Friday, August 14, 2009

Hippies Unite!

From Burning Man's terms of service, implicitly agreed to by all revelers, burners, hippies, technophiles, utopians, sex addicts, and weirdos who shell out the $250-300 for the privilege of attending Black Rock City, LLC's annual festival of lust, dust, expression, emotion, art, fire, and all of the other things you are not likely to see in a typical Catholic Church Easter Sunday celebration, unless you catch the Pope in a really good mood and looking to use up the rest of his fireworks budget:

UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THAT NO USE OF IMAGES, FILM, OR VIDEO OBTAINED AT THE EVENT MAY BE MADE WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM BURNING MAN, OTHER THAN PERSONAL USE. I understand that I have no rights to make any non-personal use of any image, film, or video footage obtained at the event, and that I cannot sell, transfer, or give the footage or completed film or video to any other party, except for personal use, and I agree to inform anyone to whom I give any footage, film, or video that it can only be used for personal use. [emphasis original]

But wait, there's more. Further down:

Holder's image may be captured on film, video or photographs without holder's consent and without compensation ... Holder hereby appoints Burning Man as his or her representative to protect his or her intellectual property or privacy rights, recognizing that Burning Man has no obligation to take any such action.

Take that, friends of free information.

What is Burning Man's justification for this? For one of two answers we can turn to that other agent of turning the desires of affluent artistic-hipster aesthete types into constant supplies of gold via surprisingly user-unfriendly methods, Apple. As I wrote last week, Apple recently killed the "life-changing" Google Voice program, solely on the grounds the Google Voice *might* at compete with a program that Apple *might* release sometime in the future. Black Rock City, LLC, is a for-profit entity, which pays its full-time employees a good living, allowing them to spend their year focusing on making the event the best it could be instead of scrounging for funds. BRC also showers plenty of money on a number of art installations and foundations. Given that BRC is clearly willing to do good by doing well, it makes sense -- and is right -- that the company should look to maximize its revenue stream, and that can come in the form of officially-licensed videos, books, and other as-though-your-were-there materials. I would wager that BM 2008 took in something in the neighborhood of eight to ten million dollars in ticket revenue, assuming 50,000 people (best estimate I can get), each shelling out (conservatively) $175-250 per person. This sounds like a lavish amount, but given various taxes and fees -- you don't think the Bureau of Land Management allows use of that land for free, do you -- plus expenses and salaries, that money can disappear faster than you think. Ask any small-business owner. If BM could charge $100 for as-though-you-were-there video sets and memorabilia, then it could spend that much more on making the festival better. It's not, after all, as though Disney World would be so marvelous if the Disney Company were reduced to looking for quarters in the street. And the what-the-market-will-bear price becomes that much lower of the official BRC-produced stuff has to compete with homemade videos.

Protecting that market value means, above all, protecting the brand. BRC has a vested interest in making sure that anything that reaches the public with the name "Burning Man" emblazoned on it fall in with BRC-approved themes and meets BRC-approved standards. If, in theory, anti-BM types started, to use an extreme example, circulating doctored photos of babies being slaughtered and eaten (or something equally offensive), photos carrying the Burning Man label, then the event would be forever tarnished in the eyes of many people who would otherwise attend, and the event might even find itself under strong political opposition. As the T & C state:

Use other than personal use of images from Burning Man, or of drawings or representations of the Burning Man sculpture on a book cover or in any advertisement, or of the phrase "Burning Man" in the title of any publication or in any advertisement, is prohibited without prior written consent of Burning Man

And the brand is not the only thing BRC needs to protect. Privacy is another. As a general rule, if I make a video of an event, then before I can distribute it I need the permission of everyone in it -- especially is this video is being sold, whether for profit or charity. BRC has such permission already as a condition of participants' buying tickets (see above). But while many professional photographers are conscientious enough to get their subjects' OK, a number of amateurs would not, and in the process leak into the outside world pictures of people doing what they'd rather their bosses, friends, family, and neighbors (and in some cases the law) not see, and the pictures would leak out without their even knowing it. Were that two happen, BRC would almost certainly be the target of the lawsuit, to say nothing of the problems to which the unwitting photo subjects would be subjected for a long time to come.

