Saturday, December 31, 2005

Egregious Cuteness

Here's the deal. I really want this blog to grow and attract readers who enjoy it. To do that, posting has to be regular and frequent. That isn't always possible for me, however.

So: on any day when I can't make a substantive post or two, I will - hand to heaven - find a photo of something disgustingly cute. By extension, if you drop by in the morning and there's a picture of a bunny trying to lick a baby duck, you can pretty much guess that no essays on the political philosophy of trilingualism are forthcoming, and you can just enjoy the bunny-licking in peace. Deal?

Try this one on for size:

If your basic reaction to this photo is not "aww, wook at the puppy dog, he want to pway!" then there is something very wrong with you. You were probably raised by secret Communists, and should seek therapy.

Stolen without shame or remorse from Cute Overload.

Happy New Year

Here's hoping that 2006 is a tremendous year for all of you. Thanks so much for dropping by and reading. God bless!

And if anyone wants to come over and take down the lights, put away the tree, and disassemble the animatronic reindeer for me - that'd be GREAT, because I am swamped.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Microsoft Lost the API War

Interested in software development? This used to be my world, and I'm glad to be out of it. Things are a mess.

Invade Canada!

This blog has a coherent Canada policy. On even days, we advocate for the conquest of Canada and its reinvention as an American frontier province and overflow Wal-Mart parking lot. On odd days, we assert that Canada is an urban legend, and that there is nothing north of the 49th parallel but icebergs, caribou, and the occasional Inuit.

Now we find that the Army has a plan. (Well, they had a plan 70 years ago...who knows if they've kept it up to date.)

It seems a little silly, but it is generally a good idea to have contingency plans in place for things like this. You never know what those wily Canucks might be up to...

(H/t The Corner.)

Iraq War Winding Down?

The picture pretty much says it all. The spike in Aug/Sep '05 is from the 1000+ deaths at the tragic mosque disaster - a singular event; other than that, the terrorists have basically seen their ability to inflict casualties reduced to nearly nothing. Graph prepared by Gateway Pundit.

(H/t Instapundit.)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cranking Grants Today

I am cranking grants today (and probably through the weekend) for a client, so posting may be light.

Or I may see things and be sparked to post anyway.

There's a huge kerfuffle going on over at Alas, where some hardcore feminists are irked that Amp doesn't run his blog the way they would run his blog, if it were their blog to run. Or something.

If you'd rather see something cute, look at this little bunny:

There, political disputation and cute bunnies. What more could you ask?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Welcome to Earth, Preston Davis Green

Vodkapundit is now Vodkadaddy. This is a darn cute newborn!

(H/T Protein Wisdom.)

The Philosophy War

Jeff casts the GWOT in a philological/philosophical context. Very interesting.

Sacco & Vanzetti: Guilty

Hey, nothing's more fun than drudging up century-old leftist controversies!

A recently publicized letter from Upton Sinclair reveals that the old socialist stalwart knew that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty, but wrote in their defense anyway. His wife feared he would be killed by "the movement" if he failed to adhere to the party line.

( passwords for that LA Times link:

(H/T NRO.)

Chicago Tribune: Bush Didn't Lie

The Chicago Tribune performs a thorough analysis of the Bush Administration's case for war against Iraq and concludes that Bush did not attempt to mislead the country.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Decriminalizing Abortion: A Data Point

I have heard or read pro-choicers saying that legal restrictions on abortion do not reduce its incidence. Some of the evidence I have seen presented supports that contention.

Here's a data point on the other side of the fence. Spain decriminalized abortion for rape, malformation of the fetus, and pregnancies that represent a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman in 1985. Since 1995, the abortion rate has spiked by 72%. (The article doesn't say what happened between 1985 and 1995.)

The Ten Worst Americans

All Things Beautiful has a challenge to the blogosphere: name the 10 worst Americans of all time. Of course this is done on a day when I have no time, but oh well. Henceforth, the unresearched, off-the-top-of-my-head list, in no particular order.

1. Woodrow Wilson. Dragged us into a stupid European war which had no "good guys", and saddled the planet with the notion of a busybody world power. Thanks, Woodie.

2. Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton (tie). Holding down the black man by telling him he's being held down by the white man and can't get up.

3. David Duke. New rule, Dave: NO NAZIS.

4. Madonna. Spends 20 years whoring it up, and is now lecturing us about good parenting and sexual morality. Also, her music stinks on ice.

5. Pat Buchanan. A case can be made for nationalism. A (weak) case can be made for socialism. See nominee #3 for the prohibition on combining the two. Pat isn't intrinsically a bad guy from what I understand, but he's made it a lot harder to advocate sensible policies on immigration by conflating those policies with a particularly unattractive brand of nativism.

6. FDR. Not for lying us into war - that was the right thing to do. (And if you want to have a huge amount of fun with an anti-Bush liberal, ask them to explain the difference between what FDR did and what Bush is doing. Be sure to mention the Japanese internment camps, and ask how come putting hundreds of thousands of American citizens into camps is somehow less objectionable than listening in on some phone calls to Algeria.) No, he makes the list for his grotesque, irreversibly stupid expansion of the federal state. Jerk.

7. Bill Clinton, for degrading the office of the President.

8. Every man who has contributed to an abortion by being sexually reckless, economically improvident, or unwilling to step up to his responsibilities; every woman who's had an abortion who saw a reasonable path to avoid it.

9. Michael Jackson.

10. Jeff Goldstein. That man is sick, I tell you. I have pictures.

Learning From Katrina

The immediate aftermath of Katrina - when local responders failed and there was no immediate assistance available from higher governmental echelons - revealed a failure in the ability of government to meet a legitimate need (for rescue and succor). It also revealed a failure on the part of the free market - a rudimentary analysis indicates that an extremely profitable opportunity exists in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. There may have been non-market reasons for the failure of the enterprise to materialize - reasons which one suspects have now been blown away, along with a great deal of the Gulf Coast.

It would be a relatively simple matter to organize and deploy a Brown Water Response Fleet, consisting largely of freighters and shallow-draft craft and security barges supplemented by small helicopter carriers and medical frigates. The freighters would be largely filled with relief supplies. The fleet as a whole would do search and rescue, evacuations, reconnaisance, first-response supplementation and other appropriate duties in the aftermath of major disasters such as coastal earthquakes or hurricanes.

The fleet would operate in a heightened response mode during hurricanes, following the storm track and providing aid as needed. The off season would be spent in training, workups, vacation, refit, etc.

As a private entity, the fleet would have to cooperate with local authority, of course. This can be facilitated by operating only in areas or regions which have subscribed to the service. Premiums could be paid by coastal towns and communities on a services-rendered basis, plus an operating cost premium to cover the fixed costs of the fleet. Thus, the fleet would always operate on the black, with profits coming directly from services actually rendered - no gouging, no bad PR.

Discussion welcome.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Best. Christmas. Ever.

What a magnificent Christmas we had this year!

We went to a nice Christmas Mass up in Monument with my parents on Saturday evening, and Steph was an angel, as per usual. Then ham, scalloped potatoes, tasty green beans with bacon, and delicious rolls at the old homestead.

On Sunday, mom and dad came down to the Springs and opened presents. Again as usual, missy was a delight, and opened all her presents with enthusiasm and joy. In what is developing as a theme for her, the most joy and happiness derived from tiny, inexpensive pieces of plastic which were immediately integrated into her rich cast of fantasy characters. This time it's the Bob-Oh, a little green man on a spring that is allegedly to be used for stress relief. Although this was technically my gift from the in-laws, she appropriated it; we are now reliably informed that Bob-Oh is a "gween gwasshoppa" and that he likes to eat Christmas trees. That and the animated snowman who sings Christmas songs were her big hits. A new monitor for me and satellite radio for the missus rounded out the gift catalog this year. I will not be posting about the new monitor because pictures of me drooling and gloating are not in the Christmas spirit.

My wife went all-out on the snackables and made a turkey and rice soup that was to die for. A quiet afternoon of movies and an evening of couch cuddling made the day complete. A plate of leftover pumpkin pie lurks in the refrigerator, waiting to reward me for my post-Christmas exertions.

