Monday, December 31, 2007

Animal rights

We might improve animal welfare if we reduced the criminal penalties for animal mistreatment.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Being poor

This post is a couple years old but it's still a pretty good one.

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Bhott's son, husband to succeed her

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Al Quada and assasination

Did Al Quada kill Bhutto in Pakistan? I don't know. That's what Pakistan says. But assasination is unlike anything Al Quada has done in the past. That's just not the sort of thing they do or have done.

I kind of suspect we aren't being told the truth. Wouldn't that be a shocker?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Keeping you safe

The reason I'm afraid to fly is that airport security is insane and I know that one of these days I'll say so out loud and get myself arrested.


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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ron Paul and A list bloggers

It's a very common human fraility for people to think of themselves as members of some group that's in some sense superior to the group that those other people belong to.

Stephen Kaus gives us a great example of that in a recent bloggingheads matchup with him and Ann Althouse. He divides the world into two groups, one who watches cable news in the evening and the other watches reality TV.

Guess which group he's in?

The really funny part is that he seems to think his co-host, Ann Althouse is in the same group he's in. If he'd actually read her blog he'd realize she blogs about her favorite reality TV shows much more often than she blogs about Keith Olbermann or Fox News. The guy is just a twit, completely unaware.

He shows his ignorance again in the segement on Ron Paul. He sure has an opinion about Ron Paul, but he knows nothing about the guy. Ann has to tell him that Paul is an MD, and it appears that even Ann doesn't know that he's an ob/gyn that's delivered a few thousand babies and never done an abortion.

Ann also seems to think he must be racist since he grew up in the south. He lives in Texas, he grew up in Pennsylvania. You'd think these people would try to learn something about subjects before they pontificate on them. But I guess not.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Drug warrior

I can't think of anything more un-American than to support the drug war. And John McCain is not only a drug warrior, he's proud of it.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Insuring against terrorism

This is an interesting post about an act of Congress I hadn't read about before. The US government is acting as a re-insurer for terrorism insurance. The government is assuming all risk for terrorism insurance written by insurance companies and doing it for no fees at all. The ultimate in corporate welfare.

That kind of nonsense just needs to stop. It's really outrageous.
under this Act the government requires all commercial (not residential) property/casualty insurers to offer insurance for terrorism risks. In exchange, the government agrees to pay 90% of all losses over a certain amount (determined by a complex formula) that result from certified acts of terrorism. In short, the government provides reinsurance for commercial insurers in the case of a terrorist attack. But unlike normal reinsurance agreements, commercial insurers pay nothing up front for the reinsurance.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Adult christmas

The other day I mentioned my most memorable Christmas as a kid. As long as I'm reminiscing I have a couple of favorite Christmas's as an adult.

One was when I was living in San Francisco and my son visited for Christmas. I don't recall exactly how old he was, I think he was about 10.

He'd been born in Baton Rouge, and was living in Baton Rouge, but we'd lived in Chicago when he was 3-4, that's where his mother and I divorced and she later moved back to Baton Rouge with him. He mentioned that he didn't remember anything about Chicago and didn't remember ever having seen snow at Christmas.

So, I decided I was going to give him a White Christmas. Christmas morning we (myself, Robert (my son), and Terry (my girlfriend at the time) rented a car and hit the road headed East. We took hiway 50 out of Sacramento, through Placerville and along the southern route around Lake Tahoe. We took our time and got to South Tahoe with no reservations and weren't able to find a room at any of the ski places on the California side of the lake, but did find a room at a casino hotel on the Nevada side. We spent a day having snowball fights and drove back to Sunny San Francisco after one night.

I remember us all having a good time. I also remember my ex-wife throwing a fit about it when Robert got home and told her about him having walked through the casino to get to our hotel room. She thought that exposing him to such sin was going to ensure his place in Hell, or something like that. We had a good time anyway.

The other memorable Christmas as an adult is when I was living in East Texas and my girlfriend (Gwen) and I decided to go to New Orleans for Christmas. We drove over with no hotel reservations and found a little place in the Quarter. We had Christmas dinner at a French Quarter bar that off of Bourbon a couple of blocks and was mostly frequented by locals. They were having a pot luck dinner, with various dishes brought by customers and shared. A lot of homemade dirty rice and etouffee. Cafe de Monde was closed that Christmas day. I'm not sure why. But we still had a really good time.


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

My best Christmas

The year I was 10 my little brother was born and there were a lot of complications with the birth. Momma spent a lot of time in the hospital that year and they ran up some major medical bills. My mother got a part-time job to help pay off those bills.

Two years later they still hadn't paid off the bills, although they were making a dent in them. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery and major treatments after the surgery. More bills, plus no more part-time job for a while. Daddy was working two jobs but money was tight. That was the year I got my first job, working Sundays in my grandfather's restaurant.

Before Christmas my parents sat down at the kitchen table with my sister and I and explained the financial realities of Christmas to us. There would be no Christmas presents that year, they told us. I knew things were bad financially, although I didn't realize they were that bad. My sister was only 9 and I think the whole thing was probably more of a shock to her.

