The second-best part about halloween is that, being somebody who dresses strange and scares small children, this is the one day a year when I’m normal…
October 31, 2008
October 30, 2008
Left-wing Feminists for Palin has two new members, as Ms. Magazine editor Elaine Lafferty and former Edwards, Clinton, and Obama speechwriter Wendy Button both defend her. They both point out the nasty behavior on the part of left-wing opponents and although they both disagree with Palin on plenty of things (particularly on social issues), “I disagree with you” doesn’t imply “You’re an idiot.” Button points out that no idiot can successfully take down a sitting governor and her own corrupt party, rising so quickly in a major party. Speaking of which, Todd Zywicki notes that glibness isn’t the same thing as intelligence and “I don’t understand; could you clarify?” is a perfectly legitimate question and much better than making things up out of whole cloth as many politicians are wont to do.
Practice wealth redistribution small-scale. It’s a hilarious story about taking Obama seriously and how many people are all for “wealth redistribution” unless it means their wealth being redistributed.
John Hawkins also has a post up asking “have libertarians been driven out of the Republican party by McCain’s raging Christianity?” That’s the argument by Ryan Sager at Reason and Hawkins points out how ridiculous it is. Libertarians and small-government conservatives have every right to be angry at the Bush administration for 6 years of poor economic policy (save for minor tax cuts and—notwithstanding those stupid steel tariffs—a pro-free trade policy) and not vetoing a fiscal bill until after Democrats took over Congress and libertarians and conservatives are going to disagree about foreign policy and the appropriate margins in the ever-lasting Security vs. Liberty debate, but any libertarians who think Obama would be any better for them on any front will quickly become disappointed. Don’t like spendthrift Republicans? Wait until Barney Frank & co have a President who wants to increase spending and raise taxes, not to mention socialized health care and an expansion of the regulatory bureaucracy. Think Bush has gone too far with regards to civil liberties? Wait until Obama’s “Truth Squad” in Missouri and underhanded and illegal records searches on anybody who dares question The Messiah become standard practice. Don’t like corrupt politicians like Ted Stevens and ex-politician Duke Cunningham? Obama himself is bringing in millions of fradulent dollars by turning off any credit card checks and not following campaign finance laws and is closely affiliated with ACORN. Think that Bush has done a bad job on foreign relations and has alienated allies? Obama’s already getting called immature and arrogant—by the French!—and is harming international relations by opposing free trade. And for those who want detachment from foreign affairs (particularly Iraq), Obama’s already talking about his own brand of foreign policy expansionism, most particularly in Darfur, so, just like during the Clinton years, you can expect to see demoralized American troops sent into areas which have nothing to do with the American interest to fight wars in politician-friendly ways, exactly the opposite of what the military’s job is. Meanwhile, expect American enemies to, as Joe Biden points out, make a strong move against the US to take advantage of an inexperienced and weak Obama. This will have a strong effect particularly in but not limited to eastern Europe, central Asia, and southeast Asia as American allies in tight spots (Israel, Colombia, Taiwan, Kuwait, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics, Iraq & Afghanistan, etc.) come under increased pressure from confident dictators and anti-American strongmen, potentially causing a reversal in the recent advances in liberty abroad. And, just to add to the fun, Obama wants a civilian paramilitary force; that can’t possibly have any negative ramifications for liberty and libertarian causes! In all seriousness, I can’t see why a libertarian (as opposed to a libertine) would actually support Obama. I can see why they would oppose a good number of Republicans and I could see them not voting for McCain because they really dislike his foreign policy and regulatory instincts, but Obama is, by far, the worse of two evils, particularly with a Democratic congress.