In short, Burning Man is a business, run by a for-profit company, and the hosting organization has the right to tell its customers what they can and cannot do within the bounds of the event for which the organization will be held responsible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Checking Back with the Yankees

Way back in the dark days of March, I listed betting the New York Yankees to win fewer than 95 games this year as one of the more solid bets baseball had to offer. In a follow-up post I pegged the Yanks " ... as more of a high-80s team with 92- 93-win upside, maybe a 30-35% chance of getting to 95 ... ". With two thirds of the year in the rearview mirror, New York's 69-43 record puts the Pinstripes squarely on a 100-win pace. Baseball Prospectus's (sadly proprietary, but still hugely useful) PECOTA projections have the Yankees winning 99 games. BP now ranks the Yanks as the best team in the American League.

Assuming I was right about New York's having only a 30-35% chance of winning 95 or more games, where did I go wrong?

Again we will turn to PECOTA, which not only spits about projections for each major-league player, but does so with a useful feature lacking in other projection systems: Error bars. PECOTA assigns different levels of performance to each player. A "20th percentile" projection means that a player had, as seen by PECOTA, an 80% chance of reaching this level. His 90th percentile projection suggested the player had only a 10% chance of hitting this level of performance. Here's the Yankees' current lineup, compared to their expectations.

    1B - Mark Teixeira: .935 OPS, close to 75th percentile projection of .952. 4th among regular AL first basemen.
    2B - Robinson Cano: .858 OPS, above 90th percentile of .856, 1st among regular AL second basemen
    SS - Derek Jeter: .828 OPS, above 75th percentile of .811, 3rd among AL shortstops
    3B - Alex Rodriguez: .871 OPS below weighted mean of .921, but still 3rd among AL third basemen
    LF - Johnny Damon: .875 OPS, 2nd among AL left-fielders and his highest in nine years, close to 90th percentile of .890
    CF1 - Melky Cabrera: .812 OPS, above 75th percentile of .786
    CF2 - Brett Gardner: .748 OPS, near 75th percentile of .759
    CF overall - Yankees are fifth in the the league in center-field OPS at .781
    RF - Nick Swisher: .828 OPS, above 60th percentile of .816. Overall New York is fourth in the AL in right-field OPS at .853
    C - Jorge Posada: .885 OPS, second among AL catchers to only Mauer the Great in Minnesota's 1.080, close to 90th percentile projection of .902
    DH - Hideki Matsui: .858 OPS, third among DHs, right at 75th percentile of .855

Of the eleven players manning the ten lineup spots only Alex Rodriguez, an inner-circle Hall of Famer whose illustrious past pushes his projections to sometimes-unreasonable heights, is playing to the lower end of his expected performance range and even he is still the third-best hitter in the league at his position. *Eight* of the eleven are near, at, or above their 75th percentiles, meaning that PECOTA, the most sophisticated and accurate publicly-available projection system the game has to offer saw only a 25% chance of these players hitting at their current levels. Put another way, relative to position norms, New York's third-worst hitter is Teixeira, whose OPS ranks "only" fourth among AL first-sackers but who just happens to lead the league (in a tie) in home runs, is third in runs batted in, and is carrying a .382 on-base average to boot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And Here We Go ...

"Google Voice — one of the best things to happen to telephony services in a very long time — will have no presence at all on the App Store. If there’s ever been a time to be furious with Apple, now is it." Worth noting that it appears that AT&T, not Apple per se, is behind the removal of Google Voice, but it points to the central weakness of having only a central repository for iPhone apps, a repository controlled exclusively by one organization.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Best Blog Post of the Week in the Whole World Wide Web

Anyone who sees the national government's takeover of Americans' health care as a mostly-positive thing, let alone a wonderful thing, should read this. Key point: We already have one industry controlled almost exclusively by the feddies, and that's the defense industry. And as McArdle writes, the defense industry "... does not have an encouraging record of cost-effective, innovative procurement." Proponents of government-controlled health care need to answer a) why the government's healthcare-procurement agency's weighing of innovation versus deployment versus cost would be any more efficient than the Pentagon's AND b) if not, then whether a Pentagon-like health-care agency is better than what we have today and will have tomorrow in lieu of radical changes. What do I propose in lieu of government medicine? I propose nothing, on the simple grounds that the burden of proof is on those who wish to overhaul 15-20% of our national economy and put it in the hands of an organization that has a decades-long and deserved reputation as one of the least-efficient large organizations in North America.

Do we really want the people who brought us the TSA to control how we take care of ourselves?

