"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cause for Concern?

From my perspective, it's not clear whether Iran's opening of a Nuclear Reactor is cause for concern. To be honest, even though it does make me a little uncomfortable, I envision SB 840 as a greater threat to my happiness and livelihood.

It's obvious that Ahmedinejad is not one to be trusted with a Nuclear weapon. His many statements over the past several months are testament to that. However, I don't think that, at this point, the reactors opening represent any threat. The reason I say this, is because it appears as though Iran plans to use unenriched Uranium with Heavy Water to run the power plant. This means that, in theory, there will be no Enriched Uranium, which is required for a weapon. However, the process of producing heavy water requires the use of plutonium...which can later be enriched. Obviously, the need for inspectors (other than Hans) is profound.

"There is no discussion of nuclear weapons," he said. "We are not a threat to anybody even the Zionist regime, which is a definite enemy for the people of the region."
This, the same weekend that the Holocaust cartoon contest opens.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

There are 84 Good People in Hollywood

h/t to Texas Rainmaker
With Liberal Hollywood stars like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, and Barbara Streisand getting the majority of media attention, stories like this, from the Sydney Morning Herald, are refreshing.
Nicole Kidman and 83 Hollywood heavyweights are using the power of the press to speak out against terrorism...

It specifically targets "terrorist organizations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organizations such as Hizbollah and Hamas," the ad reads.

Kidman and the other 83 celebrities (which include Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Rupert Murdoch, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton, William Hurt, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Dick Donner and Sam Raimi) are showing their support and committment for an ideal that seems, in general, out of tune with traditional Hollywood values. The stars go on to say,
"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Pitfalls of SB840 and "single-payer" Health Care

It's no secret that I am in staunch opposition to SB 840, the legislation before the California Legislature that would create a system of socialized medicine in the state. I've written about it, and the adverse effects, many many many many times. My general aversion to the bill is that it will cost too much, decrease the quality of health care, and is unconstitutional (in several regards). As one who general believes in the power of the free market.

Despite the fact that bill is on the verge of passage, my opinion remains that it will be disastrous for the state. Supporters continue to extol the virtues of the "free health care for everyone" mantra, ignoring the harsh realities of the proposed system. Today I stumbled across an erudite and thorough analysis by the Health Economics Consulting Group (HECG), which affirms my suggestions. Below is my abstract of the report, but I strongly suggest that anyone with an interest in the subject read the (very concise) report.

The report addresses eight major areas, "1) access; 2) quality; 3) administrative costs; 4) technology and adaptation; 5) regulatory instruments; 6) tax-based financing; governance; 7) costs; and 8) implementation." The findings don't suggest that the single payer system would be successful (which any Canadian could have informed them).
1) ACCESS:
to extend health care coverage to all is laudable.... However, centrally planned systems, by design, require rationing, typically in the form of waiting lists... Waiting lists are also susceptible to fraud and abuse.
2) QUALITY:
There is insufficient evidence to suggest that centrally-planned systems result in better quality of care than private systems... If the single-payer plan has benefits that are around the current average, roughly half of people with above-average coverage now will have less coverage under reform.
3) ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS
The assumption that CHIS will be able to achieve 1.8% administrative costs is weak.
4) TECHNOLOGY AND ADAPTATION
The CHIS is at risk for failing to innovate quickly enough to keep pace with the rapidly changing health care industry.
5) REGULATORY INSTRUMENTS
Throughout the text of the legislation, references are made to the role of CHIS as the regulator of price and capacity. However, the cumulative knowledge on economic regulation suggests, consistently across studies and industries, that the imposition of economic regulation on an industry results in higher costs and prices than would have been observed in the absence of regulation
6) TAX-BASED FINANCING
Residents of countries in which single-payer plans are available consistently indicate that the single most important action that government can take to improve the system is to “spend more money”
7) COSTS
The following three issues are perhaps the most critical: 1) the system’s administrative costs are likely to be higher than expected; 2) the system will have to deal with provider market power, moral hazard and new technology, all of which apply significant upward pressure on cost and 3) the system’s mechanisms to limit adverse selection are insufficient.
8) IMPLEMENTATION
According to our simulation analyses, replacing the private system with a government system will result in a net loss of $33 billion over the 5-year post-CHIRA enactment period. This loss more than offsets the $8 billion net gains estimated by the Lewin report
This very thorough analysis has very little to say in favor of the plan. In fact, in addition to the above summary, they also suggest that the plan will attract low-wage unskilled labor from other states, and likely other countries, and that it "does not appear to make any provisions for the effects on the California economy of eliminating a $64 billion industry."

