Saturday, January 12, 2002

Random Jottings linked to a Victor Davis Hanson NRO piece on war words. The entry I'll found interesting was "Republic of ------": outside the West, means no elections. This flows neatly with Byron's Law of National Adjectives- civil liberties are inversely proportional to the number of adjectives in the country's name. A mere "Republic" will often have tolerable civil rights while a "Democratic Republic" or a "People's Republic" will be strongly authoritarian. People's Democratic Republic translates to "Your rights are crispy critters". I think North Korea is the lone PDR left standing. Pre-90's Albania was a PDR as well and was just as toxic as North Korea.

CYA in Kandahar- Instapundit links to a Times of London piece on buggery in Kandahar. Turned out that Kandahar was famous for being the San Francisco of South Asia before the Taliban moved in. Could this be a function of Islamic polygamy? For every guy with two wives, there's a guy left without a woman looking for ways to scrotch his crotch. There's a good sociology Ph.D. dissertation there for the taking.

Beam him up, Scotty- Jim Traficant, long-time Youngstown congressman, is on his last legs. The Sultan of Special Orders is on trial for racketeering, bribery and conspiracy charges next month, and the redistricting plan slated for Ohio will likely carve up his district as Ohio has to lose a seat. He was a trooper during the Contract with America era, voting for much of the package despite a D beside his name. You couldn't write a much more colorful character. Other than seeming to be mobbed up, his biggest downside was being a hard-core protectionist. However, if you ever drove through Youngstown and saw the Rust Belt at its most rusty, you can understand the protectionist sentiment from a town that got decimated by the shriveling of Big Steel worse than Flint did when GM went downhill. Beam him down, Gorzon. Jerry Rice just had a Rician day, with about 200 yards receiving, as he just scored to put Oakland up 31-17 as I came down to blog. I thought I was joking last night when I said he was from another planet.

FCYA toolbox- stumbled into Brainyquote.com while looking to doublecheck a Eleanor Roosevelt quote I sited. Good little link to have. One downside- they have Twain, not Disrali, sited for "lies, damn lies and statistics." Will someone settle that one, please? Another good blog from the Great White North, the Happy Fun Pundit. Nice defence of Dubya in this post

Democrats are shocked, shocked that Dubya would use the recess appointment to put Eugene Scalia and Otto Reich into their posts. Scalia was being kept out of his Labor Department job mainly for being his father's son, while Reich's backing of the Contras in the 80's while in the Reagan state department got him on the liberal's manure list. These two are qualified for their positions. Reich may be too qualified, so liberals may worry about him actually accomplishing something. In comparison, Clinton's most memorable recess appointment was of Bill Lan Lee to assistant attorney general for civil rights, who thumbed his nose at the Supreme Court rulings against affirmative action. Clinton also used the recess appointment to name James Hormel to an ambassadorship, going around Republican senators who weren’t going to send a homosexual activist to represent America. The Democrats are complaining that Dubya is making an end-run around the advice and consent clause. He's making an end run because the constitution didn't intend a filibuster and consent clause.

Quip Du Jour- "Man does not live by bread alone-frequently, he needs a beverage"- Woody Allen Edifier Du Jour -"Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."-Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:7 (NIV)

Enron Endgame- The real problem with Enron seemed to be too much hidden debt. A good company with too much debt can go under with just a mild downturn. Auditing is supposed to show the investing public the financial status of the firm, but a series of debt-laden off-balance-sheet partnerships hid the true indebtedness and riskiness of Enron. Enron might have still gone under if they were honest about their debt burden, but the bondholders and stockholders would have had time to bail out or demand higher returns for staying. Whether Arthur Andersen was asleep at the wheel or some financial officers pulled a fast one on AA and the public or both will be the topic of many depositions in the months and years to come. Don't worry too much about the political fallout. Enron was a star student of the ADM school of campaign finance; 71 Senators got money from Enron execs in the last decade, including Tom Daschle. Democrats can't she-dog about the Dubya-big oil connection when their guys had their hands out as well. The one potential downside is that McCain and company will make Enron a poster boy for campaign finance reform.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Largent '08?- Soon to be former Congressman Steve Largent (former Seahawk HOF receiver) is running for governor of Oklahoma, leaving his congressional post to devote himself to the race. A fellow Republican was just elected to fill out the rest of the term. If elected, I think he could be the '08 Republican Presidential nominee. Young, articulate evangelical with a modest nature (Dubya 2.0). Give him a term and a half as governor by the Winter of '08 and he'll be a player. His Oklahoma caucusmate, J.C. Watts, gets much more swoons from conservatives, but wasn't John Qunicy Adams the last member of the House to win the presidency? [Correction, no,Garfield in 1880] Football geeks- Largent or Biletnikoff, adjusting for stickum factor, as your all-time possession receiver? Rice doesn't count, he's from the same planet Warner's from.