I can't recall a nicer, more pleasant day.

NY Times Ends Year in the Tank

It couldn't have happened to nicer people.

(H/T American Digest.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bush Breaks 50 Percent Approval

President Bush's approval rating has topped 50 percent for the first time since July.

One suspects that the American population is more concerned with whether the Administration is going after terrorists, than whether they have filled in the proper paperwork. The Democrats' tin ear on national security politics is the gift that never stops giving.

Disillusioning Children on the Public Dime

Unbelievable. A substitute teacher in a Pennsylvania school told her 6- and 7-year old pupils that there was no Santa.

The teacher is philosophically correct. Kids have to learn the truth, and 6 is probably the age when the story starts to fall apart on its own under the inquisitive minds of the children. (Heck, Stephanie is three, and I'd wager she already has an inkling that Santa, like Dora and Boots and her other TV friends, is "pretend" rather than "real".)

But it isn't the teacher's job to transition kids into a better understanding of Christmas.

The Deaf Shall Hear...

Another blessing of modern technology: ear implants to permit the deaf to hear.

What an age to live in!

Japan's Population Declines for First Time

Interesting; the changing demographics of Japan have caused the nation's first-ever population decline.

It will be interesting to see if the Japanese social model can persist in a negative-growth scenario. I personally doubt that it can, but the present and coming Japanese hyperinvestment in automation and robotics (to prevent having to import foreign labor, which is largely culturally unacceptable to the Japanese) will end up paying big dividends for everybody else.

Republican Homeless Activism

Ted Hayes doesn't look like a Republican - nor does he act like the media caricature of one, what with establishing the Dome Village homeless rehabilitation project in Los Angeles.

Apparently the Dome Village's Democrat landlord doesn't like having Republicans going around doing good, saying "This Democrat is tired of supporting Ted and his Dome Village."

Can You Say "Ugly"?

Sure you can!

Why Be in Iraq?

A commenter over at Feministe asks me how the invasion of Iraq serves the war on terror. My (slightly edited) response:

The specific enemy that the GWOT is most concerned with is a brand of militant Islamic irredentism/imperialism that has failed to make a sufficient foothold in the population to be democratically viable. (Think the Nazis if Hitler hadn't managed to squeak out electoral victory.)

Saddam Hussein's Iraq exemplified one possible variant of the state such folk would establish; Afghanistan under the Taliban, the other. Secular or religious in nature, it's essentially the Nazis, Islamic style. Some of the would-be tyrants, like bin Laden, have global visions. Others, like Saddam, were more regional in scope - so far as we know. (What proof would we have of Hitler's geopolitical intentions, if he had been stopped and deposed after knocking over Czechoslovakia in 1938-1939? None that would stand up.)

Deposing the Iraqi state and re-establishing it under at least reasonably republican principles drives a stake into the global aspirations of the bin Laden wannabes. Can I become a feared terrorist warlord? Sure, kid. Can I set up my own private empire with cities and palaces and nuclear bombs? Well, uh, no. Because if you do, the Americans will come and kick seven kinds of hell out of you.

Palaces, unfortunately for the bad guys, have fixed street addresses.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Questioning Authority

Do you remember when you lost your respect for authority?

I do. I was just reminded of it, while re-reading Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather", which has a small subplot about children's drawings of houses and chimneys with smoke spiraling out.

I was in the second grade, I believe, and our teacher was telling us about wind. As part of the lesson, she asked us to draw a house with a chimney and smoke coming out, and to show how the wind could blow the smoke.

I had become very interested in wind not long before (so powerful, and invisible, a force, must be explained) and had been watching things blow around for some time before this assignment. The thing I had found most interesting was how wind, especially in physically crowded environments, took on multiple directions - deflected by objects, generally. I would note how a bush would be blowing in one direction on the ground, but occasionally in a somewhat different direction higher up. I also noticed that wind could change direction very suddenly, and things would sometimes blow one way and then the other.

So I eagerly drew a picture of a house with a chimney, and smoke blowing in two directions at once - to the left as it came out of the chimney and to the right higher up.

The teacher didn't accept my drawing. She said that wind only blew one direction at a time. I attempted to explain to her that my drawing was based on empirical observation - not interested. Not only that, she didn't put my picture up on the wall with the others.

And my reaction was, essentially, "what an idiot" - along with resentment about not getting my picture on the board, of course.. It struck me, very hard, that just because someone was a teacher (later, generalized to other authorities) didn't mean that they knew jack. That was not the first time that I was right while a teacher was wrong, nor the last, but it was definitely formative. (Hey, I remember it vividly after 30 years, so it must have been important.)

Note to self: when daughter asserts a different set of facts, be willing to listen and investigate, so as not to destroy my own authority by being the dumb-ass who doesn't know that the wind can blow in more directions than one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Cynicism about world...draining away...

being replaced by...warm fuzzy feelings...


Destroy all your irony, despair and angst with one

(H/T Feministe.)

FISA and Surveillance

NRO's George Conway has a balanced take on the question, and he looks at the legalities in a way that I'm not able to do right now.
It seems to me that it’s a good idea for the Government to be doing what the President says it’s doing. But is it legal? It seems that the Government’s surveillance program probably legal under the Constitution, but, unfortunately, it’s not clear that it is legal under the 1978 federal statute governing foreign intelligence gathering, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA.
George's intro very gently points out that the political case is going to be very hard for the Democrats to make, however. The American people expect that we're listening to Al Qaeda sigint. A failure to touch the proper base in that effort isn't going to have any traction for anyone except the already frothingly anti-Bush hard left.

Update: Mark Levin disagrees somewhat with George's position in this Corner posting.

Children at Play

Interesting piece in Slate about children and their imaginative play. The author says that kids are actually intuitive scientists, constructing and experimenting with various narratives in order to understand the world:
Suppose we combine the idea that children are devoted intuitive scientists and the idea that play allows children to learn freely without the practical constraints of adulthood. We can start to see why there should be such a strong link between childhood and fantasy. It's not that children turn to the imaginary instead of the real—it's that a human being who learns about the real world is also simultaneously learning about all the possible worlds that stem from that world. And for human children those possibilities are unconstrained by the practical exigencies of adult survival.
This matches what I recall from childhood, and seems to gel with my observations of Steph's (extremely vivid and active) imaginary life. Read the whole thing.

Rethinking Darwin

If you haven't been following the ID story because you haven't wanted to do the digging to get the straight scoop on intelligent design, this introductory article seems very even-handed. (Score one for the paper-and-ink media.)

Finding even-handedness really seems to be the problem in this whole controversy. Everyone you read seems to be partisan. (I have my suspicions as to who is right, but there's a big empty area of my mental desk marked "put new data here as it comes in".)

(No cracks about other big empty areas of my mental desk.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stalin Sought Ape-Man Soldiers

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin sought to create ape-man soldiers, according to an article in the Scotsman. The methods employed were ludicrous; suffice it to say there were female chimpanzees involved.

It is interesting to consider that a similar effort made today might well succeed. We now have a basic understanding of the genome. We would know where to start, in such research. Practical? Who knows.

As far as I know, no one plans to try.

On the other hand, in 1900, not too many people would have foreseen Joseph Stalin.

Break the Strike

The NYU Transit Strike is on.

I believe this strike should be broken. The strikers are public workers, forbidden by law to strike. Such strikes are inexcusable; public servants are just that. I speak as a former state employee.

The strikers have no right to endanger the lives of millions of New Yorkers who will be cut off from access to medical care, food, and employment. This is a situation that requires direct and vigorous action.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A New Blog Verb

I introduce a new blog verb: to Marcotte. (MAR-kot)

To Marcotte is to misinterpret an analogy (whether through abysmal misreading or malicious intent) in an extreme, bizarre, or otherwise conversation-destroying fashion.


Commenter 1, attempting to explain why he thinks open borders are a bad idea: "It's like having a house. You invite lots of people over, but you don't leave the front door open 24/7 and put a neon sign out front that says "welcome, free drinks".

Commenter 2: "So you're saying that Mexican immigrants are all alcoholics? That's appalling!"


