Housing Market

Did you know you can rent a two-bedroom house in Nashville for less than $1000 per month? It's true!

The Empath

Okay, this is really geeky. Click for larger version.

For my brother:

Steve: Well done! Perhaps the lamest of episodes?

Fleece the rich

I would say this article misses one big point:
Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. [...]

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing.

[...] The Maryland state revenue office says it's "way too early" to tell how many millionaires moved out of the state when the tax rates rose. But no one disputes that some rich filers did leave. It's easier than the redistributionists think. Christopher Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, notes: "Marylanders with high incomes typically own second homes in tax friendlier states like Florida, Delaware, South Carolina and Virginia. So it's easy for them to change their residency."
This assumes that "the wealthy" are a fixed group of people paying their rich-man's tax year after year, when in fact, in any given year, a large chunk of "the wealthy" tend to be older people selling off their businesses and retiring: farmers selling off their land after 40+ years of farming, hardware store owners passing the business on to someone else, etc.

Lots of people get defined as wealthy for one year of their lives: the year that they change the assets they've created during their working life into retirement cash. If you are going to get fleeced on that sale, you might wait a while to figure out a better way to get your money out of your investment.

VDH on target

A very nice post from Victor Davis Hanson at the Corner.
In essence, the script is the following: First, the president clears his throat by trashing Bush and/or the prior administration.

Then, as many have noted, Mr. 50/50 creates the proverbial straw men on the two extremes (e.g., those who wish to shred the Constitution to fear-monger, those who do not take threats as seriously as he does), as he places himself in-between two false poles...

Frankly, and with all due respect to our president, it is time to get a life and move on. It is almost midsummer of President Obama's first year and there is no longer any need to constantly reference the past administration, usually in disingenuous fashion.

Obama really has gotten pretty stale with his speeches. The same delivery, the same rhetoric, the same lack of content. I really don't want to listen any more.

Ann says: Wow, it took you long enough!

(of course, I haven't been able to listen to any president since...oh...1983 or so.)

Memorial Day 2009

It's a beautiful day here in Brookline MA. The sun is shining brightly, the air is warm, and there is a pleasant breeze blowing. We went to the park with our little girl.

Thanks to the men and women of the US armed forces who gave their lives for their country. I know that the freedom my family and I enjoy was gained by your sacrifice, and I appreciate it greatly.

Hello World!

To my brand new niece-

Welcome to the family! I am very much looking forward to meeting you. So are your cousin and auntie!

Wishing you a long, happy and healthy life, with love,


More Union Sleaze

The Service Employees Industrial Union has stepped up it's campaign of sleaze against the Beth-Isreal Deaconess Hospital (the BI). They have plastered ads all over town with fear-mongering claims of incompetence of the physicians and managers of the BI.
Therefore it is likely that recent problems with patient care at BIDMC are related to poor decisions by the administration. From botched operations to the hiring of surgeons with tarnished records, an alarming pattern has developed at BIDMC that must be corrected immediately to restore the public’s confidence in our hospital, and ensure that the first rule of healthcare, to “do no harm,” is met.

I have no connection to the BI, but these ads really make my blood boil. I think this campaign has little if anything to do with the Union's relationship with the hospital. It seems to me that the purpose of the campaign is to harm the hospital, plain and simple. The Union feels that if the Hospital is weakend, it won't have the strength to resist Union demands.

See my previous post.

Not everyone is fooled. This article from a local news radio station reports:
BOSTON — The Service Employees Industrial Union, or SEIU, has launched an ad campaign targeting Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The campaign, called Eye On BI, addresses what the SEIU says are problems with patient safety and quality of care. But the union’s eye is really on another objective.

Kudos to the BI's CEO Paul Levy for fighting back on his blog.
As you all know by now, the ads have nothing to do with organizing workers. They are meant to denigrate the reputation of the hospital as part of a corporate campaign.
SEIU believes that spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in a periodically renewed ad campaign is effective. It has an endless source of funding for these ads from the dues it collects every week. In this environment, keep in mind which is David, and which is Goliath.

Well said Mr. Levy! Keep up the good fight.