And Another Dream is Realized

Chris Tillman, a six-foot-five, 200-pound, 21-year-old right-hander for the Baltimore Orioles will make his major-league debut tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore against Kansas City. First pitch is set for 6:05 PM CST ... I hope I get to see it. It's great fun watching a young kid appear in his first major-league game, regardless of what my rooting interest might be. Watching the culmination of a dream, a life's work, is always special. Millions of boys across the world play baseball in any given summer, but fewer than a thousand can be on one of the thirty major-league teams' rosters in a season. Congratulations and best wishes to young Mr. Tillman, beater of thousands-to-one odds.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best Compliment You Can Give a Book

From Tyler Cowen: "This comes when, after you finish a book, you are still so wrapped up in it that you can't bring yourself to pick up another one and leave behind the mental and emotional world from the previous book."

Amen, Mr. Cowen. Amen. That's exactly how I felt after finishing Neal Stephenson's Anathem. Ditto Shane, Jaws, The Godfather, Lonesome Dove, and any number of Stephen King novels and short stories ("Grey Matter" from the Night Shift collection is my favorite of those). I have never, ever felt that way about a Dean Koontz book.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Porn Trumps God. Yay!

Stumbled across an old article from anti-libertarian conservative Jonah Goldberg in which he references a work (cannot find a cite) by Reason contributer Virginia Postrel in which Postrel apparently writes that Americans spend eight billion dollars a year on porn compared to three billion on Christian books.

Stuff like this bothers the Goldberg types no end, but it's one of the things that give me hope for America.

Best News I Will Hear Today!

Women are getting more beautiful. Michele is living proof of this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

iPhone Irritations. Or, Why Apple is Llike the Soviet Union

InfoWorld has a great article on the irritations incurred by one developer who tried to get a simple program approved for Apple's iPhone.

This, in a nutshell, is the problem with the iPhone, and, as I've written before. It's not that the centralized review process doesn't have some advantages, but it comes at a big cost. In addition to developers' resistance to heavily investing in an app that has a high chance of being rejected for arbitrary reasons, there's also the reality that Apple will kill (and probably already does) some iPhone apps only because they compete with similar and possibly lesser programs Apple *might* release down the road. Apple's deliberate monopolization of what can and cannot be installed on an iPhone cannot help but limit competition among iPhone tools and utilities, which in turn inevitably stifles innovation within that platform. And as TFA notes, centralized governing/approval processes have a long history of scaling very poorly and sometimes disastrously. Windows would have very little market share if every ISV had to get MS's explicit permission before getting its programs to install on Windows.

It might take two or three years, but there's little doubt in my mind that the iPhone will lose any utility advantage it has to other, more open phones, and its market share will go with it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Break and Grow

William Saletan at Slate has an article up. It centers around a woman named Hajnal Ban, now 31, who eight years ago voluntarily underwent a "treatment" in which doctors deliberately broke bones in both her legs, then slowly stretched them out. Nine months later, Ban was three inches taller.

Saletan's main point is that traditional medicine has relied on restoring people to a healthy or at least less-unhealthy state, with "healthy state" determined by that person's own baseline. In Ban's case, however, doctors were treating her to correct not a flaw relative to her own baseline state, but a flaw relative to a social-standard baseline, which is, as Saletan puts it, "dictated by others." At first blush, this feels like more of the "therapy and restoration versus enhancement" discussions which will only grow stronger as the years (and medical advances) pass, but there is another bit here ... a number of people, usually but not always of self-described "spiritual" bent, often complain that too many people are too focused on living up to other people's expectations, at the expense of fulfilling their own desires and needs and missing out on what makes them special. While I don't wholeheartedly buy into this -- if nothing else, keeping up with the Joneses is an important driver of developing the richly-abundant society we enjoy today, but that is fodder for another post -- there is a lot to it. Do we really want to encourage people to undergo surgery, especially procedures which, as is true in Ban's case, "can cause nerve damage, joint damage, arthritis, and chronic pain", all to pursue some ideal of what they think other people want them to be? It's also worth noting that Ban herself now questions whether she would do it again: "I guess had I not had this operation I probably wouldn't be insecure about my height at this age because I would just accept who I am. As you get older as a woman I think you become more mellow and you become more comfortable in your own skin.
Saletan loses me, though, with his closing paragraph:
So here's the question: How far should we let cosmetic surgery go? If [Connie Culp, the woman who received the face transplant] is a compelling case against prohibition, isn't Ban a compelling case for regulation? How much trauma and risk should we let people endure for the sake of looking the way we want them to look, especially when they might otherwise learn to accept themselves as they are? I'm all for freedom. But cosmetic leg-breaking? Isn't that a stretch?
This is, of course, way too authoritarian for my taste. Property rights begin with one's own body, and while I agree with people who are reluctant to fund such procedures out of their tax dollars, the reasons to prohibit them are strongly outweighed by a people's right to adjust and modify their bodies as the can and see fit.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


