Thursday, January 31, 2008


Slavery still exists. See, as an example, this article concerning the actions of a New York City detective.

Dark times

According to a group whose name I don't care to mention, God hates Reno.

If you want to know what got them so riled up, check out smlwoman's blog, with links in the comment section to another version of the events.

There's a lot of competing messages in the world. But I know I'm happier volunteering at the AIDS walk, boxing up food for the hungry, and cleaning up the community than proclaiming the message that God is killing American soldiers because America tolerates homosexuality.

I don't know where they get that message, but I know that he who wants to be great in the kingdom of heaven must be last of all and servant of all.

Visualizing the Bible

This is sweet. Take the time to check it out. It's visually enticing, yet also informative, in a way.

An Old Song

Same song, seventh verse
A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Any chance of a brigde, a chorus, a drum solo to break up the relentless repetition of an age-old theme? Please?

Making it Personal

There was a recent article in the Washington Post about the record number of suicides among soldiers who had served in Iraq. In 2007, 121 such people took their lives. It's weird to think that 120 other communities had to suffer the same trauma we did. 120 other families have had to experience the same grief we had to watch. It's weird, because even 1 other instance seems an unthinkable grief.

We still miss you, Mike.

Edit: Re-reading the piece, it may be that they are only counting active-duty people. He may not, therefore, be in that statistic. Which begs the question - how many more people have had to endure this? All I know is that the whole situation is a big question with perhaps no answers that anyone living can offer.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CBO Report on Economic Stimulus

Mostly for my own reference, so I have the link handy when I want to comment further. But if you are so inclined, here's the CBO testimony regarding various alternative proposals for fiscal stimulus.

Memo to the Democrats

Nominating Hillary Clinton to run agains John McCain is the best way possible, short of attacking children on national TV, to blow the closest thing in decades to a sure bet to win the Presidency. Hillary Clinton strongly appeals to the core Democrats, but John McCain appeals more to moderate Republicans. That's not a matchup you'll find favorable in the general election.

Education in Nevada

An interesting survey about education in Nevada. I'm not so much interested in their interpretations, but I like looking at the simple results. I just wish I had more data, so I knew what motivated people to give the answers they did. Giving only the broad results, I wonder if the 13% of people who choose a school for extracirricular activities are most of the 11% who would choose a public school if they could pick anything they wanted.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


When the Democrats retook control of Congress about a year ago, they made a lot of noise about re-instituting Pay-As-You-Go (also called PayGo) rules for budgets - no defecit-increasing measures would be passed without corresponding tax increases and/or spending cuts.

In talking about a $150+ billion spending package for the economy, I haven't heard even a whisper of this. It's why, as upset as I am with Republicans for defecit spending, I don't trust the Democrats for it one iota more.

What I do trust, generally, is the ability of mixed-party Legislative and Executive leadership to be so at odds with each other that the financial gravy train is generally pretty weak when it leaves the station. Someone might want to talk to the Democrats in the Senate about the meaning of "compromise." It's not "let everyone come to a deal they feel is balanced and then increase it by $20 billion so you feel important." (Even though I think extending unemployment benefits is a useful economic stimulus, far beyond the efficacy and efficiency of simply giving everyone a check.)


I think disappointment may be, historically and individually, one of the biggest obstacles to faith. They are like reverse sides of a coin - opposite responses to what happens when your expectations meet the hard truth of reality.

It's been with mankind since the beginning. Abraham and Sarah felt it as they grew old without a promised son. Surely Joseph felt it as the walls of an Egyptian prison mocked the dreams he had of his family bowing before him. The Israelites felt it as they ran up against the Red Sea. David felt it as he, the Lord's annointed was hiding in caves. Elijah felt it as he fled for his life after calling fire from heaven in a test of who was truly God. Jeremiah felt it as he watched Jerusalem get ravaged. Peter felt it when Jesus was carried away.

It's an old enemy, and a constant companion. But we have the choice of remaining in it, or seeing through it to the promise that the story isn't over yet. And once we have that mindset - once we know that the story is not complete, we recall that Abraham and Sarah had a son, the Red Sea parted, David was made king, and Christ walked out of the grave. Just because we have to live one sentence at a time doesn't mean that today's plot twist is the end of the book.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hollow Sound Bites

Anyone making an argument about wage stagnation under the Bush administration by comparing the growth in wages during the DotCom bubble to the change in wages in its wake makes an argument not worth the paper its printed on. To exult in the surge of a bubble, and blame anything but the bubble for the drop when it pops is ridiculous on its face.

