Halloween II - 2011

In the interest of fairness... this cutie pie:

Happy Halloween 2011

Inflection Point

From Instapundit:

UPDATE: From the comments: “I think there is a legal Laffer curve, and we are choking on so much law we are now past the inflection point.” Thanks to reader Fred Siesel for pointing this one out.

When did use of the term "inflection point" come into vogue? I am seeing it more and more. Perhaps people think that "inflection point" sounds more learned than "maximum" or "minimum." It may sound cooler, but it doesn't mean the same thing.

An inflection point of a graph is a point where the convexity changes, like this:

With respect to an observer at the bottom of the graph, the curve is concave to the left of x=0, and convex to the right. This makes the point (0,0) an inflection point.

In the comment about the Laffer curve above, it is clear that the author doesn't mean this sort of thing. He simply means maximum point.

The more fancy the term, the more sure you should be about its use.

Flat Tax

What's with the Republican love of the "Flat Tax" ?

Perry Proposes 20 Percent Flat Tax. Perry would keep popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable gifts.

Other Republicans/Conservatives have embraced the Flat Tax as well. Why? I think Perry's plan is dunderheaded. Keeping those deductions and making the tax flat is just the opposite of what I would like to see. It makes much more sense to me to eliminate as many deductions and loopholes as possible, thus simplifying our tax system, and reducing economic distortions.

I really don't have much problem with a progressive tax rate structure, and it seems a majority of "rich" people don't either. Should I pay a higher rate than someone who makes half what I do? Yes.

Is it so difficult to look up your total tax in a table? Is it that really complicated? More complicated than multiplying by 20%? No.

As I said, I don't get it.

Happy Diwali 2011

Happy Diwali everyone!

Shivani and Anjali. Click to zoom.

Endless Summer

Surf's up at Atwater Beach! I admire their tenacity.

From the front of JSOnline.com

Fashionable disease

The Reference Frame, a Czech view of anthropogenic global warming
[T]he percentage of the Czechs who believe that there's a climate problem is about 1/2 of the percentage in the U.S.

There's pretty much a consensus across the political spectrum – and especially in the public – that global warming alarmism is a fashionable disease that plagues the brains of pampered and brainwashed people in the West who are either champions of a statist political ideology or their own profits, or those who want to be "hip", who are naive and detached from reality, and who don't understand how it easy it is to hijack a part of the scientific institutions and turn them into tools of shameless and cynical political propaganda.

What's it for?

Protein Wisdom writes:
To be clear: these “grievances” on parade are not the point of the protests, at least, not to those who are orchestrating all this. Instead, the point of the protests is to con weak-willed pragmatic panders like Romney, or weak-willed and frightened “leaders” like Eric Cantor and John Boehner, to allow for the grievances, to sympathize with them, to begin speaking in the language of the left’s carefully crafted narrative, and to make concessions while remaining constantly on the defensive.
I disagree. I think the point of the protests, and the Democrats' support of them boils down to this:
More importantly, the poll shows that the enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters continues to expand. Almost two thirds of Republicans describe themselves as either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in 2012 (38% and 26%, respectively), a slight increase from June’s results (38% and 23%). [...]

Democratic enthusiasm has moved in the opposite direction. The new poll shows 21% and 22% extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, respectively, which puts the combination below a majority for the first time since the midterms. [source: Hot Air]
There is undoubtedly energy and vigor in the protests, and the Dems know that is exactly their weakness at the moment. They are willing to sign on to these protestors because 1) they whole-heartedly agree with their hatred of capitalism and the disgust of actually having to repay student loans, and 2) they are desperate for some enthusiasm going into 2012.

Shorewood football

Messmer/Shorewood's playoff fate up to a judge - JSOnline

Our alma mater is suing the Wisconsin school sports association (WIAA) because Shorewood (or rather, Messmer/Shorewood) believes it has made the playoffs for the first time since I was in 8th grade, and the WIAA wants to leave them out:
The Milwaukee Messmer/Shorewood football team defeated Wayland Academy on Friday night to clinch what it believes is its first playoff berth since 1981.