With this bit of hoosoofroo Diamonds & Emeralds celebrates its 100th post in the six months since its noble birth. OK, it's not the most blistering blogging pace imaginable, but such quality takes time to craft (HA!). A milestone of which I'm a bit proud nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is Totally Cool

New York Times rolls a piece on the hyper-secretive, security-obsessed culture at Apple. My guess is that it's unlikely to change after Jobs leaves.

Money graph:
Secrecy at Apple is not just the prevailing communications strategy; it is baked into the corporate culture. Employees working on top-secret projects must pass through a maze of security doors, swiping their badges again and again and finally entering a numeric code to reach their offices, according to one former employee who worked in such areas.

Work spaces are typically monitored by security cameras, this employee said. Some Apple workers in the most critical product-testing rooms must cover up devices with black cloaks when they are working on them, and turn on a red warning light when devices are unmasked so that everyone knows to be extra-careful, he said.

To me, this by itself is almost reason to avoid Apple's stock -- I'm not a fan of the black-box approach -- but cool nonetheless, no?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Brink Lindsey riffs with David Frum on today's

And yes, I do have an intellectual man-crush on Brink.

Bob Wright Kicks All Manner of Ass, Or, I Read Books so You Don't Have To

Philosopher, historian, commentator, grand poo-bah of the mighty site Bob Wright has a new book out, modestly entitled The Evolution of God. I would have preferred something a bit more grandiose, like The Almighty: A Memoir or Me 'n' the Lord: Bob Wright and God Through History, but this is good enough. Cato Unbound has an adapted excerpt from Wright here.

Gist: The more groups think in terms of zero-sum (the number of resources available to all groups is fixed, so every dollar/job/widget/worshipper/soul/whatever Group A gets is a dollar/job/widget/worshipper/soul that Group B can't get) the less tolerance groups will tend to show about their differences (Group B will often find itself at war, both metaphorically and literally, with Group A), while the more groups think in terms of non-zero-sum (occasionally called "enlightened self-interest") the more likely they are to be tolerant and interact, since the focus shifts from fighting over who gets which piece of the pie to growing the overall size of the pie. This is an argument Wright has put forth in other books, most notably Nonzero, and articles and here he uses it to describe the interplay (or, all too often, lack of same) among religions.

There. To paraphrase Peter Griffin, I just saved you seventeen bucks and a number of likely boring, boobless hours. Possibly boring and likely boobless though it might be, The Evolution of God will be making its way to my reading list. This is a smart guy who writes smart stuff and in today's world more than ever, such stuff should not be ignored.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh Boo Fucking Hoo

The Atlantic magazine has a piece ("And the Recession Came for Hipsters") on how the decline in the investor class's net worth is impacting their do-nothing spawn, and the neighborhoods they infest.

Here at the Atlantic, we have considered the impact of the recession on Americans responsible for making investments, and making cars, and making students. But how about the impact on Americans responsible for making, well, nothing at all? Now the recession has hit New York hipsterdom and Williamsburg wallets are feeling skinner than a pair of Levi's 511s.

According to the New York Times, the trust-fund kids who have helped gentrify Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are feeling the pinch of recession as their parents' withering savings accounts can no longer afford to cover their zero-income lifestyle:

Famed for its concentration of heavily subsidized 20-something residents -- also nicknamed trust-funders or trustafarians -- Williamsburg is showing signs of trouble. Parents whose money helped fuel one of the city's most radical gentrifications in recent years have stopped buying their children new luxury condos, subsidizing rents and providing cash to spend at Bedford Avenue's boutiques and coffee houses.

The upside and downside of this development is pretty clear. Williamsburg real estate prices have skyrocketed in the last few years -- partially on account of incomes that weren't earned in Williamsburg -- so this should help the little 'burg move toward the rest of Brooklyn in terms of affordability. It is, it must be said, unfortunate for anybody to have their lives shaken dramatically by the recession, but much as the downturn has fostered a culture of responsibility and savings, so too should the demise of trustafarianism make the sons and daughters of the affluent more cognizant of basic human things like bottom lines and debt. The ability to pursue your life dreams in your early twenties on the back of your parents' earnings is a kind of awesome gig, but in the long term it insulates you from an understanding of what life costs. A society predicated on incurring costs that it doesn't have to acknowledge is doomed too...oh wait. Nevermind that.

