Wednesday, April 02, 2008

10 Ideas That are Changing the World

The March 24 edition of Time Magazine lists 10 Ideas That Are Changing The World. Number 10 definitely and radically changed my world.

More than money, more than politics, ideas are the secret power that this planet runs on. Here are a few you need to know about:

  1. Common Wealth

  2. The End of Customer Service

  3. The Post-Movie-Star Era

  4. Reverse Radicalism

  5. Kitchen Chemistry

  6. Geoengineering

  7. Synthetic Authenticity

  8. The New Austerity

  9. Mandatory Health

  10. Re-Judaizing Jesus

Back to the Real World

Our family has been home for 3 days after vacationing in Tampa, Fl. and we are struggling to get back into real life rhythm.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Reds vs. Phillies spring training game. Our 10yo son managed to get 2 MLB baseballs, six Reds starters autographs and a pic with Brandon Phillips. My husband is a huge lifelong Reds fan and like father, like son.
We did Busch Gardens for 2 days, visited with my inlaws and hit the beach for a couple of days.
Above the kids and I are hangin with Tall Paul at Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens is the most unusual theme park I have ever visited. They give out free beer! Which I think is why my husband chose BG. I don't like beer, so it wasn't so cool for me. However, they did offer a beer tasting opportunity at the Brew Masters Club. I sampled four different beers and discovered of the traditional beers I can choke down Michelob Ultra with the most ease. I really liked Busch's new blueberry lager Wild Blue. Another pleasant discovery was Tilt 8.0%. This is a beer with slight carbonation, caffeine, lemon/lime flavor, guarana and ginseng. It is truly the power party drink.

Of course, there is so much more to BG other than beer. We thoroughly enjoyed the rides and exotic animals.

It was a great and memorable time together. Now I must take off my party hat and get down to real life business.

Former boss: Hillary fired for lies, unethical behavior from Congressional job.

Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.


“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”


Clinton didn’t pay health insurance bills.

The sound you just heard was the sound of worldwide irony meters pegging out.

Light Bulbs Wars.

You’d think this wouldn’t be a polarizing issue, but given enough time and comfort and prosperity, people will form schisms over anything. I’m still surprised there weren’t armed confrontations between the Clear Pepsi and Opaque Pepsi factions. Those of us who lived through Tastes-Great / Less-Filling Riots expected worse, frankly. I will never forget the eerie glow from the funeral pyres at dusk, Rosie Greer moving from bonfire to bonfire to bless the fallen . . . anyway.

This shouldn’t be polarizing, but it is. Energy conservation has been suffused with a moral quality these days; instead of being a sensible reaction to higher prices and foreign dependence, it is a sign of virtue. It was thus in the 70s, and now it’s back. That’s why your choice of light bulb says what kind of a person you are. Fluorescent? Or evil?

How Counter-Productive is Realtor Association Spin?

Some Trade Associations, like the ATA tonnage index, or the Home Builders Index, simply put out the straight dope -- an unvarnished, unblinking look at their industries, so their members can better make informed business decisions with the available data.

Other groups massage the data, spin the message, and try to present their info in the most positive light -- regardless of the underlying data. They seem to believe that if only the public believes things are okay, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The National Association of Realtors falls into this latter category. They have been calling the bottom in Housing, well, ever since the top 2 1/2 years ago; Their consistent claims of stabilization and price improvements later in the the year -- as prices have continued to slide -- have earned them the title of
Worst. Forecasters. Ever. What is more damning, IMHO, is that they are not just wrong, but purposefully misleading for commercial purposes. I believe that is defined as Fraud.

Schadenfreude over the real estate meltdown in Manhattan.

Bizarrely, despite the fact that all of them seem to work in some service associated with the finance industry, they seem entirely unaware that if the financial industry in New York collapses, their employers will suffer the same fate. They also seem not to realize that it is the taxes from the banking industry (and its lavish, ridiculous bonuses) that finance Manhattan's low crime rate and excellent public services. Not to mention the restaurants, theaters, and so forth that make them want to live in Manhattan in the first place.

