Random Friday Links

So, for your weekend enjoyment, a collection of odds and sods I dredged up from the intertubes today or earlier in the week.

Somebody must have dealt with people like the ones in my MBA program. The whole "I worked really hard so I deserve an A" mentality just grates on me. Guess what? You can work really hard at polishing a turd, but at the end of the day, you're still left with a turd.

We (both J and I) have similar disappointments in the family tree, so we can relate.

Tax increases will help the economy? Not so much. A co-author seems to have forgotten this bit of research, or can't explain it to her boss.

How's that Drug War bullshit working out for people? Pretty goddamned poorly, it appears. Somehow, I can't help but think I would've gotten sent to jail for much, much longer.

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Expensive Speech

So, read it and find something substantive. I found a bunch of empty-headed blather. I'd go through and pull out choice tidbits, but I haven't the time today. Perhaps later this evening.

Also, enjoy this lovely bit of Lovecraftian snark.

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I Think My Brain Just Broke

So, the n00b is gonna cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. I just want to point out two things in the article.
Calling for fiscal restraint

his $787 billion economic stimulus package
So, can anyone tell me how that works? The same guy that just signed a spending bill for all the moneys now says we have to exercise fiscal restraint? Is this another one of these "do as i say, not as I do" deals? Because from where I'm sitting, it sure looks that way.

What really infuriates me more than anything else is that we have taken the problem and pushed it off on the younger generation yet again. God forbid somebody tell the boomers and the rest of us adults the cold, ugly truth. The money for all the stuff we got promised just ain't fucking there. So you know what that means? We don't get the stuff. Big Daddy Gubmint got a pay cut down at the mill and there's no more money to keep handing out candy to the kids, so shut up and eat your vegetables.

But we, collectively, just won't let that happen. Apparently, we think it isn't fair that somebody's not going to get something they were promised by an organization going bankrupt! You know what? It's also not fair to screw some kid that just turned 18, or 12, or was just born, into paying for stuff for somebody else. But that's exactly what we're doing. All you people with young kids should be screaming bloody murder, because Congress and the President just raped their future while you stood around with your thumb up your ass. Unless, of course, you voted for the donks in the last election cycle. Then you actively contributed to the destruction of your children's future. Well done, you.

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It's Not News, It's...

So a twofer from CNN today. First out the gate: Muslim jackass throws acid on woman, scarring her face and blinding her because he "loves" her. She decides to play hard under the rules of the game over in Iran. She refused monetary compensation, requested old school punishment, and as a result, he is now going to be blinded with acid. That'll learn him. Probably barbaric, certainly against the 8th Amendment, and somehow, I just can't bring myself to disapprove.

Second up is a story whose second sentence is so rife with double entendre it made me giggle:
New research shows that, in men, the brain areas associated with handling tools and the intention to perform actions light up when viewing images of women in bikinis.
Handling tools? The intent to perform action? Umm... yeah. And we needed research on this because... Ric Romero needed filler for this weekend's broadcast?

Oh, wait, we needed research on this to confirm what the lead researcher already thought about men. She does claim "the broader purpose of the research was to explore circumstances under which people treat one another as the means to an end". Of course, this is pretty much blown to crap by the fact that apparently, nobody has bothered to figure out under what circumstances women do this. So it's not really about people, now, is it? It's about men. Thanks, darling. I already have every TV commercial and entertainment product in the world doing their level best to portray me as a mindless buffoon incapable of managing life without some woman's help. Now you're trying to prove men think inappropriately, but it's not really our fault. How about DIAF? Does that work for you? I'm more than a little tired of the endless parade of male-bashing in popular culture.

The joyous and accomplished cynic in me also notes it's far easier to do research like this with men, because the triggers are pretty obvious. Figuring out what women think is apparently too difficult, even for other women. It's also probably much easier to do research that you can use to confirm your preexisting biases.

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Sir Terry!

One each Terrence Pratchett, beloved author of the Discworld series, has been knighted by E the Deuce for his services to literature. Woo hoo!

This is also my opportunity to plug the above-mentioned series if you have not already read it. Pratchett's work bears a strong similarity to Walt Kelly's. It is absurd, hilarious, painfully satirical, and you get the sense that being a decent human being will get you through everything in the end.



Cassandra Politics

So, one of the fun benefits of being a libertarian is the almost universal dislike in which the majority of the political classes hold your ideas. Right now, a whole bunch of us are looking at the stimulus and saying "This won't do what you want, and has a whole host of bad effects you don't want." Is anyone paying attention? Not so much. The ignuts are fixing to screw us all, and when it all fails spectacularly, some of us can say "Told ya! Sure did." Whee! It's a very small consolation prize in lieu of a limited government and an unfucked economy.

What's even more dispiriting is the current rush to worship at the altar of government intervention. Oh, noes! Something bad happened! The gummint must fix it! Never mind that in many people's opinions (mine included) the ham-handed attempts to micromanage bits of the economy caused the problem in the first place. So, a crisis caused in large part by government intervention will be solved by government intervention? Hmm. New crisis in 3... 2... 1...

Finally, I'll also point out the two most important words in Latin: caveat emptor. A whole bunch of people bought a whole bunch of weird derivatives and mortgage backed securities without understanding what they were buying or how the whole thing worked. Quite bluntly, I should not (nor should the rest of you taxpayers) subsidize someone's incompetence. If you bought a bunch of dodgy financial instruments and are now going bankrupt, so sorry, sucks to be you, make better choices next time. Similarly, if you signed up for a mortgage you didn't understand and can't afford, so sorry, sucks to be you, rent an apartment and move on with your life. Learn from the experience and grow into a financially responsible young butterfly, caterpillar.