(1) Used prophylactically, to introduce an analogy into a conversation: "I really hope you're not going to Marcotte this analogy...imagine that you're on a beach, and..."

(2) Used descriptively, to summarize or accentuate a recapping of an argument: "and then she Marcotted his argument and of course the thread went to hell."

The Role of the Blogger in the News Media

An excellent viewpoint from Dan Riehl. Key graf:
The next, and arguably the only genuinely effective step in combating media bias is not hypothetically pronouncing, or even objectively proving it so. If the blogosphere is to be anything more than a hodgepodge of on line diarists, or right and left-wing pontificates fueling an already burning fire, the next real step for the blogosphere must be reportage - the gathering of facts, quotes, data and trust worthy ground level observations realistically depicting a story or event.
That was my intenti0n with BNN. It turns out to be surprisingly difficult to do; basically, I couldn't figure out a way to make it work (economically). To incentivize people to do real reporting, you have to pay them. They'll give you their opinions for free, but reporting is work and work requires money. But online routine news reporting doesn't generate enough revenue to pay anything. Super-hot stories do - I imagine that if Dan had monetized his blog, the Natalee Holloway story would have made him quite a bit.

The quantity of super-hot stories is (fortunately, in the long-term view) limited.

Bow Before the Ultimate Cuteness

Christmas pictures of Stephanie with Santa (below). Which do you think is cutest, the one where she's looking down, or the one where she's looking at the camera? Vote in the comments.

While we were waiting in line, the two young boys behind us with their dad (ages 9 and 11, at a guess) were playing with monkey head toys they'd gotten at the barber. (The toys were long plastic sticks with a handle that can be pulled to make the monkey head open and close its mouth.) Stephanie was fascinated by the toys and asked the older boy if she could see it.

He handed it to her and said "you can keep it." We told the boy that was very sweet of him but he didn't need to give her his toy, but he insisted. Stephanie said thank you (with a little prompting) and the boy, his brother and she then played nicely together with the monkey heads.

How often do you see that kind of gentlemanly behavior any more? What a nice young man he was.

Stephanie later decided the monkey head was a magic wand and waved it at each other child in line, saying "I magic you!" No word on whether any of the children later developed any hexes, enchantments, or mysterious transformations.

Every day is a blessing.

York on FISA

Byron York says that Bush routed around the special FISA court for wiretap approvals because the process is so unwieldy and cumbersome, it delays and prevents investigations.
In 2002, when the president made his decision, there was widespread, bipartisan frustration with the slowness and inefficiency of the bureaucracy involved in seeking warrants from the special intelligence court, known as the FISA court. Even later, after the provisions of the Patriot Act had had time to take effect, there were still problems with the FISA court — problems examined by members of the September 11 Commission — and questions about whether the court can deal effectively with the fastest-changing cases in the war on terror.

People familiar with the process say the problem is not so much with the court itself as with the process required to bring a case before the court. "It takes days, sometimes weeks, to get the application for FISA together," says one source. "It's not so much that the court doesn't grant them quickly, it's that it takes a long time to get to the court. Even after the Patriot Act, it's still a very cumbersome process. It is not built for speed, it is not built to be efficient. It is built with an eye to keeping [investigators] in check." And even though the attorney general has the authority in some cases to undertake surveillance immediately, and then seek an emergency warrant, that process is just as cumbersome as the normal way of doing things

If this is true, then it may explain why the route-around. The best argument the scandal-mongers have come up with thus far is that Bush could have placed taps and then sought approval afterwards; if that would still have required days or weeks of application preparation, then that argument loses its force.

Canada Not Upholding Sovereignty

Some defense experts are concerned about Canada's lack of control of its northern territory, including critical sea lanes.

[A defense expert] warned that if Canada cannot keep watch on its vast northern territory, we could lose control over the Northwest Passage, a 5,000-kilometre sea route through the Canadian Arctic that climatologists say could be open to commercial vessels within the next 10 years as a result of global warming and the retreating northern ice pack.

"Our enforcement capability is embarrassing," [the expert] said. "[And] that sends a message to other countries that we aren't really serious about our sovereignty or about enforcing our laws in our own territory."

Canada's willingness to spend money on its military and national defense hasn't been particularly impressive over the past few decades, but has grown seriously alarming in recent years - down to 1.1% of GDP in 2001. The Canadians apparently are following the French "soft power" route.

The difficulty there for Americans is that Canada, unlike France, actually has some role to play in our continental defense arrangements. They are rapidly becoming a "soft underbelly" for the United States.

Althouse on FISA and Wiretaps

Ann Althouse has a discussion of the wiretap story, with a strong comment thread going. One money graf from Ann:
Several people here are forgetting about the President's powers as Commander in Chief. The idea that Congress wins in a standoff is NOT at all clear. And the question whether we've got a standoff is also NOT clear. Those who are saying what Bush did is "blatantly" unconstitutional are either just repeating what they've heard, not up on constitutional law, or big partisans spreading propanganda, or something else that I'm failing to think of. But they are NOT telling it straight. And it's only because of a reprehensible leak that the President is now in the position of having to counter all these free-swinging arguments that people have unwittingly bought way too early.
I hadn't even thought about the war powers aspect of this. (I am not a lawyer...thank you, God.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"Intuitive Eating" - the Key to Healthy Weight?

A Brigham Young University science professor says that the key to maintaining a healthy weight is to eat whatever you want - when you're actually hungry. Break the habit of eating for emotional reasons, or on a schedule, and instead consume food only when your stomach is panging with hunger.

I find this plausible. It's exactly what I've been doing for nearly 40 years - 40 years in which, despite a pronounced aversion to exercise ("I can't find the remote...ah, to heck with it, we'll just watch this show") and a sedentary lifestyle (my office chair is an honest-to-goodness La-Z-Boy), my weight has never been an issue. (I did put on a few pounds when I got married and had more delicious food around than I was accustomed to, but a modest adjustment in soda intake fixed that.)

The difficulty isn't in resisting temptations - that's easy to deal with when you remind yourself that as soon as you're hungry, you'll have the delicious snack cake or whatever. The difficulty is the social expectations of other people: "but we're having dinner now". "But I made this for you." "But the Johnsons brought this over." "But it's 2 AM - NOW you're hungry?"

Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Who knew?

Political Bias is Real...In Other News, Sky Continues to Be Blue...

A UCLA political scientist has quantified media political bias in a novel way. I'm not sure if his methodology is sound but it's an interesting approach.

Bush Wiretap Actions Illegal, or Not?

There seems to be a lot of back-and-forth in the blogosphere about whether the Bush Administration's wiretaps are legal or illegal.

Standing up for America to protect us from Islamofascists who would like nothing more than to grind our bones into dust: Protein Wisdom, Cold Fury.

Bravely upholding the Constitution as the long night of Bush fascism descends: Feministe, Professor Bainbridge.

Not really sure who's right: The Argument Clinic.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

RIP Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson has died, age 83.

I remember reading his column in the paper when I was just a kid, mumbledy mumble years ago.

How life does go on. God rest you, Mr. Anderson.

Pelosi Heralds Democratic Lack of Stance

Nancy Pelosi has announced that the Democrats will not have a unity position on Iraq in 2006.

On the most politically charged topic of the upcoming election, the Democratic position is "well, we can kind of see one way, we can kind of see the other way...we don't know, really."

Why does Karl Rove even get up in the mornings? There's nothing he can add.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Feminist Quadrology

Darleen of Darleen's Place has come up with a nice graphical conceptualization of how to gauge where a person's views on feminism fall. Help her out by defining some questions.

The Tattered Constitution

This essay is really depressing.

(H/T NRO.)

A Great Disturbance in the Force

Whatever you do, don't click on this link.

I'm warning you, don't do it.

Warning: sound.

The Pajamas Media Business Plan

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about just what the heck Pajamas Media is up to. I have no intention of recapping that debate/discussion, though you can start over at Althouse to get an idea of who's talking about what.

