Category Archives: General

Seven at seven

Seven links by 7PM on Wednesdays:

Seven at seven

Seven links at 7PM on Wednesdays:

Seven at seven

I’ve moved the weekly roundup to Wednesdays, mainly so that my Sunday photos can sit up top for a few days. Seven items delivered by 7PM:

Seven at seven

Seven things to read, delivered at 7PM every Monday:

  • Jules Crittenden examines the brewing Shakespearean tragedy that is Obamlet.
  • The Anchoress shares a Hebrew folk tale on the value of sharing what is the most to us, no matter how seemingly small we seem to perceive it.
  • Rob at Say Anything has some Liberal columnists telling Barry Oh to step back a little. If only! Except Oh treats the Presidency as about him.
  • Radley Balko (one of my three favorite Libertarians, all on equal footing) has a column on Reason about the Pottawamie vs. McGhee case and prosecutorial misconduct. I’m torn on this issue. I tend to lean in favor of law enforcement, but the bad apples make it really difficult at times.
  • Powerline digs through the data of a report on the enormous unemployment rate among our country’s young. Having grown up in the Philippines, this looks all too familiar. “Are we racing towards the third world” is a question on so many lips these days.
  • Julian Sanchez (the second of my three favorite Libertarians) picks apart a specious argument in favor of “net neutrality.” As is the case with almost any political buzzword these days, “net neutrality” has gone way beyond the simple desires of consumers’ ability to get as much bandwidth as they’re paying for.
  • Inside Charm City is soliciting votes for the Baltimore Sun’s Mobbies, where your kind host is also a candidate under Misfits. Votes require registration. One vote per category per day.

Seven at seven

I’m trying to maintain a posting schedule of sorts. Monday night’s going to be a small roundup of links.

Fake pandas and funny foreign affairs

“Pandas favor the missionary position.” Whodathunkit? Found through DanHarris on Twitter:

“Let’s just say Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan would tuan yuan at every chance,” said Liu, referring to the combination of the panda’s names, which means “to reunite” in Mandarin. “They would do it doggy-style and every armchair zoologist knows that pandas favor the missionary position — when they do it at all. Their behavior caused chaos. Children screamed and parents became irate.” […]

In a statement released yesterday evening, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) addressed the panda scandal.

“We understand that our compatriots in Taiwan are very upset. We wish to assure them that we have taken steps to address their concerns. We hope that our Taiwanese friends enjoy the gift of two extremely rare Wenzhou brown forest bears,” Qin said.

Hey, I’m an armchair zoologist and I didn’t know that. Then again I prefer marine zoology. In tomorrow’s news, we can expect Qin Gang to be executed for recognizing Taiwan in public. Oh the shame, the shame!

UPDATE: Yes I know it’s a belated April Fool’s post but it’s fun, still.


Ryan Goff asks the first thing that comes to mind if a doctor asks patients to sign a non-disclosure agreement:

What would be the first thing that came into your mind if your doctor asked you to sign a gag order banning you from posting reviews? I would think that he has something to hide and terrified of people saying bad things. He would not be my doctor.

Run like the wind and don’t look back.

From today’s readings

(1) A comment I left at a post by Bill Quick on SciFi:

I think the debate over the definition of terms around SciFi and Fantasy as literary genres will never end. I think there is far less acrimony between writers of each genre than the depictions in pop culture show, however. I’ve always thought of SciFi as answering the question: “what if something we know about science were just a little different?” As for my taste in the genre, I prefer soft SciFi stuff that serve more as sociological and psychological treatises than I do the material details of hard SciFi.

A little bit of action, no matter the genre, always helps. And sex, right?

That and people can only write the action details of space battles so many times before things get a little too common.

