Saturday, March 06, 2010

Saturday afternoon hotel lobby tab dump 

Still in Chicago, still at the sales meeting, but the schedule is such that nothing will grind to a halt if I skip a couple of hours, hang in the comfy chair in the lobby, and deliver a frothy spray of tabs unto you.

Interesting graphs: Is the economy returning to normal? Or maybe not...

A spot-on deconstruction of "Avatar," missing only an exegesis on the all-important feathers question.

An expert on military history and affairs takes apart the arguments against letting admitted gays serve in the military.

Deadbeat, tax-avoiding Congressional staffers: Not fired after all. I certainly agree that nobody, not even a Democratic Congressional staffer, should be fired for taking a tax position. But we need to know the Members for whom they work so we can mock them mercilessly whenever they get on their high horse about people in the private sector with, er, points of difference with the IRS.

Barack Obama has called an "entrepreneurship summit" with the Muslim world. Naturally, I have a question: What could Barack Obama or anybody in his administration teach about entrepreneurship? Years from now, when the Muslim world has gone another generation without a single useful invention, will they look back at this "summit" and regard it as another evil western deception? Of course, they will have only themselves to blame insofar as the invitation promises advice from "social entrepreneurs," Orwellian slang for "transnational community organizer."

Chartapalooza: Employment and the lack thereof, sliced and diced from every perspective imaginable.

I have to say, if these are really the "eight most offensive Barack Obama moments" he is pretty darn inoffensive. To me, nothing quite tops complaining that unemployment remains stubbornly high while simultaneously proposing to comprehensively re-regulate 35% of GDP.

Suppose you give a rat's ass about atmospheric CO2. You still should oppose corn ethanol. Sorry, Iowa.

Ezra, you're my favorite liberal blogger but this is one lame post. Can you really come to any conclusions about distributive justice in American society by looking at the top 400 income tax returns?

Weather is not climate, but....

Faster, please: Chris Christie has slashed the subsidies to New Jersey Transit. Slash the services, fire the dead wood, and return the money in lower taxes. Much more along the same lines here. Christie is really dropping some wood on the soul-sucking culture of waste and, yes, corruption that has relentlessly expanded New Jersey government beyond the citizenry's capacity to pay. Don't stop. Voters should celebrate every service cut and every layoff until the government and its agencies are much smaller than they were in November.

Oh, and it's the TigerHawk Teenager's 19th birthday today. Wish him a good one!

More later.


By Anonymous DrTom, at Sat Mar 06, 04:35:00 PM:

If the military does decide to allow gays to serve openly it is critical that they do not make the same mistake that law enforcement did in the early 70s when women sued to get the right to serve as street cops. Most police chiefs and sheriffs grudgingly allowed women to serve but did little to prevent the hazing and harassment that ultimately led to thousands of lawsuits costing millions of dollars. The Joint Chiefs must take a strong position and push it downward through the ranks with an absolute "no tolerance" position for officers and enlisted alike. If they fail to take strong proactive measures to protect openly-gay service members then the results and the media backlash will be catastrophic.  

By Anonymous Dr. Mercury, at Sat Mar 06, 04:41:00 PM:

Hey, Slugger -

I answered the might 'feathers' poser yesterday. Check the thread. I confess I 'cheated' because I already have it on DVD, thus I was able to freeze and magnify a couple of key frames. No charge for services rendered.

This time, anyway.


(Any 'NCIS' fans out there mighty want to check out my post last night over at Maggie's. Great show.)  

By Anonymous THM, at Sat Mar 06, 06:20:00 PM:

Have a wonderful birthday, THT.

By Blogger John, at Sat Mar 06, 06:55:00 PM:

The econ graphs are a little misleading. They seem to be measuring the rate of change, rather than the change itself. The analog would be that when someone is drinking water from a glass the rate of change of water level goes up, when they stop, the rate of change goes down. But the water level is stabilized at a different level from the start of the action even when the change is brought back to zero.  