That it's a line that Democrats trot out over and over - and one I expect to hear more as the election cycle kicks into high gear - is one of the most inane bits of economic commentary I hear from them, comparable to Republicans who cite the Bush tax cuts as having delivered the economy in a fashion worthy of Moses.

I'm Puzzled

Of the two photos below, one has been viewed 53 times on Flickr. One has been viewed 8 times. Both are higher than normal rates of viewing, but 53 is very abnormally high. I simply didn't realize my feet were that photogenic.
No shorts + Standing in Surf = Wet Jeans

The Pacific

Sunday, January 27, 2008

For Those In Reno

For anyone who lives in or around Reno:

You may have heard of the case of a missing girl from a friend's house near UNR. The police have linked her disappearance to the kidnap and rape of a girl in December, and have provided a physical description to the police.


"Police described the suspect and his vehicle: A white male, 28 to 40 years old, long face with a square chin, taller than 5 feet 6 inches but not much, very strong but not with a significantly muscular build. He had a belly that was described as not excessively large and firm but not flabby, an “innie” belly button, shaved pubic region, a light covering of hair on his arms.

The man had no jewelry or wristwatch, facial hair about a quarter to a half an inch long below his chin and was soft and not prickly as stubble normally is.

It was unknown if he had a mustache. He had brown hair of undetermined style, normal speech with no accent or regional dialect, no smoker’s breath, no alcohol, no bad breath, no cologne or after-shave.

The vehicle was an extended cab pick-up truck or SUV, with dome light above the windshield and tall enough that it requires a step up to gain entry. The floor-mounted console was described as “fairly skinny” that opens in front. The radio had a blue and red LED read-out on the radio. The vehicle had cloth seats, automatic transmission.

There was a baby shoe on the front seat floor board and 8 ½” x 11” white pieces of paper with typing on the floor board of the front seat.

The suspect wore a red short-sleeve shirt described as being made of material similar to a jersey-type shirt with a medium blue neckline, short printed (possibly embroidered) word on the upper left breast area. He wore another shirt underneath with wrist-length sleeves and unknown color pants, not jeans. The pants reminded the victim of basketball pants as the material was smooth but they made no noise when he moved and they had an elastic waist band and no zipper.

People who know the suspect may not believe that he is capable of committing this type of crime and he may not necessary have a violent criminal history."

Everyone needs a little randomness...

I don't often consider that Reno is only 4 hours from the ocean. It doesn't feel that way, perhaps because there's some 8,000 foot mountains in the way. But this weekend, I decided to visit the beach. So, I drove to a beach just north of San Francisco, took a few pictures, took off my shoes, wiggles my toes in the sand, stood in the surf for a moment, and drove home.
Vallejo Overlook

Muir Overlook

The Pacific

WWII Bunkers

Sun over Beach

Wet Footprint

No shorts + Standing in Surf = Wet Jeans

Friday, January 25, 2008

If all goes according to plan...

If all goes according to plan, then Dawson is in a meeting right now where he will be signing an agreement for Coram Deo to rent space in Double Diamond Elementary School. This will let us move to Sunday mornings, and give us some much-needed space (as we're filling the room we have had for the past year to capacity now). It'll also help ease the burden (so I'm told) on families with school-aged kids, who need to get them put to bed, done with homework, and ready for school the next day.

It's been a circuitous path to get here, and it's taken longer than some had thought. But in that time we've been able to build a solid core of people, we've gotten a free sound system that would have cost some $10,000, gotten a free trailer to haul the equipment around in, and we've been able to save the $850 monthly cost of renting the space.

God's been good to us, so I wanted to publicly acknowledge that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's About Time

A roundable discussion of the "lyrical potency of television theme songs." You'll miss out if you don't read it.

The Theme in question? None other than the lyrics for "Elmo's World."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Here's what's wrong with our "airport security"...

First: Man goes through checkpoint with a loaded gun
Then: Man realizes it, and goes back to security to report it
Then: Man is detained by airport security and charged with a misdemeanor.


