Monday Highlights

My list overfloweth, we’ll see how I do at selection.

  1. Libya and Congress … and separation of powers. Another on that topic here.
  2. Economic performance, employment, and limiting hours.
  3. Prince, some time back.
  4. Faux outrage from the left. I found the outrage at corporate tax dodging (queue GM/Chrysler images) amusing. Democrats ostensibly are for graduated taxes, while any corporate tax paid by the consumer irrespective of their earnings. I hadn’t realized the Democrats were so strongly for consumption taxes on non-luxury items.
  5. In awe of the aria.
  6. Mr Obama’s first years, In a nutshell.
  7. Egypt’s V-police matter is not going away.
  8. Racist? In my house they are called “papa noodles”, ’cause I have a lot of grad-school experience in cooking them in different ways.
  9. Remember the San Francisco anti-circumscision legal movement being accused of anti-semitism, here’s their ad. So, anti-semitic or not?
  10. Met. Hilarion on relgious intolerance.
  11. Christian response to no-longer-Christians.
  12. Pox on all their houses.
  13. AGW and bad science hand in hand, I guess.
  14. It’s cute when Democrats slip in little racist jabs at the GOP … all while ignoring the fact that for 2 years they held the Presidency had a bi-Cameral majority.

23 Responses to Monday Highlights

  1. Remember the San Francisco anti-circumscision legal movement being accused of anti-semitism, here’s their ad. So, anti-semitic or not?

    The ad certainly seems anti-semitic. I’m not sure if it’s fair to tar the whole movement with that brush, though. While I think the movement is wrong in that it’s ignoring the reality on the ground, which is that Jews (and Muslims) aren’t going to stop regardless of the law, I can see where they’re coming from. The idea that parents should be allowed to cut off part of their infant sons’ foreskin would be seen as insane if it were first being put forward by a religious leader today. We wouldn’t allow parents to just cut off the tip of their infants’ tongues would we?

    This is an issue I wrestle with personally, looking forward to the day when I might have a son. Wife wants a circumcision and I feel pretty weird about it. Who am I to do that to my son without his consent? On the other hand, being circumcised doesn’t seem very harmful and it’s never bothered me, so… We’ll see.

    Christian response to no-longer-Christians.

    Just about the best response I’ve ever read on the subject of how those who remain should act towards those who leave. Lots of people agree that you should continue to act polite and even loving, but I’ve rarely seen the equivalent of “take my friend’s view.” That’s gold. I know I wish my parents had a strong interest in learning about why I made the decisions I did. Instead, they prefer to avoid the subject, which reduces conflict but also reduces connection.

    Pox on all their houses.

    LOL, come on. You can’t even criticize Palin here without dressing it up this way? The woman’s a total ignoramus who thinks she can substitute bullshit for knowledge. (Again, nothing to do with credentials or even experience. Just her words.)

  2. 4.Faux outrage from the left. I found the outrage at corporate tax dodging (queue GM/Chrysler images) amusing.

    In theory corporate income taxes are basically the same as individual income taxes, in practice there’s a lot of complication. But its pretty simple in theory, you pay a percentage of your income. Corporations that are making losses don’t pay taxes for the same reason that an individual who spent the year unemployed has no Federal Income taxes to pay. I’m not sure then what ‘tax dodging’ GM did that I should be upset about unless there’s some news story I missed.

    (Of course there are other taxes besides income taxes, like import taxes or sales taxes. A person who had no income for the year would still pay sales taxes when he buys something in a store. A corporation that made a loss might likewise pay some taxes but usually when discussing taxes the presumption is that the topic is income taxes)

  3. 2.Economic performance, employment, and limiting hours.

    He made an error I think in comparing the unemployment rate to # of hours worked…finding no relationship.

    Let’s say the theory does indeed work. That limits on the # of hours worked results in increased employment as firms opt to hire two workers at 35 hours each week rather than have one overachieving worker log 70 hours. Employment would increase obviously, but at the same time you may get more people entering the workforce. Homemakers, people on welfare, full time students, and others might see the added opportunities for part time work opening up and opt to enter the workforce to seek them out. The unemployment rate may then stay the same or even rise despite the fact that the number of people with jobs is going up!

    The better metric then would be to compare average hours worked to the laborforce participation rate rather than the unemployment rate.

