chemistry enough to cause depression.

For my money, the top of the list is a robot I read about in Popular Science. Get this: cut off a limb, and the thing figures out its new body shape and how to ambulate most effectively. Yes, that's right: unstoppable robots with enough artificial intelligence to keep coming after you. What's next, robots that can smell? Oh, wait.

And even our new ray gun weapons won't take them out, because they can't "feel" anything.

New on the Nintendo Wii: digital shuffleboard!

Voter fraud has never been easier. I suppose it could be worse, though.

Anyone else think this is a a little weird?

If they want to get an entire subway map on there, they'd better make it a magnum.

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Sorry folks, another short one without pictures this week. I'll be back soon enough, I promise. In the meantime, don't forget to email me your own submissions for FuF!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sunni vs Shia

From Strategy Page:

The removal of Saddam has already crippled al Qaeda throughout the Islamic world. The sight of American troops in Iraq enraged al Qaeda, and Islamic radicals in general. This was the one thing these maniacs could not tolerate. They all flocked to Iraq, began killing lots of Moslems, and after a year or so of that, plummeted in the popularity ratings throughout the Moslem world. Now the Saudis are mobilizing against that other terrorist backer; Iran. The Saudis are committing over $100 billion to this battle, and doing it out of the purest of motives; self interest.
I think this raises a few questions:
1) If this is true, has "crippl[ing] al Qaeda throughout the Islamic world" been worth the US blood and treasure in Iraq?
2) Is it good or bad for America that the Saudis (through their proxies) and the Iranians are gearing up for a battle royale over dominance of Islam? (The President said he thinks it's bad in the SotU the other night)
3a) If you say "good" for #2, do we pick a side or step out of the way?
3b) If you say "bad" for #2, can we stop it? How?

Worst Buy

From today's Bleat:
"I’ve had days at BestBuy where everyone knew everything. This was not one of them."

It's been a long time since I've had one of those days. God help Mr. Lileks if he realizes that the device he bought doesn't fit his needs and he wants to return it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SotU Reaction

I had considered live-blogging the State of the Union speech last night, but came to two conclusions. First, not enough people read this site to make that worthwhile, and second, I wanted to pay better attention than typing quick reactions would allow me. Instead, I'll try to give my impressions now that I've been able to sleep on it.

1) Energy
I think Bush's proposed policies are good first steps that are 7 SotU's over-due. I think that energy policy needs to be the cornerstone of the next President's platform. It has dramatic economic, foreign policy, national security, and environmental implications.

Two policies that I would have liked to have heard him support, but of course knew he wouldn't are a Pigovian Tax, and a federally sponsored X-Prize for clean energy technologies.

2) Education
Honestly, I have a hard time getting excited about No Child Left Behind. Reauthorize it, don't reauthorize it... doesn't really matter to me. It was nice to hear him mention vouchers, but that won't go anywhere.

Why doesn't anyone ever call them "scholarships"? Could the Democrats really oppose scholarships to needy children to attend better schools? The term "vouchers" is too distant from what they really are.

3) Healthcare
Greg Mankiw and Arnold Kling have both commented on Bush's plan since he announced it over the weekend. They are far more knowledgeable than I, but from what I can gather it sounds like a fairly decent plan. You should note, I say that as an employee of one of the largest corporations in the world, with a fairly gold-plated health care plan (which means that my tax bill would likely increase... I've now expressed support for two tax increases in one post, I must be running a fever).

I think Bush will need to line up as many economists and healthcare experts as he can and shove the Democrats' "knee-jerk" complaints back in their faces. This is not some huge new tax burden on the middle class. If anything, this seems fairly progressive (hat-tip Prof Mankiw).

If the Democrats can't get on-board with this, then they truly have no interest in trying to reform anything. This is their chance to embrace the bi-partisanship they keep crowing about and make a positive change for the future prosperity of the country. This plan has it all: Market forces and personal savings accounts for conservatives and progressive taxes for liberals.

4)The War on Terror & Iraq
Despite the fact that this was obviously the most important issue discussed last night, I don't have much to contribute here other than to echo some of what has already been written elsewhere.

I liked the line about no one voting for failure and the request that Congress give his new strategy a chance to succeed.

I think he did a masterful job (ok, so maybe expectations were low) of laying out the Iraq war in the context of the global struggle against Islamofascism. I especially liked the paralellism of the 2005 successes and the 2006 terrorist responses. Let's hope we can respond even more forcefully in 2007.

I agreed with his assesment that pulling out of Iraq is likely to leave behind a bloody and chaotic battle between Sunnis and Shiites that will drag in their supporters from all over the Arab world. I would have liked, however, and explanation of WHY that would be a disaster for America. As I've noted in the past, I'm skeptical that such a war would be all bad for the United States. Obviously the consequences of oil disruption are very negative (see SotU point #1 above), but if the various Sunni and Shiite factions are consumed in a tribal war, they are less likely to be focused on ways to kill Americans or wipe Israel off the map.

