Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Four years for reading her email

I think that's a little much. I don't know what kind of defense attorney he'd have to plead to that.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Troop morale

The CJR has a story about a NYT op-ed discussion of troop morale in Iraq.

In 1968 I was on a US destroyer on the gunline off the coast of the DMZ between Cap Lay and Tiger Island. We didn't have embedded journalist back then but we did have a few reporters make trips to the ship. Interview subjects were always arranged in advance by the ships command.

I was not what you'd call a happy sailor. I'd have rather been in Canada. No reporter ever talked to me. They always reported high morale and a gung-ho attitude of the sailors. And the military has only gotten better at managing reporter access.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Foreign policy and democrats

Hillary and Obama both seem to think foreign policy experience is important.

Obama lived in Indonesia for a couple of years when he was about 10.

Hillary was married to a guy who was responsible for foreign policy of the United States.

Bill Richardson was United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

So are Hillary and Obama competing over which is better qualified to be Richardson's VP?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Only the comfortable truth, please

Jessica, of the blog feministing, seems to think that young women should be told the truth, unless the truth makes her uncomfortable, then never mind. She says,
What feminists really believe (and what Liebau and friends refuse to address): That young women should be informed and not lied to. .... That young women can make decisions for themselves without moral panic assholes telling them they're whores.

Basically that means that young women should be free to become whores (they are) but if they make that choice no one should ever point that out to them.

Some truths are better than other truths.

What a twit. She's a classic example of the kind of feminist who just can't cope with reality because she can't distinguish between what she thinks should be and what actually is.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Teenage girls make me nervous. It was teenage girls who started the Salem witch trials, and today's society tends to give teenage girls a tremendous amount of power when it involves a strange man.

Years ago, in Corpus Christi, TX, I was dating a woman with a teenage daughter. The woman worked at a convenience store and I knew her work schedule. I'd never gone to her house when she wasn't expecting me, had never gone without calling first.

One night, when she was working, when she got home from work her daughter told her that I'd come by and knocked on the door. She knew it was me because I had a big truck (it was actually an old bread truck that had been converted into an RV) and she saw the headlights high up off the ground through the window. The daughter didn't answer the door because she was home alone.

The woman asked me why I'd gone over there when I knew she was working.

Well, I hadn't gone over there. I don't know who it was, but it wasn't me. I don't think the daughter was making the story up, but everybody seemed to be jumping to unfounded conclusions.

I stopped dating that woman immediately, and since then have pretty much tried to avoid dating women with teenage daughters.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tax burden

Almost everybody agrees that tax burdens should be fair. You're arguing with the wind if you argue about that. Disagreement comes when you start trying to define what fair means. Most would agree that it means the utility of the tax burden should be equalized. Some don't think that, but most do. But that still doesn't answer the question because who decides what utility function to use?

Simplistic answers (such as equal dollar burdens) seem to work very well for simplistic minds. But such answers aren't really answers because they fall apart when you try to implement them.

For an example of why a tax with a flat dollar amount, the same for each person, won't work consider a country with 10 citizens that costs $20 per year to operate. Total personal income is $2,000 so the total tax burden is just 1% of total personal income. Not bad at all. $2 per person per year.

But that income isn't distributed across the citizens uniformly. Two citizens are very poor, two are very rich, and the other six are somewhere in the middle, something like

Two @ $1
Two @ $2
Two @ $20
Two @ $100
Two @ $877

It's not only not fair to tax everyone $2, it's not possible. That's why the rich pretty much have to have a higher tax burden than the very poor.

A comment talks about John Kerry as a billionaire. His wife is the one that's rich, not him.

The same commenter argues for a flat tax, where everyone pays the same percentage. That also falls apart if you have large dispersion in income for the same reason having everyone pay the same amount falls apart -- to those at the very low end the tax might mean skipping a few meals.

This post had been a response to a thread in rec.gambling.poker where there was a lot of debate about "fair" taxation. I often turn a discussion group post into a blog post. My point was that we're never going to agree on what fair means.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, November 19, 2007

States rights

Rudy was making fun of Hillary and her "federalist" position on driver's licences. Of course Hillary has since changed her message on that, but I wondered at the time why she didn't try to pick up some of that southern redneck vote by framing it as a states rights issue.

