Month: February 2010

Something for Sunday Morning

“The greatest obstacles to the soul’s trying to follow Christ and to help others have their origin in a disordered love of self. At times this leads us to overestimate our strength. At other times, it brings discouragement and despondency as a result of our own weaknesses and our errors. Pride often reveals itself in an interior monologue, in which we exaggerate the importance of our own interests and get them out of proportion. We end up praising ourselves. In any conversation pride leads us to talk about ourselves and our affairs, and to want people to have a good opinion of us at any price. Some people stick to their own opinion, whether it be right or wrong. They seize any chance to point out another’s mistakes, and make it hard to maintain a friendly atmosphere. The most reprehensible way of emphasizing our own worth is by putting down someone else. The proud do not like to hear praise for another person and are always ready to reveal the defects of anyone who stands out from the crowd. A characteristic note of pride is an impatient dislike of being contradicted or corrected.” Francis Fernandez… Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

fresnoAmerica’s Drunkest Cities

I was in Fresno last year. I didn’t appreciate that I was amidst drunken greatness: “Fresno was near the top in every measure of dangerous drinking, including the body count caused by booze-fueled car crashes (Fatality Analysis Reporting System), the number of arrests made for driving under the influence (FBI), the number of people who admit to binge drinking in the last month (CDC), and the severity of DUI penalties (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).” For the complete list of the most drunken cities, go here.

The Top 25:

Fresno, CA
Reno, NV
Billings, MT
Riverside, CA
Austin, TX
St. Louis, MO
San Antonio, TX
Lubbock, TX
Tucson, AZ
Bakersfield, CA
Las Vegas, NV
Modesto, CA
Columbia, SC
Nashville, TN
Madison, WI
Colorado Springs, CO
Denver, CO
Phoenix, AZ
Cheyenne, WY
Sacramento, CA
New Orleans, LA
Toledo, OH
Aurora, CO
El Paso, TX
Corpus Christi, TX

California and Texas each have five. Among the soberest 25, Texas has only one city (Dallas) and California has three. Why the mass drunkenness in Texas?

Franzia Me!

I figured that grain alcohol or 5:00 vodka would be the cheapest way to get drunk. Apparently, that’s not so: “Surprisingly, malt liquor isn’t the cheapest and fastest way to get drunk. That distinction is held by none other than Franzia boxed wine.” For a good analysis of how to get yourself to .08 BAL, check out this site. It has a nifty chart/picture.

If the Flames Hadn’t Gotten Him . . .

I suspect a lethal BAL would have:

A Toms River man died today of severe burns after accidentally igniting spilled vodka with

Read the rest

Health Care Primer

I really don’t have time to craft a decent post this morning, but in light of the Health Care Debate Palooza that’s schedule, combined with a remarkable level of ignorance on the topic, I’m compelled to provide this primer (a discussion I heard while driving to work this morning between two radio disc jockeys–on opposite sides of the issue, both equally ignorant–is what has really motivated me):

First off, most Americans detest the fact that people with pre-existing conditions can’t get insurance. And I agree: that sucks.

But here’s the thing: you can’t cover pre-existing conditions and call it “insurance.” That’s like buying house insurance after your home is on fire. It violates the two fundamental principles of insurance: avoidance of adverse selection and moral hazard.

Moral hazard: If I can get insurance after I get sick, I’ll wait until it happens. As people starting doing that, problems of adverse selection arise: more and more sick people get insurance and fewer and fewer well people get insurance. The cost of coverage goes up, as do the premiums. As the premiums go up, more well people say “Screw it,” with the result that their premium dollars drop out of the system and premiums go up even more. At some point, the system only covers sick people, and then the system crashes because the premiums will have gone up 10, or 20, or 1,000-fold.

Washington understands this, so they decide that everyone must have insurance. This is where a fundamental truth about political philosophy shows itself brazenly: If you’re going to benefit some people, you must coerce others to do it. It happens with every tax dollar … Read the rest


“Strep Wednesday.” Just a slight case, but I’ve been feeling lousy. Penicillin kicking in shortly, I hope. For today, just this: Gadgets That Will Save You Money. I normally click on these sites and see a bunch of crap nobody wants. These gadgets, though, aren’t too bad. Example:

Concoct your own cola
Spend a fortune on fizzy drinks? You’re not alone. The average family of four consumes 2,400 sodas annually-totaling nearly $1,080. With a home fountain machine, you can save money and have fun making everything from soda water to diet root beer. After purchasing a startup kit, you buy refill canisters of CO2 and syrup. A liter of sparkling water is 21 cents, compared with $1.50 or more for the store-bought variety, and flavored soda costs roughly 25 cents per 12 ounces.

Save about $720 per year for a family of four (you’ll also produce less household waste). SodaStream Fountain Jet starter kit, $100.

My family drinks a fair amount of pop. If a family of four saves $720, I’d think a family of nine could save at least $1,400. Then again, my wife won’t drink anything besides Coke. But maybe we could come up with a concoction she likes. If that happens, we might save $2,000+. … Read the rest


educationCollege Excesses

I read this article over at U.S. News & World Report: Bigger Tuition Bills and Student Loans Coming in 2011. It’s the same old crap: Tuition rates are increasing faster than the non-rich can afford. The article has the same air of inevitability and helplessness. Sample: “But many colleges say they can’t keep up with skyrocketing demand for aid.”

Here’s an idea: cut your costs.

I decided to do some “internet journalism” and see how many instances of college excess I could find. I’ve seen stories of excess repeatedly in the past ten years or so (e.g., the public university that put in a marble dining hall), but I never bothered to collect them. Unfortunately, they were hard to find, but they’re out there. In thirty minutes of surfing, here’s what I found:

First: The best article of all: U.S. Colleges Get Swanky: Golf Courses, Climbing Walls, Saunas. It has a lot of great examples of college excess:

The BU gym is among hundreds of luxurious new amenities rising on U.S. college campuses — and few of these projects are directly related to education.

The University of Houston built a 256,000-square-foot recreation and wellness center with a 62-foot-high atrium and outdoor pool studded with palm trees. Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, has its own 18-hole golf course and a heated, $17.5 million ice hockey rink that holds 2,600.

Ohio State University in Columbus completed a 600,000-square- foot recreation center with three pools, a 25-person hot tub and two saunas in June. There’s a video game arcade next to the ESPN SportsCenter desk at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester,

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