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>31 March 2004
I'm King of the World!
No, John Kerry, there really isn't anything that you can do about gas prices, short of streamlining all of the gasoline formulation rules that exist and seriously pissing off the 'green' portion of your party. Read more at Lynne Kiesling's site.
Am I the only one who finds it amusing when some politician is talking about creating 1 million jobs, or holding the price of gas constant, or doing some other asinine thing? I wonder if people lose sight of exactly what it is that the Government, or any politician, or any singluar person or company for that matter can do to control the prices or availability of something.
There are plenty of things out there that are not controllable. The last time that the govt. tried to step in and regulate the price of gas, you had people who couldn't buy gas on certain days of the week, people waiting in line 2 hours for it, and people paying off gas attendants just to get some black market gas. If you want gas, and you want it when, where and how you want it, you have to deal with the fact that it rises in price every now and again.
You can't have it both ways - Control AND flexibility/availability. One of them must lose out at the expense of the other. I trust myself more in self regulating how much I drive in repsonse to gas prices than someone on Capitol Hill dictating to me when and where I can buy gas.
Trying to promise people the world is fine PR and all, but makes for bad karma and bad policy.
This chart below is from Forbes Magazine.
The World's Top-Selling Drugs
Drug Purpose U.S. Sales ($bil)
Lipitor Lowers cholesterol $6.80
Zocor Lowers cholesterol 4.4
Zyprexa Anti-psychotic 3.2
Norvasc Lowers blood pressure 2.2
Erypo (Procrit) Treats anemia 3.3
Ogastro/Prevacid Treats ulcers 4
Nexium Treats ulcers 3.1
Plavix Blood-thinner 2.2
Seretide (Advair) Treats asthma 2.3
Zoloft Anti-depressant 2.9
And the reason that I use this chart is just to show that the highest grossing medicines, the ones that treat the types of things that drug companies research the most are not viagra and diet pills or whatever, but instead are the ones that let people live lives with fewer negative effects from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, anemia, ulcers and mental instability.
>30 March 2004
The un-music week
Now. Let me start by saying that I Love/Amor/<3 my iPod. It's wonderful. But I started to think the other day that perhaps I just crank on the iPod all the time so that I don't actually have to think about anything?
I spent the last few days walking around and on the train sans headphones and just thinking about stuff and paying attention - and quite honestly I feel much more grounded right now that I have felt in months.
I also think that I just might have more musical inspiration when i'm not listening to the same tunes every day..
Anyways, i'm sure the sans-tunage isn't a permanent thing but sometimes you have to shock yourself back into reality, if not for just an ever so slight length of time.
>29 March 2004
Monday thoughts on the Train
I am re-reading Douglas Coupland's book Life After God and just as it did when I first read it, it got me thinking a bit about beliefs and life and mankind and etc...
A lot of his writing is based on the idea of being lost and trying to find your way back, and I always manage to find it inspirational.
One of the questions that was asked was basically that, If you had ten minutes to sum up everything that you believe in, what would it be? Would you even know?
So without further ado:
* I believe in people. Plain and simple. I believe that people in general do the right thing for themselves, their friends and loved ones. I believe that I am no better or worse, but just different than others. (its something that I constantly have to remind myself of, but I try)
* I believe in the beauty, power and force of nature and this planet. I have seen sights that are so beautiful and awe inspiring that they make my heart freeze and my eyes glaze over - and there are still so many things yet to see!
* I believe in the forces of progress and change. Things find a way to happen, no matter how much poeple try to prevent them from happening. Call it Chaos theory, call it "the Way", call it whatever.. But time goes on, and our tastes, attitudes, feelings and desires change, we keep up with it through progress and change.
If anyone happens to be reading along, please feel free to post/comment what it is that you believe in.. just because, well.. i'm curious!
>28 March 2004
Last night was the birthday party. It was fun, then it was blurry, then I ended up the night eating a turkey club at 6AM. yee-haw NYC.
>26 March 2004
Why I love the Blogosphere
From Juan-Non Volokh of Volokh Conspiracy yesterday..
"Too often policy arguments proceed as follows: A) the market 'fails' because it does not produce the theoretically optimal result, therefore B) government intervention is necessary.
But B does not follow from A. The failure of market processes to produce an optimal result does not ensure that the political process will do a better job."
I've often wondered this too. Why is it the summary default that the government produces the 'correct' result, when so often governments produce nothing but corruption and violence?
It can't happen to me?!
Ok. In the NY Post today is a story about a holdup of a Queens bodega, whereby the attempted robber mishandled his gun in an attempt to shoot the grocer, but the grocer shot back and wounded the thief in the head.