A couple of the questions people have been asking: What's their business plan? (IE, how do they intend to make money?) And, relatedly, "what are they doing with that venture capital funding?" (reported variously as $3.5 million and $7 million). The funding isn't showing up on the PM web page, which isn't as bad as some folks have said but which certainly doesn't represent any kind of expensive web design. And finally, "where are the ads?" Folks have noted that all the blogs running PM ads are running ads for...Pajamas Media, rather than Sony or what have you.

I think I've figured out all three elements.

Their business plan is to create a Pajamas Media brand identity in the general blog-reading market. They will then use that brand value to promote their own sites and make them a more valuable networked advertising resource.

They are creating the brand identity (or at least starting to) by running lots and lots of ads for Pajamas Media on some very popular web sites. The reason that we aren't seeing ads for Sony on PJM sites is that PJM is, right now, in the business of advertising PJM and creating awareness.

And that also explains where the money is going. They're burning through their startup capital to pay PJM bloggers to run PJM ads. The bloggers don't care; they're getting paid. And the ads probably have very good response rates, because they are very well targeted. If I am at Instapundit and I see an ad for a blog symposium on the Patriot Act starring Instapundit, well, I'm pretty likely to click on it - certainly more likely than I would be to click on an ad for a TV or a book or what have you.

To see what kind of return the PJM centrum should be getting on its ad buys, I ran some numbers on the kind of revenues that non-PJM blogs are getting, at least theoretically, from their BlogAds. I've got a bunch of data points here and a curve and everything, but for purposes of this brief blog note, let's use PowerLine as a representative. They fall right into the middle range on my curves.

PowerLine sees about 71000 unique daily visitors. Their blog ad panel, bought on a monthly basis, would appear to generate approximately $20,600 per month. (Less if bought quarterly, more if bought week-by-week.) So to make it economically sensible for PowerLine to go to PJM, PJM would need to be offering them around $20 grand per month. That's a workable starting assumption for what PJM is paying bloggers for this ad space.

Taking PowerLine as a useful median, the $3.5 million in PJM venture capital will buy them the equivalent of about 170 months of advertising on PowerLine. That comes out to 362,100,000 ad impressions. Clickthrough rates vary wildly, of course, but as noted above, PJM ads are pretty well-targeted: bloggy subjects for a bloggy audience. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they're getting a 2% CTR. That's pretty good according to my internet marketing experience. With that CTR, they're bringing about 7.24 million visitors to the PJM centrum, and its costing them a little bit less than fifty cents per pair of eyeballs.

Those numbers aren't particularly great, but they aren't crap, either. If they're getting a better deal from their bloggers than the BlogAd community would provide, the numbers could be better. Whether the plan adds up depends on what Roger Simon et al intend to do with the eyeballs once they hit PJM. If they're able to make the site sticky, and/or keep eyeballs in the PJM blog circuit, then this plan may end up looking very astute indeed.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds e-mails and says: "It's not for me to comment on [the business plan], but in fact, not all of the ads on PJ blogs are PJM ads -- there are lots of paying ads on my site for Circuit City, Nokia, Radio Shack, Verizon, etc. I think that's true for most of the PJM blogs that are running ads, though they're phasing that in gradually for technical and design reasons. They're quite anxious to avoid ads that offend blog-readers, and technical problems with blog load-times."

I appreciate the clarification. Clearly PJM isn't entirely self-promoting; they're streaming ads for commercial purposes as they come in.

Congratulations Lauren

Lauren of Feministe is graduating from college right Congratulations, Lauren!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Removing Comment Moderation

I've decided to experiment with removing comment moderation. Comments still can only come from registered users, and you'll have to use that spamblock thingie.

What a Beautiful Thing

The voting in Iraq appears to be going smoothly, only with scattered violence reported. The terrorists can't stop this. That's got to be sinking in about now.

I have often expressed a lot of cynicism about democracy. It's hard to maintain that cynicism in the face of seeing an entire country becoming empowered to choose its own destiny. God bless them.

The Abolition of Abortion

I propose the abolition of widely-available abortion in the United States, and the creation of a frankly socialist conception-to-preschool safety net.

I do not propose absolute abolition. Such an abolition is not generally possible in a world where humans have individual volition. Bless us, we do.

The exceptions that ought to be made involve rape, pregnancies that are likely to kill or severely incapacitate the mother, or pregnancies involving girls of very young age (11 or younger).

Any other woman who becomes pregnant is expected to carry the child to term.

Society is imposing this expectation upon the individual moral choice of each woman. It is an arrogation of responsibility from the individual to the collective. Accordingly, society also accepts the burden of the responsibility for the moral choice. Women who do not choose to become mothers at the delivery of their child may turn him or her over to the custody of society: private adoption, public adoption, charitable entities, state entities, in that order of priority. Women who do choose to become mothers, and fathers who do choose to become fathers, return to their homes with their children. Women who do not choose to become mothers, and fathers who do not choose to become fathers, return to their homes alone.

Childbirth imposes substantial economic costs on individual women. The benefits society derives from having childbirth are not a legitimate libertarian "public good" - they can be individually paid for and individually deprived, for one thing, which is an automatic failure to be a public good. However, they are definitely a good which we wish, as a society, to produce in relative abundance. This is not the place for a ZPG-vs-Heinleinian population explosion argument, so I will not address the point further, save to note that even ZPG generates a lot of births; there is a certainly minimum stream of customers that can be relied on. (NPG proponents may see themselves out quietly; ah, there they go.)

However, the case can still be made that some larger entity than the individual woman and man involved in a childbirth ought to be responsible for these economic costs. With rare exceptions, society wants people to have kids. (I think that in the case of those exceptions, we have to be harsh but fair: society won't pay for it, but if you must, go ahead and do it on your own hook.) Tax what you want less of, subsidize what you want more of; watch out for unforeseen but not unforeseeable consequences. (And be expecting to have to deal with the inevitable arrival of some of the latter.)

And with that in mind, as a society we want more childbearing. As conservatives, we want childbearing even more, as a better option than abortion.

The simplest solution, and the one involving the least potential abuse of government power, would be for the government to issue a voucher to every woman who becomes pregnant. The voucher would cover elementary prenatal care and consultation (but not genetic therapy, fertility, or selective processes), complete coverage for emergency care, and the cost of a basic hospital delivery. Women with their own health coverage or private means of covering these expenses would have the option of doing so, of course, and are free to augment the voucher with private spending. This benefit ought not to be means-tested; it should simply be universal, so that no woman need fear the consequences of normal pregancy would destroy her or her family financially.

We also need a means-tested stipend program for new mothers (or new fathers in the case where the father is the primary caregiver). Once you reach the seventh month of pregnancy, and if you have a child under the age of three, and are that child's primary caregiver, the state pays you a salary of, say, $20,000 per year (adjusted for local expense levels). Any two-parent family whose non-primary caregiver makes less than, say, twice the poverty line is eligible for the stipend. (Parents who split primary caregiver duties can split the stipend in any proportion they specify, subject to the same income limits for their combined outside income.)

For non-married couples, the same rules apply. However, mothers or fathers who do not perform primary caregiving duties are obliged to make the financial contribution that the government would normally make. Non-primary caregivers with lower incomes are assessed a portion of the levy and the state compensates for the difference. Marriage to the primary caregiver terminates this levy; marriage to someone else does not.

Stipends stop when the child turns three, as should the (already existing) young-child health coverage provided by most states. Additional children "reset the clock" but do not quality for any additional increment of benefits, other than the additional voucher(s) for pregnancy.

Women can end the stipend by putting their child up for adoption. Fathers have the right of first refusal if the mother does not wish to be a primary caregiver.

I apologize to my right-wing friends for the socialism; there doesn't seem to be any other way, fellows. I apologize to my left-wing friends for taking abortion away from them; you were kind of messing it up, anyway.

Opinions most receptively solicited.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

An Honest Reporter

A reporter for a Fairbanks newspaper embedded in Iraq finds out that maybe the Kool-Aid isn't as tasty as she had been led to believe... I salute her intellectual honesty. Being willing to be wrong is an indispensible component of being a good reporter.

(Updated: Fixed misreporting of reporter's gender.)