Tough times all around indeed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More on the Joy of Gambling

Before the season started I posited that betting against the Yankees' winning 96 or more games ( soon after dropped the over/under from 95.5 to 94.5) was a good deal. A recent hot streak after a very mediocre start, though, has them on a pace to threaten that 96-win barrier. Their 31-21 record (through June 2) puts them on a 97-win pace. Baseball Prospectus's proprietary "PECOTA" projections currently have them looking at 97 wins as well.

So how are they doing it?

In a nutshell, offense. While New York's pitching staff is only 12th out of fourteen in earned-run average (all numbers per ESPN's Web site), it is tied for the AL in runs scored with 300, 46 total runs above the league average. They are second in batting average, second in home runs, and fourth in bases on balls, all leading to a number-one ranking in on-base average, that most important of batting stats, and a second-to-Texas rank in slugging average. Driving the train are Derek Jeter, who three weeks shy of his 35th birthday has arrested a two-year slide and is now hitting .319 with power; Johnny Damon (.301 with 10 home runs and a .536 SLG); and Hideki Matsui, whose .500 SLG is tied for third among DHs. For the most part, the Yankees' run production has been driven more by balance than anything else. The only position at which they to date have received below-average production has been third base, where they now have Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez returning from injury.

I'm still pretty comfortable in picking them to fall below the standard. Jeter and Damon in particular are playing over their heads considering their advancing ages and the pitching staff has shown nothing to inspire real confidence. Plus the age- and durability-related injury risks remain.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Joy of Gambling puts the price on the Lakers' winning the NBA Finals against the Orlando at -260, meaning that 260 dollars need to be put at risk to win 100. The break-even point for this bet is 61.5 per cent, so Sportsbook's customers collectively see LA as having a 60 or so per cent chance of winning. That seems a tick high to me -- the Magic are playing beautifully right now, but so is Los Angeles, which after an inconsistent start to these playoffs simply dismantled a good Denver team in the last two games of the West final. The Lakers at their best are unbeatable by any team in the NBA.

Thought for the Day

From commenter Talisman on a Slashdot thread regarding the usefulness of expert opinion:

"The most productive problem solving I've ever done, and still do, is when I'm surrounded by smart people who don't believe their personal ego should factor into any decision made."


Monday, June 1, 2009

It's the Gators' World, and the Rest of Us are Just Living in It

The inimitable, awesome, and all-around god-like Matt "Dr. Saturday" Hinton has been running a series on the likeliest contenders for college football's 2009 national championship. As his last in the series, he comes to the likeliest of the likely, the stackedest of the stacked, the defending champion Florida Gators. It is not hard to see why he labels the Orange and Blue as the team with the best shot at ascending to the throne (or, in UF's case, retaining it): The Mighty Gators return their perennial Heisman Trophy-contender quarterback in Tim Tebow, pretty much every important player from a defense that was ninth in the country in fewest yards against and fourth in fewest points, and a stable of explosive athletes, all coached by Urban Meyer, who has as good an argument as anyone for being the best coach in college football.

If there is one chink in the armor, however, it's Florida's propensity to lose games it should not lose (a trait shared by two of college football's other reigning monoliths, LSU and Southern California): to Mississippi in 2008, to lower/unranked-ranked teams Auburn, Georgia, and Michigan, plus a loss to LSU in a game UF had controlled for most of the night in 2007, and to Auburn in their national-title season of 2006. The Gators overcame the '06 loss in part because they played such an impressively-difficult schedule. The '09 slate, which misses Alabama and Ole Miss, two of the SEC West's three power teams, might lack such opportunities to wow voters, meaning Florida will probably have to run the table to play for the crystal football (valued at $30,000). Fortunately, no team in the country, not even mighty USC, which has to replace its star quarterback and much of its defense, is better suited for such a run.

In response, by the way, to Hinton's column is this one luscious, to-be-savored comment from poster Erik, who tells the world that he "wouldn't piss on the gayturds if they where on fire."

You stay classy, Internet message-board denizens.

The Inevitable is Inevitable for a Reason

General Motors files for bankruptcy.

Will this work?

From the Wall Street Journal's piece: "Long hampered by laws, union strife and management practices that kept it from fast action to fix problems, GM plans to eliminate almost all of its debt, halve its U.S. brands, shutter 2,600 dealers and rewrite labor contracts almost overnight."

