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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Andrew Sullivan wises up 

I don't read his blog anymore. I was just curious what he thought about the convention. It appears he's less of a Bush fan nowadays:
And indeed, every time I hear the president talk extemporaneously about the war - his interview with Tim Russert last February was a classic - he does seem to have almost no conceptual grasp of what he's talking about. Back then, he seemed flummoxed by the very concept of a distinction between a war of choice and a war of necessity. Now he seems to be parroting a Council on Foreign Relations confab on the permanence of terrorism. We're all told that the president knows what he believes about this war and today he corrected himself. But the issues here - how to fight Islamist terror, what constitutes success, the necessary blend of military action, diplomacy, police work, etc. - are not minor...there are times when you have to wonder whether he really understands this issue as deeply as he needs to; and whether that limited grasp has led to some of the calamitous "miscalculations" that even he has now acknowledged.

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:23 EST | |

Delegates wear fake Purple Hearts 

It's true, this yokel is a Republican delegate and she's wearing a fake Purple Heart. She was quoted saying she got the Purple Heart, "swimming a river I think it was."

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:17 EST | |

How I prevented a brain hemorrhage 

As the election draws nearer, and the polls stay at a dead heat, I have become like a twinkie.

Instead of delicious cream filling, my filling is delicious creamy rage. Since I am now commuting from Littleton to Boulder everyday, I get many hours in traffic to listen to NPR (the world is going to hell) and see Bush bummer stickers like "10 out of 10 terrorists agree: anybody but Bush". The driver? A frumpy, ignorant-looking, fat fatty suburbanite who is most likely unable to read at the 12th grade level.

I have watched the bulk of the political conventions of both parties since I was 8. To support Bush senior, I drew a republican elephant on my etch-a-sketch. However, I find myself so betrayed and angry that I cannot watch even 1 minute of coverage.

So, I'm falling down in my duties as a citizen and blogger. I don't need a brain hemorrhage. I hope someday I can forgive myself.

-paul  11:29 EST | |

Can't stop blogging 

Yglesias speaks the truth here:
Past Is Prologue
It's disappointing, but by no means surprising, to see the GOP following the Democrats' lead and completely ignoring the small matter of what to do about Iraq right now. No effort to defend the president's policies over, say, the past six months or explain how we're supposed to get from where we are now (widely hated in a country we're occupying and yet failing to exercize any semblance of effective control over) to where we're allegedly going (broadly popular in a shining liberal democratic beacon to Arabs everywhere). The policy reality behind the politics is that I don't think either team has any real idea what to do about this mess any more than, say, I do....

-Daddy Brooklyn  10:41 EST | |

Now McCain 

Of course, I'm watching the speeches this morning. McCain said:
Whether or not Saddam possessed the terrible weapons he once had and used, freed from international pressure and the threat of military action, he would have acquired them again.

My friends, the central security concern of our time is to keep such devastating weapons beyond the reach of terrorists who can't be dissuaded from using them by the threat of mutual destruction.

We couldn't afford the risk posed by an unconstrained Saddam in these dangerous times. By destroying his regime, we gave hope to people long oppressed, that if they have the courage to fight for it, they may live in peace and freedom.
I agree with the second paragraph. If there's a bombing or a nuclear attack, it's most likely going to be on my doorstep and that worries me. But why in the world would you go after Hussein to achieve this goal? Hussein had even shown that he would respond to deterrence. If Bush wanted to safeguard the U.S., he should've dealt with Pakistan, North Korea, and weapons grade plutonium in the former Soviet Union.

He also said:
As the president rightly reminds us, we are safer now than we were on September 11, but we're not yet safe. We are still closer to the beginning than the end of this fight.
What is this claim based on? Did he not get the new State Department report? I'm done.

-Daddy Brooklyn  10:24 EST | |

Mark is gettin' angrier! 


Giuliani says: "President Bush decided that we could no longer just be on defense against global terrorism we must also be on offense." Stephen Flynn points out in FA that we aren't working so hard on the defense.

And when will they stop with the Iraq 9/11 thing? Giuliani says:
And it was here in 2001 in the same Lower Manhattan that President George W. Bush stood amid the fallen towers of the World Trade Center and he said to the barbaric terrorists who attacked us, "They will hear from us."

Well, they heard from us. They heard from us in Afghanistan and we removed the Taliban. They heard from us in Iraq and we ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror.
It's not explicitly false, but it's intentionally misleading.

-Daddy Brooklyn  09:12 EST | |

Monday, August 30, 2004

Looking to 2008 

I believe a McCain-Giuliani presidential ticket would be very hard to beat. (Kerry/Edwars would get crushed by these two, no? Especially because the country ain't in the greatest shape to kick off a glorious presidency.)

I wonder if the GOP's more conservative types would go for Giuliani.

-Daddy Brooklyn  17:42 EST | |

How many were there? 

On the size of the march, the Times sez:
Police gave no official crowd estimate, though one law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the crowd at 120,000; organizers claimed it was more than 500,000.
So I guess nobody will ever know the true size. Researchers may make good faith, non-partisan attempts to figure out how many people were there, but without an immediate official figure it's hard to imagine that the debate will ever be settled.

For historical purposes, knowing the size of protests in a democracy is pretty important. The federal government ought to throw some money into counting crowds to serve this purpose. I know the Park's Service used to provide semi-official estimates for marches in D.C., but they stopped because their numbers were alwasy deemed wrong/racist/politicized. It wouldn't take much for the government to choose a good crowd counting method and send peole to do it. The governmental will isn't there right now since, especially since the protests are targeted at the government (and also, any government is big-government, unless it's farm subsidies). Maybe a relatively popular administration could get the government crowd counting again.