By Anonymous AnthonyH, at Sun Mar 07, 12:05:00 AM:

I hate to be picky, but in chemistry, it's a subscript to denote the number of atoms in a molecule. Therefore, it's CO_sub_2, and not CO_sup_2.

Sorry, but I've seen this a few times (not necessarily here), and it gets annoying, because it's not C times O squared.

That said, I agree that corn-based ethanol is a brain-dead idea.  

By Anonymous AnthonyH, at Sun Mar 07, 12:11:00 AM:

Oh, and Happy Birthday, THT!

I guess I should read the whole post before commenting...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 07, 04:28:00 AM:

I'm glad you wrote "useful invention". The IED makers and car bombers are pretty ingenious.

On a more serious front, I don't know if you can categorize the entire Muslim world this way--the Persians and Indonesians have a higher level of appreciation of knowledge. However, the Arab world has been stagnant for decades. From what I know, the Arab world's scholarship has been non-existent--their universities are more interested in propounding Islamic dictats than improving knowledge. I thought I read somewhere that little to no translation of English-written thought into Arabic. The lack of exposure to ideas is one of the Arabs big problems.

With the internet, cell phones, and satellite TV I think this will change in the next generation. Hopefully for useful purposes.

Maybe they can be at the forefront of desalinization of sea water. That would be a great contribution.  

By Anonymous The Truth is Out There, at Sun Mar 07, 07:25:00 AM:

Health Secretary Sebelius is on NBC's Meet the Press today. David Gregory has an opening to put Sebelius on the spot over Healthcare's economics -- does he use it? If he beats on her, it'd be a tell that we've reached a turn. Or not. Memo to GE' CEO's Immelt -- don't expect to sell Obama many windmills.  

By Anonymous The Truth is Out There, at Sun Mar 07, 08:46:00 AM:

If we were serious about Healthcare reform we'd be doing more in disease management. Most of our spending goes to a relatively small number of chronic patients who suffer from a dozen or so diseases. On current trends, diabetes alone will break the bank.

We don't do enough on prevention nor on managing those who suffer -- we wait until they break down and then provide more elaborate service. We're not good at understanding individual patient variability, which is a big factor in chronic illness. The FDA's drug approval process is an impediment.

Race and ethnicity are a big driver of diabetes. Blacks are much more at risk than whites; Arabs higher still. There's be a real opportunity to go at diabetes, and have the Arab nations pick up part of the tab.

We've already nationalized the Cadillac Healthcare plans of the UAW in the sense that we're picking up their tab -- it'd be a good place to start this experiment.

That's if we really cared about efficacy and outcomes -- and the government intended to be a help rather than a hindrance.  

By Anonymous Mad as Hell, at Sun Mar 07, 08:59:00 AM:

You can't make this up:
Rep. Barney Frank warns of Fannie, Freddie risks  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Mar 07, 12:04:00 PM:

"An expert on military history and affairs takes apart the arguments against letting admitted gays serve in the military."

A severe overstatement.

For one thing, including women in the military has not been a smashing success. A *lot* of female soldiers are of the opinion that women didn't have a place in the Army. They were held to lower standards, received special treatment from male soldiers, had more issues with killing, and it turns out that being a full-time soldier wreaks havoc on one's ability to bear, birth, and raise children. Female soldiers are also over-represented at sick call; they are smaller, weaker, break more easily than men and have a disturbing tendency to fracture their pelvises. On top of this, military realities don't fit them. Ever see a 5'3" female soldier try to carry a SAW? Or struggle about in a 'Small' IBA which is still too big for her? And you can just forget pulling her male wounded buddy out of fire; if all he's got is a small female to haul his 180 lb + 50 lbs of gear = 230 lbs of dead weight ass into cover, he's probably doomed.

It's cute how Mr. Boot (who despite his expertise has apparently never served in a military) lists 'fighter pilot' as a combat function that women can do, and ignores the fact that women are still barred from infantry, armor, air defense, and other combat arms branches because they simply cannot physically handle the tasks.

