September 2009 Archives

Charles Barkley says Twitter is for losers



Sir Charles encourages us to get a life:

"First of all, I'm not a damn loser. I don't twitter. I think twittering and all that facebook crap just makes you a loser. I've never said to myself 'I wonder what what's his name is doing today.' Shaquille O'Neal is one of my favorite people, I love him like a brother, but I've never said to myself 'let me twitter Shaquille O'Neal. I wonder what he's doing today."

Do Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan twitter?

"I hope not. I hope they've got a life. Anybody who sits around and worries about what somebody else is doing and you're following somebody else around, clearly makes you just a loser in my mind. I think the facebook stuff is stupid. People who sit around and worry about what some celebrity is doing, that's just ignorant to me. I truly believe that. I'm not trying to be funny or anything. Somebody has no life when they're sitting there worrying about what somebody has to say. Like 'oh yeah I'm at this place eating or I'm at this place today,' that just makes you a loser."
IRAN   nuclear weapons,

Image by kurdistan كوردستان via Flickr

Why did the the Obama administration think they could trust the Iranians?

They want a nuclear bomb and, when they have it, they will use it.

Here's the question: Israel has been waiting to attack Iran for years because of the nuclear threat and we all know that imposing sanctions against Iran is basically stupid.

Should the US stop persuading Israel from attacking Iran?

Thoughts, folks?

Here's the New York Times story today.

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Postmodernism 1940s - 1990s



Postmodernism, seriously, are people still talking about this?

Please tell your churchy friends to stop talking about postmodernism as if it's new and insurmountable. Philosophy moved on years ago. I recently heard a Christian leader use the word to describe our times and I thought if he was going to also warn against Elvis or the Beattles.

You should at least be talking about critical realism.

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Libertarians on Land Use


Why is it that libertarians assume that suburban living is what people want? Sprawl is not a libertarian dream. No suburb was developed without massive federal, state, and local planning and spending. Second if we went on prices of real estate would that not show that people actually don't want to live in the burbs? The places with the highest prices tend to coincided with higher densities.

Now I would love to see a libertarian developed town or city. Where development was you know developed by individuals and not some arcane parking requirement or a planner that believes they know what the density should be for a city.

Please don't state Houston as a libertarian city it is nothing of the sort. And the fear of a gas station next to your home is overblown. Do you really think a business person is going to put a gas station on a low traffic street?

This is just amazing.....I truly hope and trust Mars Hill was blessed and pressed to think through issues in a better way.

Rev. Robert Sirico delivered a sermon titled "Whistling Past the Graveyard" at Mars Hill mega-church in Grand Rapids, Mich on September 20. You can listen to his sermon in its entirety by clicking on the sermon title above. Mars Hill was founded by Rob Bell in 1999.

Rev. Sirico addressed Christology, mortality, atonement theology, and the problem of evil. In his remarks Rev. Sirico declared:

And the vision of that hill, there on Golgotha's bloody mount, is the answer to the riddle of human existence. There in the crucified Christ, we see one who not only suffers for us...but he suffers with us. He enters our grief, our solitude, our pain. And because the one who is suffering so is innocent, he has the capacity to subsume into himself, into his divine person, all of humanity's suffering, all the history of limitation and death.

Hi, I'm with the Government, and I'm here to help.


Original story here.

From iLounge:

The United States Financial Accounting Standards Board will vote tomorrow on a proposed accounting rule change that could allow Apple to abandon its practice of subscription accounting for the iPhone. As we reported last week, Apple has lobbied the FASB to change these rules as more devices become dependent on software for their core functionality, such as the iPod touch, which up until now has seen each major update come at a cost due to the different methods used to account for its revenue. The FASB's Emerging Issues Task Force decided in favor of the rule change during a meeting on September 10; if approved by the FASB tomorrow, the new rules could take effect as soon as the start of Apple's next fiscal year, which begins on September 27.

Spend any time on a gadget site following release of new iPhone/iPod Touch software upgrades, and you'll see people complaining about having to pay (usually $10, if I remember correctly) for the software upgrade to the iPod Touch, while iPhone users get it "for free" (economist note: nothing is free).

The disgusting trait of envy in the touch users notwithstanding (hey, when you chose to buy the touch, you obviously thought it was worth the purchase price, or you wouldn't have bought it. You bought it with no promise of future software updates: even if Apple chose to give iPhone users preferential treatment because it liked them more, you're not entitled to anything), this is apparently (and I'm not surprised) caused by governmental regulations. Due to financial accounting requirements, Apple was required to charge for the updates.

So, and here's me beating my drum again: the government is to blame, but strangely very few ever direct their ire at them. You can't spit without hitting someone who blames "evil corporations" for things, but when someone wants to blame the institution of governmental control, they get shouted down. Is it just the "intentions" of government that make people like them so much? I'm sure these regulations were intended to help things (accounting standards, transparency, etc.), but intentions != outcomes.

