Sunday, December 12, 2010

I hate to plaster a website full of baby pics but...'s just got to be done now and then.

I made a beautiful sculpture the other day:

I'm not sure if this is "Magnum" or "Blue Steel."

This is against Target policies.

I don't have any Lumberjacks stuff. Lia got the jump on me.

A filthy dirty elf.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Newsweek is Worthlesss

The only time I read Time or Newsweek is when I have to go to a doctor's waiting room. Every time I do, it makes me want to cause myself severe physical damage as punishment. (Remember when I wrote this? I read that TIME piece back in December at Lia's Obgyn appointment right before we had Reia.)

At Lia's doctor appointment today, I had the pleasure of reading this stinker about how Japan's socialized medicine is Oh-So-Awesome. They actually say that it's a universal system, but not "socialized medicine" (the "scare quotes" are theirs).

The description of how the system works vaguely resembles reality, but many of the facts are wrong or are left out. What's extra funny is they seem to have read this article in the WaPo and that was pretty much the entirety of their research, yet they contradict the source article several times, probably because the Washington Post doesn't paint as rosy a picture.

Much like in Canada, the Japanese spend a lot of time waiting in line for care. Hospitals are legally constrained to be not for profit, as are insurance companies. Doctors are paid far less there, hence there shortages of them.

Newsweek denies the system is socialist, just as the left denies Obamacare is socialist, but the truth is that 70% of expenses are paid by the goverment. How is this not a socialist system if the vast majority of cost is distributed amongst the taxpayers?. Okay, so I guess it's 30% non-crappy. My bad.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Score One For the Good Guys

Congratulations everybody! You won't ever have to listen to me bitch about this anymore!

That's right. I consider it a very personal victory since I have pissed and moaned and made my discontent known to everyone who would listen. I've yelled and screamed and convinced others to not mail in their tickets and told everyone I could not to ever pay them. I've even gotten several photoradar tickets mailed to me myself (and to Lia when I drove her car). Guess how many I have paid? If you guessed ZERO, you win.

Whatever forms of tyranny may be present in this world, at least I know I fought against one form of it and won, suckers!

One caveat to this, of course is that if by some small chance I get caught in another city like Tucson or in other states that have these Pint-size Oppress-o-cams, the bitching will start all over again. But I'll probably just do what I did before and throw the ticket in the trash.

The banner pic, by the way is of rapper DMX's photo-radar candid on the Scottsdale 101 at Shea Blvd. Heh!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Oil Spill Facts

I dug up some numbers on other oil spills to put the BP oil spill into perspective. Mind you, I'm not trying to find a way to make it okay to spill millions of gallons of crude into the ocean, I'm just collecting data!

Of course, everyone remembers the Exxon Valdez, which was amounted to 11.4 Million gallons. But there were four other spills since then that were bigger:

Man, that late 80's to early 90's changeover was rough!

In addition, oil finds its way into the water from sources other than industrial accidents:

Also, for the Gulf of Mexico in particular, 43 Million gallons naturally seep into the water annually (Source).

The estimates of what volume of oil is spilling from the BP hole vary wildly, but based on what I've read, it's probably around 1 Million gallons per day. It could be double that, but no one really knows at this point.

So at 60 days and counting, the BP spill is probably larger than the Gulf of Mexico's natural seepage, worldwide natural seepage, and most other recent spills. But it probably won't touch Saddam Hussein's little hissy fit it threw when we invaded in the '90's, and it wont touch the amount of oil that each year finds itself into the ocean from the hillbilly down the street who changes the oil on his 86 Camero and flushes it down the toilet. It definitely won't surpass what gets into the ocean from every other source possible.

As for the Exxon Valdez, I think it's revealing that everyone remembers this spill when there have been many others bigger, and even since that spill in '89. Captain Hazelwood was also drunk, and that makes a good news story, but I think it has more to do with the fact that if a US company does it, or it happens in US territory, it's a bigger deal.

Oh yeah, one more fact: Roark bought stock in BP after the spill at $37. I guess I'm an optimist. We'll see how it plays out. It's fallen and holding at $31 so far. If it goes to 20 or 25 I'll probably double down. There's no way even the harshest penalties, worst case clean-up cost, and loss public image will account for their loss of $75M of market value.