And this overlooks the administrative, logistical, and judicial issues like female-specific barracks and regulations and accusations of rape and sexual harassment.

The great and noble task of integrating women into the normal military came with costs and has not been an unqualified success. But because it's not political to say that in public, no one finds out until they're in.

But something doesn't have to be a smashing success to be seen as worthwhile, so why not struggle through the same issues for gays?


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Mar 07, 12:04:00 PM:

While open to persuasion (and I'd be interested to know the details of how foreign militaries handle this, though I suspect it has a lot to do with their vastly smaller size), I don't think it's a good idea. Ignoring other issues, no one has been able to satisfactorily answer this single question; where will they live?

Men and women are separated in the military for a good and basic reason; they have sex with each other. A lot, actually. They are a relatively young, fit demographic in a high-stress profession and live in close proximity for extended periods of time. What else would you expect? So they have separate quarters, and this separation is enforced by law. And even with this enforcement you end up with regular rape and sexual harassment allegations.

So what will you do with gays? Do they get their own, separate barracks (many of which will have to be built) which will become bordellos? And if gays can be housed together, that's unfair to the hetero men and women who are still forcibly separated, isn't it?

Do you house them with the general same-sex population? That's a recipe for disaster. Aside from the obvious foreseeable problems, what are you going to do with a gay sergeant who fancies some of his troops and is willing to use his authority to get them? Would you house such a sergeant with his female soldiers if he were straight? NOW and their minions would be screaming about the enabling of rapists.

Do you house them with the general opposite-sex population? Then you will end up with straights pretending to be gay so they are housed with the opposite gender and yet more possible instances of sexual assault.

None of these policies would work well. The only fair solution would be to abolish male-female separation and house all peoples among one another. But that's going to come with costs that *will* harm military order and discipline. Allegations of sexual assaults, pregnancies, love-triangle/quadrilateral violence, harassment, and all the other ills that gender-separation is supposed to reign in will suddenly no longer be reigned at all.

The military is not a playground of social experimentation with ultimate egalitarian utopia as its ideal; it is an organization for killing people and blowing shit up, and policies that are counterproductive to those ends should not be carried out.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Mar 07, 12:07:00 PM:

*reined, not reigned.  

By Blogger Kinuachdrach, at Sun Mar 07, 12:46:00 PM:

Dawnfire -- Well said!

Part of this is of course just Lefties acting on the belief that we will never be threatened again, once they get in charge of things. (Look how well non-violence has worked with Iran, now Barry's on top. And Afghanistan, too). If homosexuality undermines military performance, in their eyes that is a feature not a bug

Some time ago, there was a report that the US Navy had changed its standards. Used to be that carrying a stretcher with a wounded comrade was a 2-man job; now it is a 4-person job. There was another report that modern hand grenades have had to be made less powerful, because certain soldiers cannot throw them as far.

That kind of nonsense costs lives. It is morally wrong for Left-Wing political types to send human beings to unnecessary deaths, just so they can preen at cocktail parties.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 07, 06:49:00 PM:

Happy 19th Birthday!! Now, you are only two years away from "legal". In the meantime, you'll just have to not get caught.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Mon Mar 08, 04:12:00 AM:

"Maybe they can be at the forefront of desalinization of sea water. "

The Israelis are already well ahead on that.  

By Blogger Bomber Girl, at Mon Mar 08, 11:50:00 AM:

Minor quibble with the Avatar review as the author says the movie fails to show nature's brutal side....The scene of the newbie in the forest clearly shows nature would not have been kind to him; he would not have lasted the night. The blue babe saved his tail.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 13, 10:32:00 AM:

I was enlisted active-duty Army 97-01. I support ending DADT and believe the transition will be smoother than critics believe.

A squared away troop is a squared away troop, gay or straight, and good gay soldiers deserve better than DADT. An ate up troop is an ate up troop, gay or straight, and a bad gay soldier raises more relevant concerns than his sexual orientation.  

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