Sunday, October 31

A friend caught his wife naked with another guy recently

And he doesn't want to address it at all:
Friend lets New Dude move in with him and his wife. New Dude doesn't pay rent at the time because he's "trying to get on his feet." I think it's cool that they are trying to help New Dude out, especially since he doesn't speak English as a first language and doesn't have any marketable skills. Last week, friend told me he walked in on New Dude and his wife in the bedroom and they were both naked. He really doesn't seem to want to do anything about this. I brought up how f'ed up this is a couple times and he seemed uninterested in what I have to say, but I can tell he's been losing sleep lately and he's clearly losing a good bit of his paycheck to support New Dude. New Dude seems like a cool guy but I think it's messed up that my friend is going through this. It's only going to get worse. How should I approach my friend and get him to listen?

EDIT: I found a picture of New Dude to give you a better idea of the situation:

Halloween Has Become Too Commercialized!

Let's not forget the reason for the season.

Quantitative Easin'

Cartoon medley


(reddit, 350 comments)

Saturday, October 30

Looks like a real page turner

Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: Baker Book House (1982)
Amazon: 1 of 5 stars

Turkey lifts ban on youtube

Turkey has lifted its ban on video-sharing website YouTube as material deemed insulting to Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has been removed, Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian reported Saturday.

Ankara's general attorney ruled the site, blocked since May 2008, should be now freely accessible to Turkish users.
The ban was widely criticized, even by Turkey's President Abdullah Gul who used his Twitter page to condemn the move, and said he had asked responsible institutions for a solution.

Under the country's penal code it is an offence to insult the Turkish nation and its institutions.

YouTube said in a statement on Saturday: "We've received reports that some users in Turkey are once again able to access YouTube...We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process."

"We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy," YouTube added.

Pumpkin "carving"

Friday, October 29

How Wisconsin got away from Russ Feingold

Apart from his blinders on campaign finance, Feingold was a very strong civil libertarian, and the one Democrat I proudly voted for this election.

My regret for his loss this cycle will be second only to that of Prop 19.

Marc Ambinder attempts to explain the loss:
Start from the sociological point: beer. Milwaukee. The Tavern League is a huge lobbying force. The Democratic base in the state is compromised of what Ron Brownstein calls "beer track Democrats": blue collar voters, ethnic whites who tolerate government when it helps but recoil from it when it seems intrusive and wasteful. They tend to be older. Sporadic and infrequent Democratic voters in the state come from the university towns like Madison. Wisconsin has had an unusually high rate of young voter participation, a trend that dates back to the mid-90s. People forget that Barack Obama won the state in the primaries, and that Democrats since Michael Dukakis have kept it in the blue column in presidential races. It's hard to argue that voters in Wisconsin are Democrats simply by habit. But at the same time, Democrats took back the state legislature only last year, and Feingold has never been reluctant to admit that he takes positions that are somewhat out of sync with his state. But culturally, he's one of them. Balanced budgets. Gun rights. And a beer drinker. 

Younger college-town Democrats and older habitual Democratic voters are clashing this year on entitlement spending; younger Democrats see the health care reform law and the stimulus package as down payments on their future. Older Democrats see it as a waste of money. This trend plays itself out culturally, too.

Beer-track Democrats tend to be the toughest to turn out this cycle. White men without college degrees have grasped onto economic libertarianism as a way out of the fiscal mess. And younger Democrats simply aren't turning out. 

Feingold has done everything he can to remedy this. Unlike many Democrats, he's run as an unabashed champion of health care, the stimulus, energy reform, and progressive cultural advancement.
[..] Feingold is unafraid to be the avatar of an argument that Wisconsin residents are just going to reject this cycle. Health care isn't popular. The stimulus is considered wasteful. The economy is tough and jobs aren't coming back. The profile of the electorate is much more conservative. Wisconsin has been run mostly by Democrats for eight years. It's not in very good shape. Feingold represents all of that.
True, unfortunately.

It didn't have to be this way. He would have had a fair shot had he de-emphasized the leftism.

I hope his political career isn't over.

Thursday, October 28

Obama signals gay marriage shift

One week before the midterm election, mindful of his disillusioned Democratic base, Obama holds a Q&A session at the White House with progressive bloggers. Transcript from AMERICAblog:
Q I was glad to hear that you and your staff appreciate constructive feedback.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that’s something we enjoy. (Laughter.)

Q We’ve been more than willing to offer that. We’ve certainly been more than willing to offer that from AMERICAblog, particularly on issues related to the LGBT community, which, you know, there is a certain amount of disillusionment and disappointment in our community right now.

