Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Undying love and adoration

"What's something bigger than a tractor? The box the tractor comes in?"

"Um, a building?"



"Dear audio diary! This afternoon found me with my mouth wrapped around the brick corner of the library, suddenly wondering if this was all life held for me. Later, I had cupcakes!"

Oy. My sides hurt. All this funny, I can't take it. T-rex, I see myself in you. We are one. Canadian comedic genius dude, please, never, ever stop.

Who ARE you guys?

So I broke down and got a site meter. (See the bottom of the page.) I figured out how to stick the code into the template so it would track how many hits I got each day. And oh my lord! There are so many of you! Who are you? Where do you come from? How did you find me? Hey Mesa, Arizona! Hey East Lansing, Michigan! Hey Tao! (Wuhan was a dead giveaway.)

Anyway, I just thought I'd 'fess up and get my total amazement out there in the public record. I hope you are enjoying this weird blog. Please consider commenting. Now that I know how many of you are out there, the silence is a little creepy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Basic principles

I've been reading Ross Douthat recently, adding in some new (to me) conservative thoughts to my daily dish. Today two things caught my attention.

1. Talking about the need for the Right to engage in debates it has historically avoided, Ross says:
This problem is not, repeat not, a matter of conservatives needing to abandon their core convictions in order to win elections, as right-of-center reformers are often accused of doing. Rather, it's a matter of conservatives needing to apply their core convictions to questions like "how do we mitigate the worst effects of climate change?" and "how do we modernize our infrastructure?" and "how do we encourage excellence and competition within our public school bureaucracy?" instead of just letting liberals completely monopolize these debates, while the Right talks about porkbusting and not much else.
I'm all for conservatives "applying their core convictions" to climate change and education. But I'd prefer not to limit climate change discussion to "the worst effects," and I'd like a discussion of the merits of competition in public schools specifically rather than just a blanket assumption that it would be a positive thing.

2. On Christina Romer, Barack Obama's choice to head his Council on Economic Advisers, Ross says:
[She's the appointee] who should give Americans the most hope that Obama won't be significantly hiking their taxes any time soon.
Would it be so hard to acknowledge which subset of Americans--the wealthiest--are the ones facing potential tax hikes under Obama?

Ross is a smart, eloquent, and reasonable dude. But he starts from a set of basic assumptions about the world, and I think they are really pretty different from mine. It's those assumptions that keep us from agreeing, so it's those that I want to talk about. Hey, you conservatives out there, let's talk first principles! I'm all ears.

Lori Drew

You may recall the mom who posed as a teenage boy on myspace and taunted 13-year-old Megan Meier to suicide. She's on trial for something like "accessing protected computers without authorization"--essentially a terms of service violation, akin to defrauding myspace.

That's all prelude to this, the best single-sentence assessment of the case I've heard so far, by commenter Bill Poser at Volokh.

The correct outcome of this case will be acquittal followed by Ms. Drew being struck by lightning as she leaves the courthouse.


I usually try to stay away from tabloid fodder--the rags do a better job than I ever could, so why bother?--but this was too much. Apparently Heidi and Spencer from The Hills eloped in Mexico this weekend. Here's the cover of the Us magazine. This couple, especially douchy mcdouche Spencer, is icky to begin with (Heidi, girl, someone needs to smack you upside your head & knock some sense into you!) but it's so much worse with that obscene facial hair growth. My gag reflex is in overdrive today.

All together now: ew.

Come on, Citibank!

I'm pulling for you guys. Please recover. Don't make me take my next loan refund to the check cashing store!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Joe Lieberman keeps his job

Senate Democrats voted yesterday to allow Sen. Joe Lieberman, who switched to a third party when he lost a fair fight in the Democratic primary in 2006, and who endorsed John McCain for President, to stay on as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Lieberman is a wolf in sheep's clothing. This is a bribe. We'll regret it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waste an hour or ten

Here for more. Highly addictive. Consider yourself warned. Thanks to Paul-Jon for the distraction.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The poetry of judicial opinions

"Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. [Ultimate] futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort . . . . Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard. It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. * * *

To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are [harmless] to others or to the State . . . the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

-Justice Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943).

I swoon!

Sunday punday

Sunday reading: Karl Rove

Check out this interview in the NYTimes Magazine. It's pretty amazing to witness such unselfconscious jackassery.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Which is better?

In the restrooms at school, we have a choice of drying our hands with plain old paper towels or using the scary loud super duper air drying machines. As you might be able to guess, I use the paper towels.

I think--but I'm not sure--that this is the sounder environmental choice. Whichever way you look at it, trees are a more renewable resource than the electricity needed to move air at high speed through a small vent. The electricity is likely produced by coal, or maybe oil or natural gas, or maaaaybe wind power (we are in California, after all). But once you use up a lump of coal, it's gone. You can't regrow coal. You can, however, regrow trees. And, you can make paper towels from already-made paper via recycling. Though, there is electricity expended in the making of the paper towels (and in the recycling process).

So, what should I do? I think it's a toss-up in the end, and I prefer paper towels, so I've been using them. But I still wonder which is the better conservation choice. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick and dirty Big Three analysis

[Keep in mind I've been thinking about this for approximately 7 seconds.]