Natalija Radic writes over in Samizdata in regards to incest, "If people want to have a relationship that is not coercive, how is that anyone else's business? Violence within a relationship and rape are reasonably illegal but if those are absent, what is the problem?" She's bouncing off of a Guardian article that denotes the history of incest laws and the genetic inbreeding problems that can occur. The vast majority of incest cases I have heard about started out as coercive. The young woman in the beginning of the Guardian article was most likely coerced into the relationship by her father as a teenager and grew to see it as normal. Girls hit puberty as their moms are starting to get matronly. Dad could easily be more attracted to his daughter than his wife and is in a position to impress his will on his pubescent daughter, whose emotional development may not be up to the challenge of saying no. Laws are needed to keep fathers from acting on those urges.

The idea that the Nazis disliked biblical Christianity isn't news. However, now we're seeing the details (thank you, Junkyard Blog, for the link). Any student of theology who's familiar with Dietrich Bonhoffer's story will know that the Nazis tried, with quite a bit of success, to twist the German church into a subservient role, and that the Confessing Church movement tried to resist cooptation. If I remember correctly, this was documented in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, but it's been many moons since I read it. Flashback-circa 1995- I'm watching Larry King, who has Jesse Jackson and Ralph Reed on. Jesse's rant du jour was on the Church being asleep at the switch about various injustices through history (he did have 3/4 of a point there). When Jesse starts in on the German church for not doing enough against Hitler, I'm all-but-screaming at the screen, "Give Him Bonhoffer, Give Him Bonhoffer." Once he can get a word in edgewise, Dr. Reed (Ph.D. History-Emory U(?)) does just that and makes my evening. Eileen's a recovering Presbyterian, who has a masters in Christian Education from a Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) seminary . Both of us note with irony the that the conservative rump of the otherwise liberal PCUSA is calling itself the "Confessing Church Movement." A serious take-down by implication of the liberal core of the denomination.

Cry Even More for Zimbabwe-Mugabe has gotten an A+ in Police State 101. Course Topics: Banning foreign journalists and licensing domestics ones, banning criticism of the president and his office and banning poll watchers at the upcoming March presidential elections. This on top of encouraging squatters to forcibly take over white farms. One can only pray that Mugabe will go the way of Marcos and Milosevic with the people rising up semi-peacefully, showing him the door. I've now got a personal interest in this, as (my fiancée) Eileen's new brother-in-law was born in Zimbabwe (actually pre-Mugabe Rhodesia). Uli's Anglo-German family are in agribusiness in neighboring Zambia, where the white-black issues aren't as toxic. I pray that it stays that way.

The French actually get one right? A judge had earlier awarded damages in a "wrongful birth" suit, holding a doctor liable for not recommending aborting a child who was born severely deformed. The legislature has just passed a law reversing that decision. Jonah's going to be in shock, the cheese-eating surrender monkeys do occasionally have some common sense.

Do Cry for Argentina- Skip the Evita schmaltz-when the word "statist" shows up, the image of a Peronist hack comes first to mind. Now those guys are back in charge. It's going to get worse before it gets better, since "Third Way" neosocialism isn't their style. I haven't sat down and thought out a good responce to their economic meltdown, but I do know one thing from my Developmental Econ class from grad school- the Peronists ain't the answer, they're part of the problem. By meddling in the economy in ways that would make Hillary blanche, they'll only exaserbate the problem and be a massive drag on economic growth. Prayers are an order-let's give the praying Catholics and Pentecostals (under-the-radar fact: about 20% of Argentina is Pentecostal, if memory serves) down there some extra air cover in this war. Correction-Argentina's only about 6% Pentecostal. It's Brazil that 20% evangelical, 16% Pentecostal, based on the 1993 version of Operation World. I need to get a newer version of the book. FCYA.

