March 29, 2004
March 29th Edition of CotC

The Carnival of the Capitalists

Since April Fool's Day is around the corner, I gave some thought to an appropriate theme that would be appropriate for the carnival and for this special time of year. Thus, this carnival is dedicated to that truly American family of capitalists, the Popeils.

March 26, 2004
CotC Briefing
I will be hosting the March 29 edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists. I've already received several entries and most people know the drill. However, if you would like to contribute a capitalistic related post and are not familiar with the procedure, simply send an email to "capitalists at elhide dot com." Please put "COC" somewhere in the subject field – otherwise antispam measures may inadvertently trash your entry.

March 23, 2004
A Political Survey with a Twist
One of my readers, Don Hagan, has created a political survey. Unlike most surveys, you don't actually need to take this one to see the results. Hagan has provided the key along with the answers. Here are some of my favorites:

Kerry's Judgment (or Lack Thereof)
Imagine you are running for President. You have asked for Secret Service protection just in case some lunatic takes a shot at you. You have been campaigning hard and have wrapped up your party's nomination. So you take a much needed vacation that you expect will provide some nice photo ops. You are a good snowboarder, so you invite the media along to admire your prowess. Most of them hate the current president, so they'll make you look good unless you do something really stupid. Then it happens.

March 22, 2004
An Open Letter to the Blogosphere
Dear Carnival of the [insert name here], I think the idea of periodically bringing together various bloggers under one umbrella has many benefits. I have been pleased to participate in some of these events myself. I also appreciate watching the carnival concept grow as more and more entries seek out specific niches.

However, we the blogosphere, are wasting much time and bandwidth on routine posts. I see many time-constrained bloggers wasting a few minutes each week merely to provide their readers with the current location of various carnivals. This is silly and inefficient. Even the business oriented Carnival of the Capitalists follows this wasteful practice. However, Jay Solo deserves kudos for creating one constant email address for new submissions: capitalists -at-

Instead of continuing this poor use of time, I propose the following. Each carnival originator should create one page for their carnival. For example, Bigwig, as the originator of the Carnival of the Vanities (COV), should maintain an URL such as this: All bloggers who wish to link to the current COV would simply set up a bookmark with the aforementioned URL. Each week, Bigwig would change that one URL to redirect people to the current carnival.

This time-savings approach could be used for more than just carnivals. Poliblogger could use it for his Toast-a-Meter. The Watcher's Council could use it for their weekly roundup. As motivation for people to increase blogging efficiency, I will link to any (non-crude) carnival bookmark that implements my suggestion by the end of March. While I frequently change my links, I will leave your link up for the rest of 2003 even if I don't care for your particular carnival.

Think globally, act locally.

March 19, 2004
Weekend Reading
The Command Post, of which I am proud to be an original contributor, will celebrate its first anniversary this weekend. This volunteer organization has done a good job providing one site for certain types of news. It started with a focus on the War to Liberate Iraq and has expanded to cover breaking news on the war on terrorism and politics. There was an interesting post today that pointed out that the American government, along with its allies, has liberated fifty million people in the last two years.

Signal + Noise reports on a recent study that shows the results of a coin flip are not a 50/50 proposition after all.

Insults Unpunished discusses the geoengineering idea of the "Geritol Solution" - a proposal to dump iron dust in certain parts of the ocean. This results in the massive growth of plankton, which traps carbon dioxide in dead plankton that finally get buried on the ocean floor.

Davids Medienkritick shows German Chancellor Schroeder has a large case of chutzpah. He expects, or pretends to expect, that the US will support the Schroeder's administration for a permanent seat on the UN security council. I don't know if Schroeder is that clueless or is simply desperate about his low support among German citizens. My guess is that he is hoping Bush will soundly reject his idea which might increase Schroeder's support with the anti-American Germans who put him in power. If I were Bush, I would just ignore Schroeder.

Breaking News – Taiwanese President Shot
A day before their national election, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were shot. Both are expected to recover.

This follows Chinese and French attempts to influence their election.

The election is tomorrow.

Good Neighbors
As my regular readers know, I moved my family from one state to another last summer. It is a college town, but with a surprisingly even mix of liberals and conservatives at the college. I am sure this will come as a big surprise, but I enjoy discussing politics when I have the opportunity. In my small community, I have yet to meet one strong John Kerry fan. I have met many people who may vote for him, but they will do so because they dislike President Bush, not out of respect for Senator Kerry.

