Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift giving advice

Be careful about giving a gift related to a hobby of the recipient. My friends and family know that I like chess, so I have about 5 or so chess sets now. If the recipient is very involved in an activity, and there is an item essential for that activity, odds are that they probably already have that item. I'm pretty sure that John McEnroe already has a tennis racket.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Terrorist attack in India

This is a horrific and tragic attack. At the same time, we need to realize that terrorists intend to have a psychological impact beyond the actual physical harm that they cause. It's important to understand their methods, motives, and mindsets just as a doctor strives to understand a disease.

This is early speculation, but I'm guessing that these particular terrorists have a bigger axe to grind against the Indian government than they did against the Americans and British that they were ostensibly targeting. I think that their goal is to scare Americans and British and keep them from traveling to India, thus damaging the Indian economy. According to the article, eyewitnesses said that the gunmen asked who had US and UK passports. Did they really expect everyone with those passports to raise their hands? Probably not, so I'm guessing that they wanted terrified survivors talking to reporters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another couple canon conflicts I noted


It took me a week to realize this, but:
1. Kirk cannot drive a stick-shift. See TOS episode "A Piece of the Action"
2. At about 1 minute 39 seconds in this clip, Kirk says "Buckle up!" Nobody on "Star Trek" ever buckles up. I guess if you're flying around the galaxy faster than the speed of light and you bump into something, a seat belt isn't going to do you a whole lot of good. On the other hand, a seat belt might save you a trip to sick bay after the bridge suffers a direct hit. Perhaps in the future, poor Ralph Nader is looked down upon so harshly that even basic safety features are left out of starships.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bush warns against protectionism

Whatever you think of Bush, this is still sound advice. His influence has reach a nadir, and the first impulse of a lot of people is to oppose anything Bush supports. Personally, I am disappointed that he didn't do more to promote free trade when he was popular. Subsidies to American agriculture and industry do almost as much damage to our image in other countries as the occupation of Iraq and detaining people without trial or POW status in Gitmo. Obama will have a very hard time making friends out of foreigners if he takes the advice of his SecState and takes a "free trade timeout".

Free trade is a tool and a weapon. If we don't like a country, our options prior to armed conflict is imposing an embargo. Countries that are economically interdependent are less likely to go to war. For that matter, a foreigner with a full time job is that much less likely to become a terrorist.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The gas company's "budget plan"

The other day I commented to a friend that I now had to make room in my monthly budget for higher gas bills now that it is getting colder outside. He said that I should sign up for NIPSCO's budget plan in which I pay a flat rate per month and receive a rebate at the end of the year for the gas that I don't use.

The budget plan stinks and I'll tell you why. It's better to sock away money and put it into savings that it is to send it to the gas company. Not only do I receive interest on that money, it's also available should unexpected expense arise.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Star Trek Movie Trailer

The new trailer is out.

I can think of a couple ways that this movie might conflict with canon. First, this is a movie about Kirk's first mission on the Enterprise, and it features other familiar faces like Spock, Scotty, and Chekov. But on the TV show, Kirk was the captain while Chekov was still an ensign. This would suggest that Chekov is at least 10 years younger than Kirk. So would Chekov be still in elementry school during Kirk's first mission? Other possible explanations: Chekov started as an enlisted man, got caught up in a time loop, went into a coma, or the guy in charge of promotions at Starfleet HQ is biased against Slavs.

Still, you shouldn't let inconsistencies ruin this movie for you. "Patton" was a good movie even though George C. Scott didn't look or sound anything like the actual general.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Comment thread of the week

There was a fairly average post about Ron Paul on the Reason Hit+Run blog on Friday (11-14-08). The comment thread went out of control when a troll started commenting using the handle "concerned observer". Soon other people were spoofing the troll. Watch and learn. This is why trolls don't visit libertarian blogs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Melissa Etheridge says she won't pay California taxes anymore

Hat tip to the Reason Hit and Run blog

A majority of California supported Prop 8, a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. So Melissa Etheridge says she refuses to support California's social programs. She certainly has a right to be upset. She is being refused a marriage license in a state that normally allows Hollywood celebrities to get married.

I would imagine that rather than openly flout the state's tax codes, she'll probably just claim residency in another state. Anybody serious about attracting young people to a state should be talking about granting recognition to same-sex marriages. (Speaking of which, CFW has been silent for a while. All this history taking place and not a peep out of him.)

My predictions on the Obama Administration

Mike Sylvester made his predictions for the first 2 years of the Obama Administration.

Personally, I think predictions are fluff. But they're fun, so here are my predictions for his first term:

1. The Cuba embargo will end. Other trade policies will depend on who he has for SecState and SecTres.

2. Obama will not grant amnesty to undocumented workers. If he wouldn’t do it for his aunt, he’s not going to do it for anyone else.

3. Carbon cap and trade won’t happen, because it won’t matter. China and India are growing economically, and this will add millions of cars to the world’s roads. Worldwide CO2 output will not go down, no matter what the US does.

4. Obama will have all but a few US troops out of Iraq by the end of his first term. The few that are left will be US Marines assigned to the embassy. There may even be a pullout from Afghanistan, depending on how the talks with the Taliban go.

5. The stock market will be above 10,000 points by the end of 2009. Uncertainty is what is hurting stock prices. That uncertainty will go away once investors get used to Obama.

Unless otherwise noted, I'm setting January 20, 2013 as the target date for these predictions. I'll see how many I got right at the end of BHO's first term.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sophmore graduation

I like this idea. Letting kids graduate early would save money, reduce the dropout rate, and would provide an additional incentive for academic achievement. If a felon can get a 4 year sentence cut in half if he behaves himself, why not make the same offer for high school students?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

New polls

I’ve added a couple polls. Should taxes be raised to pay for universal health care? Should healthy adults be required to donate blood when there is a shortage in the blood supply? Is it hypocritical to give different answers to both questions?

If people have a right to choose what they would with their bodily fluids, then people have a right to choose what they would do with their money. I do donate blood on a regular basis, and I think it would be great if more people did so as well. But nobody should be forced to do so. The same principles that apply to your blood apply to the fruits of your labor.