-Daddy Brooklyn  12:41 EST | |

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Another from the WTF Dept. 

Parolees not allowed near the Republicans.
"A Bronx parolee planning to protest the Republican convention got a rude shock this week when he was warned to avoid not only the march, but Manhattan entirely."

-Daddy Brooklyn  19:52 EST | |

The War on Drugs 

Wars on regular nouns (drugs, terrorism, poverty) are much tougher than wars on proper nouns (Germany, Branch Davidian). Last week there was news that "Cops have reclaimed three Brooklyn housing projects by smashing a murderous drug ring that long held law-abiding tenants as virtual prisoners of fear." I can't imagine that this will make much of a difference in the long term. People still want drugs and other people are going to sell them those drugs at a profit. Another drug gang will probably get established, there will be another bust, and then some will go to jail. Chris Rock once said, "The war on drugs is about putting more mutha fuckers in jail", and that's pretty much true.

-Daddy Brooklyn  19:02 EST | |

From the WTF dept.: George Will, Kerry voter? 

Maybe its the hope talking, but this column sounds like Washington area bowtie enthusiast George Will is supporting Kerry.

-paul  16:40 EST | |

Mark is gettin' angry! 

Friday, August 27, 2004

Libel vs. Free Speech  

As someone given to wild hyperbolic rants, I often wonder when I am going to be (a) imprisoned for crossing over into illegal harassment and menacing [say, in a blog post] or (b) sued for libel.

My "lawsuit insurance" is having a negative net worth and no real audience to speak of. But just in case I rise to the zero net worth level, can any 1 of the 600 future lawyers involved in with this blog clear this up for me? (Ideally, in a way that won't constitute practicing law without a license)

-paul  14:52 EST | |

Contributing in Class 

I was innocently checking my email in Law & Development yesterday when the DNC sent me an email asking for a donation. And so I pulled out my credit card and send a little flow to the DNC. I recommend you do the same. It is so damn easy you can do it while thinking about the causality of legal reform in economic development.

So donate to the DNC now!

Confidential to Alex: 2L is so much better than 1L, I swear!

-Ziggy Stardust  09:47 EST | |

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Donning a Samurai sword and ninja mask... 

...for the protest march is apparently illegal. I don't know about the sword, but the mask is definitely illegal (this was the subject of some crap that Ziggy once brought home from law school).

This webpage describes the history of masks and their use in protest.
The autonomous indigenous community in Southern Mexico known as the Zapatistas wear masks to be faceless - to identify with the faceless victims of neo-liberalism and corporate globalization. Masks are also worn here in the U.S., for anonymity and solidarity as we struggle for a more human existence.
That's deep. The same webpage gives more all-encompassing advice on protest dress:

Outside of marches, all-black clothing is rather conspicuous, so our dress code should be "business casual." Sunglasses are suggested, the bigger the hipper. And hats are always in. Would you make the small sacrifice to cut your hair or take out your septum ring to stay out of jail? Racial and political profiling are commonly practiced here and we need you in the streets! When it is time to act, and if it is necessary, then mask up and perform. After your escape, the thing people will remember about you is the color of your kerchief (or your Yankees cap). Swap some clothes if that makes you feel more comfortable, then you're ready for Plan B.

Our tone here is light, but our message is serious - the use of masks is a tactic - one that should be used strategically. When making this decision, which ultimately is an individual one, time and place are important variables - especially in NYC where the state's position is cut-and-dry on the books. Be wise, be safe, we stay strong. Peace in our lives.
What are they encouraging?

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:22 EST | |

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Plame Game 

The Chicago Sun Times (actually, it came across the AP wire, but normal people can't access that now, can they?) has it that Matthew Cooper has agreed to talk with investigators about the Valerie Plame leak. Guess what? He was able to do it after being released from a confidentiality agreement by none other than Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libbey.

I don't know. I am so torn. Am I upset that a reporter is being forced to reveal his sources, or am I excited that someone might get to the bottom of this thing? I think the former, since I don't believe anyone big is going down over Plame.

-Ben  23:39 EST | |

Matrix and rain-making 

This may be old news, but Richard Posner is guest blogging for Lawrence Lessig, and has an interesting post for those of you who, unlike me, didn't fall asleep during the Matrix.

Also, in honor of my new flashy bio, you all should know that I'll be participating in the student group for professional ethics' first event, a 10K bike ride chasing a hired ambulance. Never too soon to prepare for the actual work, eh?

-Lucky  19:37 EST | |

Two Healthcare Pieces 

Here Hilary Clinton and Bill Frist get together in the Post to write down the standard conventional wisdom (unless you're a crazy libertarian) on healthcare reform, sans any details or ideas on how to get it done. The only novel thing about this is that it comes from a Democrat-Republican combo.

