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Which New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Are You?

Go figure: if I click, regarding the Iraq war, "For it; it's all about freeing Iraqis from a brutal dictator," then I'm Thomas Friedman. But if I click "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out," I'm Paul Krugman. WTF?

"The early morning e-mail...

... you know you want."

I certainly like it.

A 'Progressive' Solution to Social Security

Lower income folks get wage-indexed benefits. Higher income earners get price-indexed benefits. Offset the lack of growth for Higher Incomes by allowing Personal Savings accounts, which trump everything.

The government wouldn't need to immediately borrow any money, and the system is solvent for as long as is traditionally forecast (75 years).

Best yet, it sounds like something both parties could vote for.


On The Ascendent

Chalabi is new oil minister. From getting paid $27,000,000 for WMD "intel," to having your home raided and your portrait shot at because you're an Iranian agent... and now you're taking charge of Free Iraq's oil, all with your name never on a ballot. Well done, Ahmed; your point.

Previously: [Nobel nomination] | [Politics: Bring It On]


The coalition that has rallied around price controls likes to say, "A drug that is unaffordable is neither safe nor effective." But as the "European disease" has shown, price controls will not merely make medicines more "affordable." They will make them unavailable and undiscoverable.

The vast majority of new life-saving drugs come from America these days, mainly because companies are allowed to reap the profits. I'm reading this book right now, which makes it clear that selling drugs in Europe is usually at a loss.

That, of course, has an effect on R&D efforts there, which leads to fewer new drug developments. Milton Friedman's response at a conference last year, saying that the companies are operating under a contract specifying that re-importation isn't allowed. He neglects the coercive power of government to force re-importation. Hopefully companies will still be allowed to not sell their product in those other countries with price controls. The response will probably be a massive violation of patents with illegal production of the drugs.

I can’t believe folks in congress can be so shortsighted – seeing only their next election and wanting to look like they have “taken action” on expensive drugs.

[No one seems to complain about the innovations until they become too expensive. If someone developed a box that allowed you to talk directly to God for half your net worth, I’m sure you’d get Edwards up on stage complaining about the two Americas again…]


Garfield and Polk to be on US Coins

Supporters realize that the dollar coin is the Rodney Dangerfield of American money. So they make clear that any new coin would augment -- not replace -- paper currency.

In fact, although the coins would enter into general circulation, their biggest selling point is that people might hoard them.

The idea steals a page from the popular 50 State Quarters series, in which the engraving on the 25-cent piece rotates to honor all the states. That legislati

on was also the brainchild of Rep. Castle.

The subjects depicted on the dollar coins would be the U.S. presidents. The plan is to introduce four new ones a year beginning in 2007, honoring each of the nation's chief executives in the order of their service.

After the 50 State series launched in the late 1990s, the government discovered that an astonishing number of people were collecting each new quarter as it rolled out of the U.S. Mint, taking the pieces out of circulation.

It costs the Mint less than five cents for each 25-cent piece it produces. So in a process called seignorage, the government makes money whenever someone "buys" a coin then chooses not to spend it.

The Treasury estimates that it has earned about $5 billion in seignorage profits from the quarters so far.

Proponents of a new dollar hope to build on that unexpected success by creating another coin with mass market appeal.

"The first goal is to increase collection and production of the dollar coin," says Elizabeth Wenk, a spokeswoman for Rep. Castle.

I can't wait for the Van Buren and William Henry Harrison coins.

Slash Coulter

Is this you, Oded?

The Solution

Good article. If I needed more to convince me of the viability of a nuclear hydrogen economy, this would do it.

Also, I'm somewhat surprised that there hasn't developed an effort to directly fund large-scale alternative energy at a grass roots level.

Whether it's windmills in North Dakota or photovoltaic super-cell arrays in Nevada, a system of trading investment for green energy should develop.

Here is what I'm thinking: I live in Boston, where it isn't sunny. Apparently, I'd need to spend $13K on roof-mounted solar panels to provide all the electricity I'd need. In a sunnier area, that amount could power 4 homes the same size. So how about rather than installing it on my roof, I give $13K to Company A, to add to their power station in the middle of an always-really-sunny area. Company A then pays my electricity bills (up to an amount), which it pays for by selling energy locally.