October 29, 2008
As a youngin’, I loved Exosquad, a show that blended light social commentary (thankfully it wasn’t too heavy), World War II, and people in robotic suits blowing each other up. For a 10-year-old boy, you just couldn’t ask for more… Last year, NBC/Universal put up most of the first season on Hulu, so you can watch the show in relatively high quality. The show aged remarkably well in that I’m still not embarrassed to have watched it or bought the action figures. It was a shame, though, that they canceled it after two seasons and left the series on a cliffhanger; I really wanted to see how they would have handled a potential third season with a Robotech tie-in, but apparently the toys weren’t selling well enough to keep the show going or something. Anyhow, I highly recommend watching the show, especially if you never saw it before. After you get past the goofy haircuts and stilted dialogue (remember: this was a show for pre-teen boys), you’ll probably want to go and blow stuff up in an e-frame, too…
October 28, 2008
Because I left work on time today, I’ll be able to watch Stalingrad tonight. The film is supposed to be anti-war and Saving Private Ryan without the moralistic angle. I, on the other hand, will take a slightly different angle, I believe: when Commies and Nazis fight, we all win. It’s kind of like cheering for the monster in a really bad horror movie: it’s a little disturbing, but at least they deserved it…
October 26, 2008
In possibly my greatest victory ever, I have finally won a copy of Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage! And how? The power of economics! Since Valley Games has reprinted the game (although not easily available to US Audiences), the increase in supply made the game that once went for $200 a mere $43.50 (to add to the awesomeness, retail price minus shipping is $65.99). On top of that, I got Diplomacy and Pirates of the Caribbean Battleship (surprisingly fun). Diplomacy rules, even with two people, especially when you lie like a dog to your one true love (sorry, honey, but Germany OWNED Russia’s ass! No more Moscow for you!)*
* Why am I not sleeping on the couch tonight?** Because we agreed before hand that we would not take games personally.
** For Kevin’s sake, you may assume that I wander the night without sleep.
Cleaning out a few links, here are some bits of economic contrarianism.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota’s research department has a paper detailing some of the myths of the financial problems we’re currently dealing with. Alex Tabarrok cites this paper and argues that there is, in fact, no real credit crunch. Banks and businesses can still get credit, although the premium for credit has increased due to a higher risk factor (built in to the interest rate).
Charles Calomiris notes that without the deregulation of the 1970s through 1990s, we’d be in a significantly worse position today. Consider that western Europe, after all, is in the same boat and didn’t have nearly the same level of deregulation (and with Basel I and Basel II, I’d argue that there has probably been a net increase in government regulation of the financial sector there). Calomiris’s argument is that the Basel committees, in fact, play a blameworthy role in recent events.
Anna Schwartz, the most famous monetary economist still living (now that Milton Friedman has passed away), argued last week that the Federal Reserve has had a loose monetary policy for too long and are completely overlooking the real problem: potential creditors don’t know whether a particular borrower is trustworthy and solvent. Schwartz argues that the Treasury should have bought some of the stranger asset mixes and let some banks fail; instead, the Treasury is trying to keep banks which made poor decisions from failing, fearing that their failures will cause bank runs which hit the rest of the industry even harder, cascading into a 1930s scenario.
Over at Klein Verzet, we’re freaking doomed. The Baltic Dry Index has tanked and international purchases of building materials have dropped significantly. This index measures early and intermediate goods, and its drop is a piece of evidence that Austrians can use to argue that the current financial problems seem to follow Austrian Business Cycle Theory: lax monetary policy led to a sectoral boom (electronics and computers, followed shortly thereafter by housing) and now that the bust is starting to occur, businesses are finding that they’ve over-lengthened their capital structures and have to cut back, so demand for early and intermediate capital goods decreases significantly. Over the next year or so, consumer goods will end up hitting its decline phase and, ideally, resources get re-allocated to more valuable uses and things pick back up again at the steady state level (to speak very loosely, and because I never liked the term “evenly rotating economy” because it sounds too much like rotisserie chicken).
Stronger restrictions on abortion reduce the rate of abortion. Douglas Kmiec, had his head not exploded earlier this year, would be shocked that expanding taxpayer funding of abortion (i.e., subsidizing) does not actually reduce the demand…
October 25, 2008
Before you ask, I’m not going to go into huge detail about the World Series. Both cities and franchises need the win; Philly perhaps more than Tampa because Tampa’s core is so young and talented and can probably get back to the Fall Classic again. While I was reading SI’s NBA preview (I refuse to read most articles about basketball, for reasons I’ll explain in a bit), it struck me why I find baseball so engaging, even though it’s arguably the no. 3 sport in America (behind football and the NBA, with NASCAR rapidly catching up). One word:
What makes the NBA so boring to me is that you can pretty much always skip the first three periods of a game. The NBA, and basketball as a sport, doesn’t lend itself to big momentum swings and thus comebacks. Teams occasionally go on runs; this is rare, however, and especially at the pro level you’ll be answered by a run from the other team. I usually don’t watch the NBA at all, unless the Cavs are in the playoffs.
Comebacks in football are pretty rare too, but more common than in the NBA. Typically, three-score leads don’t get beaten. While many football experts say the first score for a team is the most important, I think it’s the second. You simply have more flexibility when you’re ahead by two scores than when you’re ahead by one. Now, football can change very quickly, especially on a turnover, but if you have the ball and a three-score lead, only a boneheaded mistake or coach will cost you a game.
