Month: May 2010

Tuesday

Oxford Town CharterChartering a New Course?

One of the best new ideas I’ve heard recently: Charter cities. You find a host country, acquire some land, set your city limits . . . and set your own rules. If you make good rules, people will flock to your city and prosper. If you make bad rules, people will stay away, those who come will be miserable, and eventually you’ll have a charter ghost town.

Perfect. I hate conflict, and that’s why I hate the federal government: By imposing one set of rules on everybody (through legislation, regulation, and applying the Bill of Rights to every state and local government), it creates uniformity, and thereby raises the stakes considerably every time someone has a point of view: if their point of view loses, they have no choice but to feel oppressed, unless they want to leave the country. If we allowed for more political diversity, the person could just move a few miles down the road. Heck, he might just be able to move across the street and thereby escape the charter city limits.

We would be a much more peaceful country. … Read the rest

Monday

Acropolis NowGreece and Other Fun Stuff

Best cover story title of the year so far: “Acropolis Now,” an article about the Greek debt crisis, from the May 1st issue of The Economist. * * * * * Speaking of Greece: when things crossed the Styx in a hand-basket last week, the dollar and gold both rose at the same time. Both, in other words, were seen as safe havens, unlike in 2008, when gold sank while the dollar soared. Said one commentator, last Thursday may have been the day that gold became a currency. * * * * * I listened to a podcast with John Williams last week, the maverick statistician at ShadowStats. He’s pretty interesting. He might be the king of the pessimists, but he’s also king of keeping an eye on the real numbers. Lew Rockwell posted an interview with him over the weekend. * * * * * * * Humorous: … Read the rest

Friday

Worst Beer EverNeo-Prohibitionism in Different Shapes

Mormon morality run amok? Big Brother Syndrome? Stupidity? Not sure, but I’ve never heard of anything like it before: Utah bar owners must run “an electronic scanner on driver licenses of anyone who looks 35 years old or younger. The penalty for failing to electronically verify licenses is akin to serving alcohol to a minor.” Pretty harsh. One otherwise-clean bar paid fines in excess of $1,000 for serving young people over age 21, but failing to run the scanner. Sounds absurd, and I can’t believe it’s an accident that such a law surfaced in Utah. * * * * * It reminds me of why BYU often doesn’t get the college football bowl game invites it deserves. One promoter said, “BYU fans roll into town with a $100 bill in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other. They leave town without breaking either of them.” * * * * * The worst beer of all time? It might be something called “Bud Light Chelada.” Rate Beer pummels it. Among the comments: “Completely undrinkable crap. As if Bud Light wasn’t bad enough, now they add clam juice & tomato to it? Foul & Nasty. Like drinking beer mixed with chum. Pour one for somebody you hate” and “It tastes like someone urinated in a Bloody Mary and mixed in some sea water. This is the most foul thing that could be put in one’s mouth.” Maybe the Mormons brewed it as part of their stealth war against drinking. … Read the rest

Thursday

DebtHubris IOU

Some people are debt-averse. Others aren’t. Why? Well, it’s hard to say, but Nassim Nicholas Taleb recently pointed out that over-confident people take on a lot of debt. His words: “Nobody gave a thought to the idea that overconfidence translates 1-1 into accumulation of debt.” (Link to podcast.) The podcast’s host economist signaled his agreement.

I love nuggets of insight like that. It reverberated with my experience: I don’t have much confidence: in myself (hence, I tend to work harder, out of fear if nothing else), in my country (obviously), and (heck, let’s be candid) in my God, Who always seems to know more than I do, thereby putting me in a constant state of uncertainty. I lack all that confidence, and I’m more debt-averse than a Jewish grandmother. Acquaintances who don’t suffer from my psychosis don’t have any problem with debt accumulation.

The whole thing also dovetails with what I think is the primary problem for developed countries today, especially the United States: hubris. Pride goeth before the fall, and now that the developing world holds a lot of our debt, we might see a one-on-one correlation of pride-to-fall.

Aside: Why isn’t the average American baffled and freaked-out by the fact that our rich country owes poor countries a ton of money?

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RIP, Ernie

Long-time Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died last night. Just a few of the stories I’ve heard this morning:

Ernie was telling a friend that the worst part of his job was the pre-game show. After a while a woman who had been looking at Ernie all evening from the bar approached him and said she’d do anything for $200. Ernie asked her if she’d do a pre-game show.

Ernie was asked what he wanted out of the Old Tiger Stadium after it was torn down. He said he wanted the urinal from the visiting team’s clubhouse. When asked why the visiting team’s clubhouse, he said, “Think about all of the great baseball players from opposing teams that used it over all of those years. I’m gonna put it in the yard and plant flowers in it for my wife.”… Read the rest

Wednesday

streetsign.jpgChunks, Checking Out, and Chumbawamba

Is this a good or bad thing? a study of schoolchildren found that being overweight increased the risk of being the target of bullying by 63 percent. That sucks, but I prefer that thin bullies take care of bodily nonconformance rather than legislative bullies taking care of it by outlawing toys with McDonald’s Happy Meals or enacting other fascist-type measures. * * * * * Interesting blurb heard on a Tom Woods podcast yesterday: Whenever you hear a politician make a promise, tack on the phrase “with a gun” at the end. Because that’s what he means: “I will do X . . . with a gun.” “I will eliminate Y . . . with a gun.” If citizens oppose X or Y, they will be forced, by violence or threat of violence, to comply. * * * * * You won’t need to tell me twice: “Want to live to 100? Well, then get 10 hours of sleep a night, suggests a new study.” But wait, does that just mean I have an additional 20 or so years to coach little league? What if I drop to 2 hours of sleep a night? Can I check out within the next week? * * * * * My favorite anonymous commentator at Zero Hedge is a guy who (and this cracks me up) signs off each post with “I am Chumbawamba.” Yesterday, he posted something I found highly interesting in response to a question about why anybody would purchase silver shot (little bb-sized balls): “If you have a furnace or kiln you can melt and pour your own bars from the shot to make measured units. So if you’re going to invest all your money in silver shot to maximize your Read the rest

Monday

Obama PicBut He Kept His Distance from Obama Girl?

So Obama makes it a triumvirate of sex: Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama. It’s just the National Enquirer, of course, but the story is out there. It’ll be fun, if nothing else. I haven’t heard a good cigar joke in ten years. * * * * * The always-brilliant Thomas Sowell says many slave owners didn’t have as much power over their slaves as the Washington Party has over us: “The current leadership in Washington operates as if they can just set arbitrary goals, whether ‘affordable housing’ or ‘universal health care’ or anything else — and not concern themselves with the repercussions — since they have the power to simply force individuals, businesses, doctors or anyone else to knuckle under and follow their dictates. Friedrich Hayek called this mindset ‘the road to serfdom.’ * * * * * I recently got his classic A Conflict of Visions off the shelf and started re-reading parts in connection with a new literary project. It’s great stuff. * * * * * Movie Gallery is closing all its stores. Bummer. We have one in my micropolitan area. It’s disappointing to see it go, but it was inevitable. On-Demand Digital, Netflix, and those Red Boxes are unrelenting competition. Funny line from Zero Hedge in connection with the story: “bankruptcies still do occur in the US, but the business must be really atrocious plus have no unionized workers anywhere within 50 miles of its operations.”

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