If they wanted to live in the New York that I liked--the one with the Dominicans hanging out on the street corner, the little hole-in-the-wall pizza joints and the improbable shops with ancient leases that sold scavenged junk alongside ticky-tack imports--well then, I could understand their celebration. But they want to live in the New York that the bankers created without the bankers. This is like wanting to go to heaven, but not wanting to die.

Why Can't They Just Get Along?

While the Republicans warm up their veepstakes, the greatest show in town is still the Democratic primary race. On one hand we have the Lady Macbeth of politics. She's proven ready to burn down the Democratic party if that's what it takes to grab the nomination. On the other hand we have the rookie who has accomplished absolutely nothing in his life other than convince about thirteen million people to vote for him -- before they learned he gave over $22,000 to the church of his "mentor," who preached that the U.S. government created AIDS to kill African Americans.

And the show will go on. And on. And on, because DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s leadership is, well, a real howler. Lacking the Dean Primal Scream therapy, both Clinton and Obama have let their surrogates go, with some pretty entertaining results.

Zimbabwean Opposition Claims Victory! ...Ruling Party Loses Parliament.

Robert Mugabe

Rumors of Mugabe's imminent resignation abound. Hopefully he'll be gone by the end of the week. The damage that man has done to what once was one Africa's richest nations is staggering to behold.

McCain and Letterman Trade Barbs on ‘Late Show’.

It began with Mr. Letterman, in his monologue, making some of his trademark McCain-looks-like-a-cranky-old-man jokes.

“He looks like the guy at the hardware store who makes the keys,’’ he said, according to a transcript provided by CBS. “He looks like the guy who can’t stop talking about how well his tomatoes are doing. He looks like the guy who goes into town for turpentine. He looks like the guy who always has wiry hair growing out of new places. He looks like the guy who points out the spots they missed at the car wash.’’

Then Mr. McCain walked out on stage.

“Hi, Letterman,’’ he said. “You think that stuff’s pretty funny, don’t you?”

Then Mr. McCain unleashed a slew of his own you-look-like-a-guy jokes at Mr. Letterman.“Well, you look like a guy whose laptop would be seized by the authorities,’’ Mr. McCain said. “You look like a guy caught smuggling reptiles in his pants.’’

Mr. Letterman interjected: “Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.’’

Ted Turner: Global warming will make cannibals of us all...

In fairness, some of us are already cannibals.

via Drudge.

The Disgrace of Liberalism.

American liberals spent the '60s seeing their programs and policies collapse one after the other. The War on Crime, the War on Poverty, civil rights legislation, Vietnam, all were either unmitigated disasters or textbook examples of the law of unintended consequences. The Democrats went into the 1968 presidential election as crippled as any political party in American history, choked with failure, bereft of ideas, and facing a general uprising from their own younger elements.

The Democrats' 1968 Chicago convention marked the end of FDR-style liberalism. Media coverage revealed American liberals as incapable of controlling their own constituency, much less directing a country. As delegates cowered within the convention center, Movement rioters ran wild throughout the downtown area, fighting knock-down, drag-out battles with the police. Not a single liberal figure made any serious attempt to confront, control, or even communicate with the rioters. Little more than a decade after declaring itself the "American civic creed", liberalism was on the ropes.

Colombia seizes uranium from leftist guerrillas.

I'm sure they we're planing on using it in a peaceful nuclear reactor.

Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe

European history has a habit of forgetting Poland. This is unfortunate, because the Poles have more than once played a crucial role in shaping Europe's fortunes. In 1683, the Polish king Jan III Sobieski checked the Ottoman armies before the gates of Vienna, earning among the Turks the sobriquet “Lion of Lechistan”. And in 1920, as Adam Zamoyski relates in this elegant and fascinating book, it was Poland that checked the westward expansion of Bolshevik Russia.