And one of the things I’d like to ask you -- and I think it’s a simple yes or no question too -- is do you think that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s not a simple yes or no question, because I’m not sitting on the Supreme Court. And I’ve got to be careful, as President of the United States, to make sure that when I’m making pronouncements about laws that Congress passed I don’t do so just off the top of my head.

I think that -- but here’s what I can say. I think “don’t ask, don’t tell” is wrong. I think it doesn’t serve our national security, which is why I want it overturned. I think that the best way to overturn it is for Congress to act. In theory, we should be able to get 60 votes out of the Senate. The House has already passed it. And I’ve gotten the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to say that they think this policy needs to be overturned -- something that’s unprecedented.

And so my hope and expectation is, is that we get this law passed. It is not just harmful to the brave men and women who are serving, and in some cases have been discharged unjustly, but it doesn’t serve our interests -- and I speak as Commander-in-Chief on that issue.

Let me go to the larger issue, though, Joe, about disillusionment and disappointment. I guess my attitude is that we have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any President in history. I’ve appointed more openly gay people to more positions in this government than any President in history. We have moved forward on a whole range of issues that were directly under my control, including, for example, hospital visitation.

On “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I have been as systematic and methodical in trying to move that agenda forward as I could be given my legal constraints, given that Congress had explicitly passed a law designed to tie my hands on the issue.

And so, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think that the disillusionment is justified.

Now, I say that as somebody who appreciates that the LGBT community very legitimately feels these issues in very personal terms. So it’s not my place to counsel patience. One of my favorite pieces of literature is “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and Dr. King had to battle people counseling patience and time. And he rightly said that time is neutral. And things don’t automatically get better unless people push to try to get things better.

So I don’t begrudge the LGBT community pushing, but the flip side of it is that this notion somehow that this administration has been a source of disappointment to the LGBT community, as opposed to a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, I think is wrong.
Q So I have another gay question. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: It’s okay, man. (Laughter.)

Q And this one is on the issue of marriage. Since you’ve become President, a lot has changed. More states have passed marriage equality laws. This summer a federal judge declared DOMA unconstitutional in two different cases. A judge in San Francisco declared Prop 8 was unconstitutional. And I know during the campaign you often said you thought marriage was the union between a man and a woman, and there -- like I said, when you look at public opinion polling, it’s heading in the right direction. We’ve actually got Republicans like Ted Olson and even Ken Mehlman on our side now. So I just really want to know what is your position on same-sex marriage?

THE PRESIDENT: Joe, I do not intend to make big news sitting here with the five of you, as wonderful as you guys are. (Laughter.) But I’ll say this --

Q I just want to say, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you this question.


Q People in our community are really desperate to know.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a fair question to ask. I think that -- I am a strong supporter of civil unions. As you say, I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.

But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine.
And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents.

And I care about them deeply. And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about. That’s probably the best you’ll do out of me today. (Laughter.)

Q It is an important issue, and I think that --

THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s an entirely fair question to ask.

Q And part of it is that you can’t be equal in this country if the very core of who you are as a person and the love -- the person you love is not -- if that relationship isn’t the same as everybody else’s, then we’re not equal. And I think that a lot of -- particularly in the wake of the California election on Prop 8, a lot of gay people realized we’re not equal. And I think that that’s -- that’s been part of the change in the --

THE PRESIDENT: Prop 8, which I opposed.

Q Right. I remember you did. You sent the letter and that was great. I think that the level of intensity in the LGBT community changed after we lost rights in that election. And I think that’s a lot of where the community is right now.

THE PRESIDENT: The one thing I will say today is I think it’s pretty clear where the trendlines are going.

Q The arc of history.

THE PRESIDENT: The arc of history.
Q Well, can I ask you just about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” just following up? (Laughter.) I just want to follow up. Because you mentioned it -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, sure. Go ahead.

Q Is there a strategy for the lame-duck session to --


Q -- and you’re going to be involved?


Q Will Secretary Gates be involved?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not going to tip my hand now. But there is a strategy.

Q Okay.

THE PRESIDENT: And, look, as I said --

Q Can we call it a secret plan? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I was very deliberate in working with the Pentagon so that I’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs being very clear about the need to end this policy. That is part of a strategy that I have been pursuing since I came into office. And my hope is that will culminate in getting this thing overturned before the end of the year.

