Saturday, June 4, 2011

What are YOU afraid of?

Saw this in my surfing the other day. Simply hilarious.

From StumbleUpon:
"ThePhobia List"

"I started this list in the late 1980's and put it on the web in 1995. It's since been adopted and adapted onto many pages since then. Please don't ask me about curing phobias because I know little about them. My interest is in the names only. All the phobia names on this list have been found in some reference book. If you're looking for a phobia name that's not on the list....I'm afraid I don't have it."

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin! There is so much material here that you can practically write your own joke. I had no idea that there were so many phobias. Thank goodness I don't have elecrophobia or I wouldn't be able to do my job.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Here is a fascinating article about profiling, and about how we make generalizations. Is profiling effective? Should we be doing it? Are there alternatives?


It's a little longer read than many articles I post, but I think it's worth it. Here are a couple impressions from the article:

Raymond Kelly, New York City's police commissioner, knows his shit. Give guidelines and let people do their job. Don't micromanage. From the article:

"Before Kelly became the New York police commissioner, he served as the head of the U.S. Customs Service, and while he was there he overhauled the criteria that border-control officers use to identify and search suspected smugglers. There had been a list of forty-three suspicious traits. He replaced it with a list of six broad criteria. Is there something suspicious about their physical appearance? Are they nervous? Is there specific intelligence targeting this person? Does the drug-sniffing dog raise an alarm? Is there something amiss in their paperwork or explanations? Has contraband been found that implicates this person?

"You'll find nothing here about race or gender or ethnicity, and nothing here about expensive jewelry or deplaning at the middle or the end, or walking briskly or walking aimlessly. Kelly removed all the unstable generalizations, forcing customs officers to make generalizations about things that don't change from one day or one month to the next. Some percentage of smugglers will always be nervous, will always get their story wrong, and will always be caught by the dogs. That's why those kinds of inferences are more reliable than the ones based on whether smugglers are white or black, or carry one bag or two. After Kelly's reforms, the number of searches conducted by the Customs Service dropped by about seventy-five per cent, but the number of successful seizures improved by twenty-five per cent. The officers went from making fairly lousy decisions about smugglers to making pretty good ones. 'We made them more efficient and more effective at what they were doing,' Kelly said."

Another important point? Beagles (have I mentioned how much I love beagles before?) and bassets were specifically mentioned as NOT being represented as bad dogs. :) From the article:

"'I've seen virtually every breed involved in fatalities, including Pomeranians and everything else, except a beagle or a basset hound,' Randall Lockwood, a senior vice-president of the A.S.P.C.A. and one of the country's leading dogbite experts, told me."

Having said all that, I'm not sure I agree with the article's conclusion.

"It was a textbook dog-biting case: unneutered, ill-trained, charged-up dogs, with a history of aggression and an irresponsible owner, somehow get loose, and set upon a small child. The dogs had already passed through the animal bureaucracy of Ottawa, and the city could easily have prevented the second attack with the right kind of generalization—a generalization based not on breed but on the known and meaningful connection between dangerous dogs and negligent owners. But that would have required someone to track down Shridev CafĂ©, and check to see whether he had bought muzzles, and someone to send the dogs to be neutered after the first attack, and an animal-control law that insured that those whose dogs attack small children forfeit their right to have a dog. It would have required, that is, a more exacting set of generalizations to be more exactingly applied. It's always easier just to ban the breed."

Yes, the conditions were ripe for bad things to happen in the example given in the article. But do all that to other breeds and they don't kill. Pit bulls do. Simple as that.

Ironically, you can't make the generalization that generalization is always bad. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Dear Sophie," courtesy of Google

You may accuse me of being a complete shill for Google. I don't care. Guilty as charged.

But see if this video doesn't tug at your heartstrings. And make you say either "What a great idea!" or "Damn, I wish they had all this cool shit when my kids were born!" Depending on your age, of course. :)

From Google, via YouTube, advertising Chrome (and GMail, Picasa, Maps, etc.), written on my not-yet-released to the public Chromebook:
"Google Chrome: Dear Sophie"

This is part of a series of advertisements from Google called "The Web is What You Make It." Apparently, more are on the way.

The song in the video is "Sort Of" by Ingrid Michaelson, by the way.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who's right on Medicare Reform? (Hint: Paul Ryan!)

I'm lazy today, plus I can't make these points better than Mish can.

From Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis blog:
"Who’s Right on Medicare Reform, Ryan and Rivlin or Obama and Gingrich? Cato Institute Praises Paul Ryan's Medicare Voucher Proposal"

Here is more material, from Paul Ryan and the House Budget Committee:
"The Path to Prosperity (Episode 1): America's two futures, visualized"

"How will we do it? We will cut spending."

"Washington has NOT been telling you the truth. If we don't reform spending on government health and retirement programs We have zero hope of getting our spending, and as a result our debt crisis, under control."

"The Path to Prosperity (Episode 2): Saving Medicare, Visualized"

The full script of the video can be found here:
"The Facts on Medicare and How to Save It"

"Washington has not been honest with you about Medicare."