First fan letter from James Haney , who agrees with me on the "Make a Wish/Get Lucky Foundation" fans over as Samizdata. "Although I am comfortable describing myself as a libertarian, the Samizdata defense of hiring a prostitute for the 15-year-old kid grossed me out." He clues me in that they're now backing incest. I'm reminded of the old Rocky Horror quip, "Incest is best:keep it in the family" that we jokingly threw out in college, and shudder.

TGIF, Blogistan. Edifier Du Jour-"If your stomach troubles you, pacify it with cool thoughts"- Satchel Paige Quip Du Jour-If an abortion is "terminating a pregnancy", is the abortionist The Terminator? Hasta la vista, baby!

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Newly discovered memo from network news division showing a template for a basic investigative piece 1: Find winsome victim-child or young mothers are best. “Susie Jones was an active, funloving teenager form Smallville, Iowa, until tragedy struck last year.” Show pictures of Susie in basketball uniform and helping out with children at church. 2: Have survivor fighting off tears remembering how they lost victim. Mrs. Jones, “If it wern’t for that sidewhomping jointroint, sniff, sniff, Susie’s still be with us today.” 3: Explain problem with authoritative consumer safety agency. Show people looking very scientific, white coats and testing gizmos visible. “The Center for Jointroint Safety reports that 124 people have been injured and 8 killed by jointroints over the last 3 years. Studies have shown that when placed at a 34 degree angle, jointroints exhibit calamitous sidewhomping motions.” 4: Allow industry to rebut, but make it hard for them to do so. A printed statement is good, getting them to refuse to talk to us looks even better. Show the press release, magnifying the pertinent parts when the reporter starts referencing them. “ While no one from Jefferson Jointroints would speak on camera with XBC News, they issued a press release stating that the jointroint design has been rigorously tested and that they see no tendency towards sidewhomping.” 5. Have consumer advocate trash the manufacturer. Jane Wakefield from Citizen Action: “The jointroint industry has known about sidewhomping for years and is too interested in their bottom line to fix the problem.” 6: Note the bill to fix problem is before Congress. Have emphatic Democrat support tighter regulation. “The Republicans have been in bed with the jointroint industry for years. The blood of dozens of sidewhomping victim is on your hands, Mr. Speaker! How many people like Susie Jones have to DIE before we come to our senses and pass this bill?” (Pause for large applause from floor) 7: Allow a very dull Republican to defend the industry. “This is another unneeded regulation that will cost consumers money while attempting to solve a problem that is negligible at best.” 8: Close the piece by showing survivor walking forlornly across yard (gravesite if possible). “If the proposed bill passes, jointroint safety will be improved. However, it will be too late for the Jones Family. Mike Standup, XBC News, Smallville, Iowa.”

Some good news on the practical environmental front: After a decade-plus of NIMBY foot-dragging by Nevadans, the Yucca mountain nuclear waste storage facility is due to open. With safer technologies, such as pebble-bed reactors being developed, nuclear power is getting a second look after the electricity scare of last year. Now, they’ll have some place to stash the waste. Loonie Tunes- Canada is seriously looking into adopting the US dollar. Prime Minister Chretien isn’t quite ready to do so, but a parliamentary committee is looking into it. With the loonie down at $US0.63 and slim prospects of improving vis-à-vis the U.S. given the Liberals lock on power, it might be the best move for them. However, the PM who pulls the trigger on that decision will have to be either gutsy or desperate, and it will take a while for Chretien to get quite that desperate. One Step Ahead of the Law- al Qaeda operatives are bugging out of Somalia while the bugging’s good. Now that Afghanistan is in mop-up mode, Somalia is a prime candidate for some well-applied U.S. muscle, and Osama’s boys know it. In geopolitics, it is better to be feared than to be loved

Return to Normalcy- Dubya does his first post 9/11 rubber chicken for his brother's reelection campaign. Florida will be interesting- which will go nuclear first, India-Pakistan or Bush-Reno?

Good bloggin' today-found where Blogista Baptist Church is-over at Junkyard Blog. He has a good essay on being a Christian and a professional astronomer, intergrating faith and science It rocks compared to my meager essay on creation/evolution yesterday.

There’s a lot of good food for thought over at Samizdata, but I was more than a bit perturbed when they were championing the Australian teen with cancer that received the services of a prostitute in order to experience sex before dying. I’m glad I’m not the only one bothered by the over-the-top libertoids. Second new favorite of the day, Kevin Holtsburry, echoes my thoughts fairly well. I’ll have a longer piece on this front, after I get out of "nuke the (expletive-deleted) heathens" mode.