Iraqi Expat Has Message for Anti-War Crowd

Iraqi expatriate Betty Dawisha (age 77) has a special message for people not in favor of Iraqi freedom. (Warning: language.)

A Taxonomy of Feminism

Cathy Young has an interesting post up about feminism and how various people's beliefs ought to be categorized. I basically agree with what she lists as comprising her own personal feminism.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Arguing with Aspazia

I promised to address the arguments raised by Aspazia of Mad Melancholic Feminista last week. I still don't have time to do it, but if I don't do it now, it will never get done. Apologies if this is hurried or incomplete.


Robert begins his entry, by defining one of the "almost" universal assertions of the Pro-Choice side:

Whenever an abortion discussion comes up, there is almost universally an assertion made by the pro-choice side: it isn't fair that people who are just trying to have sex, and using contraception, should have to bear a child.

Already, I am nodding my head. Look, don't call your blog Argument Clinic, if your true purpose is to engage in Sophistry. Strawman arguments are boring and frankly tend to tip off a reader that you aren't really interested in having a thoughtful debate on an issue. If you structure your own argument based on a ridiculous mischaracterization of the "pro-choice" side, aren't you really just telling us that you don't know how to argue?

I fail to see how this is a mischaracterization. I reported this argument empirically, from the umpteen billion discussions and arguments I've had with people of all viewpoints on the abortion question. Pro-choice people make this argument all the time.

Why not take on some of the more sophisticated and nuanced positions that pro-choicers hold? How about acknowledging that those who support the legalization of abortion do not have a monolithic position justifying either their moral or legal stance. Hell, there are lots of folks morally opposed to abortion, who still uphold the right to get a safe and legal abortion. There are others who find abortion moral in some circumstances--i.e. when the mother's life is in danger or the child has a fatal genetic disorder--but don't find abortion acceptable in cases of failed contraception use.

OK, it's true that the pro-choice are not a pure monolith; there are dissenters and people who think - for example - that the argument I held up is invalid, for pretty much the reason that I gave.

I will be glad to address other pro-choice arguments; indeed, I intended to all along. But I started with this one for a reason.

To which my reaction is:
Don’t want kids? Don’t have intercourse. Fair has nothing to do with it.

Goodness, gracious, me oh my (as my Oma would say). Isn't this just plain unfair? You are denying the pleasures of sex to heterosexual people who don't want children. Why come the gay people or bestiality folks get to have all the fun? The only group you select out to be unfair too are the straight people. Why, oh why?

I am not denying sexual pleasure to heterosexuals who don't want children. Offhand, I can think of four or five ways for heterosexuals to have pleasurable mutual sexual relations that do not involve a penis ejaculating into a vagina. I do not say that folk who do not wish to risk a child must never have sex; I say that the one specifically generative act has known consequences, and that there is no justification for engaging in the act if one is not prepared for the known consequences.

You respond that this is "unfair". Well, what of it? Where is fairness written, in this enormous universe of ours? Fairness is something that we desire; it is not something that we are promised, or to which we are entitled.

We can certainly increase the level of fairness we find in the world through our own actions. It isn't fair that people die of readily curable diseases in the Third World - and we can make choices that improve the situation, if we wish to. But we cannot, with moral legitimacy, kill other human beings to impose that fairness. To use an extreme analogy, it is not acceptable to slaughter Australians, sell their bodies for meat, and then use the money to cure tuberculosis in Africa.

In the case of sexuality, the moral imbalance required to bring "fairness" into play makes the calculus unacceptable. On the one hand, the "fairness" that someone who doesn't want children might have to engage in oral or digital sex rather than intercourse; on the other hand, the death of an innocent human. I think the innocent human wins this one.

My old sparring partner Mythago has noted in discussions on other threads (which I am too lazy busy to go look up) that it is possible to become pregnant without intercourse. True, but largely avoidable. I don't think this derails the basic point; it's simply a complication that a very small number of people will have to deal with.

But, seriously, the most flawed aspect of this argument is that you beg the question: what is the purpose of sex? You conclude that the purpose of sex is procreation. What happens if the person reading your argument simply does not share this assumption? What is your response? Why should all heterosexual sex be fundamentally geared toward children? Isn't this why we have technology?

Here, Aspazia, you are simply drawing conclusions from thin air. I did not conclude anything about the purpose of sex; I didn't even bring it up.

Whatever a person's assumptions or beliefs about the purpose of sex, the predictable consequence of vaginal intercourse are a known fact. You can decide that the purpose of sex is to increase the price of latex on the world market so that your futures trading does well; it's immaterial.

Since I didn't say that all heterosexual sex is geared towards procreation or any of the other red herrings being dragged across the trail here, we'll leave the rest of your statement alone.

The Greatest Doctor Ever

I'm not feeling ill, but Stephanie (age 3) has decided that I'm very sick.

She just came into my office, announcing "I am a doctor. You're not feeling well. I bring you some cake!", and handing me a plastic plate and knife from her kitchen toy collection. I mimed eating it, thanked her, and told her that now I felt better.

Stephanie exits, exulting. "You feel better. I am a doctor! I am the greatest doctor ever!"

Do I deserve this sweetness? No, I do not. I am so thankful.

Space Tourist Gag Falls Flat for Me

Am I the only one who thinks that this isn't funny, just asinine?

So you tricked some people into thinking they were going into space. Wow, aren't you clever? Probably these people's lifelong dream, and they think they've achieved it, and then you reveal that the whole thing is just a joke.

When did mocking ordinary people's aspirations start being considered entertainment?

Next up for these producers: "Faux Home Makeover", in which a poor family is told their house is being reconstructed, but actually just a flimsy facade is thrown up. After the family goes delirious on camera at the thought of working plumbing and insulation that will actually keep them warm in the winter, the producers pull down the facade and send them back to their hovel. Hysterical.

Army Hits Recruiting Goals Again

For the second month in a row, the Army has hit its recruiting target.

It's a quagmire!

Americans Still Believe in God

About 19 in 20 Americans believe in God, with 80% saying they are "convinced", according to a Gallup poll. Folks like the "brights" are convinced that the trend is in their direction; I doubt it.

God exists, and nearly all of us know it. Why, then, is so much attention paid to the views of people who don't accept the near-consensus? It's one thing to treat the minority view with respect and to make allowances, quite another to let one person in twenty set the boundaries for society.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Clemency Denied

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,

but there is no joy on Death Row --
mighty Tookie has struck out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Paramount Buys Dreamworks SKG

Dreamworks SKG is selling out to Paramount. I could care less, but it gives me a hook to mention an experience I had about ten years ago. (Holy God, has it been ten years?)

In my previous life as a software engineer I spent a summer on loan from Microsoft to Dreamworks SKG down in LA, helping to get their first batch of entertainment software titles out the door. Along with a team of other software engineers and software testers, we tried to help nurse some real dogs from the independent studios who actually made them, through a real QA and production process, and out onto the streets. We succeeded brilliantly, and I'd like to say that was because of me, but it wasn't.

They put us up in a set of luxury suites in Marina del Rey, and when I say luxury I don't mean genuine fabric on the sofa. I had about 1000 square feet of tasteful elegance to myself; it felt a little weird stowing my raggedy jeans and t-shirts in mahogany dressers, and the rows of Lexi in the parking garage was a little offputting as well. Not my default state of being, let me tell you.

On the work front, along with the dogs ("Steven Spielberg's Director's Chair" and a cooking game for kids whose name mercifully escapes me) we also had a really brilliant game called "Neverhood". One of the more clever puzzle games I've ever seen. There was also a "Goosebumps" license game.

Dreamworks' internal politics were a mess, their design studio was a trainwreck and their marketing people had apparently been raised by wolves. Interestingly, the corporate management itself was excellent - the only place I have ever seen or worked where the executives knew what they were doing and all the employees were idiots. After work I would come "home" so fed up with California gibberish that I would put on "Seinfeld" reruns and let the NY snark wash away the hateful mellowness. We had the option of flying back to Seattle on weekends if we wanted; I did most weekends but once or twice gave the tickets to friends instead, and they came to visit me.