Don't color me surprised.

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In other can now get push gmail support on your iPhone through Google sync (along with already mentioned calendar and contact push sync). Woohoo! Gmail sync enabled for iphone.


I'mma let you finish


Obama Health Care Kanye.jpg

See? I said I was *almost* an anarchist.


Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 10.27.04 PM.pngpolitical spectrum copy.jpg

The first image is from OkCupid Politics, which I just finished.
Similar here
and another here.

The second is my result from the last one (, when I took it last year. Of course, the historical and contemporary figures are guesses, made by the site's creators, based on speeches/writings they made.

Take one or two of them...maybe you're not as interested in the results as I am, though. :) (aack, another emoticon!!)

This also explains why comments by Democrats and Republicans are about equally likely to frustrate me, and why I have such a hard time discussing politics with...well...most everyone. :) I guess a better way to look at it would be to say that there are some things I can agree with Democrats on, and some w/ Republicans. Yeah, positivity!

It's all your fault that government doesn't work. ;) (yes, that's an emoticon...I know those have caused some stress here at the Institute're just going to have to deal with it).

Brian's previous post on Robin Hanson's 'cooperation' comments made me think of this...

We've actually been talking about this in my class this semester...essentially, if you buy that our genes (and, apparently, with them, our deepest inclinations) haven't changed much at all since our hunter/gatherer days, it follows that we would be inclined to think like individuals would have in a small band (around 40 or so) that intimately knew and relied on each other. Unfortunately, these tendencies don't translate well when we're dealing with people we don't know at all, and can actually be destructive (see Munger's example of "and the people actually clapped" in the above-mentioned podcast).

This is consistent with Hayek's comment in The Fatal Conceit:

Moreover, the structures of the extended order are made up not only of individuals but also of many, often overlapping, sub-orders within which old instinctual responses, such as solidarity and altruism, continue to retain some importance by assisting voluntary collaboration, even thought they are incapable, by themselves, of creating a basis for the more extended order. Part of our present difficulty is that we must constantly adjust our lives, our thoughts and our emotions, in order to live simultaneously within different kinds of orders according to different rules. If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed, rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e., of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilisation), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings oftenmake us wish to do, we would destroy it. Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of world at once. To apply the name 'society' to both, or even to either, is hardly of any use, and can be most misleading (see chapter seven).
-Hayek, The Fatal Conceit, emphasis original.

I call your attention particularly to the second and third sentences: "Part of our present difficulty....we would crush them."

My options, then, are either to: a) rewire the polity's gene structure to recognize and fluidly operate within these different and overlapping spheres, or b) to restrict the items that the polity decides as a whole, realizing that the best of intentions can produce the worst of outcomes, and the worst of people administering those decisions (more on this in Hayek's more-famous book, The Road to Serfdom.

When Cooperation Goes Bad


This is from Economist Robin Hanson

The unstated moral behind most media stories on our biological instincts to cooperate seems to be that we would do better to empower and emphasize these instincts. Such as, oh, taxing carbon, and shaming those who don't tax carbon.

But such stories mostly ignore the dark side of cooperation: pro-cooperation instincts rely on dangerous conformity. Yes groups can be better off if individuals can see who do things that hurt the group overall, and punish those folks, and punish those who don't punish them, etc. But our evolved instincts about which are the individual actions that actually hurt others might be quite out of whack.

For example, in big disasters like hurricanes, certain goods like gas, wood, water, or food become especially valuable. While natural selfish reactions lead to higher prices for these key items, humans clearly evolved to see this behavior as uncooperative; we resist such price rises, and want to punish those who allow them................. In this case our "cooperative" instincts can make it much harder to share info about what actually helps or hurts. In contrast, if it is accepted that we will each act selfishly, cooperating selfishly via exchange and contract, we can more easily rethink and relearn what actions are actually helpful in our new changing world. Make sure to read

"The M-Shaped Recovery"


Umair Haque explains how the middle class has been hosed by the upper class

Most Americans took on significant amounts of debt not just because they wanted to, but because they had to. The math is as cold, brutal, and simple. Wages have been stagnant for thirty years. The cost of goods and services -- especially basic or durable goods and services, like cars, education, housing, and healthcare -- has exploded. When your income isn't going up, but the price of a degree is, borrowing becomes the least bad option. The result is an economy where the middle class has been forced into effective penury. Americans had to borrow because they weren't part of a shared prosperity to begin with. Under the rules of financial capitalism, corporations have become experts at extracting value -- but not at creating it. Prosperity wasn't shared because 20th century organizations weren't built to share it. 20th century organizations were built to create value for shareholders, by acting "strategically" at anyone and everyone else's expense, by any means necessary: through lobbying, monopoly power, cost-shifting and hiding, or, most recently, trillions in bailouts....... read the rest

I highly recommend reading the rest of the article.

