Thursday, December 29, 2005

From TCS Daily - The Most Important Economic News of the Year

Quoth the inimitable Dr Kling:
TCS Daily - The Most Important Economic News of the Year: "The politicians have done nothing to slow the growth of entitlements. The mainstream media have totally missed the most important economic news of the early 21st century, which is the strong productivity growth. The state of the economy in 2005 is that it is performing well in spite of both the pols and the pundits."

Of more interest
In a recent TCS interview, Robert Fogel suggested that productivity growth of 2 percent per year would be sufficient to ensure the soundness of Social Security. With three percent productivity growth, even Medicare may be sound.

Yep, emphasis is added.

Sacco, Vanzetti, and Upton Sinclair

A note from the LA Times via "Jane Galt" of "Asymmetrical Information":
Upton Sinclair's novel "Boston" is a fictionalized account the Sacco & Vanzetti trial of the early 20th century. There is, alas, a bit of a problem:

"...Soon Sinclair would learn something that filled him with doubt. During his research for "Boston," Sinclair met with Fred Moore, the men's attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore "sent me into a panic," Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago.

"Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth," Sinclair wrote. " … He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them."

Here's the link to Jane Galt.
Here's the link to the LA Times article

Monday, December 26, 2005

I don't think it was malice; musta been ...

The local NBC franchise here in the DC area starts a bit on the holidays by announcing the end of the twelve days of Christmas and the beginning of Hannukah.

The twelve days of Christmas, of course, start on Christmas day. That's why Epiphany (6 Jan) is also called twelfth night.

So was the Anchor or, more likely, the newswriter speaking from ignorance or from malice?

Well, there's the old adage attributed to Bonaparte: "Never ascribe to malice what is adequately described by stupidity." That might be a paraphrase.

Does Napoleon's wit apply here?

Yep, I think so. Which invites the following question: if they're screwing this up, what else are they screwing up?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Christmas wish for all of you...

The most evocative carol for me is found in the penultimate verse of It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. Apparently Dr. Jerry Pournelle and I share the view:

O ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
Look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long
Beneath the heavenly strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not the tidings that they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing!

For those defending themselves this night, as some did on Christmas Night, 1950, this is not meant as insult; it is a wish that it might be so. I do not think anyone in the situation of having to bear arms on Christmas Night will misunderstand or take this amiss.

And the best wishes of the nation to all our troops overseas. To those who are under arms this night, may you be safe from harm.
Amen, Doctor.
NOTA BENE: the [colorful adjective] numbskulls who created the modern Episcopal Hymnal bowdlerized this, among many other, hymns and carols. Please accept my presentation of the true lyrics as a show of deliberate disrespect to those responsible.

Everyone else, as our British cousins say, Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

People who fail to save for their own retirement...

are irresponsible and don't deserve government assistance. Specifically, they're more irresponsible than the much whined-about teenage single moms.
Quoth econlog:

One of the main stumbling blocks to Social Security reform is the view that left to their own devices, many people will fail to save for their own retirement, and "we as a society" can't allow them to live in poverty. Objectively speaking, however, there is a strong case that people who fail to save for their own retirement are much more irresponsible than teenage single moms.

How so? You can become a teenage single mom just by yielding to impulse once. And once you have a child, it takes two decades of hard work to make up for your youthful indiscretion. I won't say "It could happen to anyone," but there are a lot of responsible adults out there who are lucky that their risky teen-age behavior didn't happen to mess up their lives.

In contrast, no one fails to save for his retirement because of a few minutes of teen-age passion. To fail to save for your retirement, you need to make the wrong decision week after week, year after year. If you're too immature to save for your retirement in your twenties, you have a second chance in your thirties, a third chance in your forties, and so on. In short, to fail to save for your retirement, you have to be consistently irresponsible for decades.
Yep, the emphasis is added

Read it all here.
or here:

Monday, December 19, 2005

Also sprach the PC crowd

From Dr Helen's blog: If you think that boys don't suffer from abuse at the hands of women, than you have to read this. It is the story of a 13-year-old boy who was first abused by his mother and then by the school system who treated him as a criminal rather than a victim of abuse. Why is it that liberals will go to great lengths to fight for the rights of people who are not really victims and then deny the real victims any solace? It is hard to believe that such an abusive counselor is allowed access to a school system--if I were this kid's parent--I would be down at this school in a flash.

Admittedly, it doesn't take much to get me out of the starting blocks when the educational industry starts stomping 'round the room. I dealt with at least my fair share of jackasses (and jillasses) whilst growing up back in the dark ages. BUT, an article like this really raises my blood pressure.

Tell you what, let's all send copies of the article to our congresscritters.
Congresscritter (Fill in last name)
State (s)he represents
Washington, DC 20515
It'll go faster if you add the four digit extension, which you can find here. However, it will get there with the simple address above.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

If what Saddam might do with WMDs...

Is a 'good enough' reason to remove him from power, does the lack of WMDs change things?

Answer: no. We know what Saddam did when he had WMDs...

Here's James Zumwalt in "Marine Corps Times" on the subject:
"Obeidi’s revelations raise an interesting question: If Saddam acted as if he had WMDs because he believed, however illogically, he possessed them, how can we fault our own intelligence agencies and the president from arriving at a similar conclusion? After all, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, one would not be unreasonable in concluding it was a duck — even if such a conclusion later turned out to be inaccurate."
Read it all.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Journalists? Statistics? Naw, couldn't be a problem!

So, ye olde WAPO this am publishes a Why-are-men-disappearing-from-Higher-Education article. The article itself's here.

Well, there are two reasons why the percentage of men-on-campus is falling:
1. The percentage of men going to college is decreasing; or,
2. The percentage of women going to college is increasing.

If the answer's #1, we might have a problem, Houston. If, howsomever, the answer's #2, then the statistic's actually good news.

Here, from -- nota bene -- Salon is a posting saying the answer's #2; everyone with constricted bowels and tightened sphincters can relax.

So who's right? The answer could be "Both". The percentage of women entering college is expanding (though not, alas, in the hard-science-engineering pursuits which would lead to some real change in the status of women) but there is some evidence, which I am too lazy to dig out now, that the percentage of men choosing specialized and technical education vice the mark one, mod one college is expanding too.

Stand, as the saying goes, by.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Jane Galt on the engineering failures of GWB

From the disaster reviewer in N'awlins:
"The floodwall on the 17th Street Canal levee was destined to fail long before it reached its maximum design load of 14 feet of water because the Army Corps of Engineers underestimated the weak soil layers 10 to 25 feet below the levee, the state's forensic levee investigation team concluded in a report to be released this week.
Quoth Jane Galt:
"What really chaps my ass, of course, is that if George Bush had been doing his job, checking the soil substrates under the levees, this never would have happened. We expected him to protect the country from disasters, and this is the one of the biggest disasters ever to hit the country. Yet where was George? Not taking soil cores, doing sonar analysis,or analysing soil samples in the lab--that much is clear. What the hell does he think we elected him for?"

Read it all.

Ye flippin' stars, in lieu of a more pungent term. Let's review some basics. Disaster recovery, especially from a disaster you can see coming, needs to be a local job. If it isn't you'll get my fellow bureaucrats establishing blizzard standards for New Orleans and tropical storm emergency preparations for Anchorage. I kid you not. Want to know what else? Reviewing the infrastructure and looking for disasters-in-waiting is a local job too.

The Prez, which is one reason why I don't 'specially care for his branch of the Republican Party, has [dramatic sigh] again rolled over for the bad guys and allowed a substantial amount of federalization for no very legitimate reason. Politics, in this case, is not a legitimate reason.

Bless his heart.