I am amazed that the rank and file allow this sort of thing. Maybe they don't really have a say. Who would want to work for a company after your Union went out and maligned it so? What kind of environment would that be to work in? Most people have some gripes about their workplace, sure. But that doesn't mean they are not in some sense proud to be a part of the organization. I sure as hell wouldn't want to work for a company that I thought of as "the enemy" and which thought that way of me as well.

Gay Marriage in the Corner

Looks like at least one writer in NR's Corner has Libertarian leanings:

If we posit that conservatism is about promoting freedom (a stipulation that some, of course, might not agree with), a question naturally arises: If two men — or a man and two or more women — want to pursue happiness and voluntarily enter into some sort of unconventional contractual relationship, what is it to me? Freedom doesn’t mean anything, after all, unless people are free to do things that you — or majorities of “you” — might disapprove of. What right do I (or majorities of Is) have to prohibit those voluntary, noncoercive relationships?

Read the whole post. Very good Mr Taylor! I hope a debate ensues.

Credit cards and carjacking

I was late with my credit card payment last month, and got socked with a $39 late fee. I simply forgot to go to the website and make the payment. The $39 late fee seemed pretty excessive to me, since I have a good record of paying my bill on time and was only a few days late. I was, frankly, more than a little annoyed with my credit card company for that. In this light, I read a recent comment from one of President Obama's economic advisors:
Austan Goolsbee, an economic adviser to President Obama, said that while the credit card industry had the right to make a reasonable profit as long as its contracts were in plain language and rule-breakers were held accountable, its current practices were akin to “a series of carjackings.”

“The card industry is giving the argument that if you didn’t want to be carjacked, why weren’t you locking your doors or taking a different road?” Mr. Goolsbee said.

As a man who has been carjacked at gunpoint, and who has paid exorbitant credit card late fees, I feel I am well-qualified to comment on this.

Mr. Goolsbee, you are a freakin' moron.

California...where to cut, where to cut... (II)

Our sister did some research this morning into bond initiatives in California. These are referendum put straight before the people in elections--often by-elections where only the committed bother to show up. Over the years, the people of the state have said yes to bond after bond after bond. No one bothers to add up the damage. Here is what my sis found, and here is the site where you can find them all:

Original Bond / billions
30-year cost with interest
Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train
19.4 billion / 30 years
Children’s Hospital Bond Act
2 / 30
Veteran’s Bond Act of 2008
1.8 / 30
Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security
38.9 / 30
Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund
6.12 / 30
Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities
20.3 / 30
Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention
8 / 30
Water Quality, Safety and Supply. Flood Control. Natural Resource Protection. Park Improvements
10.5 / 30
Children’s Hospital Projects. Grant Program
1.5 / 30
Stem Cell Research. Funding. Bonds
6 / 30
Kindergarten -University Public Education Facilities Bond Act
24.7 / 30
Economic Recovery Bond Act
Fuzzy - replaces earlier 10.7 bond
Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act
4.7 / 30
Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act
26.2 / 30
Water Quality, Supply and Safe Drinking Water Projects. Coastal Wetlands Purchase and Protection
5.7 / 30
California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act
4.3 / 30
Voting Modernization Bond Act
0.255 / 30
Veterans’ Bond Act
Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act
3.6 / 30
Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act
3.4 / 25
California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act
0.6 / 25
187.975 billion
Annualized cost
6.27 billion per year

At a time when California's bond rating is the worst in the nation (just a plain old "A" at S&P--on a "AAA", "AA", "A", "BBB" system) we're borrowing money for the stupidest projects--and projects which obviously should be coming from the general fund, such as school construction and clean water.

Californians on Tuesday said that they were fed up, but time and again, they showed the same restraint as the politicians.

Not every idea needs to be followed through. Not everything that should be followed through should be done by government. Not everything that should be done by government should be paid for by debt-financing the project!

And just to point out: the 2008 bond initiatives alone called for more than 11 billion dollars worth of paying on credit.

Addendum: Of course, 2006 was the banner year. All tolled, the bond initiatives add up to 42.644 billion dollars. According to the state's revenue service, total revenues into the state that year were: 120.739 billion. That means, in a single year, the people of California decided to borrow 35.3% of their annual income to pay for the initiatives.