This kind of energy-credit system already exists I think, and our grid might even be efficient enough to transfer energy over long distances.

Anyway, I'm surprised no one has done this. If they have, do comment. If there is a good reason why not (like the lacking number of people who would buy energy credits), please comment.

UPDATE: From the horse's mouth, check out what my pop said in response to the above-linked article, in the comments. FYI, he's a petroleum engineer working in Zagreb, Croatia. --josko

Deutschland Unter Alles

Two things to worry the Germans:

(1) If their economy is so wretched now, when the world is in the upswing, how will they fair if/when there's a world recession?

(2) (More importantly) If their economy is so wretched now, how will they fair when they have multiple pensionaires-per-worker in a coupla decades?

Not even a German pope could help them now--oh wait, d'oh!

(ps. I have to admit that part of the reason I posted this is to see this title in print ;).

Remixing with Fungus


Fact Check

I've already provided a link-rich refutation of this revisionist history, and this claim that democratic transformation was some sort of new rationalization is, not to put too fine a point on it, an out-and-out lie, readily fact-checkable and in fact already fact-checked, that the Times should be ashamed of.

What's more, the Times editorial board should be very careful to confuse "wrong" with "fictitious," given its miserable performance on the war.
I remember doing a residential hall program about this in Brittany at NYU in 2003 to debate the then-upcoming war. No one could refute that the benefit of bringing about a democratic reform in the Middle East would be wonderful. Only skeptics could chime in on the likelihood of the event, or disagree that this is at all a wise venture.

It would be premature to say we've been proven right or wrong, but it is always worth the time to refute baseless attacks from a somehow-still-reputable news source.



Pirate Attack off Yemen



Hard working reporters fired for drinking.

Bush still a dick.

"Pegleg" still on the loose. (Worse yet, the manner of his escape suggests two legs.)


The Rise And Fall Of The Dix

[Trailer] | [Album Info] | [mp3]



Yo, why doesn't my newsreader pick up feeds for this (or while true or I, Kbot) anymore?

The Germans Know

..that even the new pope has a history of appretiating some good old-fashion pussy.

A Great Convergence

of Get Your War On, Matt Taibbi, the idiocy of the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, and Magical Moustaches. Here.

Dada tech nerd

Yah know those fridge poetry word-magnet sets? Some are themed towards programmers/geeks. I thought this one spotted at work was gold:




Projectile Motion

"In spite of the incident, my experience in Kansas City was wonderful and I thank all the warm and supportive people, including so many veterans, who came to welcome me last night," she said.

Fonda drew a crowd of about 900 at Unity Temple, said Vivian Jennings, whose Rainy Day Books of suburban Fairway, Kansas, sponsored the event.

Jennings said the 67-year-old actress never got up from her seat and continued autographing books after the incident.

"The important thing is that she was so calm and so gracious about it," Jennings said. "She was wonderful.
The important detail of distance-to-target is sorely missed.


oh-ohhh-oh, oh-ohhh-ohhhh, oh-ohh-ohhhh-ohhhhh-ohhhhhhhhh


Father, please!

Vatican Spins Off U.S. Catholic Church:
R.C. Lite

"a holy-owned subsidiary".


Top Ten...

...Changes the New Pope Will Enact to Make Christianity More Acceptable to Liberals


Happy Waco & Oklahoma City day

I think John Tierney is a great deal better than the strangely admired gasbag William Safire. (Ever since he helped me to not feel guilty about not recycling.)

But, sadly, today's meet-the-new-Pope-same-as-the-old-Pope news was not a victory for the markets. When I checked this morning the black guy was heavily favored.

In other followup news, this afternoon I'm going to undergo some experiments with a juicer, some apples, oranges, ginger, and a little bottom shelf vodka in hopes of making blended fruit news a little more interesting.

What It's Like to Have the Holy Spirit Enter You

"You can assume there will be caucusing, knocking on doors at night, conversations around the dinner table, conversations on the terrace," said John-Peter Pham, a former Vatican diplomat and author of "Heirs of the Fisherman," a 2004 book on papal successions. "Electors have been known to hold meetings in whatever quarters they could find: the smokers' group, the strollers' group, around the brandy bottle."


