Friday, July 31, 2009

When Lynn's On the Water

Lynn is a fine performer from my part of town. I must confess that when I am on the water I mostly worry about whether my safety measures (lifejacket, etc.) are all in the place. I like seeing the water from the shore!

When I'm on the Water from Lynn Harrison on Vimeo.

The Darmstadt Zoo?

The Center for Internet Animal Cuteness features Coatimundis at the Darmstadt Zoo. Go look.
I was in Darmstadt last summer and it is one great place to visit, but I never knew they had a zoo. I love Zoos. What went wrong?

What is Wellness Day? Live-Blogging Toronto Council Special Meeting

I am live-blogging at best superficially - after all, the chair has suggested adjourning at 7:30 pm!
The first thing to leap out (after the usual Millerbabble) in the city staff presentation is the comparison to other agreements, which apparently have invented a new holiday called Wellness Day. WTF? Looking at all these agreements I am rather shocked at the general commitment to about a 3% per year wage adjustment. Now that would not be so bad, given general productivity improvement over the years, but I am a bit skeptical, as these are union agreements, and unions will frequently do their best to prevent productivity improvement. That is, after all, in the interests of the leadership.
On second thought, this 3% is interesting. The Miller-man got himself elected on a promise of not raising city taxes more than inflation, a promise violated in every year of his mayoralty. So the 3% is an interesting number.
Sick leave banking - looks as if that is done next year. I guess what grandfathering there is simply does not get me too excited.
Councilors are asking good questions about how great the deal is in terms of reality, as opposed to the city's projections of tax increases. City manager fails to answer. Good question too about private sector agreements vebrsus public sector ones and how the city sets targets - very sad answer, as it is clear the city uses public sector agreements as its standard. Squeeze those taxpayers!
Wow - is the devil ever in the details! Question about part-time employees getting new dental benefits. False alarm! Question about mileage rates for indoor workers. Hmm, but what the heck are they getting paid for? Hmm and the city sets the rate at the max that Revenue Canada does not care about.
Minnan-Wong asks the toughest question - having to do with contracting in. This is what created this disaster - and Bussin rules that it cannot be discussed in public. That is VERY serious. And it seems not to have caused a gasp.
Minnan-Wong presses - is there an agreement to build a committee to discuss contracting in? City answer - not for local 416. They finally have to reveal there is one for Local 79. Minnan-Wong presses. Bussin shuts him down. I'd vote for him for mayor.
Minnan-Wong - are we giving out overtime this weekend? Obviously we are - and I agree we should, but I understand his political point.
Karen Stintz asks an obscure question, also relegated to secrecy, why I do not know.
She presses on some details of sick leave banking, that are of course outrageous, but nits. On the other hand, I am concluding I would vote for her too as mayor, and might even work on her campaign!
Somewhere someone is barbecuing and the smell is killing me.
A heck of a good question, not sure who is asking - much as we were outraged by sick leave banking, it was designed to keep people coming to work. What now? No real answers, except for saying it is a management responsibility. Poor managers! They have to enforce all the dickheaded ideas invented by negotiators who do not have to enforce them. Amusing question - why not simply not pay people for days they take off as sick? No real answer.
More questions from tough Councilors (Nunziata, Ootes)- all interesting ones relegated to secrecy. This is becoming f***ing ridiculous. How did we design a local government this appalling?
Ootes presses on contracting out. It seems the agreement restricts this, which is in my mind a tragedy. Bussin shuts the discussion down. Very disturbing. Contracting out is exactly what the city needs and should never shut down in a contract!
Now back to waste of time on the sick leave bank - it's a nit. But it is also egregious, so I understand the emphasis from politicians, but back door deals to not contract services out are far more important, and apparently too much so to be exposed to the citizens and taxpayers of the city. Yuuccchhh.
Councilor Hall wants it clear the Etobicoke will not be tossed into dependence on union garbage collection. City says there is no change. Should I move to Etobicoke?
Interesting question - not sure from whom - during the strike employees earn sick leave credits and vacation credits. What a wacky world? This is so far from the romantic period if union activity it is hard to believe.
Councilor Cho asks a good question - why not look at private sector wage agreements too? And he gets an utterly wacky response - roughly, the city has to compare to comparable jobs and those are all in the public sector. This is a nice convenient answer to justify self-justifying behavior, but it surely lacks in reality. Can this crazy meeting fix this one problem? It would be nice but I doubt it. ( A small, no, large point here - the people answering the questions here are also public employees and probably do not want comparisons of their salaries with those in the private sector either. The level of somewhat implicit corruption is almost unbounded here.)
Miller says he is saving 140 Million dollars and waves some paper around. Yup - and Obama has created thousands of jobs. And appliances are 30% off at the local store. Thanks, Mr. Millerbabble.
Lunch break till 2. Now well past 2. Council about as useful as its employees at times.
2:10 People wandering about randomly. What an outfit! I assume Bussin, the chair, is the prime determinant of this attitude. She could certainly simply start on time without everyone else in place and embarrass them, Naturally she is a strong Miller ally.
Amusingly, the screen on the local Rogers Cable station proudly announces that closed captioning is provided by Rogers Wireless. I have seen NO hint of closed captioning.
2:15 Still no chair. What sort of clown show is this?
Aha - the microphone came on for a second. This sets a truly fine example of preofessionalism and commitment to efficiency.
And now it is - ooppss - not quite on seriously. OK just now. What a joke.
Stintz asks a question and Miller says he won't answer because he knows she is a 'No' vote. Man, is he ever a professional. Her question is simple - did the city proposal that Miller published on the web site include the current sick leave grandfathering? No answer.
She asks whether garbage fees will be raised next year. No answer.
Next - will non-union staff (who got a pay freeze) get Family Day?
Miller says he will not answer her questions because she is voting No.
How did we elect this arrogant narcissist twice? (I voted for him only the first badly misguided time.)
Stintz' questions hit a very tricky point. The city froze the pay of the non-union staff who are clearly the people that have kept the city going over the last month. Incredible.
Rob Ford follows on the same point.
Minnan-Wong goes after some documents saying union members will be protected from civil proceedings for damages they have done. Mill argues this is to protect those who crossed picket lines.
Minnan-Wong suggests that Council might reject the deal and employees might not go back on strike, as Miller insists they would. Miller says they would. Minnan-Wong has been using Miller's claim that the unions backed down as evidence they could back down further.
Miller says we are all proud of locals 416 and 79 and count on them. Not so sure of that now!
Case Ootes tangles with Miller and loses.
Question: Do we go into camera? There were staff questions not answered. Must they be answered in camera.
Aarrgghh. This is appalling. Seems they go in camera.
They are back. Minnan-Wong - "Miller's words are the last bags of garbage". Let me know how you feel! I wonder what it would take to get a councilor this ferocious in my ward. A lot of people moving out!
Rob Ford will vote no. He spins the sick days - I still think this is silly. Though he does point out that the result we have is nutty, if minor. "The average person out there ... got a zero percent increase ... would love to have a city job". I love Rob Ford's constantly annoying behavior. Wow - Ford had 23 e-mails between 8 and 10 am and 21 said vote no. This is getting interesting.
Great! A councilor (Lee) wants the secret gorp publicized!
Pam McConnell rants incoherently. Roughly paraphrased, "Miller is a saint". I agree with her on the specifics of the sick pay gorp. Apparently we are trying to get back to an island. She testifies that one Customs Officer wants her to vote yes. Wonder what his/her partner does!
We're into posturing phase (each councilor gets to make a statement), so I suspect I may report only the odd item. I will watch for my own councilor.
Pantalone - will vote yes.
Mihevc - rambling. Dismisses the anger of his constituents. Wants "Zen-centredness"! Aargghh. Basically - we can do no better - let's cave! (It is hilarious watching Mark Grimes behind Mihevc as he speaks.) He is a clear yes, and a bit of a joke.
Stintz!! Echoes Mihevc. She really is a lot cuter than I realized (none of the men I mentioned above seemed at all cute to me). Stintz emphasizes the freeze on non-union positions and on an initial sick day position. She sees that our team failed. I wish she would run in my ward!
Stintz' speech is really good and cuts to the core of the stupid relationship the city has had with its unions. And she is really smart pegging on Mihevc's speech. She will vote no. If she runs for anything, I think I might volunteer to help!
Nunziata is sarcastic - it is a great win for the unions. Today's deal is the March deal? Why the strike? Miller goofed us.
OK now I am getting a point I missed. Long-term employees can continue to bank sick days as before - well, that is silly! I grant that this does phase out the program, but surely in a pretty silly way.
Frances will clearly vote no.
Now we have John Parker, who seems right out of Noel Coward play. His main emphasis - again, the highly and rightly praised non-union staff of the city. He makes a VERY good point. Public sentiment was entirely against the unions during this strike. Miller and cronies let the union more or less prevail.
Parker's speech started out weakly but sure seems strong now.
Doug Holyday explains why Etobicoke remains a sensible place. A big part of sensible is contracting out. This is so obvious to me I do not get the opposition at all.
Suzan Hall worries, I think sensibly, that we could be sent into arbitration and this could get worse for the city. She is articulate and I disagree with her.
I am feeling very good about the quality of the people who sit on Council and this day has been very valuable from that point of view.
Ootes praises the non-union staff - it is so easy to forget them!
He now digs into Miller. It is clear they hate one another and I think Ootes is right. "This is a sellout package." I think I could work for Case Ootes too.
Shelley Carroll has a sort of Kate Gosselin hairstyle. Where the heck is her speech going?
Why are so many sensible people in wards that are close neighbors of mine and I am stuck with Janet Davis?! Well, so maybe she ain't so sane. Though she has one good point - arbitration is REALLY bad.
In the end, whatever she votes, Shelley Caroll seems to be a fool of a sort.
No plan to work for her!
Mike Del Grande says he got abused by unionistas. Nasties fly around!
His case is great - against all crap.
Michael Thompson is very eloquent but I am retiring now. Till Tomorrow!
UPDATE: The agreement passed. I am now preparingfor garbage pickup on Tuesday!

