Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Price Gouging 101

Betsy has more faith in our legislators than I do. She thinks they are ignorant.

Prices at the gas pump must be some of the hardest prices for sellers to manipulate through monopoly and gouging. They're posted in large letters right there at the pump for everyone to see. If politicians would learn some basic economics, they would stop making these wild accusations just so they can demonize someone and make political points.

I think they are sniveling, lying miscreants who will say or do anything do get reelcted. Excluding, of course, being straight with their constituents.

If they really wanted to learn, Betsy has the introductory course from Walter Williams.

Technorati Tag

We Are a Nation That Has a Government

Mark Steyn writing on the tone-deaf legislators in Washington is reminded of a great line from Ronald Reagan.

''We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around.''

He skewers the legislative disasters produced by Congress - like the oppressive Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements that are driving businesses out of the country and then produces this zinger of a comment:

I said the other day that McCain and Specter and Sarbanes and Lott and the rest were presidents-for-life of the one-party state of Incumbistan. ... Incumbistan is a government that has a nation.

Don't miss the rest.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bad Idea

Arizonans will consider a proposition to award $1 million to one random voter after each primary and general election. I agree with John.

Maybe Fences Do Make Good Neighbors

The illegal immigrant problem in the US is coming to a head here, but it is having an impact in Mexico too.

Ah, but there are new voices of change, of reason, of self-awareness in Mexico, in place of the hoary anti-gringo rants: the beginnings of a transformation of the debate.

Read it here.

Good Advice

In the idyllic Sierra foothills, this time of year, it's good to know your snakes.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Legal System Musing

I went to court with my son this week. He was caught in a sting at his job for selling alcohol to an under aged decoy. Naturally they had to fire him and end his six-month career as a convenience store clerk. (This could lead me into a long diatribe about the law-maker's fixation on alcohol and tobacco as the twin peaks of evil in our society but that is not where I am headed today). The court scheduled his arraignment this week and my son, in his ignorance, asked his dad for advice.

I gave him suggestions based on my understanding of court processes. Dress up, admit that you did incorrectly read the ID and that you did sell alcohol to a minor, be contrite and respectful to the judge. I was hoping that for a first offence, there might be a waived or reduced fine and a stern warning about another offence. This was based upon an understanding that the job of a judge was to make a judgment. Silly me. My understanding of the court system is based on an old vision of the courts that possibly never existed.

We get to the court, pass the metal detector and take our place in the chamber. Looking around I see two other well-dressed young men sitting with a parent. The remaining people are dressed like they just rushed in from digging a cesspool. Well, I think, so much the better for my son.

Then the judge appears. He just sidles in and sits. No "ll Rise". No robe. No ceremony. I don't think we would have noticed if he didn't start talking. He begins to tell us why we are here. What to expect and what not to expect.

“You see”, he explains, -and I am paraphrasing here-"You have two choices. You can plead guilty or not-guilty. No contest has the same result as pleading guilty." Of course he is a lawyer, so it took him much longer to say. He went on for a long time about other issues related to sentences essentially saying that he might offer something special and if he did you would have to take it now. And that if you choose 'not guilty' you had better get yourself a lawyer.

Well, my son had decided that he was guilty and unless there were mitigating circumstances regarding the 'sting''there was no way he could argue not guilty. So no problem, we sit and wait for our turn.

The first person called been arraigned for the same offence as my son (or almost, she had sold tobacco to a minor but apparently that is just as evil as alcohol). She pled guilty. The judge asked it she really meant it. She repeated that she really really meant it so he sentenced her to a fine of $724 and two year's probation during which time if she broke any other laws something bad would happen.

Well, we picked up our jaws from the floor and discussed the $724 fine. How was he going to pay it now that he has lost his job. We almost missed the judge offering payment options to the woman. It seems that he would give her payments of $50 per month until it is paid. She took his offer and the clerk called the next miscreant.

