Thursday, December 29, 2005

An Interspecies Marriage

News of this may rock the foundation of heterosexual human marriages.
Sharon Tendler, a 41-years-old Jewish millionaire from London married her beloved Cindy, a 35-years-old dolphin, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.

And isn't Cindy a female's name? *GASP* Linked from The Corner.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not a Bad Guy, That Scrooge

The inimitable Stephen Landsburg writes in praise of misers:
In this whole world, there is nobody more generous than the miser—the man who could deplete the world's resources but chooses not to. The only difference between miserliness and philanthropy is that the philanthropist serves a favored few while the miser spreads his largess far and wide. . . .

If you earn a dollar and refuse to spend a dollar, the rest of the world is one dollar richer—because you produced a dollar's worth of goods and didn't consume them.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tax Dollars for Tom's Ego

It appears that New York City taxpayers are helping foot the bill to feed Tom Cruise's ego and the spread of Scientology:
Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Usher stepped out Wednesday night to host a fundraiser for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, an organization Cruise founded in the wake of September 11 to help firefighters, police officers, and EMTs who were exposed to hazardous materials circulating in the air following the collapse of the World Trade Center. [...] The controversial "detoxification" is based on Scientology principles, not scientific ones, and the method of flushing poisons from the rescue workers' bodies involves an intense regimen of jogging, sauna and ingesting oils and high doses of niacin. Cruise has raised $1.6 million for the detox program, and city officials have kicked in additional funds...
Scientology principles. Hm. And from the Detoxification Project website:
Only one method for reducing body levels of toxic chemicals has been widely implemented, studied and demonstrated to be safe and effective: the detoxification program developed by L. Ron Hubbard.
And from the New York Post, via this site:
A COUNCIL member who successfully lobbied for city funding of a controversial Scientology medical treatment for 9/11 rescue workers has received nearly $100,000 from L. Ron Hubbard followers, The Post has learned.

City Councilwoman and Manhattan borough-president candidate Margarita Lopez steered $630,000 in taxpayer funds to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project - a center co-founded by Scientologist Tom Cruise.

Katrine victims weren't rescued because they were WHITE!

Methinks this story won't get 1/1000th the play in the media that the racist-against-blacks story did:\Nation\archive\200512\NAT20051214b.html

"Statistics released by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals suggest that fewer than half of the victims of Hurricane Katrina were black, and that whites died at the highest rate of all races in New Orleans.

Liberals in the aftermath of the storm were quick to allege that the Bush administration delayed its response to the catastrophe because most of the victims were black.

Damu Smith, founder of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, in September said that the federal government "ignored us, they forgot about us ... because we look like we look."

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in October said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasn't fit to help the storm's victims because "there are not enough blacks high up in FEMA" and added that, "certainly the Red Cross is the same."

Rapper Kanye West used his time on NBC's telethon for the hurricane victims to charge that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

But the state's demographic information suggests that whites in New Orleans died at a higher rate than minorities. According to the 2000 census, whites make up 28 percent of the city's population, but the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals indicates that whites constitute 36.6 percent of the storm's fatalities in the city.

African-Americans make up 67.25 percent of the population and 59.1 percent of the deceased. Other minorities constitute approximately 5 percent of the population and represented 4.3 percent of the storm's fatalities.

Overall for the state, 658 bodies have been identified. Forty-seven percent were African-American and 42 percent were Caucasian. The remaining bodies were either non-black minorities or undetermined."

My favorite quote is right at the end: "Calls requesting comment from Damu Smith and the Nation of Islam were not returned Wednesday."


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Suicide bombers, the afterlife, and why intelligent design is dumb

Richard Dawkins doesn't mince words.
You criticize intelligent design, saying that "the theistic answer"--pointing to God as designer--"is deeply unsatisfying"--presumably you mean on a logical, scientific level.

Yes, because it doesn’t explain where the designer comes from. If they’re going to emphasize the statistical improbability of biological organs—"these are so complicated, how could they have evolved?"--well, if they’re so complicated, how could they possibly have been designed? Because the designer would have to be even more complicated.

Obviously, a lot of people find the theistic answer satisfying on another level. What do you see as the problem with that level?

What other level?

At whatever level where people say the idea of God is very satisfying.

Well, of course it is. Wouldn’t it be lovely to believe in an imaginary friend who listens to your thoughts, listens to your prayers, comforts you, consoles you, gives you life after death, can give you advice? Of course it’s satisfying, if you can believe it. But who wants to believe a lie?

Linked from Arts & Letters Daily.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Israel/Iran situation

I just wanted to post a great article on the Iran situation.

Personally, I see this situation as a repeat of the 1981 Osirak incident. Back then, the world was in "negotiations" with Saddam as he continued his nuclear programs. Israel waited until about one week before Saddam was going to go nuclear. He wasn't one week away from bombs, but in another week the plant would have been at the stage that an attack would have left nuclear fallout that would have done a lot of damage to the local cities. So, when the world ran out of time, the Israelis moved in and took out the plant with an aerial bombardment. Saddam's nuclear plants were wiped out. In the immediate aftermath, the entire world obviously attacked Israel for their "imperialist" actions, including the US. But years later when it was discovered how close Saddam really was, many countries (including many US leaders) apologized for condemning the attacks.

I had thought that Iran would be similar, where the world will prefer to let Israel do the attack. That way they can act all high-and-mighty and condemn the attack, but they won't have to deal with a nuclear Iran. However, Iran has reportedly done a good job of spreading out its program over dozens of sites, many of which are far underground. I wonder if an attack will even be completely successful.

If there will be an attack it will probably be in late March. Iran will probably be ready to go nuclear by the spring/summer. And with Benjamin Netanyahu calling for an attack on Iran, and an election coming up in late March, I would expect Ariel Sharon to call for the attack just to defend himself against attacks from the right.