A Mediaevilist on SKYPE

I linked earlier to this Breitbart BCAST but I think it is worth another link.
If you can fast-forward (I do not know how to do it) do, as Richard Landes (yes, a Dr, but I have never seen him insist) talks with great sense about the problem with Islam. It seems he thinks it is, as I long have, too young. Imagine Christianity in the 1400s and 1500s. Yup. Not a world I would want to live in.

xkcd channel Rondi and Steve Sailer

Indeed it is done.

How Do I want My Police to Behave (and My Neighbors)

I sure hope, even though, of course, most of them know me, that if I were entering my house in some suspicious way, someone would make a 911 call. I hope the police would appear. I would establish my ownership, and hope the police would be cool, but if they still had suspicions there might be other issues (e.g. there might be a threatened wife who had locked me out) I would of course let them investigate, and remain polite.
Clearly I am talking about Gatesgate; this bit of Breitbart TV is very interesting - Richard Landes looks at the events there from the point of view of his current obsessions (I do not regard obsession as bad), the ludicrous Palestinian/Muslim honor-shame crap.
(The video has one very interesting side bit - clearly the Bush White House had a lot more respect for people in general than the windbag has - no surprise to me).)
And this relates to another recent case here in Ontario. Norm has a fine introduction to it.
I agree that the G&M went over the top on the implications of the case. But wow! Police are in a neighborhood because something funny is going on, and an unknown person in a government uniform is going in an odd way to different houses. Has a policeman the right to ask that person to justify his behavior?
Wow! This is a tough one. The substitute postal delivery guy (and hence not the normal one in that neighborhood) was black and the police were on the alert for Eastern Europeans. I am not sure swarthiness excludes Eastern Europeanness. The police simply asked politely for identification. Is that bad? Apparently.
Norm cites articles that include quotations from Bill Blair, perhaps little imagining who Bill Blair is. Blair thinks the decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, that the police should not have stopped the letter-carrier and did so as racists, is problematic. I think it is problematic as well.
But I do not know. I must read the OHRT decision in detail.
Should Gates have been arrested? No. But he should have been hassled, at the very least.

Grammar and Gatesgate

Leon Lashley is eloquent and does not need Don Lemon's attempts at editing. But I cheer Don Lemon for his efforts on this story, not at all what I expect from CNN.

h/t HotAir

Let's Have that Beer

I did not bother to check out the standard media for results of the great talk Obama arranged with Officer Crowley and Mr Gates (oh sorry, Dr Gates).
Paul Mirengoff summarizes nicely:
I do have one more reflection on the matter (though not about myself). As "race men" go, Gates has always been viewed as relatively sensible, as opposed to, say, Cornel West. Indeed, as E.J. Dionne reminds us in a worthwhile column, Gates once criticized "race politics" as a "court of the imagination wherein blacks seek to punish whites for their misdeeds and whites seek to punish blacks for theirs, and an infinite regress of score settling ensues."
Barack Obama, for his part, was going to be a post-racial president. As such he would lead us out of the "race politics" Gates (and the rest of us) finds so sterile and counterproductive.
Yet when the rubber met the road, Gates didn't hesitate to level baseless charges of racism in an extremely aggressive manner. And Obama didn't hesitate to attack the white police officer before he had the facts.
This suggests to me that, as far as African-Americans are concerned, "race politics" will continue unabated, as if Obama had never been elected president.