But just how is all of that, particularly the last, going to happen? Consider the following:

  • The United States national government owns GM.
  • The United States national government is run by the Democratic Party, which controls both houses of Congress (and has a filibuster-proof proof majority in the Senate) and the Presidency.
  • One of the party's most loyal and vociferous supporters is the United Auto Workers union.
  • If the government succeeds in redoing the costly labor deals, then then the UAW would likely take the heaviest hit.
  • Damned few political parties in history have deliberately taken action that materially hurts a large and powerful constituency.

If we assume that all of the above are true, then how is the government going to "rewrite labor contracts almost overnight", or allow anyone else to do so? And can a post-bankruptcy, clean-slate GM really be competitive if it is still saddled with the burdens of pre-bankruptcy UAW labor commitments? The UAW has supposedly signed off on concessions, but will it be enough, given that the U.S. car market is little more than half what it was a few years ago and increasing numbers of people who are buying are shunning the large, gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks which have long been the company's (and industry's) most profitable vehicles?

An even better question than will this work ... why should we care? Other than that about thirty billion of our dollars are at stake?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Brother Gets Bigger

Slashdot, via the Washington Post, has on its site a report that Obama is going to name an "Internet Czar". From the WP article: "Obama was briefed a week ago and signed off on the creation of the position". That's it? A week? Given the myriad other responsibilities a 21st-century American president has, plus the additional burdens Obama has taken on himself (like running the U.S. auto industry), it is hard to imagine that the chief executive and his senior staff spent all that much time working the various pros and cons of creating such a position.

By the way, Mr. President, how's that Drug Czar thing working out?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Debates of Man

In the 40,000 or so years of human history, 99 per cent of instances of sexual intercourse, both homo- and hetero-, would meet contemporary definitions of rape. True or false?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Greatest. Article. Title. Ever

Scientific American proudly presents "Secrets of the Phallus". It's a good read in its own way, but is disappointingly informative (see below). Not nearly the kind of smut Americans have come to expect from the hallowed pages of Scientific American. Or would expect, if the universe were just. Anyhoo, it's a good article, though the part about the penis's being shaped so the male can, in effect, scoop out/away the semen left by the female's immediately-previous suitors is something that I've read a few times before, although I can't for the life of me remember where.

And in case you prefer doing these kinds of things in your own home, the article also goes out its way to post a recipe for creating simulated semen, brought to us by Florida Atlantic University evolutionary psychologist Todd Shackleford (heaven knows how much time he spent coming up with just the right mix). The recipe:

  • 0.08 cups of "sifted, white, unbleached flour"
  • mix with 1.06 cups of water
  • simmer for 15 minutes while stirring
  • allow to cool

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Day in Web

Greg Wyshinski's line, "... like a Weeble dropped on a trampoline ..." wins the line-of-the-day award, and possibly for the week. I wasn't thinking about Weebles or trampolines until I read his Puck Daddy column this morning, and now dropping Weebles on a trampoline is all I wanna do. Now if only I had the Weebles. Or the trampoline ...

Last month I wrote about sports storylines I was following. Among them was the growing hockey rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Well, they are meeting head-to-head in the Eastern Conference semifinals and Igloo Dreams has a writeup of tonight's winner-take-all Game 7.

As the (apparent) worst of our little financial correction recedes into the rear-view mirror, the Wall Street Journal reports($) that Congress is thinking of getting involved in how banks compensate their executives. The problems with this are too long to list in depth here, but the most important one is the same as with all government involvement: The government is rarely both objective and competent. People often think of government as an unbiased arbiter, but, at least in a democracy, government officials respond to their own incentives and pressures and "objectivity" gets left by the door in the rush to reward political friends and punish political enemies. And even when they are being unbiased and are sincerely looking for the best courses of action available, they too often lack the expertise to know what they're doing. Would you want Congress setting your pay?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Libertarian Alert!

OK, so it's not millions of people massing in the streets, but each time we get articles like this, America gets a little bit closer to ending the lunacy that is the War on Drugs and becoming a freer, more moral society in the process.

I'm lukewarm, for what it's worth, about the good-for-the-economy argument. It is valid and makes a lot of sense, but I would prefer if more people took heed of the immoral nature of denying reasonable, consenting adults their right to feel pleasure however they see fit as long as they aren't tangibly and directly hurting other people.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Random Brain Leakage

On the mental radio: Village People's "In the Navy".