I've stumbled into a new favorite, Transterrestrial Musings. The author writes with (what I've seen so far) intelligence and wit. His piece on asteroid close-calls in the current version is a keeper. He even uses a version of one of my favorite lines for Pollyanna attitudes "...the man who jumps off the building, and calls out as he passes every floor, 'Doing fine so far!'" The one I learned was "Optimist jumps off Empire State Building-halfway down-he says 'So far, so good'." He does have a fun post as he fact-checks Ken Layne's derriere, catching a egregious math error on Layne's site.

Interesting line heard on way in this morning. NPR piece on Columbian civil war with Columbian president threatening an offensive against FARC guerrillas holding a big chunk of the south. A presidential candidate (didn't catch name) said that he prefers "an imperfect peace process to a perfect war." Sounds like Israel's moved to the Andes.

Quip Du Jour-"Sir, you have the vote of every thinking person in America" "That's not enough-we need a majority." Adli Stevenson and fan (well, it might carry the day in Blogistan) Edifier du Jour-"Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. "-Psalm 112:1 (NIV) One could use a scatological metaphor, but I'm finding a flood of pent-up ideas which didn't have an outlet before the new blog opened up. I hope that the stuff I write is interesting and somewhat funny. To lift from the Coz, "if you're not careful, you might just learn something." I know I have, the Joytron was invented yesterday morning as I received a better way to talk about utility.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Economics R Us- Quantum Economics II "Joytrons-More Expensive by the Dozen" The concept of diminishing returns has a major effect on economics. As wealth increases, it will take more money to get the same amount of joytrons. The flip side is that wealth is valued more when you have less of it. You get more bogons when $X is taken away then the joytrons you gain when $X is added. This creates risk aversion. Most people won’t want to take a big even-money risk, if you get 13 bogons if you lose and 11 joytrons if you win. Bets may still be “rationally” made if the fun-based joytrons generated from playing the game outweigh the expected net bogon return. To get people to make risks, the return will have to be better than break even. If a $1000 loss will give 13 bogons, the payoff for winning flips will need to be $1100 or $1200 to make the bogons and joytrons balance.This is why the riskier the investment, the higher the return. To offset the possible bogons that will come from losses, the expected returns must be high enough to convince the investor that it is a net joytron producer. Risk aversion is also a factor in the politics of fiscal policy. If a voter has to choose between tax cuts or more spending, he’ll be able to measure a set amount of joytrons he’ll get from the spending versus an unknown about of joytrons from the tax cut which will be dependant upon his future income. The tax cut has to be seen to be very beneficial for him before he’ll give up the “sure thing.” This is why Democrats like to stress Medicare and Social Security as likely victims of tax cuts- these are sure things that all people look forward to. The average voter would be biased towards a fixed amount of retirement goodies versus an unsure amount of tax breaks. This is one of the reasons that Democrats tend to poll better the further away the election is. The closer the voter is to the election, the better informed he is and will be thus more assured about the Republican’s platform. The voter will tend to think it’s a “risky tax scheme” until he actually gets the details later in the campaign. This is why Dubya’s tactic of saying that a family making X thousand will pay Y less in taxes was good-it’s a confidence builder, reducing apparent risk. I'm still working out some of the technical details of Quantum Economics. The tricorder mentioned in part I was a prototype, but being a good steward of the public's money, I wondered if an off-the shelf bogometer could be retrofitted to detect joytrons as well as bogons.

There’s a bit of going debate in Blogistan on whether it’s a cheap shot to call evolution “just a theory,” thus justifying slipping creation-based curriculum into the classroom. Here’s a slightly-edited version of what I posted on Transterrestrial Musings. I'm in the "working theory" camp. I got to look at the Creation Science books in the late '80s at the local Baptist school; not much science beyond "God did it". There's a growing "intelligent design" movement amongst some serious biologists. I haven't studied it too seriously, but what I’ve seen falls closer to a defendable idea; that our biology is too complex to have happened just by luck, someone (e.g. God) had to have planned it out. Theistic evolution is something Catholics and liberal Protestants can swallow, but for a (hopefully) good evangelical like myself, you then have to read the first part of Genesis a bit weirdly. Adam and Eve were a separate lab experiment of putting people in a perfect spot and yet they turned away from God. Noah was part of regional not worldwide flood (Black Sea undersea archeology gives some support here). Genesis is Adam & Eve>Fast forward to Noah>Fast forward to Abram/Abraham. From Abraham on the Bible is largely backed up by history and archeology; it's at least a non-anachronistic period piece. It’s Adam and Noah that the evangelical intellectual has to reconcile. Figuring out how God did it's the question, since I'm not buying the dumb luck option. I'm open to creation being in six eras rather than literal days, since “day” can refer to an era in other parts of scripture; the Genesis account tracks the evolutionary account surprisingly well when you allow that it was a theology rather than biology text. When we get to heaven, I'll be sure to ask Him how He did it, but in the meantime, I’ll have to continue to figure it out for myself