And of course Steve Sailer cannot resist making very entertaining and intelligent (yes, please, shade for the Irish) comments (this latter channeling Rondi). And this correct summary:
When you are falsely accused, don't apologize.
Obama laid an egg.


But maybe this will give us a few more years on the Global Warming front.
h/t Terry Glavin

Toronto Strike - Is It Over?

I'd like to see my garbage collected as much as many people would (much of the last four weeks I was out of town so in a way I was living a life of garbage collection privilege - I generated garbage elsewhere).
City Council votes this morning on the settlement; I still do not know what is in the deal. Passage is not at all automatic.
I have no position at the moment though the union's apparent contentment is a prima facie case from my point of view that a No vote is called for.
One of our Mayor's usual supporters describes some widespread frustration:
“Yes, there’s a lot of anger out there — the union is angry, the residents are angry, the Mayor is angry ... The way it’s being expressed is by people saying ‘Vote no to the deal,’ ” said Mr. Mihevc. “The deal obviously has warts on it. But the vote tomorrow is not ‘yes, but’ or maybe, it’s yes with all the warts or no with all the implications.”

They symbolic center of the battle has been the ridiculous previously existing sick leave banking provision:
The bone of contention is the continued accumulation of banked sick days for employees who want to keep them, rather than switch to a new sick-leave plan. It was something the Mayor pledged to “modernize” to reduce $140-million of a $250-million unfunded liability for the city — and it became the iconic issue of the strike.

It appears much of the criticism of the deal (and again, I know NO details) is that employees get to keep their current sick leave bank. While this provision was a piece of union feather-bedding that would have even seemed egregious in "I'm All Right Jack" I had never imagined that the City's position should be to deprive employees of anything they had banked under the previous stupid contracts that included this nutty piece of privilege. The goal should be to end the practice and eat the consequences of past idiocy. From what Miller says it seems that is what has been done, though we shall see:
“Some of the people who are being very critical of this, were in senior leadership positions under the previous mayor’s administration. They never had the guts to deal with this sick bank,” Mr. Miller said. “They left it through three collective agreements and it lies very ill in their mouth to criticize the way we’ve been able to deal with the sick bank, to end it and to phase out the obligations to the current employees.”

Heavens! I agree with Miller!
There was an entertaining blip in proceedings this week that caused the outside workers' ratification vote to be delayed by a day; it seems the union wanted some amnesty, given that it had engaged a variety of lawbreaking during the strike (as I have described earlier - I managed to dodge their behavior myself). Now this seemed silly - the idea that Miller would actually enforce the law against the union is as silly as the notion, projected by Miller himself, that he would get injunctions in order to get the union to obey the law. Ha-ha. He did not and taxpayers were subjected to harassment consistently across the city. (Hence some of the anger above, which should have been directed at Miller and not the union so much).
Will this change anything? I'd like to think the hegemony of Miller types on Council will die off after the next election (one year out - a long time and creative of forgetfulness) but I doubt it. I won't vote for my Councilor ever again but I live in a hopeless ward - Ward 31. It is dominated by very rich people so it votes left all the time.
I hope the local cable company is broadcasting the Council meeting so I do not have to go to it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

He's Not A Demon - Try Explaining it to This Guy!

h/t Greg Mankiw
Those of us identified as in Canada can watch it here. Well, maybe - go to, pick Stewart's show and gor for Clip 2 of 4 - what an utter pain in the ass!
Wonderful that they drag Shiller in!
OTOH I am finding occasional segments from Stewart's show funny. This may change my habits.

40 Years of Dolly!

I had NO idea but Jian Ghomeishi's researchers dig up a nice summary of Dolly Parton's career (start at around 17:30 in the show unless you also want to hear about the kerfuffle around the republished Hemingway memoirs).
Despite playing the fool a bit through much of her career, emphasizing the 'dumb blonde' image, she is a great artist, responsible for many of my favorite songs, and a great performer (I regret that I have never seen her live).
It's a nice interview. Ghomeishi lets her show herself, and she is one sensible woman.
Thank you, Dolly Parton, for all the pleasure you have brought me over those 40ish years.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What Drugs is the Ontario Government On?

They are objecting to the Ericsson purchase of Nortel assets.
Paul Wells addresses why this is ill-conceived.
Which brings us to why Nortel isn’t — must not be — like GM. The only argument for saving the car companies was that their employees couldn’t go anywhere else. That’s a risible argument when it comes to telecomms engineers, and not just in the abstract. The economy absorbed previous waves of Nortel layoffs with little trouble. RIM hired them, or they started their own companies. When I visited Sweden in 2004 I visited all sorts of start-up companies. In every case, the founder was an Ericsson engineer who’d been left to his or her own devices when that company laid off thousands in 2000. Policy wonks have spent decades wishing the fisheries and car plants were staffed with superbly adaptable, highly-educated knowledge workers. Then they wouldn’t need bailouts. That’s Nortel.
If Tony Clement determines that RIM was unfairly left out of the Nortel bidding process, he should get it back in. But then its bid should stand or fall on the merits. The best way to ensure competitiveness is to ensure competition.

In my technology career I dealt with both Nortel and Ericsson (and a gazillion other companies, and often with the same individual as an employee of many different ones) - those employees were as mobile as their products and don't need help from me as a taxpayer!


Pat Condell rants, with a lot of good sense, though I do not agree with it all:

"The values themselves are degrading and offensive." That I do agree with, and the Kingston Mills deaths are a constant irritation reminding me of that. He almost convinces me that laws proscribing the wearing of burqa or nijabs might be defensible. I am not there yet.

How to Stop the Rockets

Hmm maybe the 'disproportionate' response is sensible.

Hamas is a bit slower to learn than was Hizballah, but seven long months after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, the rockets out of Gaza have finally stopped. Israelis will no longer put up with indiscriminate attacks on their houses and schools. Many Palestinians in Gaza have likewise had their fill of Hamas’s self-destructive campaign of “resistance.”