However, per the President's request, I am willing to give General Petraeus the opportunity to try to stem the violence and give the nascent Iraqi government a more fertile environment in which to grow.

I also find the notion of the non-binding resolution to whine about the President's plan in Iraq or the NBRWPPI (pronounced "nibrippi") childish. Anyone who votes for that resolution sure as hell better have their own proposal ready to go.

5)The Gallery Heroes
Cheers to all of them, especially Wesley Autrey.

A Secret Identity Revealed

For those who have always wondered, The Man is, in fact, John Kerry.

Think about it. They both quit on the same day. Their ramblings never make much sense, but induce large amounts of laughter. And they both wish they were as cool as Jack Bauer.

Oh, and they both wear hats.

For serious, though, we'll miss The Man.

Fooling Themselves

It seems that a liberal who had been posting at RedState was banned recently. He describes on DailyKos why he thinks this is a sad turn of events, and how much he thinks RedState has changed.

Now, I don't visit RedState, so I have no intention of defending that site.

But take a moment to read through some of the comments in and in response to the post linked above&8212;hilarious. It is indeed sad if RedState has gone from being an open environment to one of partisan enforcement, but it's laughable that DailyKos commenters are criticizing RedState for that alleged transition.

DailyKos has always been about browbeating its members into a one-dimensional world view. The "debate" found there ranges from the extreme left to the extreme extreme left. Remember, I'm speaking here as a conservative who used to post to DailyKos so that two sides of political ideology could engage in a civilized manner—and who was subsequently banned for attempting to explain that the justification for the Iraq War went beyond WMD.

Ridiculous.

Kudos to NPR

I know what you're thinking: "has he lost his mind?"

Yes, if I'm mentioning NPR, I'm usually ripping them on bias, or incomplete coverage, or just flat out inaccuracy. For once, however, I think they did something good.

Allow me to set the stage. Instapundit quotes a reader who says:

Jim Webb told the Air America/Randi Rhodes lie that the majority of the military doesn’t support the effort.

So once again, it seems Democrats get to lie without consequence or question.
Well, NPR did a little better than we might have expected.

What Webb actually said (my transcription from the audio available at the link above, 7:17 in) was:
The majority of the nation no longer supports this wa—the way this war is being fought. Nor does the majority of our military. Nor does the majority of Congress.
NPR says
The middle item in that series raises the question of whether the military really does not support the way the war is being fought.
and then goes on to say that the statistic is most likely based on a poll in the Military Times newspapers from December, which claims that in 2004 2/3 of respondents supported the handling of the war, and that it is now down to 1/3. They even concluded by saying that Webb's quote was a bit of a stretch.

I can't believe it myself, but I think NPR did a decent job on this one. They did pretty much just excuse the statement as a stretch, rather than saying the truth, which is that it's almost an outright fabrication—but they could have much more easily ignored the quote and glossed over it entirely.

Friday, January 19, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - VIII (or IIX, if you prefer)
Sorry about the short post and lack of pictures. I took sick last night, and didn't have the opportunity to finish this up like I would have liked. I should be back to full form next week—and don't forget to read the note at the bottom of this post.

Something about this just doesn't seem right.

Embedding our troops with Iraqi units may work well, unless the Iraqi government has a standing Order 66.

Stupid is forever.

I have an idea: let's have ESPN cover the war against the Islamofascists. Particularly if, as it appears, it will spin lefties into new levels of insanity.

Oh GOOD. More artificial intelligence, and now we're making it mobile.

He deserves more. Not better, more.

Hmm. I've never heard anyone suggest that terrorists might do something like this.

Hah. That's nothing. I know people who downloaded it on bittorrent a week before it aired. (More 24 fun.)

That sucks.

I think that they need to realize that it's fiction. And that it's not that far removed from reality. (More on 24 always available here.)

Not bad—it only took them two weeks.

The first step is admitting you have a problem. The next step is building up the strength of will to do something about it. Of course, I'm not expecting Amanpour to get to that point.

Thank God for porn.

The other two thirds are about making your penis bigger.

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Seen something ridiculous or funny in the news this week? Want to get in on FuF? I'm now taking submissions. Email me a link, your comments and (if you find an appropriate one) a picture to go along, and I may include it the next FuF. I'll even give you credit!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Cappella Brings Out Worst In Mob
[Originally posted on 1/10/2007 at 22:52—bumped to top for updates.]
The men's a cappella singing group of which I was a part at Yale, the Baker's Dozen, was attacked on New Year's Eve after performing at a private party in San Francisco.