I'm convinced Rudy and Hillary are both worthless and the only hope we have is a Richardson/Paul race but that isn't going to happen.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Harris County

Back when was a graduate student in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas myself and a couple of other graduate students spent a few minutes one afternoon trying to count the number of police agencies in Harris County (Houston). We counted over 50 before we had to stop to go to class. And we hadn't even counted railroad police yet.

It's a very over-policed area, every suburban city has a police department, every school district or university campus has it's own police department, eight constables (in Texas each political precinct has a constable, an elected official which is essentially a precinct level sheriff), various federal agency offices with their own police powers, etc, etc.

It's really no surprise at all that Harris County jails have been dangerously overcrowded for over 20 years. I did some unpublished writings on jail overcrowding in Harris County in the early '90's*. Nothing's really changed.

*"Techniques for Forecasting an Urban Jail Population During Periods of Policy Disequilibrium", presentation to Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 12, 1992, with Charlie Friel.

Disaggregated Forecasts of the Harris County Jail Population: 1992-1997. Prepared for Commissioners Court, Harris County Texas, May 1991, 1-114, with C. M. Friel and M. Bodapati.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Theives with badges

They had no legal authority to stop the car or to search it or to seize it's contents. But they'll keep the money anyway.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

"Well respected within the Police Department"

That's what the Cheif of Police said about one of his cops just convicted of indeceny with child.

You can always depend on a cop to be a good judge of character.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, November 12, 2007

Feminism and economics

What do feminism and economics have in common?

They are both primarily faith-based disciplines -- with predetermined ideas about what "should be" rather than an intellectual interest in examining "what is".

People tend to react to things with a mixture of emotionally and rationally triggered responses. It's not always easy to predict whether emotional or rational triggers will be predominate in a given situation.

Feminists tend to often have emotional responses to events and they make the mistake of expecting others to also have emotional responses, and they'll then try to explain the observed behavior of others by attribution of emotions.

Economists tend to have rational responses to everything, and they make the mistake of expecting others to also have rational responses. I'd previously used the term hyper-rational to describe this when I talked about one of the premier nutcase economists, John Lott, in an earlier post. That's not really the right term. Delusionally rational is probably a better term.

What prompted this post was a comment by Major Bob, a sometimes commenter here who teaches ROTC and has a PhD in economics. He has the typical right wing delusionally rational (emotional) response to things that you frequently see in those trained in classical economics.

Like feminists, that kind of economists decided in advance what he thinks the truth should be then seeks out data to support that belief. There's nothing scientific or analytical about them, it's just all pretense.

The comment in question was about my post on lynching.

He quotes a bunch of statistics about things like black on black murder rates that causes him to claim leads to the conclusion
A contemporary black man would be safer walking into a KKK meeting and saying, "Is this where they be handin' out the welfare checks" than he would walking down Martin Luther King Boulevard after dark. A black man in a hoodie should be more frightening for them than seeing a noose hanging from a tree in a schoolyard.

Like feminists, the economist focus is on what his personal moral compass, whatever that is, tells him should be. There is no focus on what is.

Among the statistics he quotes is is that black on black murder rates are higher (by a lot) than white on black murder rates. But what he omits is that execution rates for blacks convicted of murder or a white a very much higher than the execution rates of whites convicted of murder of a black. Very much higher by a lot more than the difference in murder rates.

Lynching is part of that institutionalized killings of blacks that today is represented by the death penalty. Most lynchings would not have been included in murder rates simply because they weren't considered murder -- as I pointed out in my previous post, many of them were just after church picnics with the torture, hanging, and mutilation of a black man as part of the entertainment.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Green nonsense

What's with all these Green Public Service Announcements running? They're full of new age nonsense.

One says that the natural state of nature is one of equilibrium. Is that true? I'd have thought change was the natural state of nature.

Another says that American Indians made plans for 7 generations. That's pure nonsense. Maybe they didn't have a concept of time larger than about 7 generations, but that has nothing to do with tribal social planning.

What happened to science? Do they really think that ecology requires muddled brains?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Police and truth

It's official policy within police agencies. What actually happened is not important, only what they say happened is what matters.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Brokaw and the sixties

I'm watching some MSNBC rerun of Brokaw being interviewed about his book Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today. He said a couple of things that struck me as wrong.

First was a comment about music. He included the Beatles as part of the hard rock music that replaced Elvis.

When I was a kid and the Beatles came to the US most kids I knew considered the Beatles almost girlie music. It was nice music to listen to, even dance to, it was popular, but it didn't speak to the disaffected nearly the way the Rolling Stones did.