I have so many friends that are anti-gun that it's amazing to me. The criminals always find a way to get a gun, and if we aren't allowed to have them in response, we are the ones who die. Not the people who sit in K Street offices or Michael Moore, but us.
And as a sort of tangential aside - I don't know how strongly other people feel about this, but personally I feel that the greatest affront that you could possibly do to another human being is to invade the space and privacy of his home to steal something. In fact the actual physical act of stealing someone's personal property is amazingly disgusting to me.
In my opinion, should anyone ever actually take it upon themselves to do steal and/or break into someone's house, they deserve anything.. and I mean ANYTHING that is done in response. It's not the value of the property stolen that should be counted, it's the violation of that person's safety and security, which is invaluable.
But hey - that's just me.
In much happier news, happy Friday!
Quick Thought for the Day
Reading through a comments section off of The Agitator, someone sort of repeated a thought that I had a while back but wasn't quite able to form coherently into a thought.
The reason that I don't like 'progressive' tax systems such as what we've got is that the less connection people have between their choices and the taxes that they pay, the more likely they are to support largergovernment in general.
Somewhere in an earlier post I found that the bottom 50% of American taxpayers pay 4% (or was it 6%) of total taxes. And while I haven't found exact data for how much of the wealth they have, i'm sure that the bottom 50% of wage earners do in fact hold more than 4% of the wealth in this country.. but I digress..
Do you think that they have any reason to care at all how much the government spends? They could care less if taxes tripled. They would pay what, 12%?
If everyone shared the 'pain' of tax incidence equally (or at least semi-equally), then we all would have much more of a stake in keeping spending responsible for all.
>24 March 2004
All that is 'equal' is not good
Ahem.. CNN reports: "Oregon County Bans All Marriage".
Quoth a city official: "It may seem odd," Benton County Commissioner Linda Modrell told Reuters in a telephone interview, but "we need to treat everyone in our county equally."
So let me get this straight. Rather than letting even some of the population marry, it is more important to be 'equal' than to be right, fair or just. Equality where everyone gets screwed is more important than an inequality where some people benefit and not others (yet).
Harrison Bergeron, anyone?
[hat tip to Tyler Cowen, at Volokh]
>23 March 2004
I start to notice some cycles and I wonder if other people see them. Here's the one thats on my mind this afternoon.
People will (over)react to an event, and call for immediate regulation of a good or service (gas prices, mad cow disease, flight safety, electricity deregulation, traffic, ephedra.. you fill in the blank)
Then, then the stifling effects of regulation start to play themselves out by decreasing service or increasing prices, people use this exact outcome to call for further regulation of that good. (i.e. summer additive requirements contributing to artificially high gas prices? let's legislate it more! California's half assed power deregulation that didn't eliminate max price caps causing a huge financial blunder? Let's re-regulate!)
Everyone ends up with crappy overpriced service which was arguably no better than it began with. (What? TSA still doesn't manage to catch weapons that are passed through security?)
I don't think people give enough thought to the prices that their regulatory decisions place upon everyone. I'm sure that there aren't that many theorists and thinkers that place the connection between zoning and inaffordability of housing, or the connection between the inane requirements and rules of public education and the sometimes dismal results or maybe even the protest and blockage of Walmarts by low income 'advocates' with the stinging costs of basic necessities that many of those low income people have to pay without that Walmart.
All of those actions have costs - costs that are real and tangible. By thinking shortsighted, we completely ignore the future, at our own peril.
>22 March 2004
Quarter Year Resolutions
1. Find time to surf more often.
2. Lose some weight and quit being so out of shape.
3. Keep putting things in their right perspective.
4. Stick to the next 'real' job.
Back from Rincon, PR. Much fun was had, much warmth was enjoyed. Now i'm back inthe big ole city and I got lots of stuff to do. more to follow..
>17 March 2004
Things that I must say to a waiter soon..
waiter: Sir, how was your meal?
me: Mmmmmmmmm MMMmmmmmmm, Bitch!
(Idea thanks to Dave Chapelle - he is one funny ass guy)
>15 March 2004
At home in Ft. Lauderdale. There are a crapload of people here for Spring Break this year, which is kind of cool to see. Every year the beach seems to get that much more busy. I'm wondering what the days were like in the early 80's when this place was a Spring Break haven.. my brother assures me that it was in fact, crazy.
Tomorrow night i'm headed to see a speech by one of the lawyers who argued Brown vs. Board of Ed. (dork, aren't I?)
More springbreak fun to come..