(2) Stephan Segraves has something to say about how we generally consume products, as a people:

Part of this is consumer habits, we are a nation of junk consumers. I’m guilty and I am pretty sure you are too. The difference between now and 20 years ago is that now we want our junk at a lower price, even if it means cutting jobs here. Maybe our culture needs to think back to 1950s lifestyle and look at pictures from era Life and Time magazines, home and work life were simpler. And what is wrong with that? The struggle is digging ourselves out of hole when the mentality is, “why get out, we’re already here”.

Let me top that by saying that nowadays the idea of wealth is not a matter of how much money we have in our bank accounts and investments, but how much stuff we have to show for it. Nice idea if everything were bought on cash and we still have a lot more in savings, but that hasn’t been a trend for a while. Changes in consumptive behaviour, though, will lead to a market contraction. Like every economist I read would say: we can’t spend our way out of this.

(3) Here’s an awesome argument between Jeff Goldstein and Patterico, on the subject of Rush Limbaugh, the Post-Modernist Media, and how to win against the latter. Gist? That fighting against the Post-Modernist Media on their terms is basically capitulation. I think Goldstein’s point is missed by a lot of people who wish to “present the Conservative message” in a certain way, and it’s that no matter our ideas and how nice we play, we will always be vulnerable to their distortions. This is where the great polemic, Ann Coulter, excels: she goes on the attack, and speaks in terms that are so clear that the only thing liberals can do is cringe and call her “offensive,” without being able to actually debate the merits of her arguments.

(4)Jeff Emmanuel at RedState is applauding ten House Republicans over their offer for BHO to veto the current spending bill and to “work with him” to produce a better one. In his post, he states the following benefits: First, in reaching out to him, they are giving him the opportunity to show that he really can, contra his entire past record, work across the aisle and find areas of agreement across party lines[…] and, Second, the House Republicans really are throwing down the gauntlet on the “change” President Obama promised to “bring” to Washington when he relocated to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue from his previous position, way down the street on Capitol Hill.

I have a better idea. How about introducing every measure possible to trim it down, not voting for the bill when it hits the floor, and then banging the drum when Pelosi and BHO don’t consider your suggestions? I say the GOP shouldn’t afford him the opportunity to actually polish his image. Heck, that’s what the Dems did to take both houses of Congress.

Today’s moment of financial zen

Repeat after me: a house is not an investment. Just ask the tallest female econoblogger on the planet: Incidentally, if you think that people still have a vestigial view of housing as an investment asset rather than a consumption good with residual value, this implies that housing will substantially undershoot as well. But wait, there’s more from Megan McArdle:

But as Robert Shiller, the Yale economist, has pointed out, this is a very new idea. For most of history, a house was simply a very long-term durable good, which, like cars and refrigerators, began depreciating the day it was finished. Why do we think differently now?

Shiller’s argument, which I find pretty compelling, is that we’ve been deluded by recent history. Since World War II, a number of developments have conspired to boost the prices of homes, giving a large capital gain to those who were lucky enough to own at the time. This has given us the delusion that house prices rise steadily, when in fact, we have virtually certainly exhausted the pricing gains of those happy developments.

Housing as an investment is pretty much financial literacy for the intellectually lazy.

Today’s linkdump

  • Observer or prophet? Bill Quick links to and comments on a post on global banking insolvency and ends with a Karl Marx quote that has me asking that question.

    Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.

    Eternal recurrence is frightening to see first hand, especially when the cycles happen within a lifetime or two.

  • Another link to DP, this time on “Getting Things Done,” which shouldn’t apply to government. I blame David Allen.
  • James Joyner has an exhaustive aggregation of posts in response to a story making the rounds about a whiny kineseology major and his sense of entitlement for high marks based on effort. Many, many schools of thought, ranging frm starting from perfect to starting from a zero. I think that what matters more is not so much what “works” for students, rather, the ability to communicate expectations, to follow through on consequences, and to remain consistent. If you curve, then curve. If you don’t, then don’t.

I think I have way too many political blogs on my Google Reader considering that is now the Age Of Obama, and that he is The Won. Time to diversify…

I leave comments…

Sometimes I’m just better elsewhere:

The point? I need to make up my mind on how to sign my comments.