Boots & Sabers found a tool that allowed me to see how well my experience represents my community. By simply entering my address, the Fundrace 2004 robot looks up the public donation records of everyone near me. If you check on your own neighbors, and I know you will, be patient. Even in the wee hours of the night, it took a few minutes for a response.

I was surprised by the results. There were many more donations for Bush than for the Democrats. This was not that surprising, most of the Republican money comes from small donations while the majority of Democratic funding comes from special interest groups (e.g., unions) and liberal millionaires. In addition, there were quite a few donations for various Democratic nominees (Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt).

The surprise was that the nearest person who donated to John Kerry lived over 75 miles away from my house. I live in a battleground state. This does not say much for the enthusiasm of John Kerry supporters. It does improve the already high opinion I hold of my neighbors.

March 18, 2004
The Perfect Politically Incorrect Gift
Last year, I made a promise after reading a funny column by Mike Adams. He is one of my favorite columnists and has earned a permanent link at my roundtable (under Court Jesters). He is a politically incorrect tenured professor at a liberal university. He frequently writes humorous columns about his experiences at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

He has finished his first book about his experiences. It is entitled Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel. The book includes some of my favorite columns which prove life is indeed stranger, and more ironic, than fiction. What novelist would make up feminists who asked their fathers to resolve their problems for them? Yet Adams has encountered this situation at least twice in his experience. Adams also investigates stereotypes such as Ridiculous Man-Hating Lesbians and Narrow-Minded Religious Bigots.

Don Quixote | | Windmill Tilts: 2 | TrackBack: 1
Category: Domestic Politics , Category: Education , Category: Entertainment , Category: Humor
March 16, 2004
Is the Spanisphere Next? I say no.
I was going to write a post on how Honduras has followed the Spanish 'leadership' in fleeing Iraq. Their force of 370 members will be leaving by the end of June. However, Steven Den Beste has already done so.
It appears we're facing the political equivalent of a rout. Now it's only a question of how far it goes and how many other nations lose heart and quit. In addition to having contributed 1300 troops of its own, Spain led about another thousand troops contributed by nations like Honduras and El Salvador. It won't be very surprising if they all give up now, too. The real question will be whether it spreads beyond the Spanish-speaking nations involved in the coalition.
Den Beste is understandably irritated at another government showing weakness toward terrorism, but he is exaggerating a bit. I would hardly call one or two more withdrawals a rout. Further, I do not believe all the Spanish speaking nations will leave. According the Washington Post, Salvadoran Defense Secretary Gen. Juan Martinez said Tuesday that the country would keep its troops in Iraq no matter what. "We have to follow through with what our government decided"

Axis of Weasels Aids Chinese Attempt to Intimidate Tawain
Four days after al Qaeda attacked Spain, a Spanish plurality voted as the terrorists desired. Four days before Tawian holds national elections, the French and Chinese attempted to intimidate Taiwan by holding the largest-scale joint drill [ever] held by Chinese and foreign navies.

This is actually subtle for the Chinese. In 1996, the Chinese were even more blatant.

March 15, 2004
Spanish Elections & Terrorism
Unless you were deliberately avoiding the media, you have heard of 3/11. 911 days after al Qaeda struck the United States, they struck one of our allies in the war on terror. In Madrid, Spain, almost 200 people died when a series of ten bombs went off on subway trains. Another 1,500 were injured.

Yesterday, just four days after the terrorist attack, Spain held a national election. Until the terrorist attack, the Spanish Popular Party was expected to win the majority of votes. They are the party in power, and have been a strong ally in our war on terror. The first promise the Spanish Socialist party leader made (the main opposition) was to remove Spanish troops from Iraq if elected. Because of the terrorist attack, enough Spanish voters changed their minds and placed the Socialist Party in power. The surprising results of yesterday's elections have major implications.

March 12, 2004
When Movie Previews are Inappropriate
I have always thought it unethical to promote R rated movies at PG and G rated shows. Likewise, I think it wrong for movie theaters to show trailers for PG movies to customers who bought a ticket for a G rated movie.

I have not posted about this because I have been hesitant to ask for a law to prevent this. As desirable as that would be, I also have problems with giving the government even more power. We should be able to resolve this without government involvement. I have solved it for my family by simply refusing to take my children to any more movies (the Attorney has been to a movie theater just once in his life and the Engineer has been twice).

However, I ran across another way to help achieve my objectives. The Lion & Lamb Project was started to reduce the marketing of violence to children. They have a form for parents to complete when they see a movie preview that was inappropriately shown to young children. When I start allowing my children back in movie theaters, I will use this form as appropriate.