..Sounds like fun. Do they have a poker table? Hooka? Ping-pong table? Next time they should hold the conclave at Wildwood, NJ.

ps. In other news, Andrew and I have decided to throw Oded the Bar mitzvah he never had---at Wildwood, NJ. We should think of an appropriate erotic cake.


Personal Tax Savings Accounts

A dollar earned on January 1st should earn 469 days of interest until the government gets it on April 15th. In 2002, $717 billion was withheld from worker's incomes according to the IRS. If this money was earned equally throughout the year, the average dollar earned would accrue 286 days of interest. If that withheld money were invested in 10-year T-Notes, rather than given interest free to the government, taxpayers would have increased their wealth by approximately $28 billion, or approximately $250 per withholding individual. This yield, and any overpayments, is rightfully the property of the worker and should be allowed to compound in the personal tax savings account tax-free and applied towards future tax liabilities. Alternatively, since these savings accounts are assets owned by the worker, excess funds could be withdrawn and taxed as income, rolled over into IRAs, passed on to heirs, etc. The action is simple -- let workers earn a return on their money while still entitled to it -- but the restored efficiencies are huge.

Are You a "South Park Conservative"?

Includes a FUNFACT: a Pew Research poll last year found that only 21 percent of its respondents viewed the New York Times as a trustworthy news source.

"commercials on the Big Three network newscasts are frequently hawking drugs like Viagra and Mylanta, and the broadcasts themselves often focus on health issues. There's a reason for that emphasis on infirmity: the average age of a network news watcher is now 60; only about 8 percent of viewership is between 18 and 34. Ten years ago, 60 percent of adult Americans regularly tuned in to one of the network newscasts. Now it's only about one in three."

Flat Tax Revisited

An update.

So I've decided to do my taxes today. In a spirit of hope, here is an article from The Economist to convince any remaining Thomases the need for a flat tax. The most amazing line:
The costs merely of administering a conventionally clotted tax system are outrageous. Estimates for the United States, whose tax regime, despite the best efforts of Congress, is by no means the world's most burdensome, put the costs of compliance, administration and enforcement between 10% and 20% of revenue collected. (That sum, by the way, is equivalent to between one-quarter and one-half of the government's budget deficit.)

Another thing: Americans spend 6,600,000,000 man-hours on taxes a year. Think about that. And they still squeeze in 4 hours and 28 minutes a day, on average, for television!



The official music video for The Kids Of Widney High's song: Pretty Girls.

Welcome To DSP I

Check out the the audio samples in this intro lecture to digital signal processing.

I'm going to be using some DSPs soon for home use, but would probably use use Matlab to get these effects.

Josko turns 25

Happy birthday Josko!

May you live 25 more quarter centuries, with not too many in the heart of a soulless robot. At least then you can be your own robo-butler!



Would you replace the income tax with a VAT tax, which is basically a national sales tax?

I hate the way Europe does it, where the VAT is extremely high and charged in addition to income taxes.

It is flat and difficult to avoid, though.

'Extreme Textiles' Come of Age

Y'all in NYC should check out the show...


Thank You

Yes, thank you, I wanna thank you, Bruce Lee..

O: What style of kung-fu do you practice?

SC: Well, most of the time, I train on my own. Like, I watch movies and then I imitate those actions. [Laughs.] You know, Bruce Lee... I train my muscles, and I do a lot of stretching, and try to kick higher. But for me, practicing kung-fu is a way to relax myself. I did learn Chinese kung-fu in a school for a short time, but I couldn't afford to pay for long-term learning. The form is called wing chun; it's exactly what Bruce Lee learned in the old days. That's what I learned.

O: Is there anything particular that attracted you to that martial art over others? Anything about the philosophy or method?

SC: I would say it's all because of Bruce Lee. Because I fell in love with Bruce Lee after I watched his movies, and I wanted to become a kung-fu practicer, and I would like to be someone like Bruce Lee. That's why I learned kung-fu, and that's why I picked the wing chun style, because it's his style. That's why I decided to be an actor, to go into show business, because of him. It's all because of Bruce Lee.

..Thank you for Shoalin Soccer, and thank you for Kung Fu Hustle, which I am about to recieve.

Hero Returns

50-5 animal-man hybrid to re-attempt paying off his debtors. He's lost two of his last three fights.