Supporters still claim that this is in the best interest of California.

Cross Posted at

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sexy Music and Sex among teens

So, my disclaimer comes up front: I in no way condone strongly sexually explicit music among children. That being said, a recent study concludes that teens who do listen to music with sexually explicit lyrics are more likely to begin having sex earlier than their peers.
Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.
I'm not convinced. As a teen, I frequently listened to music that referenced sex, drugs, crime, etc... Furthermore, I frequently watched (and continue to watch) movies that have explicit scenes of sex and violence. Yet, I remained abstinent until my marriage, have never done drugs, and haven't been in a fight since middle school. Music didn't influence me, or most of my friends, so why should I believe that it will influence so many others?

I will agree with the authors that there is probably a correlation between the two. However, as anybody who read and understood Freakonomics (check out the Freakonomics blog), a correlation tells us nothing about causation. It's very plausible, and I would posit that it is more likely that other factors influence both a tendency to listen to this type of music, and a tendency to engage in sexual activity at a young age.

My Father allowed me a great deal of independence as a teen, but he also instilled the sense of right-and-wrong in me. I knew that my independence came because I could be trusted - and I could be trusted because I had an excellent role model that helped to guide my behavior. Thus, I was able to listen to this type of music without engaging in the activities.

Correlations are easy to determine; causation is more difficult. I have a feeling that music has a minor, possibly non-existent, effect. Likely it is parenting and general upbringing that truly influence this activity.

UPDATE 8/8/06: Looking at the Freakonomics Blog, they reach the same conclusion that the relationship is not necessarily causal.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I have a Nemesis


Apparently I have a nemesis. Antonio, who I thought to be my friend, is apparently out to prevent me from promoting drug use among children, white-slavery, and has something against cloven hooves.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Colbert and 'Wikiality'

THIS is too funny. Stephen Colbert, host of "The Colbert Report" apparently caused a bit of havoc on Wikipedia the other night.
In the segment, Colbert logs on to the Wikipedia article about his show to find out whether he usually refers to Oregon as "California's Canada or Washington's Mexico." Upon learning that he has referred to Oregon as both, he demonstrates how easy it is to disregard both references and put in a completely new one (Oregon is Idaho's Portugal), declaring it "the opinion I've always held, you can look it up."

As a native Oregonion, I'd say that we're more likely "California's Canada" because we don't like Californians...which I now am. Anyway, it's HILARIOUS!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thoughts on Cuba

As Fidel inches closer to death, I thought I'd supply a few different thoughts about Cuba. Specifically, immigration policy.

I recently read "The Case for Democracy" by Natan Sharansky, which outlines one of the hidden reasons why the Soviet Union fell. That reason was an allowance by the Soviet government for Jewish dissidents to emigrate to other countries (such as Israel). The result was that the ensuing mass emigration allowed many to overcome the fear of the government, and, in turn, encouraged dissenting speech which weakened the country.

In light of this, consider the case of Cuba. Ever since Castro seized power, Cubans have continued to seek refuge in the US and other countries. Initially these immigrants were considered as refugees by the US government and were granted asylum - and rightfully so. However, over the years, the US government has gradually changed it's stance on cuban immigrants. In 1994 we reached the point where we struck a deal with Castro to return those who were caught before reaching land, the so-called "feet-wet/feet-dry" policy.

This policy, in my opinion, is not in the best interest of the US. Despite the recent turmoil over general US immigration policy, restricting the immigration of Cubans to our country prevents the destabilization of Cuba. The already present Cuban population shows strong support for policies that would weaken Castro, which is testament to the Sharansky's thesis. They are the equivalent of Soviet-Jewish dissidents seeking refuge in Israel. Thus, encouraging and assisting (to a small degree) Cuban refugees to reaching our shores would gradually destabilize Castro's government.

Alright, so the natural response to my opinion is 'then why didn't Castro fall during the many years that we did accept all Cuban refugees?' For the many years that we did have a liberal immigration policy for Cuban refugees, Cuba was being funded and stabilzed by the Soviets. Then, only shortly after the Soviet Republic fell our policies began shifting to limit cuban refugees.

Cross-Posted at 123Beta