>14 March 2004
Spring Breakin it
There will be some light blogging as I spend the week in Ft. Lauderdale and in Rincon, Puerto Rico. BTW - it rally is beautiful down here in the FLA.. It gets knocks from people for being a retirement haven, but it's all good. We know better.
>11 March 2004
Paging Bill O'Reilly
Here's a little story for you. Down in Osceola (Kissimmee) High School, in the 'sticks' of Florida - two students died in a drag racing accident and a beloved teacher passed away from breast cancer all in the span of the last month. Spirits were low, everyone was sad, and the rigors of the school year were weighing down pretty hard on everyone.
But Ludacris.. remember rapper Ludacris, whom you so derisively called antisocial and demeaning to everybody? The guy that you single handedly caused the Pepsi company not to use as a spokesperson due to your on-air ruckus and fuss?
Yeah, that guy.
Well it seems that 'that guy' took an afternoon off of a stop on his tour and performed in a free show at a student pep rally at the school and then donated $5,000 to the school district, all after getting a simple email from one of the students at the school telling him about what had happened there.
The kids were ecstatic, the teachers were happy, no profanity was used, no admission was charged, no members of the public were allowed in except for the kids of the school..
All in all a really damned decent, humanitarian thing to do.
Luda's Quote: "I knew we could make it possible because we were in town and with all the people here passing away, we felt like it was a good thing to do."
And so I ask you, Mr. O'Reilly.. What good deeds are you doing that don’t involve either you or your big fat bank account?
[story courtesy of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel]
Ok, just one rant..
Dammit dammit dammit. Why the hell does the Congress of the U.S. think that they have the right to waste the resources of this country holding hearings on drug testing in baseball? I can't really seem to remember seeing anything in the Constitution about drugs, doping, baseball or anything even remotely to do with any of it.
I would LOVE for some of these guys to read the Constitution sometime. Its really short. It defines what it is that the "leaders" of this country are supposed to have the power to do.
Trying to micromanage a pet cause just to get your face in the media is fine and all, but do it on your own dollar, please.
Somehow I believe that thomas Jefferson would be quivering, puking, shaking and just plain mad as hell if he ever found out that the Congressmen of our beloved country were spending their damned time on this. Call me old school.. or something.
>10 March 2004
Just a moment
To sit and relax because I'm done with my midterms. To enjoy my apartment, my friends and New York.. and to look forward to Fort Lauderdale, Heather, Puerto Rico, Surfing and a grand ole time over Spring Break.
It always struck me as odd how people are so reactive to gasoline prices. Gasp! It's gonna reach $2!
Well.. I mean, Lets start off with a little math.
Lets pretend that your average driver goes 15,000 mi/yr in their car. (A fairly decent average I think)
And that the average car gets 20 mi/gallon. (SUV's and trucks get less but many cars get more..)
So that means that your average driver goies through 750 (15,000 / 20) gallons of gas yearly.
EVEN! if the price of gas goes up $1 from one year to the next in real terms, that's $750 dollars for the whole year. People spend more than $750 on a year in jeans.. in dogfood.. Lunch runs to McDonalds.. One weekend trip for two with airfare and hotel..
And we're not talking a $1 increase from year to year, people get stupefied if the price of gas goes up by a quarter (thus meaning a $188 increase in a year).
I say, let the damned prices rise. They rise due to a bunch of supply factors, and also from regulations (such as the 'summer additive requirements'). Then.. just deal with it.
>09 March 2004
On and on..
I feel so busy today.. but still time to blog about this: (thanks to the Reason Blog)
How to End-Around Personal Responsibility, a Primer
Step 1 - Try your damndest to get universal health care, or at least to have the public sector control and fund healthcare to the highest extent possible
Step 2 - Try to link all kinds of things to negative health results, such as smoking, eating fast food, living in the suburbs, and etc..
Step 3 - Use the justification that health costs are borne by the public to justify controlling people's behaviour. (i.e. We pay for your health, and our "study" shows that living in a suburban home is bad for your health! - So we're going to fine people who make that choice)
Step 4 - Sit back and watch America 2.0 = Russia 1.0!
>08 March 2004
On a roll today..
I want to start with my fundamental definition of what government is. "Government" is the act of telling somebody what to do.
Now, don't get me wrong, telling people what to do isn't inherently bad.. Many things do call for a set of rules that if not flexible at least set up a system whereby people can freely and peacefully interact. Many times, parents are forced to tell their children just that they are to do 'X' and not question, and this really usually is in the best interest of the child.
In many if not most situations, a little bit of guidance and direction is key.
However, there is a breaking point between helpful guidance and unnecessary needling. This analysis goes the same for government. The larger the size/share of government, the more people that are sitting around telling you what to do. Big government folks are almost always akin to micromanagers who think that if a job is worth doing, it's worth supervising every waking aspect to ensure the 'correct' ends.