It was a bizarrely enjoyable summer. LA is a great city to be in if rich movie people are paying your absurdly high expenses and wages, and if you know you get to escape at the end of it all.

UPDATE: The cooking game was "Someone's in the Kitchen". Fantastic premise - I'd love to have it for my 3-year old. Terrible execution.

RIP, Robert Sheckley

Science fiction great Robert Sheckley has died at the age of 77. Sheckley's most successful book in the mass market was "Tenth Victim", made into a movie of the same name. Most of his work was done in the 1960s.

I was introduced to the joys of Sheckley's sardonically witty universe by my old friend Sara Kahn back in college. Ah, memories...

(H/T Alas.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More on Cory Maye

Radley Balko has some hard questions for the prosecutor in the Cory Maye affair.

(H/T Instapundit.)

First Western Map Found

This is intriguing. We've always known that the ancient Greeks knew how to make maps (from references to maps in stories and histories) but we didn't have any examples, until now.

Living With Darth Vader

Apparently the Precious Child has been watching a few too many Disney villains.

While hanging out this morning, she took the pillow I use as an arm rest while working and hid it, then came back into my office cackling "You'll never see your pillow again! Never!"

I begged and pleaded. "Oh, please...please give me my pillow!"

"No, never! Bwa ha ha ha!" (I swear.)

I resorted to tears. "Boo hoo hoo...oh, where is my pillow? Boo hoo hoo."

"You will never see your pillow! Ha ha ha!"

Next stop, a light saber and some body armor.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Death Penalty and Cory Maye

I had an interesting fight with Jill of Feministe on the question of the death penalty a while ago. Jill made the usual discredited and unpopular left-wing arguments. It was, of course, a crushing and total victory for the side of Good and Right. (That's my side if you didn't know. Pay attention.)

The only issue where the left has traction on this one is the racial disparity angle. There are racial disparities in the death penalty; there's no good counterargument to that point. The change that needs to be made, however, isn't to eliminate the DP; it's to ensure that white criminals who deserve the death penalty get it. As on the issue of Title IX, the proper approach is to increase the participation of one group in the system, not decrease another group's participation (or eliminate sports).

That said, it is also important for death penalty supporters to recognize that - justice systems being run by human beings - there are cases of genuine injustice that should be rectified. Instapundit is doing a good job of shining a spotlight on one such case.

"For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"

Interesting interview with an African economist who says that Western aid is one of the major contributors to continued African poverty. Compelling and believable - but counterintuitive to those who believe planned efforts are better than the outputs of organic networks. Unfortunately those are the people who need to be convinced.

(H/T Beautiful Atrocities)

Madison Kids Told No Salvation Army Bellringing

School kids in Madison are not going to be able to take a field trip to learn about volunteerism and ring the bell for the Salvation Army after a parent complained, according to local media reports.

I'm fairly reasonable about separation of church and state issues. I don't think there ought to be crosses hanging in schoolrooms; I can see the point of people who are unhappy about unitary displays of the 10 commandments (absent any other legal context) outside the courthouse; I understand why Michael Newdow is unhappy about his daughter saying "under God". (I don't care but I do understand.)

This decision seems excessively deferential to the secular side of the question, however. The kids aren't praying. They aren't shouting "repent or burn" from street corners. They're standing and ringing a bell to collect money that goes directly to humanitarian relief for the needy. Yes, the Salvation Army is religiously-motivated and religiously-run, but the kids' participation in the bellringing was entirely voluntary. When American Atheists generate a billion bucks a year for poor families with THEIR bellringing campaign, then the Madison kids can have that as an option, too.

In the meantime, though, doesn't it make sense to allow - hell, not allow. Doesn't it make sense to encourage kids to participate in humanitarian charity as exemplified by the Salvation Army?

First Target and now this kind of thing. It makes you wonder about the priorities of some secularists.

(H/T Althouse.)

Vote for Protein Wisdom! Bow to Jeff's Genius!

Jeff is hungover sick, so he can't post much today - other than the ten screens of post he put up explaining why he can't post. But that's no excuse not to go and vote for him.

Or for Dilbert. That Dilbert sure is funny.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sex and Babies, Part 2

Aspazia at Mad Melancholic Feminista takes exception to my framing of the sex=babies moral/ethical discussion in a well-articulated post. I don't have time to get into it tonight, but I wanted to acknowledge her argument and point folks to what she has to say.

Hopefully tomorrow we'll unpack this further.

Back From the Movies

We went to see the latest font of cash for poor starving Ms. Rowlings.

This one should have been titled "Harry Potter and the Man Who Wants His Three Hours Back".

Ann Coulter Speech Disrupted by Students

A recent Ann Coulter speech was disrupted by students at the University of Connecticut yesterday.

Ann is a jerk. But the message that disrupting someone's speech carries isn't "this speaker is awful".

The message is "we are cowards and we are unable to handle the existence of views alien to our own."

Pathetic and childish.

Cathy Young Has a Blog!

Like Vodkapundit, I was completely clueless about this. Cathy's blog goes right onto the daily reading list!

Donor-Conceived Children

Interesting discussion over at Alas of donor-conceived children and how they do in life.

It's an interesting ethical question. We know that children with only one parent fare worse (on average) than children with two. Is it acceptable to deliberately bring a child into that situation?

A Day Off

Kind of. Nona has the baby, so we're hitting the movies this afternoon. Which means a light helping of sweet bloggy goodness today. Perhaps something substantive this evening, when I'll be working and will doubtless want a break.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Love Colorado, Part 3

Attention all residents of warm and sunny climes: bite me. I know this is a little whiny, but you have to understand. I spent my boyhood in the south. I spent most Christmases in Mississippi, where people complain if it gets down to 50 in December. This is just wrong.

Now I have to go do payroll, which paradoxically always cheers me up.

Diluting the Gamut, 24/7

Jonah Goldberg comes up with the perfect slogan for this blog.

Darn nice of him.

I Love Colorado, Part 2

I have a client named Wanda. Wanda is a business coach operating out of Sarasota, Florida. She is a great person to work with, a lot of fun, and a real nice lady. Ordinarily, nothing makes me happier than to get a note or a card from Wanda.

Until getting today's mail, when I crunched out through the snow to find this postcard:

On the back: "Dear Robert, Thinking of you during my Bahamas cruise. Best wishes, Wanda"

Oh, I got your best wishes. I got your best wishes RIGHT HERE.

(Just kidding. If there's anyone I can forgive for being in the Bahamas while I scrape ice off my monitor, it's Wanda.)

I Love Colorado

Love the mountains. Love the people. Love the politics.

<--- Not so crazy about the winters.

When I first moved here, my dad picked me up at the train station. I hadn't dressed for the weather; it was late November and I had come from a comparatively balmy Pacific Northwest. As I shivered my way through the parking lot with him, he (real estate agent to the core) was telling me about how it never got really cold in Colorado, that we had lovely mild winters.

As we got into the car, I couldn't help but notice the thermometer on the dash: 6 degrees below zero.

Right, dad. This is just pleasantly brisk.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fisking Streisand

A while ago, Instapundit mentioned that fisking Maureen Dowd on Iraq was the blogospheric equivalent of the bunny slope.

The fisking I'm about to perform is on a par with putting sedated puppies in a barrel and getting out a shotgun. Sometimes I guess you just have to slaughter helpless puppies. (Ask Glenn!)

Why? "Because it's fun," replied the man grimly, as he chambered another round into the gun before snapping the barrel shut.

Babs has taken pen in hand and produced a letter to the editor of the LA Times, outraged that they've fired the apocalyptically dreadful Robert Scheer and replaced him with Jonah Goldberg...but let Ms. Streisand tell her own story. To the extent that is possible.

The greater Southern California community is one that not only proudly embraces its diversity but demands it. Your publisher's decision to fire Robert Scheer is a great disservice to the spirit of our community.

...because adding a conservative to the area to replace a liberal truly destroys the political diversity that Los Angeles is known for.