If we are going to detain a man for going back to remove his weapon, are we suggesting that he should have instead carried it on the plane?

Just Because

I don't think I've put any pictures up here recently. Here's some of the latest:

Snowman, With Flash

Christmas Presents 1


'Tis That Season

An army of fuzzy bears, chocolate hearts, and aromatic shrubbery has invaded the local stores in their traditional pink and red garb. The seige on my sanity begins anew. And like Sisyphus, all I can do is grit my teeth, duck my head, and try my best to ignore the world for a few weeks with the relentless certainty that it will all come around again.

Which is to say, if you're fortunate enough to have a "special someone" in your life, do take the time to let them know you appreciate them. Not everyone is as fortunate as you. And, as I have been reminded repeatedly over the last year, you never know when it might be your last chance to do so.

Global Warming

A couple of things I think reasonable people can agree on with regards to Global Warming:

1) It's happening. The average temperature of the atmosphere is going up.
2) We have no real idea what that means. The mantra for years has been "Global Warming = More Devestating Atlantic Hurricanes." It spoke to a tangible fear in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It was a mantra based on science - warmer water = more energy for the storms to grow on. And... oh. Maybe not. Oopsie! (The Point: The global climate system is, as you would expect, REALLY, REALLY complex. I suspect the best that the best climatologists could offer are possible outcomes, not certain ones).

Humans have a natural tendency to over-estimate the likelihood of vivid events, like plane crashes, terrorist attacks, and major hurricanes hitting the US. Beware of anyone - be it the TSA or Al Gore - who tries to feed that fear to get you to comply with them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sweet Georgia Brown

At 4:00 yesterday, the age-old conflict of good vs. evil fought another in a series of epic battles, this time on the court at Lawlor Events Center. That's right: the Harlem Globetrotters were in town, playing the Washington Generals.

It was about what I expected, though there were no trampolines or ladders used to assist any of the 40 or so slam dunks that the Globetrotters had as the day went on. And while it wasn't the same as Shamu at Sea World, there should have been a splash-zone warning for the first 10 rows.

The "basketball" was, of course, a premise and not the main event. One sees the Globetrotters as one sees the circus - a loose premise meant to hold together various amusing antecdotes. If it were basketball alone, I was supremely impressed with how many 3-point baskets the Generals made. Gravity and physics are not suspended in this case, and to hit that many long-range shots is vastly more impressive than the 6'9" Globies slamming it every minute.

Also impressive was the non-Globetrotter entertainment. I've never seen a guy limbo under a bar that couldn't have been more than 12 inchess of the ground before. That was truly sweet.

I was amazed how loud the crowd was - roughly 1/3 the size of a typical Nevada basketball game, but easily 3 times as loud. I suppose it's a difference in expectations. When you expect to go and have a good time, you get into it more. When you expect to go and watch a game you, well, watch. Feel free to insert here some life-commentary about how you often get out of life what you put into it.

Special thanks to Beth, Anne, and my sister for coming to the show. Things like this simply aren't as much fun without friends to share them with.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Last Chance

If you want to try and change my mind on the matter, have at it.

As it stands, I'm planning to vote for Romney at the caucus tomorrow.

It's down to Romney and McCain in my book. And the biggest factor is one that my friend Kenny (who doesn't like Romney) suggested is a good criteria for picking a candidate - namely, that they have a good combination of skills and aptitude to "come to the right answer."

I respect John McCain's record, particularly as a veteran and as a strong supporter of immigration reform that was outside the pandering mold of most Republicans. There is no question that he has a great familiarity with the Federal government, and he has a demonstrated ability to work with people in both parties.

But my biggest gripe with the current administration is that it too often gives the predictable political answer to a question (economy good? "It's because of our tax cuts!" economy bad? "We obviously need more tax cuts!"), and an inability to move past his own world and examine a broader picture. And while John McCain is not George Bush, I don't see anything to suggest that he's able to step out of his own box to examine the broader picture.

Romney has run a well-organized and well-financed campaign, but that is not particularly impressive to me. If anything, I've seen little, if anything, in his campaign to convince me that I should vote for him. Truth be told, I've seen little, if any, of his campaign. I watched his victory speech in Michigan, and saw the predictable "we need change" mantra of each candidate, but without the amiable air of Senator Obama. I think he comes across as colder most of the time, and I think this would hurt him in a head-to-head with Obama. Finally, I'm not particularly fond of his "we'll fight for every job," because it's usually a "we'll spend a lot of tax money on a given problem."