When we returned from the traditional church service on Christmas Eve there was a clock radio playing in my room, a very unexpected Christmas present (my Dad's brother had brought it in while we were at church). I don't remember what my sister got, but she got something also. That's my most memorable Christmas present.


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Friday, December 21, 2007

Rape laws

Since the announcement of the 16 year old Spears sister pregnancey I'd wondered what the age of consent was in Louisiana and thought it weird that non of the news reports have mentioned that.

Most of the reports I've seen put the age of the daddy at 18, but then when I saw one that said he's 19 I thought I'd look it up.

If he was 19 when the child was fathered he committed a felony, if 18 it's a misdemeanor. In either case the age of consent is 17.

Why has nobody mentioned that?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, December 20, 2007


In early 1968 I was on an American destroyer, USS Hull, en route to Vietnam from the Philippine Islands when we got reports that an American spy ship, USS Pueblo, was under attack by the North Korean Navy and at risk of being boarded.

Our Captain didn't wait for orders. We were a long ways from North Korea, but he changed course, headed North, prepared to go to war with North Korea. Pretty much to a man that was a decision supported by the crew.

In 1968 the US Navy had a lot of people in it who were basically draft evaders, not big fans of the Vietnam War. But the general thinking was that it was just the luck of the draw that put us on USS Hull instead of USS Pueblo. If I'd have been on Pueblo getting ready to repel boarders I'd have been looking at the horizon watching for the cavalry to come charging to my rescue.

But I wasn't on the Pueblo. I was on the Hull. A gunship destroyer. I was the cavalry. It just seemed like my job to go to their rescue if I could.

But it didn't take long for us to get an order to return to our previous course and steam to the DMZ Naval gunline in Vietnam. Forget about those sailors on the Pueblo.

The cavalry never came charging over the hill for those sailors. It's an episode in our history that I think all Americans should feel shame about.

I think that Eric Volz, sitting in a Nicaraguan prison waiting for the US government to send the cavalry to rescue him must feel something like I think those sailors felt.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Daryl and his brothers

Earlier this week we had an ice storm that lasted a couple of days. I lost power the first night but they had it back on within an hour or so. The second night pretty much everybody in this part of Oklahoma lost power, trees and utility poles where falling everywhere (from the weight of the ice), a lose power line was dancing in the street about a block away, things didn't look they would get fixed real fast this time.

The weather forcast was for things to thaw out and the fog to lift about morning time, so I killed time until morning by taking some naps in the van and shopping at Wal-Mart. When the sun came up I hit the road headed South.

During my wait for the roads to start thawing out, I was buying an electric blanket (I had an extra battery and an inverter to run it with) in line behind 3 guys who were dead ringers for the Daryl, Daryl, and Daryl brothers in the Newhart show. Watch caps and all. Right out of the woods.

Two of them were unloading two baskets full of stuff like Gatorade, Ramon noodles, Root Beer, Cinnamon rolls, cases of stuff. They paid for it with one of those electronic food stamp cards, it was $100 of food that had pretty much zero food value.

The third was next and he paid cash for a small Sterno container. I guess it was to cook the Ramon noodles.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The coke sniffing drug warrior

There's a reason that Obama has been endorsed by the New York prison guard union -- he's a drug warrior and supports full employment policies for prison guards. The prison business is all about the drug war and Obama is good for business.

Hillary's recent dirty trick attempt at accusing him of distributing drugs gave him an opening to attack the drug war and he passed on that opportunity. The drug war is destroying our constitution and destroying the fabric of our society. It attacks our children and our families.

Any politician who supports the drug war, even passively, does not deserve your vote our your respect.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Lock 'em up

I never got a PhD, but I was in three different programs, in three different fields. In Quantitative Business Analysis at LSU, in Industrial Engineering/Management Science at Northwestern, and in Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State. I got a Master's degree at LSU before I went into their PhD program, then Northwestern gave me a Master's as a consolation prize when I left theirs.

So, I somewhat identify with Al Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon. Not in the sense of being anywhere near as successful in the academic world as he has been, he's a past president of Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS) and of the American Society of Criminology (ACS)and past Dean of the School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie-Mellon. The identification is just about the overlapping interests in Operations Research and Criminal Justice Policy.

I thought about this a little when I read this post about some things Blumstein has said and written about minimum sentencing. He's argued against it. And rightly so, mandatory minimum sentences is just a really stupid idea that originated with people like John Lott for whom simplistic ways of thinking is a religious experience.

What bothers me about Blumsteins position is that he seems to ignore the fundamental problem with our criminal justice policy -- the drug war itself. Optimally fine tuning the specifics of a corrupt and failed policy just isn't a good way to do operations research.

The drug war itself is why the United States prisons are overflowing, not mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimums are bad, but the drug war is just terrible. I don't understand how any rational, honest person can support the drug war in any way.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, December 14, 2007


The weather and roads finially cleared up enough for me to drive south a couple hundred miles until they got the power back on.

On the way back home I stopped at some little cafe someplace in the boondocks of Oklahoma for lunch. It was about 20 till 3 in the afternoon. They had a sign out front that said "Open 24 hours".