Tase me Bro'

I am stunned and may start watching The Daily Show. (Link is for Canadians - well, actually those reading from sites identifiable as in Canada - the rest of you - go look for the start of The Daily Show on July 28).
If Gatesgate has driven Jon Stewart and crew to eviscerate him this way, I now wonder. This may have been meant as parody but it sure hits some points exactly, about both Gates and Obama.
And to follow up on Rondi's point, "Alcohol ... that'll end well".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Irish Perspective on Gatesgate

From Mike Munger, a slightly different perspective, which confirms even more that sitting down over a beer (or more) with Obama is the right approach.

Recessions also have good effects

And this news about Crocs is very exhilirating.

Why So Many Swimming World Records?

The Science of Sport guys summarize the amazing results from the FINA Worlds from Rome.

Being a follower of athletics, I'm accustomed to a sport where world records are special, seen by only a few lucky people, achieved by the true greats of the sport. Anyone who has ever witnessed a running world record, for example, can be assured that they were seeing a human being run faster than anyone in history, and that this performance was special.

My major sports engagement was in athletics too (on the coaching side), and noticed this pattern long ago. But I do not recall way back when that swimsuits were being redesigned and the like; I thought I recognized a much simpler reason why swim records have such short lifetimes, at least simpler than they seem to be proposing.
Runners can dog it. And it seems to me this is harder for swimmers. They cannot see so clearly what the other swimmers in the race are doing.
Change the way running races are done - everybody runs alone for time, not knowing the time of the other competitors. I wager you'd see running records falling a lot faster (after some evolution out of the big drug era.)
Running races have become almost shameful in the desperate efforts to get the participants to actually try to run fast. One treat that comes with vacationing in Europe in the summer is getting to see major track meets on Eurosport (coverage available in Canada only on a few meets and on a major tape delay and after editing to make the stupid people covering the meet seem halfway intelligent). This summer SillyWife kept asking, "Who's the rabbit in this race?" and it became a sport on its own to predict who would be stepping off the track partway through the race, cashing several thousand dollars in the process.
I still love watching footraces but would sure like to see the runners trying a lot harder, but they won't so long as they can guess at what the minimum is that they need to do to beat the other guy.

What is Single-Payer

Nate Silver is almost right here.
It is true that we do have a single-payer system with some possible private provisioning (but provisioning is mixed, as I have had care at the local hospital, publicly owned, while I am sure my cataract surgery was done by a private clinic, using facilities that might have been in a publicly owned hospital). And it is true that this is not like the NHS, though the UK apparently has a private domain that is an alternative not generally available in Canada.
And here there are many restrictions on private provisioning, driven largely by political arguments that deliberately try to exploit the confusion Nate is describing.
Of course the reality is even crazier, as we actually have a number of governments involved (Canada is also a federation), and of course what is not deemed medically necessary is in the private domain. So sometimes you can pray that you are suffering form a problem the government does not think needs to be treated, as then you can actually get private care.
It is proving to be very entertaining watching Obamacare trying to take shape, and I would say the last month has been one of the most engaging times to be reading economics blogs, just for all the interpretation and struggle to identify and avoid the mistakes other countries have made in shaping their healthcare systems (and, concomitantly, trying to figure out how the healthcare systems in the other countries work - I sure don't understand mine).

Mortarboarding - Smart Coinage, and One Smart Mother

Bert Prelutsky may be a little more extreme than I might be in this, but the coinage of the word 'Mortarboarding' is lovely, and this passage is terrific:

One of my readers, Penny Alfonso, of Glendale, California, shared a conversation she had with her daughter. “I told her I won’t pay the tuition for any classes that end in the word “studies”. I have also told her that while I have no right to tell her how to think, if she comes home hating America and spewing the lies of the leftists, I will tell her I love her, and that she has the right to believe whatever she wants to believe, but I don’t have to pay for it. In the 20 years of her life, if she’s learned nothing else, she has learned that I am completely serious about this.”
If more parents adopted this attitude, the state of education would improve in a hurry. The lefty professors want to mold young minds, but the administrators just want your money. So use your clout where it counts. Adopt Mrs. Alfonso’s declaration as a Bill of Parental Rights.

I think Penny is right. There is no program with a name ending in 'studies' that is other than some promotional scheme.

Angus is Right - the Founding Fathers Goofed One Up Badly

Angus starts out finding the Nirthers ridiculous, as they are.
But he then asks a good question I do not hear often enough:

Granted that this whole flapdoodle is more about President O's ethnicity than his place of birth, it still provides an interesting question to those who unquestioningly revere our founding fathers and our constitution, viz. WTF is up with this "born in the USA" requirement to be president?
It makes no sense. If people wanted Neil Young to be prez and Neil would lower himself enough to accept, what possible relevance could his place of birth have on this contract?
Are we afraid that a foreign born president would immediately "sell us out" to his/her country of origin? Would Neil make us all start eating circles of ham and forcing us to call it bacon?
Our founding fathers had a lot on the ball, but this is one of the places where they screwed up.

Actually, I call those circles of ham 'back bacon' or 'Canadian bacon', and the unmodified 'bacon' implies lovely fatty strips of delight to me.

Teachable Moments

Here's one of value.
I was very surprised that his numero dos was Sinatra’s “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers” with which I was not familiar.
So on Kooper’s reco I purchased “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers” and eventually several other Sinatra hits. It is very different than the 60s stuff which I favor but Sinatra is an amazing stylist with a clean crisp voice.

Everything I Know is Wrong - Heimlich Manoeuvre Edition

Hey, I was taught the Heimlich manoeuvre once, and now Australian radio tells me it's baloney.
The procedure was called the Heimlich manoeuvre, named after the man who created it—Dr Henry Heimlich. It has never been used in Australia. Despite the claims of the extremely charismatic Dr Heimlich, Australian resuscitation experts believe that there isn't enough scientific evidence to support its use. So how does a medical procedure become so widely adopted without any serious scientific evidence

The show is well worth listening to, though it does leave some curious questions open. (Thanks, CBC, for the best show you broadcast, Overnight, which is also probably the cheapest show you broadcast!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back in Canada

The Austrians have some pretty attractive women on their shows, but I am delighted to be back in Diane Buckner land.


It was a wet summer in Europe (as it was here).
The few moments I tried to enjoy the sun on my vacation were accompanied by unprecedented hordes of mosquitoes. I expect to be scratching and healing for weeks!
I got home yesterday and was thinking that I was free of this scourge.
But I see at least two of the little monsters flying around inside my house.