Voltron Got SERVED!



More than a soundbyte

John B. Bolton; "The Creation, Fall, Rise, and Fall of the United Nations".

Space Elevator Update

Do nuclear waste storage options need to be only as good as the time it takes to build a space elevator?

What do you expect the outcome for private ownership of land on extra-terra to be? Will any regulation be made irrelevant by settlers who can't be evicted?

Time frame for the majority of energy in developed countries to come from space-based solar cells?


How to eat 6 oranges & 2 apples in 5 minutes

Buy a Vitamix (or get married and get one as a gift from your parents in-law). The 2+ peak horsepower makes this more than a blender: it could power a small boat for Christ’s sake!

It is what the Pros (smoothie makers) use, and liquefies almost anything. Rather than using a toothbrush on the filter/blade of a juicer, just mix water + a drop of soap and put it to full speed. It's clean in 3 seconds.

We just used it for the first time today, and I'm most satisfied.

Nukes Are Green

If Kristof agrees, are the times a changin'?

The other day I was accosted by Greenpeace folks, and took the opportunity to educate them on the benefits of nuclear power. For instance, the volume of waste produced is 3-4 orders of magnitude less than oil or coal. Also, it could make a transition to all electric vehicles (with hydrogen based energy storage or not) a lot easier.

TONMO.com - The Octopus News Magazine Online

Searching for the truth about this leads us to validate it here . But who thought up a site like TONMO?!

Ricochet Robot


Time to Crash the Party

Two hours after the lengthy funeral Mass, a ragtag crowd of Poles, in the thousands, replaced the rows of silent priests at the front end of St. Peter's Basilica, where they lobbied loudly and exuberantly for their man.

Dozens of huge flags from Poland, among them banners of the trade union Solidarity, fluttered in the breeze. Hung from fishing poles and broomsticks, each bore the scrawled name of a hometown: Bialystock, Wadowice, Zakopane. The crowd held hands and swayed as they sang the pope's favorite songs - some hymns but mostly patriotic folk ballads.

"We want the world to remember a great man and a great Pole," said Adam Zylberszteyn, a student from Warsaw. "For us he is already a saint, actually naming him one is just a formality." His friend, Adam Jankowski, added, "He must be made a saint - and soon - or we will crash the Vatican."

Road Trip!

The WTO (i.e. the other WTO: World Tourism Organisation) wants to build a single highway from China to Europe. Sounds fun if you have a month to kill.

I remember stories from my mountain climber uncle about the weeks it would take to get to the Himalayas.


Puppet of the west/ Prime Minister of Iraq very popular it seems

Ibrahim al-Jaafari has been named as the new prime minister of Iraq, despite a botched ceremony which led to his appointment being announced to a largely empty room

Finished in < 5 min.

South Park Episodes 905

Alan & Danny's Puzzle Page.

Usually pretty fun & hard.


Regulating cornrows

..not the crop

"Bush Should Feel Doctors' Pain"

Annoying account of the DEA's overstepping its bounds to curb the use of OxyContin and other painkillers. I don't really understand the motivations after prohibition to limit an individual's choice to hurt themselves. I would imagine the same puritanical forces are at work, combined with bureaucrats who want more power.

I guess the lack of respect for federalism is even more annoying.



" Ten percent of Mexican voters now live in the US legally or illegally, but they account for fifty percent of Mexico's purchasing power."

The article is very critical of Vicente Fox and his lack of reforming.


Effect of drugs on spiders

Caffeine is the worst!


So much for "Cat-like reflexes"


Sound Recorder

Ever play with Sound Recorder in Windows and wonder who the hell ever uses that thing? Apparently these guys use it. A lot.


Gentleman, Time to Place Bets

It now seems very likely that there will be a Papal Election in 2005. A number of men have been mentioned as possible successors, including Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger, Jorge Bergoglio, Francis Arinze, Christoph Schönborn, and Angelo Sodano. Although John Paul II's successor has not yet been named, people have long said that "He who enters the conclave as pope, leaves it as a cardinal."
I have no idea what that last sentence means. Anyhow, all appropriate props to be payed to Karol Józef Wojtyła. Meanwhile, I bet Bergoglio or Arinze.

Google Gulp

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