  4. JA,

    The ad certainly seems anti-semitic. I’m not sure if it’s fair to tar the whole movement with that brush …

    From what I understand the ad came from the leaders of that movement.

    You can’t even criticize Palin here without dressing it up this way? The woman’s a total ignoramus who thinks she can substitute bullshit for knowledge.

    Let’s see. Mr Obama offered that there were 57 states. He never corrected or apologized. Is he a total ignoramus? If not, why the distinction? What knowledge has Mr Obama offered that wasn’t just as full of b/s as well? Remember all the crapola he offered in context of “I’m a student of history” in his initial Mid-East talks that clearly showed he was not (a student at least of Mid-East history).

    Look, the point of “pox on their houses” is that I am critical of her trying to waffle out of her statement and not owning that she mispoke. Equally the morons on the left who jumped on it as relevant, when in fact historically speaking it turns out that they … having checked their facts were also wrong (and Ms Palin unintentionally was sort of right).

    Or are you saying that if a speaker makes an off-hand remark which turns out to be mistaken they should be held accountable and called an ignoramus on that account. If you want to go that way … you need to line up Mr Obama and Mr Biden as leading examples. If on the other hand, you want to allow that mistakes in speaking will be made, you have to grant the same to Ms Palin. Which will it be?

  5. The problem with examples is that they don’t indicate the whole. I’m willing to grant that a portion of the stupid things Palin says is due to the simple fact that public speaking will result in a natural error rate (i.e. ’57 states’, mixing up North and South Korea). Subtract out the natural error rate and you’re left with, well still a lot of stupid things that Palin said. For example, her inability to speak intelligently about the Bush doctrine which you defended first by saying there were 4 Bush doctrines (of which she knew not one) and then by saying there was no Bush doctrine (which she also was unaware of).

  6. BTW, what is almost always left out of the ’57 states’ comment is that Obama corrected himself the very day it happened
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/57states.asp

  7. I think you’re being disingenuous about Palin. It’s not that she misspoke, it’s that she sounds like a complete no-nothing, vapid airhead. Not one time, but every time. She sounds like that Miss South Carolina video that made the rounds a while back. She’d be laughed out of a high school class. Did you watch the Palin video or just read a transcript? It’s even worse on video, if you can believe it.

    Obama sounds, to me at least, like a very smart guy with a good grasp of the facts. Everybody who speaks will make brain farts from time to time, but that’s a long way from the almost random stringing-together of words and phrases that Palin does when she tries to bluff her way through something with no idea what she’s talking about. When Obama or Biden or even Bush makes a gaffe, it’s not even in the same league as what Palin does. They’ll mangle a word or phrase, but Palin’s literally just throwing out keywords (guns, British, freedoms) connected by random phrases (“such as”, etc.) as if she’s trying to get partial credit on a pop quiz that she forgot to study for.

  8. From what I understand the ad came from the leaders of that movement.

    The guy who created the comic does seem to be one of the leaders. I don’t know how big the movement is or who else is in it, though.

  9. It’s cute when Democrats slip in little racist jabs at the GOP … all while ignoring the fact that for 2 years they held the Presidency had a bi-Cameral majority.

    I don’t even see a mention of the GOP in that link.

  10. I think JA gets it here. There’s a difference between knowing what you’re talking about and having to speak about something which you don’t know. When the latter happens, you have to try to ‘wing it’.

    What’s kind of ironic here is that when winging it, chances are you’ll make fewer technical errors. Suppose, for example, you are suddenly called upon in a morning meeting to speak about the ‘productivity project’. If you happen to know this inside and out you’re likely to talk about a lot of specifics, quite possibly making errors should have a team of nit picking ‘fact checkers’ hanging on your every words. Suppose you haven’t been paying attention and know nothing about the project. You’re likely to give a lot of fluff about how important it is and you’re sure the team is going to come together to produce great results. No technical errors but sharp people may guess you probably didn’t read the Powerpoint deck before the meeting and were winging it.

    More often than not Palin looks like she’s winging it. I’ve yet to be provided real evidence that she isn’t even though I’ve requested it several times. Obama and Biden, IMO, are almost never winging it.