Let's put it this way: Say you found a wonderful education charity. One that worked on all levels from K through university. One that really worked and that you believed in. Let's also say that you have an income of $121,000 a year. Would you ever dream of taking out a $10,400 loan in order to give it to that charity?

That's essentially what the state did that year, with a 10.416 billion dollar bond for K-U schools.

We really can't blame the politicians for this mess. You get the politicians you deserve. The spending in Sacramento was entirely in line with the expectations of the electorate.

California...where to cut, where to cut...

Here are some statistics I've found today.

First, the Governor's budget for 2009-2010 has these two items:

The University of California system has 85,702 Employees and receives $3,304,441,000 (3.3 billion) in state funds

The California State University system has 46,069 employees and receives $3,014,703,000 (3.0 billion) in state funds.

According to statistics on the UC website, the UC system has a total enrollment of 226,040 students (2008). That includes undergrad, grad, and medical residents.

With 85,702 employees, that works out to: 2.64 students for each staff member. Some of that, though, might be things like a university hospital, including nursing, cleaning staff, administrators, etc. It probably also includes researchers who are essentially paid from whatever grants they get (that's what my brother is at his University.) Researchers have to hand over a sizable chunk of their grant money to their institution, so they often make the university money, instead of costing it.

The CS system does better. In 2006 they had a total of 417,112 students, but some of them are part-timers. Their website has a handy "full-time equivalent" column, which rates those numbers in terms of full-time students (for example, 2 half-time students = 1 full-time equivalent). That comes to 343,199 students.

With 46,069 staff members, it works out to 9.1 or 7.4 students per staff member (depending on which student number you use.)

Do you think that maybe...just maybe...a whole lot of those jobs--especially in the UC system (Fewer than 3 students for every staff member?!!!!!)--might be cuttable?

California - Reason

In light of my sister's recent posts, here is a nice video from Reason.tv


California just demonstrated a shocking moment of sanity.

As I'm about to go to bed at 11:06 local, the state has thoroughly trounced the politician's wish list.

All but one of the major ballot initiatives are losing by more than 60%, including the big one, Prop 1A, which currently stands at 64.7% "No" to 35.3% "Yes" with 71.6% of the votes counted. This was a bill that at one time the Republican party threw away more than half a million dollars in campaign money to pass, before a rank-and-file revolt got the party to realize that Republicans are supposed to oppose more spending and more taxes. Schwartzennegger was strongly on board, afraid of the kind of painful cuts that are finally necessary. The Dems, of course, wanted this bill...at least the politicians did. And most importantly of all: public employee unions wanted it really bad.

According to polls taken over the weekend, Republican voters were strongly rejecting it, moderates, only a little less strongly, and even among Democratic voters it was struggling.

Tomorrow morning the politicians will finally have to deal with the fact that the party's over. The people of California...at least those who haven't yet moved to Texas...can't be squeezed for one more dollar.

Time to reduce the number of public employees. Time to stop spending billions on stupid light rail lines or on high speed lines between San Fran and LA. Time to undo the idiotic stem cell bond initiative from a previous referendum--which forced California to take out 3 BILLION in bonds to fund stem cell research. Time to end the wasteful and completely unnecessary school building extravaganza under way in Los Angeles, to the tune of 20 BILLION dollars--at a time when enrollment is tanking. You could make a list of about a dozen bone-headed, pie-in-the-sky spending projects. What a waste!

By the way, one of the referendum today is passing with support as strong as the opposition is on the rest. Even this is a stick in the eye of the politicians. The only successful referendum is to limit pay increases for politicians if they have not balanced the budget.


Back on April 6th I mentioned the problems with overspecialization. With the compartmentalization and guild mentality keeping people from doing jobs that they are trained well enough for, but who have not been over-trained for.

I mentioned the death of Natasha Richardson, the fact that doctors had a CT in their hands within 2 hours of her accident--a CT which would have shown the bleed. Instead of a doctor knocking a hole in her skull, they waited around, dithering, because they were not overspecialized neurosurgeons. Their timidity in the face of crossing the specialty barrier cost her her life.