Pretty much every summer I make a pilgrimage to visit in-laws in Europe.
The timing tends to be pretty consistent. Usually it means I am on the continent during the British Golf Open and so miss any coverage of that event (where I stay they do have satellite TV but the British Open simply does not make the cut). This year that was especially galling, though I was lucky enough on the last day to be with the one set of relatives who have a decent internet connection so I could see Watson's self-destruct button go off online.
And then there is the Tour de France. For many years it was a thrill to be in Europe and enjoy the excellent coverage every day on ARD/ZDF in Germany, coverage one could not imagine over here in Canada. Of course now this has reversed itself - Canadian coverage is superb and ARD/ZDF have retreated, now providing at best symbolic coverage. And the ORF in Austria seems to have punted completely. Eurosport still follows the event pretty well, and the English language coverage features the excellent Sean Kelly, so things are not entirely lost, but there is ZERO benefit being in Europe, as the Canadian TV coverage is at least as good.
The Tour ended today, with a fitting winner in Alberto Contador, a deserving Schlek in second, and a surprisingly classy and strong Lance Armstrong in third. The race was inadvertently slightly exciting in the first week, utterly boring in the second week, and thrilling in the third week. I somehow doubt the strategy of deliberately creating a boring second week is sustainable but we will see next year. Whatever country I am in, I plan to watch!

A Teachable Moment

The windbag could not resist - unfortunately, I was in Europe until yesterday and thus largely in thrall to CNN International (not a sensible organization - you should have seen their attempts to make Zelaya look like other than the joke he is on Friday night), so had to rely on the low-bandwidth sources of reliable information about the troubles that the professional black Henry Gates was having.
Fortunately Steve Sailer was on the job - and now Power Line has a lovely summary of Obama's press secretary trying to dodge the bullet that Obama shot at himself on this one.
The conversation that Obama intends to have with Gates and Crowley over a beer could get a little tense if Gates (and Obama?) think they are working on the issue of racial profiling, while Crowley thinks they are working on the issue of privileged people with connections in high places acting abusively toward police officers who are trying to do their jobs.

It seems likely that Obama thinks a connection to Harvard is proof of some virtue. In this case he is utterly wrong.
The only teaching that seems appropriate to me is teaching Obama to keep his mouth shut when he is utterly ignorant. As he admits he was in this case.

I'll Bet Steven Erlanger Does not even Know He should be Embarrassed

Hat tip to Jose Guardia - this is truly an appalling piece of writing. What is great is it shows us so much more about the author than about the subject.
I have long considered Steven Erlanger an embarrassment to the New York Times (if the NY Times were capable of embarrassment) but this piece is a classic.

Barbara Cassin, a philosopher, said that Mr. Sarkozy “was less uneducated than it appeared, but he’s still as uneducated as before.” With his new endeavors, she said: “He’s saying: ‘Now I’m up to the level of my position. I’ve become presidential.’ ”

Wow! She's a philosopher. What she says must be important. Erlanger should not get any more column-inches anywhere.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Am I the Unique Philistine?

My e-mail and social networking sites are all full of praise for this:

I don't get it. The dance number seemed not particularly interesting - it seems the only reason anyone is getting excited is that there is some tenuous connection to breast cancer.
The judges seem as a result to become total twits and cannot judge the actual dancing. They seem amazed that the woman dancer jumps into the man's arms.
I think this is why I do not ever watch SYTYCD.

Heading Home to Face Garbage Problems Again

The Toronto garbage strike continues (yes, I know many other services are also withdrawn but few of them matter much to me - I even got a street parking permit on-line after the strike started).
Lawrence Solomon summarizes my views on the farce Miller has got us into.
Toronto’s garbage strike creates hazards to the public health and inconvenience to all, but it does have some saving virtues. It highlights the self-centredness of the unions, which have again timed their strike for summer to maximize the fetidity of the garbage and the distress of the citizenry. And it reminds us of the resiliency in our society, through the entrepreneurship that instantly sprang up in response. Within hours of the strike’s commencement, numerous providers emerged to offer garbage services at a reasonable price and, more importantly, with a smile. In my neighbourhood, Milton appears on request to remove my garbage for $4 a bag. To save on fuel — a large factor for public and private haulers alike — Milton ferries garbage from his customers to his parked truck by a hand wagon. Every neighbourhood in Toronto now has its own Milton.

A walk around my neighborhood before I left for my vacation (well, trip) identified a Milton within walking distance. If the drop sites in Toronto no longer afford convenient disposal of my garbage, no doubt Milton will get some new business.
As for the next municipal election, contracting out will likely be the issue most likely to determine my vote.

16 out of 21!

EclectEcon points to an amusing quiz on obscure (well, some of it) Canadian trivia.
I managed the same score as he did, helped by having had a father born in Western Canada, and having had the opportunity to travel around the country a bit for a few years. It is still embarrassing to see some of the answers I missed.
It's worth a try. Go take the test.

Stun? Those neighbours must be stunned to start with - Kingston Mills drownings

I heard about the Kingston Mills canal drownings as I was driving to Quebec City on June 30.
From a very small number of simple facts - a) the names of the victims, b) the sex of ALL the four victims, c) the fact that they had been in a two-car convoy with the males in the family, and d) the obvious lie being reported as the mother's first story about where her daughters had gone, I inferred that the male members of the family, likely aided by the mother, had murdered the women.
I imagine the Kingston Police did as well within a few minutes of talking to the survivors.
I have been awaiting the charges and now see that the Kingston Police, having done a lot more research, have arrived now at the obvious conclusion (I am happier they waited until they felt they had proof of the obvious conclusion).
We're well past being in any way kind to this sort of murderer and I hope they get put away for a very long time. My Canada does not want to include murderers of any kind, but this kind, disproportionately affecting young women who must be so delighted at the freedoms available in our society, is particularly repulsive.

An Unhappy Nostalgia

My recent radio silence is the product of being exposed once again, after a two-year vacation from it, to dialup internet (lack of) access.
I hope to be back in action.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Barbara Boxer's Moronic Identity Politics

Ed Morrissey points to a sickening and moronic exchange, the moron being Barbara Boxer ('Senator Barbara Boxer' - don't forget the idiot's title), and the rightly frustrated victim being Harry Alford, whom Boxer expects to genuflect before the NAACP and some other ridiculous black group.
In a way I feel sorry for Obama, who must effect his plans through limited and sorry people like Boxer. Not that he is not sorry in many of the same ways.