Brad DeLong is a bit more interesting in this piece. He mentions an idea (that New York State has already implemented) that makes anti-selection less of a problem for insurance companies:
The most important element is that Mr Kerry's people have dusted off a clever idea from Stuart Altman of Brandeis University: the government reinsures private insurers and HMOs by constructing a "premium rebate" pool to pay annual healthcare bills over $50,000. This greatly diminishes the cost to insurers and HMOs of covering the really sick, and diminishes their incentive to make sure they do not provide insurance to anyone who needs it. Insurance rates fall and, as they fall, the incentive for the healthy to go uninsured falls. It is a serious and clever proposal for the government to do something - spread risk - for which it has, potentially at least, a powerful comparative advantage. It is a government programme that would significantly diminish the market failures that gum up the private-sector portion of the healthcare-financing system.
The former Clinton advisor throws in the usual anti-Bush/pro-Clinton jab (who can blame him?):
The Clinton reform was blocked because, as Republican insider William Kristol wrote at the time, a successful Democratic party-led reform of America's healthcare-financing system would be a mortal threat to the Republican party. The Bush administration today seems to have only four goals: keeping pharmaceutical companies from having to sell drugs to anybody with any bargaining power; keeping Americans from buying drugs in Canada; making it difficult for women to obtain emergency contraception; and telling actuaries to keep their cost estimates secret.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:05 EST | |

Booby Prize  

Lately, when I describe my hellish job, I've been getting this response: "at least you don't have to think" or some other similar consolation to the effect that I should regard the total lack of mental stimulation and simplicity of this job as a good.

I am in the curious economic position of being willing to accept less pay for a job that is more demanding. I'm in the curious emotional position of wanting to rain down horrible violence on the people who believe that a job you don't think in is superior to one you do.

I don't find thinking to be some kind of burden like marathon running, but clearly many people do. I'm reminded of a line from the movie "Waking Life" where one character says that "the gulf between an average man and a monkey is narrower than the average man and a Nietzsche, or Einstein". While I don't put F.R. on any kind of pedestal, I think this is the case. Elitist? Yup.


-paul  11:04 EST | |

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Cap'n Crunch on freedom 

Why the U.S. and Canada will Eventually be at War (and why global warming is a very good thing) 

According to The Economist (subscription required for this article) and some science guys, The fabled Northwest Passage (see graphic*) lies above the inhabited part of Canada. This is a very special passage:
By some estimates, the Passage will within a decade become ice-free for much of the year. It would then offer a shipping channel from Europe to Asia some 7,000 kilometres (4,350 miles) shorter than the route through the Panama Canal.
The U.S. can't let its commie neighbor to the north extract fees from Euro/Asian ship traffic. These resources are necessary to achieve Bush's goal of "unquestioned military supremacy" over the next 1000 years of the Bush Dynasty. The ownership of this passage is disputed and this is why
Canada is therefore keener than ever to establish the sovereignty over the Arctic that it claimed in legislation in 1895. From time to time, America chooses literally to ram home its refusal to accept this claim. In 1969 an American supertanker, Manhattan,crashed through the Northwest Passage without Canada's permission (though it had to ask for help from a Canadian ice-breaker). The government of Pierre Trudeau responded by passing a law principally to proclaim a 160km-wide management zone over the Arctic waters.

The Canadians later argued that the Law of the Sea Convention gave them the right to regulate these ice-covered areas. But the United States has not signed the convention, and in 1985 sent its own ice-breaker, Polar Sea,through the Passage. American, British and Russian submarines have cruised merrily under the ice-pack without Canadian permission. In another rebuff to Canadian claims, a Chinese government research ship arrived unannounced at Tuktoyaktuk, east of the Mackenzie Delta, in 1999.

The spat over the Northwest Passage is not the only one in Arctic waters. The maritime boundary between Alaska and the Yukon, stretching north into the oil-rich Beaufort Sea, has never been agreed. Canada recently protested after America sold leases for the disputed zone.

Canada's lawyers say that its claim to sovereignty is well founded but could be abandoned by dereliction. Mr Martin's government is plainly not willing to let this happen. That is why it is conducting Exercise Narwhal around Pangnirtung, on Baffin Island. And just in case nobody cares or notices, a bigger military exercise is planned for 2006.
Military exercises? The U.S. defense budget is way bigger.

*This graphic was re-posted with implied oral, but not expressed written permission from The Economist.

P.S. Why is the U.S. leasing land that while maybe doesn't belong to Canada, clearly doesn't belong to the U.S.?

-Daddy Brooklyn  18:38 EST | |

because sometimes fake news more real than real news 

Last night's Daily Show (via Atrios):
STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontravertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

STEWART: So, basically, you're saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.

CORDDRY: No, Jon -- in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleages, challenging the president's activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They've apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in '71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized piñata. Jon -- they just want to set the record straight. That's all they're out for.

STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We'll be right back.

-Ben  18:28 EST | |

Say it ain't so, John 

Last night, I was exhaustively demonstrated that it was indeed impossible for Kerry to be in Cambodia when he said he was. My Dad served on PRBs in Vietnam (a much smaller, lighter boat than the swifts as seen in "Apocalypse Now") and was in Cambodia when Nixon said we weren't. The rivers that the U.S. entered Cambodia through were so shallow that a swift boat would have run aground.

My Dad took painstaking steps to show this to me, in the hopes I would no longer support Kerry. While my support for Kerry is unwavering [I would vote for the Cookie Monster, Robert Maplethorpe, and many others before Bush], why did he feel the need to distract from his sterling service record with an obvious lie?

Does Kerry not want to win? Is it some Skull and Bones debt he owes to Bush that's being called in, with the expectation he will throw the race?


-paul  11:14 EST | |

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Stem Cell Debate 

In my humble opinion, this WaPo op-ed on how Bush's policy hinders stem cell research is important to read.

Facts are misrepresented on both sides of this debate. Democrats frequently allude to a ban on stem cell research ordered by Bush, when it's not as if all stem cell research is now illegal. Given how much nascent scientific research depends on government funding, Bush ordered sort of a de facto ban when he bared funding for new stem cell sources, but there's no outright ban. The lies are even worse on the Republican side (does it surprise you that I sould write that?). The party talking points frequently make it sound like the stem cells available are all that researchers need.