She was a nicely dressed woman appearing for DUI. Same script, only her fine was $1,000. Then my son was called. Same script again. Same fine as the first woman. We picked up the paper work, left the court house and drove home.
The whole process leaves me with several thoughts, not one of which is favorable to the justice system.

First, what was the point of the judge? There was no 'judging' going on in that courtroom. Everything was black and white, yes and no. There was no reason for the judge to be present, particularly since his salary and office expenses were probably costing $150/hour or more. There was no justification for a person of any sort. The process could have been handled by a computer program or even a dumb form. There was no reason to even go to the court house.

Second, if you insist on making people appear in a courtroom, then give it some posture. Dress the judge in a robe. Have all rise when he enters the court and treat the court process as something important rather than a borinh administrative excercise

Third, what is really important here? Do we want people to respect the law and the legal processes? Or is this just another excuse to pad government revenue? What is happening to our legal system? The only experience most people I know have with the legal system is to extort money. The only time you see a cop is when he is ticketing you for a seat belt violation or other trivial nanny state offense. And when you go to court, it is just to grind you through the process and take money. It won't be long before normal citizens start resenting the money spent on law enforcement because you can't find a policeman when you actually have a crime but you know he is right there hiding behind a tree when you forget your seatbelt.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Phil Ochs Remembered

One of the reasons that I enjoy Shrinkwrapped is that we share coming of age in the seventies and the perspective it gives to understanding today. First of all, many of the leadership shared this with us although most seem not to have graduated to the real world after leaving the shelter of college. Second, he is a smart guy, trained in understanding the human mind and a clear writer.

Today he ties a recent appearance of Anthony Weiner, a congressman from Brooklyn on the O'Reilly Factor with the anti-Viet Nam War protest activists of the 60's and 70's and specifically Phil Ochs, about whom he says:

The signs of the Narcissistic egocentricity so much a part of the Baby Boomer generation were unmistakable in his music, but at the time we were relatively unaware of our provincialism, safe in our anti-War moral superiority and unconcerned about the fate of our brown brothers in Vietnam who we were all sure would be much happier with us gone and the country under the peace loving and justice committed Communists of the North.

Weiner told the nation that the "War is Over" and that in so many words we should leave now. So little has changed. Shrinkwrapped deserves a full read. Find it here.

Working with the Senate

Jay Tea thinks the Senate has it almost right.

...if this proposal is good enough for illegal aliens who broke our laws coming here, and break other laws by working under the table, why isn't it good enough for Americans like me who obey the laws and follow the rules? I'd gladly pay $2,000 a year for those kind of salary and job security guarantees. In fact, I'm already paying it.

After all, I'd hate to think that the government would engineer a situation where it's actually better to be an illegal alien than an American citizen...

No kidding!

More Here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

President Carter

Wins second book award.
....the conservative panel that annually awards the J. Gordon Coogler Award for the Worst Book of the Year has conferred the 2005 prize on Jimmy Carter. Jimmy published a book; he wins the Worst Book of the Year Award -- once again. This is not Jimmy's first Coogler. He has now won the award twice. No other literary impostor can make that claim.

To this point I have always inserted 'arguably' when I describe Jimmy as the worst President in our country's history. Now that I find others who agree, I will never qualify that statement again.

Be sure and read more about this nasty man like this:

In fact no prior president has spoken as rudely and dishonestly of his successors or of his country as has Jimmy. The acerbic Harry Truman came to loathe President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In public, however, Harry minded his tongue. Jimmy's presidential achievements were even more modest than those of Bill Clinton and of Gerald Ford, and his blunders on the domestic and foreign policy fronts are unsurpassed and possibly unsurpassable. What is more, he writes bad books.

And don't forget that son Jack is running for Senate in Nevada. We can have too much of a bad thing. And Carters are a bad thing!