Population Explosion

I believe this event raises the toddler population on our block by about 50%. Welcome to the new ones!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Third Garbage Bag

The strike is still on, and the news reports are that the union is throttling the admission of citizens to the garbage drop-off sites to create additional inconvenience (at one site they allow a car every quarter hour, leading to waits of several hours by some hapless innocent taxpayers). On one of my bike trips this week, I noticed a similar, if more modest, throttling at the site I normally use; in the car returning from shopping yesterday I managed a quick glance at another site and noticed no queue.
So I went there today - treatment was courteous and helpful, this from the union (not the city staff working at the site). I pulled up in the car, dropped this week's garbage off, and was out of there, all in a minute or so.
This lack of uniformity is fascinating; it does suggest that the outrageous behavior at some sites on the part of the union is an artifact of who is manning the picket line where. By the way, my understanding is that this flow control is illegal, but the city has done NOTHING about it, choosing to threaten legal injunction, but actually do nothing, and allow its taxpayers to be forced to suffer far more than is remotely justified.
(East Toronto readers - Ted Reeve arena is where I went today.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yes, it's Bastille Day ...

... but it is also Karel Gott's 70th birthday!

If you want to hear some Bastille Day singing, check out Rondi's blog.

A Service I Don't Need

E. Frank Stephenson has found an hilarious service offered by Netflix as part of its DVD ratings.
"Marley and Me" is the next item in the Stephenson queue and I wondered if it might be suitable for Pee Wee (my impression, apparently correct, is that the film is relatively clean) so I clicked through to see the content info. Most of the categories on which the film is evaluated are unsurprising--sex, language, violence, drug use, etc. But there is also a category for "consumerism" and here's the evaluation of "Marley and Me":

Jenny and John pursue the American dream: a nice house in a good neighborhood, a nice car, a big trip, etc. But the pursuit is also a struggle, and viewers see how John and Jenny sacrifice to gain the material pleasure that they eventually achieve. Specific products/brands shown/mentioned include Volvo, the Philadelphia Enquirer and the New York Times.

For this consumerism content, the film earns a red dot indicating "Not appropriate for kids of the age most likely to want to see it." How awful--two people want a nice house and they sacrifice and struggle to obtain it. Then again, maybe Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, and the rest of the NYT warrant a red dot.

Sactimonious twitheads!

A Sea Change

When I joined IBM, it was clearly a hardware company.
This AP article on the MOSAID patent infringement complaint includes this passing description of IBM today:

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, one of the world's largest technology companies, makes most of its money from services and software but also has an arm that develops and manufactures its own processors.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Want to Swim, I Know I want to

I love the way the little one gets plucked out of the water.
h/t ZooBorns

What is the Problem with Health Care Costs?

I've long wondered what the problem is with having higher health care costs in an economy than somebody thinks right; if people want to spend on health care rather than something else, why should they not? One's health is extremely important; I know I care about mine.
In my case, my government makes it awfully difficult for me to spend on health care, except in idiotic ways, like wasting money on chirpractors or homeopaths or naturopaths. But in a country with no such restrictions might not someone want to spend an unlimited amount of money to protect this precious condition?
Megan McArdle produces a rather nice graph, comparing the growth of human health care costs and veterinary expenditures.

Veterinary spending is rising just about in line with human medical spending. Kudoes to AEI for publishing a graph that seriously undercuts one of the major conservative arguments about health care: that the main problem is consumers who don't bear their own costs. Veterinary spending is subject to few of the perversities that either left or right suppose to be the main problems afflicting health care spending. Consumers pay full frieght most of the time. They are price sensitive, and will let the patient die if keeping him alive costs too much. There is no adverse selection. There is no free riding on mandatory care. Government regulation is minimal. Malpractice suits are minimal, and have low payouts. So why is vet spending rising along with human spending?
Two reasons, presumably: technological change and rising income. As we get wealthier, we spend more of our income on former luxuries, like keeping our pets healthy--nineteenth century veterinary care for sick cats consisted of a sack and some stones to weight it down with. And improvements in health care technology are giving us more things to spend that money on. With the help of my family, I bought my dog five extra years of life with an MRI that diagnosed his slipped disk; without it, we'd have had to put him to sleep when he was three. Worth it? I think so. But in 1950, I couldn't have afforded it, even if it had been available.

So the main ways to achieve Obama's goal of controlling costs would be to discourage medical innovation, and make people poorer. He may be on the right track there.

Norm's Book Club

Some time ago Norm recommended Andrew Sean Greer's 'The Story of a Marriage'. I immediately ordered it from the local library and endorse totally what he says about it. It is a fine novel, and quite mature, and also full of surprising twists (I also endorse the advice to avoid reviews). Also, it is largely set in San Francisco, which I rather liked, as an ex-inhabitant of the East Bay. Just get it and read it.

The jokes write themselves

Steve Sailer fisks a profoundly inaccurate op-ed in the NY Times by Lani Guinier and Susan Sturm.
Sturm und Guinier give away the hushed up fact that "civil rights" -- as currently understood by, say, Sonia Sotomayor -- is an assault on America's once proud tradition of civil service reforms.
Objective written tests for would-be government employees originated in Imperial China, and the idea was transmitted to Europe by early Jesuit missionaries, such as the great Matteo Ricci, who were impressed by how much better China was administered than their own countries. The Chinese tests were not seemingly all that "job-related" -- they consisted of questions requiring elegant essays on the Confucian classics, with bonus points for artistic calligraphy. That doesn't, at first glance, seem to have much to do with, say, keeping the Grand Canal dredged and open to shipping. But, of course, they were tests of IQ, literacy, and diligence, which predicts a lot more about job performance than, say, who you know.

Objective civil service benefited blacks in the first half of the 20th Century, with the heart of the black middle class settling in Washington D.C. because they could get federal jobs by passing blind-graded written tests.
However, as minority political power grew, minorities stopped wanting blind-graded testing extended to fight bigotry and instead wanted it rolled back to benefit themselves over more qualified job applicants.

Read the whole thing, and, as he suggests, read Alito's concurrence on the SCOTUS ruling.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Most Enjoyable 'Mull of Kintyre' I Have Seen

Brinkmanship at the Patio Door

Where are those peanuts?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The View From My Window

Well, from the hotel window last week.

Obama Descended from Slaves?