I’m glad it’s over

When the networks called the election for PE-BHO, the weirdest thing happened. I stayed calm. Sure, I was hoping for a McCain victory, and I’m a little sad but nor surprised.

Before the election results started to come in, I was musing about how, for the past eight years, the folks on the left foamed at the mouth, would say things about GWB like “not my President,” or have murder fantasies about him. I saw how unhinged those on the left have become, and I wondered: what if we took the same privilege that they did? Then I figured that I don’t think they’re in their right minds anymore. I won’t sacrifice my sanity. But I will not be silent in my opposition to PE-BHO’s policies for fear of being thugged about, because until the actual thuggery happens, I will not live in that fear.

Remember the invectives of the people on the Left and the Right. Remember how offensive they have been, how crude, how psychologically and emotionally violent they were. And then remember that the only consequences they faced was that they would be ridiculed and scorned by their peers. Remember that there was a free market of ideas that was allowed to flourish so long as actual physical violence was not performed. Remember that the government didn’t come down and silence them. This is the joy of the First Ammendment.

I stand as loyal opposition to PE-BHO, and it will be an interesting four years, but I will in defeat be gracious with one condition: the loyal opposition ends with encroachment into my civil rights. So I will join Michelle on this promise: As long as I can still publish a blog and speak my mind openly about the next denizen of the White House, I will.

Where to go from here, blog-wise? There’s plenty of subject matter I can cover and it won’t be a neurotic poliblog. I can do that somewhere I can be a tad more productive, like on Red State (the following post-mortems are awesome: Karl Rove Has Been Vindicated and a short piece by Neil Stevens). 2010 is only two years away and the fight for Congress will be bloodier and more colorful than this has been.

Until then, we return to regular programming on November 6th.

A cliché for less refined political banter

We’ve heard of the MSM being so much “in the tank” for one candidate or the other that Julian Sanchez has had to publish the concise etymology of the phrase.

Crude and tired, of course, but certainly, for just one day I would like to hear someone on TV ape the memorable Denny Crane line where he proclaims: I’m so far up the ass of big business that I view the world as one big colon. e.g. “Keith Olbermann is so far up BHO’s ass that to him the world is one big colon.” That moment, dear friends, would be precious.

Seven years ago

How fast time flies. Seven years ago on this day a terrible, terrible terrorist attack—an act of war—was launched upon us. Quite frankly, we the people responded in a way that, while unsurprising and fully expected of us (the acts of nobility before and after, and yes, letting loose the dogs of war) I fully believe that had a similar event occured to a lesser folk (and yes, I said it, a lesser folk) the response may well have been more horrific.

Hurricane Katrina cemented the now-common wisdom that the world stands with us only when we are in the throes of great suffering. Four years earlier the world stood with us when so many of our own died in the 9/11 attacks. If the world stood with us only when Americans were dying I’d rather keep as many Americans alive and say “thanks, but no” to anyone who wants to say “we are all Americans now” at the expense of the lives of so many.

Seven years after the attacks, to some, it has become a source of national shame. In this polarized political environment, one side of the spectrum has used this event to remind us of the dangers of the world outside our borders. The other side would rather bury it, sanitized as a shameful excuse for spreading fear and war, a chill wind and a plague upon the land. Isn’t the truth almost always somewhere in between? “Yes” doesn’t apply in this case. After all the investigations and conclusions into the intelligence failures, after the War In Iraq which is nearly won, and the ongoing War In Afghanistan, which while challenged remains winnable, after the gross, oversimplified parody of the fearmongering use of 9/11 in Family Guy, after all that and more the truth is still that there remains a contingent of folk bent on marginalizing, not just our power or exceptionalism, but our country and the ideals it stands for. Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat their drums about our decline. They are rabble-rousers, and their offensive nature lies not just in the real danger they present but in their complete lack of understanding of who we are.