Hockey is exciting, or at least it was more exciting when goals were rarer. One goal games used to be a lot more common, and a 1-0 game to me is a hell of a lot more fun than a 5-3 game, even if it’s my team that’s winning. Shootouts are hugely popular, but hockey OT is the most exciting 20 minutes in sports. If soccer is the “beautiful game,” I agree that hockey is the fastest game on earth.
Baseball, though, trumps them all. In no other sport can you go from certain doom to certain victory with one second. A walk-off grandslam is the most thrilling of all possible moments in sports. Teams are expected to win with a three-run leads; even bad closers can get lots of saves (too many examples to name: hi there, Shawn Chacon! Jose Mesa, how are you doing?) But there’s a potential every time somebody comes up to the plate for something hugely exciting to happen. One of the greatest thrills of my sporting life was at a game at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 2005. A friend and I were sitting behind home plate (yeah, he’s pretty sweet like that sometimes) and we were watching the Indians play the Sox. It was Kevin Millwood’s 9 wins, but it was won by Pronk. He walked up to the plate, and I just KNEW Bobby Jenks was doomed. And sure enough he was. I was the only real Tribe fan in the whole park, and I was as happy as I’ve ever been in my entire life. The rest of the stadium seemed to melt away; I was the king of the world.
There are few other moments in my life that made my hair stand on end. The finish of OSU’s win over Miami in 2003 (Triple FUCKING OT). Patrick Roy’s jersey being retired by Colorado. John Cena’s return at the 2008 Royal Rumble. RVD showing up at Monday Night RAW’s 15th anniversary show. Ric Flair’s retirement speech on RAW after Wrestlemania XXIV. The Giants winning the Super Bowl. The Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series (I watched every game of that ALCS; it felt tremendous to watch the Yankees choke). The Indians winning the ALDS last year by beating the Yankees and Joba Chamberlain. But with baseball, there’s always the potential for something special. Every single night, even the Royals vs. the PIrates. And no other sport can say that. Not even sports entertainment.
October 24, 2008
– I downloaded the Oregon Trail and was disappointed to find it won’t work on Vista, even with compatability mode. While I’m at it, I’d like to give mad props to Oregon Trail II, an underrated game that was far superior to the original.
– Why does everybody think Vince Young is a bust? Sure, he’s loony, but look at Zach Greinke as someone who rebounded quite nicely. Young seems to have lost confidence, and I think going to a team with low expectations (hello Lions!) or a team with a really good player’s coach (hello Vikings!) could recapture his career.
– Phillies-Rays is the antithesis of Yankees-Marlins. I want both sides to win, yet this is an impossibility. I think the Phils will win, but it should be a dogfight. We’ll see if I get to watch more than an inning or two.
– Hockey has started again and I’m vaguely interested. Even buying NHL probably wouldn’t get me as excited in hockey as I used to be. This is my first big experience with a major strike in sports; there hasn’t been a football strike since I was a toddler and my interest in baseball developed after 1994, not before. Only the power of Hejduk (or Hedge Duck) could renew my interest; I’m not even sure if he’s still playing.
– If Mick Foley’s ownership stake in TNA isn’t a work, that would be wicked sweet. Mick Foley as the Commissioner was comedy gold; as an owner would be comedy platinum.
– Tony Romo is the best QB in Madden 09. I haven’t faced Pey-Ton yet, but Romo is better than Brady at the very least. Bears thinking about.
And I… am… OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We play poker over at my place every other Friday. It’s a nice, central location and close to where most of us work. One of my co-workers brought over six folding chairs which, along with my two chairs, we used specifically for poker. These chairs can easily support a 300-pound man and despite this, the skinniest guy in the room (a person who may weigh 160) has already broken three of them. Because of that, I decided to get some new chairs. Apparently, finding folding chairs is more difficult than anticipated, so I moved up in the world and got bar stools which were on clearance. I ended up getting three of them and with the additional discount that I lucked into (20% off all stools and dining chairs), the three ended up costing less than the cheapest one of them would have at full price. Yiddishkeit wins again…
The only downside is that it was pouring down rain and I have a fairly compact car. After Tetris-style maneuvering, I was able to get all three stools in simultaneously, with the one disadvantage that I couldn’t see to my right or behind me and with the rain, it was enough of a challenge seeing left or straight ahead for that matter… Fortunately, I made it home with a minimum of casualties (we’ll miss Björn and Ingmar, but honestly, they were expendable), so tonight’s round of poker will be 31% classier than before. And if the skinny guy breaks any of these chairs, I’ll break him with it…