Here's a counter example of a doctor doing the same procedure that Richardson needed, without waiting for a specialist--or any equipment beyond a hardware-store bought power drill:
[ Daily Tele ] The astonishing procedure took place after Nicholas Rossi, 13, fell off his bike in the small rural town of Maryborough in Victoria and hit his head.

[...] The boy was kept under observation, but one hour later, he started drifting in and out of consciousness. Dr Carson recognised the problem as internal bleeding in the skull and noticed that one of Nicholas's pupils was larger than the other, another sign of bleeding that was placing pressure on the brain. The injury was the same that recently led to the death of actress Natasha Richardson after a skiing accident.

[...] In scenes reminiscent of a television medical drama, Dr Carson realised he had minutes to save the boy's life and there was no time to transfer his patient to a hospital with a dedicated brain surgery unit. Instead, he telephoned Dr David Wallace, a neurosurgeon 105 miles away in Melbourne, to help talk him through the operation - which he had never attempted before.

But there was one problem. The hospital was not equipped with a surgical drill. Instead, Dr Carson had to use the next best thing - a household drill found in the hospital's maintenance cupboard. He disinfected the drill and, under Dr Wallace's guidance, used it to bore into Nicholas's skull to release the blood clot.
Which was exactly my point a month ago: any GP with a power drill should have been able to save Richardson's life. She died because her doctors were to worried about crossing into their colleagues turf.

Congratulations Steven!

Congratulations to my nephew Steven for completing the Lego Millennium Falcon!! Very impressive, especially for a 6 year old.

To help understand the scale of this model, I recommend the following video.

Congressional Motors

Iowahawk's vision is one step closer to reality:
NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp's plan for a bankruptcy filing involves a quick sale of the company's healthy assets to a new company initially owned by the U.S. government, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

We must re-link...

Discovered: Missing Link Between Bull and Human

Update. See, I told you so. In an article about this new fossil...

Up until now, the most famous fossil primate in the world has been Lucy, a 3.18-million-year-old hominid found in Ethiopia in 1974. She was then our earliest known ancestor, and only 40% complete.
Big news from the paleontologists today:
The fossil of a young female, probably resembling a modern-day lemur, has been described as the "most complete primate fossil ever found" and could be the common ancestor of all monkeys and apes, including humans.

What a bunch of BS. There is absolutely no evidence that this creature is an ancestor of ours, or any existing monkey or ape. There never will be either. This is little more than hype by scientists trying to get famous. And they wonder why the creationists continue to get traction.
The discovery is not "the" missing link - the contentious theory that humans and chimpanzees share a common identity - but scientists involved still hailed it as the "most significant scientific discovery of recent times".

Of course they hailed it that way. And every research lab writes in their grants how tremendously important their research is.
It has been named Darwinius masillae and investigators claim it will finally confirm irrefutably Sir Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Give me a break. It is one fossil. It has no provable connection to any other species existing before or after it. Naming it after Darwin? How clever. These scientists should be ashamed of themselves.
She is not a direct ancestor of humans and monkeys but it provides a good indication of what such an animal may have looked like.

Note the contradiction with the paragraph quoted above. Color me unimpressed by "it provides a good indication of what such an animal may have looked like." How do they know it's a "good" indication? They don't know. They say it is "good" because it fits their preconcieved notion of what that ancestor might look like.
"Now people can say, 'OK, we are primates. Show us the link'. The link they would have said up to now is missing - well, it's no longer missing."

Provable? No. Science? No. Hype? Yes.

What purpose do these scientists think they are serving? Haven't we had enough of paleontologists' gross speculations? All they do is provide ammunition to the creationists. I have nothing against presenting the discovery. But don't go out there and present with certainty that which is not provable, don't pretend you have more evidence than you do.

Take Lucy, for example. Another very interesting specimen. But I have seen it presented countless times as "our oldest known ancestor" or something similar. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. But from a science perspective, presenting it as such is BS.

Let Reagan Go

I find I have some sympathy for Russ Feingold on this one

Republicans are trying to pass legislation in the next few weeks to kick off the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, and the only hurdle appears to be Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who is refusing to let the Senate vote on the bill.

I think Reagan did a remarkable job. The future of the USA looked pretty bleak before he came along. He turned that all around.