Doctrinaire Libertarians, and I love you all in a way that some siblings would love bastards in their families (more on that later), have crowed about the already doomed state of our civil liberties. They ask: “what more is there to save about us if we’ve already lost it for everyone?” All it takes is look to the East, and look to the West, and see, that while the world may not turn around us, we are, for all our moral failures, still an example worth following.

I was less than three months an immigrant on that day. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself (even now I still don’t quite know) but when I saw that, when it happened, when I couldn’t help but stare and not react, when the fear and the dread and the anger and the doubt permeated me, I knew that one way or another I would like to make a mark and set a course, no matter how long the journey would take, to serve this country. Since that day, many more have heeded the call. We are not beaten into destitution, and we have not lost our identity as a people. It is far too easy to not want to think about today the way it was. But for this day, if but for a few minutes, remembering is important.

Before we fall into the comfort and the doldrum, this day is worth a moment of remembering. Never forget.

Learning curves

There’s lots of WordPress themes out there for people to just drop in and use for their blogs. It makes it easy for someone to not have a theme that looks just like the next. I, on the other hand find it a little difficult to work with a pre-existing theme and modify it and style it the way I need to for a project. I have tried using Sandbox but for some reason I just find it difficult to modify someone else’s codebase to meet my needs.

I have my own personal library of code for use with my WordPress projects. Is there anyone else out there who encounters a challenging learning curve when adopting someone else’s project? I think it happens in just about any other field out there, too.


Looking back, I’ve seen a pattern of redesigning my site twice a year. Well. This is the second redesign for 2008. It’s currently at 70% completion but I figure it’s worth soft-launching.

Paying the Piper

I am not an economist. I am not a capital-E Economist, nor do I want to be, because economics is just one of those sciences where you can say one thing and the listener can hear the complete opposite. Oh, wait. That happens in every science.

So here’s the thing. I’ve got a little over four grand in credit card debt, not counting my car loan. I have a job that pays all my bills and then some—I overpay my credit card bills of course—and leaves me enough money to afford to go to work, buy groceries every week so I can avoid paying a place to eat (read my lips: two hundred percent markup), and I can still buy me a few permanents (clothes, clearance skate shoes at thirty bucks a pop, books) with the cash money I got left. I am clawing my way out of debt and I am having the time of my life doing so.

On the larger scale of things there’s quite a few things going on in the larger world as depicted by the Nightly News. Financial markets are crashing, there is a recession, apparently, and people, oh the people are suffering. The sky is falling, right? The funny thing is, it should have fallen a while ago.

The USA is a consumer society. I won’t argue the pros and cons of that. The problem with having a consumer society based on credit is that the more you borrow, the more you put off paying back the Piper and in this case, dear friends, that burden just keeps on growing, and growing until it breaks everyone’s backs. A consumer society based on real assets, on cash, would have taken a while to take off but it would have remained solvent. But people have gotten greedy. They want it all, now. Except, they seriously can’t.

A swift and brutal market correction of the subprime mortgage issue early on would have signalled lenders and developers to slow the hell down. Instead, there was a large round robin financial square dance passing things around and hiding the problem prolonged it and enlarged the area of sky that was actually falling. And we now have what is today. Five hundred thousand foreclosures occuring in an overnight period in the financial time scale would have probably prevented the two and a half million projected this year. Things would have played out differently. Or not. I am not an economist, anyway.

I need some help

I’m planning to do a drastic renewal on the site but I want to at least be courteous to those who have linked me before; that and it’s the right thing to do.

I will be moving the contents of the site to another WordPress install under a folder, foo. The database will carry the same content up to this post and any replies to it.

I need the mod_rewrite rules to redirect 301 any and all posts from the years 2002 through 2008 to[everything else starting from the year]. I know it’s a simple regex string, too. Talking like, maybe one line.

I admit, I stink at regex. Can I get some help? Please?