All of that being said, I'm voting for him because:
  1. He has laid out sensible "here's what I'd like to do" plans.
  2. He ran a balanced budget in a notoriously liberal state... and I think budget defecits are a much larger problem than anyone seems to realize today.
  3. He's well-qualified, with both his education and his executive experience suggesting he'd be an excellent CEO for the United States.
  4. Even though I think he'd fare worse than McCain in a head-to-head with Clinton or Obama, I consider my task to be to select the best person for the job, not the best person to get the job to begin with.

Last chance to try and talk me out of it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nevada's Housing Market

The upside of the over-inventoried current housing market in Reno?

Brand-new duplexes in South Reno are falling to reasonable prices again. 1,200 square feet, 2 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 car garage for $192,000. For this, you share one wall with your neighbor. Even larger models are still under $300K.

In my estimation, prices need to come down further to restore the fundamental balance between earnings and home values... but it's good news for those (like me) who'd like to be homeowners. It is, however, a pain for those who can't afford their homes.

This brings up a fundamental question. What, if anything, should the government do about the current mess? Excessive intervention breeds further speculation (and the need for further invervention) "next time," but no intervention means people lose their homes. When prices are too high, they either have to come down or you need to artificially prop them up. Current owners like the latter, but prospective owners (and those who you NEED to have a housing market at all) like the former.

Nevada and Ireland

One's green, and one's not. One has a population of about 6 million, the other ahs a population of about 2.5 million. One's highest point is about 3,500 ft. The other's is about 13,000 feet.

But they both have about the same GDP. This is a pretty sweet map. Who'd have thought that Wyoming had about the same GDP as Uzbekistan?

I say Nevada, You say Nev-ah-duh

On Tuesday night, there was a debate in Las Vegas between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. NBC's Evening Newsman, Brian Williams, was host. He repeatedly called the state Nev-ah-duh, which any local knows is anathema. I heard it, chuckled that he didn't have the instruction that each candidate has clearly recieved.

I know that various states have local pronunciations of their state names, but no one seems to regard it more seriously than we do.

After his mispronunciation, evidently the Las Vegas NBC affiliate was "overwhelmed" with calls and e-mails denouncing Williams and threatening to never watch the network again after such an affront.

The result? Last night, the NBC evening news and Brian Williams ran a story about the proper way to pronounce Nevada, recalled the story from the debate, interviewed locals in Carson City about the state name, and showed that our pronunciation is also in the NBC official guide. They pribably said Nevada about 30 times.

It looked like Mr. Williams was having a fun time admitting his mistake. I laughed out loud at the broadcast, not at him but (I think) with him. It's a quirk of living in the Silver State. And I think Mr. Williams got the joke. Good show, sir.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mitt Romney - The Driver's Tale

Today's New York Times has an editorial from a man who knows Mitt Romney well, but seems to have a fair take on why people feel the way the appear to. All that follows is an excerpt, longer than normal, but long enough to give a true sense of the editorial:

I often marvel at how the public perception of Mr. Romney differs so radically from the man I know. The blame for this lies in the campaign he has run.

Early in the presidential race, Mr. Romney perceived a tactical advantage in becoming the campaign’s social conservative. Religious conservatives and other Republicans with socially conservative views found the two early front-runners, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, unacceptable. As someone who shares the beliefs of social conservatives, Mr. Romney saw an opportunity that he could exploit. He made social issues the heart of his candidacy.

This tack rang false with the public because it was false. The problem wasn’t so much the perception of widespread “flip-flopping” on issues like abortion. The public allows its politicians a measure of flexibility. But the public correctly sensed something disingenuous about Mr. Romney’s campaign.

Voters perceived the cynicism of a campaign that tried to exploit wedge issues rather than focus on the issues that in truth most interested the candidate. They sensed phoniness. As a consequence, many have grown to feel that Mitt Romney can’t be trusted. This lack of trust is now the dominant and perhaps insurmountable obstacle that the Romney campaign faces.