Quests for Change
One of my resolutions for 2004 was to post new ideas on my blog. To help me track this, I am starting a new category entitled Quests for Change. These quests may be quixotic, but they are changes that I feel would make the world a better place.

I hope that sharing these thoughts, and by enabling a forum for comments on them, that we can do our small part to improve the world.

Saving the White House
Zombyboy showed me how President Bush and Condoleezza Rice could defend the White House if needed. Warning: not safe for young kids.

March 11, 2004
A Revisionist History of E-Commerce
Read this and say Oy.

Educated Environmentalism & Ballast Water
I consider myself a rational environmentalist. I believe in conservation and good stewardship. Instead of blindly supporting the green theory of the day, I try to consider many factors before deciding if I will support a particular green cause.

Today I discovered some research about the benefits of a new technology . Oxygen is required for most known forms of life on earth and it allows the corrosion of many of our products. Scientists have recently discovered an inexpensive form of deoxygenation for situations where oxygen is not desired.

Aquatic organisms often hitch a ride in the ballast tanks of ocean-crossing ships, ending up in ports far from their native habitats. Upon arrival, these alien species can wreak havoc in their new environs, forcing out native species and incurring huge economic costs.

...the new technique still provides an environmentally benign and economically attractive method for reducing the number of potential invaders.

...our study shows that the anticorrosion benefit of this technique is a strong economic incentive for the shipping industry.

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. Hopefully the actual practice will be as successful as the lab testing.

Handicapping and Teaching Chess
Despite the recent attacks from the politically correct, I have always enjoyed the game of chess. I have started teaching my boys how to play and I will also teach the Little Princess when she is old enough to learn. In general, I believe people learn best when playing quality opposition, yet if I played at my best against young kids I would probably quash their desire to learn the game. So I decided to try handicapping.

Politically Incorrect Chess
This week I have started to teach my boys to play the game of chess. To my surprise, this may now be a politically incorrect game. Since white moves first, at least one man considers it a racist game. This is just silly. (Click here for a history of chess.) According to James Taranto:

March 10, 2004
Stereotyping Children
Lady Quixote and I are blessed with three young children. We are fortunate indeed in that they are in reasonable good health and show a remarkable interest in the world around them. They already show unique personality traits that have led me to stereotype my own kids.

Surprising Voter Turnout
Some of my Democratic friends have been excited about the news reports discussing the expected record voter turnout in the Democratic primaries. A few states, such as New Hampshire and South Carolina, did indeed have record turnouts. However, most states had the lowest comparable primary turnouts since 1964.

It is tempting to say this bodes poorly for Kerry, especially since many Democrats have been using the alleged high voter turnout to support their prediction of a Kerry victory. However, I think it actually shows a reasonably well-informed electorate. The states with high turnouts were mostly the ones where the outcome was in doubt. For example, Edwards won South Carolina, not Kerry.

By the time Super Tuesday rolled around, Kerry's victory was assumed by almost everyone. Indeed, the only real news was that Kerry did not win Vermont. So while if Super Tuesday had shown record turnouts, the Democrats may have been justified in seeing this as a sign Bush's reelection is in trouble, the reverse does not hold. Democrats may or may not be excited about Kerry. But American voters are smart enough to know when their votes do not matter, and I can understand why many Kerry supporters would have stayed home on Super Tuesday. Their candidate already had the election wrapped up.

Tip of the helm to The Greatest Jeneration

March 09, 2004
Someone Has Too Much Free Time
If you have ever watched the Simpsons, go check out their Indian counterparts: The Singhsons.

March 08, 2004
Fun Headline
I am a typical American in that I only speak English. Well, I have had a few years of Latin, but other than rare movie events, I rarely have the opportunity to practice my language skills. Yet I had no trouble understanding this German headline by the left-wing Spiegel online.
Der Cowboy attackiert Mr. Flip-Flop
Yep, the election 2004 in a nutshell: President Cowboy vs. Senator Flip-Flop

Cigarette Taxes, Consumption, & Public Policy
I just read an interesting article in Health Economics about the impact of cigarette taxes on consumption. Farrelly et al (2004) tested whether smokers tend to switch to cigarettes with more tar and nicotine as cigarette prices rise. They discovered that, as a group, smokers compensate for reduced cigarette consumption by switching to stronger cigarettes. Farrelly et al's research replicates the findings of earlier studies and avoids some of the limitations of previous research (i.e., unlike previous studies, they did not use cross-sectional data).

