Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Shana Tovah!

May you be inscribed for a good year.


The Days of Awe are upon us, and I have turned my thoughts to repairing the harms I've done to the people in my life.

So this is my annual request that you, my friends, tell me if I have injured you and how I can make amends.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why I'll never get one

Those tattoos across the small of your back? In German, that's Arschgeweih ("ass antlers"). Prettier than tramp stamp, but still not pretty enough for me.

Hat tip Cranky Professor.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A solution to the mortgage crisis I like.

Instead of bailing out the big finance companies and banks, bail out the individual homeowners.

[I]nstead of the massive moral hazard -- and general unseemliness -- of putting taxpayer money on the line to bail out Wall Street banks and brokers at the top end of the pyramid, why not aim at the broad BASE of the pyramid?

The money is there. I mean really, isn't it funny how when political leaders and powerful interests like Wall Street REALLY need cash, they somehow find a way to pull it out of the federal government's [ahem]?
To put it more politely: They just stick taxpayers with the bill.


America's population is about 300 million. Divide by 4 (typical household size) and you get maybe 75 million households. Even that doubtless overstates the number of owner-occupied homes covered by bank mortgages, with a value less than, say, $1 million or so (we should exclude the very wealthy -- if the $5 million La Jolla mansion is about to be foreclosed, I say tough luck -- John McCain, of course, would make $5 million the cutoff, having suggested that anyone under that is middle class -- whatever). And remember, you have to exclude the homeless, renters, nursing home residents, all the dependents who live in each mortgaged home, etc.

So, maybe 50 million owner-occupied homes, of middle-class or lower value, with mortgages? Close enough for government work.

Divide $1 trillion by 50 million and you get $20,000 -- not to be sneezed at! Over two years, that could cut almost $1,000 off every single monthly mortgage check in America! That amount of mortgage relief targeted directly at the millions of American taxpayers and homeowners of middle incomes and modest means would be an ENORMOUS shot in the arm to the economy (dwarfing the piddly recent "economic stimulus" checks). And it SHOULD mostly solve a crisis supposedly rooted in overextended mortgage lending, and securities built shakily on same.

Hat tip Instapundit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


What to do with all those flaps I've torn off my Netflix envelopes.

Hat tip amand_r.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My party

Would you join my political party? I haven't worked out all the details, but here are a few of the important concepts:

I support a woman's right to abortion until the moment of live birth, as a matter of self defense. To the extent that there is tax-paid health care of any other kind, I support using taxes to pay for abortions like any other medical procedure.

I support tax-paid mandatory public education, because school can be your only haven if your parents suck. However, there should be only minimal requirements for choosing to withdraw from the mandatory public system for home or private schooling.

I support tax-paid welfare for minors (through age 18), including food, medical care, and incidental cost of school (paper, pencils, gym clothes, etc.) with only minimal income tests (family income under 50th percentile).

I support replacing the paperwork of the current welfare system as applied to able-bodied persons with a minimum income to all adults; the dollar amount would be barely enough to survive (e.g., a rental room in a boarding house plus food).

I support the individual right to own, carry, and use fire arms for self defense, pleasure, food hunting, and to rebel against an oppressive government, without license or registration, but with restrictions on ownership and penalties for use in the mental health and violent felon categories.

I support free speech with historic restrictions (no shouting fire in a crowded theater).

Among changes to the tax system I'd take away the home mortgage deduction and the practice of using different tax tables for people depending on their marital state.

I'm toying with the idea of giving the vote to children but allowing their parents to cast their vote.

There's lots more but this is the stuff I think about most often.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Agreeing on the facts

Agreeing on the facts when you disagree about how to react to them has become rare, and some tools people rely on instead of personal investigation are less reliable than they'd like to think.

Joel Rosenberg links to an example. The question is whether the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Barack Obama, claimed he would serve his full senatorial term and would therefore not run for president in 2008. Mr. Obama is quoted in an interview with Tim Russert as saying:

Russert: When we talked back in November of ‘04 after your election, I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?” Obama: “Absolutely.”