Economics R Us: “Rate Cuts, Si, Lump Sum, No.” As a recovering neoliberal (one day at a time, allow God to help me through relapses of bleeding-heartism) I’ve found microeconomics to be helpful in understanding classical (a.k.a. “supply side”) macroeconomics. You usually don’t get taught this in a typical Keynesian-centric Macro class (unless you were in the Macro class I taught at Davenport U.). I’m going to look at how cutting tax rates are more useful a stimulus than giving each taxpayer a set amount. To start our analysis, consider the decision of how much to work, earning money to get stuff, versus not working and having more time to enjoy the stuff. A lump-sum payment will give you more money to spend but will not positively affect the amount of work you do. In fact, it’s likely you’ll work a bit less after this lump sum payment. That $300/person Dubya check might make that marginal difference allowing a mom to stay home with the kids or a college student taking summer school rather than getting a summer job, or a retiree debating a part-time income supplement sticking to the flower beds and bridge tables. Extra income thus allows people to afford more leisure. In microecon, this is called the Income Effect. Changes in tax rates will create a second effect, the Substitution Effect. A tax cut will give you more money per dollar worked. If you were bringing home $12/hour before the tax cut and $13/hour after, you might decide to work more; leisure just got a bit more expensive. True, the extra take-home pay will give you more income and allow you to afford a bit more of that leisure. However, the leisure-inducing income effect will be offset (how much is a good question) by the more-pay per hour effect of the Substitution effect. Some people may respond to the tax cuts by having more leisure (or less paid work- yes, Mom) and others may work harder. Working moms have a greater option of staying home and seniors can afford to retire sooner or get more from staying in the workplace. Ain’t freedom grand? There is a similar effect when investment decisions are being made. Investment/saving versus spending is a question of “Goodies now versus more goodies later.” The lower tax rate will give people more money to either spend or invest, but encourages investment by increasing the after-tax returns (“take-home pay”) on investments. This means that there are more “Goodies later” than before, thus encouraging investment. This is important, as increased investment demand will lower interest rates and expected returns on stocks (since people will accept a slightly lower pre-tax return now that taxes are lower), thus starting projects and businesses that weren’t quite worth doing with higher costs of capital and getting more people employed doing said projects. This is why free-market fans have been calling for capital gains reductions since Hector was a pup. Cutting taxes on wealth-owners will help Joe Sixpack, especially when Joe’s got a 401K himself these days. Hope that didn’t fly over peoples heads; the educational quotient of the average Blogistani is fairly high. I do think the rebate was a good move, but it was Jerry Maguire econ: show me the money’s not just for the fat cats. That $300 check made the difference in pushing the tax cut through. It was good politics but mediocre economics.

I was reminded as I was going through Psalm 114 in my (usually) daily Bible study why Israel is important. Countries that have befriended the Jews have benefited from their presence. " When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel his dominion" (versus 1 & 2). Mess with these guys, you tick God off. I'm not suggesting that Israel is doing God's bidding 24/7 and that Palestinians aren't people deserving of rights, but failing to secure long-term security in Israel will reflect badly on the people who allow it to happen. The word "shalom", usually translated "peace", goes beyond a lack of hostility and has a "everything in it's place, all's right with the world" tone. The next cease-fire with the PLO may bring momentary peace, but until the Palestinian "street" is willing to have Israel as a neighbor, we won't have shalom. It should get very ugly before it gets better; the best diplomatic instrument is occasionally the 2-by-4 applied upside the head. .