CBC reports breathlessly on the Obama couple's visit to a Ghanaian fort used in the British slave trade, and the reporter says this is significant, since both Obama and his wife are descended from slaves.
Huh? I thought his father came to the US as a student. Moreover, his father was East African, so the claim seems doubly dubious. Maybe his ancestors were slaves to Arabs at some point in history, but pretty surely not part of the overseas slave trade.
Where do they find these reporters?
(Note: I would assume Michelle is descended from slaves.)

UPDATE: A few hours later, the claim has now apparently vanished from the CBC reports.

Do I Want This Service?

I am not sure it sounds appealing to me.

Tim Hortons invades Manhattan

This should be interesting.

He said he was betting that Tim Hortons would have more staying power than Godfather’s or Krispy Kreme, which stormed into New York at the start of this decade but has retreated, leaving just two locations near Pennsylvania Station.
The competition will be fierce. There are 427 Dunkin’ Donuts within 10 miles of Times Square, according to the company’s Web site. The nearest Tim Hortons is currently in Meriden, Conn., according to a spokesman for Riese.
Canadian tourists and immigrants like Jaye Landon, who said “Wow” when she heard the news, may be the surest customers for the Tim Hortons.

Tim Harford on Carbon Footprinting

An excellent essay on a crucial lacuna in our knowledge as we embark on all sorts of grand plans to reduce carbon emissions. We don't know yet what really generates the emissions. For example:
The carbon-footprinting process often produces surprises. An environmentally conscious consumer in the crisps aisle of the supermarket will probably be thinking about packaging or “food miles”. The Carbon Trust reckons that about 1 per cent of the climate impact of a packet of crisps is from moving potatoes around. The largest single culprit is the production of the nitrogen fertiliser, and half of the climate impact in general takes place at the agricultural stage. The point is not that agriculture is always the problem, but that it is very hard for a well-meaning consumer to work out what the green purchasing decision actually is. For this reason, the Carbon Trust has a carbon labelling scheme. The trouble is that many consumers simply do not care enough to pay more or choose a less enjoyable product simply because of the low carbon label.
A government role is necessary, then, but it is even harder for governments to regulate such fine details. All this is why economists continue to advocate some kind of carbon price, which would give an incentive to everyone involved in these complex supply chains to trim carbon dioxide emissions. A modest and credible price for carbon is slowly becoming the conventional policy wisdom. It is a shame we still don’t have it.

The reflection on the travel of the potatoes is one reason 'locavorism' is something I find so unappealing. The case in terms of carbon is generally an empty one. And where I live locavorism would give me the sort of diet I had no choice but to eat forty years ago. No thanks.

Don Boudreaux on Materialism

Cheeky indeed.

But it's rather cheeky to accuse, with one breath, proponents of capitalism of being unduly focused on material goods, and with the next breath to insist that a major problem with capitalism is that some people get fewer material goods than do other people.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm Confused Too

On Tuesday I drove up to Ottawa to visit my mother; that afternoon in her building I was chatting with one of the tenants, in her eighties, who commented, "The memorial was quite nice; it was tasteful and moving", or the like. I was momentarily puzzled, and then realized that she meant the Michael Jackson memorial. So yes, part of my confusion was my ageism; I simply assumed someone twenty years older than I am would be as indifferent to the event as I am!
But my confusion actually runs deeper than indifference; David Rothkopf has a nice post on a number of confusing world events all going on at once and the memorial is one of them.

  • The Michael Jackson memorial service will cost the City of Los Angeles $4 million. That's their official estimate. I would bet you my copy of the "Thriller" album that the costs are considerably higher and they can't bear to admit it. Why? Well, because California is broke, right? So here we have a government that is strapped for cash forking out for the public funeral of a event that is likely to sell hundreds of thousands of records the profits of which go straight to Jackson's family.
  • On top of this, isn't this the same local government that spent hundreds of thousands trying to prosecute today's hero for child molestation? Whose case was made more difficult because today's hero paid millions to buy the silence of children with whom he had some sort of that was worth millions to keep covered up?
  • Also baffling: in a bizarre twist on a bizarre case, in order to defray the costs of memorial, the NAACP is, according to MSNBC, trying to raise funds from their members and supporters. Am I getting this right? The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is pulling out the stops to raise money for an individual who actually spent a small fortune testing the boundaries of medical science in order to actually cease being a person of color?

I suspect Rothkopf, like me, has missed something.
The post is worth reading for other puzzling events of the day.

Hedge Funds and the Farmyard Cat

Oliver Kamm is not impressed with the EU regulatory directions.
Giving new life to cliché, the EU proposals seek to close the stable door after the horse has bolted, but succeed merely in kicking the farmyard cat in frustration.
Hedge funds are different from traditional investment vehicles because of the techniques they use. They can use leverage (that is, they borrow to invest). They sell stock short (they sell stocks that they do not own, in the hope of buying them back later at a lower price). And they can lock up clients’ money for a specified period. They serve a useful purpose for the economy by enabling investors to diversify their wealth and directing scarce capital to businesses that can use it productively.
The EU proposals would place limits on leverage and require hedge funds to use European banks as custodians. There is scant economic justification for these measures. Hedge funds might indeed pose a risk to stability by borrowing too much from the banks. The remedy is to impose limits on banks’ lending, not to penalise the banks’ customers. And a requirement to use European banks is a purely nationalist

Deeply F-d Up

Bulls 1, Idiots ?
Amen to this reflection.

Neither Fact-Checkers nor Proofreaders

We've established pretty clearly from Obama's speeches (he gave another howler in Moscow) that fact-checkers are unwelcome in the administration - either that or the fact checkers know little history, economics, and have little ability to do simple research. (Love that 13th-century Inquisition!)
It turns out that they have decided to save money as well on proofreaders!
(Or is the ghost of Dan Quayle walking the halls?)
It gives me little confidence on the big stuff how indifferent this administration seems to the small stuff.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Two Garbage Bags

So far in the strike, I have dropped off two garbage bags, both in the parking lot of a local park set up by the city as a drop-off point.
The first experience went fairly simply, just driving down into the lot and throwing the bag on a pile.
The second experience, last Tuesday, was quite different. As I descended the hill to the park, I could see that pickets from the unions were out, though not exactly in the manner I had expected. They stopped me and guided me into a specific place, and then came and took the bag and handed it to a city employee, all the time chatting pleasantly with me. As I drove off, all the picketers were waving.
They DO have a public relations problem, and while this behavior does dispose me more favorably to them, it does not dispose me favorably to the current contract provision that allows workers to bank up to six months of sick leave (out of 18 days a year!) for use at retirement. Nor does it make me cheer for them in the negotiations (after all, I, as a city taxpayer, am on the other side of this discussion).
Still, this beats the first day of the strike when picket lines violated the law and refused to allow citizens to dump their garbage.
My current strategy - try to be out of town as much as possible, something I managed last week!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Latest Toronto Locker-Room Talk

Having been absent for a while, I was recently back in the locker room. Small talk is dominated by discussions of where we can dump our garbage.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Overheard in the local market yesterday

"And I'll have one of those Romanian lettuces."
Let's hope she meant something else.