As the group is still on tour (troopers, they are), they have asked me to post a statement on their website—it is now up.

My thoughts are with Sharyar, a great guy who was the central victim of a totally unprovoked and unbelievably outrageous attack, as well as the other guys who sustained injury in the fray.

More News Coverage
Baker's Dozen singers injured in attack - Yale Daily News

Yale Singing Group Attacked Outside New Year's Eve Party - FOX News

Homophobes assault US university singers - Sydney Morning Herald

Yale Singing Group Attacked in SF - Salon (AP article)

Renowned Yale singing group attacked in San Francisco - Boston Globe

Attack on Yale Singing Group in San Francisco May Yield Lawsuit - Law.com

Yale Singing Group Victims of Hate Crime... in San Fran! - Gay Patriot

A cappella brings out worst in mob - DailyIndia.com

Visiting Yale Singers Pummeled Outside New Year's Party - All Headline News

SFPD Criticized for Inaction After Unusual New Year’s Eve Fight - KCBS, CA

Yale group assaulted after San Fran party - New Haven Register

Continuing news coverage can be found via Google News. I'll post updates as more information becomes available.

UPDATE [1/11/2007 - 21:20]: The San Francisco Chief of Police, Heather Fong, has spoken out to defend the actions of her officers on New Year's eve. I recognize that she has to do that, but here's an important point raised in the article:

Reno Rapagnani, a retired SFPD officer whose daughter hosted the party, said he understood that the department's officers might have been overwhelmed on New Year's Eve.

"I'm trying to assist the department," he said. "I think any cop or any citizen would do the same thing. I hope."

Delay in interviews?

But, he said, there continue to be delays in police interviewing the singers.

"It just seems to be taking a lot of time. They assigned inspectors, and they were off for two days. They (the singers) were still in San Francisco for a couple of days. What does that look like? Maybe I'm missing something."
We've since heard that the BDs were asked to return to San Francisco to conduct further interviews. That's just ridiculous.

And, in case anyone is wondering what the BDs are really all about, make sure to check out this series of photos from a performance from January 10.

UPDATE [1/11/2007 - 22:56]: There's also this YouTube video taken sometime (I'm not sure exactly when) in the days immediately following the attack.

And this article... well, get this:
Now, 10 days later, investigators are demanding that the young men pay their way back to San Francisco to be interviewed. One investigator told a parent, "the kids are affluent, so they can afford it." The Baker's Dozen's attorney says it's ridiculous.

Whitney Leigh, Gonzalez & Leigh Law Firm: "The notion that the police should now put the burden on the families or on these kids to fly back to San Francisco, a place they're now afraid to come to frankly, doesn't seem to make any sense to me." [emphasis added]
Um, no kidding.

But there's good news:
Also today, a development that the police and mayor's office may not welcome -- former San Francisco prosecutor Jim Hammer has joined the team of attorneys for The Baker's Dozen.
The wheels of justice are slow. Hopefully they're turning in the BDs' favor at the moment, but come on. Who places the financial burden on the victims of an attack?

Apparently the San Francisco Police Department.

And San Francisco residents are speaking out. Let's hope that the SFPD does its job and resolves this more quickly than they have been, and with full justice.

UPDATE [1/12/2007 - 0:40]: I just watched the replay of January 11's Hannity and Colmes on FOX News. Sean Hannity has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone coming forward to provide information leading to the prosecution of the individuals responsible for this attack.

UPDATE [1/17/2007 - 11:40]: The SFPD have finally interviewed members of the group, but it's clear that a lot of questions remain.

Here is a good summary of all that has happened so far, with the good news that the issue is still receiving national attention.

And here's a rather amusing column about the incident. While I think it's unfair to accuse a group of guys who were, by some accounts from outside the group, outnumbered 8-to-1 of being wimps, the column is still entertaining.

More here and here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dean Barnett Schools Me:
Mr. Barnett has an excellent FAQ on the President's surge plan. I admit, I'm one of those bloggers he mentions who did not realize how relatively significant 21,500 additional troops are, considering "the current troop level in Baghdad is only 13,000."

However, Mr. Barnett also acknowledges that there "will be a lot more killing" and that "the Shiite militias will be targeted for destruction". I guess he doesn't share my concern that this kind of action will galvanize the Iraqi population against us.

F'ed Up Fridays - VII
Sorry folks, it's got to be a short one this week, with no pictures. I've been swamped at work, and trying to keep up to date on the Baker's Dozen developments. I hope you can still muddle through and find at least something of worth.

Does CNN have any idea what a "money shot" is? Also, I'm pretty sure you can get Paris by taking a screen shot of a certain video.

Sounds like the same kind of diversity of thought that I experienced at Yale.

Yay for science. 2007 may prove interesting.

My first guess was that the Statue of Liberty passed gas, but didn't want to admit it.