I'm almost embarrassed for you in seeing the LA Times being referred to as the "Chicago LA Times" on the myriad of internet sites I've visited in the last few days. It seems, however, an aptly designated epithet, representing the feeling among many of your readers that your new leadership, especially that of Jeff Johnson, is entirely out of touch with them and their desire to be exposed to views that stretch them beyond their own paradigms.
OK. So you hyper-liberals who all loved Robert Scheer now have Jonah Goldberg. And you're complaining that you're no longer going to be exposed to views that expand your paradigm?

Apparently in Ms. Streisand's bubble, "hearing exactly what you want to hear" is a mind-expanding phenomenon. Who knew? I'm going to get a tape recording of Angelina Jolie saying "Robert, you are a gorgeous hunk of sexy man", put it on infinite loop, and make it the default background noise of my office.

That way, I'll be expanding my paradigms. Don't worry; when my paradigm is as expanded as Babs' has become, I'll still pay attention to all you tiny, tiny people. Perhaps I will even still blog for you.

So although the number of contributors to your op-ed pages may have increased, in firing Robert Sheer and putting Jonah Goldberg in his place...

Attention Ms. Streisand. X + 1 - 1 = X. Please make a note of it.

the gamut of voices has undeniably been diluted, and I suspect this may ultimately decrease the number of readers of those same pages.

Speculations about circulation aside, how do you dilute a gamut?

In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants...

Perhaps I am simply basking in my own bubble world of conservatism, but how exactly is an editor making an editorial decision ("let's ditch this old fossil and put in some new blood") a blurring of these traditional roles?

I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.

You always have to wonder about someone whose arguments don't comply with their own stated desires. Did she read this? Does she comprehend English?

Not even Scheer's most rabid partisan would say that he (or any other OP-ED columnist) is providing accurate, unbiased news. That's just not part of his job. Forthright opinion, on the other hand, is. Does Babs think that Jonah is somehow not going to provide forthright opinions?

[Blah blah Robert Scheer is wonderful.] Apparently, previous leadership at the LA Times had no trouble recognizing Mr. Scheer's journalistic prowess in that they nominated him for the Pulitzer Prize.

Yes. The key word here, Babs, is "previous." As in "no longer in charge." As in "drove the newspaper into the ground and have been replaced by people who hopefully can tell their rear ends from a hole in the ground, to which the paper's circulation figures bear a striking resemblance."

My greatest fear is that the underlying reason for Mr. Scheer's termination is part of a larger trend toward the corporatization of our media, a trend that we, as American citizens, must fervently battle for the sake of our swiftly diminishing free press.

My greatest fear is that all those women who told me that it was OK, we could just cuddle and that size isn't really important were lying. But that's not important right now.

My query is this: what exactly does the replacement of one columnist with another - an event which has happened an estimated 3.6 billion times in the history of the newspaper industry - have to do with "corporatization"?

And our swiftly diminishing free press seems to be doing pretty OK these days, what with the invention of this whole "Internet" thing that lets us "American citizens" pick up the mantle of the press and put our views out there for the world to see.

As Ms. Streisand has repeatedly done, may the gods of blog fodder continue to bless her name.

(H/T the Corner, where Jonah posted this attack on himself, in pretty much the same way a professional boxer thinks its cute when his two-year old son tries to tackle his leg.)

We're All Going to Die

In 31 years, anyhow.

Space infrastructure. More and quicker, please.

Does Your God Work?

My God has a plausibility of but 0.2, according to this God-coherency test. Ah well. That's why we call it "faith".

(H/T new commenter Jill of Yellow Snapdragons.)

The Power of Positive Thinking

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

- Herm Albright

Cold Water on False Report Prosecution

Cathy Young has some to throw on the story I originally reported on here.

Need an Abortion? Think New York!

New York City is the new abortion capital of the world.

They must be so proud.

UPDATE: OK, not of the world. Of the US.

But other (and thus lesser) countries should just consider themselves part of our orbit, anyway.

Men's Shelters

Men get battered by abusive spouses and partners.

It isn't as common as women being battered, but it does happen.

One common theme in some "men's rights" activism is that the mean old feminists are making it impossible for there to be shelters for men.

By and large, I think this complaint is hooey. I addressed it in this long comment over at Alas.

Money graf:
If men want shelters, men need to build shelters. If that takes money, well, grant applications are difficult but not impossible. Grant writers don’t work free but plenty work at reasonable rates. Or you could fund a private shelter on a payback system, or fundraise from hippie comsymps like Hugo. Hell, I wouldn’t be averse to supporting the right men’s shelter, and as a good Republican I hate all non-victims for reminding me of my humanity. There are a lot of options. This is America. You’re free. Go do it.
There's more at the link.

Anti-Conservative Bias in the Academy

Sometimes, not so much.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Precious Baby Update

Amp has new pictures of his housemates' adorable babies.

If you don't say "awww" then you are a communist traitor.

Howard Dean: "US Can't Win"

Howard Dean told WOAI radio in San Antonio that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." Dean went on to compare Iraq to Vietnam, and to say that US troops should be brought home immediately.

But don't question his support of the troops. Telling the troops that there's no way for them to win (in the face of the widespread belief among the troops that they're doing just that) and that they need to come crawling home in defeat - yeah, that's pretty darn supportive, right there.

The Democrats should keep one thing in mind. It is possible, though despicable, to use a failed war in the past as a springboard for political achievement. I do not believe it possible to openly advocate for the war's failure, to do one's best to ensure that it fails, and then to turn around and use the springboard. The springboard technique depends on convincing the electorate that you would have done it right. You can't convince people who just saw you orchestrate a defeat that you're the guy to bring victory next time. The American people aren't so stupid as to fall for that.

New Fascist Comments Policy

A brief rendition of the comments policy, for anyone new to my vast blog empire, or who misses it on the right-hand sidebar:

Don't cuss or use offensive language. Don't threaten people. Don't be a jerk.

Other than that, go nuts.

Cat Survives Four Weeks Locked in Refrigerator

Man. You'd think four weeks would be enough. Put him back in, I guess.

Via Drudge.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Joe Lieberman About to Jump Ship?

The possibility that Joe Lieberman may be laying groundwork for a switch to the Republican party - or perhaps to steal Hillary's thunder as the pro-war candidate - has been floated by PoliPundit. Intriguing possibility. I've always liked Joe. Honest Democrats are good to find.

(H/T Daou Report.)

Where are the Missing Men?

They're in college, according to an analysis at Girl in the Locker Room.

The theme that men aren't going to college has seemed a bit suspicious to me all along. Assuming Girl's reporting is accurate, more men and women are going to college than ever before, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the college-aged. It's just that women have really increased their percentage of attendance, wherewas men have only somewhat increased it.

This is exactly the same argument that I tend to use in fighting with economically illiterate leftists - it doesn't matter that Group A's income is growing faster than Group B's, if both A and B are both making real improvements. Envy is stupid; equity is unattainable; improvement is the real metric.

(H/T Instapundit.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Judge Punishes Teen for Reporting Rape

It isn't often that I agree with look-at-this-injustice posts at blogs like Feministe, but this is an exception.

It's hard to tell from the story, but it's conceivable that the decision not to prosecute her claim was a reasonable one; there might not have been a good enough fact pattern for the prosecutor to feel optimistic about getting a conviction. But to turn around and hit the victim of the case with a charge of filing a false police report is just absurd. He-said she-said makes for hard cases, but the last thing you want to do is to punish women for coming forward after an assault.


Getting Parents to Keep Kids in Line

Retailers and restaurant managers all know: some parents just won't keep their kids under control in public places. Convincing those parents to step up to the plate just got a lot easier.

Public School Follies, Part 92194

You want to know why the schools can't educate? Parents like this one.

(H/T Joanne Jacobs.)

Joanne Jacobs' Book is Out

Esteemed educational blogger Joanne Jacobs' book about her experiences building a new charter school in San Jose, California, will be released on December 14. You can see more about the book here. It looks really interesting; Joanne is a good writer and someone genuinely committed to quality education. If we could clone her...

Miss Your Old Video Games?

Then you might want to look at MAME.

(H/T Vodkapundit.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Some Awards are About How Big Your **** Is...

but this does seem a little ridiculous.

(H/T Althouse.)