UPDATED on 6/16: Some spelling, phrasing, clarification on the Valdez, and additional comments about BP stock.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flagstaff Tea Party Video

It's official. I'm a crazy person. I led a clean life up until now, but I showed up at a protest rally for the first time in my life, and what dubious group do I choose to associate myself with on my first time out? Those damn redneck-idiot-racist-know-nuthin-Teabagger-Nazi-pieces of trash!

So here is my video from the Flagstaff Tax Day Tea Party Protest. It's nothing fancy, just an eight-minute video of some people out on the lawn in front of Flag city hall. You won't be riveted by this, despite my effort to make it exciting. It's pretty boring actually.

And that's really the point.

There wasn't anything out of the ordinary. If there were nutcases there, they didn't advertise it.

My mission was simple. My intent clear, but easy to accomplish. I decided to go, witness, and record the event with one purpose: to find any nutjobs that I could. I wanted to see if there were any fringe elements to this movement, at least in this town, and figure out, at the very least, if one town in America had a Tea Party group that was worth taking seriously.

Could my eyewitness account or my video prove without a doubt that there are no crazies at all worth considering in the Tea Party movement nationwide? Of course not. But I can at least get a flavor of it in my own town and see for myself and offer my own first-hand account for the record.

Here are some examples of who I would consider a fringe nutjob:

  • Nazi's: either Swastika's or Iron Crosses must be present.
  • Racists: any signs or slogans that make reference to Barack Obama's race, any disrespectful or shady language or imagry that may indicate the sloganeer may have problems with BHO that dont have anthing to do with his politics.
  • Truthers: any claim to the idea that 9/11 was an inside job, or any other conspiracy theorists on display in any way.
  • Fundamentalists: rabid anti-abortionists, rabid creationists, religious zealots, or anything that would make a regular guy like me squirm just by being nearby.
In addition to nutjobs, I was on the lookout for:
  • Run-of-the-Mill Idiots - because everyone critical of the Tea Party is going to tell you they're all morons. Is it true? Well I planned on talking to a few to see.

A little background: Flagstaff, AZ is a town of 60,000 people. It is a college town with a local University. At the risk of painting with a broad brush, I'll say that the population tends to be somewhat liberal and the "hippie contingent" is quite strong, but there are plenty of Conservative Cowboys here too.

Flagstaff has its share of crazies, left AND right of center. The Planned Parenthood here has protesters outside regularly with pictures of mangled fetuses. The younger left wing anarchist radicals are usually willing to protest at the drop of a hat. If there are crazies to be had in the Tea Party movement, they will show up in Flagstaff.

Not only were there no Truthers or Nazi's. I didn't even see any people with the types of socially conservative messages that I expected to see at a predominantly Republican gathering. This, minus any fringe element above would have been the only thing that could have turned me off, even if there weren't any crazies there. That's because to me, the Tea Party movement is not about social issues. Sure, there are people in it who would call themselves died-in-the-wool conservatives, but that's not the focus here, and that's not what people are worried about.

The other surprizing thing is the amount of approval from the passers by on Route 66, and the minimal amount of disapproval. As you can hear in the video, there is a lot of honking going on, and that was the case for two hours while people were there. Those weren't honks of anger, either. I counted 4 people in the space of 30 minutes (while I was really paying attention and not talking to people) who passed by and flipped the bird, yelled something in disagreement, or gave some other negative reaction. Pretty impresisve, especially for such a fringe radical movement like the Tea Party which is so full of nutjobs that normal people would never agree with in any way...*cough*.

I went and talked to people in the crowd- total strangers I had never met before - just to get a feel for the attitude. I met Warren, James, Theresa, Peggy, and others. All of them had a story to tell. Towards the end you can see that I even ran into an old friend that I didn't know was going to be there. If he's a nutcase, it's news to me.

It was the first time I did anyting like this but it was very interesting.

Wackos, indeed. - Not!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Earthquakes, Avatar, and Environmentalism

If only nature behaved according to James Cameron's fantasy world in Avatar. If only we could get whatever we needed from nature when we needed it, and there would be no need for us to live anything other than a simple existence in touch with nature, and no need of matarialism or wealth.

Alas, the world we live in is not so benevolent. The reality around us is full of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, viruses, disease, all manner of poisonous plants and venomous animals.

Even worse, we aren't born with fangs or claws, or even a pelt of fur to keep us warm. The only tool we have to survive is our ability to reason: to build and improve and create wealth; to build shelter, to make tools, to create all the necessary things for basic survival and much more: music, art, entertainment, and athletics.

It's not politically correct to make the statement above, nor is it politically correct to say this: that the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile could not demonstrate more clearly the need for wealth and technology, and a society that values them.