  11. JA,
    You’re being snowed by speech patterns and thinking they pass for content. Mr Obama can say, like he did last month, stentoriously that “we’re going to open up oil exploration in Alaska and in the Gulf” when he is pointedly just the prior week doing exactly the opposite thing. But, he “knows what he’s talking about?” WTF? What does it mean when a man “sounds like he knows what he’s talking” about when the prior week he did the opposite of what he’s claiming in “intelligently framed sentences” what he’s saying.

    Or is that that Obama’s literally throwing out keywords (open, exploration, oil) connected by random phrases (“we will” “it is our plan”, etc) as if he’s trying to get partial credit on a pop quiz he forgot to study for? And he fools you because he uses the occasional multisyllabic word?

  12. Mark,

    This is one of those either you don’t get it or you’re not being honest moments. Either you really can’t discern the vast difference between Obama and Palin or you’re just pretending you can’t. Either way, no point in continuing this conversation.

  13. JA,
    I’ve said numerous times I don’t know how to judge the intelligence (or lack thereof) of a lawyer. I’m serious about that.

    And seriously, if you think the ability to “talk” the talk of a person who was in academic circles is a sign of intelligence (or the unwillingness to do so is a sign that is lacking) you’re seriously really barking up the wrong tree.

    I haven’t listened to Ms Palin, but I can’t listen to Obama for more than a few sentences, before he tells an outrageous lie (like the one previously noted) and I turn it off.

  14. LOL at “unwillingness.” As if Palin is capable of speaking like a professor but chooses to sound like a vapid Miss America contestant. You keep pretending that this is a class issue or snobbery, but it isn’t. It’s not a question of culture or dialect or even vocabulary. I’m pretty passionate about descriptivist grammar as opposed to prescriptivist and I know that speaking in regional/cultural dialects is not a sign of a lack of intelligence. We’re talking about a lack of the most basic grasp of the facts and being able to construct a coherent sentence here.

    With Obama, you’re off on a tangent about lying. Whether he’s telling the truth or not is a different discussion and not related to whether he’s smart.

  15. JA,
    The unwillingness was mostly about GW, who affected a homespun dialect.

    I understand that his inability to speak without lying is independent of whether he’s smart. It is relevant only because you asked about my listening to him, which I do not because he’s always lying and I lose patience. That is, it is related in that because of it, I don’t hear him speaking for any length.

  16. I never thought W was unintelligent. Less intelligent than Clinton or Obama, yes, but still above-average. Palin is not in W’s league, I’m sad to say.

    W’s problem in that regard was a lack of intellectual curiosity. Palin, of course, shares that as well.

  17. JA,
    Your knowledge of the interior life of political figures puts the Shadow to shame. There’s a reason, however, why the Shadow is fiction. His knowledge of the interior life of others isn’t real, just like your putative knowledge of the scope of W’s intellectual curiosity (or for that matter Obama or Palin’s actual intelligence).

  18. Your knowledge of the interior life of political figures puts the Shadow to shame.

    Oh please, it’s pretty simple deduction. If he’s not stupid yet still doesn’t seem to know much, then there are few explanations. Low intellectual curiosity is the most obvious one.

    or for that matter Obama or Palin’s actual intelligence

    Do you really think it’s so hard to ballpark someone’s intelligence from listening to them speak many times? Obviously there’s some margin of error, but you’re being a little silly.

    When you, Mark, want to believe something, it’s enough to just feel like it’s true. I mean you believe that a man named Jesus literally rose from the dead based on little more than third-hand testimony. When you want NOT to believe something, you demand everybody else have evidence beyond even an unreasonable doubt. Double standard much?

  19. Exactly what is the point of intelligence if there’s no way to measure it in someone else?

  20. Boonton,
    There, putatively, are ways to measure it, e.g., Stanford-Binet. Judging by one’s performance acting isn’t one of those ways.

    JA,
    How would you know if he doesn’t know much? By his performance acting, by which I mean publicly projected persona.

    So, is Matt Smith really smart or not? How about David Tennet? You’ve (I’m guessing) listened to them for many hours (assuming you watch Dr Who).

    We’ve talked about this before. I know if a Maths or Physics guy is smart hearing him talk because he can open up new ideas and/or clarify what was unclear. I don’t know what comprises a smart lawyer as I’ve said before. When you listen to two lawyers talk, what about what they say makes you say this guy is brilliant and the other is not.

