Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kevin Hassett has the critical reasoning skills of a moldy raisin

The footer makes no bones about the fact that he's a Republican hack. The piece of his "Bush wasn't that bad" argument I find most obviously fallacious is this:

"The argument for his eventual vindication is stronger than many might expect.

On foreign policy, Bush emphasizes that he pursued a “freedom agenda” and spread freedom to Iraq. While the Iraqi future is far from clear, it is possible that the country becomes a democracy and a reliable ally of the U.S. If that transformation is completed, then it could well be viewed as a turning point in the war on terror.

On the home front, to virtually everyone’s surprise, we’ve avoided a terrorist attack since Sept. 11."

Dude, what kind of drugs are you on?

  1. Freedom: Secular Iraq (granted, under a repressive dictatorship) allowed women a great deal of equality and freedom, given a largely Muslim country. Now the theocratic repression that was supplied as ancillary justification for invading Afghanistan is blossoming in "free" Iraq. Maybe we should re-invade? Of course there's also that issue of whether Iraqis are "free" to live where they want, instead of fearing for their lives for being a Sunni in a Shia neighborhood, and vice versa. Not so easy to be "free" when there's religious and ethnic civil war going on around you and death squads are making folks "disappear". Or maybe death squads are part of the Bush notion of freedom? Kevin, you call Iraq free? Taking your wife to Somalia for your next vacation, since it's a safe place?

  2. It's possible that the Iraqis will decide we're totally awesome, and if that happens, Iran will think we're not so bad, and then maybe they'll all friend Israel on facebook, which could totally lead to peace and rainbows and unicorns. Seriously, Kevin? "Maybe it's not the giant fuck up it seems to be, and it will all be okay" is your argument?

  3. You know what else we haven't had in the US since 9-11, besides giant terrorist attacks? Giant meteors. We've also avoided massive outbreaks of Hanta virus, a failure of the Iowa corn crop, and hurricanes hitting Boston. Are the Bush policies behind these "successes", too? And how many (few) attacks is success? If we had experienced three subsequent attacks, Kevin could argue "Hey, at least we didn't have four attacks. I mean, with three, you can see the terrorists were really working hard, so we have to give credit to W for holding them down to just 3."

    There's no parallel world in which W's policies weren't put in place to serve as a control group for this world in which they were. So there's no way to prove that things would have been specifically different without W. One can't take credit for causing non-events. Or not causing non-events. It's made that much clearer by asking who "prevented" the non events: Maybe it was a vigilant populace, a decentralized effort of the citizenry, and not the government that kept us safe.

    Further, there were subsequent attacks. In London and in Madrid. They weren't in the US, but they were the same people with the same agenda and the same strategy. W hasn't cooled the anger and appeal of the radical Islamic agenda, he's encouraged it.

Dude, try again. This time, assume your reader can think.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Protecting marriage by forcing divorces

There's a legal brief filed in CA to nullify the same sex marriages performed in the window between the state court decision declaring equal protection applied to marriage, and the passage of prop 8, which enshrined discrimination in the constitution by attempting to illegally change a fundamental right via ballot inititative.

A grassroots effort to put a human face on the state-imposed divorces that'll happen if the Ken Starr wins his case.

Meanwhile, the Pope has come out emphasizing how the gayness is going to destroy the world. Yes, mein Pope, this is really a big problem for the world. Screw hunger and poverty and ignorance, it's fabulousness that's really killing the planet.

It pisses me off that my mother, usually a thinking woman, hasn't gotten up the guts to abandon the Church. Her conditioning runs too deep. Just sad to see that she continues to support an institution that actively works to deny the civil rights of her friends and children. If she's going to try to change it from the inside, I'm going to want to see some real agitation from her. Either dynamite the status quo, or you're part of the problem.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


A good example of religitards.

There's too much wrongness in the thinking for me to take it all apart right now, and most of it is so obviously false that it's not needed, but the distorted thinking and thinly veiled bigotry seems exemplary of their cause.

My favorite line:

Robbie slapped a Proposition 8 sticker on her desk at the bank where she works as a loan processor, and two on her Mercedes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Take that, religitards!"

I quote one of the commenters.

This is very good. Nice Job, Jerry.

One of the coolest things I've read in a while

I love it when a simple piece of math (or not so simple) makes something previously mysterious become totally understandable. Well worth reading through.

This is a national shame

(link is in the title)

And with Rick Warren being given a national platform by the Obama administration at the inauguration, it's rather a dark day. When will someone get the guts to stand up for equal protection under the law?