Personally, I feel bad for Iranians. Me an my girlfriend (who is Iranian) both recognize that the Iranians don't want this. They didn't vote for Ahmadinajed as their President - the Ayatollah fixed the election. Most Iranians oppose the religious fundamentalists, and don't want to get involved in a war. I'm sure Israel will do whatever it can to minimize casualties, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Ahmadinajed to do what Saddam did in early 2003 - which was to put a lot of schools and other residential structures near his WMD and weapons plants, so that bombing raids would kill as many innocent people as possible.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Starting 'em young

As if little kids don't already have a robust sense of entitlement.

Linked from The Corner.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

NYU goes Coke-free

Linked from Gawker: It's a good day for Pepsi-drinkers on campus.
“If anything is going to get Coke to be more transparent about their practices and open to labor reform, it’s going to be large progressive institutions like NYU taking a principled stand against Coke,” [NYU junior Dave] Hancock said.

In banning Coca-Cola products, NYU joined 19 colleges across the nation that have stopped carrying the company’s products, said Ray Rogers, director of the national Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.

...Labor violation allegations aside, some students said they would welcome the ban, which will most likely lead to NYU stocking its vending machines with Pepsi from now on.

Or they could just choose not to buy Coke, while allowing other students to do so if they wish. But, yeah, then they'd have to persuade people not buy the evil drink. And it's so much easier to use force than to persuade.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Barbra, we're not in Hollywood any more

In a move that enraged Barbra Streisand, the L.A. Times reshuffled its roster of columnists, dropping leftist Robert Scheer and hiring (among others) conservative Jonah Goldberg. Streisand fired off an angry letter to the editor announcing that she was cancelling her subscription and attempting to convince the Times that swapping Sheer with Goldberg would "dilute" the "gamut of voices" on its pages.

She never should have roused the beast. Jonah is hitting back.
[T]aking Streisand seriously, we must ask: Is she on crack?

Robert Scheer may be the greatest writer since homo sapiens first scribbled on cave walls, but no serious person can believe that his views test the elasticity of Streisand's "paradigms." He reinforces them, he ladles concrete on them. Scheer confirms all of her biases and reaffirms all of her ill-considered views. Put aside the fact that both Scheer and Streisand are committed leftists who share almost identical views on most major issues. Scheer served as an informal adviser to Ms. Streisand on at least one occasion — when she delivered a speech to Harvard. Streisand, who recently called for President Bush's impeachment, threw a book party for Scheer when his last anti-Bush book came out, and she regularly links to his articles on her always amusing website.

And even if you suspect I don't have the intellectual firepower to burn toast, it's hard to see how my views wouldn't put just a bit of spring in her paradigm. Indeed, it's doubtful that Scheer would even take the time to tell her that "gamuts" cannot be "diluted" or that if you are going to pronounce upon "principals of journalistic integrity" with Olympian pomposity, you might take an extra moment or two to spell "principles" correctly.

. . . Also, Streisand's complaint can't really be that I'm not "forthright" enough. Surely, as she luxuriates in her scented baths, attended to by handmaidens, she doesn't read my columns and then hurl the pages in a rage at her assistant saying, "Damn that Goldberg! He doesn't say what he means!"

Beware of the dirty-minded and litigious

Outrageous lawsuit story of the year. Bonus points if you can come up with double entendres that might spark similar reactions in the workplace.

Linked from The Corner.

Monday, December 05, 2005


408 Hamilton


Thursday, December 01, 2005

What's wrong with taxing capital?

Not much, according to Max Sawicky. In the Wall Street Journal's online debate on tax reform, Sawicky writes to Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen (highlights added by me):
You say current rates of capital taxation are "much lower" than on labor. That means there is more room to raise them. Taxing capital gains as accrued (i.e., as the asset gains value but is not sold at an observable market price) is probably not practical. Taxing realizations instead automatically confers some of the advantage you're looking for.

According to this conservative think-tank, U.S. tax rates on capital are among the highest in the world, while the U.S. economy (in macro terms) is also doing better than most others. Here's an OECD report that shows the pre-Bush tax system taxing capital more heavily than most of the countries we out-performed in the 1990s. Go figure.

We have already survived corporate tax rates of 35%, top marginal rates of 39.6%, and capital gains rates of 28%. You suggested 15% for all these things. I think there is lots of headroom at that rate. In the 1990s, we had much higher rates all around and the economy did better and investment did better than in the post-2001 period.

Isn't that kind of like comparing apples and oranges? Let's say that I get four hours of sleep the night before the final exam, staying up late to watch television instead of studying. I score higher than a student who gets six hours of sleep. Should I recommend that this classmate stay up later and watch more television next time?

We need to compare the U.S. economy under tax structure A to the U.S. economy under tax structure B. It may involve hypotheticals and projections and estimates, but there's just no other way to do it. Max Sawicky is simply using convenient (and misleading) statistics that, to the un-economically trained eye, appear to favor his side of the debate.

Waksman hits another home run

Fantastic column by our very own Jeff W. in today's Columbia Daily Spectator.
The way I see it, students on this campus should be natural allies with Jews and Israelis—not their enemies.

Of course, I don’t always understand why political lines are drawn where they are. I will never understand why the political party that is “pro-life” also fights for the death penalty, or why the party that stands for free speech as enumerated in the First Amendment is not the same one that stands for gun rights as enumerated in the Second.

A more local example is the Manhattanville situation, which boils down to the issue of whether the right to private property trumps the right of the state to do what it views as best for the common good. Knowing the tenets of fiscal conservatism and economic leftism, it seems like the sides should be reversed.

Read it in entirety -- right now!