"Here’s how it works: A Medicare patient goes to the doctor and receives health care services. The doctor sends the bill for these services to Medicare, and Medicare reimburses the doctor -- with your tax dollars and borrowed money -- no questions asked."

"This system increases costs and decreases quality for two reasons: ... First ... the patient is very disconnected from the cost. ... the true cost is hidden from the Medicare patient because someone else pays the actual bill. When we pay directly for something, and we know how much it costs, we have a strong incentive to demand the best value. In health care, we don’t."

"The second reason costs are going up and quality is going down is that fee-for-service Medicare insurance has no competition -- so it reimburses all doctors and hospitals the same, even if the quality of the care they provide is poor, and the cost of their care is high. Meaning that there is little financial incentive for doctors and hospitals to deliver the best care at the lowest price."

"The urgent need to reform Medicare and the President’s misguided approach have left us with a serious question to ask: Who should be making health-care decisions for you and your family?
A government monopoly and a panel of bureaucrats in Washington DC? Or you?"

More source material is here, at the House Budget Committee website.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is this possible? Ruth Bader Ginsburg is right???

I guess if you live long enough you'll see things you never thought you would see. If so, I am now officially old. Really old.

Consider this article, from International Liberty:
"I Can’t Believe I’m Siding with Ruth Bader Ginsburg over Clarence Thomas!" by Dan Mitchell

This story once again shows that the true battle we should be concerned about is not Left versus Right, but Big Government versus Limited Government. We have Big Government. In that situation it doesn't matter which side you support. Both sides will inevitably crush liberty.

From the article:

"Sometimes it is a pain in the neck to be allied with conservatives. Just like liberals, conservatives sometimes are guilty of imposing their preferences on society, regardless of clear and unambiguous language in the Constitution."

"The most recent example is a case originating in Kentucky. Every Supreme Court Justice, with the exception of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, voted to ignore the 4th Amendment and allow unlawful entry into the dwelling of a private citizen. Michael Walsh of National Review explains in the New York Post."
A series of recent court rulings, including one this week from the US Supreme Court, appear to erode one of our bedrock defenses against the arbitrary, abusive power of the state. At risk: the Fourth Amendment guarantee to all American citizens of the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” On Monday, in Kentucky v. King, the high court upheld the conviction of a man arrested after cops — who were tailing a suspected drug dealer into an apartment building — smelled marijuana smoke and banged on his door. When they heard noises coming from the apartment “consistent with the destruction of evidence,” they broke in and found drugs. But they had the wrong guy. The drug courier was in another apartment. Hollis King may have been breaking the law, but he was minding his own business, on his own premises, and only became a suspect after the police had made their mistake. But Justice Sam Alito, writing for the 8-1 majority, said, in effect, So what? …What planet is Alito living on? The whole point of the Bill of Rights is to restrict authority. The Founders, who suffered under the British system of “general warrants” and “writs of assistance” — i.e., fishing expeditions — wished to ensure that no American home could be searched without probable cause and a duly issued warrant specifying exactly what police are looking for. The case has been remanded to Kentucky, to sort out whether the circumstances were truly “exigent.” But Alito’s interpretation is an open invitation to abuse — as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphatically warned in her dissent: “The court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases. In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down — never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant. I dissent from the court’s reduction of the Fourth Amendment’s force.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mitt Romney is a whore, Tim Pawlenty is not

Romney, like Newt, is a joke. He is imploding now, fortunately, as we see his true colors. I have never and will never vote for him.

We all know by now about how he instituted socialized health care in Massachusetts, and how that experiment is doing (it's failing). As you know by now how Romney refused to admit his mistake in his recent USA Today opinion piece. I've not seen tap dancing like that in a long time. That's great that he's attacking Obama but he has given exactly zero reason to vote for him. None.

But for the main focus of this post, please consider recent news out of Iowa. From RealClearPolitics:
"Romney in Iowa: 'I Support the Subsidy of Ethanol'" by Scott Conroy

From the article:
"'I support the subsidy of ethanol,' Romney told a potential voter after an event here was cut short by a fire alarm. 'I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution in this country.'"

Amazingly, Tim Pawlenty, who is no conservative (believe me, I used to live in Minnesota and saw him up close), comes out of this smelling like a rose. Pawlenty has both admitted past mistakes (support of the global warming agenda) and taken a stand against ethanol subsidies. Pawlenty is also a poor candidate. But he is light years ahead of scum like Gingrich and Romney because he has taken some fundamental first steps: He has admitted past mistakes and he has staked out the correct position on important issues of the day.

Back to the article:
"'The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,' Pawlenty said. 'We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.'"

"Pawlenty was widely praised in fiscally conservative circles for taking a stance against the subsidies, which cost taxpayers about $5 billion in 2010, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been singled out for criticism by influential conservative media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board, for his vocal support of subsidized ethanol."

Sunday, May 29, 2011