But enough already.

California basket case

How bad are the finances in California?

Really, really, really bad.

For example, according to a website run by the CA executive branch, the budget last year was 104.5 billion dollars. That's $2,843 per person in the state, according to the US Census 2008 population estimates. But revenues were 13.7 billion less than that, or $353.68 of debt per Californian for last year alone.

This year's budget is, of course, bigger than last years by almost 7 billion, but revenues are tanking.

Months ago, the politicians had to find a way to cover the 13.7 billion from last year, plus the shortfall this year--together estimated at around 42 billion. They patched that up, but now, with revenues falling even further, we're back in the hole an additional 15 billion.

That makes a total shortfall of 57 billion, on a budget of 111 billion, or more than half debt!

To break even, we literally would have to cut the budget in half, fire half the state employees, sell of state land, privatize everything we could, cut benefits and public programs, halt unnecessary construction projects, and downsize the government like no one has seen since Thatcher.

Sounds good to me!

With that said, I've already voted "No" today on the referendum to bail out the politicians and the state. Time to act like responsible adults, not children with a all-expense paid credit card from their lunatic parents.

Ultimate Collector's Edition Millenium Falcon

My nephew finished his mega-Lego building project last night. It's amazing:

The Ultimate Collector's Edition Millenium Falcon:

5,195 pieces
307 pages
30 days
1 six year old boy
1 Ultimate Collector's Edition Millenium Falcon

I blogged the progress, you can read the posts here.


We just had the strongest earthquake since I moved out to Los Angeles 6 years ago. It was a 5.0, but it was really brief, only 15 seconds long.

I heard the walls cracking in my room. At first I thought the air pressure was blowing the walls a bit, then realized there was way too much cracking noise to be the wind.

According to the USGS, the earthquake was centered over by the airport in Inglewood. Actually about 3 blocks south of the Hollywood Park horse race track.

Now that's a fan!

This guy has turned his apartment into a replica of the Enterprise from Star Trek.

Pretty impressive. Nuts, but pretty impressive!

Get Met

Dear Prudential, Hartford, Allstate, Lincoln National, Principal Financial and Ameriprise:

Doesn't your need for a Federal bailout mean that you are incompetent and that prudent people should not trust you for their life insurance?
Prudential Financial Inc., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and Allstate Corp. are among six insurers approved by the U.S. government for bailout funds after investment declines eroded capital across the industry.

Hartford won preliminary approval for $3.4 billion from the Treasury Department’s capital purchase program, the Connecticut- based insurer said today in a statement. Lincoln National Corp. said it may receive $2.5 billion. Principal Financial Group Inc. and Ameriprise Financial Inc. joined Prudential and Allstate in winning preliminary approval, said Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the Treasury.

Get Met. It pays. Without a bailout.

Just Baby and I

My lovely wife is out of town. She's gone to India to escort her parents to the US. Her 72 hour trip is 48 hours of travel. Baby and I both miss her!

Shivani is taking advantage of the situation though. She gets to ride the swing higher, beyond the point where mommy gets nervous. She gets to eat sev for dinner. And, of course, she goes without pants at home. There really is no reason why a baby needs to wear pants at home.

Dear Mexico

Dear Mexico-

How are you? I am fine. I am wondering if I might give you a little advice. I have an idea that might make you some money. It's pretty simple.

Have you considered building a series of nuclear power plants near your border with the US? Tijuana is only 135 miles from LA. It's also 20 miles from San Diego, 417 from Tucson, 350 from Las Vegas and Phoenix. There are a lot of power-hungry Americans living there. Sure, it will cost you up front, but think of how much the USA will be willing to pay for that power once Cap'n Trade comes sailing in on his pirate schooner. Besides, you can avoid much of the cost by building an already existing design, say a modern French-designed plant. Litigation costs, a prohibitive factor in the USA, could be avoided easily by an act of your legislature. Yes, a few American eco-nuts will show up there for sit-ins and the like. You can enjoy throwing them in jail for a while. See how quickly they head back home to their ivy-league dorm rooms.

Anywho, it's just a thought.

Adios Amigo,


End of Federalism?