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A Tale of Two Men: Michael Jordan and David Robinson


The Admiral:

Air Jordan:

What struck you? Would you rather be the greatest basketball player or a great man? What does each man pass on?

Is Kanye Really a "Jackass"


Kanye West.jpg

Kanye West is awesome. His outburst at the VMA's was hilarious. Seriously, how could a country video win that category anyway (joking).

President Obama allegedly called Kanye a "jackass."

Too bad Kanye's not a preacher. America could use some non-word-mincing prophetic voices for a change.

It so cool how Kanye gets to say weird stuff, ask for an apology on a talk show (Jay Leno), and it will have NO affect on his record sales or public image. He's creating a brand by saying unpredictable things that will make him even more money in the end.

Look at how much free press he's getting because of this. It's a brilliant branding strategy.

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Sweet, now can anyone really argue that cash for clunkers was anything more then a backdoor way to fund the auto industry?

Researchers at the University of Michigan say the American cash-for-clunkers program improved the average fuel economy of all vehicles purchased in the U.S. by 0.6 miles per gallon in July and 0.7 mpg in August of this the Rest

Hmm 3 billion could have done a lot to help move the rust belt forward and actually reduce GHG emssions. Instead it is used to keep a dying industry going. As I have stated before I am fine with government investment, but instead of investing in the future we keep the living dead alive.

Inequality: When is it too Much?


I wonder if you subtract out the tail of the Pareto Distribution has the 80% of income earners seen any increase in income over the last 10-20 years? I think you can make the argument that even if it has not the average purchasing power of an American has increased over that time effectively mimicking an increase in income. Though I would say that has more to do with greater access to debt and exportation of human and environmental costs to China.

Now my concern is with income inequality and its political ramifications for those in power. Samuel Bowles writes a lot on income inequality. And I know that in an semi-efficient economy wealth distribution is a Pareto distribution. At some point that inequality becomes too large for society to function well. At this point dreaded wealth redistribution needs to be implemented through government intervention or far better the re-balancing of the stakeholders interest where employees receive a greater share of profits.

This is bound to get worse with the restructuring of the rust belt. Can we as a country politically afford to have a whole region's people go through correction that may take one to two generations? Personally I would like to find away to engage such a massive workforce to address climate change and develop a sustainable economy. I don't think it is morally acceptable or even pragmatically feasible to let such a large group of people suffer for the benefit of the rest of us. Better to find a way to utilize their strengths moving the country forward to a more sustainable future.

I have not read Sowell's "Economic Facts and Fallacies" and I know he has a chapter on what he calls the Vanishing Middle Class myth. If he address some of my objections please tell me.

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Pastor Hijacks Plane....

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No words......

Book & DVD Recommendation:


auschwitz.jpgGulag.jpgReading through Julia/Brians comments on an earlier post, I happened to think of these two works, and I would be remiss if I didn't recommend them.

All, please take the time (and emotional effort) to read Anne Applebaum's excellent book, Gulag. I'll be writing a short paper discussing the economics I was considering while reading the book (along with those displayed in PBS/BBC's excellent documentary Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State (available here).

You're probably more familiar with the Nazi's atrocities, but Stalin's were much more deadly, if nominally less methodically murderous. I'll share some of the details as I revisit the book/DVDs in the writing process.

Photography bleg.


I have a digital SLR camera. Love it. But I need some input.

I love my 18-200 lens, but it's so darn SLOW. I tried to take pictures of Angel (my wife) doing some leaps (she's a dancer) the other day, and it was almost an exercise in futility.

Anybody know of a good site to find some tutorials on using aperture/shutter to full advantage, or preferably a book? I've been using Ken Rockwell's recommended settings on my D40 for a while now, and focusing on framing in my shots, but I'd like to be able to play with some different f-stop settings and shutter speeds now to convey some different things with the shots.


I've been trying to figure out why many churchy people can quote a well-known pastor but can't quote the Bible. Or the pathetic of church hopping between evangelical churches because the sermons at church A are "better" than good church B.

Maybe church whose liturgies are shaped by Jesus and the Lord's Supper (communion) tend to not form personality-cult preachers and men-followers where people attend church to hear from a man and not commune with the Jesus.

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (from 1 Cor 3)

Followng Keller, Piper, Dever, Jakes, Long, etc. is EASY when the liturgy elevates preaching over the sacraments. So that, for example, announcing to a group of Jesus followers that people are gathering to take the Lord's Supper together and hear the word will spark the question, well "who's preaching" for those tending toward what Paul is warning against here.