I think the Bush position makes no sense. His restrictions still allow stem cells to be harvested in a very limited way, so he's not respecting the absolute pro-life position, but this is the logic he appeals to when he says that the embryos destined for the garbage can't be exploited for research.

As I understand it, fertility clinics go through tons of embryos, so more stem cell research wouldn't necessarily lead to many more sacrificed embryos.

Paul: sorry to always put you on the spot, but here goes. Do you think that stem cell research should be done at all? I'd be happy with a yes/no answer if that's all you care to write. For me, banning stem cell research on moral grounds gets dangerously close to claiming that masturbation kills billions every day.

-Daddy Brooklyn  18:39 EST | |

Name one Funny Republican  

In the alarmingly and increasing ignorant NYT posits that the left is "humorless". Where is the comedy coming from then? If you exclude pundits who say funny things from time to time, then I cannot think of one "republican comic". I would include Jeff Foxworthy, except he is a woefully unfunny moron. And probably a former union member. Bill Maher is certainly a right-leaning and an egomaniacal tool, and as such is a registered libertarian. Anybody else?

While I do think of certain "left" groups as easy to offend (If they don't teach cooking and cleaning at the women's studies department, what exactly are they doing? [see, many feminists would not find this funny; you may be one such person]) they still aren't humorless. Who thinks this?

Both political sides have shrill, shrill, panicy people who will freak out if you so much as alude to a counterveiling view. That the "liberal" NYT is reinforcing this Mallard Fillmore/Rush Limbaugh-created lie is quite dishearting.

Author's Note: Many republicans find me quite unfunny, even before my anit-Bush days. Its you humorless liberals that find me the funniest.

-paul  14:49 EST | |

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Since you thought about it 

SwiftVet Flip-Floppers 

Ben already linked to William Rood's (Rood is a former swift boat commander and an editor at the Chicago Tribune) first person account of the mission that's under so much scrutiny. You have to laugh when the SwiftVets say that Rood's decision to come forward in support of Kerry is "an obvious political move." Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, and other cliches.

On the same subject, these statements from SwiftVets are lifted directly from Kevin Drum's blog. Though most aren't factually contradictory, it's hard to reconcile today's all out attacks with the past praise.

THEN AND NOW....I've mentioned before that one of the reasons you shouldn't trust the SwiftVets group is that until recently a lot of them said nice things about John Kerry — and then suddenly refreshed their memories early this year. Some of those nice things were said to reporters during the past few years, some were said in official reports 36 years ago, while in other cases official documents directly contradict what they're saying today.



This probably isn't a complete list, but here's a quick recap of why nobody with a brain should trust a word they say:

Roy Hoffman, today: "John Kerry has not been honest."

Roy Hoffman, 2003: "I am not going to say anything negative about him — he's a good man."

Adrian Lonsdale, today: "He lacks the capacity to lead."

Adrian Lonsdale, 1996: "He was among the finest of those Swift boat drivers."

George Elliot, today: "John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam."
George Elliot, 1996: "The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is something not to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage."

Larry Thurlow, today: "...there was no hostile enemy fire directed at my boat or at any of the five boats operating on the river that day."

Larry Thurlow's Bronze Star citation, 1969: "...all units began receiving enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks."

Dr. Louis Letson, today: "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury."
Medical records, 1968: "Dr. Letson's name does not appear on any of the medical records for Mr. Kerry. Under 'person administering treatment' for the injury, the form is signed by a medic, J. C. Carreon, who died several years ago."

Grant Hibbard, today: "He betrayed all his shipmates. He lied before the Senate."
Hibbard's evaluation of Kerry, 1968: "Mr. Hibbard gave Mr. Kerry the highest rating of 'one of the top few' in three categories—initiative, cooperation and personal behavior. He gave Mr. Kerry the second-best rating, 'above the majority,' in military bearing."

They were either lying then or they're lying now. Take your pick. But either way, since there's no documentary evidence to back up their stories, the only thing going for them is their own personal credibility.

And that seems pretty thin, doesn't it?


-Daddy Brooklyn  14:31 EST | |

The transformation has begun 

So I just finished the law school's interview week where idealistic but poor law students go to sell out. Literally. I think Mark may be taking bets on how long it is before I am representing Phrama (Aubrey and I can work together) or going all the way and working directly for the RNC.

-Ziggy Stardust  11:10 EST | |

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Swift boat veterans (who actually served with him) for Kerry 

William Rood, who commanded one of the other swift boats on Feb 28 1969, the day so hotly contested, and who is now an editor for the Chicago Tribune, has come out with his version of events. Read it here.

This thing is driving me insane. It does not look like either side is bring completely forthcoming. I don't doubt that the Kerry campaign has failed to be 100% truthful, and I am certain that Swift Boat Veterans Against Kerry (SVBAK) are a bunch of crooks. Note also that you can not tell where SVBAK begins and BC'04 ends. I think their real beef is that Kerry spoke out against Vietnam, little else. Now, they are acting as a sort of mud-slinging shadow puppet for BC'04.

Hell, the group didn't even exist until after Kerry received the nomination - poor evidence of anything, but odd. If they had such strong hatred of Kerry, where were they when he ran for Senate?

Is Kerry playing this thing right? It seems like he lost his mind about it. He spent some of his limited federal funds to air an ad in response to the SVBAK commercial and now he draws more attention to the issue by filing an complaint with the FEC.