Anyhow, mark me down for one "not gonna work" prediction entree with a side dish of "horrible unintended consequences". If my orders fail to materialize, I'll roast up the crow and get to eatin'. But I'm confident my dishes will arrive.

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So, have they passed the stimulus and doomed us all yet? DOOM! DOOM, I say! Anyway, I haven't been paying attention. I figure it's a done deal, my people won't vote for it, and things will continue much as they have with an extra helping of screw the taxpayer. There's not much I can do either way, so I'm moving on. DOOM! Excuse me. Okay, now I'm moving on.

So, a little light essential reading for y'all here. Apparently, not enough people have read it, or anything like it, so I'm bringing it up again. Maybe it'll stick to a few brains.

In other news, the chandelier for the dining room arrived earlier this week.

Let me pause to insert a minor rant about how I spent a ton of money on a brand new house and can't even get light fixtures that are remotely pleasing or paint colors I want. Because the logistics of maybe having more paint colors than beige, beige, off-white, beige, off-white, and beige are just completely insurmountable, right? As is the possibility of having light fixtures in a finish other than shit brown distressed bronze or cheap bling gold. The customer is always right, within a very small subset of possible values for "right". Note that right also does not overlap with attractive for any of the available subsets.

Of course, the instructions for the chandelier were two quarto pages of small diagrams. Not real helpful, and they actually got lost in the packaging for two days. I went to the hardware store and bought a whole bunch of lamp parts. Apparently, cheap chandeliers from China use a thread that is slightly off from anything used in lamps here in America. Who knew? Eventually, I gave up and creatively reconfigured the hardware in the box to make it work. Instructions might have helped here, but it just wasn't to be. Fortunately, I'm fecking brilliant and can manage without them. We should be hanging the chandy sometime this evening if all goes well. If I've done my job, it should light up and not fall down. J is responsible for final aesthetic arrangement and judgment.

I'll also note that Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Why the death or burial (reports differ) of a matryred priest and giving your person gifts came to be connected, I'll never know with any certainty. Regardless, party it up with your peeps and spread the love, unless medically contraindicated. Nobody wants oozing sores as a present, kids.

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At some point, I really have to answer a fundamental question. At what point is obedience no longer owed to a government gone so far beyond the bounds granted it by citizens it is essentially unrepresentative and uncontrollable? I find myself pondering the question more and more lately.

Judging from the polling data I've seen, a minority of the country is in favor of the economic stimulies plan. Yet it got passed, at a cost that will result in young N paying more taxes for the rest of her life. Similarly, the original TARP bill was passed over the objections of a majority of the public.

I also read the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has decided the 2nd Amendment is not incorporated as a check on the states or localities. Strange, isn't it?. The Bill of Rights only selectively applies to local governments. Some parts of our inalienable rights really aren't, depending on judicial whim.

Speaking of judicial whim, the government's assertion of “state secrets” is based on a case where there was no compelling national security interest. The government lied to cover up incompetence and malfeasance. More recently, we're watching the government continue to assert “state secrets” to avoid exposing the ugliness of torturing people for no particularly good reason. Whee!

I'm having a hard time justifying to myself why I should continue to abide by my understanding of the social contract when the rest of society seems to feel the contract can be rewritten at will. I didn't sign up for Leviathan, so why should I continue to prop it up?

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Quick Question

Been a busy week at work, so I'm behind on the blogging. Here's my tally so far: Geithner, Daschle, Killefer, Solis. How many more of the n00b's nominees have tax problems? I'm also amused they manage to find and correct these mistakes, just by coincidence, right before or after they get nominated to serve.


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Confusticated and Bewildereded

So, can somebody refresh my memory? Part of why we’re in the current economic situation is because one group of greedy morons loaned money to another group of greedy morons and no one bothered to look at the asset values or the income streams to see if all the numbers made sense. The n00b has a great idea for fixing the mess!
“We’ll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs,”
So, more mortgages is gonna fix the economy! What do “incompetent” mean? What do “baffled” mean? More of the same thing which caused the problem is rarely a solution worth pursuing. We’re back to the first rule of holes and all that. On that note, spending even more money than the last guy won’t fix it either. If you’ll note how Bush the Younger spent money the government didn’t have, it sure didn’t seem to help keep the economy going. So spending even more money the government doesn’t have is going to make things better! I mean, think of how much worse things would have been if Bush hadn’t done all the deficit spending! I mean seriously, folks. The response so far has been nothing more than ignorant magical thinking of the finest kind. Look, the volcano god economy is angry with us! We must throw a virgin down the well engage in deficit spending ! Oh no! The anger is still strong! Quickly, throw some more virgins spend more! The logic is about as compelling, and the solution likely to be about as effective.

Anyhow, one of the guys who helped create the conditions which led to the current crisis is now saying the problem is “the complete absence of regulation in the financial area”. His statement would be what those of us in the real world would call a “lie”. When a guy who has been on the House Financial Services Committee as long as Barney Frank (D-emagogue) says the financial area is unregulated, he’s lying and knows he’s lying. You can’t operate any kind of financial institution without coming under the purview of an incredible number of federal regulations. Dishonesty about the causes of the problem sure as hell won’t lead us to a fix. It should concern all of us when the guy who oversees any potential legislation to fix the banking industry lies that boldly.

Yay! We’re going to subsidize poor decision-making yet again! Or else force people to make the decisions the fed wants! I’m thrilled at the change and hopeful it doesn’t last very long. But I ain’t optimistic.

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