Starting to add links- checked Natalie's HTML to see what I was doing wrong- should have a nice link list before long. Cannibalization-the programmer's best friend. "When a man eats a man, that is cannibalism. When a wolf eats a wolf, that is cannibalism. But when a wolf eats a man, that's either breakfast, lunch or dinner"-The Wolf in The Hairy Falsetto

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Congressman John Dingell (D-Downriver Detroit suburbs) was stripped to his skivvies at National airport, as he made both the metal detector and spell-checker go dingle dangle. The checkers didn't buy his explanation of a steel hip implant. "They felt me up and down like a prize steer..." said the congressman. What did I just say about schadenfreude? I heard this on the way in yesterday morning, but didn't have a web report to back it up until now.

Grey Davis did a world-class bit of demagoguery during the electric price crunch last year. Those long-term electricity contracts he arranged are now serious money losers, made more painful given that California now has a big deficit to contend with. Guess who's up for reelection this year? Wipe that smirk off, Mark, schadenfreude is fun but not edifying.

Good Morning, Blogistan! I'm awake a bit early today. Quip Du Jour: “All the guys called him Attilla, but the girls just called him Hun”-Anon Edifier Du Jour: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”- Eleanor Roosevelt (?)- I heard that one in “Princess Diaries” and was told that Hillary’s fave ghost was the originator. Site apologies- I have Visual Basic and C++ fairly cold, but HTLM is brand new to me. Bear with me as I get this site up to specs. This goes to all the good bloggers I haven’t given a link to yet. Economics R Us- Most Blogistanis have heard of the Laffer Curve, which is just a financial application of the law of diminishing returns. It points out that very high tax rates are counter-productive. Past a certain point, the discouraging effect of forking it over to Uncle Sam (or whomever the personification of the State is in your province of Blogistan) will decrease overall taxable income so much that the government gets less revenue at the higher rate. There then would be an optimal tax rate where one brings in the highest revenue possible. Question: Is maximizing tax revenue our goal? No, maximizing the well being of the nation is. Let’s assume for the moment that we’re taking an altruistic approach on fiscal policy and want the level of government that is the best for the country as a whole, looking to max out the collective joytron counter. A joytron is the quantum particle of happiness while the more famous bogon is simply an anti-joytron, which neutralize each other on contact. We would then look at a policy. If the joytrons generated from the government endeavor (yes, there are some) are greater than the bogons generated by the taxes and regulations lightening taxpayer pockets and discouraging hard work, then it would be a good policy, creating a higher joytron count. The trick is that our tricorders aren’t always functioning properly. Liberals tricorders tend to undercount bogons, forgetting about human nature. This is where education comes in. Bogons are sneaky and more widely scattered. People can see the effect of joytrons, since they are more concentrated . Our goal (those of us who are sensitive to bogons, often called Conservatives or Libertarians) is to show people how bogons work in the economic sphere. Good starting point, fellow Blogistanis?

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Hey, somebody noticed my little accident. Econometrics R Us? Ms. Breen, you just made my day. Just got back from dinner with my fiancee and we had prayed that I this blog would not be in vain. God does answer prayers. Hallelu, Hallelujah! Old football and prayer story (a double dipper) Lion-Niners early 80s playoff game, Lions down one, last play, Murray lining up a winning field goal while Coach Clark is seen praying on sideline. Murray misses the kick. Reporter-"I guess your prayer wasn't answered." Coach-"Yes it was. The answer was 'No'." Sometimes God can get us to the right door by closing the wrong ones. Good night, and I look back at what else is up in blogdom in mental breaks at work tomorrow

Contrary to what most Blogistanis think, NPR’s coverage is bipartisan: Democrat and Green. Left-leaning? Lean any more and they’re horizontal. That being said, if you program your receiver with the proper red-shift adjustment, they do a solid job, especially on international coverage. Dr. Byron recommends supplements of NRO and "Papa Blog" Instapundit (and other blogistas) for a balanced news diet. Speaking of Mr. Reynolds, thumbs up to your Vol’s win over Michigan last week. It’s been a while since the Maize and Blue got whupped that bad (FSU at the Big House about a dozen years ago comes to mind). For a guy who cut his college-football teeth of the Bo & Woody Wars of the 70’s, that was hard to watch. You’re a better dawg than I, Gunga Smokey.

Quip of the day-"Editorials are like wetting your pants in a blue serge suit- you get a warm feeling and nobody notices."- Jack Germond (from a McLaughlin Group show-may not be verbatim) I hope this blog doesn't have the same fate. The Lions went 2-14, blowing the first pick in the draft by beating the Cowboys (much to my mom's disgust-she's the biggest Cowboy fan never to set foot in Texas, going back to the Staubach-Dorsett era). How about firming up the QB position and draft David Carr out of Fresno State. Headline-"There's a new Carr in Motown."