Now, as usual, I need 60 votes. So I think that, Joe, the folks that you need to be having a really good conversation with -- and I had that conversation with them directly yesterday, but you may have more influence than I do -- is making sure that all those Log Cabin Republicans who helped to finance this lawsuit and who feel about this issue so passionately are working the handful of Republicans that we need to get this thing done.

Q Yes, I don’t have that relationship with them. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: But, I mean, it’s just -- I don’t understand the logic of it.

Q Nor do I.

THE PRESIDENT: You’re financing a very successful, very effective legal strategy, and yet the only really thing you need to do is make sure that we get two to five Republican votes in the Senate.

And I said directly to the Log Cabin Republican who was here yesterday, I said, that can’t be that hard. Get me those votes.

Because what I do anticipate is that John McCain and maybe some others will filibuster this issue, and we’re going to have to have a cloture vote. If we can get through that cloture vote, this is done.
Remember, Obama supported same-sex marriage back in 1996 and then shifted for most of his political career. It's unlikely his personal conviction ever wavered--this is just politics of the moment.

But given this signal, I'll be surprised if his 2012 campaign isn't fairly warm to same-sex marriage--perhaps emphasizing it as a state issue.  He just can't come out for national gay marriage before 2012 without losing nontrivial support in key purple states.

Tuesday, October 26

Smooth sailing for Rand Paul?

The recent stomping incident had me worried, but this Politico raff suggest his opponent is in pretty bad shape.


(reddit) This is Excalibur, billed as the highest climbing wall in the world, located in the Netherlands:

Monday, October 25

19 reasons to pass prop 19

Via the Dish, Russ Belville makes a list. The first reason:
It might seem counter-intuitive to some, but illegal marijuana is much easier to acquire than regulated marijuana because weed dealers don’t check ID’s.  Four out of five high school seniors, more than three in five sophomores, and two in five middle schoolers (8th grade) say marijuana is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.  One third of 16-17-year-olds say marijuana is easiest to buy, not cigarettes, alcohol, or prescription drugs.  Two out of five teens say they can get marijuana in a day; almost one in four can get marijuana in an hour.  Obviously letting unregulated dealers control the marijuana market is not protecting your kids from access to marijuana.  On the other hand, aggressive enforcement of ID carding for minors, combined with public education have led to some of the lowest rates of teen alcohol and tobacco use ever recorded.

Saturday, October 23

Factoid of the day

The human brain is 2 to 3% of body mass, but consumes 25% of the body's energy. This is "metabolically expensive", and technologies like cooking food were important for facilitating the evolution of our large brains.

(From a TED talk: Heribert Watzke: The brain in your gut)

Quote of the day

"The line between the obvious and the esoteric is apparent and recedes as you approach it." —disconcision

Friday, October 22

Liberty and Justice

Hathos alert

#7 viral today:

Shoulda gone with the remix.

A carbon tax by accident?!

Via Yglesias, I hear the UK has so few veto points that's basically what happened.

That's freaking hilarious to contrast with the US experience.

Of course, I remain strongly in favor of veto points and divided government.  The amusingly positive idiosyncrasies possible in this technocracy don't come anywhere near outweighing the deleterious effect of the vast socialist state it enabled.

Andrew makes similar points on UK spending cuts.

Legalize it

Copyright and other intellectual property laws, especially patents, jumped the shark a long time ago.

But I was unaware they had reached such a risible height:

Engineer crashes vehicle to save lives

I always like me a feel good story that includes sentences like: "Basic Physics If I could get in front of him and let him hit me, the delta difference in speed would just be a few miles an hour, and we could slow down together,"

Notre Dame flashmob

Why do the best artists always die young?

Infamy can inflate one's reputation to a point, but I gotta figure their personal struggles bring out serious creativity.

Reddit reminds that Elliott Smith, my favorite singer-songwriter, died 7 years ago yesterday—at 34.  He killed himself with two stab wounds to the chest.

I've queued up his two best albums in Grooveshark, Either/Or and Figure 8.  Enjoy!

However, the two tracks that most live in my mind are from XO, an album that's somewhat more upbeat and unique-sounding. I put these in a widget for the ADD crowd ; )

(cross posted)

Thursday, October 21

The longest fantasy series

List here.

UK plans deepest cuts to spending in 60 years

The Cameron-Clegg coalition delivers again:
LONDON — The British government on Wednesday unveiled the country’s steepest public spending cuts in more than 60 years, reducing costs in government departments by an average of 19 percent, sharply curtailing welfare benefits, raising the retirement age to 66 by 2020 and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs in an effort to bring down the bloated budget deficit.

“Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink,” a confident George Osborne, who as chancellor of the Exchequer is Britain’s top finance minister, told the House of Commons.

“It is a hard road but it leads to a better future,” he said, but “to back down now would be the road to economic ruin.”

He said that 490,000 public sector jobs would be lost over the four-year savings program and the size of government departments in London would be cut by one third. Public spending would be cut by around $130 billion by 2015.

Diminished reality

The future is now:

When in doubt, shout

In a new study, David Gal and Derek Rucker from Northwestern University have found that when people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs. The duo carried out three experiments involving issues such as animal testing, dietary preferences, and loyalty towards Macs over PCs. In each one, they subtly manipulated their subjects’ confidence and found the same thing: when faced with doubt, people shout even louder.

[..] In all three cases, Gal and Zucker found that doubt turns people into stronger advocates. More subtly, their study shows that this effect is stronger if someone’s identity is threatened, if the belief is important to them, and if they think that others will listen. It all fits with a pattern of behavior where people evangelize to strengthen their own faltering beliefs.

Karma bites

Zero tolerance

In Denver, a kid was suspended for bringing a nerf gun to school.

Wednesday, October 20

The primacy of free enterprise

Lovely email at the Dish today:
Where does Rick Hertzberg think society's ability to give people "enough to eat and a roof over their heads" comes from, if not from those economic liberties and rights he holds as secondary? It's all from the surplus created by the division of labor and comparative advantage. The overflowing abundance that marks modern society - where people like Hertzberg can make a comfortable living writing for The New Yorker without ever cultivating his own food, weaving his own clothes, building his own home, and so on - would not exist if not for the continued protection of free enterprise and private property. (And he dares to quote Adam Smith in his follow-up post!?)

Free enterprise comes before voting.

If I can steal generously from Hayek for a second, society didn't develop the complexity that it has today because everyone in a small village in 2,500 B.C., or 100 A.D., or 1640s New England got together and voted to divide their time and effort in order to provide goods and services for exchange; this happens organically. This happens because it has proven, over thousands of years, to be the most efficient and mutually-beneficial means of getting past subsistence and reaching a better life. Without this, there is no possibility for organized self-government and modern civil rights.

In what possible viable world view could the "right to vote" be valued more favorably than property rights and the freedom of enterprise? Let's leave the philosophical for a second and look at this empirically: What impact does my right to vote have on the world? Very little. I live in a gerrymandered Democratic district, as a classically liberal Republican. My school board has had the same self-interested bozos in office for twenty years. Forget about the U.S. Senate; the only numbers that matter in the Senate are the size of the caucuses, and not the relative impact of my vote in Pennsylvania. My various executives - county, state, federal - merely preside over a rapidly-growing administrative state that is increasingly autonomous, practically speaking, and far too complicated for any particular chief executive to influence at more than a 10,000-foot broad policy level.

Honestly, the only two reasons I even make the effort to vote are 1) that I want to enter politics and thus need to cover my tracks, lest I be criticized someday, and 2) if I vote in 50 straight elections in Pennsylvania, I'll get a certificate when I'm 68 years old. It's nothing more than a frivolous little game and good cocktail party fodder.

Let's be clear: of course, the right to vote and popular sovereignty are vital, and in a healthy republic, inviolable. But without free enterprise and private property, they are practically meaningless.
A-fucking-men, as Sullivan adds.  I also want to associate myself with this post by Radley Balko.

Why is medical so much cheaper in Mexico than in the US?

A redditor answers:
Having lived in San Diego for awhile, and having done medicine on both sides of the border I can tell you exactly why.

First, with dentistry, some dentists are really cheap and bad, but others are really good, but it appears that competition is based off of reputation and service, and not on regulations. On the US side, dentists do not get to their position by service, reputation, or competition but by regulatory capture. The number of people who can practice dentistry and who can get the proper schooling is very restricted. However, in Mexico I found that many dentists provide far better services at a far lower price. The poor people go to the lower quality dentists, and the rich people go to the higher quality ones, but in the end everyone gets care at a price they can deal with, and the rich dentists are still cheaper than then ones in the USA by several orders of magnitude.

Also, if I have an ear ache in the USA, first I must go to my primary, then I will likely be made to go see a specialist, they will probably run some tests, and then they will give me a prescription, which will almost always be to some patented overpriced drug, that I must wait several hours to fill, cost, at least $230 between the medicine and the doctors. In Mexico, you just walk into the pharmacy, say you have an ear ache, and they hand you a bottle of generic antibiotics, cost $25 max, within 10 minutes.