One thing I learned long ago that whenever you go into a strange restuarent and they ask for a drink order to just get a glass of water until you look at the menu. I hate it when I decide to walk out but have to pay for a glass of tea or something.

Anyway, I asked for water and saw two small menus on the side of the napkin holder. One was a breakfast menu -- breakfast served from 6 am thru 2:30 pm, it said.


The other was a lunch menu -- lunch served from 11 am thru 2:30 pm. On the back of that one it had some stuff like corn dogs and pie listed.

I didn't really want a corn dog and it seemed like I was late for breakfast or lunch.

When the waitress brought my water I asked her if she had a current menu. She said, "Do you want a dinner menu?". I said, "I don't know, I just want to eat and it seems I'm too late to eat from these menus".

She walked off and returned with a sheet of paper with the heading Dinner Menu, 5pm thru 9pm NO EXCEPTIONS MADE.

She just dropped it on the table and walked off.

I left, found a Subway a few more miles down the road.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ice Storm

We had an ice storm last night, and it's continueing tonite.

I have a bunch of trees in the yard, two of them are pretty big pine trees. I was out in the yard today (trying to thaw the ice off the car door so I could drive to the store). Both pine trees have broken limbs still hanging up in the tree. The one nearest the house has a couple of low limbs so heavy with ice that they touch the ground (normally they're about 7 feet off the ground.

I just heard a big crack. Something hit the ground. Since I don't have a tree branch new to the living room I assume it hit the ground.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Waterboarding and the race for President

This is why you should realize that they're pretty much all worthless. It appears that none of the candidates where in this meeting, but the leading contenders are part of the culture that the ones in this meeting come from.

This country does not need another religious and anti-science nutcase running the whitehouse, but Huckabee at least has some sense of moral scruples. Something Hillary and Obama and Romney and Rudy simply don't have. We don't need any of those worthless people in power.

I'm still a fan of Richardson or Paul but somebody like Huckabee or Edwards might be worth considering, depending on how things play out. None of those four leading contenders mentioned above are worth any consideration at all.

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Friday, December 07, 2007


The History Channel is running a promo for some show they're going to have. The promo shows Richard Nixon saying that if he could pick the time and place of where to live he'd pick the United States in 1968.

Amazing how much not being subject to the draft has to do with that attitude.

I guess I'd rather have been in the United States that year to compared to where I spent most of the year.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Patterico is an ex-patriot Texan who works as a prosecutor in Los Angeles. You can tell a lot about what's wrong with the criminal justice system in the United States by reading his blog and getting some insight into the way prosecutors tend to think.

Recently he argues that it's a good thing to convict someone of murder if you can just prove that they had knowledge that someone else planned a burglary. Read the whole blog post, he really says that.

I didn't even know that it was illegal to plan a burglary, much less it was equivalent to murder to know someone who planned a burglary. But to a typical prosecutor in the United States such logical analysis is just part of a days work.


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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bonnie and Clyde

I've been playing poker in Ponca City, OK the last few nights and it's about 100 mile round trip through the Oklahaoma countryside so I've been listening to various books on tape.

The one I was listening to last night was Bonnie and Clyde and Me by Floyd Hamilton. Floyd Hamilton was a bank robber who knew Bonnie and Clyde, ran with them some, and was the brother of Raymond Hamilton who was a more active member of the Barrow Gang.

Floyd ended up doing a lot of time in Alcatraz for bank robbery and Raymond ended up in an electric chair for the killing of a prison guard during a jail break orchastraded by Bonnie and Clyde along with his brother Floyd. Floyd was never convicted of being part of that prison break.

One of the interesting things about it is that it seems Bonnie and Clyde weren't really much in the way of bank robbers. Floyd talks about one bank robbery he arranged that Clyde backed out of at the last minute -- Clyde much preferred just robbing small country grocery stores/gas stations. Essentially Clyde was a small time 7/11 stick up artist.

I'd heard that before, that Bonnie and Clyde are often described as bank robbers but the realilty was that they mostly robbed small stores.

He says the reason his brother broke from Bonnie and Clyde and went off on his own was two fold -- he thought Bonnie and Clyde were trigger happy and also that they were small time and he wanted to just concentrate on banks.

The tapes have some interesting stories about country boy bank robbers.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

I'm not a Mormon

What do you expect from a guy who thinks the most important qualification for being President of the United States is to not be a Mormon?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Library card

I'm in the public library in Stillwater, Oklahoma. To use the library computers who have to use a reservation terminal and input your 14 digit library card number (yes, 14 digits) and your last name. It then assigns you to a computer. You walk over to that computer (you almost never have to wait) and input your 14 digit library card number (yes, the same 14 digits) to claim the computer for an hour.

Stillwater is the county seat of Payne County. I'm not sure what the population of Payne County is, but the Stillwater Library seems to be prepared for a population of at least 100,000,000,000,000 or so.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Legal theory

For those of you who doubt my frequent claims that law has nothing to do with logic or rational thought, read this.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bible verse for today

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