I think may be why Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican Lutheran churches, and other liturgy-focused communions (generally not Baptist, non-demon, Presbyterian, Pentecostal) do not have "big name" preachers nor personality cult-followers in general (of course there are exceptions).

Hearing "Paul" or "Apollos" or "Keller" or "Driscoll" or "Piper" or "Jakes" or "your favorite preacher on Sunday" is not the point, what matters is that those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by following Jesus, having been Baptized and configured more deeply to Christ by formation, participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice at the Lord Supper.

So in these idolatrous-prone churches with the "good" preacher leaves the people go to another church "to be fed" by some other mortal. Maybe the Methodists, Anglicans, Orthodox, and Catholics are on to something by moving preachers and priest around local churches. Hmmm...

Guess, it's hard to get famous and have a mega-church if people are gathering to hear the word on the way participating, in community, in the Lord's sacrifice together.


Howdy, Neighbor!


Introductory aside: This is still political posturing...but it's a bit against the status quo, so I'll give it a hesitant approval. :)

Uh oh, all is about to be not so well in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, if the reaction to previous individuals' speaking their opinion on the "health care crisis*" is any indication.

Mr. Rogers better hope that republican base is awful strong in his district. This sort of anti-government talk doesn't bode well for a politician's career! I know nothing about this dude, and I'm too skeptical to bother looking...anybody got some history on him?

*note: "health care crisis" is akin to a "swimming crisis," if the coaches cut Phelps' Achilles tendons, got him high (alright, he might have done that one himself....zing), dressed him in combat fatigues, and then wondered why he didn't win more than one gold medal. I wish I never complained about the government, so I'd have a full bank account to proclaim as loudly as possible how ridiculous it is that governmental experts, who have shown exactly zero prowess in anything but getting elected, are going to be able to determine how best to administer such an emotionally charged and complex system as health care, or insurance thereof, in a way that can be effectively applied to the multitude of differing preferences and requirements that individuals across the country have.

Ahem. That will be all.

How inconsequential is Notre Dame?

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I have been a college football fan least since high school, so 15 good years.

Today, flipping through the box scores to see what the final results were from yesterday, I saw:

ND 35

And I thought:
"Huh...didn't know North Dakota played football."


In the photo a shopping mall: one of the most BORING places anyone could go in America.

In Dr. Madeline Levine's book The Price of Privilege she laments that suburban teens tend to be unabashedly materialistic and disinterested in the wider world, they are both bored and "often boring."

I'm thinking through an idea about writing topic and I'm soliciting feedback from something I've seemed to notice over the years: that, generally, the more church a kid is, the more boring and disinterested in the wider world the he/she becomes as an adult.

If suburbanism, in general, produces boring kids, how much worse does suburban evangelicalism produce kids who are so coddled from and biased against "the world" that they actually do not develop wider-interests, hobbies, and are generally uninteresting people to be around because they are sadly only concerned with issues like safety, family status, and career advancement.

A triumph of capitalism and technology.

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Google has enabled sports calenders that you can subscribe to. Now, along with Google Sync enabled for iphone (which I happen to be having a couple issues with, but I'm sure will get ironed out), I have exactly when and where the Gators (or any other NCAA team, as NCAA is the only football worth watching) play on my Google calendar and my phone calendar, synced and updated as times change.

Bonus: the default color for the Gator calendar was orange. Intentional? I'm willing to bet that it was.

Oh, and as a less exciting usage, google sync can be used to keep family members up to date on happenings, meetings, plans, etc. Just share your calendar with them, and make them able to either view or view+edit, and they can see what you've got going on in a glance or add a new event.

edit: There's an issue with google calendars' implementation of the sports calendar, or something like that. An alternative is to subscribe to yahoo's calendar for the team you want, using a web address. Here's the vital one you're going to want:

google calendar->settings->import calendar->add by url, then put the calendar you want in there. Slightly more complicated, but the yahoo calendar includes a whole time of the game, rather than a 1 hour slot for the beginning of the game. I'm sure google will get their sports calendars correct soon enough, but there you go in the meantime.

A Distinct Difference.

A liberal or a conservative is someone who identifies a social ill and then asks what laws can be passed to cure it.

A libertarian is someone who identifies a social ill and then asks what would be the most effective way to cure it.

This from one of the smartest guys I've ever been in a room with, John Hasnas, who spoke at the IHS summer session I participated in.

Best Beers in the Country


I truly live in the Napa Valley of Beers. My state Colorado has 356 Awards and also is second only to California in the number of Breweries.


Image was developed by Mike Wirth Be sure to check out his other Infographics.

Also a shot out to my two favorite breweries Oskar Blues and Avery Brewing
New can_r2_c2.jpg


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2009 is the previous archive.

October 2009 is the next archive.


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