  21. Boonton,
    Did you miss my post on complex system failures? It got no comments.

  22. How would you know if he doesn’t know much? By his performance acting, by which I mean publicly projected persona.

    What, is he purposely hiding his knowledge? I suppose it’s possible, but it seems reasonable to assume the opposite.

    Very few people are *that* good at acting.

    I don’t watch Dr. Who, sorry.

    I think it’d be pretty easy to tell the difference between two lawyers if there were a big gap. You wouldn’t necessarily know who is *right* because you don’t know the law but you could tell who is smarter.

  23. There, putatively, are ways to measure it, e.g., Stanford-Binet. Judging by one’s performance acting isn’t one of those ways.

    Then again what is its value? If we can’t expect more of a highly intelligent person other than simply performing better on a standardized test then it’s not worth measuring.

    You’re basically defining the word intelligence to be either meaningless or meaning something that can be unmeasured. Let’s look at this quote from GK Chesterton:

    Suppose we wake up in the middle of the night and find that a neighbour has entered the house not by the front-door but by the skylight; we may suspect that he has come after the fine old family jewellery. We may be reassured if he can refer it to a really exceptional event; as that he fell on to the roof out of an aeroplane, or climbed on to the roof to escape from a mad dog. Short of the incredible, the stranger the story the better the excuse; for an extraordinary event requires an extraordinary excuse. But we shall hardly be reassured if he merely gazes at us in a dreamy and wistful fashion and says, “After all, what is property? Why should material objects be thus artificially attached, etc., etc.?” We shall merely realise that his attitude allows of his taking the jewellery and everything else. Or if the neighbour approaches us carrying a large knife dripping with blood, we may be convinced by his story that he killed another neighbour in self-defence, that the quiet gentleman next door was really a homicidal maniac. We shall know that homicidal mania is exceptional and that we ourselves are so happy as not to suffer from it; and being free from the disease may be free from the danger. But it will not soothe us for the man with the gory knife to say softly and pensively “After all, what is human life? Why should we cling to it? Brief at the best, sad at the brightest, it is itself but a disease from which, etc., etc.” We shall perceive that the sceptic is in a mood not only to murder us but to massacre everybody in the street. Exactly the same effect which would be produced by the questions of “What is property?” and “What is life?” is produced by the question of “What is liberty?” It leaves the questioner free to disregard any liberty, or in other words to take any liberties. The very thing he says is an anticipatory excuse for anything he may choose to do. If he gags a man to prevent him from indulging in profane swearing, or locks him in the coal cellar to guard against his going on the spree, he can still be satisfied with saying, “After all, what is liberty? Man is a member of, etc., etc.”

    So what does it say about Sarah Palin when she is accused of being less intelligent and her defenders first line of defense is to wistfully speculate “what is intelligence?”….

    Did you miss my post on complex system failures? It got no comments

    Can you call it out again (been very busy lately). As you know I’ve been slowly reading Normal Accidents by Charles Perrow. A very good read despite being from 1984. He defines ‘normal accidents’ or ‘system failures’ as having interactive complexity and tight coupling. By interactive complexity he means a non-linear production. Think of an assembly line making cars. If the machine that puts doors on the frame fails, the assembly line stops. Complex systems are non-linear. For example in a nuclear power plant a cooling pump may fail but that may or may not stop the process. A backup pump may come online or it may not. The system may not even recognize the failure if, for example, the sensor that picks up the pumps failure also fails. His look at Three Mile Island was fascinating in that operators were looking at control panels with hundreds of lights and guages looking at one indicator saying there was too much water in a tank while another indicator right next to it said there was too little….and then they hear a boom like an explosion and have to decide in a split second to take water out of the tank or add more to it! (tightly coupled, there’s no slack in the system). But only the first chapter is about nuclear power, others cover chemical factories, air transportation, maritime navigation, dams and more. It’s interesting in that some systems you think would remain always highly complex and vulnerable to accidents aren’t. Air navigation, for example, has gotten tremendously safer over the last decades with mid-air collisions and such becoming almost unheard of nowadays. On the flip side, large nuclear power plants are NOT any safer today than they were in the late 70’s.

    Anyway, interesting stuff….

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