I know few voters will believe this, but Mitt Romney wants to be president out of a sense of duty. He feels our government needs someone with his managerial skills. He also feels that to fight the long war facing us, we need an intellectually curious president who’s willing to learn about an unfamiliar foe and who will fight resolutely to defeat that foe.

Mr. Romney cares passionately about social issues, but he knows his Republican competitors can appoint strict constructionist judges as well as he can. The real value of a Romney presidency would lie in the talents, honed in the business world, that he would bring to the White House.

Because Mr. Romney chose to make this argument a secondary matter compared to his stands on social issues, he mounted a campaign that was, at its most basic level, insincere.

Obama is a strong candidate because...

The biggest criticism of Senator Obama is his lack of experience. As an Illinois Senator with 4 years in the US Senate, he's young, and doesn't have much experience at the national level. It's a fair criticism, but see in the RGJ how he turns it around:

“I have a pretty good sense of my strengths and my weaknesses,” he said today during a meeting with the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board.“I am very good at teasing out from people who are smarter than me what the issues are and how we resolve them,” he said. “I don’t think there is anybody in this race who can inspire the American people better than I can. And I don’t think there is anybody in this race who can bridge differences ... better than I can.“But I’m not an operating officer. Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy. Well, that’s not my job. My job is to set a vision of ‘here’s where the bureaucracy needs to go.’”

Monday, January 14, 2008

Something I didn't know...

I didn't realize Nevada had the highest average hourly wage rate for workers with no moer than a high school diploma. Thus says the Boston Globe:

As different as it is from Detroit, however, Vegas has imitated it in one respect: Detroit used to be a place where a person with little education could still get a good-paying job. With the contraction of the auto industry in Michigan, and the expansion of the gambling business in Nevada, Vegas has become the town that beckons with this opportunity.

In Nevada, the average hourly wage of a worker with no more than a high school diploma is $23.30, the highest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. On this count, Michigan is now 10th.

Football News

It won't be sold this way, but whatever happens to the Patriots the rest of this season, I'll call them the greatest team in football history. Why?

They're 17-0. They've matched the mark of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and they've done it against superior competition. But, because of the way the schedule lines up nowadays, they have to go through an additional 2 games to finish the season undefeated.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Random thoughts on the Republicans

I like his demeanor. I really don't like that he has no stronger position than "vote for me because I'm an evangelical." I like his stance on immigration as Governor, but not as a candidate. I'm neutral on his pardons, torn between a desire for mercy and not knowing the specifics. I'm fine with his budget reputation in Arkansas, which is to say that an increasing budget, as a standalone fact, is not enough for me to dismiss a candidate. The "Fair Tax" proposal is silly as you are trying to sell it, and would be profoundly regressive. I don't believe in magic, but I think it would take magic to make what you are trying to sell work.

I like the fact that he was a primary supporter of the immigration bill. (On immigration, I realize I'm about as far from the base position of the party as you can imagine, because I consider the base position to be fear-mongering and xenophobic nonsense.) I really don't like the McCain-Feingold finance reform bill - not because I don't think there's a need for such reform, but because I think the way it was implemented did nothing while claiming to do a lot. See this year's massive monetary component as proof nothing has changed. I'm neutral on his voting against tax cuts. I like that he's more "chummy" with Democrats than other Republicans. I'm wary of the sort of judges he would appoint.

I like his experience in the private sector, and as a governor. I'm a big fan of executive experience in the Executive branch of the government. I like his educational credentials. I don't like his record on pardons, because I find it reasonable that there was at least one person who was well-suited to get a pardon. (I'm trying to dance around saying "deserved" a pardon, because a pardon is, in essence, an act of mercy - something one cannot "deserve"). I haven't personally seen any of his political ads, but either (1) the media is uniformly biased against him, trying always to reinforce the line that he's more negative, or (2) he is more negative, taking well-calculated jabs at his opponents. I'm trying not to judge him on it, but I often hear sound-bytes I don't like, such as his recent line at a debate disagreeing with McCain's "Michigan has lost some jobs that aren't coming back." He simply disagreed, but McCain's statement was profoundly obvious, and it's not the politically convinient thing to say (Romney's disagreement, however, was the politically predictable attitude). Because I don't know, I'm trying not to hold it against him, but in general it's a marginally negative thing in my book. I like that he's been a successful Governor of a liberal state.