Dubya is trying to gin up support for a new stimulus package. At this point, he's better off to do nothing and let things take care of themselves. The pork and questionable programs that the Democrats will insist upon to get it passed won't be worth it. Once the post-9-11 nerves calm down, the economy will get back to business. However, we're going to need to see a new growth industry, as the computer-Internet sphere seems to have matured. Look for new types of high tech, like some nanotech and biotech (if the Luddites will let us) to give us the next growth spurt.

To Canadian Blogistas-Is Chretien real arrogant or is it just me. It could be the implied arrogance of a French accent but I don't think so. I remember listening to his acceptance speech at the party leadership convention in 1990(?) and was impressed (with his rhetorical skills, not his policies) at the time. Not any more.

InstaPundit had this link to a NYT article on Turkish non-seperation of mosque and state. "Turkey practices its own brand of secularism: The government builds the mosques, employs those who preach in them and dictates sermons." Sounds a bit like how China manages religion. There is a state-sponsored, tame Protestant church, forcing believers to go to underground "House Churches" if they want an unadulterated Gospel. Somewhere between Ataturk and the Taliban is a workable way to allow Islam into the public square without turning the countries into a Iranian/Talibanic theocracy. Forcing believers underground isn't great long-term policy.

Interesting debate over at Inappropriate Response on why Islamic economies have underperformed those of other religions/cultures. I'll scrape some of the rust off my econometrics from grad school. If I were running such a study, you could use religion as a series of binary (1 if true, 0 if not) variables (Sunni/Shia/Protestant/Catholic, Democratic/Authoritarian) and take other variables such as oil reserves, land quality and availability of transportation to make a stab at a statistical analysis. If you have what you think is a good set of explanatory variables, and the Islam variable is significant and negative, then either (1) Islam is a drag on the economy or (2) there is some other factor concurrent with Islam that is doing the dirty work. Remember GIGO(Garbage in-Garbage Out); many of these authoritarian countries will have "creative accounting" for their GDP figures.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Interesting piece in NRO on Democrats wanting to "depict the religious Right — more generally, the right end of the Republican party — as an American analogue to the Taliban." While I don't have firm etymology to back this up, it was foreign policy writers two decades ago who popularized the modern use of "fundamentalist" for anyone who takes their faith too seriously, implicitly equating the Ayatolah to the Bapist Bible-thumpers they looked down their noses at. The key geopolitical difference between Islam and Christianity is that Mohammed was a military as well as a spiritual leader, uniting a good chunk of Arabia under his rule in his lifetime, while Jesus was "merely" a spiritual leader in His incarnation. The Jews of the first century AD were looking for the Messiah as conquistador (true, but not yet; that's his second trip yet to come) and were disappointed when the war He fought was in the spiritual dimention. The Koran gives the Muslin a kick-butt leader with military conquest as part of his life. The Bible gives a servant-son-of-God dying on the cross, turning down the opportunity to kick-butt in order to be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. While the Old Testiment has its share of ethnic cleansing (Saul and Joshua would be hauled to The Hague for sure) , the New Testiment shows people dying and going to prison for their beliefs. Different scripture, different religions. Marvin Olasky has a good in-depth piece comparing the two religions in World Magazine-it's worth a read.

SermonWatch: Pastor Milton spent “too much” time watching TV while recuperating from heart surgery. His ending theme of a good sermon yesterday on asking for God’s direction was out of the Book of Emeril: “BAM! Kick your spiritual life up a notch this year.” Maybe watching Food TV isn’t such a guilty pleasure after all.

NPR piece on the way in this morning: Ted Turner is opening the first of a proposed chain of bison-meat restaurants in Columbus, OH. Will the standard side for a bisonburger be fries or buffalo chips? I’ve heard that buffalo meat is good eatin’, but is Ted throwing his money away again (Goodwill Games, UN, etc.)? Celebrity-based eateries are iffy propositions (e.g. Planet Hollywood), and if there is an untapped market for buffalo meat, is the McBison far off? Captain Outrageous isn’t my favorite guy. Dan Issel calls a F-bombing fan a “Mexican [turd]” and gets hounded out of his job, while the NBA does (as far as I know) nada for Ted’s verbal geysers of Christian-bashing.

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