I suppose I'll just keep working on fixing CA first.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Praise the Lord and pass the shoes

I wish someone had the sense to put together an impromptu bucket brigade of shoes for Muntadar al-Zaidi. Alas, that he had only two shoes to throw for his country.

I admit that the act is somewhere on the wrong side of the line between assault and protest. But given all the other lines than have been crossed brazenly and remorselessly, crossing that line is forgivable. I hope he is released soon. I wish our Congress had demonstrated the same guts that he did.

The John McCain I liked

Seems to be back. I wish we'd elected him in 2000.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why our civilization deserves to perish

  1. This
  2. People Magazine
  3. Hummers
  4. Jerry Springer
Americans are truly idiots.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Chevron: Greenwashing by betting hippies can't do math

I hear Chevron touting in their self-greenwashing ads that they've "Improved energy efficiency 27% since 1992". I think they hope people will hear that and think "27% seems like a lot. Maybe they're not evil incarnate."

I hear it and think "1992 was a long time ago. What's the 16th root of 1.27?" I can't take 16th roots in my head. I am dumb.

But this is why God made scientific calculators, or, in my case, Excel. Seems Chevron's been growing efficiency at a whopping 1.5% per year since 1992.

Granted, I'm psyched that they care and are tracking this number, and I'm glad it's positive.

But I wonder:
  • How do they measure efficiency? Energy input for unit of production? Is production measured in dollars or product volume? If I use the same energy to make the same number of units, but sell them for twice as much, I get a lot of energy efficiency gain per dollar of output, but none per unit.
  • How much have other oil companies grown efficiency in the same time frame? Are you better than your industry?
  • How have other industries grown efficiency since 1992? Airlines are psyched for new planes that'll be more efficient. The new 747 gets 3% better economy. The dreamliner is 20% more efficient. Granted all of that doesn't drop to the total economy of the whole operation, and airlines aren't swapping out the whole fleet right away, but I have to bet it makes a hefty dent. And these kinds of gains are a lot bigger than Chevron's 1.5%
If your careful greening efforts dropped your electricity bills 1.5% in a year, would you feel you'd been successful? Would you consider yourself a leader in energy efficient living? Would you brag about it? Granted, doing that every year for 16 years might start to get tough. But I expect advances in technology shouldnt make it that hard to do.

Chevron's pathetic progress tells me they really don't care, and they're numeric misdirection says they think ecologically concerned consumers are morons. I am insulted and saddened by the 27%, not impressed. Go buy a solar start up and try to cannibalize your core business. Then I'll be impressed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why I don't buy the bankruptcy argument

Those arguing for the auto industry bailout dismiss the bankruptcy option with an argument along the following lines:

  1. Auto makers' declaring bankruptcy will make consumers fear auto makers will go out of business.
  2. If consumers fear they'll go out of business, consumers will fear that in buying a car from a bankrupt firm, they'll end up with a need for that car and no company to service that need.
  3. Therefore, consumers won't buy from bankrupt auto makers.
They argue that the precedent of airlines declaring bankruptcy and keeping customers doesn't hold because air travel is short term, and cars are long term, and have different prices, etc.

I'm willing to grant parts 2 and 3 of the argument above, and even the airline point (though I disagree). I take issue with point 1. When you have to go to congress on your knees begging for billions to survive just the next few months, there's already ample reason to fear you'll go out of business. I argue bankruptcy doesn't change that perception at all. In fact, it may reverse that perception, as it gives the company a chance to genuinely transform instead of narrowly escape.

So the consumer confidence damage has largely been done. Granted, a blanket guarantee from Uncle Sam that they'll never be allowed to go under would surely boost confidence, and while that may be what the auto industry seeks implicitly, that's the fast track to socialist inefficiency.

The only concern with bankruptcy would be the impact on trade credit with supplier firms. If GM gets to delay payment for parts under bankruptcy, then it may spark a wave of bankruptcies in the supplier firms, now strapped for cash, that freezes up capital flow further down the chain. It could bull whip. I don't know enough of bankruptcy law to know how that'd work out, exactly.

So maybe the big 3 ought to argue that they should be allowed to die from bad products and stupid labor contracts, but not from a capital markets-created cash flow problem. "Let us die as shitty car companies, not as shitty financial engineers. Give us enough money so that we may have a respectable death." That's an argument I might buy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pick and choose