If we're going to be pumping billions of dollars worth of taxpayer money into the US auto industry anyway, why not use the money to completely reconfigure it to be a world leader in producing various clean (or almost clean) cars? Some parts of a comprehensive plan:

(1) a new research institute, combining universities and private R&D companies, to develop new models that run on a variety of fuel sources (solar cells, better hybrids, full electric cars);

(2) shifting the burden of retiree pensions & health care from the companies to the government--if that's what we're paying for, let's pay for it directly and not through an extra middleman;

(3) retraining of current Big Three employees so they can work on these new cars;

(4) restructuring the car companies: (a) spin off the profitable cars & trucks into a new business that can support itself; (b) retool the remaining bum parts of the companies to make use of the new technology coming out of the research institute;

(5) heavily subsidizing the resulting cleaner cars for purchase by US consumers;

(6) after a few years of this, determining which of the prototypes are working and wean them off the subsidies as they get cheaper.

Leave aside the problems of political will for the moment: your thoughts?

(Inspired by this over at Volokh.)

Long-awaited haircut update

Earlier I posted that I got a haircut that made me look like Chrissy Hynde. (In)Sanity Gal requested evidence. It took me a while to get a picture worthy of distribution, but it was bound to happen sometime. So, here you go.

Fab or fug? You be the judge.

Class note

Today in Free Speech someone said he had "a bone to grind." I thought, if you're going to mix your metaphors, why not go with "an axe to pick" instead and wholly avoid the double entendre?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't publish how to make a hydrogen bomb

"A mistake in ruling against The Progressive will curtail defendants' First Amendment rights in a drastic and substantial fashion. But a mistake in ruling against the United States could pave the way for thermonuclear annihilation for us all. In that event, our right to life is extinguished and the right to publish becomes moot." 467 F. Supp. 990.



I need help. Can someone please try to make sense of what's going on with AIG, why it has become such a money-pit for my tax dollars, and what might happen if the government stopped injecting money into it? Are these loans, or are we buying stock? What's the long-term strategy? (Is there one?) I don't understand what's going on, and my cursory search didn't produce a primer worth reading. Explanations, links, and insults about my intellectual capacity are all helpful and encouraged.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh how I wish

Mourning John McCain

It probably goes without saying that I was not a fan of John McCain during this presidential race. But over the last month, as his campaign ship was sinking, we got to see a few bright flashes of what could have been. At the Al Smith dinner, McCain brought the house down. Not only were his jokes funny, but his comic timing and delivery was perfect. He was likable! There was no hint of the smarmy persona he picked up on the campaign trail in front of audiences filled with the Republican base. On SNL the weekend before the election, his performance was hilarious and personable. And, at the end of the long road, his concession speech was gracious, poised, and humble in the face of a crowd openly hostile to Obama. I knew he had this in him, and it's a shame we didn't get to see more of it when it mattered.

I couldn't help thinking to myself: self, wouldn't it have been great to have this election be a battle between two great titans of personality? To have both sides debating on the issues, to leave the smears and lies aside and really talk to each other? He wouldn't have gotten my vote, but it would've been fun. And come January 20th, we'd probably be seeing a different guy put his hand on the Bible.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Turnout numbers please

On election night, I predicted that this year's voter turnout would break the 60% barrier. (That's the % of registeredlikely voters that cast a ballot (I think).) I'm gonna go all out now and say that it's going to be between 64% and 71%. There are a couple of reasons for this: (1) large increases in numbers of registered voters because of campaign-based get-out-the-vote efforts; (2) more options for how to vote, including by mail and early voting; (3) side issues on the ballots (gay marriage anyone?); and (4) the obvious one: enthusiasm about the candidates.

But I can't find the numbers! Does anyone know when these come out? Where can I get them? I'd rather someone else add them up state by state and just give me the final answer, but I'll do it myself if I have to.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Prof. Volokh has some thoughts about a possible renewed Conservative-Libertarian coalition.

I can understand that, having to make a choice between free markets and free societies (think Wall Street deregulation versus ending the drug war), Libertarians would vote with their pocketbooks instead of with their consciences. But given that both parties are big spenders, have we seen any indication of Libertarians leaning Democratic? How big-government do Republicans have to get before Libertarians put the monetary issues aside and for a moment focus on social liberties? (Besides guns?)

Yes yes I know this post may not be my most eloquent, but it's late and I've been severely underslept all week, so gimme a break.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Final thought

I'm not quite done processing this very long, very emotional day. But before I go, I just want to say:

56 Senators?!

56 Senators.

Hello Supreme Court. We're the Democratic Party. Nice to see you again.


If Fox says it, it must be true.


omg. omg. omg. omg.

President Obama?


Absurdly awesome CNN projection

Even if McCain wins every single state still in play except the pacific northwest--California, Oregon, Washington--he'll still lose the election.

The nasty campaign loses

Kay Hagen has just trounced Elizabeth Dole in the race for North Carolina's Senate seat. This despite Dole's absolutely despicable ad calling Hagen "godless," mimicking her voice, and generally lying to the degree that Hagen might just win her suit. I refuse to allow that ad on this blog, but you can see it here if you're so inclined.


Obama just went on a tear in the northeast and is beating McCain by more than 100%. Alabama--Alabama--is too close to call. Kerry got a whole 37% of the Alabama vote in 2004.

This is big.


For some reason MSNBC has the Democratic Senate count at 38, but CNN has it at 40. That's a variance of 5%. Very scientific, this thing.

First results

Vermont (3): YAY!
Kentucky (8): BOO!


Since 1972 we have not broken 60% voter turnout in a presidential election year. I'm gonna go ahead and say this year is going to cross that line.

Hello dahling

I hope you all voted . . .


. . . sorry, had a tickle in my throat.

Today is the day, people! We elect our new leaders! If this isn't the perfect occasion for live-blogging, I don't know what is.

Stay tuned.