No Babies, No Sex

Whenever an abortion discussion comes up, there is almost universally an assertion made by the pro-choice side: it isn't fair that people who are just trying to have sex, and using contraception, should have to bear a child.

To which my reaction is:

Don’t want kids? Don’t have intercourse. Fair has nothing to do with it.

That doesn’t mean “don’t have intercourse if you don’t intend to be a parent right now”, it means “don’t have intercourse if you aren’t willing to be a parent right now, if the condom breaks or the pill was expired”. Go right ahead and take a chance if you’re willing to step up if things don’t go your way.

The best advice my dad ever gave me growing up was as a young adolescent, when he told me that it would be a damn good idea not to have intercourse with any woman that I couldn’t see marrying and starting a family with - because that’s what I might end up being expected to do.

Bill at INDC is Getting Lazy

Of course, who is lazier? The lazy man, or the man who links to him?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Want to Go to Hell?

Tell a 4-year old that she can't visit with Santa because she's too poor.

WHO To Stop Hiring Smokers

You know what I hate? I hate when my principles and my gut feelings conflict.

The World Health Organization has announced plans to stop hiring smokers, going so far as to put a disclaimer on application materials saying, in essence, that smokers need not apply.

I don't care for anti-smoking fanaticism; it's petty and controlling and probably a sign of incipient fascism. Although I no longer smoke, I've been opposed to pretty much every smoking ban passed anywhere. I'm always glad to step up for my smoking friends out there. But, this time, WHO is totally within its rights - as would any employer be.

Smokers run up health costs, in a predictable and clear way. Companies have a right to minimize their exposure to risk by declining to hire people who they know are going to jack up their medical expenses.

You go, WHO.

Darn it.

Feminists and Abortion: A Question and a Request

The question: In the reproductive arena, do feminists want equality with men, or do they want privilege over men?

If feminists want equality, then it would seem that the question of pregnancy and abortion is an arena in which men and women need to be partners. Partnership, not power over; men being partners with women doesn’t mean that women can never get an abortion over her partner’s objection, or that men always have to father children whose existence they do not desire. It means that decisions are made by both people - and in cases where consensus cannot be achieved, there is some previously-agreed upon mechanism for resolving the dispute, and that mechanism is not “in case of a tie, the patriarch|matriarch wins”. Partnership would mean that, empirically, we would end up with women aborting children that they wanted to keep for their partner’s sake, bearing children that they didn’t really want to have for their partner’s sake, men fathering children that they didn’t really want to have, etc. and so forth. Nobody would get what they wanted all of the time.

If feminists want privilege, then that would seem to undermine the claim made by feminists to be interested primarily in equality in overall gender relations. (IE, “we should be equal except for this incredibly important area of life, in which women will make all the decisions.”)

Most (not all) feminists that I’ve interacted with have come down on the side of privilege. They want all decisions about pregnancy to be the sole domain of the woman involved. As I’ve said, I don’t particularly want to debate the merits of that position; I acknowledge that there is a case to be made for it. Certainly it is a case that many many women and men accept.

Almost without exception, however, these privilege feminists also assert that feminism is about equality and freeing women from existing structures of domination - not crafting structures of domination that women get to run, ending structures of domination entirely.

The request: I don’t understand that position. I want someone to explain it to me, if there is an explanation. I have a potential explanation on tap which covers the existing data just fine; “feminists, like other particularist groups, do not require intellectual consistency of themselves”. I’m hoping that’s not actually the answer.

(This is also posted as a comment over at Feministe.)

Women And Math

For our first real post, let's start out with something nice and non-controversial.

This train of thought originated at Protein Wisdom, where Jeff wrote a lengthy post about identity politics, ripping on my old friend Amp from Alas, among other sacred cows. The discussion mutated, as discussions always do, and one commenter came up with a logical construct that I hadn't seen before regarding women and math. My version of her construct, greatly expanded because of the beauty my words have when put on a screen:

When social and legal barriers to the full participation of women were dismantled, largely resulting from the work of feminists, women began excelling in a wide variety of fields that had been previously closed or provided only limited access. Law, medicine, politics, post-secondary teaching, administration, business management - women swarmed into these fields and generally advanced with rapidity and professionalism.

In other fields, however, women did not begin to participate with nearly the same success. Engineering faculties continue to be dominated by men, even as the law schools fill up with brilliant women. Scratch a computer engineer and you're likely to find a penis - one that's attached to a coder who wouldn't be surprised to find himself working for a woman. Woman math majors are three or four in a hundred. The phenomenon is very well known; in fields involving language, communication, social involvement, the humanities, and so forth, women have made huge strides; in mathematically-oriented fields, women have not made much improvement over the old days, when the occasional genius would fight past the sexist gatekeepers of the profession and become major contributors to the field.

Feminists will explain this discrepancy by attributing it to sexism. However, sexism cannot be the explanation, at least not without special pleading that seems difficult to substantiate. Sexism certainly explained why there were few women engineers in 1930, and it also explained why there were few women law professors. But there are now lots of women law professors, even if not as many as feminists would like - where are the engineers? Feminists can plead a special case here, that for some reason men who work in mathematically-oriented fields are irredeemably sexist and have conspired together to keep women out. However, that answer simply opens up new questions. In a legal environment that is no longer hostile to discrimination claims (and one where discrimination claims can still provide huge payouts) where are the legions of unhired chemical engineers suing DuPont for running a boy's club? There does not appear to be any differential between mathematically-oriented and humanities-oriented jobs in terms of the level of anti-discrimination lawsuits.

Pure libertarians will argue that women make different choices than men; women don't teach engineering because women don't study engineering, and so on. There's probably something to this theory; there is no reason to think that every profession or field of study is equally attractive to each sex. However, this too leads to more questions - specifically, why aren't women choosing these fields?

I believe the answer is that, broadly, it's because they aren't very good at them. More to the point, for most women there are (individually) better choices available than pursuing a mathematically-oriented career. Extensive research has demonstrated that, broadly speaking, women perform worse than men at tasks involving many kinds of mathematical and scientific reasoning. The differences are not large but they are measurable, real, and consistently observed. Most analysts looking at this information focus on the gender differentiation, but that differentiation doesn't explain much individual behavior. I am not as good a golfer as Tiger Woods, but that doesn't stop me from hitting the course.

What is more material about this finding is that it indicates that for the typical woman of a certain intellectual level, the odds are high that her innate verbal abilities are superior to her innate mathematical abilities. In a professional context, it is most logical (and often, most satisfying) for most people to reinforce strengths rather than attempt to remedy weaknesses. I have outstanding verbal skills, and very good mathematical skills. I have worked both as a nonfiction editor, and as a computer programmer. I perform either job at a level of professional competence, but I am a better editor than I am a programmer. I am happier while I am editing than while I am coding, overall.

Women engage in this calculus. I recall any number of girls in junior high, high school and college, mumbledy-mumble years ago, who were really smart. I recall one girl whose mathematical performance was truly outstanding, and greater than her verbal performance; we sat together in Geometry class and bounced proofs back and forth, annoying the teacher, for whom the idea that mathematics could lead to joy was apparently anathema. But for the most part, the girls were better at the language stuff than the math stuff. To exaggerate slightly, if you can be Sandra Day O'Connor if you go to law school, or a talented and competent civil engineer building parking structures in Topeka if you go to engineering school, doesn't it make a lot more sense to go to law school? (Cf. Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage.)

The libertarian-economic theory seems to explain the observed facts considerably better than the feminist theory.

So Why This Blog?

You may notice that I have another blog, Let's Try Freedom, which at least for the moment is still being updated. So why a new blog?

In no particular order:

1) I'm tired of hand-maintaining blog code, and I want a free service to do it for me.
2) I'm tired of paying hosting fees, so I'm moving various of my sites from pay-only hosting to free hosting.
3) I'm tired of not being able to be in the TTLB Ecosystem, since previous blogs of mine have gotten wedged in NZ Bear's system, and once you get wedged there's basically no fixing it.
4) I just felt like a change, and LTF hasn't built up such an audience that it would be impossible to lure them over here.


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