Two More Homeopathic Lagers, Please

h/t The Bad Astronomer

Thank you Major Tennis 2009, and Roger Federer and Andy Roddick

In January I counted Nadal-Verdasco at the Australian Open likely the best match I had ever seen, but this men's Wimbledon final was amazing! In the 30th (!) game of the fifth set, Roger Federer finally broke, his first break, Andy Roddick to win. I'll confess that by halfway through the fifth set I felt Roddick deserved it but I was clearly wrong.
Add to this the men's semifinals at the French and it has been a year that has got me watching men's tennis after somewhat of an absence.
This match was the least roller-coasterish of the matches mentioned so perhaps a little less dramatic, but what a privilege to watch these two guys each fight so hard to win, and for so long, with no apparent fatigue.
Now, on to the US Open!

P.S. I have no idea how the two wives survived it!


Pity and War

What he said. I even stole the title of his post.
Seeing pictures of burnt out shells of houses with body parts scattered about, or a child's head lying in rubble with flies buzzing about its eyes, one has to be inhuman not to feel a sense of remorse at the wasteful brutality of warfare, and a desire for a future in which war is firmly a thing of long gone, darker ages, but the great irony is that as long as least one side in a conflict feels it can mobilize such noble human sentiments as propaganda on behalf of its cause, powerful incentives will remain to engage in reckless behavior which will guarantee that we will see many more ugly images of mayhem. It is a great pity that the leaders of movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah care far more about the killing of Israel's children than they do about the lives and welfare of their own - and a disgrace that so many "journalists" allow themselves to be passive vehicles for the propagation of such tendencies.

AEG's Creative Offer to MJ Fans

This letter to the Undercover Economist is from a Michael Jackson fan who had ordered tickets to one of the many concerts that will never happen. AEG is offering either a refund or a ticket to the event that will never happen, presumably as a collectible. Tim Harford offers advice on how to decide whether to ask for a refund or for the ticket:

From a game theorist’s perspective, the equilibrium solution is clear. Let us say that memento and refund are equally valuable if 100,000 take the memento and 700,000 take the refund. In that case, each fan should independently adopt a “mixed strategy” with a one-eighth probability of taking the memento. (A nerdy hint: roll three dice; there is a one in eight chance that the total is exactly 10.) Every fan will be happy to randomise, because every fan will know that either way, he or she will get something of equivalent value.
I realise all this sounds implausible, and it is. Game theory makes demanding assumptions about human rationality that may not apply to grieving fans. I would pay closer attention to research in economic psychology that suggests people are very unwilling to part with an item once they feel a sense of ownership. A non-nostalgic fan should go for the refund.

I once held tickets to Old Tucson for the night it burned down; I was actually on site as the fire began. Of course there were not 800,000 people there that night (more like 100, I would guess), and I figure the market of those interested in Old Tucson is somewhat smaller than those interested in Michael Jackson (though my preferences go the other way). I also never faced the dilemma of trading off the ticket against a potential refund (I had not personally paid for it anyway). I have no idea where it is now, though at one point I thought of trying it out on eBay.

My Wimbledon 2009

As Sampras takes his seat at Wimbledon, and Roddick comes out of the blocks firing on all cylinders (so does Federer but it's what Roddick can do that might make this a good match), I take note of my frustration with NBC's handling of its broadcast rights. It largely mirrors these two comments of EclectEcon.
As I was on a business trip the rather arbitrary decision not to show key matches live did not really affect me operationally. In the end I simply did not watch the matches. NBC must still think there is a large audience for non-live matches. Moreover, I did not understand why they were reluctant to show matches live and instead broadcast them at rather unusual times to my mind. But what do I know about broadcasting except as an individual watcher? In any case, the internet solves the problem of knowing what is going on. And in the end NBC does the right thing for the final singles matches.
All that said, I think I was right to look forward to Hewitt-Roddick; I saw the end of it, and it appears to have been the best of the matches in the last couple of rounds; and as I anticipated, they both behaved like the "old married men" they now are rather than the fiery youth I could not quite fully respect. It is unfortunate that the semi-final day (which I largely missed) was no match for the emotionally crushing semis at the French Open. Hmm, maybe given that I missed that day, it is good it was not like that!
Well, on to readying for the first set tiebreak in the men's final and paying more attention!

UPDATE: Oopps! First set to Roddick!


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Swan Update - July 4, 2009

Sometime last week I noticed that the original seven cygnets were down to five, but they were elusive enough that I got no picture.
Today I did manage to catch the family, with now three remaining cygnets.
This is sad, but not so out of line with historical survival rates of the cygnets. Last year also featured three from an original seven.

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Independence Day - Lurching toward Fulfilment

Willam Easterly puts it well - thoughts I had earlier today as well.
His summation:

“Created equal” is a principle yet to be accepted in most of the world, which perhaps has a lot to do with why most of the world is still not developed. Inequality of rights between elites and majorities, between ethnic and religious groups, between men and women is pervasive. But perhaps we can hope that this ideal still serves as a beacon that crusaders continue to cite in their ongoing struggle for the dignity and rights of every man and woman.

Palin's Resignation Speech

My reaction is that of Brad DeLong, and in this post he places the text and his response.
I think also that the speech contains the sentence of the day for lack of content and coherence but using apparently meaningful phrases:
Rather, we know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time, on another scale, and actually make a difference for our priorities - and so we will, for Alaskans and for Americans.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Muqata and Commenters Give Me a Laugh

And tell the real story on one of the comments.


And She Runs That Way Too

Whatever you may think of her personally or politically, this interview in Runners' World is entertaining to me.
If you go a day or a week without running, what do you learn about yourself?
I feel so crappy if I go more than a few days without running. I have to run. No matter how rotten I feel before or during a run, it's always worth it to me afterwards. Sweat is my sanity. A great frustration I had during the campaign was when the McCain staff wouldn't carve out time for me to go for a run. The days never went as well if I couldn't get out there and sweat.

h/t Power Line

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