Technorati Tag

This Isn't Funny

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Neon Cruise

Mark your calendars for a once in a lifeline event. It's the third anniversary of LA Observed, the blog that keeps you up to date with LA and you can celebrate with a two-hour tour of neon masterpieces in LA after a tour of the museum. Details here.

Problem Solving

I will bet that the Senate will have trouble with this.


Mr. Wehner is deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives. Today he writes on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and online to refute the four assertions that the fever swamp and MSM has made against President Bush.
1. The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war.
2. The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgment
3. Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren't found, Saddam posed no threat.
4. Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization.

If you have not read it yet, get over there now and prepare to respond to the political parrots who repeat the mantra.

And let us hope that the White House is ready to defend itself more readily in the future.

Vicente Fox to Campaign in US for Immigation Reform

The Fat Guy is not amused.

What the hell?! This is where I ask, what the freaking hell? Do I need to go down to Mexico and start fomenting political turmoil to try to get the Mexican citizenry to fix their OWN broken-ass country? I mean, that’s kind of the deal here, right? Mexico is so unfixable that their politicians are coming to America to stump for Americans to shoulder the burden of their political and economic failures that drive the ir citizens to our country.

And he has a suggestion.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Einstein Rolls Over in Grave

In the past few years, scientists have found ways to make light go both faster and slower than its usual speed limit, but now researchers at the University of Rochester have published a paper today in Science on how they've gone one step further: pushing light into reverse. As if to defy common sense, the backward-moving pulse of light travels faster than light.

But its not as bad as it seems because..

"no information is truly moving faster than light," says Boyd. The explanation is here.

Hybrid Sense

"When you have technology that costs $6,000 but the customer is willing to pay $2,000, you have a problem. We are not ready to mass-market a technology where you are losing your shirt on every car" -- Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn answering a student's question about why Nissan doesn't produce hybrid cars, quoted in Forbes.

HT OpinionJournal

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our Troubled Universities

Ward Churchill may be on the way out at Colorado but anti-semitism is way in at Irvine.

This may explain it.

Why are we having so much trouble getting our conservative policians to perform? Maybe this is it.

I'm Back

I'm a 'glass is half-full' kind of guy. I can almost always look at the long-run and believe that we are getting to a better place. Part of this is long years experience with life. I have lived through some pretty bad times - Jimmy Carter's Presidency for example and learned that the sun is still coming up each day. I have listened to various left-wing loons over those years lamenting that the end of the world as we know it is near. Paul Erlich or the Club of Rome have been regarded as serious by shallow media and an unthinking public and are now gone without ever having to say they were all wrong and apologize. So I should have been better able to put the caving of our supposed conservative leadership to the siren call of the left in perspective.

What brought me back from my funk?

First of all, I have to thank Aaron who finally drank the Kool-aid he has been warning his readers about. I have depended on Aaron to educate me about California Republicans, encourage me to get involved and not just complain and support the first Republican congressman I have had in a long time despite my concerns that he won't act on Social Security.

Up until this time, I could indulge my funk, have a good pout and count on soldiers like Aaron to fight the good fight for me. With Aaron od'ed on Kool-Aid and threatening every incumbent, I have no choice. I have to pull my own weight.
So here I am ready to put some money to good use in the elections and willing, for the first time, to invest some time as well. Times are serious. Politicians are poor implements for moving this country forward but they are what we have and like mules they can be persuaded to do what you want once you get their attention (usually with a 2X4).

And so, having a positive attitude again, and taking charge of my destiny rather than whining and waiting for someone to do it for me, I find that this country may be on the right track after all and Bush may not be finished. Now if I can just keep Aaron off the Kool-aid.