Left alone, would it have died? I don't know.

Ideally, SVBAK would be a small, angry group who was able to raise enough money to air an ad or two and get some press coverage before withering up and dying. Given their delayed response to this thing, I think this was the Kerry campaign's initial response.

It looks like they miscalculated. SVBAK have some serious financial backing and just recently boasted donations of $300,000 after their first ad (an ad that only aired in three states but was shown nationwide for free on copious news shows - damn liberal media). I am thinking that if they are left alone, SVBAK can keep this attack going right through election day.

If that is the case, then attacking this head on is the right play for Kerry at this point. If he can draw enough attention to it, and get the people who know the truth of this situation in to the lime light (as with Rood), this attack can be cut off before it gets worse.

Just like turning a swift boat into an ambush and standing your ground.

-Ben  14:07 EST | |

Friday, August 20, 2004

Sex causes drug use? 

Some study The Times reports on concludes that:
Teenagers who reported that at least half of their friends were sexually active were 31 times likelier to get drunk, 51/2 times likelier to smoke and 221/2 times likelier to have tried marijuana, according to the study, released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

"It's a clear message for parents," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., the center's chairman and president. "The thunder of teen sexual activity and dating behavior may signal the lightning of substance abuse."
Does one cause the other? Well, he's not saying this because it's silly to automatically infer a causal relationship between correlated data sets. (This is common sense, no?) In many cases, given two correlatd data sets, there is an underlying variable that has a causal link to both of the correlated phenomena. In this case I think that causal variable is obvious, though I've never heard of a study exploring it. Cool kids are more likely to do drugs, drink, and have sex. If you want your kids to avoid this stuff, make sure they're uncool. If someone went hunting for correlations between coolness and either drug abuse or promiscuity, I'm sure R2 would be damn near one. (That was for Paul, the future econometrician.)

UPDATE: His rhetorical device is kinda screwy. Lightning signals thunder. The other way don't make no sense.

-Daddy Brooklyn  17:54 EST | |

Couldn't have said it better myself 

This is too good not to share. Earlier today, Mark e-mailed me with the copy he imagined me saying in one of Morris's "conversion" ads.

"My name is Paul. I'm an assault rifle owning socially conservative Libertarian leaning Republican biblical literalist who's trained in economics. I'm voting for Kerry because Bush sucks that much."

Right on.

-paul  13:50 EST | |

First-Time Voters are Pro-Life? 

That's the conclusion drawn in the Weekly Standard.
On abortion, Pace Poll researchers slice the new voter demographic into four groups. There are those who believe "abortions should be legal and generally available" (21 percent); those who feel "regulation of abortion is necessary, although it should remain legal in many circumstances" (23 percent); those who say "abortion should be legal only in the most extreme cases, such as to save the life of the mother, incest, or rape" (41 percent); and those who think "all abortions should be made illegal" (13 percent). The survey shows that, essentially, 44 percent of new voters are pro-choice while 54 percent are pro-life. Among first-time Latino voters, pro-lifers outnumber pro-choicers 61 percent to 34 percent; among blacks, the pro-life/pro-choice breakdown is 59 percent/42 percent. Self-described "moderates" similarly tend to be more pro-life (52 percent) than pro-choice (45 percent).

-Daddy Brooklyn  11:16 EST | |

What was the name of that Metallica record again?  

Uh, no, not "...And Justice for All"... not "loaded" or "reloaded"... it was really early...no, not "Master of Puppets"... Oh, that's right! Kill 'em All.

-paul  10:40 EST | |

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Hang Down Your Head Mc-Greevy, Hang Down Your Head and Cry 

Maybe a high-profile confession of homosexual infidelity was a bad way to draw attention from cracks appearing in a facade of corruption.

-paul  16:01 EST | |

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Electoral College update 

Do you remember the computer program I wrote that takes a list of swing states (and more importantly, Kerry's odds of winning each swing state) and then enumerates all of the outcomes in which Kerry wins along with the probability of each outcome? Of course you do.

I just ran an updated forecast. I used the numbers from tradesports.com's futures market for the presidential election. According to Tradesports the swing states left (with Kerry's chances for a win in parenthesis) are: FL (49%), IA (62%), MO (45%), OH (43%), WV (48%), and WI (56%). Superficially, these numbers don't look that good for Kerry, but that's because--according to the wisdom collected and aggregated by Tradesports--many of the swing states have already broken for Kerry. Tradesports says that relative biggies like IL, PA, MI, MN, are decidely pro-Kerry.

All of this means that Kerry needs 23 electoral votes out of the 80 that are available. Given this list of swing states, there are 51 ways for that to happen and the probability that one of those ways will occur is 77.5%!

By the way, you should beware of someone who takes a bunch of data off of a gambling website and then produces a win probability to three significant digits. Nonetheless, these number are encouraging. With IL, MI, and MN solidly behind Kerry, from a combinatorial standpoint there just aren't that many ways for Bush to win.

If you assume that Kerry has only a 70% chance of winning PA, that drops his chances of winning the whole election to 66%. Kind of shocking, no? Drop PA to 50% and Kerry's chances for winning drop to 59%. It seems that PA is key. Is this what the pundits say?

UPDATE: Ziggy asked me to look at this scenario. If PA goes to Kerry and Bush wins (steals?) both OH and FL then Kerry's chances don't look so good. Under this scenario, Kerry must win MO and then at least two of IA, WV, and WI. His chances to do this are just 25%.