The implication that I wanna hold your hand was rebellious while Get off my cloud wasn't is just insane.

The other thing that struck me was when he talked about the assassination of JFK. He drew a cause and effect line from the death of JFK to LBJ to Vietnam to the resurgence of Nixon.

He got the timeline right but I don't think it was Vietnam that got Nixon elected. I think it was the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That's something liberals like Brokaw don't want to give LBJ credit for but it's very doubtful that would have passed with JFK president.

I was living in the South then, and that's pretty much what killed LBJ's and the Democratic party's chance to carry the South.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

American myths

One of the great myths of America is that of a frontier country, a place where anyone can go and reinvent themselves, can become a part of society no matter what their background.

That has long been a myth of the country and was very strong myth of the SouthWestern US as I was growing up in Texas. No matter who badly you might screw up you can come to Texas and redeem yourself. That's the magic of the great story of the Alamo -- Crockett, Travis, and Bowie had all come to Texas to escape personal failures and even criminal prosecution in the case of Travis.

That's just not the way the country works anymore though. If you screw up there's nothing you can do about it. They'll get you eventually.
In the 33 years since her escape from a Georgia women's prison, Deborah Ann Gavin Murphey was able to evade authorities and keep most of her past to herself, carving out a small-town life in East Texas where she worked as a nurse and raised two children.

She offered a few clues about her past to her husband and partner of 32 years, Richard Murphey.

He knew she was a military brat and he had met members of her family.

And before they were married, he knew she had spent time in prison.

But he didn't learn the full story until this week, after federal agents arrested his wife at the couple's home in tiny Frankston, about halfway between Tyler and Palestine. It turns out, she walked out of the Georgia Women's Correctional Institution in 1974, where she was serving time for an armed robbery conviction.

"It's like a whirlwind around here," Murphey, 63, said Friday as he spent another day learning more about his wife while also trying to find her an attorney.

Deborah Murphey sits in the Anderson County Jail awaiting transfer back to Georgia.

"I seen her yesterday and she's not doing good," Murphey said of his wife.

On Wednesday, a federal fugitive task force arrested Deborah Murphey, 53, more than three decades after she simply walked away from prison — her sixth escape, authorities said.

The cold case had made it into the hands of Atlanta-based Jason Watson, a Georgia corrections employee assigned to the newly formed U.S. Marshal Service's Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, a few months ago.

Watson said Murphey's case had been open but no significant development pinpointing her whereabouts occurred until late September, when another member received a tip that she was living in Frankston.

Married in McKinney
The former Deborah Gavin was convicted of an armed robbery that she has since told her family she didn't commit.

"She was passed out in the back seat," Murphey said of the crime that landed his wife in prison. "She met this boy and this girl. When the car stopped, it was surrounded by police. She had found out they had stopped and robbed the store somewhere."

After her prison escape in 1974, she fled to Tennessee and Florida. She made her way to her mother's home in Irving, near Dallas the next year. While living there, Deborah Gavin met Murphey, a construction worker, through friends. He offered her a job as a construction helper at his job in Plano.

Shortly after the two became a couple in 1975, she told Murphey she had been in prison and had escaped at least once.

"I knew she had been in the pen and she had gotten out, went to Louisiana and then she got caught," Murphey said.

But she said nothing about her last escape until after the two were married by a McKinney justice of the peace in 1984.

"It was awhile after we got married," Murphey said. "I was kind of tongue-tied."

The couple eventually relocated to East Texas, where the woman with an eighth-grade education got into the University of Texas at Tyler, earning a nursing degree in 1994.

On her application for a Texas nursing license, Deborah Murphey checked the "No" box when asked: "Have you ever been convicted of a crime other than minor traffic violations?"

The Texas Board of Nursing Examiners did not do background checks at that time. Her license has since been renewed, but was to expire next year.

Background checks on nursing license applicants became mandatory in 2004. Murphey's record had not been checked at the time of her arrest this week, according to the board.

The couple had two children, a boy and girl, now grown. "They didn't know nothing until Wednesday," their father said.

Murphey did tell her husband that the prison was involved in a sex abuse scandal involving correctional officers and inmates. Officials confirm that a sex abuse scandal forced the prison to close in the 1990s. Murphey said he never asked his wife if she had been abused.

"She didn't tell me," he said. "I didn't want to know."

But one of her siblings, living in Oklahoma City, informed Murphey this week that she was sexually abused at the prison.