Monday, May 15, 2006

McCain on McCain

When I was a young man, I was quite infatuated with self-expression, because, if memory conveniently serves, I was so much more eloquent, well-informed, and wiser than anyone else I knew.
and he hasn't changed.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Election Optomism

Many are negative about the ability of the Republicans to hold both houses of Congress this fall. They suggest that 2006 may be the Democrat's 1994. One contrary view thinks the GOP will hold.
I've put myself way out on a limb here. The conventional wisdom holds that the GOP is finished. I believe the House and Senate will look in 2007 pretty much as it does right now, perhaps with a few more Democrats. I am either a contrarian for the sake of being a contrarian or I am stupid. Or I'm right.

Read his opinion here.

Where I Stand, sort of.

It was an exciting mail run on Friday. Requests for money from Yale and the President. Yale was easy. Yale admits Taliban - no money. Since the Yale President has not spoken, we have to assume yes, for now and toss the request.
The President's request was more difficult. I do support the President for the war and his judicial appointments. I am very frustrated, however, about the budget and border security which is totally out of control and for which he seems to have no concern.
So what do I do. In the form are these cute little stikers, much like the ones in the magazine sweepstakes. One says 'YES' and one says 'NO' to the question, "Can the President count on your support?" And under the 'NO' position, it says "I agree with Reid and Pelosi."
Well I don't agree with Reid and Pelosi but I also don't agree that the President is taking care of all the issues that are critical now and I don't believe that he is leading the country. So I said 'NO'.
That doesn't mean I won't change to yes sometime in the future, or that I think Democrats deserve any power but I certainly hope that there is some way to get the message to Republicans that I expect more than coruption and cowardice.
Am I being silly? Perhaps. Am I still in a blue funk? Absolutely. Will I listen to the President tomorrow? Of course. But it will take more than one speech to get me back to 'YES'.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

How not to anger Americans

Some advice from Frank:
Some people are making a guide on how Americans should act so foreigners will like them. That is so stupid. Americans are powerful, armed, and have short attention spans and even shorter tempers; foreigners should be much more concerned with angering us. If we get mad enough, we'll just call up our Congressman and have your country nuked. So, as a service to foreigners, here is A FRANK GUIDE TO FOREIGNERS:

Your Government at Work

Erik notes a OSHA warning label which certainly suggests bad stuff.
Gloves: Not required.
Eye Protection: Not normally [my emphasis] required.
Respiratory Protection: Not normally [my emphasis] required.
Other Protective Equipment: Not normally [my emphasis] required.
Engineering Controls: General ventilation normally [my emphasis] adequate.
Leak and Spill Procedure: Before attempting clean up, refer to hazard data given above. Small spills may be absorbed with non-reactive absorbent and placed in suitable, covered, labelled containers. Prevent large spills from entering sewers or waterways. Contact emergency services and supplier for advice. [my emphasis]
Waste Disposal: Review federal, provincial, and local government requirements prior to disposal. [my emphasis]
Storage and Handling Requirements: Keep out of reach of children. Store in a closed container away from extreme temperatures and incompatible materials.

What is it?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Energy Rant

From the American Spectator, a rant about what has gone wrong for so long about energy in the US. An excerpt.

Congress and various bureaucracies have messed up this nation's energy policies for decades -- and it is the liberals, which means almost all Democrats, who have been responsible for the mess. One big problem, for instance, is not with the oil supply but with refining capacity. No new refineries have been built in three decades. Why? Because they aren't profitable. Why? Because environmental regs have skewed the market too much, at least until last year's Energy Bill (a mix of good policies and horrible ones) provided new incentives for refineries that soon should catalyze investment in new plants.

Read the rest.

Pierre has had enough.

I know just how he feels.

I hired you bunch of virtual incompetents to run the government not make excuses on why it isn't happening. Mineta is still in office...arrrgggghhh. My 74 year old mother is still being subjected to hour long searches when she flies simply because there isn't one single person in our government who thinks that is fucking absurd. Besides its easier to pick on a German Grandmother than Ali the bomb carrying Islamic fanatic, we wouldn't want to get the Muslim Voting blocs panties in a wad (as if the average Muslim is ok with allowing bombs on board because of PC worries). Nope no longer amused. I am used to being in the minority and long for the days when I didn't have to watch my side act like a bunch of knuckleheads. Bring on the minority status we did better then!