George Will:
Such a federal ukase (the word derives from czarist Russia; how appropriate) to a state legislature is a sign of the administration's dependency agenda -- maximizing the number of people and institutions dependent on the federal government. For the first time, neither sales nor property nor income taxes are the largest source of money for state and local governments. The federal government is.

Emphasis mine. This is a remarkable and under-reported event. I understand that there has been a sudden jump in Federal aid to the states, and a dip in property taxes, but still it an impressive milestone. Does it represent an end to Federalism? If the Federal government controls the purse, what powers do state and local government really have?

Falcon Update #18

He did pretty well yesterday. He made it to page 217, and that included 3 pages he had to repeat.

(sorry, that should have been posted over on Square Dots)

Happy Mother's Day 2009

Happy Mother's Day everyone! Especially my mom and the mom of my little girl. You are the greatest!

Medium Well?!?!

I should have known. After I went on record as supporting our President's pro-Dijon mustard stance, I see this quote

NBC's regular news reported Obama's order as follows: ""I'm going to have a basic cheddar cheese burger, medium well, with mustard," Obama said. "Do you have spicy mustard? I'll take that."

What kind of red-blooded American man orders his burger medium well? I hang my head in shame and cry for my beloved country. An order of medium might have been forgivable. But medium-well for a burger is inexcusable.

Medium Rare

Federation Money

Here is a review on the important question of whether or not Star Trek's Federation has money.
As I explained in one of my most widely read articles, Star Trek's Federation (or at least Earth) is definitely socialist by the time of the New Generation series, and probably the time of the original series that focused on the Enterprise commanded by Captain Kirk. By "socialist," I mean an economy where all large enterprises are controlled by the government, not merely a market economy where there is regulation or a welfare state. Despite Republican rhetoric to the contrary, Barack Obama is not a socialist; but he would be one if he sought to nationalize all major enterprises and abolish the use of money, as Star Trek's Federation seems to have done.

I'm not so sure on that Obama point. I think the case can be made that he is on the way to nationalizing some major industries. It may be that others will follow. As for his statement that Obama hasn't tried to "abolish the use of money," that's not a prerequisite for socialism. Since when is there no money in socialist or even communist states?

What has always bugged me about Star Trek though is not the portrayal of a socialist economy of the future. It's that Star Trek's vision of the future is a galaxy ruled by a military dictatorship. I understand that the Federation is supposed to be moral and beneficent, but as far as I could ever tell it is an unelected military dictatorship. Was there ever an election portrayed on Star Trek? Is the military hierarchy ever answerable to some civilian authority? I remember episodes with admirals, but I don't remember any presidents.

What's more, no one in the future seems to have a problem with this. Is that the future of humanity? To be ruled without democratic representation, and to like it? Humanity seems to have evolved into sheep.

This question is particularly apparent in the Voyager series. Here the people on the Enterprise are not only the crew, but also their families and other civilians. What happens when the children become adults and don't really like the idea of being ruled by a dictatorial Captain and her fellow officers? They didn't sign up for that.

I haven't seen many episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica, but one that I did catch touched on this theme. The people doing grunt work, I think they were miners, had pretty much had it with the situation. They lived difficult an brutal lives while the officers and elites ran the show, including deciding who did what job. The result was a strike/rebellion. Now that's a future of humanity I can believe in.

Ann says: I grew so sick of TNG after realizing that absolutely everyone got along with absolutely everyone else. The one season which challenged that--when they had the alternate doctor--was the best, in part because it was far more realistic. The nicey-nicey, happy-happy atmosphere was boring and unrealistic, and at times so sicky-sweet, you had to brush your teeth afterwards.

If you want realistic though, you've got to go with Babylon 5. There, they had elections (the wrong guy won, the Alliance fell into dictatorship, and the military had to decide whether to take "all enemies foreign and domestic" seriously.) The show had everything from utterly-blind Jimmy Carter types, to gung-ho war at any cost militarists. They had labor strikes and protest movements, and real and meaningful politics--even budget cuts on the government-run space station. The first season was awful, and the 5th season suffered from early-cancellation threats, but the middle 3 seasons were great.