The question, however, is if a judge will agree.
The controversy centers over a provision in the WIAA bylaws which says that if a school leaves their conference without WIAA approval, then they are ineligible for the playoffs for 4 years.

Shorewood argues that the bylaw is meant for schools who continue to go it alone outside of any conference and Mess/Shore are now in a conference and thus are again eligible. Courts, not just for basketball anymore!

Update (10/19/2012): Messmer/Shorewood won and are playoff bound for the first time since 1981.

Tired Movie Genres

I'm tired of a number of movie genres.

Superhero movies. Good lord. Batman came out 25 years ago, and since then we have been getting more and more and more superhero movies. I swear they have done every major and semi-major hero now. There is still an occasional good one (Iron Man), but really nearly all of them are stale these days.

Gangster movies. Enough already. I am completely uninterested in the lives of the mafia and other gangsters. Even Martin Scorcese can't breath life into this genre.

Jane Austen movies. When did "Jane Austen" become a genre? How many remakes of these novels do we need?

Ivory-Merchant films. Only clones of these are being made now, it seems (are those two still alive?). There was a time 15 years ago or so when they were all the rage. I am still sick of them.

Holocaust movies. Yes, this is a genre. Every year we seem to get two or three major holocaust and holocaust-related films. These films can still have great emotional impact, due to the topic. I am no longer interested though, as I don't see anything new being done here.

Idiotman movies. These are movies with comedic male stars whose characters are idiots. You know the ones.

I think the underlying theme here is safety for producers. Movies are so expensive to make now that nobody wants to risk putting out something fresh. It's a common explanation, and mine is a common complaint.

Ann says: You forgot movies made from old TV shows, eg: "Dukes of Hazzard", "A-Team", "Miami Vice." Is there a single good movie based on a TV show?

Steve says: You are surely right. That group contains what many believe to be one of the worst movies ever made:

A shame, since the original show was pretty good. Remember when we drove to Chicago to see the original Car 54, i.e. the squad car used in the show?

Aphie circa 1980

Remember this?

I just saw a commercial for a new version:

What goes around, comes around.

Is it just me, or does it seem dumbed down? Fewer buttons, certainly and the example on the picture is much more pre-school than K+.

Racist! They cried.

Racist Republicans Flocking to Cain

I love this line:

Either a lot of Democrats have been slandering millions of American voters as racist, or the Tea Party hasn’t gotten the word that Herman Cain is African American.

Anti-democrats in a conservative world

Steve Hayward writes about the Democrats' and progressives' problems with democracy. He doesn't get around to the fundamental problem the left has:

They pose themselves as being champions of the people, but the people are inherently conservative.

That's the source of the disconnect and the discontent with democracy. If the people could vote for politicians who actually represented their views (as opposed to different members of Codevilla's "ruling class,") the country would move further to the right, not left.

Since, in the eyes of liberals, the people are so foolish ("what's the matter with Kansas?"), it would be better to suspend democracy for a while to allow time for the left to bring in their utopia.

Giant kraken lair discovered

Giant kraken lair discovered

The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. In other words, the vertebral disc "pavement" seen at the state park may represent the earliest known self portrait.


Long ago a Greek got into his bath, and noticed that the water level rose as his body entered the water. Thus the simple physics of displacement was discovered. The great Archimedes is said to have uttered the phrase: "Eureka!" (which should be pronounced something like: heh'-ur-eeka.)

Today, with less fanfare and with less import, the National Science Foundation rediscovers that piece of basic science:

From Watts Up With That:

Just like Archimedes discovered millennia ago, it is well known today that the Arctic ice cap displaces it’s own weight in the water so that when it melts it will not cause a rise in global sea level.

Not well known at the National Science Foundation, apparently. They formerly wrote:

In addition to altering salinity, melting sea ice also raises worldwide sea levels, with potentially significant effects for coastal cities and towns

This has now been corrected to:

[Editor's note: An inaccurate statement about sea ice and rising seal levels has been deleted. We regret the error.]

I'd just like to point out that this is grade-school level science.

Law Shmaw

I laughed aloud at this paragraph:
The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis.