He is going to stay home in November. And I thought I was in a funk.

Fjordman on Life in Scandinavia Today

Forget your vision of scandinavia as a peaceful, welfare society blissfully drifting further into irrelevance. Instead the tiny Scandinavian countries may be the first in Europe to fall from Western democracy to Islamofascism. The latest Fjordman Report is just out.

Sweden is a semi-totalitarian country. It’s all about fa├žade. On the surface, Sweden is a tolerant nation and peaceful democracy. In reality, there is massive media censorship by a closed elite that is scared of having a debate about immigration.

Norway celebrated 100 years as an independent state last year. Judging from the new Discrimination Act and the runaway Muslim immigration, perhaps the anniversary should be called “From independence to colonization”. At the same time as their women are no longer safe in the streets because of immigrant gangs, the authorities respond by making Norwegians de facto second-rate citizens in their own country.

Read the rest
Technorati Tag .

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Vote on a Slogan for Republicans This Year

From the IMAO political strategy these suggestions.. or add yours.

* "Because your only other choice is the Democrats."
* "We admit it; we have a culture of corruption. Help reelect us, and we'll cut you in."

* "No, seriously, are you actually considering to vote for a Democrat?"

* "Who needs a slogan; Dieblold will rig things for us."

* "Come on; we could burn down your house and still be a million times better choice than the Democrats."

* "We've gotten so fat and lazy with our power, we're not even going to bother with a slogan."

* "Whoever came up with the phrase 'lesser of two evils' is a genius."

* "Oh yeah... we do have to motivate you to the polls somehow. How about you elect us, and we'll consider doing something about illegal immigration?"

What Students Want.

New study on college ratings for professors gives insight about what students these days look for in their education delivery systems.

As far as students - or whoever is rating professors on the open Rate My Professor site- are concerned, nothing predicts a quality instructor like hotness.

More here.

HT Instapundit.

60's Alive and Well in Sacramento

On my way through downtown Sacramento today to get my hair cut, I pass the intersection of 16th and J. Today the peacenics were out with their great American chicken flags and some hand lettered signs. 'Peace Now' was one. Another was 'Stop the American occupation'. And finally. 'Honk for Peace'. It took me back and what amazed me was that the four activists were way too young to have done this 30-some years ago.

Finally, when I passed through the intersection, nobody honked.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Debunking the Left

Major Mike goes after the same issue that I was addressing last week. I called them axiom. He calls them premises. I like axiom better because you don't question axioms. They are proven true. Premises are still assumptions and the left will not permit questioning of their premises. But I quibble. In Part I he demolishes the assumption that Presidents benefit from going to war. Stay tuned to Major Mike for part II.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Yale Taliban

The Yale Taliban has faded from attention due to the lack of interest from MSM and the deafening silence from Yale itself. The situation has not gone away however with the Taliban Hashemi's request for admission to the degree program.
Now Yale faces the question of whether to admit Mr. Hashemi on a more formal basis to a program that leads to an undergraduate degree. Yale's president, Richard C. Levin, declined a request for an interview and has generally not spoken publicly about Mr. Hashemi. He did tell The Yale Daily News, the student newspaper, that the admissions office would decide whether to allow Mr. Hashemi to pursue a Yale degree.

More from Captain's Quarters.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Political Axioms

I liked geometry in high school. It was perhaps my favorite subject, bringing together logical reasoning and mathematics. I liked the beauty of building from a set of universal truths to prove hypotheses. Parallel lines never intersect. The sum of the angles of a triangle equals 180 degrees. It was very satisfying to use those axioms to create more complex understanding of two-dimensional space. Because of the universality of the axioms, the application of logic guaranteed the truth of a geometric proof.