How can I be so callous to make this comparison? Surely the people of Haiti didn't bring this earthquake on themselves. But do they bear any responsibility for their own fate? The 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile was 500 times more powerful, yet it was 200 times less deadly, than the one in Haiti, which measured a 7.0. How could this possibly be?

Many people say the building codes in Haiti are just not good enough. But what if the government of Haiti had enacted building codes a year before this earthquake? What about five years ago? Would it have made any difference? If that happened, I wonder if the people in the slums of Port-au-Prince would have picked themselves up, gone to the local Home Depot, and built a better roof for the tin shed they live in.

Of course not.

Building codes have nothing to do with it. It's the wealth necessary to follow the building codes that matters. Wealth is something Haiti, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, has very little of.

Environmentalism as a creed tells us that we need to live closer to nature; to be less materialistic; to live with less wealth, not more. This is why I believe hardcore environmentalism to be cruel. It is an a completely unfeeling, uncaring belief system that wishes us to live in squalor in the name of protecting mother earth from the unchecked success of humankind, instead of it's proper opposite: to protect humanity from the rages of an unchecked mother earth.

It isn't me who is cruel for identifying an oppressed, corrupt nation as the masters of it's own fate, even in the aftermath of a deadly natural disaster. It actually pains me to see a country live like this for so long, and have years to correct the problem, and watch as a natural disaster turns into a man-made disaster.

Environmentalism and any other similar belief that tends to eschew wealth and free markets are all cruel and unkind since they refuse to identify the true source of mass death and tragedy: dictatorship, corruption, and managed economies.

A strong economy with a free market at its root will foster success and happiness on a daily basis, but it also reduces human suffering in the event of natural disasters. That's right. Capitalism saves lives.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jenny McCarthy Body Count

When will Jenn-ay kill her 500th person? Will your family be affected by a nearly eradicated disease because your neighbor watched Jenny on Oprah? Watch it all unfold at Jenny McCarthy Body Count!

In college I would have agreed to have Jenny McCarthy's babys. That's only because she was in Playboy, and I was in college. And single. And she hosted Singled Out on Mtv. It seemed like a good plan at the time.

But in reality, she's just an idiot. To the point of being criminally so. She used to get paid to be an idiot on TV part time. Now she's a full time idiot, trying to convince the world that her son has autism because she vaccinated him, therefore no-one else should vaccinate their kids either.

Time's not completely horrible article on the subject quotes her as saying,
"What number does it have to be ... for people just to start listening to what the mothers of children who have autism have been saying for years ... I told my pediatrician something happened ... after [he was vaccinated] ?... Boom — the soul was gone from his eyes." Later, when Oprah read a comment from the CDC stating that the vast majority of the science to date did not support her assertion, McCarthy replied, "My science is Evan. He's at home. That's my science."
Uhhhm. That's actually not science at all. That's just a coincidence. One of the funniest stories I ever heard was when a friend of mine told me his dog crapped a sock. Because he ate a sock. The it came out of him later. If Jenny McCarthy heard this story she would say socks must come from when dogs poop them out. And when you tell her that that assertion is not supported by science, she'll say, "My science is Mugsy. He's at home. That's my science."

Jenny blames the MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella) most of all. Reia has indeed had this vaccine. No soul lost yet. I'd be willing to keep posting updates on this but I'd rather spend all my time looking around my backyard for some new socks. Sorry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Burt Rutan Punches AGW Square in the Face

Thanks to KRust for the heads up on this.

As if having kick-ass burly sideburns and the skills to build carbon fiber composite space planes wasn't enough, there are still more reasons to worship Burt.

The guy who will help make space tourism a reality is also an active climate change skeptic (that is, a "climate denier" to coin a phrase).

Here are links to his material on Anthropogenic Global Warming: presentation slides, a planned report, and video of the presentation.

Having spent a lot of time staring at streams of numbers and scatter plots is not a bad background to have when looking at the IPCC's reports. This is something he, I, and thousands of other capable scientists and engineers have in common which gives us no reason to religiously accept "the consensus".