Sure, who needs the Constitution, federal laws, international laws, and executive orders... we've got a Secret Memo here! Nicely written, NYTimes. People often bring up the "if Bush did this..." argument. I think it would apply here better than any other place I've seen.


Embedded from Google Shared Spaces. Wonder if this works.

Die Hippies! Die!

This might be a good time to review one of my all-time favorite South Park episodes:

Die Hippie! Die!!
"If you see one hippie, there're probably a whole lot more you're not seeing."

This will change everything

Gone in 60 nanoseconds - The Washington Post

Charles Krauthammer (yes, that Charles Krauthammer--he is an MD after all) writes of the neutrino experiment that might shake the world. In short, a group of serious and experienced physicists have recorded neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light--which according to all our modern physics should be impossible.

Steve Says: Some skeptical analysis here. I have very little understanding of what they are saying, but the general buzz about this seems to be pretty negative. Fun to follow though.

House Hunters

Via Instapundit, this from Megan McArdle:

“I recently discovered HGTV, a channel I watched devotedly for about three weeks before all the renovations began to look the same to me. Every young couple looking for a house wants stainless steel and granite countertops, and wants them RIGHT NOW."

Boy howdy! Watching House Hunters, I get the same impression. People today "couldn't possibly" live in a house with white appliances, or a master bedroom without a walk-in and and a master bathroom with two sinks.

Megan's point is that she thinks stainless appliances and granite counters are going to be out of fashion soon. Indeed, I am a little tired of the look too. It was new 20 years ago. I often wonder if buyers look for these items because they know little about what to look for in a house, and it is easy to evaluate a home based on these conspicuous items. It's like when people watch gymnastics. The vast majority of people have no idea how to evaluate a gymnastics performance. They only know how to look for a solid landing. So to them the landing becomes the single measure.

I would fall out of my chair if some time on House Hunters somebody asked about the school system for the district containing the house. Or about the condition of the roof, or heating system, or windows. Is there moisture in the basement? Is the foundation solid? What are the property taxes like? These are important questions, yet on House Hunters you are far more likely to hear someone ask about a jetted tub.

Ann says: Then there are the "water features" that they insist on putting in just about every yard. Bleah! I always figure that it is due to the show's and the channel's sponsorship by fountain makers. Certainly the appliance companies are providing some of the funding, too.

Update from Steve: I caught some flak from mom regarding the stainless and granite look. Her beautiful kitchen is one of those. My point is not that this is a bad look, or even that it is dated. The point is that it is the only look that seems to be acceptable these days.


Anwar al-Awlaki has been taken out in Yemen. I'm not crying about it, that's for sure, but most of his "terror ties" seem pretty lame. The NYTimes lays them out:

  1. Mr. Awlaki is suspected of helping plan the plot...
  2. ...she stabbed a member of Parliament after listening to more than 100 hours of Mr. Awlaki's speeches...
  3. ...told investigators that he was inspired by Mr. Awlaki...
  4. Mr. Awlaki said that he taught and corresponded with Umar Farouk Abdul mutallab,...
  5. ...Fort Hood in Texas, had been investigated by the F.B.I. before the attack in connection with e-mails he exchanged with Mr. Awlaki...
  6. ... said they were inspired by Mr. Awlaki's lectures...

I can't be alone in thinking this is pretty weak stuff. Is this really enough justification for the President to order an assassination of a US citizen? I don't think listening to his recordings on the net or reading his writings on the net is much of a terror connection. The correspondence with the Fort Hood shooter must not have been incriminating, or more action would have been taken with regard to Maj Hasan. What does "taught and corresponded" mean? Taught what? Corresponded about what?

The claim that he helped plan a bomb plot is more serious. I would like to see more information about this. For the first time I know of, I think that Glenn Greenwald has a point, writing more than a year ago.

Note also Gary Johnson's position. I wish Mr Johnson were getting more traction.

Shower Gel

I wrote
"If shower gel worked well, I might switch. But where is the lather? How can you take a shower without lather? Smear some goo on yourself and rinse it off? It's hard even to tell what's been goo-ed and what hasn't."

Has the world gone mad? Am I the only one who sees just how lousy shower gel performs? It's also expensive.

No thanks.