-Daddy Brooklyn  22:56 EST | |

Homosexual Tearfully Admits To Being Governor Of New Jersey 

Murderous apes become highly organized rational actors 

In no more than the blink of an eye, in evolutionary time, these suspicious and untrusting creatures, these "shy, murderous apes", developed co-operative networks of staggering scope and complexity—networks that rely on trust among strangers...The requirements for such co-operation...are more demanding than you might suppose....

...Co-operation would nonetheless quickly break down if individuals could enjoy the advantages of division of labour without making a contribution of their own. Two traits were needed, says Mr Seabright, to bring the fruits of co-operation within reach, and evolution had equipped humans with both—accidentally, as it were. The first was an intellectual capacity for rational calculation. The second, somewhat at odds with the first, was an instinct for reciprocity—a tendency to repay kindness with kindness and betrayal with revenge, even when rational calculation might seem to advise against it...

..."Like chimpanzees, though with more deadly refinement, human beings are distinguished by their ability to harness the virtues of altruism and solidarity, and the skills of rational reflection, to the end of making brutal and efficient warfare against rival groups." This is what makes our everyday life fragile, as well as surprising.

This is from the Economics focus article in the Economist this week. As usual, it's very interesting. You should check it out.

-Daddy Brooklyn  20:25 EST | |

Switching teams 

Political, that is. This is an interesting article from the New Yorker about a guy who is making a series of ads that feature Republicans who are not going to vote for Bush this year. The vignettes featured in the article are powerful- at least to me. He chose people who are stereotypically hard-core Republicans who have genuine concerns about the leadership in this country right now.... I'm encouraged/intrigued.

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/

-Jess  09:06 EST | |

Monday, August 16, 2004

Who knew? 

What's this all about? 

Speaking of Foucault  

Play this great game, in which you destroy the text of "what is an author" Space Invaders-style.

-paul  20:31 EST | |

Gas prices 

Does anyone who reads this know how they calculate the "average price" if gasoline so often reported in financial news? If it's just an average of pump prices, then local tax issues will distort logistic issues of getting oil to the consumer. I may look this up myself, in time...

-paul  19:39 EST | |

What, then, makes you 'gay'?  

If you have sex with men, you are gay, or a "homosexual" of one type. "Homo" is derived from greek meaning "the same". So a "homosexual" is one who is sexual with "the same" i.e. his or her respective gender.

In twists of logic that makes "What is an Author?" look like a bus schedule, some african-americans are having sex with memebers of their gender, but somehow refuse to identify as gay.

-paul  18:14 EST | |

Has anyone here read "Checkpoint"?  

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it. If you haven't, what the hell? It's 120 pages of light reading. Don't be a wimp. Its worth the $11.

-paul  17:46 EST | |

Prescription for the Daily Blues 

For reasons that are not clear to me, you can now have Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther" e-mailed to you, one letter at a time.

"You are Wilhelm!" exclaims the page. And who could refuse that privilege? Werther may be the most dislikable character in literature. I think I had more sympathy for the psychiatrist in "Naked Lunch". W.H. Auden called him a "terrible little monster". Now you can have that terrible little monster daily telling you about how moonlight made him cry, dancing made him cry, and crying made him cry, about the nobility in suicide, and the girl he simply CANNOT and WILL NOT get over. If you've never gotten an e-mail that made you want to give a fictional character from the 1700's a wedgie, this can change that.

-paul  11:55 EST | |

Friday, August 13, 2004

New search page 

unpaid advertisement>

By now, everyone is probably familiar with Amazon.com's recently added ability to search text in many of the books it sells.

Bezos and the gang have taken this one step further: an entire search site, A9

Looks interesting. Among the nifty features are the ability to store past search results, search the web and every book on Amazon, and to keep a diary with notes on web pages, books, and anything else you might find with your browser.

Could be a handy dandy research tool.

/unpaid advertisement>

-Ben  22:54 EST | |

Got 'em 

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Instable income and spurious metrics  

Because I am lazy, I am commenting in post form.

I've never heard of "income stability", but the author mentioned below uses the term like its "unemployment" or "GDP".

I'm not sure, but stability is not what we usually are concerned with. For example, "stable" is generally a bleak prospect for GDP or unemployment. Economists and other hangers-on care about relative growth, usually. Unfortunately, this commie bastard is a political "scientist".

I think I want an income that is more unstable. Hell, too much "stability" and you will be impoverished by inflation. Stability is also a piss-poor way of accounting for the economic security of commissioned sales people or farm owners/operators.

Mark, I think that this idea is so poor, that it is impossible to meaningfully quantify (although, I don't have a stack of math degrees, so who knows?).

Real income can be affected by inflation (basket-of-goods), the exchange rate, and the likelihood of getting hired and/or fired. One number that goes from "good" to "bad" in cardinal numbers and incorporates these phenomena would be quite tricky.

I think we live in a time where numeracy is so very, very low that people almost beg for spurious metrics and notions. In fact, I bet only Mark knows the difference between ordinal and cardinal numbers. For you unwashed readers: "Ordinals" are birds from Baltimore, and of course, "Cardinals" are child molesters.

Instead of trying to quantify income instability, how about "electablity"? The press and pundits throw the term around like it is "martial arts ability" or some other skill. I think its closer to the classic "know it when I see it" obscenity definition.

"Voting Power" I think is just bad writing, which should read "political power".


