Saturday, November 22, 2008

MUST...GET...ONE...

The Rambo of Nerf guns. This mean-looking, belt-feeding, fully-automatic dart gun can fire at a rate of up to three darts per second, pummeling your target (or your target's cubicle) with a barrage of toy ammunition. A removable, foldable tripod and a precision single-shot mode round out the capabilities.

A steal at $43.00.

Pretty in Mink Calendars Available!

I try to keep things pretty G rated here but every once in a while...I have a little flight of fancy. Anyway here's a link to the 2009 Pretty in Mink calendar.

The calender is a fundraising tool for the Clair Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a worthy cause if there ever was one. So for those of you who desperately want a pin-up of Ann Coulter, here's your chance.

How to turn water into marbles.

How to turn water into marbles
How to turn water into marbles This video shows you how to make a susbance that,in contact with the air, looses your polar hability and sticks to...

Looks cool...I think I'm gonna have to try it.

Debbunking Recycling Myths.

Is chucking a soda can in the trash an unforgivable sin? That depends who you ask: You'll find plenty of people on both sides of the great recycling debate, each equally convinced the other side is ill-informed. The truth is that opponents and proponents alike often rely on facts that are outdated, oversimplified or simply untrue.

Google Earth revives ancient Rome.

What can I say...you know how Chris Mathews feels about Barack Obama? That's how I feel about this.

Wanna know what it feels like to sit in a Ferrari?

Click this link and find out.

Book Review: Red Hot Lies.

That big players in global energy should be in cahoots with environmentalists and climate change alarmists came as something of a shock to Horner.

‘Though I was a fully grown man, I had yet to understand the concept of “rent seeking” or even these “baptist and bootlegger” coalitions.’ Just as prohibitionists and drink smugglers had a common interest in maintaining a ban on alcohol, so big companies that want massive subsidies for renewable energy schemes and the right to sell emissions permits – the nearest thing yet to selling thin air – can find common ground with those who want us all to reduce our ‘carbon footprints’.

Condoleezza Rice has some advice for the new President.

I’ve seen too many peoples dismissed as not ready for self-government. First it was Asians, and then Latin Americans and Africans were there for a while. I know for a while black Americans were, too.

I’ve seen it said, well, you know: They’re illiterate; how could they vote? And then you see in Afghanistan people line up for long, long lines. Because somehow they know that making a choice matters.

Read the whole thing.

My thoughts on the auto bailout.

I'm against it...emphatically so in fact. We've already gone much to far down the road of bailing out poorly run companies. It's stupid and the one rule of government is you always get more of whatever you subsidize...right now we're subsidizing bad economic behavior.

The awkward fact is that if Congress gives the big three the money they're asking for, it won't change a thing. At current rates they'd run through the bailout money sometime in March and we'll be right back where we started and they'll be looking for more of your cash.

The time has come to face reality: the Big Three simply can't sustain their current business model. There have to be big changes.

Amazingly enough, the problem isn't the cars anymore. The quality is quite good by global standards. The problem is what it costs to make them. The total cost per hour of a GM employee is something like $75.00 per hour (wages+health benifits+pensions). For Honda's made in the United States the figure is more like $35.00. Obviously the difference is enormous. The question is why.

I'll stipulate that Honda is a smarter company: their executive compensation is less generous, they don't waste money on stupid perks, and labor/management relations are better than those at the big three. That's all true...and all that put together adds up 1-2 dollars of the hourly differential I mentioned above. In other words it's chump change. Rail all you want about car executives flying to Washington in private jets only to beg for tax dollars to keep their companies running...that sort of thing is only significant in the symbolic sense.

The truth is it all comes down to pensions.

Honda has been making cars in the U.S. for...twenty years? GM...considerably longer than that. GM is paying benefits to hundreds of thousands of former employees while Honda isn't.

Over the past 30 years the big Three and the UAW have agreed to a series of labor contracts that have created this mess. Both sides knew, or should have known that the numbers didn't add up, but they signed them anyway. Now that reality has smacked them in the face, they'd like you to pick up the tab. Now I like to think of myself as generous person, but after bailing out badly run banks, airlines and apparently now, folks who bought houses they couldn't possibly afford I'm feeling a little less generous than usual.

The hard truth is that we can spend the rest of forever subsidizing bad business decisions or we can let the parties take a hard look at economic reality and come to terms that both sides can live with.

Update: Actually I think I misstated the choice. It's not gutting the pensions vs. keeping them indefinitely via taxpayer subsidy. Rather it's cutting the pensions and saving the companies vs. letting the companies eventually fail after massive subsides and the workers still don't get their pensions. For those who doubt this I recommend looking at the history of government bailouts and nationalizations in the British auto industry.

Related.

It seems Mitt Romney agrees.

I'm a little burned out on politics at the moment...

...I know this isn't entirely a political blog...I try to a a bunch of humor, culture and history here. I guess the election wore me out. I'm not swearing off politics or anything. It's still one of my passions...I just may write a little less about it for a while.