Rudy, I'm sure you're a smart guy. But I'm not convinced that being mayor of New York City qualifies you to be President of the United States. Flagrant adultery is a serious breach of a profoundly serious trust, and I can't support that, either.

Ron Paul:
Pull all troops home around the world (personally, I would support pulling out of Europe entirely, except as a rapid-deployment staging area for work in Africa and the Middle East) and abolish the Federal Reserve? Ummmm.... no.

End result: I know, and like, more about McCain's positions. I really like Romney's qualifications. Those are the two horses I'm watching most closely right now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Monetary Policy

If a discussion of the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve doesn't interest you, you may as well stop now.

I've been reading a book by Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve), and it's interesting to discover how he rose to one of the highest positions in the land for an economist. It's also interesting to consider the insight into the mindset of the Federal Reserve that it offers.

So when I read this article in the New York Times about current chairman Ben Bernanke, I'm both shocked and not-at-all shocked by the views it openly airs - namely, that the Fed needs to cut interest rates to stimulate the economy.

Inflation is a beast that I think the Fed considers much stronger than people on Wall Street seem to. Consider:

The statements issued by the Fed’s policy makers after each recent rate cut have stopped short of declaring that the greatest risk to the economy is on the downside. Such phrasing would be a clear signal that inflationary pressures were not a significant concern among the policy makers and that another rate cut was likely, to avoid a recession. So far, the statements have talked only of economic growth slowing or of “increased uncertainty surrounding the outlook for economic growth and inflation.”

“They are too caught up in the nuances of the language they use,” said Mickey D. Levy, chief economist at the
Bank of America.

I really find it hard to think that some of the brightest economic minds in the country are sitting around trying to enjoy their 10-cent words. The rather obvious answer is that they consider inflation to be a significant risk. Sometimes, recessions are the lesser of two evils, and giving up the very-well contained inflation expectations to throw money at the economy is probably the last thing that the Fed wants to do.

Given that low interest rates fostered profligate loans, which fed the housing bubble, until everything popped I'd say about the last thing the Fed needs to be doing is a slash-and-burn interest rate reduction. Inflation is already above the comfort level, and the effects of $100-per-barrel oil will work their way through the economy, causing further inflation in prices.

A panicky Fed would destroy confidence in the dollar, and cause serious long-term problems, even 10 or more years in the future. Is this really something that Wall Street wants?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Odds

It's not looking good for any Democratic contender for the party's nomination to run for president, unless their name is Barack Obama. InTrade is an electronic forecasting tool that uses markets to make predictions (since the people "responding" have an incentive to choose wisely, not just with their gut, they tend to do a decent job of it). Obama is a significant front-runner in almost every listed state, and barring a significant faux pas, I'm guessing he'll be the nominee.

The same numbers are more mixed for Republicans, but McCain and Romney seem to be #1 and #2 right now.

One Day

One day, I will beat Abby Morton at Scrabble. But it sure wasn't last night.

She may have played "Hoaxer," but her victory was anything but a hoax. I should have known I was in for a rough night when my starting letters were G,R,R,L,N,C,(blank). The blank is cool, but you need vowels to make words, and using the blank for such a weak purpose feels like a waste.

My biggest word of the night (and making use of a triple-word score) was GORGED, with the blank for an E. I'm pretty decent with words, but I'm not sure I have Scrabble Skillz.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Richardson, Obama, and Energy Policy

Special credit to Senator Obama for admitting that doing something to regulate carbon emissions will affect consumers. Richardson, not quoted here, tries to sell the idea that we can hammer the polluters in a way that won't take money out of the economy. Obama disagrees with him in a recent debate:

Under a cap-and-trade there will be a cost. Plants are going to have to retrofit their equipment, and that's going to cost money, and they will pass it onto consumers. We have an obligation to use some of the money that we generate to shield low-income and fixed-income individuals from high electricity prices, but we're also going to have to ask the American people to change how they use energy. Everybody's going to have to change their light bulbs. Everybody's going to have to insulate their homes. And that will be a sacrifice, but it's a sacrifice that we can meet.