Even though the government does pay for health care and dentistry, medicine in Mexico is far less regulated than in the USA. They can't pull off the crap that we do in the USA, because if they did people would start to die all over the place.

Who said this?

"What governments spend on relief work is secondary to what it spends on its armies...Merchants are the knights who will save this region from famine and must avoid investing in worthless projects..."


(via Tyler Cowen)

Monday, October 18

Spider vs. millipede

Millipedes are tougher than you think.

See also giant centipede vs. tarantula.

And there's this Japanese Bug Fight website.  Encyclopaedia Dramatica "apparently has supplemental information" (via reddit)

Harder, better, faster, stronger maintenance

Viral Video Chart was down this morning. This is their downtime message:
Do not panic, do not despair! We are doing some maintenance work to make the site harder, better, faster, stronger...

Tilt-shift crowd photography

Sunday, October 17

Wednesday, October 13

Endless hours of amusement

  1. Visit Globe Genie
  2. Click "Teleport"
  3. Rinse
  4. Repeat

Riddle of the sphincter

Many--but not a majority--of women enjoy anal sex, and its popularity is on the rise. Counter-intuitively, having anal sex strongly correlates with more female orgasms. Slate has rounded up explanations for why this may be.

Saturday, October 9

Does school choice "work"?

Check out Frederick Hess's excellent essay in National Affairs.

For more bite-sized take there's Reihan Salam.

I also recommend Andrew Coulson on why public school merit pay doesn't work.

Thursday, October 7

Was TARP good for the taxpayers?

Mises concludes:
The TARP was crooked from the very start, using taxpayer funds to bail out some of the world's richest people from their own foolish investments. The claims that it made taxpayers money are unfounded. Even worse, TARP taught investment bankers an important lesson: During a boom, make as much money as you can, no matter how short-term the profits will be. When the bubble pops, the Treasury and Fed will be there with a taxpayer-funded pillow.

Not serfdom

See Tyler Cowen and Ezra Klein and David Frum.

Why should we care about economic inequality?

Derek Thompson asks. I have the same question.

Darwin Award Nominee


Edit: Of course it's already listed

Monday, October 4

Friday, October 1

Ahistorical conservatism

Kavin D. Williamson, National Review:
Whatever kind of conservatism is arguing that we should invest the president with sole, secret, unreviewable authority to order the assassination of U.S. citizens because the alternative is unworkable (!) in the considered view of John Tabin, because war exists (!) — I am not that kind of conservative, I suppose. I propose we call that school of thought ahistorical, morally illiterate conservatism.

We’ve had wars for a long time without authorizing the premeditated extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens. Treason is a crime. You get charged with it, dragged into court, tried by a jury of your peers, etc. The penalty for treason is not assassination without trial, and there is nothing in our Constitution or tradition to suggest that it is. This seems to me a deeply foolish and ill-considered argument.

It’s also worth noting that al-Awlaki mostly is accused of being a propagandist — giving sermons, writing articles, and otherwise behaving as “the bin Laden of the Internet,” as he is known. You want to try him for treason or inciting terrorist violence, I’m content to see him hang. If our covert-ops guys light up some al-Qaeda redoubt in the mountains and al-Awlaki bites the dust, no tears from me. But those are very different things from having the U.S. government draw up a list of its own citizens to be targeted for assassination. The fact that the Obama administration went out of its way to make this fact public tells us something interesting, too: It is making a specific political point, and establishing a specific precedent. It is crossing an old and important line, and conservatives should never let the rule of unintended consequences be very far from our minds
On an entirely different topic, David Boaz, Cato:
Charles Krauthammer calls same-sex marriage “the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history.” Really? Some might say that ending “till death do us part” was more radical. And maybe ending the requirement that the bride promise to “love, honor, and obey.” And how about the end of polygamy? Polygamy was probably the most common marital system in the broad sweep of human history, but now it is virtually unknown in the Western world; indeed, ahistorical conservatives warn that allowing two people of the same sex to make a vow of marriage could lead to polygamy.

In Google Reader, pressing "U" is useful

Also "J" and "K", if you don't use those already.

Good deal on The Economist

I've been wanting The Economist for years now but couldn't quite justify the premium $127 per year subscription.

That seems to be the price just about everywhere, including and Amazon.

Well here it comes to $71. You need the coupon code: WOOT

So, you know: woot!

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