The two sides were in many respects ill-matched: the Red Army was a determined and experienced fighting force, hardened by a cruel civil war against anti-Bolshevik forces. Russia's manpower reserves dwarfed those of an exhausted post-war Poland ravaged by warfare, malnutrition and epidemic. The Polish army scarcely amounted to a cohesive force, consisting as it did of variously armed contingents that had served with the Germans, the Austrians and the Russians during the first world war, along with a colourful assembly of Lithuanian, Tatar, Cossack, German, Hungarian and Russian auxiliaries, not to mention a squadron of US volunteer pilots led by Major Cedric E Fauntleroy and Captain Merian C Cooper - later famous for co-directing King Kong and flying one of the planes that harass the ape on the Empire State Building.

This looks like an interesting book.

Demand letters = extortion?

Where do we draw the line? People often feel the "lawyer letter," that demand that you pay money "or else" or stop doing something "or else," is extortionate. After all, the express threat is "pay me or pay to go to court and then pay me." There's certainly something extortionate there.

The question deepens when it's no longer a matter of threatening to take someone to court if they don't settle a claim, but when it reaches the point of becoming a crime. Does it turn on the lawyer's good faith? Does it turn on whether the claim has a reasonable basis in law?

‘Recycled’ Urban Furniture.

Very cool stuff.

Why you shouldn't try to rob 84 year old former Marine

The boy said, "Old man, give me your wallet or I'll cut you," Bair said. The man told the boy he was a former Marine who fought in three wars and had been threatened with knives and bayonets, Bair said.

The man then put his bags on the ground and told the boy that if he stepped closer he would be sorry. When the boy stepped closer, the man kicked him in the groin, knocking him to the sidewalk, Bair said. The ex-Marine picked up his grocery bags and walked home, leaving the boy doubled over, Bair said.


Man tried to kill wife 12 times while sleepwalking.

A man tried to kill his wife 12 times - while sleepwalking.

Li Chen attempted to strangle her three times, suffocate her twice, throw her out the window four times, beat her twice and set fire to her bed while she was in it.

His wife, Miang, said: "I told him to get medical help or he'd go to jail."

Doctors in Fuzhou, South China, have diagnosed a rare sleep disorder that was caused by stress.

"I hit you the head with a frying pan? Oh, I must have been sleepwalking...sorry honey".

No mens rea=you can get away with anything.

If McCain vs. Obama, 28% of Clinton Backers Go for McCain.

A sizable proportion of Democrats would vote for John McCain next November if he is matched against the candidate they do not support for the Democratic nomination. This is particularly true for Hillary Clinton supporters, more than a quarter of whom currently say they would vote for McCain if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee.

I'm not sure how real this is-people like Ann Coulter are on record saying they'd vote for Clinton if McCain got the Republican nomination because he was insufficiently pure. Frankly I don't believe her.

The vast majority of Republicans and Democrats will rally around their respective parties nominees in the fall because they'll perceive the alternative as being worse. It is true that Republicans will have the advantage of having a longer time to heal their intra-party wounds since their contest was decided earlier. It's also true that the Republican race wasn't as nasty as the Democrats (this is mostly because we have better manners: bring a liberal speaker to a conservative group and a conservative one to a left wing forum-see who gets booed off the stage first). McCain should receive some kind of bump from disgruntled democrats, but 28% seems extreme.

To put the number in the article in perspective lets first assume that all things being equal, both parties are essentially tied with one another (see the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections for support of this thesis). Each has a fair claim on half the electorate. Let us further assume that, for all intents and purposes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are tied. The differences between them in delegates and popular vote are tiny. Therefore in our back of the envelope calculations assign roughly 25% of the general election voters to each of them. If that's true, then the 28% percent of Clinton backers who would support McCain over Obama in a general election would equal something like 7% of the total popular vote. That may not seem like much at first but think about for a while. It means McCain would beat Obama 57-43. That's the same ratio Reagan beat Mondale by, en route to winning 49 out of 50 states. Does anybody think Obama will lose that badly?

Olympic Fallacies.

Companies that have invested millions in sponsorship deals and Olympic bureaucrats who have spent years trying to justify their controversial decision to award the 2008 Games to Beijing are naturally inclined to use those sorts of arguments. But that doesn't mean the rest of us have to believe them.