Cap-and-trade is like a carbon tax, but it lets the market set the price - if you want to emit more CO2, you need to buy the ability to do so from someone with spare pollution allowances. What I don't like about it is the possibility of incomplete or uneven implementation of it that would render it a costly song and dance.

But Obama gets credit for cutting to the chase: Lifestyle Changes (1) are costly, and (2) require individuals to change their habits.

A Caucus Myth

Just so you know:

I have heard from a couple sources dissatisfaction with the Republican caucus - specifically, people seem to think (as I did) that you will have to raise your hand, or vote publicly.

That is false.

You do have to show up, and you will gather with people from your precint. You will hear a representative for each candidate speak for a limited time and then you will write your vote on a piece of paper, to be tallied and used to determine the winner.

The Democratic caucus involves voting with your feet in a visible way. But the Republican caucus functions differently. It's not exactly the same as a primary, but it's closer than you might think.

Who Do You Vote For?

Taking the three Democratic front-runners (Obama, Edwards, Clinton), and the four Republicans (Huckabee, Romney, McCain, Giuliani), there are 12 possible matchups for the November election. Who would you vote for? If it's something other than a straight party-line preference, why are you deviating?

Group A: Obama
1. Obama v. Huckabee
2. Obama v. Romney
3. Obama v. McCain
4. Obama v. Giuliani

Group B: Edwards
5. Edwards . Huckabee
6. Edwards v. Romney
7. Edwards v. McCain
8. Edwards v. Giuliani

Group C: Clinton
9. Clinton v. Huckabee
10. Clinton v. Romney
11. Clinton v. McCain
12. Clinton v. Giuliani

The New York Times and Global Warming

From an article in the Science Section of the New York Times:

I’d like to wish you a happy New Year, but I’m afraid I have a different sort of prediction.

You’re in for very bad weather. In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc linked to
global warming. You will be told that such bizarre weather must be a sign of dangerous climate change — and that these images are a mere preview of what’s in store unless we act quickly to cool the planet.

Unfortunately, I can’t be more specific. I don’t know if disaster will come by flood or drought, hurricane or blizzard, fire or ice. Nor do I have any idea how much the planet will warm this year or what that means for your local forecast. Long-term climate models cannot explain short-term weather.

But there’s bound to be some weird weather somewhere, and we will react like the sailors in the Book of Jonah. When a storm hit their ship, they didn’t ascribe it to a seasonal weather pattern. They quickly identified the cause (Jonah’s sinfulness) and agreed to an appropriate policy response (throw Jonah overboard).


Roger A. Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, recently noted the very different reception received last year by two conflicting papers on the link between hurricanes and global warming. He counted 79 news articles about a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and only 3 news articles about one in a far more prestigious journal, Nature.

Guess which paper jibed with the theory — and image of Katrina — presented by Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Comparing Health Care Plans

The New York Times has an interesting piece comparing the health care proposals from Senators Obama and Clinton. From the article, I have to say that I consider Obama's to be more reasonable. There's reason to believe that simple is better, and finely targeted government policies aren't as effective as they might be (side-note: I dislike CAFE and corn-ethanol legislation for similar reasons).

Wrongfully Accused

I can't imagine what life has been like for this man (the complete article is in the Dallas Morning News):


Dallas County's record-setting list of innocent inmates cleared by DNA testing grew to 15 Wednesday when officials learned that Charles Allen Chatman could not have committed a rape for which he has served almost 27 years in prison.

State District Judge John Creuzot, who pushed for the genetic test that cleared Mr. Chatman, scheduled a hearing for this morning during which he is expected to order the 47-year-old man released on a personal bond and find him to be innocent.

"My attitude is that if the man is innocent, he needs to be free," the judge said.

He has been serving a 99-year prison sentence for the 1981 rape of a Dallas woman during a home break-in. He is believed to be the longest-serving Dallas County inmate to be exonerated by genetic testing.

His attorney, Michelle Moore, described Mr. Chatman as "very, very nice." Most of his family died while he was in prison, she said. He probably suffers from learning disabilities and does not know how to use a computer or cellphone.

"He's lost his life," said Terri Moore, the first assistant district attorney.


It's also why I have trouble supporting the death penalty. That we wrongfully punish innocent people is a tragedy. 27 years. This man has been behind bars as a convicted rapist, though he was innocent, for almost as long as I have been alive. That's hard to comprehend.