'The marshals are here'
Murphey worked as a nurse until two years ago, when a back injury forced her to quit her job at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler. She's had heart problems and one kidney removed because of cancer.

She was home alone Wednesday.

The marshals' task force first posed as municipal workers to verify Deborah Murphey was indeed Gavin the fugitive.

Once they confirmed her identity, they regrouped and approached the two-story home again. They identified themselves and informed her she was about to be arrested.

She walked back into the house, telling officers she had to place the family dog, Roxy, in another room. She returned, Watson said, with a 12-gauge shotgun.

She told the officers she was afraid and would put down the gun if they let her talk to her husband.

Murphey was working in Tyler when his wife called to say she would not be home when he returned from work.

"She said: 'The marshals are here and they're going to arrest me,' " Murphey said.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

None of them are worth voting for

Earlier I suggested a reason that it would be a good idea to vote for somebody other than Rudy.

Here's links to a couple of posts that suggest a reason to stay away from Hillary.

It just looks more and more to me that Bill Richardson or Ron Paul are the only actual rational choices. Bill Richardson because he actually has some competence in government, Ron Paul because he actually has a moral compass.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Incompetence and loyalty

Simple Justice has a post about Bernie Kerik that clearly illustrates why you should be very, very afraid that Rudy actually has a shot at becoming president.

The only thing on Kerik's resume that he actually did a good job at was when he was Rudy's driver.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, November 09, 2007


Classical Value has a post pointing to Dr. Helen who wrote about a site that computes a blog readability index of some sort.

This blog is rated High School.

I also rated two other blogs I write, Poker Culture and Math and Poker.

Math and Poker is rated college undergraduate.

Poker Culture is rated elementary school.

They all have the same writer. Why the difference in readability.

The only difference is topic.

This blog is mostly just general discussion of politics and culture, mostly pretty superficial stuff and mostly pretty superficial discussion.

The Math and Poker blog is about mathematics and how it relates to poker. I don't think the writing is at a very advanced level. I tend to use short sentences and small words no matter what the topic. But the topic tend to be at a college undergraduate or first year graduate student level, using words and terms like stochastic, optimal, trajectory, risk adjusted expected value, and other such stuff.

The Poker Culture blog tends to be somewhat about poker, somewhat about poker players. I don't think a lot of poker players actually got much past 8th grade, so elementary school is probably about right for that one.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Cowboys and wolves

Althouse seems to think
There isn't even an association between cowboys and wolves. Cowboys don't fight wolves.

In Wyoming the federal government actually gives wolf permits to ranchers so they can have their cowboys kill them.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ron Paul is pretty much the only choice we have left

Read these two posts about the rule of law in the United States and think about it.

When Diane Feinstein decided to vote to support torture and the use of secret prisons it left US voters without much of a choice. Hillary shows no signs at all of changing the direction of the Bush presidency and Rudy certainly won't make any changes.

Ron Paul is the only candidate in the race that seems to actually care about freedom in America more than he does about personal power.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Innocent until charged

The dictum Innocent until proven guilty is a popular one used to describe the American Justice system, but it's a far from accurate description.

The idea of a presumption of innocence stems from the burden on the state (or plaintiff in a civil action) to prove all elements of the accusation beyond a reasonable doubt (or to a lessor standard in civil actions).

One of the most common examples of a statutory presumption of guilt is in charges of intent to distribute narcotics. Mere possession of a specified amount creates a legal presumption of intent, the burden of proof shifts to the accused to proof that he didn't really commit the crime of intent to distribute narcotics. Not exactly what we like to think of when we think of a presumption of innocence.

Presumptions of guilt also arises in criminal offense related to DWI, bad checks, a wide, wide range of criminal offenses. It's almost become the norm in American criminal proceedings.

It's even worse than that though. As Simple Justice points out, prosecutors often don't even have to tell you what you're actually accused of doing.

One of the reasons out prisons are all over-flowing is that we just keep making it easier for prosecutors to fill them up with people they can't prove actually did anything wrong.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, November 05, 2007

Global Waming

MSNBC is having a week of proganda about Green and Global Warming. Interviewing one spokesperson on the subject they asked why we should believe forecasts about weather. The answer is that we should believe the forecasts about global warming becuase the things they predicted in the future have occured faster than they were predicted.

In other words, we should rely on the forecasts becuase the forecasters have shown themselves to not be able to forecast very well.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Only in Texas

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