And what I want to tell these people is..
"Haven't you ever had a shitty job that some stupid asshole is trying to tell you how to do every single part of your job? Do you like that??"
Because I have, and it sucks. If you trust your employee to do their job correctly, you tell him what needs to be done, some general guidelines, a deadline and send him off (with support if needed). You treat them like an adult and you let them use their better judgement.
If you don't - you micromanage.
I think that this analogy says a lot about what your political beliefs infer upon your views on people and society.
Is society generally a bunch of adults? Or is it a bunch of hapless tools waiting for someone to 'guide them home'?
Can we trust them to make their own choice or do we have to treat them like children?
I, for one, would appreciate a little bit more of the first.
Another Sowell Post
While I don't agree with everything that Thomas Sowell says, he puts forth some eloquent arguments. In this case, he says something that I argue about endlessly with other students of planning up here at school. What gives someone the right to think that his rights are more important than someone else's?
The whole talk about preserving community and NIMBYism flys so much in the face of what I believe in.. I had tried to make the argument once in class the NIMBYism is the exact opposite of rights - Someone's neighbors get to decide and blackmail and extort them into being able to build what they want, not what the actual person who bought and owns the property wants..
Anyways, here's the quite large quote:
People who lead crusades to preserve farmland usually know little about farming and less about economics. Yet they think that they have a right to prevent other people from making mutually agreeable transactions, when that goes against the fetishes of third parties.
Busybodies may flatter themselves that they are wiser or nobler than others -- which is perhaps the biggest benefit from being a busybody -- but the Constitution of the United States says that all citizens are entitled to the equal protection of the laws.
In other words, people who want to wring their hands about farmlands or wetlands, or about some obscure toad or snake, have no more rights than people who don't care two cents about such things. It is hard for those who have presumptions of being the morally anointed to accept that, but that is what the Constitution says.
Unfortunately, too many judges are ready to fudge or fake what the Constitution says because they too share the vision of the anointed. So they downgrade property rights and let third parties impose their pet notions on others, using the power of government to violate the rights of those who do not agree with them.
What makes a lot of the talk about "preserving" or "saving" farmland or other things as phony as a three-dollar bill is that the real agenda is often very different -- namely, keeping out people who do not have the income or the inclination to share the lifestyle of the anointed.
The real reason for preventing farmland from being sold to those who might build housing on it is that the people who live in that housing might not be as upscale as those already living nearby. Developers -- heaven forbid -- might build apartments or townhouses in a community where people live in single-family homes.
In other words, developers might build some of that "affordable housing" that some people talk so much about and do so much to prevent.
The rationale for laws forbidding farmers from selling their land to whoever wants to buy it is that existing residents have a right to "preserve the character" of "our community." But these lofty words are lying words.
Only sloppy thinking allows sloppy words to pass muster. There is no such thing as "our community." Nobody owns the whole community. Each individual owns his or her own property -- and other individuals have the same right to own or sell their own property.
Friends left behind
I've gotten good practice at having groups of friends slide away. Graduation is coming up in just about 2 months now, and as much as I really like a lot of the people that I interact with, i'm pretty sure that this will be it as far as keeping in touch with many if not most of them.
Again, i'm not sure what exactly to make of the fact that many of the people that fill your life are only in it because you both share some experience, or both go to school together, or inhabit the same neighborhood, and etc.. Does it lessen a friendship any to know that it's not a 'permanent' forever kind of friendship?
I don't think so.. but then again, i've been called somewhat self-centered once or twice.
On a side note, I am really terified and excited about what happens next. I usually have a good idea about the happenings in my life but right now for all I know in three months will be in California or upstate New York or back home with the parents..
Well, back to work..
>07 March 2004
My Street Cred Weekend
So I had an all Brooklyn weekend as to now. Yesterday went to Freddy's, Great Lakes and Al Di La. (Which also happens to be one of the best restaurants.. ever..) And then tonight went to Joe's in S. Slope and then Dave's in Prospect Heights. It's kinda nice to not have to go into the city, ya know?!
>04 March 2004
MBTI Action - Catch it!
So I took an MBTI last year and I scored ENTP. But I wasn't too sure about it. I just took another test and it said the same thing.. I wonder how much of those tests, however are more to do with your internal image of yourself as opposed to who you really are..
One trend, light on the ice..
This graph from Foreign Policy magazine shows women's well being vs. globalization. I see a trend, and you should too..
On a side note - the womens well being rankings are from the UN, just so there's no question about biased measurements..