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Silent Majorities, Innocents, and Tyrants

My friend Justin forwarded me an email recently about a German who lived through WWII and witnessed that country's move to Nazism from the inside, and how it relates to radical Islamists. I did some poking around and I think the essay originated here:

Celestial Junk: Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.
This reminds me of an op-ed that Onkar Ghate wrote for ARI back in 2002: Innocents in War?. He says that once it has been established that a nation's government is a tyrannical aggressor, and must be beaten by force, there are basically three types of civilians: Active supporters, passive supporters, and the active opposition (the truly innocent).
Many civilians in the Mid-East, for example, hate us and actively support, materially and/or spiritually, those plotting our deaths. Can one seriously maintain, for instance, that the individuals in the Mid-East who celebrated by dancing in the streets on September 11 are innocent?

Other civilians in enemy states are passive, unthinking followers. Their work and economic production, however meager, supports their terrorist governments and so they are in part responsible for the continued power of our enemies. They too are not innocent-and their deaths may be unavoidable in order for America to defend itself. (Remember too that today's civilian is tomorrow's soldier.)


The civilians in enemy territory who actually oppose their dictatorial, terrorist governments are usually their governments' first innocent victims. All such individuals who remain alive and outside of prison camps should try to flee their country or fight with us (as some did in Afghanistan).


War is terrible but sometimes necessary. To win the war on terrorism, we must not let a mistaken concern with "innocents" deter us. As a free nation, we have the moral right to defend ourselves, even if this requires mass civilian casualties in terrorist countries.
How does this principle apply to the student protesters in Iran? Should we not act to support the REAL Green Revolution since there are so many innocents actively resisting oppression?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Letter to a Sincere Leftist

Dear Friend on the Left,

...I never thought I'd say this: let us join together in a common cause.

Let us work together to defeat the health-care bill that is about to be passed by the Senate. Although we've been on opposite sides on nearly every issue and have very different motives, I think we can find common ground in opposing this legislation. Please hear me out.

I have complained that the health-care bill is a big step toward socialism, but in the final form passed by the Senate, I have to admit that it is not a socialist bill, at least not in the form the contemporary left wants: a "single-payer" system in which government directly takes over the financing of medical care. Of course, it certainly isn't a pro-free-market bill, either. Instead, it's the worst monstrosity of all: a vicious intertwining of state power with nominally private corporations.

One of your own, Jane Hamsher, has offered a criticism that cuts to the very heart of what this bill does: she complains that it requires Americans to pay "8% of their incomes to private corporations who will use the IRS as their collection agency." That is the meaning of the "individual mandate," the requirement that everyone is forced to buy health insurance or pay a fine enforced by criminal penalties meted out by the IRS. She is right to point out the obscenity of the government forcing us to patronize private corporations, and she even understates the magnitude of the problem. Eight percent of our income is how much we will be required to pay before we can qualify for a government subsidy; above that point, insurance companies will get our 8% plus even more of our money paid directly to them by the government.

To state it precisely, what this bill does is to create a government-sponsored, government-subsidized cartel of private health insurance companies. It requires all new insurance policies to be offered on a government-created exchange regulated by a government bureaucrat, and it requires those policies to conform to certain government rules about how much the insurers can charge and about accepting customers with pre-existing conditions. In return, it offers the insurance companies a huge set of government favors, chief among them the individual mandate which is supposed to supply the insurers with a huge new captive market of unwilling customers.

This is the deal that the insurance companies made with the devil. They chose to become creatures of the state—so long as the state agreed to feed them. And that, my new friends on the left, is what ought to really provoke your outrage. The state is now committed to the care and feeding of its pet insurance companies.

I don't think this is actually going to work out so well for the insurance companies, by the way, but that's the theory about how it's supposed to work. And that's the ideal that the Democratic Party leadership is trying to sell to you.

At the risk of running afoul of Godwin's Law, I have to point out that if this is socialism, it is socialism on the fascist model. Wasn't it Mussolini who pioneered the system of creating state-sponsored cartels that controlled each industry, mingling public power with private profit?

Is this what you elected a Democratic majority to enact?

Let's be honest. This bill doesn't reduce health insurance premiums or make insurance more affordable. No one really believes that it's going to reduce health-care costs or improve the solvency of the government. But what it does do is to give the political elites in Washington a finger in the enormous multi-billion-dollar pie of the big insurance companies.

The rap against the left—from folks on my side of the political debate—is that you don't really care about principles or the good of the republic, that all of the left's programs are just intended to concentrate more power among the political elites and unelected bureaucrats in Washington, DC. And from where I stand, this rotten health-care bill serves as confirmation of that. Please prove us wrong.