Dog bites man.

I hear it's very "safe" six feet under ground. Let's put this guy there.

Seriously? This sounds like the kind of thing you'd want to keep in sight.

God bless the unions. They constantly give us perfect examples of their selfish shortsightedness.

Banning pillow talk? Fascists.

Oh my God, this is made for me.

In legal marketing (what I do) this would be called identifying conflicts.

"Hi, Mrs. Air. Is Clean home?"

I think this is a mistake, disregarding years and years of significant branding effort. After all, I hardly think I'm the only one who thinks that the word "singular" looks weird now.

I think this is another mistake. Tanstaafl has additional thoughts.

So, now we're going to have to pay Microsoft to prevent them from giving us stuff we don't want and they don't manufacture?

What do you want to bet it's one kid with a slingshot?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

So much for Iraq siding with moderates against the extremists
From Yahoo News:

The regional Kurdish government condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the Iranians. It added that the government "was not aware in advance of the raid."
What makes us think that a democratically elected Iraqi government would be a US ally instead of an Iranian one?

A New Way Forward?
I watched the President's speech last night and have a few thoughts.

I was encouraged by several points:
1) Distributing oil profits to the Iraqi people. I still wonder how they expect to administer this plan, but if it goes well it could help turn popular support against those who disrupt the flow.
2) Cutting off Iran & Syria's suppport for terrorists in Iraq. Again, I'll believe it when I see it, but it's worth the effort.
3) His solicitation of other ideas from Congress and his admission that any mistakes were his fault. The Dems in Congress will still scream that he doesn't listen, but both points were rare and overdue bits of humility from this administration.

My problem with the speech, however is that we are still inadequately defining what our strategic goals in the country should be. It's hard to measure our progress if we don't know what the correct direction is. As a result, I discount any claim that victory is critical or that we can't afford to fail in Iraq because I don't know what constitutes victory or failure.

I've complained about this before, so I've decided to lay out what I see as the most important strategic goals.

1) A sustained and aggressive offensive against Al Qaeda. From what I can tell, we have had only moderate success on this goal in Iraq. It took us far too long to get Zarqawi and we allowed his groups to bomb the Mosque of Samarra. However, the fly-paper strategy has seemed to have some success. Many people talk of "draining th e swamp". I think we're better off trying to attract foreign jihadists to Iraq, as I continue to believe that the Marines and GI's in Iraq are better equipped to deal with these terrorists than the Sheriff in Yuba City, CA or the beat-cop in Boston, MA.

2) Depriving Iran of control of Iraq's oil. We are slipping on this goal. While Iran has not marched across the boarder and seized the oil fields, I worry that they pull the strings with Muqtada al Sadr and that he will emerge as Iraq's leader, whether he is popularly elected or he takes over by force. Based on the fact that Saddam's guard's were shouting "Muqtada" when they put the noose around Saddam's neck, I would not be surprised to see a military coup in support of the Shiite leader. As I understand it, many of the death squads are manned by members of the new Iraqi army anyway.

3) Do not allow our troops to become involved in a Shia vs. Sunni (vs. Kurd) civil war in Iraq. There is pent up hostility between these groups that predates but was exacerbated by Saddam's rule. I still worry that this is a powder keg, and right now we are just seeing the sparks.

So is a "surge" of troops the best way to achieve these goals? I doubt it.

I still believe that redoplying our troops to bases in the desert will help them protect the oil infrastructure, stage special forces operations against Al Qaeda, deter Iran from invading, and remove our troops from the middle of the sectarian violence in the cities.

If we try to impose security in Baghdad with extra troops, then we will find ourselves fighting both the Sunni Insurgents and the Shiite militias. When that happens, it means that the Iraqi people, not Saddam's forces, have become our adversary, and that will be a road to disaster.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Not Ready?
Arnold Kling has an interesting interpretation and application of a couple papers written by North, Wallis, and Weingast (NWW), in today's Tech Central Station.

Iraq was never on the "doorstep" of becoming an open-access order. The major factions are not willing to give up their weapons and concede military power to a central coalition. There are no perpetual-lived organizations that can make long-term contractual commitments. There is not even a willingness among factions to grant one another rights under the rule of law.

Accordingly, I would say that there is no chance that the United States will succeed in its objective of establishing an open-access order in Iraq. The best we can hope to do is restore Iraq to a natural state, meaning a limited-access order where rights and power are exclusive to certain elites, who will be subject neither to economic nor political competition as we know it.
If you accept this premise, the US is now in a very difficult spot. We would essentially need to choose some strongmen to run the country and then help them hunt down and kill their opponents. Unfortunately we've probably made enemies of any strongmen capable of keeping a lid on Iraq, and I doubt the American people would look favorably on the US Army essentially supporting a coup.