I was reminded of geometry yesterday when politics came up during lunch with my co-workers. My new supervisor, whose politics were unknown to me, started discussing the upcoming elections. I knew other co-worker's political positions and I pretty much pass on political discussions with them but I was interested in hearing where the supervisor's thinking would fall given that our work is analytical and financial. What surprised me was an immediate dismissal of Bush as a lightweight avenging his father or furthering the interests of big oil. To him, these were axioms – universal truths- upon which he could prove his hypotheses. To me, they were Democrat talking points - assertions with little or no credible evidence. And he threw them out forcefully and smoothly moved on to ridicule the war, the Bush administration and Republican hopes for elections as if his assertions proved the hypothesis.

At lunch today, I was at my desk getting ready for a meeting when another co-worker fussing about the price of gasoline, complained that Bush had not done anything to keep the price down. I asked her what he could do, curious to hear her solution. Well, she didn't have one. "Someone should survey the population to find out," she said. Then as as afterthought, "He could change the CAFE standards." Another woman added, "It's all over for Bush." These are women who understand the economics of electric utilities but cannot understand that gasoline prices are driven by forces not controllable by the President.

Fellow Western Alliance Blogger Fetching Jen quotes Thomas Sowell in a recent post
"In a democracy, we have always had to worry about the ignorance of the uneducated. Today we have to worry about the ignorance of people with college degrees."
Well, that is what I see in my co-workers. I see no evidence that Socrates was involved in their learning experiences. They have learned their political axioms from Democrat talking points presented endlessly by the liberal media and it never occurs to them to question these 'truths'.

So back to geometry. In geometry, you take certain truths (axioms) and from them your build a world where you an predict and define new circumstances based upon these truths. But the critical issue is that axioms are really true. They have been tested over millenia and they still work. So when you use them to prove hypotheses, the proof stands.
What I saw with my co-workers were were intelligent fools. They accept assertions about the President or world conditions without demanding proof and use them as axioms to support otherwise untenable conclusions.

There is no proof that Bush was committed to War in Iraq but if you want to believe he was then you will accept assertions as truth because you either don't or can't reason for yourself. And it is impossible to argue or discuss with these people because they won't challenge their axioms. Whether the cause of this mental disability is the state of higher education (or lower education for that matter) or the result of lock-step media outlets that spout these assertions as unquestioned truths, I can't say. It wasn't the way I learned to think.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Futile Gesture

If, like me, you are flat out disgusted with the pandering to illegals from our elected officials and their refusal to close the borders, here is a place for you to make your feelings clear. Not that anyone cares what you or I think about it.

Technorati Tag

May Day Whine

My Illegal-free day.

How did I spend my May Day? I did not go to work but not in protest, only because it was my day off. I did not join with the illegals in their marches. I did not even listen to news or talk radio because I did not want to hear about illegals and their demands or listen to our worthless elected officials pander, waffle and evade responsibility.

Instead, I worked in the yard, playing catch-up with planting and cleaning deferred by the interminable rains over the past two months. It was a very good day. I accomplished some things which will make my yard more enjoyable this summer and felt good about it. I did not see or miss one illegal. Neither did I blog or read my usual blogs.

I did not think about the wretched state of our political leadership, the world crisis that is Iran and the campaign against victory in Iraq. I did not think about the arrogance and selfishness of Trent Lott, John McCain and the others. And I understand completely, the mindset of conservative voters who see no need to vote since a Republican majority seems to lose all sense of conservative values. I, too, no longer believe that a Republican majority will represent and support my conservative values. They have adequately demonstrated their total indifference to conservatives.

I will vote, but then I always have voted. I will vote Republican, but then I always have voted Republican (except for the 60’s while I worked through my college indoctrination). I think that there will be many conservatives who will not vote. What I won’t do is believe that it will make any difference. This is going to be a disastrous year for Republicans but it may be the only way to set this country right.

Somebody argue me out of this funk. PLEASE