I know a health-care bill is a longstanding dream of yours, and you are loath to let this opportunity—a Democratic president and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in Congress—pass you by. But the dream is already dead, and your own political leadership killed it. You have already had to deal with the condescension of these leaders, who sell out your principles and then give you a line about taking half a loaf and being practical about political realities, and—say, we can still count your votes next November, can't we, fellas? And that's exactly what they think. They are actually counting on you to be excited and enthusiastic about this bill and to protect their jobs next year. As usual, they want your votes, your money, and your organizational energy—at election time. After which they will go about the usual business of tacking to the center and compromising and finding excuses to go along with the consensus. Believe me, I know what it's like. It's what principled pro-free-marketers have had to put up with for years from the leaders of the Republican Party. And you can see how well it worked out for us.

From my experience with the past decade of political disasters on the right, I can tell you that you are better off killing this bill, because all it will accomplish is to discredit your cause by associating it with a badly cobbled together, dreadfully unpopular piece of legislation. Tell the political leadership of the Democratic Party to drop this bill and start over again.

So let us join together, the pro-free-market right and the far left marching arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder to beat this bill. You object to it because it captures the power of the state for corporations. We object to it because it captures corporations for the state, so that these companies are no longer truly private actors in a free market. Our motives are different, but this is an issue on which we can find common ground: the unholy merger of state power and big corporations.

The libertarians in our ranks might opt for the motto: smash the power of the state. You might prefer: smash the power of the corporations. But here's one I hope we can all agree on: smash the state power of the corporations!

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and

The Cornhusker Kickback isn't the only kickback

In Health Bill for Everyone, Provisions for a Few

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I love being an Arizonan

Via Instapundit, I found a reason to be a little proud. Arizona May Abandon Speed Cameras on Highways. I definitely did my share of spreading the word.
Profits are far below expectations, a citizen effort to ban the cameras is gaining steam, the governor has said she does not like the program, and more and more drivers are ignoring the tickets they get in the mail after hearing from fellow speeders that there are often no consequences to doing so.

The Decade From Hell?

I read Andy Serwer's cover story in TIME in a doctors waiting room recently. (You don't think I would subscribe to TIME do you?) I took issue with a lot of it, not because I think everything was rosy over the last ten years, but because of why this author thought everything went the way it did.

It starts out with a two-page summary of all the crap that happened in the 00's. Then on the third page it gets into the how's and why's. The description of the events leading up to 9/11 isn't too far off base, leading back to the Soviet-Afghan war, through the Bush-Clinton-Bush years, to the turn of the millennium.

But then there's the financial crises of the decade, and why those happened. Serwer's reasons for this are strikingly similar to an article that appeared in Rolling Stone a few months back, which was a hit job on anyone who dared to make a buck at anything. In both cases, the favorite scapegoat for our problems is "deregulation", and especially Phil Gramm's repeal of the Glass-Steagall act.

It's funny, because saying the financial crisis happened because we had too much of a free market is like saying Rosie O'Donnell would be more charming if only if it wasn't for that small mouth and skinny thighs.

Our banking industry is heavily regulated. Banks can't make a single move without checking with their lawyers and accountants. The implementation of the SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, and many more government entities like them are things that ANY public company has to put up with. For banks, add in the creation of the Federal Reserve, HUD, and the FDIC and it's plain that banks aren't just wildcat cowboys operating in an "unsupervised free-market free-for-all" as Sewer, I mean, Serwer, calls it.

The most laughable parts are the passages on the internet. Leave it to an old media establishment like Time magazine to blame the internet as a contributor to scandals and to the financial crisis. Their motives for making these allegations are painfully transparent.
The rise of all manner of new media and the lack of barriers to criticism from the blogosphere seemed to intensify every scandal and left very few public figures unsullied.
Later on...
Companies go belly-up all the time, but in this decade there were an inordinate number of bankruptcies. The creative destruction of the Internet had a part in this. While the Web opened up new worlds and created thousands of jobs at Amazon, Google and the like, it displaced workers at travel and government agencies, at newspapers and magazines and at stores like Circuit City and Tower Records — traditional distribution points for services, information and goods. Economists call that disintermediation.
Hmmm. "Disintermediation" huh? It's probably a real word. I bet there really are economists who use it. I don't really know if that's even an applicable use of the term. I'm not even going to check up on that one. Because it's plain this is a cry for help.

Others who shredded Serwer:
Ed Driscoll at PJM: Which Time Magazine Journalist Is That On The Cover?

Gene Healy at Cato Institute: "Holy hyperbole, hackman."