This research has important public policy implications. As Stellman and Garfinkel (1989) documented, one's risk of lung cancer increases with cumulative tar intake. Given the results of this survey, it appears the current policy of increasing the cost of cigarettes will have a much smaller impact on reducing lung cancer incidence than politicians expected. This is not to say the policy has been a complete failure, the increased cost of smoking has motivated some smokers to quit the habit. However, there appears to be little benefit for those who continue to smoke since they tend to increase their tar and nicotine consumption.

March 05, 2004
Do Not Click on Link
This fiendish game is the latest threat to productivity. It took me 130 seconds to figure out the objective and solve it the first time. 28 seconds the second (and last) time...

Our Wonderful Eyes and Technology
I am old enough I remember when soft contacts first came out. I was in junior high when I got mine and they were wonderful. I was a very nearsighted child (about 20/200 vision or so) and the ability to perform physical activities without worrying about my glasses falling off was a true benefit to me.

As an adult, I underwent radial keratotomy (RK) surgery about ten years ago (this was when laser surgery was still very experimental; today I would recommend laser surgery over RK). That corrected my vision to 20/25 in one eye and 2/35 in the other and also gave me a mild case of astigmatism. The astigmatism was well worth the improved vision; I am fond of water sports (swimming and rafting) and the ability to see well without losing a contact was great. I also enjoyed the newfound ability to see the clock across the room when I woke up at night.

My vision remained constant at 2/25 (right eye) and 2/35 (left eye) until last fall.

March 04, 2004
Show Me the Money
Thanks to some data from CNN, I have updated my warchest chart.

As a group, the Democrats continue to raise more money than the Republicans. This slight edge has grown by a full percentage point since I last reviewed the situation in November. Yet, as a wise man once said, a house divided against itself will not stand.

One of the advantages of incumbency is that their party's money is usually not spent in a primary fight. President Bush has $104 million dollars on hand in his warchest. Senator Kerry has $2 million. Even if the Democrats continue to raise $1.19 for every $1.00 the Republicans raise, and it all goes to Kerry, the Democrats would have to raise $537 million dollars (compared to the Republicans raising $452 million) to pull even. Unless George Soros or Teresa Heinz decide to commit a major portion of their wealth, it is not going to happen.

The Roe Effect & Abortion
On January 17, 2003, James Taranto opined that one of the long-term effects of abortion was to make the country more conservative.
It's almost a truism that women who have abortions are more pro-choice than those who carry their pregnancies to term, and it stands to reason that they generally have more-liberal attitudes about sex and religion. It also seems reasonable to assume that parents have some influence on their children, so that if liberal women are having abortions, the next generation will be more conservative than it otherwise would be.
His conclusions may or may not be true (e.g., an alternative explanation is that that baby boomer culture, as a whole, is liberal. Thus, the younger generations more conservative beliefs could simply be an outgrowth of normal rebellion), but this idea is interesting enough it deserves more study. On December 9, 2003, Taranto started calling this idea the Roe Effect.
Why should it surprise anyone that those people lucky enough to have been born since 1973 would be more conservative than their elders, especially on abortion?
Up to this point, I believe Taranto had made a compelling, albeit circumstantial, case for the Roe Effect. Today he confused me.

March 03, 2004
Election Update - Two Surprises
As expected, John Kerry won virtually every primary yesterday. Edwards has unofficially withdrawn (registration required) from the race and is expected to make an official announcement this afternoon. The biggest surprise was that Howard Dean won his first primary two weeks after he withdrew from the race. Dean won his home state of Vermont, but it also helped that Edwards was not on the ballot (Edwards' campaign didn't bother with the paperwork back in January when Dean looked unstoppable).

The other surprise, although much less of one, was that Kerry most likely won Georgia. With 95% of precincts reporting as of this post, Kerry had 46.7% of the vote compared to 41.5% for Edwards. The exit polling in Georgia was interesting too.

March 02, 2004
Tidings from Iraq
The Australian News has a well-written update on Iraq. It covers this morning's explosion as well as summarizes the work on their constitution.

March 01, 2004
Reading Between the Lines
Imagine you are on the State Board of Education. You are facing a controversial vote. Should you vote to allow three new charter schools or not? The teachers' union and some parents are quite vocal about their disapproval. Sure, the union may be afraid of some much needed competition. On the other hand, the parents have a point that the charter schools will indeed siphon off some funding from the existing public schools. You are not sure if this will be balanced by their serving less students or not. You are really agonizing over this decision.