Obama: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.

Russert: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

Obama: I will not.

Apparently there's a discrepancy between this quote and how the story is reported at Snopes, and those of us who are accustomed to relying on Snopes should be wary. Now, maybe this is the only discrepancy on the entire site, but that seems unlikely.

You'll note I did not title this "Obama lies" or similar; that's intentional. I believe most elected officials have said things and then later changed their minds, and I don't consider that a lie necessarily. But Snopes is clearly wrong to claim he never said it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Privilege in politics

Privilege in politics looks like this: making a crude remark about the president and assuming everyone present agrees with you that it's funny.

Greeting everyone every morning with a number representing how many days are left until the president is out of office, because of course we're all eagerly awaiting that day.

Complaining about the people too stupid to vote the way you think they should, because after all, you know better than they do how to run their lives.

What is privilege in politics? Liberals in the big cities on the two coasts who have majority control of the information media. Megan McArdle compares it to white privilege:

Many readers responded to my post on coastal contempt by saying, in essence, "They do it too!" There are two answers to that. The first is that if you understand there is a difference between black and white racial resentments, then you should understand that there is a difference between comments by a powerful elite, and comments by a less powerful group, even a majority. (See, say, the Malay/Chinese disputes).

The second is that here's an area where controlling the media hurts us. When they make cracks, they make them in private, where we can't hear them. When we do it, we often do it in public, right there on the television or in national print media. So they are more aware of, and resentful of, coastal condescension than vice versa.

It must hugely influence her perception that she is, by her own admission, a coastal elite--raised in New York City and I believe currently living in Washington, DC. There are some useful rebuttals in the comments, but in general I think she's made a good point. Because I have friends who are all over the map politically, and because I live in a liberal stronghold, I know which ones hold their tongues at parties and in conversations both online and off, and which ones blithely speak their disdain and frustration with the political party they don't like.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

But I always thought I was a Democrat!

You are a

Social Liberal
(78% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(88% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Free Online Dating
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Maybe I'd better stop calling myself a Democrat.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A shirt with its own disclosure.

At Elms in the Yard (scroll down), a shirt to wear to my next convention...with an appropriate warning!

Late summer rough patch

I always have a rough patch in late summer--I don't like heat nor handle it well and I'm obviously severely allergic to something that blooms in late summer--but for a few reasons it's far worse than normal this year. I've got a rotator cuff injury which gives me pain, restricts my movement, prevents me from doing many of my regular activities (both chores and hobbies), and uses up time for physical therapy. Also, work has been an anxious mess lately; very recently some changes were made top-down that will eventually improve my situation, but it's not happening as quickly as I would like. Plus, Twoson is living with us for an indefinite time because of some bobbles in his plan for the next year that are outside his control.

I've also had to give up the only regular gaming I was doing because of allergies (I can't be in households with cats for more than a couple of hours, tops) and I've just chosen to give up a volunteer commitment I was really enjoying, because I just can't handle the stress on top of everything else. Of course the things I have to give up were the pleasurable ones! I mean, I'm also not doing very many household chores, but strangely enough I don't miss those. :)

I don't need GAS or MAS, I'm just whinging...and a little more, I'm concerned that with the chronic pain and restrictions to my hobbies and fun, I'm getting a tad depressed. I've been considering going back to therapy.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fun political fact for the day

Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential nominee, has a rabbi in her family.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Not an argument

There's an annoying behavior I've recently started noticing (say, over the last year), and I wonder where it came from. There's an example at Megan McArdle's comment section. The commenter takes a previously-published line, makes a meaningful change to it, and then closes with something liked "fixed that for you," as if the original commentor or poster had made an obvious mistake. No reason supporting the change is offered, it's just a slap in the face, and one I can't even tell is correct.

It's self-serving, doesn't add to the conversation, and gives me no reason to respect anything the person making the comment has to say. Don't do it.