In Solidarity with Our President

I would like to go on record as really liking Grey Poupon. In fact, I celebrate mustard diversity. Yellow, brown, grainy, smooth, I like them all.

Except for over-sweetened honey mustards. They are an abomination and should be banned by the FDA.

Lessons Learned

Congratulations to Brookline's Maimonides School, which won the state mock trial championship! The school is located about a block from where I live. Maimonides is a co-ed Modern Orthodox Jewish school. Maimonides is now eligible to compete in the national championships, and a problem has arisen. It seems that the nationals are being held on a Friday and Saturday, the latter being the Jewish sabbath day. So, like all good budding lawyers, they have taken legal action:
When tournament organizers refused to tweak the schedule, the students’ parents and school officials did what supporters of any attorney-in-training might do: they hired a lawyer, Nathan Lewin, a renowned litigator who has tried cases before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Lewin filed a complaint of religious discrimination with the Department of Justice, which promised to investigate.
I'm afraid I can't get behind this. If you choose to not work on a particular day of each week, then fine, but don't expect the rest of the world to stop and wait for you. It's not unreasonable, it seems to me, to accommodate religious holidays that occur once a year, but if you are talking about 14% of the days out of each year then that's another matter. The sabbath is Sunday for most Christians. Muslims have Friday prayers. Who knows what other days of the week people might object to. From Wikipedia:
The Uposatha has been observed since Gautama Buddha's time (500 BC), and is still being kept today in Theravada Buddhist countries. It occurs every seven or eight days, in accordance with the four phases of the moon. Buddha taught that Uposatha is for "the cleansing of the defiled mind", resulting in inner calm and joy. On this day, disciples and monks intensify their practice, deepen their knowledge, and express communal commitment through millennia-old acts of lay-monastic reciprocity.
Are we to accommodate all of these?

This also seems to be more evidence that these days anyone can sue anyone for any reason at any time. Ok, this isn't a lawsuit, but it is "legal action."

Must See Reason TV

While President Obama spends trillions of dollars, hand over fist, there is one program he and his Democrat brethren have gone out of their way to kill. The $18 million DC school voucher program. I guess as long as his kids are going to private school, he doesn't need to care.


Somehow, Hollywood has missed this story line

I can see Rowdy Yates now, driving those turkeys across the majestic landscape!

From the same National Geographic linked to below.

Bernie Madoff ca 1922?

Found in National Geographic Magazine, January 1922.

Dancing on the Grave of the Boston Globe

Local radio icon Howie Carr is gleeful
Labor is caving, management is winning. Pinch Sulzberger, it so predictably turns out, is only a liberal with other people’s money. So now the rich kids in New York do away with seniority and the “lifetime” job guarantees for their fellow silver spoons in Boston.

Sorry, comrades. The Velvet Coffin is being shoved into the crematorium. Maybe you can get a job from Barack Obama.

I know, they can’t brag enough about their Pulitzer prizes, like they’re on the level or something. Seriously, the limousine liberals who pass the Politically Correct Pulitzers around among themselves every spring ought to rename them the Olbermanns and run the awards ceremony live on MSNBC. Truth in advertising.

Can't say I'm sorry about The Globe either.

The Wisdom of Charles Krauthammer

I think Charles Krauthammer is easily the best political pundit out there. On VP Joe Biden's panic-inducing comments on swine flu:

I think the single most important public health measure that we can take is to put Joe Biden in quarantine. The prognosis, unfortunately for him, is not good. There's no known cure for what ails him, which is a congenital inability to control his tongue.

But the good news is that that researchers around the world are working around the clock on a cure. So they always is hope.

The Corner has taken to posting comments that Charles makes on Fox News' "All Stars." It's a wise move.

Funny, after I posted the above, I saw that Jay Nordlinger was thinking the same.

Sexy Cheeseburger

Instapundit links to a bit on a Hardee's ad starring Padma Lakshmi. Padma is an ex-model, and the ex-wife of Salman Rushdie. Now she is becoming well known for her cookbook and for starring on the show "Top Chef," a show I have never seen.

I never really got the "sexy food" thing. But when I see an Indian woman walking down the street, freely eating a beef and pork and dairy sandwich, I say God Bless America!