-paul  16:58 EST | |

You're going to need more than flowers 

WaPo outing itself on lack of contrary pre-war coverage:
In October 2002...a former national security editor for the Wall Street Journal who has been covering such issues for 15 years, turned in a piece that he titled "Doubts." It said that senior Pentagon officials were resigned to an invasion but were reluctant and worried that the risks were being underestimated. Most of those quoted by name in the Ricks article were retired military officials or outside experts. The story was killed.
Gee thanks, WaPo, for the hindsight driven apology. While were at it, I'll say thanks to the NYT, since they have been apologizing for awhile. How about if next time, one of the country's largest and most respected newspapers stands up to the bullies and writes on both sides, instead of just half?
Source: TP

-Ben  14:55 EST | |

The Facts 

I clicked through on an "anti-drug" ad. I was shocked to learn the following:

  • Some people use things called "blunts" in order to smoke crack (which is very bad) and marijuana at the same time.
  • Marijuana is bad for your lungs, just like cigarettes.
  • People who smoke once a month are a little brighter than those who smoke daily. (No word yet on those who smoke once a month compared to those who never smoke.)


If you or your child needs to score in an unfamiliar area, this will help with the lingo.

Do you have any African woodbines?

-Daddy Brooklyn  00:04 EST | |

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wise and hilarious words 

From Updike's Rabbit is Rich:

"That's why we love disaster, Harry sees, it puts us back in touch with guilt and sends us crawling back to God. Without a sense of being in the wrong we're no better than animals. Suppose the baby had aborted at the very moment he was watching that olive chick with the rolling tongue tug down her tinsel underpants to her knees and peek at the audience from behind her shoulder while tickling her asshole with that ostrich feather: he'd feel terrible."

Amen.

-Ziggy Stardust  21:24 EST | |

Helping Mark out... 

Unstable Incomes 

I just finished reading a piece in The New Republic on something called "income instability." Apparently
At its peak in the mid-'90s, income instability was almost five times as great as it was in the early '70s, and, although it dropped somewhat during the late '90s (my data end in 1999), it has never fallen below twice its starting level.

Very scary. But what the hell is "income instability"? I have no idea whether or not I should care about this. The author says that "no standard economic statistic tries to assess the stability of family income," so his statistic isn't something that the reader (or I) should be familiar with, yet he doesn't define it.

If somebody said to me, "Mark, make up a statistic showing that income instability was almost x times as great as it was in the early '70s," I bet I could come up with something plausible. That's why I hate articles like this. I'm done.

-Daddy Brooklyn  20:59 EST | |

The Sportsman 

I've got your "silver bullet" right here, Richey Rich 

I hate Pete Coors. The smug, inbred mimbo who's lifetime achievement was inheriting a brewery, will now run for senate. This may sound like some wild, far flung liberalism, but just because you are rich, does not mean you are qualified to serve in the senate.

Lucky for Pete, his stomach-lacerating swill has also dulled the mind of the Colorado public. You love Coors beer, you love Coors field, you love Pete Coors. If you're a republican, Owens and company smugly assert, you have to vote Coors.

Well, Pete, I think your beer fucking sucks, and your stadium fucking sucks, and you are little more than a mistake of biology. I will NOT vote for Pete Coors, and if anyone out there has any advice on how to start a 527, let me know. It'll be called "Coloradoans Against Electing a Drug Lord".

In a similar vein, I hate Bill Owens, and will do whatever it takes and go to the ends of the earth to make sure he is never the republican candidate for president.

-paul  11:27 EST | |

Wanna-Be Softcore Porn and Poetry, Together At Last 

Read this. And here's an exerpt from a man who is self-described as someone who "may be one of the best poets of the first quarter of the 21st Century":
Never Go Back
Never go back. Never go back.
Never surrender the future you've earned.
Keep to the track, to the beaten track,
Never return to the bridges you've burned.
That means, by my estimation, that I must also be one of the best poets of the first quarter of the 21st Century. Or, at least one of the best poets who is writing at exactly the same time I decide to write a poem. For that span of no more than an hour, I must be at least one of the people who is doing the best work at that exact moment.

Also, "luscious spokesbabes" and supermodels have the same effect on me as they do on the subject of this article -- they make me want myself more. When I lift that Coors light to my lips, it's the approving nod of that hot girl standing in the middle of the party smiling at me in my mind that really makes that beer taste like something other than urine. Thank you, pretty girl. Of course, I must give credit to the man for this being the only truly insightful thing he says (points subtracted, of course, for the fact that he is not, in fact, aware that he said something smart).

-Matt  07:18 EST | |

Teaching...nothing 

I've long dreamed of opening a school where I just taught people whatever came to my mind, be it true or obviously false. I never went forward with my dream as I was under the impression that no such market for BS existed. But I was wrong. And it looks like someone beat me to the punch.

-Matt  06:49 EST | |

Odditorium 

If you're gonna be that older, creepy uncle-type relative at the wedding who's always staring at the bride in a way that makes everyone uncomfortable, be sure not to take it too far. You just might get eaten.

-Matt  06:40 EST | |

Time for a little poetry 

AS I WALKED OUT ONE EVENING

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.


-W.H. Auden, 1937

-Ziggy Stardust  00:12 EST | |

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

CO primary 

Colorado primaries were today. Looks like the senate race is locked up: Salazar vs Coors.

-Ben  22:53 EST | |

Most Liberal Senator, I wish... 

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Cover blown 

What's going on with this blown cover thing?

If you haven't heard about it, here's a rundown:
The al-Qaida suspect named by U.S. officials as the source of information that led to this week’s terrorist alerts was working undercover, Pakistani intelligence sources said Friday, putting an end to the sting operation and forcing Pakistan to hide the man in a secret location.

Under pressure to justify the alerts in three Northeastern cities, U.S. officials confirmed a report by The New York Times that the man, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, was the source of the intelligence that led to the decision.

A Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters on Friday that Khan, who was arrested in Lahore secretly last month, had been actively cooperating with intelligence agents to help catch al-Qaida operatives when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers.
The whole thing hasn't been covered well, but it sounds like the man helped get information that led to last week's terror warnings, and his outing by the NYT last monday led to the premature arrest of 12 Al Queda suspects in London.

Kevin Drum has some interesting thoughts on the matter. He is looking for the political angle on this thing, suggesting that the Bush administration had to reveal the man as a source in order to back up the terror warnings and prove they weren't just wagging the dog. Kos and Juan Cole are working the same angle.

For my part, I hope that the guy's usefulness did not extend beyond the emails he sent and that the 12 AQ suspects were about to be arrested anyway. Else, someone royally messed this thing up.

-Ben  12:07 EST | |

Friday, August 06, 2004

What should have been 2 posts, but is one 

I wish I was rich enough to really help those people...
If you are like me, you have watched as what the press whimsically refers to as a "humanitarian crisis" continues to worsen in Sudan. If you are like me, you have wished and wished that you had the means to deploy a private army to wipe out the Janjui. Someday, with the Lord's blessing, I will be rich enough to act unilaterally.

100 soliders with machine guns could prevent a cruel and unabated bloodbath, while the rest of the world goes on ringing its hands. I wasn't going to say it, but now I will: if they where killing Jews in Sudan, or anybody else with oil rights, we'd probably be there already.

Satirical Rant, Sudan:

But, (how silly of me) I forgot they are black people, so I guess I should stop worrying. And, on top of that, they are poor! The only crisis I see, is a crisis of bleeding heart crap keeping me from thinking about NASCAR and "Everybody loves Raymond" (I know I do!)

Oh! Wait! Here comes that NASCAR thought! FAST CAR GO VROOOOOM! Four More Years!

-paul  17:07 EST | |

I'm Dead, bitch! 

Did someone say deathcamps?  

From the NYT (which you can tell I am reading thoroughly):

Diane Roscoe, who weighs 625 pounds, cannot walk and gets around by wheelchair with the help of a home-care assistant. But she is militantly content with her size. "I'm not going to change myself for society," she says.

I find this utterly sickening on so many levels that I don't have time to list them all. The title sums it up.

-paul  15:46 EST | |

Ha ha! 

Why oh Why is our economy in ruins?  

From the NYT about Russia:

The land of vodka is awash in beer, in cafes, restaurants and bars, naturally, but also in the subway, on the sidewalk, in parks and virtually any other public place. At any time of the day Russians young and old - whether slacking students standing in gaggles or smartly dressed businessmen (or women) striding to and from work - are apt to appear in public, bottle in hand.

-paul  11:57 EST | |

Thursday, August 05, 2004

SUVs are illegal in most of the country! 

I hate SUVs.

Their hugeness endangers other drivers and perversely, many SUVs are more likely kill their occupants than regular cars because they roll so easily. And that one time per year that I drive some SUV invariably blocks my view when I want to turn. They guzzle gas and tear up roads too.

This isn't the SUV's fault, but the SUV related thing I hate most is that owners of really huge SUVs, 6000 lb+ SUVs, can call the things work trucks are write off their entire cost.

I never thought about it, but all over this country there are signs that say something like "No trucks over 6000 lbs, GVWR." These signs are everywhere in Colorado Springs. A Slate editor noticed that:
every big SUV and pickup is too heavy for my street. Here's just a sampling: The Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, the Range Rover, the GMC Yukon, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Sequoia, the Lincoln Navigator, the Mercedes M Class, the Porsche Cayenne S, and the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup (with optional Hemi). What about the Hummer, you ask? Hasta la vista, baby!


I can't wait until local official wise up and start enforcing these laws.

-Daddy Brooklyn  12:46 EST | |

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No, Kids, I'm a Math-a-magician.  

An interesting piece from slate on whether math is a sport. The sports ontology I find myself most frequently defending is that of skateboarding. If synchronized swiming is a sport, skateboaring is. Not that anyone here really could be described as a "sports nut"... Read the article anyway.

-paul  14:20 EST | |

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Falling Buildings 

I read in Slate that the Citicorp Center--the one that's been in the news and surrounded by men with M-16s lately--had to undergo emergency structural repairs so that it wouldn't fall down during the kind of severe storm that hits New York an average of every sixteen years. This whole story, called The Fifty-Nine Story Crisis, first appeared in the New Yorker and is available here.

-Daddy Brooklyn  21:00 EST | |

The Blog Revolution 

Bounce! Bounce! I said 'cmon Bounce! 

Axis of Criminally Partisan Douche Bags  

Has anyone seen the blind, stupid, immoral 93% of republicans who are certain they are voting for Bush? If you do, tell 'em I said to go to hell.

-paul  13:42 EST | |

Monday, August 02, 2004

Axis of Shemales  

WTF? The State of Iran and those sexy mullahfuckers the Clerics support, and some times pay for sex change operations. In fact, one Cleric paid for the operation and then married one of his former secretaries. (Something about that seems a little "iffy," from the professional behavior standpoint)

The catch? Well, homosexuality is wrong, but if you are signifigantly surgically altered, its not! Dig that crazy islam! No word yet on the official position on the "babies" produced by these unions.

Hmmm.... Whom else can I offend with this post? Uh, your mother is funny looking.

-paul  13:48 EST | |

Sunday, August 01, 2004

The feminists are in league with the homosexuals... 

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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